Secrets of the Lighthouse
A startled gasp escaped from the pretty woman who appeared from around the curve of the stairs, stopping as she saw Frank there. Since he was moving silently, she would have had no idea he was on the way down. Not only was he not making any noise, but also any sounds of his shoes would have been overshadowed by hers. He instinctively reached out to steady her as she rocked slightly at the sudden sight of him.
He glanced down at her feet and saw the source of the noise. She was wearing flip-flops. Frank’s attention was drawn back to her face when she spoke.
“I hope you are either Frank or Joe Hardy,” she said, looking at him closely. He gently let go of her since she didn’t appear to be about to fall over and nodded.
“Frank, and you are?” he asked politely.
“Zoeth. I was wanting to talk to you and your brother,” she responded. He certainly is good looking, she thought to herself. They both heard a voice call from the bottom of the steps, “Frank, are you okay?”
“Yeah, I’m coming!” Frank called back. More quietly he said to Zoeth, “Would you like to go down to the living area to talk?” She nodded in agreement and turned to go back down, with Frank following. Before they reached the bottom, Joe, still out of sight, hollered up to Frank.
“What is keeping you? Needless to say, but I will anyway,….I won! We should have decided on a prize for the winner.” Joe continued, “How could you be so slow, anyway? Did you get lost, take a wrong turn, forget what you were doing,……find a girl?” Zoeth had just come into Joe’s line of vision, with Frank right behind her. Frank grinned at the surprised look on his brother’s face.
“Zoeth, this is Joe. Joe, Zoeth,” Frank completed the introductions. Joe smiled and said hi, as did Zoeth, who thought how handsome Joe was also. “Zoeth…?”
“Reeves, any relation to the uh….,” Joe asked her. She nodded.
“Yeah, when I heard you guys were investigating I got over here as fast as I could.” She walked with the brothers into the keeper’s home and sat down at their invitation on the couch in the compact living room.
Frank settled down in the large chair that was placed near the door. “Do you have a key to the lighthouse?”
“Yeah,” she said, holding up her key. “I had to fight to get it. I give plenty of money to the preservation of this lighthouse, the least they could do was let me have a key after all of their false publicity.” The brothers watched her as she talked, the sparkle bright in her eyes with the passion she felt for the history of the lighthouse.
“I locked it back when I came in,” Zoeth said. She turned to Joe, “You obviously have a key; I had no idea one of you was outside. It was locked so I used my key and put it back the way it was – locked.”
Joe glanced over at Frank, who well knew he was the one with the key, so that meant Joe picked the lock to get in. They kept that little talent to themselves.
“So, what all can you tell us about the murder mystery?” Joe asked as he sat down on the armrest of the chair Frank was seated in.
“First thing I can tell you is that there was never a murder,” Zoeth stated.
Frank and Joe remembered that Margaret had indicated that a relative of Sarah Reeves was questioning the alleged murder.
Frank leaned forward slightly, “Not just that the details are incorrect, but a murder didn’t actually take place?”
“That’s right,” Zoeth said. “The story you’ve probably heard was that Alexander Powers, a local fisherman, was married to my ancestor, Sarah Reeves. She was my great-great grandfather’s sister. I have letters written by Sarah to her family. My family is originally from Boston, but Sarah had come to this town to visit a friend for the summer, and this is where she met Alexander Powers. He was dashing and brave; she told her family all about him.” Zoeth dug into her purse and pulled out a small stack of papers. “These are copies of the letters.” She handed them over to the brothers to peruse. Frank accepted them and Joe leaned so he could read them over his brother’s shoulder.
“Yep, she was definitely in love with Powers,” Joe noted, as he read all the superlatives that laced the letters from Sarah. “Hey, wait a minute.”
Frank stopped, “What?” Joe reached over and pointed at the date in the corner of the last of the letters, then looked over at Zoeth to ask, “What date was the murder supposed to have taken place?”
“October 31, 1900,” she stated without hesitation.
Frank nodded, “Yeah, in this letter they aren’t married yet and it’s dated November 8, 1900. Plus she sure sounds healthy for a murder victim.”
“That’s two discrepancies in the story,” Joe said. “Since they were supposed to be married already and he allegedly came home to find her over at the lighthouse keeper’s house, and murdered her in a jealous rage.” He frowned and shook his head, “This proves that she was still alive after the supposed murder.”
“Oh, that was explained to me,” Zoeth rolled her eyes, “One time they told me that Sarah hadn’t told her family that she had gotten married because they would have been upset with her for not having the wedding in Boston.”
“That doesn’t explain how she could be alive a week after she was supposed to have been murdered, married or not,” Frank pointed out.
“They also told me that I probably made up these letters, for some reason, publicity, to cause trouble, whatever, and so these have no bearing on history.” Zoeth was still steamed at the accusations and her voice shook slightly at the memory.
“That’s ignorant!” Joe exclaimed, “That’s an awful lot of chutzpah on their part.”
Zoeth smiled at him, appreciating his belief in her story. She looked at Frank who hadn’t said anything but was still reading and thinking. She couldn’t tell what his opinion was from the serious look on his face. Joe’s expression, however, left no doubt that he was taking Zoeth’s side.
“Did you produce the original letters as proof?” Frank asked, glancing up briefly to look at Zoeth. “That should have shut them up.”
“It should have, but they had an ‘expert’ come in; I think it was some jailbird relative of someone’s who said the letters were fake.” Zoeth’s blue eyes snapped with anger. “When I questioned the ‘findings’ of this so-called expert, they wanted me to hand the letters over so they could send them away to be authenticated by someone else as a second opinion. They told me they thought they were being very reasonable by giving me the benefit of the doubt.”
“How generous of them,” Joe shook his head. “You hand the letters over and then they’d disappear.”
“My fears exactly,” Zoeth said. “So I keep the letters and I get labeled by the more generous ones as a misguided romantic and by others as a lying troublemaker.”
“Why didn’t you bring in a non-biased expert?” asked Frank.
“I did, but they wouldn’t accept his findings.”
“Do he give you anything in writing?”
“Yes, but I can’t find it.” Zoeth looked slightly embarrassed.
Frank nodded. “If you were able to prove there wasn’t a murder then there couldn’t be a haunting without first having a victim. Not that there would be a haunting even if there was a murder.”