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.He moved to stand at her right arm.“Let me see.”She sorted one more time, then leaned back.“They’re not here.”He sat heavily in the chair.“Then there is no proof of your claim.”She clutched the locket in her pocket.“There is this,” she said.He fixed a stare on her.“You wouldn’t be the first pretty face to try to hoodwink me.”Heat ran up her neck, but she refused to let her gaze drop.“Sir, I know nothing beyond what was told to me.”“Which was?”“That Roy Sullivan found me on the beach.”“What else?” he prodded.“He was paid to care for me.”She heard Mr.Eaton’s quick inhalation, and her pulse ratcheted up.Of course.The person who had killed Josephine had paid for her upkeep.It made perfect sense.The culprit feared being exposed and having to face her father’s wrath.“The money is still here, but the newspaper article is gone.” Where else might her mother have hidden proof of their story?She leaned forward.“This desk has a secret drawer.”Once, her father had shown her how to find the spot, and when she was a child, she used to hide under this desk and press the access tab for fun.She’d never looked inside.Kneeling under the desk, she ran her fingers over the wood until she found the button.When she pressed it, the drawer sprang open.She lifted out the tray inside, then scrambled to her feet and laid it on the desk.Mr.Eaton hovered over her shoulder as she sorted through the contents.On the blotter she laid out a bank book, some bills, an envelope of photos, and a copy of a birth certificate inscribed with the name Julia Eaton.The birth date was Addie’s own.John glanced at his timepiece, then returned it to its home.“You have no idea where they went?”Clara shook her head.“They rushed out and left a message with Molly that they’d return as soon as they could.It’s been hours.”John put his hands in his pockets.He could go through some files in Henry’s office while he waited.Some of the numbers at the bank weren’t adding up, and he needed to talk to Henry about them.The front door slammed, and Henry’s voice called, “Clara, come here.”Clara started to get up, but John shook his head.“I’ll help him.” He stepped into the hall and found Henry holding Addie by the arm.She swayed where she stood, and even her lips were pale.“What’s happened?” John asked.“Has there been an accident?”Henry hesitated.“Murder,” he said.“Miss Sullivan’s mother was murdered at the lighthouse today.”The young woman’s eyes welled with tears.John stepped to her side.“I’m sorry, Addie,” he said.“Is there anything I can do?”Her reddened eyes closed, then she shook her head.“The police are investigating.”“Where is Clara?” Henry asked.“In the parlor.”“Come with me.You all should hear this at once.” Henry led Addie into the parlor, where he seated her in a chair.“Henry, where have you been?” Clara demanded in an indignant voice.Henry seated himself beside her and patted her hand without glancing at her.“It has been a most extraordinary day,” he said.“In many ways.”A faraway expression dimmed John’s father-in-law’s eyes, and he kept glancing at Addie.“A most extraordinary thing,” Henry murmured.“It appears Miss Sullivan is my daughter.”John tensed as Clara shrieked and fainted onto the sofa.He sprang to her assistance.The maid rushed in with rose water, and he dabbed Clara’s handkerchief in it and ran it over her face.“Clara.” He patted her cheeks.“She’ll be fine,” Henry said.“You don’t seem surprised, John.Were you aware of this situation?”John rose and propped Clara’s head on a throw pillow and lifted her feet to the sofa.“I was.Miss Sullivan confided in me a few days ago.”Henry glowered.“So I’m the last to know?”“No, sir,” Addie said quickly.“Mr.Driscoll knows because he found me, but I’ve told only Lieutenant North.”“Walter knows and said nothing? Why did neither of you tell me?”Her eyes flashed an appeal toward John, and he sprang to her defense.“Miss Sullivan wanted more proof.She knew you would demand something more than a locket.”“She’s quite right too.And we found more.”He withdrew something from his inner jacket pocket and plunked it down on the coffee table.Three sets of eyes pinned Addie to her chair.She tried to decipher the emotion she saw in John’s eyes before deciding it was compassion.She longed to clasp his hand and draw strength from him for the coming ordeal.Mrs.Eaton had been brought around.With her complexion pale and a light sheen of perspiration on her forehead, she lay back against the cushions, uttering an occasional moan and an “oh dear.”“Buck up, Clara,” Henry said.“This is quite an unusual situation, and I shall need your full attention.”She brought her lace hankie to her nose.“What nonsense is this, Henry?”Mr.Eaton removed his jacket and unbuttoned his vest.He filled his pipe and lit it.Drawing in two quick puffs, he sighed and turned back toward his wife.“Little Julia didn’t die in the shipwreck.” He gestured toward Addie.“There she sits.”Addie wanted to be anywhere but here.She was aware how it appeared-as though she’d sneaked into the household under false pretenses in order to gain something from them.All she wanted was a family.“Is this what you’re claiming, Addie?” Mrs.Eaton asked.“That you’re Julia Eaton?”“I think Mr.Driscoll should be here,” Addie said.“He might be able to explain it better than I.” Addie heard footsteps, then Mr.Driscoll stepped into the room.“What’s going on?” he asked.Mr.Eaton puffed furiously on his pipe.“Addie here tells me that you brought her into the house, knowing she was my daughter.Would you care to explain yourself?”Mr.Driscoll’s gaze moved from person to person.“Someone paid the lightkeeper to care for Addie.To keep her from this house.”Mrs.Eaton gasped.“Paid to keep her away? What could be the reason?”Mr [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]