READ FOR FREE
HILL, ONCE AGAIN, went to Perkins’ Museum. On that day he did not go there to wander through the old house, as he had before, but instead he wanted to have a lengthy talk with the historian, Glenda Brice. He walked in, smiled and nodded at the girl who was minding the ticket sales and headed directly into the archival room, where he knew that Glenda would be.
She got to her feet and met him across the room. “I was wondering how long it would take before you came up here,” she said, smiling and offering him her hand.
“Do you know something that I don’t?” he asked, giving her a good honest handshake.
“No, not really. Have a chair, Sergeant.”
“Don’t mind if I do,” he said, relaxing, feeling, for the first time, that things were tying together; his castle was being built one stone at a time. He smiled.
“I suppose we should start with when Perkins arrived in Liverpool,” she said, tapping the book that was lying on the table.
“You’re the historian. I suppose so.”
“If the murder has anything to do with Perkins, or Scarlett’s play about him, then all the records are here. You’ve got to give Scarlett some credit though, she started it,” she said.
“How’s that?” he wondered surprised at her statement.
She’s tied the past to the present,” Glenda stated matter-of-factly.
“I’m told it can be dangerous.”
“I’ve not heard that one before,” she said, laughing. “So what do you know about Perkins?”
“Virtually nothing, to be honest,” he said, sheepishly.
“Don’t feel badly, most of the folks around here don’t…even though Perkins was such a significant figure in Liverpool’s history. But most of our town folk do believe in ghosts.” Hill wondered if Glenda also fitted in that category. “So this is a watered down version of his story: when he arrived from Connecticut in 1762 he was aged twenty eight, a young widower and quite disconsolate.” She went on to explain without pause. “Nevertheless he remarried and very soon became a pillar of society, serving as magistrate, judge, town clerk, county treasurer and Colonel in the Queens County militia. His journals contain all the trials, tribulations, hardships, births and deaths associated with Liverpool at that time. He wasn’t a wealthy man but he had his fingers in a lot of pies and he was an influential business-person. In Perkins’ time, Liverpool financed and manned many privateers’ ships, including those of Godfrey, Barrs and Collins, who were all Americans by birth. Perkins of course had his fingers in that pie too.”
“You mind my asking when he died.”
“1812, May the ninth.”
“And when did the War of 1812 break out?”
“Officially it was June the eighteenth but there was a whole lot of whispering about what was coming down, and skirmishes were happening right up to the time Perkins died.”
“So it seems that Scarlett had her play pretty close to the facts?”
“Probably more than most will know,” she said with a smile. “And let me remind you that patriotism is a matter of perspective.”
“Meaning?” Hill asked.
“It was Perkins who initially pleaded to Howard’s company so that a garrison of King’s Orange Rangers was brought to Liverpool. Then, in 1783, after the American Revolution, they were ordered back to New Brunswick and he didn’t like that much. Liverpool had a mixed population of loyalists and early planters, like Perkins, and dozens of American immigrants came later on. Many of the Americans felt that the British, or the British loyalists, should go back across the Atlantic. There was a lot of suspicion surrounding the loyalty of the settlers and some felt that if they had American blood that that was where their loyalty should lie. And because of it, up to and during the War of 1812, treason was rampant, or at least suspected treason. When the King’s Orange Rangers were disbanded Perkins was concerned about having adequate forces to protect the harbour and the town,” she said.
“That’s in the play,” he said, surprised. “Perkins was in a stir about them not being in Liverpool. He knew that the Americans were coming.”
“Yes, I’d say so.”
“But who was the traitor or traitors?”
“Ah ha. Now you’ve got it!” she said, laughing. “Good question. It’s not in his journals. But I can bet that he knew, or at least suspected, who they were.”
Reaching into his pocket he pulled out the King’s Orange Rangers button and showed it to Glenda. “Do you recognize this?”
“Recognize it? Holy Toledo that’s an original KOR button. Those are rarer than hens’ teeth. Do you mind?” she asked, wanting to hold it between her fingers and to feel the grooves of the engravings. “Where did you get this?”
“It just seemed to have appeared in my pocket. Beats the hell out of me how it got there.”
“Really? Goodness gracious, an original KOR button, I’m speechless. Oh my God, does this mean that he’s gathering the troops?”
“Who’s gathering the troops? You have to forgive me, but you’ve lost me there.”
“Perkins. Now must be the right time to expose the traitor or traitors, and the King’s Orange Rangers are being brought back to do that.”
Hill rolled his eyes disbelievingly.
Glenda was even more excited than ever when she added, “He couldn’t do it back in 1812 but he’s doing it now. Who else has received a button like this?”
“Gosh, I wouldn’t know.”
“Then I suggest you get out there and find out. There’s got to be more. All of a sudden you’ve got more than an unsolved murder on your hands.”
“But Perkins has been dead for more than two hundred years.”
“Where were you when you got this?” Glenda asked.
“By Perkins’ grave.”
“Ah ha! And you’re surprised that you have this…do you mind me asking why you were there?”
“For some fool reason I was curious about Perkins. Then when I got there I was surprised to see that some foolish kids had been tampering with the gravestone cover. It’s been moved. But I’ve got Ernie keeping an eye now. Nothing will slip past him.”
“You’re joking right?”
“Joking! About what.”
“Listen! Kids didn’t move that stone from Perkins’ grave.”
“Do you know who did it then?” he asked excitedly. “It certainly couldn’t have been old Ernie.” He looked at her closely. After a moment he asked, surprised, “Not you too? You don’t believe in ghosts do you? This damned case is filled with pacts, fortune cookies, clairvoyants, and now you’re telling me that you believe in ghosts?”
“Figure it out. When we placed that new cover on the grave it took a heavy piece of equipment to slide it into place. Do you really believe that a few mischievous kids could move it?”
“I never really gave it much thought. But ghosts? What you’re saying just isn’t possible.”
She smiled. “If you say so,” she said, standing up to end further discussion. “And by the way, old Ernie is probably your age,” she ended with a laugh.
Hill was still shaking his head as he walked out of the museum. Try as he might, there was no way that he was able to put any weight on what Glenda had just told him. Ghosts and boogy-men are in children’s stories. “Utter nonsense,” he mumbled, under his breath, walking across the parking lot and fingering the KOR button as he climbed into his car.
END OF CHAPTER NINETEEN
“Linda has published fifteen books. She blogs about the publishing world, posts useful tips on the challenges a writer faces, including marketing and promoting your work, how to build your online platform, how to get reviews and how to self-publish.”