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believing stock that had given them birth and were hard to understand.
They were the stay-at-home type, to whom Pittsburgh was the Far West,
and if they were forced to move farther than fifty miles away from home,
their relations screamed that they would never see them again.
The woman, whose name Nolan hadn't caught, was plain appearing, with no
makeup and her hair pulled back into a severe knot at the base of her
skull. From the moment, she asked them in and poured their coffee, he
liked her. In her own, slow way she was a fine person, but her world
was the farm, her life was the soil.
"Have you found that poor pilot, yet?" She asked, setting the coffee
"No, ma'am," Cartwell told her.
The heavy set woman made a clucking sound with her mouth. "Honest to
true," she mused. "You'd wonder why a thing like that had to come to
be." She sighed heavily. "There'll be some poor woman in tears tonight.
D'you think he was married?"
"I don't know, ma'am," Cartwell said.
"It's the children that suffer..." she said softly and allowed the rest
of what she was about to say trail off as Dickson came in. He smiled at
the farmwife and she poured him a cup of coffee.
Dickson pulled off his hat. "I'd like to thank you," he told her, "for
being so kind..."
The woman looked pleased and flustered at the same time; there was a
tinge of flush about her face. "Bosh," she said, smiling. "It's the
least a body can do. I know I'd feel real glad to have someone helping,
were it my boy up there."
"Your boy flies?"
"He did." The woman looked a bit pained. "He was killed during the war."
"I'm sorry," Dickson said, and reached for a doughnut from the plate on
A silence fell over them as they waited for the coming of dawn and a
chance to really look the wreck over. Nolan was somehow glad to be
spared of conversation with the others. He felt like a criminal, with
the small gold watch in his coat pocket and he wanted to tell Dickson
and Cartwell about the thing. But he couldn't. For the first time in his
life he was delaying an investigation, hiding evidence. He was well
aware of the whole thing, but he was also aware of what the presence of
that watch meant. It was a personal thing now, and until he knew which
way to go, he had to keep the watch a secret.
If Nick Danson had somehow come back in that wreck and, if they found no
bodies, he would have gone to Beth ... the whole thing would be
complicated beyond belief. What would such a thing do? What would happen
to the woman he loved, if Nick Danson was back?
He stared moodily into the dark liquid in his coffee cup and wondered
where it would all end.
Nick awoke to sunlight streaming into his face and had a momentary
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