I couldn't believe I was actually considering going by myself, but suddenly the peace I had felt on my walk was saying go on it's okay, trust me.
I was pulling into the library as I saw a car pulling out. It didn't look like Rev. McDonald's old car, but it did resemble the side of his head. Had I possibly come this close to have missed him by ten minutes. I jumped out of the car to see him standing behind the exit with of all people, Mr. Henry. Rev. McDonald was wearing some sort of disguise, but I was sure it was him. Maybe I should leave after all. I had thought Mr. Henry was weird. Could these two be planning something sinister? We'd see.
"Oh you came, please let's go to my car." Now wait a minute I thought. Never get in the car never! What was I thinking. I slipped into the front passenger seat. Mr. Henry in the driver's seat and Rev. McDonald in the back. My heart was skipping a couple of beats, but I tried to appear calm. I turned. "Now what's this all about, get on with it." " First my Dear." Rev. McDonald began, "let me assure you once more I mean you no harm and also let me inform you I am not Rev. McDonald." I knew it ! I tried to act unmoved by this admission. I leaned back further, "okay, just tell me who the heck you are then or this conversation's over." I placed my hand firmly on the door handle ready to bolt if necessary. "Missy just hear me out." At this point I wasn't even trying to figure out what old Mr. Henry had to do with this. Henry went on, "I've known this old guy for a long time, he's okay, he ain't gonna hurt you, just listen to him."The "Rev. took over, "Your grandmother felt I could be sure of you, that you would try to be fair. She said to come to you. I hope she hasn't made a mistake." He leaned up and stared me straight in my eyes. I didn't look away. I wanted to. I wanted to get out of there, to not hear what he had to say. I sensed it would change things, that I would have to make decisions, I didn't want to make. I was right. "Just go ahead and tell her, tell her who you are and what you want, or I will" old Mr. Henry kinda surprised me. "Very well, Carol, have you found some letters?" Obviously he knew I had, but hadn't told Mr. Henry. "Queenie said you would." How did she know I would? Should I tell him I had and that all the rest of the family knew about them? Suddenly I felt I had betrayed Grandmother. He continued, "don't believe those letters my dear. Your grandmother never loved Rev. McDonald. She was only protecting me. Henry here tells me you've done some research about the bank robbery. Now I was recognizing the face. The face..the one that had seemed so familiar. That was why he looked like my father. This was Uncle Connor. He went on to confirm it and to swear to me he never had anything to do with the robbery, just as I'd been told. I only want to have the letters, to destroy them. I would never want anything or anyone to damage my dear oldest sister's memory. I hated to tell him I had told all in the house, so I didn't.
Instead I directed the conversation, "If Grandmother didn't love Rev. McDonald, than just what are those letters about and why would she keep them all these years?"
He settled back in his seat taking a deep breath and began, "back when the robbery took place, there was more than a robbery it was all about. I'm not going to reveal the other two that were involved in this fool plan. They're long dead now. Only one of them paid his debt for this but the other was never found out and as far as we're concerned never will be."
I wanted to stop him and ask just how they both knew of this, if they weren't involved, but I figured he would get to that. "Well anyway those two aside, there was one man the mastermind so to speak. The one that was never accused. The one with the worst heart of all. His plan went way beyond a simple bank robbery. His idea was murder, murder of his own wife." Uncle Connor took a breath. Huh what was he talking about? I was lost. "You heard about the lady that was shot in the robbery, Rev. McDonald's wife" he shook his head, like he couldn't believe I was so dense. "Oh, oh, oh goodness Rev. McDonald, but why, this doesn't make sense" I pondered. "Let me finish my dear, you see Rev. McDonald had a large life insurance policy on his bride of only two years. There had been a number of bank robberies in the surrounding counties, that had gone unsolved. He decided to arrange for Martha McDonald to be there on the day of the robbery. The robbery was just a bonus. A bonus he never got and no insurance money. The job was botched." "She didn't die you mean" I was getting it now. "Yes and he couldn't do her in himself and I guess never had the nerve or didn't ever find anyone else willing. He spent the rest of his life taking care of her and figuring he'd get the money soon enough. She was badly hurt, but darn near out lived him." "But" I interrupted "this still doesn't clue me in a bit on Grandmother's part in this. Why was he writing her?" "I'm getting to that. Your see my dear he did come to love your grandmother very much, although it didn't begin that way. He was going all around telling anyone who would listen, that I was involved in the robbery. He had threatened to track me down and even get bounty hunters on me. "That's when Queenie got involved" piped in Henry. "Queenie would have done anything in the world for me." He had tears in his eyes. He went on, "I thought she maybe didn't really know if I had, had something to do with the robbery or not. I had been in some troubles before. There was no denying that. She started visiting Rev. McDonald in order to feel him out and befriend him. She was genuinely concerned for his wife and I think somewhat him. She knew about his part in the plan to kill his wife, but had a weird kind of compassion for him. Though her main concern was he not hurting me."
I had to ask, "I thought everyone said you died or some said you just ran off. Did you keep in touch with Grandmother?" "Of course my dear and I knew Rev. McDonald wouldn't hurt Queenie. All he wanted from her at first, was to see if she was in contact with me. He eventually believed her, that I had died away somewhere and that was that." "I still" I jumped in at a pause, "don't understand. Why would Grandmother have kept those letter?" "As blackmail dearie" croaked Henry,"yes if he had been found out to be having a relationship with Queenie, the insurance company would have had many questions. He thought he'd be getting that money any time, you see." I was starting to see, but there was still-how did these two know all about the details?
Uncle explained that the man that went to prison never told about Rev. McDonald's part. He was planning to split the money from the insurance policy when he got our in twenty. He died in prison. The guy that never was caught swore to the Rev. he didn't have the money from the bank robbery.I questioned what had become of the money. No one knew. "Maybe I'm stupid or something" I whined, "but I still don't know why Rev. McDonald thought you had anything to do with the robbery, uncle Connor?"
"Oh that yes I was getting to that. It seems the guy in prison told the Rev. he gave me and Henry here the money to hold for him. That guy was just trying to save his self. "And he really didn't give you the money" I hoped. "No my dear, I swear on Queenie's grave!" I wished he hadn't said that it gave me the creeps, "but how did you know about Rev. McDonald's plan to have his wife killed and why didn't you ever go to the police?" "I told you Dear, the law was on my trail. Rev. McDonald was out to get me, to get the money he thought I had. When I heard he'd been asking about me and the crazy rumor, that I had hid some money-I decided to visit the other guy involved or so I'd heard he was. It's a small place you've got to remember, we all knew one another. This other poor sap said the money was thrown in the river by the other guy and that the other guy was too scared to tell Rev. McDonald about that, so he made up this cocka mamie story about Henry and me."
Well this whole story was kind of far fetched, but it made a strange sort of sense. I left them and agreed to keep Uncle Conner being alive and everything I'd heard to myself and oh yes--to give him the letters.