When I arrived back at the house that evening, William was waiting for me. "Where have you been, Captain Smith's been calling. He's got a lead on our Rev. McDonald."
I returned his call. "Yes Miss Carol, seems there's been a couple of break-ins round these parts. Last night we got this guy sort of matches your description of your guy. Can you come down and identify him?" I agreed to come down the next day, although I knew full well this wasn't the man.
The next week I arranged to meet Uncle Conner, where I gave him the letters, but not all. I thought it was funny that he didn't inquire if they were complete. He thanked me and giving me a brief hug, he said he was going back where he had come from, which would remain unknown.
I struggled somewhat about not telling the others, especially my father, about his uncle, but I tried to let it go.
Before I knew it our time was up. We were busy packing and most of us looking forward to being back at our respective homes for Christmas. I think I was finally beginning to give up the crazy idea of living here permanently. Anyway we had to go to the lawyer's office for the final meeting. To get our money. All would be over.
We entered into the dark little office of Paul Angers. He was his usual important self. He did have a surprise for us and him.
"Now now you all have accomplished what Miss Queenie had bequested haven't you." We all nodded and each took a slow deep breath. "There's just one little thing before we finish our business." We all began to squirm. No one wanted to shout out, "hey wait a minute, I've done my time, give me my pay now."
"Queenie has one last envelope even I have not read but was to be read at the completion of her bequest, here goes."
I Queenie Elizabeth Chambers Hargrove, being of sound mind and body on this the first day of July in the year nineteen hundred and eighty do hereby bequeath..............
The letter went on to say that she wanted us all to know she had been left this money by her most loving and devoted friend and companion Rev. Quentin McDonald.
After all were coming out of our shock and dismay we left. Paul Angers caught my eye and I followed him back to his office. I don't think anyone knew I had gone back in. He held out his hand. "Carol this envelope was only for you to read and please do not tell me what it contains, you understand?" I did.
"My dearest Carol
There was my uncle's address and a request that if he was still living, I was to contact him and send him the money he had hidden in the house so long ago, from the bank robbery. Further more I was to pretend it was just part of her settlement. She had exchanged the old bills years ago. Her little brother had not known she had found the money. For she never wanted him to know she knew he was involved in the bank robbery.
I didn't think I could go through with this. He didn't deserve it. He didn't deserve my grandmother's love. I could understand how she felt about him, for she had practically raised him. So now it all made sense. It wasn't the letters he had wanted. He may have cared about her name to some degree, but he was after the stinking old money. All those years, I guess I did wonder why he hadn't shown up before, knowing he's hidden it there.
We all hugged each other goodbye and some of us lied about how much fun we had had, though William and I did have some good talks and even Ellen and Charlotte seemed closer. Mother was the happiest to leave no contest, but Daddy was very melancholy. It was sad and final.
I stayed behind and waited for John to drive up and we'd go home the next day. I would definitely miss this place. Oh and yes I got the money Grandmother had hidden. Some was in the back of the picture of Uncle Conner. Some was in the old piano roll of "Changes."
I got in touch with Uncle Conner, just as Grandmother had asked me to. I asked him why he hadn't come looking for the money sooner. He said he had many times although no one knew. I told him where she had hid it. All he could say was "darn I should have thought of that." There didn't seem to be any shame in him for me knowing the truth and for Grandmother knowing the truth all along. I knew she had wanted that to be a secret, but he would have figured it out. I guess Queenie wasn't thinking too clearly about that fact.
I don't know what crime I committed or why Queenie entrusted me to do this. I've never been sure if that was a compliment or a flaw in my character. That she detected that somehow I'd relate to Uncle Conner. I did.
Those last six months had truly been an experience, one I wouldn't have given up. I learned a lot about Grandmother and just what she was trying to teach us about family. That true family would do anything for the ones they love. Though it seemed to me she was the only one it applied to. Still there was time.
BY lynn proctor