The Bell on Lonely was an awesome sound to the natives of Fox Island, for its tolling had come to be a signal of trouble, violence or death. Over the years the tiny island – owned and inhabited by only one family – had been visited by a series of tragedies, until people on Fox whispered of a family curse and took care to steer clear of the waters around Lonely.
And then, one gray afternoon, the copper bell rang out again and Deputy Sheriff Gil Donan set out to investigate.
Gil found Dave Brackett, the owner of the island, dead beneath his own boat. it looked at first like another of the tragic accidents that had repeatedly struck the Brackett family. But there were curious circumstances that suggested to Gil not simply another bizarre mishap, but planned and premeditated murder.
Lonely, what a wonderful name for an island in a mystery! Atmosphere abounds in this tale…
‘The fog was cold as death breathing down his neck. He cast an uneasy eye toward Lonely Island drifting by in its slithering curtains. Damned unlucky place! He’d never set foot on it, even when he was a kid, although the terns nested on the southeastern tip and eggs were thicker than huckleberries for a boy’s stealing. Never took this passage home to Fox from the mainland even though it was a short cut which lessened the distance a couple of miles. He wasn’t the only man didn’t have a liking for Lonely. None of the lobstermen around Fox set their pots in the deep waters lying off its southwestern shores. No kids picnicked there, gathered the wild strawberries that reddened in the warm grass of its sloping meadows. No women went to pick apples although the orchard old Jed Brackett had planted still bore the best early cooking apples in Penobscot Bay. Especially no women visited Lonely.
They claimed the sight of bloodstains frightened them. A red stain ran like a bleeding wound down the granite beyond the crescent of pebbled beach. couldn’t be bloodstains, their men told them. Not after all these years.’
Are you intrigued yet?
‘The shoes were old and scuffed, the soles heavy-corded, the laces frayed and knotted. The shoes of a man who’d walked a lonely way beside a woman he didn’t love. Nonsense, thought Gil, I’m assigning pathos to a pair of inanimate objects. I’m an incurable sentimentalist, standing at the moment in need of my good friend Doc’s astringent materialism.’
Sentimental is definitely one of the traits of Sheriff Donan! He is always loathed to have to find out who did it and arrest them. But justice must prevail!
‘I don’t say any of them did. I only say Dave’s the type of man whose actions may have brought about his own death.’ Sal responded.
‘In other words, Dave deserved to be killed?’
‘You persist in misunderstanding me. I don’t mean that at all. What I’m trying to say is you should be careful in fixing the blame for his death, since he himself may be the one at fault. It would be fairer to call it an accident, the accident of Dave’s own nature. As a representative of the law you’ll think this is silly and illogical. I’m sorry I started this conversation. Please forget it.’
Oh, Gil may have a really hard time with this one!
Bev’s Vintage Scavenger Hunt Gold (1959) category shadowy figure