P.K. Pinkerton and the Petrified Man (P.K. Pinkerton Series #2) [NOOK Book]

Overview

The second book in a rip-roaring adventure series set in the wild west!

After escaping the ruthless desperados, P.K. finally feels safe in Virginia City and is ready to set up a new private eye business. But all the mysteries in town seem to be pranks—until the day P.K. meets a young maid named Martha. Martha’s employer has been found dead . . . and now the killer is after her. The mystery takes a grave turn when Martha disappears, so P.K. ...
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P.K. Pinkerton and the Petrified Man (P.K. Pinkerton Series #2)

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Overview

The second book in a rip-roaring adventure series set in the wild west!

After escaping the ruthless desperados, P.K. finally feels safe in Virginia City and is ready to set up a new private eye business. But all the mysteries in town seem to be pranks—until the day P.K. meets a young maid named Martha. Martha’s employer has been found dead . . . and now the killer is after her. The mystery takes a grave turn when Martha disappears, so P.K. consults Poker Face Jace, an expert at people reading. With his help, P.K. inspects saloons and billiard rooms, and even tries sneaking into the coroner’s office. But time is quickly running out for P.K., and Martha’s life has never been in more danger.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for P.K. Pinkerton and the Petrified Man

*"As in the last Wild West adventure, our half-Lakota hero records his suspenseful story on ledger sheets and struggles with his “Thorn”—his inability to show or read emotion that today might be called high-functioning autism. P.K.’s straight-shooting personality, integrity and good heart make readers want to follow him to the ends of the Earth . . . A warm, wise, wild and woolly second offering."—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

*This entertaining, absorbing sequel will hook readers from the get-go, and Lawrence sets up intriguing ambiguities and mysteries for P.K.’s sure-to-be-anticipated next adventure. An appended glossary includes real-life people, places, and events referenced throughout."—Booklist (starred review)

"Infused with humor and fast-paced action, this slightly gritty mystery has a satisfying resolution, making it an enjoyable historical romp."—School Library Journal

"The story unfolds quickly with numerous twists and turns propelled by cliffhangers at the end of each chapter. In addition, the narrative often summarizes events, which, because of many complications and characters, is useful rather than tedious. Prior knowledge from the first book is helpful, but not critical. P.K. has several personal challenges, particularly those stemming from an Asperger’s-like syndrome that renders him unable to read faces or recognize tone. But what isn’t hampered is his most important skill: like his friend Sam Clemens, P.K. knows how to spin a great yarn."—The Horn Book

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781101608579
  • Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
  • Publication date: 4/18/2013
  • Series: P.K. Pinkerton Series, #2
  • Sold by: Penguin Group
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 836,761
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 750L (what's this?)
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Caroline Lawrence is an English/American author who was born in London and grew up in Bakersfield, California. Caroline currently lives in London, England.
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Read an Excerpt

HOW TO PROVIDE A CONVINCING ALIBI

My name is P.K. Pinkerton & I am a Private Eye operating out of Virginia City, Nevada Territory. At the moment I am in Jail on the charge of Murder.

I am writing this Journal because my lawyer told me to set down my side of the story. He told me to write it as if I was talking to a jury of “12 good men and true” or a kindly, sympathetic Judge with “white hair and twinkling eyes.”

He said I should start by putting my name, age & qualifications.

I have already stated my name: P.K. Pinkerton.

I am 12 years old.

I can read & write & I can speak American and Lakota. I can also speak a little Spanish & Chinese & a few words of French.

I am really good at tracking & hunting. My eyes are as sharp as a hawk’s & my ears are as keen as a rabbit’s & my sense of smell is almost as good as a bear’s.

For the sake of honesty, I must confess that I have a Thorn.

My Thorn is that people confound me. I am not good at reading people’s faces & sometimes have trouble knowing if they are telling me the truth or lying.

As well as my Thorn, I have some Foibles & Eccentricities.

It is my Foibles & Eccentricities—and my Thorn—that have landed me here in jail today, beneath the shadow of the hangman’s noose.

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New Lands: Geoff Rodkey

The Chronicles of Egg, Book 2

The Secret of Platform 13 Eva Ibbotson

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We Are Not Eaten by Yaks: C. Alexander London

An Accidental Adventure

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An Accidental Adventure

To Nevada historian and
B Street B & B proprietress Carolyn Eichin,
who introduced me to the journals of Alf Doten,
a vein I can mine for years.

Table of Contents

Ledger Sheet 1

MY NAME IS P.K. PINKERTON & I am a Private Eye operating out of Virginia City, Nevada Territory. At the moment I am in Jail on the charge of Murder.

I am writing this Journal because my lawyer told me to set down my side of the story. He told me to write it as if I was talking to a jury of “12 good men and true” or a kindly, sympathetic Judge with “white hair and twinkling eyes.”

He said I should start by putting my name, age & qualifications.

I have already stated my name: P.K. Pinkerton.

I am 12 years old.

I can read & write & I can speak American and Lakota. I can also speak a little Spanish & Chinese & a few words of French.

I am real good at tracking & hunting. My eyes are as sharp as a hawk’s & my ears are as keen as a rabbit’s & my sense of smell is almost as good as a bear’s.

For the sake of honesty, I must confess that I have a Thorn.

My Thorn is that people confound me. I am not good at reading people’s faces & sometimes have trouble knowing if they are telling the truth or lying.

As well as my Thorn, I have some Foibles & Eccentricities.

One of my Foibles is that I get the Mulligrubs.

One of my Eccentricities is I like Collecting things.

It is my Foibles & Eccentricities—and my Thorn—that have landed me here in jail today, beneath the shadow of the hangman’s noose.

Ledger Sheet 2

HERE IS WHAT HAPPENED.

After vanquishing three Deadly Desperados last Monday, I used $300 of the Reward Money to buy premises for my new business.

Mr. Sol Bloomfield was in the process of amalgamating his two small Tobacco Stores into one big Emporium down on C Street. I bought the smallest of his stores, the one on South B Street. Although it is long & narrow it suits me fine because it is located next to a Photographic Studio (where I can get disguises) and the Colombo Restaurant (where I take my meals).

Mr. Bloomfield removed the last of his cigars & snuff & pipe tobacco from that store on Tuesday evening at 5:00 p.m.

I moved in on Tuesday evening at 6:00 p.m.

I opened my door for business at 9:00 a.m. on Wed October 1.

I had put up a shingle outside my front door with the words: P.K. PINKERTON, PRIVATE EYE. WE HARDLY EVER SLEEP. And I had a big sign in the window of the door that told people I was OPEN.

I had been greatly supported by the townsfolk after vanquishing a deadly desperado a few days before, and I was confident that I would soon get many clients. My foster pa, Emmet, always used to tell me to “strike while the iron is hot.”

But all that morning not a single person came in through my door.

Maybe it was because the Washoe Zephyr had been blowing hard since the night before. I had been finishing the account of my first Case and did not notice, but now that I had nothing to do but sit and wait for clients, the powerful wind seemed to taunt me. They call it a “zephyr” but it was howling & moaning & spitting gravel at my shop front. My left arm began to throb where I had been shot two days before by a .22 caliber ball.

I began to feel very low.

By and by I felt so low that I was in danger of getting the Mulligrubs.

The “Mulligrubs” is what my foster ma, Evangeline, called a bad kind of trance that creeps up on me when I feel low. I can stay in those Bad Trances for hours. I rock & moan & cannot easily be roused. When I come out of those trances, my brain feels thick & wooly, as if my head was stuffed full of cotton balls. Getting the Mulligrubs is another one of my Foibles.

Ma Evangeline—God rest her soul—taught me a way of staving off the Mulligrubs. If I concentrate on ordering a Collection, it distracts me & I forget to be low. When I was living with Ma Evangeline and Pa Emmet down in Temperance, they let me keep a Bug Collection & a Button Collection.

But I did not have either of those collections at my new residence in Virginia City, so I looked about me with an aim to starting a new one.

Mr. Sol Bloomfield had left all the labels on the shelves along with the tobacco crumbs & flakes that gave the place its distinctive smell.

I went back to my desk & found a pack of cigarrito papers & spread them out & copied down the names of all the different tobaccos. Then I went to the shelves and found bits of tobacco & started to put a sample of each tobacco on top of every label.

Using an out-of-date brochure that Mr. Bloomfield left behind, I catalogued over 50 Cuban Cigars, 32 Domestic Cigars, 17 types of Leaf Tobacco, 12 different Plugs & Twists and 6 varieties of Snuff.

So that made over 100 types of smoking, chewing and leaf tobacco. I decided to call it my Big Tobacco Collection so that it would begin with B like my other two collections: Bugs & Buttons.

Sometimes I looked up at the door that still admitted no Clients & I felt kind of queasy in my stomach. But as soon as I returned to my new task I felt better.

In this way I staved off the Mulligrubs & fought the urge to be downcast. Sometimes I even forgot my throbbing arm & the howling wind & the memory of the terrible thing I had seen in my cabin down in Temperance.

It was a little past 5 p.m. and the sun had just dipped behind Mount Davidson when a bearded miner flung open the door to my office. I was so absorbed in ordering flecks of snuff that I almost jumped out of my skin. Some of that Zephyr whirled in and threatened to stir up my Big Tobacco Collection, so I shielded it with my arms & asked the man to shut the door.

He did so & stood there panting.

As I said, I am not good at reading people. It is my Thorn.

Ma Evangeline taught me five facial Expressions to look out for.

No. 1—If someone’s mouth curves up & their eyes crinkle, that is a Genuine Smile.

No. 2—If their mouth stretches sideways & their eyes are not crinkled, that is a Fake Smile.

No. 3—If a person turns down their mouth & crinkles up their nose, they are disgusted.

No. 4—If their eyes open real wide, they are probably surprised or scared.

No. 5—If they make their eyes narrow, they are either mad at you or thinking or suspicious.

The eyes of the miner who had just burst into my office were open real wide.

It was definitely Expression No. 4.

He was scared.

I thought, “At last. Someone has brought me a mystery to solve.”

Ledger Sheet 3

ARE YOU THE DETECTIVE?” cried the bearded miner, taking a step into my narrow office.

I did not betray my excitement at receiving my first Client.

“Yes,” I said in a calm & businesslike tone. “I am P.K. Pinkerton, Private Eye. No problem too big, no case too small.”

“Come quick!” panted the miner. “It’s gone! It was thar a minute ago and now it’s gone! Come see!”

I got up & grabbed my good slouch hat from a peg by the door & flipped my OPEN sign to CLOSED & followed him outside, closing the door as quickly as I could. Out on the blustery boardwalk, the shrieking Zephyr tried to snatch the hat from my head & the blue woolen coat from my back. Two other men were standing out there on the boardwalk. The wind was whipping up their slouch hats, beards & flannel shirts, and even the pants tucked into knee-high boots. I deduced from their flapping attire that they were miners, too.

As I locked the door behind me, they were all crying, “It’s gone! It’s gone!”

“What is gone?” I asked the miners. I had to shout to make myself heard.

“Come on,” said the first one. “We’ll show you!”

The three miners led the way: north along B Street & then left up Sutton towards A Street, their long brown beards fluttering behind them like pennants.

The wind was so strong that it made the planks of the boardwalk rattle. We had to lean into it at an angle of about 45 degrees just to make headway. That blasting Zephyr had driven most people indoors but a passing woman screamed as it lifted her hoopskirt right over her head to reveal frilly bloomers. A small dog was being pushed down the street in the opposite direction to the one it was heading. Oxen and mules kept their heads down & their eyes squinched & their teeth gritted.

In front of me, the three miners were shouting things like, “Where d’you think it went?” and “Who could of took it?”

“What is gone?” I repeated into the howling wind.

“Thar!” shouted the first miner, pointing. “It was right thar!”

I stopped and stared at the northwest corner of Sutton and A Street. I could not believe my eyes. Through a cloud of dust I could see nothing but a Vacant Lot.

“The Daily Territorial Enterprise Newspaper building,” I said. “It is gone.”

Two days previously I had been carried to the reporters’ sleeping area next to the newspaper’s printing office so that I could have a .22 caliber bullet dug out of my arm. Now the wooden building & its lean-to annex had Completely Vanished.

There remained not a single stick of wood. A tumbleweed sped across that Vacant Lot; it was going about a mile a minute.

“It was thar yesterday,” Miner No. 2 shouted above the howling wind.

“And now it’s gone,” shouted Miner No. 3.

“Who could of took it?” shouted the first miner. “You’re a Detective. You better look for clews!”

I looked around.

A woman’s parasol flew by.

“Lookee here,” shouted Miner No. 2. “There might be a clew in this morning’s paper.” He held it out.

The half-folded newspaper was flapping in the violent wind so I took it & looked where his grubby finger was stabbing & I read the following:

A GALE. About 7 o’clock Tuesday evening a sudden blast of wind picked up a shooting gallery, two lodging houses and a drug store from their tall wooden stilts and set them down again some ten or twelve feet back of their original location, with such a degree of roughness as to jostle their insides into a sort of chaos. There were many guests in the lodging houses at the time of the accident, but it is pleasant to reflect that they seized their carpet sacks and vacated the premises. No one hurt.

“Do you think maybe it was the Washoe Zephyr?” said the first miner above the howling wind. “Do you think this pesky breeze lifted it right up and set it down elsewheres?”

“That thar wind is a Scriptural Wind,” shouted another, “on account of no man knows whence it cometh.”

I looked down at the article & then back up to find the three miners laughing & slapping their thighs & pointing at me.

“He believed us!” cried one.

“He was looking for clews!” shouted another.

“He calls himself a ‘Detective’!” The third one laughed.

That was when I realized the Ugly Truth.

They had not brought me my first case. They were pranking me.

I clenched my fists and considered kicking the nearest miner hard in the shin. But Pa Emmet had taught me not to kick people hard in the shin. He taught me to count to ten & quote Philippians 4:5, “Let your moderation be known to all men.”

So I did not kick any of the miners hard in the shin. Nor did I draw down on them with the Smith & Wesson’s seven-shooter in my pocket.

Instead I took a deep breath & bowed my head & counted to ten & quoted Philippians 4:5.

“Amen,” I said.

As I lifted my head, the wind seemed to die down a little. I saw that the miners had gone & a tall man in a flapping gray suit stood beside me. He had a round face, a dark mustache & clean-shaven chin. He was smoking a cigar. He looked familiar.

“Hello, P.K.,” he shouted above the wind. “Are you looking for the Enterprise?”

“Yes,” I shouted back. “Some miners told me this wind blew it away. I reckon they were pranking me.”

“Yes indeed,” he shouted. “We moved down to our fine new premises on C Street yesterday. I guess those Chinese firewood-peddlers have been over this place and picked it clean.” He sucked his cigar & blew out & the wind snatched away the smoke. “I came up here to see what still needed doing, but the answer is nary a thing. I could not have hired men to do such a good job.”

I pointed at the article in the fluttering newspaper. “They tried to use this article called ‘A Gale’ to convince me,” I said.

The man leant forward and looked at the article.

“Oh, that is just an attempt at humor by Mr. Sam Clemens, our new Local Reporter,” he said. “He is still finding his feet, as they say.”

Then I recognized the man who was speaking to me. He was Mr. Joe Goodman, one of the co-owners of the Territorial Enterprise Newspaper. He had promised to teach me some Latin phrases.

“You promised to teach some Latin phrases,” I said.

“So I did,” he replied. “Why don’t you come down and visit us one day? You can find us at Twenty-Seven North C Street.”

“I will.” I folded the newspaper & put it in my coat pocket & turned to go back to my office.

“Oh, P.K.?” he said, shouting against the wind.

I turned back. “Yes?”

“Do not be discouraged. Fortes fortuna iuvat.

“Beg pardon?”

He took out a pencil and wrote it down on the margin of my newspaper.

“That is Latin,” he said. “It means ‘Fortune favors the brave.’”

Ledger Sheet 4

WHEN I GOT BACK to my office I spread the newspaper out on top of my Big Tobacco Collection & studied the article by Sam Clemens that had inspired the miners to prank me.

It was obviously a passel of lies but there it was in black & white.

That made me mad.

Then I saw some other articles by Sam Clemens, a.k.a. “Josh,” that made me even madder. In return for the gift of his seven-shooter, I had given Sam Clemens permission to write an article based on my experience of surviving a wagon-train massacre. When I saw a headline, INDIAN TROUBLES ON THE OVERLAND ROUTE, I knew it was his work, too.

As I read it, I got madder and madder. Mr. Sam Clemens had taken my story of being attacked by Indians and multiplied it by 12 or 15. He got many Facts wrong.

For example, he said it was Snake Indians that attacked the wagons. This got me riled because I am half Lakota and our enemies call us “Snake.” So that was an Insult. Also, it was Shoshone that attacked us, not Lakota. So that was a Lie.

He then told how those Indians had attacked a “Methodist Train” & how the “whole party knelt down and began to pray as soon as the attack was commenced” but despite this the Snakes killed all the men and carried off the women & children. That was a Lie, too, and an Insult to Methodists.

But what really riled me was his description of wagons “transformed into magnified nutmeg-graters” by all the holes made by arrows. I guess he thought some people might find that funny. But I did not. My ma was killed in such an attack, along with her friend Tommy Three & our Chinese cook, Hang Sung.

I was so mad that I snatched up those center pages of the paper and took them into my back room to the chamber pot, intending to use his article to wipe my bottom.

But as I was sitting there, fuming over his lies, I noticed some illustrated Advertisements on the same page.

Those Ads gave me an idea so good that I forgot to be mad at that Reporter.

I finished my business & went back into my office & spread out the page of Advertisements & took a blank ledger sheet & carefully wrote upon it:

THE FIRST PRIVATE DETECTIVE AGENCY IN VIRGINIA CITY

P.K. PINKERTON, PRIVATE EYE,
South B Street nr Taylor

No Job too Small, No Challenge too Big, Reasonable Rates

Specialties: Tracking Lost Animals, Solving Mysteries, Shadowing Suspects

Then I drew an open eye and beneath it the words: We Hardly Ever Sleep.

The eye resembled a Potato somewhat, but I was confident the printers would do it better.

Then I braved the howling wind to take my Advertisement to the new offices of the Territorial Enterprise down on C Street. I paid them to put it in the next day’s paper & I also bought a three-month subscription including delivery.

Placing that Advertisement had revived my spirits.

My arm had stopped throbbing & my appetite returned.

Fortes fortuna iuvat,” I said to myself. “Fortune favors the brave.”

I went back up to B Street & had a square meal at the Colombo Restaurant.

That night I slept soundly, certain that the next day would bring me my first real Client and my first real Case.

Little did I dream that Case would spell my Doom.

Ledger Sheet 5

ON MY SECOND DAY of business—Thurs Oct 2—I rose at dawn, said my prayers & cleaned my Smith & Wesson’s seven-shooter. Then I went next door to the Colombo Restaurant for a hearty Detective Breakfast of two mutton chops, eggs & buttered toast with marmalade. (I call this a “Detective Breakfast” because it is what Inspector Bucket favors in the novel Bleak House by Charles Dickens.)

Titus Jepson let me take a tin pot of coffee & a tin cup back to my office.

It was a fine morning. Yesterday’s wind had died & the dust had settled. People were sashaying down the boardwalk and wagons were driving up the street. From some sage bushes on the mountainside a quail called out, “Chicago! Chicago!” That quail was reminding me of my vow that one day I would go to Chicago and work for the National Detective Agency of my uncle Allan.

A new saloon had opened across the way & although it was only 7:30 a.m., I could hear a piano clanging out a song I seemed to hear everywhere. I reckon that if Virginia City had its own anthem it would be “Camptown Races.” Some music entrances me but this song had become so familiar that I could hum it with no danger of falling under its spell.

I found Thursday’s Territorial Enterprise lying on the boardwalk outside my office. I put down the coffeepot & cup for a moment so that I could turn the handle of my office door. (I had not locked it because there was nothing much in there to steal.) I left the door wide-open to encourage business & I put the newspaper under my arm & took the coffeepot & cup inside.

As soon as I came into my office, the little hairs on the back of my neck prickled up.

Every time I step inside I can smell tobacco. But this time, I also caught the faintest whiff of horse manure & ammonia & another sweet smell that I could not identify. Lavender? Cloves? Opium?

“Hello?” I said. “Is anybody here?”

There was no reply.

I sniffed again, but now all I could smell was my Big Tobacco Collection.

Little did I realize that someone was Lying in Wait for me behind the counter at the back of my shop. I should have listened to my instincts, but I was excited by the prospect of seeing my Advertisement, so I shrugged away the prickly premonition & poured myself a cup of coffee & carefully spread out the paper on top of my Big Tobacco Collection & eagerly scanned the pages.

The front page contained news of a great Battle at a place called Antietam back east & of a new “Proclamation” by President Lincoln.

Those things were of little interest to me so I turned over the page.

There was my Advertisement on page three.

They had copied my drawing of an Eye. It still resembled a Potato, but aside from that I thought the Advertisement a good one. I was confident it would bring me my First Client in no time.

Near my Advertisement was a Notice of interest to me. It concerned a shocking crime that had occurred the week before: the Brutal Murder of a Soiled Dove named Miss Sally Sampson.

I do not have the paper in front of me now, but I can replicate most of that notice. You show me something once, I never forget it. It read as follows:

SALE OF PERSONAL PROPERTY
OF SALLY SAMPSON, DECEASED
SEPTEMBER 26TH, A.D. 1862

Notice is hereby given by an order of the Probate Court of the 1st day of October, A.D. 1862, in the matter of the estate of SALLY SAMPSON, a.k.a. “SHORT SALLY,” deceased. The undersigned Administratrix of the estate of said deceased will sell the following items at public auction, to the highest bidder, for cash, on SATURDAY, the 4th day of October, a.d. 1862, at one o’clock p.m. at the auction room of J.C. Currie & Co. in the city of Virginia, viz: Various High-quality dresses, capes, bonnets & parasols; 1 fireman’s helmet; 2 whale-bone corsets & assorted undergarments; 1 Double Bedstead; 1 Double Spring Mattress; 1 Parlor Table; 3 Maple Chairs; 1 Mahog Whatnot; 2 white Mares; 1 buggy with red upholstery and black lacquer. (Mares & Buggy may be viewed at the Flora Temple Livery Stable.) Signed Mrs. Zoe BROWN, Administratrix of the Estate of Sally Sampson, deceased.

I had just finished reading this interesting notice when someone came in through my open door.

No, it was not the Client whose case would lead to my Demise. That person was crouching behind the counter at the back of my shop, though I did not discover that until later.

The person who came through my door was Becky “Bee” Bloomfield, the daughter of the man who had sold me my premises. She is 11 years old and claims to be the only girl in her class who has never been kissed. That is all she ever seems to want from me: a kiss.

I am not in the business of giving kisses.

I am in the Detective Business.

“What do you want?” I said without rising. “Shouldn’t you be in school?”

“Good morning to you, too, P.K.!” Bee was wearing a green & white calico dress. She had a bonnet on her head and a parcel in her hands. “I am on my way to school now. What is that?” She was looking down at my desk.

“The Daily Territorial Enterprise,” I said.

“No, underneath. All those pieces of cigarrito paper with writing and tobacco on them.”

“That is my Big Tobacco Collection,” I replied.

“P.K.,” she said, “you are mighty peculiar. But I will still allow you to kiss me.”

I folded my arms across my chest & tipped back my chair. “I am not in the Kissing Business,” I said. “I am in the Detective Business. Do you have a Mystery for me to solve?”

“No, but I do have a parcel for you,” she said. She plunked it on my desk so hard that some of my Big Tobacco Collection jumped onto the floor.

That made me mad & I stood up.

She said quickly, “It was on the boardwalk outside your door. Didn’t you see it sitting there?”

The parcel was about the size of a cigar box. It was crudely wrapped in brown paper & twine with the words FOR THE DETEKTEVE scrawled in pencil.

I opened the parcel.

It was a wooden cigar box. Inside was a baby made of rocks resting on a bed of sawdust.

Yes. A Baby made of six smooth lumps of gray granite. There was an oval rock for the body, a round one for the head and four longish ones for the arms and legs. You could tell it was meant to be a baby because of the crude face painted on one. The worst thing about it were the blood-red letters painted on its rock belly: R.I.P.

“Rest In Peace,” said Bee & brought her face close to the rock baby. “Is that blood?”

“No,” I said. “It is paint. Blood turns brown when it dries.”

“Ugh!” Bee shuddered. “It is ghastly.”

I nodded. Then I reached down & picked up a small roll of paper lying next to the Stone Baby. It was a Page torn from a book.

“What does it say?” asked Bee as I unrolled it. “Does it say who it’s meant for?”

I shook my head. “It is a page torn from a book,” I said. “Rock me to sleep, Mother, rock me to sleep.

Bee’s forehead smoothed out. “I know that song.”

“Song?”

“Yes, it is the chorus from a song about a dying soldier who wishes his mother was there to comfort him.” She sang, “Backward, turn backward, O Time, in your flight, Make me a child again just for tonight; Mother, come back from the echoless shore, Take me again to your heart as of yore. What do you think it means?” she said.

“I do not know,” I replied. “It is a Mystery.”

“What if it is not a Mystery?” she said suddenly. “What if it is a Warning? Rest in Peace is what they put on tombstones.” Bee’s voice kind of squeaked when she said that last word. “Is there anybody who has it in for you?”

I nodded. “Two Deadly Desperados.”

Ledger Sheet 6

TWO DEADLY DESPERADOS are after you?” gasped Bee Bloomfield. “How terrible!” Then she said, “What is a Desperado?”

I said, “A Desperado is a desperate outlaw. They are after me because I vanquished their boss.”

“Oh, P.K.!” Bee covered the base of her throat with her hand & lowered her voice. “What do they look like?”

I said, “Boz is short with a squinty left eye and a whiny voice. Extra Dub is tall and scrawny with a big Adam’s apple and a raspy voice. I thought they left town but maybe they returned to exact their revenge. They would probably like to gut me,” I added.

“Oh, P.K.!” Bee nipped round to my side of the desk & threw her arms around me. I froze. I do not like being touched. Also, my left shoulder was still sore from being shot with that .22 caliber ball.

“You are so brave,” said Bee. She pursed her lips & brought them closer & closer. I could smell minty Sozodont tooth powder.

I realized with horror that she was going to kiss me.

I writhed away just in time & ran around the other side of the desk. Bee pursued me.

Thankfully I was saved by the arrival of a man in a blue flannel shirt. He came stamping in through the open door, shouting, “Where is it? What have you done with it, you impudent puppy?”

Bee shrank back and I stepped forward with relief.

It was the new reporter in town, Sam Clemens, a.k.a. “Josh.” I recognized him by his muttonchop whiskers and the faint smell of dead-critter tobacco that clung to his person.

He was of medium height & build with dark reddish-brown hair and flashing greenish-blue eyes. Usually he drawled, but today he spoke fast.

“Dang it, Pinky!” he said. “I am mad at you.” Sure enough, he was wearing Expression No. 5, with his eyes narrowed.

“I am mad at you, too,” I said. “And don’t call me Pinky.”

At this his expression changed entirely. It went straight from No. 5 to No. 4: Surprise. His eyes opened wide. “You? Mad at me? Why? And how am I supposed to tell when your expression never changes? You are as inscrutable as the wooden Indian down at Bloomfield’s New Tobacco Emporium.”

I folded my arms across my chest. “I am mad,” I said, “because of two articles you wrote. One called ‘A Gale’ and one called ‘Indian Troubles on the Overland Route.’ Both articles contain statements that are Not True.”

“Not true?” he said. “Not TRUE?” Then he burst out laughing. “Well of course they ain’t true,” he said. “It is journalism. I had to fill two columns. I had hoped that one about Indian Troubles would make the front page,” he added. “And am bitterly disappointed that I was pushed back to page three.”

“You said it was Sioux that attacked our train,” I said, “when in fact it was Shoshone.”

“Your wagon train was attacked by Indians?” gasped Bee.

I nodded. “Two years ago. They killed my Indian ma and her friend Tommy Three and also our Chinese cook.”

“You are half Indian?” said Bee. She had a strange expression on her face. I could not read it.

“Course he is,” said Sam Clemens. “Can’t you tell by his dusky complexion and snapping black eyes?” He did not wait for her reply but said to me, “Sioux are all the fashion on account of the fact that they butchered about a thousand settlers over in Minnesota last month. I just combined a couple of stories.”

“But I thought you were obliged to print the Truth,” I protested.

“Ye gods, no!” drawled Sam Clemens. “Our only obligation is to make it interesting. The public wants matters of thrilling interest for breakfast! Mush-and-milk journalism gives me the fantods.”

Bee was still staring at me. She had a new expression on her face now. It was a kind of wide-eyed half smile. I could not read that one neither.

But I could read Sam Clemens. He had now narrowed his eyes into Expression No. 5—Anger or Suspicion.

“So where is it?” he demanded.

“Where is what?”

“An anonymous note was waiting for me at the Enterprise this morning.” Sam Clemens rattled the piece of paper in his hand. “It said Virginia’s newest Detective had my most precious possession. That’s you, if I am not mistaken.”

“You are not mistaken,” I said. “Let me see that note.”

He showed me a crude note. It had these words scrawled on it in pencil. VURJINEES NEWIST DETEKTEVE HAS YUR MOST PRESHOUS POZESHUN. It was unsigned.

My deductive skills immediately told me that the same person wrote this and the note on my stone baby.

I said, “I believe the same person wrote this and the note on my stone baby.”

“Stone baby?” said Sam Clemens. “What stone baby?”

“That stone baby,” I said, pointing to the half-unwrapped cigar box on my desk.

“I found it outside P.K.’s front door a few minutes ago,” said Bee. She shivered. “It gives me the fantods. We believe it is a warning message to P.K. from some Deadly Desperados bent on revenge.” She spoke the last words in a dramatic whisper.

Sam Clemens took a few steps forward & leaned over the cigar box. “Dang my buttons,” he drawled, “if it ain’t a petrified baby bearing a sinister message.”

“Petrified?” said Bee. “What does that mean?”

“It means turned to stone,” said Sam Clemens. “There has been a spate of reports of people turned to stone in some of the papers back east.”

“It is not a petrified baby,” I said. “It is six rocks arranged to look like a baby.”

Sam Clemens gave me a look. I could not read it.

“Part of a song came with it,” I said, and held out the torn-out page with the words of the song.

Sam Clemens read the note. “Dang it!” he cursed. “I’ll bet someone is pranking me. I hate that song.”

“How could you hate it?” cried Bee, clasping her hands over her heart. “It is a beautiful song & so sentimental.”

“That is exactly what I hate about it,” said Sam Clemens. He stuck his forefinger in the rock baby’s sawdust bed & poked around in there.

“Eureka!” he cried a moment later. “Here it is! My most precious possession.”

Ledger Sheet 7

SAM CLEMENS HELD UP an old corncob pipe with a bamboo stem.

“Found it!” he said. “It was buried in the sawdust.”

That is your most precious possession?” said Bee, wrinkling her nose in Expression No. 3: Disgust.

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