“What about coffee?”
“No tea. No bacon. No corn meal. No salt. No pep per. No coffee. No Borden’s canned cream. No Aunt Jemima buckwheat flour. No nothing.”
“What are you talking about? There was plenty to eat last night.”
“There isn’t now. Chipmunks must have carried it away.”
The warden from down state had gotten up when he heard them talking and had come into the kitchen.
“How do you feel this morning?” the hired girl asked him.
The warden ignored the hired girl and said, “What is it, Evans?”
“That son of a bitch came in here last night and got himself a pack load of grub.”
“Don’t you swear in my kitchen,” the hired girl said.
“Come out here,” the down-state warden said. They both went out on the screen porch and shut the kitchen door.
“What does that mean, Evans?” the down-state man pointed at the quart of Old Green River which had less than a quarter left in it. “How skunk-drunk were you?”
“I drank the same as you. I sat up by the table—”
“Waiting for the goddam Adams boy if he showed.”
“Not drinking. Then I got up and went in the kitchen and got a drink of water about half past four and I lay down here in front of the door to take it easier.”
“Why didn’t you lie down in front of the kitchen door?”
“I could see him better from here if he came.”
“So what happened?”
“He must have come in the kitchen, through a window maybe, and loaded that stuff.”
“What were you doing?” the local warden asked.
“I was sleeping the same as you.”
“Okay. Let’s quit fighting about it. That doesn’t do any good.”
“Tell that hired girl to come out here.”
The hired girl came out and the down-state man said to her, “You tell Mrs. Adams we want to speak to her.”
The hired girl did not say anything but went into the main part of the house, shutting the door after her.
“You better pick up the full and the empty bottles,” the down-state man said. “There isn’t enough of this to do any good. You want a drink of it?”
“No thanks. I’ve got to work today.”
“I’ll take one,” the down-state man said, “it hasn’t been shared right.”
“I didn’t drink any of it after you left,” the local warden said doggedly.
“Why do you keep on with that bullshit?”
“It isn’t bullshit.”
The down-state man put the bottle down. “All right,” he said to the hired girl, who had opened and shut the door behind her. “What did she say?”
“She has a sick headache and she can’t see you. She says you have a warrant. She says for you to search the place if you want to and then go.”
“What did she say about the boy?”
“She hasn’t seen the boy and she doesn’t know anything about him.”
“Where are the other kids?”
“They’re visiting at Charlevoix.”
“Who are they visiting?”
“I don’t know. She doesn’t know. They went to the dance and they were going to stay over Sunday with friends.”
“Who was that kid that was around here yesterday?”
“I didn’t see any kid around here yesterday.”
“Maybe some friend of the children asking for them. Maybe some resorter’s kid. Was it a boy or a girl?”
“A girl about eleven or twelve. Brown hair and brown eyes. Freckles. Very tanned. Wearing overalls and a boy’s shirt. Barefooted.”
“Sounds like anybody,” the hired girl said. “Did you say eleven or twelve years old?”
“Oh, shit,” said the man from down state. “You can’t get anything out of these mossbacks.”
“If I’m a mossback what’s he?” the hired girl looked at the local warden. “What’s Mr. Evans? His kids and me went to the same schoolhouse.”
“Who was the girl?” Evans asked her. “Come on, Suzy. I can find out anyway.”
“I wouldn’t know,” Suzy, the hired girl, said. “It seems like all kinds of people come by here now. I feel just like I’m in a big city.”
“You don’t want to get in any trouble, do you, Suzy?” Evans said.