Back in the 1800s, freshman Pinkerton Detective Ethan Edwards, after solving his first field crime case, ‘The Gold Eagle’ safe robberies, is assigned his second case. His chief, Captain Butterworth, sends Ethan to Boston to investigate a $10,000 Hudson Bay fur robbery that took place during the Fourth of July fireworks celebration at Boston Harbor. The furs were discovered missing from their pier warehouse.
With the concurrence of the Boston police, Ethan questions everyone connected with the warehouse. His investigation broadens as he pursues leads involving the family that put on the display, and a quick trip to New York’s furrier district, which ultimately lead him toward unraveling the mystery.
Chief Butterworth came partway through. “Ah, Ethan! Right on time. Come in and bring your drink.”
“Yes, sir.” I tilted my glass in gratitude in Janet’s direction as I entered his office. Following him as he made his way to his desk, I couldn’t help thinking how most people would expect the Chief Detective of Pinkerton to be a burly, tall, gruff individual. But at six-two, I peered easily over the top of his graying head. Of course, I wasn’t exactly the figure of a criminal investigator either. My height only exaggerated my thin frame, and being so lanky, with size eleven feet, I appeared more like an overgrown farm boy in an inexpensive suit. I usually avoided wearing a hat to cover my thinning black hair since it further exaggerated my height.
“Have a seat, Ethan,” he invited as he plopped his stout frame in what I observed was a well worn, yet comfortable-looking leather chair.
“Thank you, sir.” I sat facing him in an armless metal chair, which I supposed was comfortable enough for brief meetings with the chief.
“Here, set your glass on this.” He slid a note pad over to my side of his desk. “That was a fine piece of work you did in Frisco, Ethan. Wells Fargo was quite pleased as well.”
“Thank you, sir. I must admit, for my first traveling assignment, I racked up quite a few miles but I did get to see a good part of our country.”
“Your expenses certainly indicated as much.”
“I tried to keep expenses at a minimum, sir…”
“I’m sure you did. It takes money to make money, which brings me to your next assignment.”
“Yes, sir.” I felt myself stiffen in the straight-backed chair.
“Are you comfortable, Ethan? You can stretch your legs if you wish.”
“I’m fine, sir. After two trips out west on the Union Pacific seats this old body appreciates a regular chair.”
“Old body! If I recall it was 1876 when we recruited you, Ethan. You were about… what twenty-six then? That’s far from old, believe me.”
I realized it was a poor choice of words when the chief had to be at least fifty. “Yes, sir, that was three years ago. I just turned twenty-nine last month.”
“Congratulations, however, you’re still one of our youngest agents. Now about your assignment.”
I took out my note pad as he picked up a folder from his desk.
“This time you’ll be traveling to Boston, Ethan,” he explained as he perused the contents of the folder. “We’ve been retained by the Hudson Bay Company.”
“Isn’t that an English company, sir?”
“Yes. They operate mostly out of Canada. It seems their main warehouse on Boston harbor was robbed, I should say emptied, of over ten thousand dollars worth of precious furs. Let’s see? Yes, here it is, Minks, Sables and Ermines.”
“That’s a considerable amount of pelts, sir.” I noted the amount.
“Apparently, it was being readied for shipment to England for distribution into the European furrier markets.”
“When was this, sir?”
“A week and a half ago, on July fourth.”
“Independence Day.” I penciled that fact down.
“Yes, that’s right. Not much of a celebration for our English friends in either event I’m afraid.”
I noted a slight grin on his face. Seems Samuel Butterworth has a bit of a sense of humor under that somber black suit and tie.
“And the Boston police?”
“They’re baffled. No witnesses and no leads. The only thing they have for certain is that the thieves blew up the heavy steel-clad wooden doors to get in.”
“But the noise, sir? That had to be heard by someone.” I stopped writing at this point and rose to stretch my legs.
“That’s the irony of it, Ethan. It happened during the fireworks celebration on the adjoining pier.”
“Sounds like a well planned job.”
“Very clever one and it’s all yours. I suggest you leave as soon as possible. And, Ethan, when you arrive check in with the Boston police. Pinkerton has a good rapport with local authorities and we try to keep it that way. Understood?”
“Yes, sir. I’ll leave for Boston in the morning.”
“Do that. And remember, Ethan, your expenses start then.”
“Of course, sir, and I’ll report back as usual.”
He was already involved with another folder as I retreated.
“Good assignment?” Janet asked as I returned the empty glass.
“Quite explosive, I believe.”
I left her looking as perplexed as I was.
Release October 28, 2014
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