Duncan sleeping meant I was faced with a quiet house and my own thoughts. The socks were nearly done and I had clean clothes for the next day. In the back hall I found a jacket that fit me more or less. I took it to wear in the chill air. Outside looking around but unused to my surroundings I could see nothing of any importance though I felt sure that normally Duncan would be out checking on .. something.
A car passed along the road going north and then a sheriff’s cruiser turned in the driveway that led to the house. The driver seeing me at the edge of the pasture fence stopped and stepped out. She was wearing the outfit of a deputy sheriff, and had a rather stern expression. Her dark hair was pulled back from her face but a few curls had escaped at her forehead tempering the serious look. When she arrived at the fence she said, “Hi. I’m deputy sheriff Lisa Roberts. I think you are Jessamyn Archer.”
I shook her hand. “Yes. Did Killian O’Reilly discuss me?”
Lisa suddenly smiled. Her sternness vanished. “Not recently. And actually I’m not here in an official capacity.” My eyebrows contracted. “Killian did contact the sheriff’s office about this incident and mentioned that you’d be taking care of Duncan. The sheriff came out yesterday morning and had a look at the field. But he said you can’t really tell what happened, and accidents involving the idea of a hit and run have to be shown to involve the vehicle unambiguously. That isn’t usually an issue but in this case it is not obvious what happened. So the sheriff’s department is not getting involved. But I’m a personal friend of Mr. Vester and I’m on my way home from work so I thought I’d stop by and talk to him. The whole story seems odd.”
“I don’t know what to say about that. My great uncle was exhausted and went to bed quite a while ago. Could you talk to me? Do you want to come back some other time?” I looked at her. “Or would you like to go up and see the field for yourself? The tracks don’t mean anything to me. Except that the sheep fell in some deep ruts and we had to move them out of the field. Duncan, my great uncle, wanted to fix the ruts but he did just get home from the hospital and is too tired. I have no idea how to do something like that.”
The deputy thought about this for a few minutes. She was a very calm person which I imagined was probably a good quality for a law enforcement individual and she took her time coming to a decision. Her face in repose went back to looking stern but eventually she looked at me and smiled again. “Let’s have a look. We can take the tractor up to that field and see what’s what and talk a bit on the way.”
“Take a tractor up there?” I was unable to imagine such a thing being done either by myself or by a stranger.
Lisa read my face. “First I’ll tell you that I was a hired hand here some years ago. Mr. Vester has had quite a few over the years as you may imagine.” Her eyes looked into the past for a few moments and then returned to me. “I was actually around when his wife died and afterwards for another year, maybe. So I’ve heard of you. Duncan always had a lot of trust in you, someone he only met as a nine-year old. And he talked about you, as well as the sheep.”
I looked at her. “We wrote.”
“I know. You wrote a lot, a whole lot, after his wife died. He said you were overseas or something and couldn’t come for the funeral. I’m just saying that I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt here and act like I know you better than I do.”
Something was bothering me. “I don’t … I used to read and reread Duncan’s letters to me. I practically had them memorized before they were stolen a few years ago. And I don’t remember a Lisa.”
Lisa’s smile suddenly deepened. “What do you remember?”
I was a little off balance with that smile. I said, “I remember Simon from the letters, and Killian, of course, because I met him. A boy named Walter? Maybe Jacob? And a girl named Betty. Betty Parsel. I probably don’t remember all the names.”
“Actually that’s pretty good. I’m Betty Parsel. Or Elizabeth as my mom named me. But I didn’t want to be Betty so I moved on to Lisa.”
“And you didn’t like Parsel either so you changed it to Roberts?” I was laughing and she joined.