Adriana looked at all the other guests in the car and she said, “I’m so sorry” before she ran back into the coach car. She kept rushing through that one and right into a luggage car. There she hid in a pile of luggage for a very long time. Police and attendants came in and she watched their shoes through a slight opening between bags. She didn’t breathe or at least she breathed as quietly as she could.
She heard the attendant mention, “The girl didn’t have a first class ticket.”
The policeman said, “Was she a robber?”
The attendant said, “I don’t think so. I didn’t see her leave the train. At least she didn’t go with the other two robbers.”
“The victims didn’t think she was with them either but we need to find her to get her statement.” The police officer said.
The shoes shuffled around but no one disturbed the luggage she hid in and eventually they did leave.
Adriana didn’t move. She waited until the train groaned and began moving and then she still didn’t move. She thought about how Philip had told her about Sean Jarvis. He was a famous bank robber who had paid off every one of importance in Casterdale and they’d let him retire there in peace. He died a month prior and rumors of a huge fortune surviving him spread all the way to the East and specifically right into Wilmark’s home for children.
Adriana planned to live out her dream as a treasure hunter and what better place to start than Casterdale? Adriana dozed off until she felt the train come to a stop. No one opened the luggage car, she listened for someone to call the town name but it didn’t happen. She guessed it was Fairville. She’d seen a map of this track and the robbery had happened just after Stradington. The next stop was in Fairville, then Newton before Casterdale.
Adriana waited for the car to start moving again and then decided to stretch her legs. As she got up, a chest was knocked over and she discovered a lovely set of rose handled pistols with a matching knife. She put them on and tried to look at her reflection in a window. She couldn’t see it very well but imagined she looked very good. A treasure hunter would need weapons to protect their findings.
She closed the chest, then put the guns underneath her skirts and hid the knife. She saw movement near the window of the coach car and she hid back in her corner. She stayed there until the train stopped again. Once again the luggage car was undisturbed, there was a call for Newton.
Adriana knew that Newton wasn’t far from Casterdale, she considered jumping off the train here but the momentary stop didn’t give her time. Before she’d decided, the train was lurching forward. Adriana began sneaking peeks out of the windows. She knew that the luggage would be getting off in Casterdale and she didn’t want to be discovered.
Soon she felt the train starting to slow and a glance out of the window showed a huge station approaching. They were on the middle track and there was another train on the right, the train she was on stopped before the station to allow all the passengers to get off of the first train so that they could walk directly to the station without this train in the way. Adriana pulled open one of the side doors and slid out of the car. No one saw her. She moved quickly forward into the crowd of passengers from the other train and was at once hidden. She found it amazing how no one seemed to notice anyone around them as they moved from the train to the station and even into arms of loved ones or to a bench to wait for another train.
She walked through the station and into the town of Casterdale. It was large and there were shops all over the place. Adriana didn’t have any money but she was personable. She found a general store and asked the man behind the counter if he knew of anyone with a room to rent.
The man said his sister owned the bookstore and had a room above it that was empty. Adriana thanked him and went to find the bookstore. She passed a bakery and the wonderful smells made her stomach complain of hunger. She didn’t have any money.
She walked on to the bookstore and inside found a mousy little woman named Carol.
“I just arrived in Casterdale and I haven’t a dime. The train was robbed just after Stradington and the two men took everything.” Adriana told Carol.
“Well, I’ll be sure to read all about that in the paper tomorrow but meanwhile, you can stay here for the night.” Carol said and then started up the stairs.
Adriana followed her and found a modest little apartment. It had a bed and a washroom. It was nicer than her room at Wilmarks.
“I am going to make a stew for dinner. Why don’t you come with me after I close up shop and have a decent meal with my family?” Carol asked.
“That is very kind of you. I would love a warm meal.” Adriana answered.
“I’ll be up to fetch you in an hour. Go ahead and refresh and maybe take a nap.” Carol looked at Adriana over her glasses. “You look rather tired.”
“Thank you, ma’am.” Adriana said before Carol scurried out the door, shutting it softly behind her.
Adriana did as she was told and washed her hands and face, then laid down on the surprisingly comfortable bed and fell fast asleep.
She awoke to a soft knocking on the door. Carol stuck her head in, “Adriana, are you ready?”
Adriana jumped up and fixed her dress back into place. Then she followed Carol through down through the shop and out onto the street. Even at this hour, the streets were busy.
“Is it always so fast paced here?” Adriana asked as a gentleman almost ran into her.
“There are a lot of folks passing through. They come to trade or buy and sell things from everywhere. It is always changing but you’ve arrived during the busy season.” Carol answered. “So what brings you here?”
“I heard that Sean Jarvis just passed. I never met him but my mother told me he was my father.” Adriana said.
Carol looked a little shocked, eyed Adriana up and down. “I never heard anyone say anything about old man Jarvis having kin.”
“He probably didn’t know. I didn’t know until after he’d passed. I was just curious to see what kind of man he was.” Adriana said.
“Well, there are lots of rumors about that one but the man who lived here just kept to himself.” Carol said, “He did come into the shop a time or two but I’m not sure for what. I don’t think he could read and he never did buy anything.”
“Well maybe there is someone who knew him that I could talk to?” Adriana asked.
“I don’t know of anyone. Like I said, most people here are just passing through.” Carol said. “Here we are.” She opened the front door to a modest but well-kept house. Adriana was immediately greeted by smells of food and the warmth of a fireplace.
Carol introduced her daughter, Addy. And her brother, Miles, Adriana recognized from the general store. She introduced Adriana and mentioned the train robbery and how she’d be eating dinner with them and staying in the loft above the bookstore until she was back on her feet.
“Addy, thank you for starting the stew. It smells like it might be almost done.” Carol shuffled off into the kitchen.
Addy took Adriana by the hand and led her to the dining room table. She poured her a cup of tea and added a few sugar cubes. Miles joined them at the table and Carol brought in a huge pot of stew.
The smell of the stew made Adriana’s belly grumble but just at that moment Miles mentioned that the Jarvis place was going to be auctioned off the next day.
Carol looked at Adriana, “You should go down to the town hall and tell them who you are. You may have a claim to the property before it is sold.”
Adriana thanked Carol for the suggestion, “I might try that in the morning.”
Adriana enjoyed the meal and her new friends company. No more was said about Jarvis but they did have a cherry pie for dessert. Miles offered to walk her back to the store but she declined his offer. Carol gave her a key and she found the streets quiet on the walk back. Casterdale was sleeping.
She found a newspaper blowing in the street. The headline read, “Train Robbers caught in Middletown.” She wondered if they’d been the same fellows who held up the train she was on but there were no pictures of the men. She thought maybe she would investigate that more and perhaps they have treasure hidden somewhere. She could find it after she finds the Jarvis treasure.
She arrived at the door and the key made a satisfying click in the lock before the door swung open. She was sure to lock the door behind her. The bookstore seemed a bit earie at night. There was only light from a street lamp outside lighting her way through the store. She found the staircase and Carol had left a hall light on at the top of the stairs. She found her room, unlocked the door and fell into her bed for the night. She had never felt so spoiled with her full stomach and the cherry pie taste still on her lips. The soft pillow under her head put her fast to sleep.
In the morning when she awoke Adriana does she
Head for the town hall?
Plan on going to the auction to see who buys the Jarvis place?