The Megunto

27 Oct

Can anyone ever foresee where a new client might lead an attorney?

Jiminy Tunx did not expect any business during a severe snowstorm. Sitting in his Schaghticoke office reading, he was surprised when the outside door opened. Rising and hurrying into the outer room, the lawyer found there a small young woman bundled in thick winter clothing, a black shawl covering her head.

“Attorney Tunx?” she inquired.

“Yes. Can I be of help to you?”

“My name is Sarah Yawgou. I have come through the snow from Tapawingo. My father died last month and there is a problem concerning his estate. No one at home will take my case. An old friend of father’s advised me to seek your aid. You are my last hope for justice, sir.”

“Do not distress yourself, Miss,” he said soothingly. “Come into my chamber and tell me your story. You can discuss your trouble with full confidentiality.”

As soon as the two were comfortably seated, she began to explain her problem.

“My father left me his entire estate, but a shameless man named Walt Maingan stole the central part of it from me.”

Tunx gave her a searching look. “Tell me how the crime occurred.”

“My father owned the main iron works in Tapawingo. In the 1850’s, he started as a small, independent blacksmith. During the War Between the States, he became a gunsmith and weapons maker. By the end of the 1860’s, the Yawgou Ironworks became the largest and best known in the region.

“The closest assistant to father was his chief mechanic, this Walt Maingan.

“Together, they carried out experiments. Father told me very little about his megunto device. It was to be a new kind of engine or machine, but not using any fuel like coal or oil.

“Father told me that the megunto was close to being finished. But then the final illness befell him and the mechanic stole the plans and the engine itself.

“It took me time to deal with the grief of my parent’s death. When I made my first visit to the ironworks, the workers informed me that Walt Maigan had disappeared and that my father’s megunto was also gone.”

“You have no idea where the man has fled?”

She shook her head. “None at all. He was secretive about his background. Father took it for granted that he was of our own tribe. He spoke Algonkian without noticable accent. But there was a shadow of strangeness to him.”

“What kind of strangeness, Miss Yawgou?”

“He was never open with anyone. There was a hidden scheme in his mind all the time he worked for us. I myself came to feel great unease in his presence.”

The two looked directly at each other without saying anything.

“What is it that you wish me to do about the person, Miss?”

“Sue him and recover the megunto. It was my father’s idea and invention, not Maingan’s. He was only a hired assistant, nothing more.”

“No one knows his present whereabouts?”

“No one, sir.”

Tunx thought a moment. “That does not make the case impossible. As long as he is still in Housatonic Territory, I am certain the man can be located. I have an agent who frequently works for me. He is good at tracking down missing persons.”

Sarah became excited. “You shall take me as a client, then?”

“Of course,” he nodded. “And I need not be paid for my services until full recovery is won.”

The young woman soon left for the cottage where she was staying, her spirits soaring.

The Panic of 1873 brought economic devestation to the Housatonic Territory. Wedged between New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts, the poor, backward region remained the refuge of Mohawk and Algonquin natives who had long ago given up most vestiges of tribal life. Christianity and the victory of the English language had created a population of unaccepted, low caste Americans. Few outsiders had settled along the banks of the Housatonic River. The territorial capital at Naugatuck was still a small, sleepy village, as it had been a century earlier.

“Statehood for the Housatonic would be an absurdity,” said all the politicians of the states with populations from Europe. No resident of the territory desired or proposed it. This was Indian country and would always remain so.

Depression and destitution fell to unprecedented depths by the winter of 1874. Paper money and coin grew scarce. There was little demand for the products of this forsaken mountain region. A profound sadness characterized the forgotten region, full of pain and hopelessness. There was nowhere for the despised inhabitants to migrate, for they were unwanted everywhere else. They sensed how much Housatonic Territory had become a prison for them.

Jiminy Tunx made his way through the snow to the Sachem Inn, where he expected to find Isaac Nepaug, the operative who was always willing to carry out special projects for him. Several times these jobs had strayed over boundaries of the law. Up to now, the agent had never failed him.

Entering the crowded, smoke-filled hall, the lawyer looked about. He spotted his friend alone at a back table. A tall mug of local beer sat in front of a pensive, abstracted figure. Isaac did not look up until Tunx stood directly before him.

“Good evening,” the lawyer began. “You appear to be concentrating your thoughts with singular intensity, I would guess.”

A wry smile crossed the broad face of the meditating drinker. Amber eyes sparkled in a brick red face. “Sit down, sir,” said the muscular, athletic Nepaug. “Are you here to speak with me about a case?”

Jiminy said nothing till he was seated opposite the other. “Are you busy with anything, Issac?” he asked point blank.

The agent’s grin widened, then vanished. “I have become somewhat a hermit this winter. Since I have no work to occupy me, there is much time on my hands.”

A waiter appeared with a mug, placed it in front of Tunx, then left. Both men took long swigs of the grainy dark beer.

“I need to find a particular ironmaster, a skilled mechanic. He may be working anywhere in the territory at present.”

“Is this person a criminal of some sort?”

“He has taken a particular device, an engine, with him. My clent claims it as an inheritance from her late father, the person who drew the plans for it. She wishes to see the invention returned to her.”

“It is valuable, then?”

“To her,” replied the attorney. “That is all that matters in this case.”

“What is the name of the culprit?”

“Walt Maingan. He was employed in Tapawingo at the Yawgou Ironworks. I will obtain a physical description of him for you. When can you start on this, Isaac?”

“At once,” answered the latter. “As soon as I finish my mug of beer.”

“I shall take you to meet my client, then. She can provide a full description of the man.”

Silently, the detective raised and finished off his brew.

Sarah gave only the most general picture of Maingan.

She invited her lawyer and his agent into the parlor of the cottage she rented. The three sat down and Jiminy began to question his client. “It is important to have a physical profile of the one we are after, in case he now uses a false identity.”

Sarah proved not too specific. “Walt Maingan is neither tall nor short. His hair is long, the dark black common among Algonquians. His skin is copper. bronze, and red in about equal measure. He is neither fat nor thin. Hie head is neither square nor oval, but a little of both. I remember his hands were tough and callused from long work with metal.”

Jiminy glanced at the agent, then thanked Sarah for the information.

“Do not have concern, Miss,” said Isaac Nepaug. “I shall uncover the fellow, however long it may take.” He gave her a confident smile. “As soon as dawn rises, I will be on the road.”

“In what direction?” inquired Tunx.

The hunter of men turned to him. “Northward. Something tells me that is where a mechanic who has stolen a machine would go with it.” Shortly after, Isaac excused himself and left.

“Are you comfortable in your cottage, Sarah?” asked her lawyer.

“Oh, yes,” she replied. “It is warm and cosy. I aleady feel at home.”

“I will be reporting to you whatever the agent finds.”

“Thank you for all you are doing,” she whispered.

“I was wondering about your father’s records and correspondence. There may be important clues to what happened in them. Could they be sent here?”

Sarah agreed to that at once. “I will send a letter to my housekeeper in Tapingo at once.”

“Why not send a telegram?” suggested Jiminy.

“Of course, that is faster than mail. I will do it early tomorrow.”

“Thank you, Sarah.”

“Will Mr. Nepaug succeed in finding him?” she suddenly asked.

“Yes, I am confident he will.” He rose, said goodnight, then left the cottage.

The Taconic Telegraph Company was the instrument of a single individual, Mr. Marco Wahconah of the northern town of Taconic. He had early seen the possibility of weaving together all parts of the Housatonic Territory with wires of copper. Fortunately for him, no outside firm ventured into the region from New York, Connecticut, or Massachusetts. He had the field entirely to himself, so that in a few years his company became the largest private business in all the Housatonic.

Now in his late sixties, Marco continued to dream of new conquests and achievements. Keeping the plans to himself, the elderly magnate walked to his office every morning, regardless of weather.

The bent figure stepped through the high snow of the street, avoiding patches of ice. A thick beaver coat and squirrel hat protected him from the brutal wind blowing from Mount Rigan. The frigid air gave a bright red glow to his wrinkled face. Rimless spectacles shielded the rich man’s hazel eyes from sudden wintery gusts.

Reaching the single storey red brick building that was his company headquarters, he opened the heavy oak door and hurried inside. Only one clerk had already arrived, a short, brown Mohawk with hair in a pigtail.

“Good morning, Mr. Wahconah,” called out the little man from his desk. “There is someone to see you.”

Marco stopped and gave him a blank stare.

“I told the engineer to wait in the anteroom, sir.”

In an instant, the company owner realized who it was so early in the morning. It had to be the new technical mechanic, the one he had hired that winter.

“Yes, I will see the man at once. See that the two of us are not disturbed.” He advanced toward his private chamber, entering first the small anteroom where the visitor was sitting.

Walt Maingan, his features those of an average Algonquin, sprang to his feet with the vigor of a forest inhabitant. “Good morning, sir,” he began. “I had to see you at once.”

“Come into my office,” commanded the chief of the Taconic Telegraph Company, taking off hat and overcoat and throwing them on a small table.

The paneled room was plain and orderly. Maingan took the chair opposite the huge mahogany desk of his employer.

“You have something important to report?” said the latter.

The mechanic drew a deep breath. “The megunto has begun to operate, sir. A strong current now comes forth out of it.”

Marco gave a start of surprise. “Already?”

“Indeed, just as I promised you it would.”

For several moments, neither of them said a word.

“Do you believe the machine is ready for sending out signals?” inquired the entrepeneur, his curiosity whetted.

“That is the reason I am here. The test can be run today, as soon as possible.”

Wahconah made an instantaneous decision. “We shall go out to the farm together. I wish to test your device myself.”

The two rose. Maingan led the way through the anteroom. Both men bundled up for a lengthy trek through the snow.

Jiminy Tunx spent more and more time with the client from Tapawingo. Each evening they met at her cottage. Whenever a telegram came from Isaac Nepaug, he would read it to her. Together, the pair followed the course of the agent’s manhunt.

When a box of records arrived by mail coach, Jiminy informed Sarah. The two of them sat in the parlor of the small cottage.

“Your father’s correspondence arrived at my office this afternoon,” he announced. “I have begun to plow through all of it.”

“He knew many people, both in and outside the Housetonic,” she said “My father was much more important than any of his neighbors knew.”

“Timothy Yawgou was most generous with his time and his ideas, Sarah.”

A shadow fell over her lively black eyes. “He was much too trusting. People found it was easy to win his confidence. That is what happened with Walt Maingan. He convinced my father that they shared the same scientific interests. No secrets were kept from this mechanic, who became his personal assistant in experimental work. Together they built the megunto that Maingan has stolen.”

Jiminy gave her a inquisitive, searching look. “I do not have much technical knowledge about these things, Sarah, but your father refers to the megunto as a dynamo-electric machine. From what I have read, he hoped to use it for telegraphic purposes. There were letters sent to companies in New York, Boston, and Hartford. Only negative replies seem to have come back to him. The only interest shown came from up in Taconic. The telegraph company’s president asked many questions about the invention.”

“Yes, there were people who wished to know more about the device. But most of the letters he sent out led nowhere.”

The lawyer sighed. “Let us hope that Isaac picks up the scent of the fugitive.”

Sarah murmured her assent.

Nepaug rode the winter roads on a strong, tireless roan.

Everywhere he went the tracker asked questions. No one had noticed any traveler matching his description of Maingan. Following the Housatonic River northward, Isaac came to Bartholomew’s Cobble. It was here that he made his first strike, with a carriage driver drinking beer in the village tavern.

“There was a strange bird that I carried from here to Taconic about a month or so ago. The man had a dozen large boxes that had to be hauled on my freight trailer behind the carriage. It was a good thing there were no other passengers that day. This odd one took up all of my cab with tools and heavy gear.”

“What was he transporting?” asked the investigator with growing interest.

“I do not know for sure, but the load was heavy and metallic,” said the driver. “It was quite an expensive way for him to travel, I may tell you.”

The two drank some and talked further.

“When is the next coach to Taconic?” suddenly asked Nepaug.

“Tomorrow morning. Why?”

“I think I will go there and have a look around.”

Not having much work to do at his law office, Jiminy Tunx delved deeply into the papers bearing the ideas and speculations of Timothy Yawgou. He poured through sheaves of the inventor’s plans, learning how Sarah’s father intended to use his invention.

“Megunto power is a form of electricity that will far surpass what can be done with galvanic batteries. I predict that one day the megunto will allow the transportation of the human voice itself. Pictures and written text will be transmitted through the air like sound. No conducting wires will be needed at all.

“The meguntic charge, sent in great quantities over long distances, will provide sufficient energy to illuminate and energize the great cities of America and their industries. Future civilization, I foresee, will be completely different from what we know today.”

Jiminy heard a knocking at his office door. He rose to see who it was.

His law clerk handed him an envelope. “A telegram arrived for you, sir.”

The lawyer took it, closed the door, and returned to his desk. He ripped open the envelope and quickly read the message inside “Our man is working for Taconic Telegraph Co. and stays at an inn in Taconic. Send instructions.”

Springing to his feet, Tunx hurried to put on overcoat and hat. First of all, he had to tell Sarah the exciting news. Then, as soon as possible, he had to leave for the north with a court order to take possession of the purloined invention. “There is no time to lose,” he warned himself.

Sarah’s reaction to the telegram was a surprise. “Take me along with you, Jiminy,” she pleaded. “I must be present when the machine is recovered. After all, it is my property now. We must make sure that nothing remains in the hands of Walt Maingan, nothing.”

The attorney hesitated. “That is not a good idea, Sarah. What if there is physical resistance on the part of this evil man? It is possible that the danger from him will be considerable. No, it is best I go there alone.”

Anger darkened the face of the client. “Listen to me, Jiminy. I am the one who hired you, not the other way around. My decision is that I travel to Taconic, either with you or by myself.” Her lips pouted, then twisted into a determined grimace.

Tunx was compelled to make a sudden, complete reversal. “Very well,” he relented. “We leave by coach tomorrow morning. I must go and make the arrangements at once.”

He moved off to get his overcoat and hat, hanging on a wooden clothes tree.

“Thank you,” simpered Sarah as he made his way from the cottage.

Before the two travelers boarded their coach, Jiminy sent a telegram to his agent at Bartholomew’s Cobble. “We will meet you, then proceed to Taconic at first opportunity.”

Sarah and the lawyer climbed into the large coach, where only one other passenger was seated. They would be nearly alone on the trip. Sarah sat in a corner away from the stranger. Tunx took the seat across from her.

The winding road to the north took them past frozen Lake Waramaug and through Above All, into the thick Wyantenock Forest. To the east rose the white peak of Mohawk Mountain. The rushing coach, pulled by four sturdy horses, turned west and re-entered the river valley at Housatonic Meadows, then turned again and headed straight north.

“Isaac will be waiting for us in Bartholomew’s Cobble,” whispered Tunx. “From there, we can proceed onward at once.”

She gazed at him with her eyes enlarged. “We will get the machine back, then?”

“You have a valid legal claim to it, Sarah. The entire estate of your father falls to you alone, completely and lawfully.”

“Can we expect Walt Maingan to offer resistance?”

Jiminy had to consider a moment. “I shall ask a local constable to accompany us, in case the man causes trouble of any kind.”

The stagecoach hustled on along the snowy, icy road.

Isaac was waiting to escort the pair to the inn where he had rented rooms for them. The three met in the agent’s quarters, where venison stew was ordered for the entire party.

“Maingan is a special mechanic, answering only to the owner of the Taconic Telegraph Company. He works in a large barn on a private farm near town. This is owned by Mr. Marco Wahconah, the millionaire to whom the mechanic makes reports. We must assume the stolen device is inside the barn, Mr. Tunx.”

The latter did not for a time say anything. “I must first confer with this man, Wahconah. If our court order is presented to him, he will have to comply with it. He could place his entire business in jeopardy should he refuse.”

Sarah suddenly objected to this. “If we act first, there can be no question of any resistance by him. Don’t we have the right to take the megunto at once?”

The lawyer gave her a look of compassionate understanding. “We must not surprise the other side too much. I am certain that Mr. Wahconah will do the right thing, according to what the law demands. He is probably ignorant of the legal situation. Maingan had no reason to reveal it to him.”

Sarah said no more. Shortly, Tunx left with Isaac for Taconic, hoping to find the telegraph magnate still at his office.

“An attorney from Schaghticoke?” gasped Marco Wahconah at his office clerk.”Bring him in at once so I can see the man.”

His overcoat and hat removed, Jiminy came into the room and shook hands with he owner of the company.

When the two men were seated, the older one asked “‘How can I be of service to you, Mr. Tunx?”

With a poker face, the latter reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a thick, yellow paper. He leaned forward and handed the court order to Wahconah to read. Jiminy watched as the other wrinkled his brow.

The president set the document on the polished surface of his desk. His hazel eyes focused sharply on the face of his visitor. “This order is based on ignorance of the facts, sir. I am sure that I can convince any court in the Housatonic that the claim in it is unjustified.”

The attorney stared in astonishment. “My client , the daughter of Timothy Yawgou, is his sole heir. She has a clear right to his entire estate. That is undeniable.”

“But it definitely can and must be denied,” countered the millionaire. “The meguntic engine is not part of that estate, and never has been, because it was given away prior to the death of its inventor. Mr. Walt Maingan has documents assigning him all rights to the machine. I have had my own attorney examine and verify his ownership. The contract between my company and him is based upon the validity of his claim.”

Tunx frowned. “I do not understand, not at all”

“Years ago, when he was a young man, Timothy Yawgou left Tapawingo to work for a year at an ironworks in Nassahegon. While there, he fell in love with an unmarried woman. One thing led to another, it appears. When he returned to Tapawingo, he did not know that his lover had become pregnant.

“A fatherless son was born to the woman in Nassahegon. Meawhile, Timothy himself married and opened his ironworks. A daughter came about, the woman you represent. But there was also the earlier child, of whose existence the father was, for years, unaware.” The magnate, falling silent, stared at his breathless listener.

“This illegitimate son, what became of him?” inquired Jiminy.

“Before she died, his mother sent Walt Maingan to his father as a sixteen-year-old apprentice. Yawgou did not want to recognize him publicly, but accepted a moral obligation toward the youth. Timothy taught him the craft of metal work. He discovered that Walt had mechanical skills, allowing him to advance rapidly. In just a few years, the lad became chief mechanic of his father’s iron foundry.

“The son becme Yawgou’s assistant in conceiving and constructing the megunto. He worked alongside his parent, finding solutions to difficult technical problems. The two grew quite close. At last, they had a successfully operating engine that guaranteed huge quantities of power that they could radiate through the air.

“But part of the price for all this was the father’s health. A tubercular condition which he ignored came to afflict him. Timothy was confined to his bed. As he saw the end of his life approach, the man decided to make provisions for the future of Walt. Although the bulk of his property was to go to the daughter, one item would be granted to this illegitimate son. That was to be the megunto machine and all rights to it. In fact, that was transferred to him before Yawgou’s death.

“The invention, therefore, was never part of the estate left your client. Is that clear, Mr. Tunx?”

The lawyer gave him a silent nod.

“You must relate these matters to your client, sir,” concluded Marco Wahconah.

Isaac waited in a tavern for the return of his employer. It took only a minute for the latter to explain the situation resulting from what had been revealed by Wahconah.

“What do we do now?” asked the agent. “Give up and leave Taconic?”

“No, it is not yet time for that. What if the grant the millionaire showed me was a fake? What if Maingan has created a brazen fraud? No, we cannot leave things the way they are.”

The attorney paused, then thought of something. “Did you learn where the engine is being kept for experimentation?”

“Walt Maingan lives in a small farmhouse a little way to the west of town. He does his work with the megunto in a barn immediately behind it.”

Jiminy gritted his teeth. “I must go back to Bartholomew’s Cobble and talk with Sarah. You will make preparations for obtaining and transporting the megunto. A wagon will be necessary for that. Can you quietly hire two or three locals to help with the job?”

“I aim to try,” promised Isaac. “There are strong workers who come to this place and drink ale.”

Soon he left and rode into the night on a hired horse.

Sarah sat in a leather-backed Algonquin chair.

The lawyer stood a little in front of her, watching how she reacted to each statement he made to her.

Eyes exploding, hands and head shaking, Sarah sputtered in anger. “Lies! It is all lies! He would have to be my half-brother. That is impossible. Father would never have concealed such a relationship. He was not the kind to lie about his past sins. No, that is nothing but a fraudulent fantasy, a story meant to fool his rich patron. Do not give it any credence.”

“I have serious doubts about the document shown me, Sarah. It did not appear to be the sort of gift a father woud give an unrecognized son. A question came to me: why didn’t your father make any menton of this grant of the invention in his will? That would have been the rational thing to do.”

“You agree with me, then?” demanded the daughter.

“Yes. The machine your father invented is wholly yours. I intend to take possession of it within the next several hours. Isaac is already busy with the preparations for getting control of it.”

Sarah lunged forward, until she stood only inches from the attorney. “Take me with you,” she said plaintively. “Do not leave me here. I wish to see how the megunto is to be reclaimed for me.”

Perplexed, he was unable to make an immediate reply. Her dark eyes became sparkling gems that reflected a will that brooked no opposition.

“Very well,” decided Jiminy. “I will find a shay we can take together to Taconic.”

A freezing wind from Mount Riga made the night air crisp and tingling.

Breathing hard, Tunx halted the horse pulling the shay and climbed out onto the hardened country road. He glanced back at Sarah, bundled up like a stuffed bear. Her face was wrapped in a thick shawl, hiding most of it from view.

A voice came from behind the attorney. “Everyone is ready to move in, sir,” whispered Isaac Neaug.

The leader of the expedtion turned around. “You found men to help us with the machine?”

“I believe the pair I hired can be trusted. They are waiting by the wagon, ready to start at once.”

Jiminy, turning his head, cast his eyes at the barn in the near distance. “We must keep down the noise that we make,” he muttered. “If Maingan is asleep in the house, he could become dangerous if suddenly awakened.”

The agent nodded his assent to this. Moving slowly, the two men stepped up to the wagon.

“Do not make any noise as my friend and I walk to the barn,” commanded Isaac in a lowered voice. “Once inside, I will survey the situation with my lantern.” He indicated the unlit oil lamp in his left hand. “When I signal that all is ready, you must quickly bring the wagon to the door of the barn, Do you understand?”

Both men grunted that they did.

Tunx, with Isaac in step with him, advanced cautiouly toward the dark high building behind the small rural house. In a surprisingly short time, the pair reached the closed hinged doors. Isaac pushed the right half open, his employer the left portion.

Finally, they entered the blackness of the interior, trying to make out features and objects. Rafters, struts, and wall boards gradually became distinguishable. It was clear that the empty barn no longer had much use for farming. In the middle section before them, the two saw a high, bulky shape with dark, straight lines. “That is it,” exclaimed Jiminy in a hushed tone.

Isaac realized it was time for him to move into action. Reaching into an inside pocket, he pulled out a tiny box full of lucifers. Setting the lantern down on the plank floor, he took out a match and rubbed it against the rough side of the box. Bending over, he lit the wick of the oil lamp, then raised it with his right arm. Adjusting the light, he returned the lucifer box to his inner pocket.

Jiminy was gazing with rapt attention at the engine in front of them. Numerous wires protruded outward in different directions. The megunto seemed an ancient Algonquin deity returned to earth after a long hiatus elsewhere. “How would it change the life of the Housatonic population in years to come?” he asked himself. The lawyer gazed on, swept away and spellbound.

Isaac interrupted him. “Shall I signal them to bring the wagon here?”

Tunx turned to him. “First, we will have to disconnect all those copper wires connected to it. Do you have a tool that can cut through them?”

“There is a pair of sharp shears in the wagon,” replied the other. “I will use them once our friends get to the barn.” He moved to the open doorway and waved the lantern back and forth.

Maingan dared not move in the first few moments after being awakened. Was it a dream, or were feet moving about in the barn where the megunto was kept? He listened intently, focusing his mind on what he could make out through the walls of the frame house.

As nerves came to life within him, his senses grew sharper. Yes, there was more than a single intruder out there in the cold night. It was plain to him what they were after. Why hadn’t he bought a lock to secure the barn with? He had thought that Mr. Wahconah could afford to take care of his request for one, but the frugal millionaire had never gotten it for him. Now it might turn out to be too late.

He reached beyond the heavy blanket covering him, to the stand beside his bed. Taking hold of the handle of the hunting knife lying there, Walt lifted it and brought it close to his side. In a fraction of a second, he was out of bed, shivering as he drew on his thick breeches.

There was no time to put on a coat. Picking up the knife again, the mechanic rushed to the front door, opened it, and plunged outside into the shadows. Moving through the snow, he peered around the corner of the building. In the light of a lantern within the barn, he could make out a wagon that had been driven backwards through the door. Two horses faced him. Four figures appeared to be lifting the megunto onto the rear of the wagon, aiming to steal it away. None of them happened to face the house directly or catch sight of who was observing their actions.

But there was someone he had not yet spotted.

Sarah, upon first seeing the man who claimed to be her half-brother, watched him as if suddenly paralyzed. She saw how he moved to the corner of the house, a hunting knife in his hand. All at once, the young woman knew what she had to do.

Moving to the left, she seized hold of the reins, snapping the horses into sudden action. Forward they leaped, toward the barn, taking the shay with them.

Maingan, turning his head, stared dumbstruck at what was happening.

As the horses and the shay sped near, the driver reached into a pocket of her beaver coat and pulled out a small object.

In an instant, the mechanic sprang forward, into the path of the hurtling vehicle. He had recognized who it was at the reins.

His face became an icy mask as Sarah aimed her derringer and shot point blank into his heart. By now, the four in the barn were running out of it. In seconds, a bloody collision had occurred between Walt Maigan and two horses and the shay.

One person was dead and another mortally injured.

Only Jiminy Tunx was in the bedroom of the farmhouse when his client made a strange, final confession. She had fallen out of the rushing shay and suffered grave wounds.

“I allowed him to become my lover. And the monster would not reveal his identity or our common parentage. He deceived me into sin that can never be forgotten, let alone forgiven. My brother stole my soul from me, not only the machine.”

At that moment, the lawyer comprehended for the first time the depth of her hunger for vengeance. “It wasn’t just the megunto, then,” he softly whispered to her.

“He owed me far more than that,” she said. “Now, I can die with my conscience in good order. Walt Maingan has paid for what he did to me.” She drew a full breath, then entered a final sleep.

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