Off on the New York Waltz

(the sixth chapter of Shell Games)

No one noticed Molly Connors was gone for twelve hours.   Her mother came to the realization of her daughter’s disappearance only when the evening meal was taking longer than usual.

“Is there twice as much food tonight, or just half as much me?”  had been her first thought, drawing a knife with which to par down twelve potatoes.  The potatoes were good and boiled when Molly Connors’ mother finally let out a gasp, and then a shout.  But her needed kitchen help was by then too far out of range, dancing a lilting waltz across the New York border.

To be more generous to her family’s obliviousness, Molly Connors ecumenical escape hadn’t left much of a trail.   A note begun by the girl was soon discovered by Glass Connors, laying on the unswept floor.  It only said:

If only you knew

If only you knew was the perfect, enigmatic summation of the fearful worlds that played behind Molly Connors eyes as she wrote.

There was not more said because the effort had abruptly deteriorated.  The last word thus ended in a haphazard diagonal streak of ink across the paper, as if a much more appealing thought had just intercepted Molly Connors.  But the four words were a deeper mystery to the illiterate Glass Connors, who thought it looked more like an old shopping list.  Into the fireplace it went.  And, fittingly perhaps, the message was soon as burned up as its author.

“Shall you send me for the constable, father?”  Abner asked immediately upon returning from an afternoon ride to Blandis.  “I saw him not long ago, walking past Macie Stone’s window.”

In answer came the voice of his mother, still struggling with the contents of a boiling iron pot. “Speak sense, Abner—what would the Constable McManniss know of making stovies?”

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