By Donna Easto
Previously, Sergeant Zander agreed to reinterview witnesses about the murders. No new leads emerged; reluctantly, he turned questioning over to Miss Arnold.
“Thank you all, you’re free to go – Mr. Coughlin, Mr. and Mrs. Pennington, please stay a minute. Ah, here are the boys.
“Balderdash!” Zander roared.
“Do calm down, Sergeant; just nod “yes” if I have your permission to speak with those assembled.” He nodded weakly.
“Boys, I’ll let you know when it’s your turn. Mrs. Pennington, Thursday at the front desk, did you see LaForest leave the poker game?”
“Ummmmmm….No. I must have stepped away briefly.”
“To meet with your lover Albert Duggan while your husband was occupied with the game? Relax, your morals are not in question, it’s why you went to his farm that’s puzzling.
No denials…you were seen.”
“He said he was leaving town – without me. I went to plead with him. But, they were both dead when I got there. I panicked and rode straight home.
“I believe you, Esther. As for Mr. Pennington, Abner, why were you at Duggan’s around dawn Saturday? The boys saw you leaving town – stealthily.
Abner shot a pained look at his wife. “I suspected Esther had a fancy man. When she came home all upset, we had it out. I’m not flashy with flowery words, but I do love my wife. Saturday morning, I went to get some letters she’d written to Albert. Lit a match to them and threw them in the stove.”
“Abner, what I don’t understand is the upside-down saddle.”
“Miss Arnold, those dead bodies in the kitchen, turned my stomach. What if no one found them for days? I spooked the horse so people would want to find out what happened. Stupid, eh.”
“Or smart. You had motive and opportunity to sneak out to Duggan’s and kill him.. LaForest was simply in the way. You might have used the horse to cover your return to town.” Might have, bu, no, you’re not our killer.”
Maddie then called on Tom, “Mr. Coughlin, you swore that you overheard an argument between Sly and some woman.”
“Yessum, that’s correct Thursday afternoon it was.”
“Afternoon? You told the Sergeant it was night, you told me an evening…now it’s afternoon? Thomas, which is it? Or, is it a lie?”
“Why’d I wanna do that? I heard what I heard.”
“Tom, where were you Friday night?”
“Hey, you ain’t no copper; I don’t got to answer to you, lady.”
“Lads, did you notice anyone, other than Mrs. Pennington, ride out in the direction of the Duggan home Friday?”
“Please point to that person.” Coughlin sprang for the door only to find it blocked by Constable Brown.
“Mr. Coughlin, I asked the Constable to do some digging for me. Your brother Samuel got mixed up in a scheme with Duggan and LaForest. It fell apart – he was young, knew nothing about printing money. Sam couldn’t face jail. He shot himself. You tracked Sly and Albert to Lumby seeking revenge – you meant to kill them, and you did.
“No matter that scum as good as murdered my brother. Don’t got no regrets. Constable, get me out of this place.”
Maddie murmured sadly, “what a tragedy.”
John Wilson Murray left for home the next day. “Angus, let’s get together again soon. In my line of work, who knows what the future holds. Mary says Toronto’s a grand place for a honeymoon. And Maddie, you really must tell Angus that he’s fallen for a spy!” With that, John departed, waving and flashing a wicked grin.
“Angus dear, let’s chat about Montreal. Chamomile tea?