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JEWELS AND GHOULS

A 1000 Islands Novel



By John Lefevere


Copyright © 2017 Willow Pointe EBooks, LLC

All Rights Reserved

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this ebook with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then you should return to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

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Cover - © 2017, Willow Pointe EBooks, LLC.

Note: the original photo used as the background for the cover can be viewed on the author’s website, www.johnlefevere.com and is copyrighted 2016 by John Lefevere

This is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents used in this work are either a product of the author's imagination or are used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locations is purely coincidental, or used for fictional purposes.


Books by John Lefevere

A 1000 Islands Novel (series)

The Scimitar And The Snail (2015)

Jewels And Ghouls (2017)

A Boomer’s Tale (series)

Better With Age: A Boomer’s Tale (2014)





For Jason Lefevere, Michael Lefevere, Matt Lefevere

Each of you has made me so very proud of your accomplishments.


Table of Contents

Part 1 - Searching for the Irish Crown Jewels

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Part 2 - Pursuing Ghosts and Ghouls

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Part 3 - Between a Rock and…More Rocks

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

Chapter 42

Chapter 43

Chapter 44

Chapter 45

Chapter 46

Chapter 47

Chapter 48

Chapter 49

Acknowledgements

Bibliography & Sources





Part 1

SEARCHING FOR THE IRISH CROWN JEWELS



“Sodom and Begorrah” - Description attributed to Irish nationalist politician alleging British corruption and “unnatural vice” at Dublin Castle - circa 1907



Chapter 1

Clearview, New York

Thousand Islands

Fame is said to be fleeting and Warhol decreed that we each have fifteen minutes of it, but Jill Matson wanted hers to end right now.

She stood crouched behind the slightly open, squeaky door at the back of the Sundries Store, listening to her father lie to the tourists who had wandered in a minute ago. He stood behind the register at the front of the store, but she could hear his voice clearly over the murmurs of the locals who were shopping this bright, sunny afternoon.

“Jill? Oh, she’s off this week. It’s getting near the end of the season, the tourist season that is, and she wanted to get some rest.” A fainter voice responded, asking if he was related to Jill. “No, no,” he lied, laughing. “She just works here. Nice person though. Say, do you want to look around, see if there’s anything you’d like to buy?” A deeper voice declined and she heard the bells over the front door chime as the tourists exited, disappointed.

The storage room door opened a bit more, causing Jill to step back quickly as the store manager, Sally McGuire, stuck her head in. “All clear, honey,” she said, smiling brightly. “I don’t know how you put up with these thrill seekers, I really don’t.”

“I’m not sure I can for much longer,” Jill said. She nodded her thanks and emerged back into the store, waving to old Mrs. Eberly, who was picking out cleaning supplies farther down the aisle. “Now where was I,” she said to herself, picking up her clipboard from the shelf of souvenir knick-knacks where she’d left it when those tourists had entered the store, asking loudly if they could meet Jill and maybe get an autograph. She had learned to duck quickly into the storage room whenever somebody came in looking for her; it was stuffy and musty back there, but at least it caused her to notice how much the room needed to be repainted.

But exile in the storage room was at least better than the first half dozen times tourists and thrill-seekers had come in looking for a celebrity - her. She’d been trapped into conversations - and occasionally heated arguments - about the damn Booth diary pages and the damn terrorist attack on Clearview, and her role in finding the former and helping defeat the attackers in the latter case. Most galling to her was the fact that meeting these folks, who rarely actually purchased anything, was inevitably followed by requests - no, demands - that she pose for selfies with them.

Things were no better on the Internet. Conspiracy theorists and just plain old trolls expounded upon theories that all ultimately revolved around Steve Stone and her fabricating the John Wilkes Booth diary pages and hiding them in an old building just a few blocks from the store. This “proven fact” as one troll put it, occurred despite the fact that noted historical document experts and historians had, after initial skepticism, reached a consensus that the pages - and their contents - were authentic. The online vitriol got to the point that Jill had to shut down her Facebook page and cancel her Twitter account. She just did not feel sociable enough to engage in social media activities.

The visitors - she didn’t really think of them as customers - would gush about her role in countering the terrorist attack, during which she’d driven Steve’s boat after supporting him in tracking down and locating the attackers. As a team, they had helped civilians and military personnel quash the assault. These comments were easier to take. They thanked her for her patriotism, with the men inevitably flirting with her, while the women applauded her courage and held her up as a role model for their daughters. But still, interruption after interruption.

Sighing deeply, she went back to counting inventory and checking it off on her clipboard list. Her father had not been lying about one thing; it was September 30th, the unofficial end of the tourist season up here in the Thousand Islands. A few curiosity seekers who were from out of the area were still straggling in, trying to meet her, or even just catch a glimpse of her. But, come on people, all the excitement happened two months ago, back in July. Old news, not breaking news anymore. She wanted nothing more than for things to get back to the way they’d always been in her little village by the St. Lawrence River, preferably before the first snowflake hit the ground.

Jill finally finished at ten minutes to five and looked around for her father, who was nowhere to be seen. Probably sneaking a cigarette out in front the store somewhere. He looked extremely worn and haggard these days, and Jill feared that the crush of people generated by the publicity was wearing on him even more than it was on her. As she slipped on oversized sunglasses and tucked her blond ponytail into an oversized, floppy hat, she called to Sally to let her know that she’d be borrowing her father’s boat again. McGuire nodded an acknowledgement and gave a distracted wave, as she tried to help a local man find the right shade of paint.

“We need to use some of our paint to spruce up the store,” Jill said to herself as she stopped at the rear of the store and surveyed the establishment. It was looking dated and rundown, almost like she had stepped into a time machine and been transported back to the 1970’s. Perhaps the interior mirrored her father, who had owned it for thirty-five, no, almost forty years now. Maybe soon she’d have money, a lot of money, to really turn it into a showplace. Two offers to buy the life stories of her and Steve, and make a movie out of it. One of the two production companies that had contacted them had even included a five-page summary pitch sheet that only succeeded in reducing them to helpless laughter at the absurd characterizations of the village and themselves.

Then there was the sizeable offer to publish her life story as a book, “in her own words,” but utilizing a ghostwriter “if necessary”. “My life story, that’s a laugh,” she said as she shoved open the back door and started down the creaky wooden steps. At the bottom was the narrow dock that ran for several blocks along the village waterfront. Cooler air enveloped her, providing immediate relief from the stuffiness of the store. Her thoughts focused on the ridiculous idea of writing a book about herself. Nothing special ever happened to me until I met Steve a few months ago. It would be the shortest memoir in literary history. She laughed loudly as she jumped into her father’s Dauntless 210 and started the engine. A passing villager she knew helped her cast off the mooring ropes, and, pulling in the fore and aft bumpers, she was on her way home.

Or, more accurately, to Steve’s home. The Tower. Jill could see it rising majestically above the western end of Tranquility Island, just about three-quarters of a mile offshore and directly across from Clearview. The St. Lawrence River was choppy, with maybe three or four-foot waves, mostly caused by wind, but at least the sky was clear and the sun hung high in the sky. The tree leaves on the islands were just starting to change colors; the river landscape would resemble a palette within a month, but for now the islands looked much as they had during the summer.

The trip took less than five minutes and Jill powered down as she entered the waters in front the Tower boathouse. He’d left the double door open for her and she could just make out the form of the Chiocciola Piccola docked on the right side inside. It was his Snail-model antique boat knockoff, custom built, that she had jokingly called the “Chocolate Pickle” when she first saw the Italian name on the stern. The Dauntless glided slowly into the open space next to it, engine noise reverberating off the walls of the boathouse. She cut the engine and tied off the boat’s ropes on the cleats. Stone had graciously agreed to leave his utility boat tied to the dock outside, so that her father’s boat could be sheltered from the weather. Neither of them could forget, however, the dangerous brawl that Steve had engaged in with the last remaining terrorist on that utility boat, right in the space where she was now docked. She’d come to his rescue and he still paused to thank her every once in a while. As she hit the button to lower the double door, she made a mental note to ask Steve about the latest on his opponent that day, one Mahmoud Khalil.

Walking up the flagstone path to the Tower entrance, she suddenly felt the fatigue of the day come over her from the day’s activities; it was gradual, but undeniably there. As she unlocked the door, she gave in to her weariness and opted to take the cylindrical elevator at the center of the building up to the second floor instead of running up the circular staircase which wound its way up to the third floor along the interior perimeter of the building, as she usually did.

Up until the publicity spotlight focused on its resident, Steve Stone, the Tower was widely thought by locals and visitors to be the remaining portions of an old water tower. The tower had held water at one time and was built to supply an enormous stone residence called a “castle” by its owner, a railroad baron, on Tranquility Island back in the 1880’s. The castle had burned to the ground in the early 1960’s, and the granite blocks that formed it were gradually moved to other building locations, leaving only the tower as evidence of what had once been there. The structure fell into disrepair until Stone, an investment banker who cashed out and retired at an early age, purchased it in 2009. He set about extensively (and secretly) refurbishing it into a modern, fully digitally-enabled home. The first floor contained a mudroom, gym and storage space. The second was configured as a kitchen, dining room, powder room and guest bedroom with bathroom en suite; you moved from room to room by means of a wooden-floored hallway that circled around the elevator. The guest bedroom faced south and offered spectacular views of Clearview back on the mainland. The third floor, where Stone spent most of his time, was mostly open space, but was subtly divided by colors and furniture into discernible sections: living room, a lounging space and a workspace/office. The only fully enclosed space was the master bedroom and bath, where Jill had now taken up semi-permanent residence with Steve.

The subtle smell of garlic and tomato sauce permeated the air as Jill exited the elevator on the second floor. Following the scents around the hallway toward the kitchen, she sheepishly realized that she was salivating. Damn, that man was a great cook!

Because the living spaces were largely open, she quickly spotted him standing at the stove. Although he was listening to music on his wireless headphones - Jill could tell because he was humming along to some classical tune - he seemed to sense her entry into the kitchen and turned around with a bright smile. He was barefoot and incongruously dressed in a starched white dress shirt with the front totally unbuttoned, set off by the really ugly plaid shorts that he only wore around the house (she’d seen to that early in the relationship). Her gaze moved quickly from his smile up to his beautiful green eyes and then down again to his very sexy six-pack abs, which were peeking through the open shirt. He dresses like this on purpose, you know, Jill chided herself, just so you’ll stare. And it works! Stone put down his spoon and took off his headphones, which he set alongside the spoon.

“Ah, there you are,” he said, giving her an appraising once-over. “And you look really worn out.” He put out his arms as she came over; she responded by wrapping her arms around his bare torso inside his shirt and receiving his tender kiss. Jill let his lips linger on hers, then pulled back a little to look him over. She brought her hands back around to his chest and ran them lightly over his muscles.

“Somehow, my cares seem to disappear when I’m with you,” she said tenderly, kissing each pec in turn. Steve tugged her tightly and said mischievously, “And does your appetite go away too?” as he began unbuttoning her blouse. Jill playfully slapped his hand away and laughed. “There are different types of appetites, you know. There are the sexual ones and then there are the epicurean ones.”

Steve startled her by suddenly disengaging from the hug, sweeping her up in his arms and taking a few steps toward the guest bedroom. “Wait!” she shrieked in surprise. “I didn’t tell you which appetite was more dominant right now.” He laughed and gently lowered her back onto her feet.

“I’ve got a pretty good idea from the way you’re looking past me at the sauce pot. Okay, epicure wins out for now. I’ll open a bottle of wine and you can tell me about your day.”

x-x-x

It was still light out, but just barely, when they finished dinner and after changing into her casual blouse and shorts, she moved into the living room area on the third floor while Steve did the dishes. He joined her about twenty minutes later and stretched out on the couch with a book he’d brought with him. Jill was in her favorite recliner opposite him and was sipping on her second glass of cabernet sauvignon, occasionally gazing out the window at Grindstone Island, which was directly behind the Tower, across a relatively narrow channel. She glanced over at Steve and saw that he was reading the current year’s guide to Ireland.

“Ireland? Have you ever been there?”

“No. Have you?”

“No, but I’d like to go sometime. I have Irish ancestors on my mother’s side. Kelly was my maternal grandmother’s maiden name.”

Steve smiled. “Funny you should mention your desire to visit the Auld Sod. I forgot to tell you that Frank called this morning.” Frank Jepperson was the head of the ultra-secret Special Intelligence Agency, or SIA, that had employed Stone as a field agent until he quit following the murder of an Egyptian informant who had also become his close friend. Jepperson had subsequently prevailed upon Steve to do occasional fieldwork as a contractor to SIA, and this had ultimately led to Stone’s capture of the presumed murderer, Mahmoud Khalil, in the Tower’s boathouse.

“So what did Frank have to say about our buddy, Mahmoud?” Jill hoped that it was good news.

“Well, first he sent his regards to the ‘cute couple’ - that’s us - in the sarcastic way that only Jepperson is capable of. Then he brought me up to date on Khalil, who is still in jail in New York, awaiting trial for the murder of those two poor tugboat crew members. Frank said it could be a year or more until they go to trial, because the intelligence agencies and the FBI, as well as the RCMP on the Canadian side, want to fully investigate other ties he may have had to other terrorist organizations. Or maybe they’ll just nail him on other charges.”

“Well, good to know he won’t be seeing the light of day for quite some time. But wait, why did my desire to go to Ireland remind you of Frank’s call? He’s not Irish is he?” The puzzled look on her face was genuine.

“No, but after he debriefed me on Khalil, he told me about a surprise he has for us. A token of his gratitude - and the agency’s - for the work we did in stopping the terrorist attack.” Steve flipped a few pages in the book and removed a couple of folded letter-size papers. “Here you go,” he said, getting up off the couch and walked over to her. Compliments of Frank.”

Jill unfolded the papers and stared in disbelief. Two printed out e-tickets, round trip, JFK-DUB, made out in their names, departing in two weeks and returning ten days later. She looked up at Steve, who was grinning because he’d been successful in totally surprising her. “He’ll also pay for us to either rent a car, or take a guided tour,” he said. “All expenses paid, no limits.”

She looked back at the printouts and then up at him again, her own grin fading. “I…I’m sorry, but I’m afraid I really can’t go, Steve. The store…my poor dad is so frazzled, and I can’t leave him to fend for himself.” Her face reflected her disappointment.

Stone remained confident. “Well, on that front, I called Sally right after I got off from Frank’s call and she talked it over with your father while you were out at lunch. They are both in agreement that you are the one who is frazzled and needs time off. So you’re good to go; in fact, they both insisted. And besides, I have another surprise I’ll tell you about when we get there.

Jill stood up and tightly embraced him. “Okay, you drive a hard bargain. I’ll go.” Her eyes sparkled with mischief. “Does Frank’s offer include new clothes too? I mean, you don’t expect me to visit my ancestral homeland dressed in the clothes I own now, do you? And if he won’t spring for them, I guess you’ll have to.”

He laughed, lifting her into his arms, while she draped her arms around his shoulders, rubbing his neck. “We’ll have to go to the bedroom to check out your existing wardrobe before I commit to that. And if we’re lucky, maybe your other ‘appetite’ will resurface.” He started walking down the hallway, easily carrying her, until Jill said quietly, “Wait a second. I have something I have to tell you.” Stone stopped, looking puzzled for a second, then leaned down near her lips to hear. “I love you, Steve Stone,” she whispered fiercely. It was the first time she’d said that to him…or to any man.

He hesitated, then straightened up, lifting her slightly higher. A serious look came over his face, and she looked intensely into his eyes, wondering briefly if she’d been wrong to say anything. “I love you more, Jill Matson,” he said, leaning down into a fierce kiss, before continuing their journey to the master bedroom.

x-x-x

While Jill and Steve were abandoning their abbreviated review of her wardrobe, opting instead for stripping each other naked and falling into his king-sized bed, a lone figure walked on another island in the river, barely noticeable in the early evening dusk that would turn into darkness in another hour.

It’s got to be on an island, not on mainland New York, thought the woman who sometimes imagined herself as Queen Maeve, or maybe even her reincarnation. There were actually 1,864 islands, both American and Canadian, to choose from in the Thousand Islands region. French royal hydrographer Jean Deshayes had named the area Les Mille Iles in the late 17th century, but no formal survey had been undertaken until 1815, when British hydrographer William FitzHugh Owen undertook the task. And Owen had named some of the islands for the first time to boot.

Out of all these 1,864 possible hiding places (the number could change - a new island could emerge if it stayed above water for more than a year and had at least one piece of vegetation growing on it), this island, Maeve knew, had attributes that were unique to the region. Perfect. But where on the island? What would be safest? This should not be difficult; I’ve been here so many times and know so many hiding places. But after several false starts, she still was not certain she’d found the best spot.

As she considered the problem and whether to turn on her flashlight, Maeve rounded a curve on the rough cut path and spotted a familiar outcropping of granite and some formations that she could use as landmarks. Thinking back on the other places she’d tried to conceal the package over the past few months, she decided that this one was the best. The final resting place as it were.

Looking around one last time to reassure herself that there was no one else around to observe, Maeve walked over to the granite formation and bent over slightly, feeling about the rocks piled on the short column. If this were the formation she was thinking about, there would be a secure place to hide the package. Lifting three, then four, different rocks off the column, she placed them on the ground so that she could put them back in reverse order. Beneath the fourth rock was the flat surface she remembered; a twist and pull enabled her to separate half of the seemingly seamless flat rock, revealing a small hole. Maeve smiled, pleased with her choice.

Stepping back, she lifted a bulky package out of the backpack she’d slipped off her shoulders. Examining it one last time to make sure it was tightly sealed, she lowered it into the hole and tucked it in a corner of the cavity, then replaced the flat cover rock and the other four rocks back where they were. After a final twist and turn of the rocks to make the formation look more natural, she looked over the formation one last time and decided that it would not attract the attention of a casual passerby.

Maeve stepped back, arms folded and smiled. Good for all eternity then, if I so choose. Or, available if I ever want to take them back. She looked around one last time to ensure she’d not been observed, then headed back to the derelict dock where her boat was tied.

x-x-x

Jill unwound herself from Steve, pleasantly worn out, and propped herself up on her elbows.

“Are you sure you can’t tell me what the secret is before we get to Ireland? Pleeaase?” She drew the word out as she stroked his chest and stomach, and then moved her hand down to stroke below.

“Oh, I guess I can…ah, that feels great…can give you a hint. I want to hire you again, same rate and terms as with the Hermit case, but this time to solve a royal mystery that happened a long time ago. I have a theory about it that you can explore for me.”

She stopped stroking and leaned over to kiss him. “I love that kind of thing. But why do you think I can do it?”

He kissed her back and then began his own, pleasurable stroking of her body. “Because you were brilliant in solving the one hundred and fifty year old murder of the Hermit of Maple Island. The events surrounding this Irish mystery only happened one hundred and ten years ago. That should be a snap for you!”



Chapter 2

Dublin, Ireland

To Jill’s profound relief, the flight from JFK Airport in New York to Dublin was uneventful. Well, uneventful for Steve and her, but not so much for the second tier TV sitcom “star” who sat near them in Business Class. Or maybe he was a third tier star; neither Steve nor Jill had ever heard of him or the show, once they persuaded the Business Class steward to disclose his name and why he was famous. Apparently the term “star” in Hollywood applies to anyone who had even a minor part in any television series, no matter how well or poorly the program did.

The rest of the passengers, both in business and economy (a/k/a “cattle car”) class on the Air Lingus Airbus 380-300 appeared to not only know the actor, who they had spotted in the boarding area, but felt compelled to randomly call out his signature phrase from the show. “Boogity, boogity, babycakes” rang out a few times through the semi-transparent curtain that divided the Economy and Business sections; remarkably it also happened once in their own business class section, although no one could figure out who had done it. The “star” himself coped with this annoyance (since he heard it from people on the street, fellow actors and others on pretty much a daily basis) by donning his airline-supplied earbuds and turning up the volume, while staring at an in-flight magazine. The novelty of the passengers’ brush with celebrity finally wore off an hour and ten minutes into the six hour and fifty-two minute flight, so the plane went largely quiet, save for the rush of air outside and from the overhead vents. More importantly, in the excitement, not a single person had recognized Steve or Jill, either prior to boarding or while in flight.

“Frank sure goes all out, doesn’t he?” Jill said. They were seated in a double pod near the front of the Business/Premier section of the plane. They could have flown from Syracuse directly to Dublin, but decided that almost 10 hours in the air was too much; Watertown flights only went to Philadelphia, so that would mean going south and then west. In the end they’d flown Syracuse to Newark, New Jersey the afternoon before, spent the night in Manhattan touring under spectacular skies and then arrived at JFK Airport in late afternoon. Aer Lingus had a pre-flight dinner available for business class passengers in its lounge at JFK, so they had already eaten before taking off at 8:57, seven minutes behind schedule. Tailwinds were favorable due to a large storm on the east coast, so they’d made up the delay time and more.

Both were suitably impressed with the layout of the business class section. There were only 24 seats, two to a pod, as opposed to back in economy where there were an astounding 298 seats. The large divider between their seats held shoes and jackets, and tray tables folded out and over in a clever design. The seats were emerald green with a white linen antimacassar and faced tastefully designed seat pockets in the pod ahead of them. The pockets were notable because, unlike those to be found in Economy on some airlines, they were not filled with dirty diapers or trash from the prior flight.

“Will ya be havin’ more wine, darlin’?” Steve asked, smiling broadly, hand poised to press the flight attendant assistance button.

“You promised you weren’t going to practice your dreadful, phony Irish accent until we got there,” Jill replied from her seat closest to the aisle. “And, to answer your question, no thanks. I’m ready to get some sleep.” None of the recent release movies interested them (“They’re all comic book heroes - where are the love stories?” complained Jill), so they’d decided to have some wine and veg out for a while. It was nearly eleven p.m. eastern time and so they signaled the flight attendant, who helped them convert the seats into lie-flat beds that were six- and-a-half-feet in length. Once they had each visited the restroom for the final time, they settled in; but less than two minutes later Steve’s head popped up over the low divider.

“How about I sneak over there and keep you company?” he said in a loud whisper. She was about to answer when a gruff, male Scottish accented voice came from one of the pods directly behind them, “I donna think it’s a gud idea, laddie, what with all the folk going up front to the bathroom.” Jill collapsed in laughter and buried her head in her pillow to keep everyone around them from hearing her. Steve flushed a deep red and called back in a low voice, “Thank you for the advice, sir.”

As they both settled in again, Jill quietly said, “Now I know what Seinfeld was talking about, Steve.”

“You mean…?”

“Yes, in that episode where he and Elaine were arguing over who was going to sit in first class and who in economy, where they only have one of each ticket. So he says he should because he had flown first-class before and she hadn’t, so she wouldn’t know what she’s missing. Don’t you agree? We should never go economy again. Steve?”

There was only silence and she realized that he’d already drifted off to sleep.

x-x-x

The tailwinds propelled them into Dublin Airport sixteen minutes early, and the flight emptied quickly. Steve and Jill found a customs line that only had three people in it and, after a brief exchange with a dour customs agent (who they later decided was virtually the only grouchy person they met on their visit), headed first for their luggage and then, by walking down to Carousel 6, on to the aptly named “Revival Lounge.”

Revival Lounge was set up for business class passengers from North America to refresh themselves. The couple used a private bathroom and shower, which Jill was thrilled to find contained expensive Irish Voya soap, while their clothes were taken for steam cleaning. Afterwards, they just grabbed coffees, since they’d been served breakfast before landing. Feeling altogether great again, Jill sat and watched the news on a large-screen TV, while Steve called the tour company. They had agreed to put their phones on Airplane mode for as much of the trip as possible, to “get away from it all,” but he already had the company’s phone number keyed in, so he switched the mode off until he could find out where and when to meet their driver. After looking at the options, which included riding a large tour bus filled with up to 40 tourists, many of whom would be Americans who very likely might recognize them, they had settled on using a tour guide who would drive them around the island in a single car, by themselves. “This way, we can enjoy the sights in peace, which is what Frank wants,” Steve had rationalized when Jill protested the cost; given the way Jill’s days had been going recently, she heartily gave in.

Shortly after ten o’clock, they exited the Lounge and headed out to a busy taxi stand area where tourists were lined up with rolling suitcases and shoulder bags. Just beyond that point, Steve spotted a uniformed man leaning against a moderate-sized black SUV, holding a sign reading “Jepperson.” “There are more Stones than Jeppersons,” Steve said to Jill in a low voice as they approached the car, “so I thought this would make it easier to find.”

The driver, who looked to be early 50’s, with salt and pepper hair and chiseled features, straightened up and smiled as they walked up to him. “Top o’ the mornin’ to ya,” he said, in a heavy brogue, as he opened the driver’s door and popped the trunk. “Stone and Matson, I’m presumin’.”

“In the flesh,” Steve responded, shaking hands with him. “And this is Jill Matson. “I’m afraid the company didn’t give me your name.”

“Sean Devlin would be me,” the driver replied, shaking hands with Jill. “Your guide to our lovely land for the next ten days or so. Please be seated in the back here, while I load your bags. And, by the way, no one here in Ireland uses that ridiculous phrase, ‘top of the morning’ and so on, but I thought you’d be expecting it, so I did.” They all laughed together.

He lifted the hatch and started placing the luggage in, while Jill took her place in the right rear seat, behind the driver’s seat and Steve slid in opposite her where there was a little more legroom. Once the hatch was slammed shut, Devlin sat in the driver’s seat and they eased into the airport traffic.

“This airport is bigger than I expected,” Jill said, looking at the massive terminal buildings and parking garages.

“Were you expecting maybe a grass field that you’d land on, once they’d shooed away the sheep?” Devlin asked, his grinning face showing in the rearview mirror. The couple laughed with him. “There were about twenty-eight million or so passengers came through here last year, or maybe it was the year before. Not rustic anymore.” The car eased into traffic and navigated a couple of round-abouts before heading toward the city itself.

“What kind of car is this?” Steve asked. “Don’t know if I’ve seen one of these before. It says “cash-kay” or something on the body.”

“It’s a Nissan Qashqai, pronounced ‘KOSH-kai,’ Mr. Stone. One of the more popular models here in Ireland.”

“Please call us Steve and Jill this week, Mr., eh Sean. A small SUV I’d say. How many miles into Dublin?”

“Where we’re goin’, about eight kilometers…ah, five miles to your hotel. The Gibson, right?”

Steve reassured him that’s where they were headed. It would take a little while to get used to driving and riding on the left, although he’d done it a number of times before; he wasn’t sure about Jill’s experience. A glance in her direction showed him that she was relaxed, watching the outskirts of town slide by as the traffic volume increased.

“The hotel’s a few blocks north of the River Liffey and there’s a LUAS station right outside the front of the hotel. The LUAS is the tram system, modern and efficient. The hotel is at the last stop, in fact, so you’re never in danger of missing it if you’ve had a pint or two too many.”

“Lot’s of young people,” Steve remarked as they drove closer to the downtown area.

“Yes, sir, it’s all to do with the Celtic Tiger, you know.” They both nodded so that Devlin could see them in his rearview mirror. “Best thing to happen to Ireland in a long time, I’d say. Mid-1990’s to mid-2000’s,” he continued, stopping at a traffic light and turning a bit in his seat. “Lot’s of foreign investment, more and more educated young workers getting into the workforce, things generally getting better for everyone, I think. We’ve got Intel, Microsoft, eventually Facebook, lots of others; manufacturing and offices.” He started up again when the light changed. “Until about 2007 or 2008, when there was that world-wide economic meltdown….”

“Thanks largely to us in the States, I’m afraid,” Steve said. “Our apologies.”

Sean dismissed this with a wave of his hand. “But now you’re bringing in tourist dollars and things are coming back. Not all the way back yet, but getting there. So no hard feelings.”

“We’re happy to do our part,” Jill said. “By the way, speaking of the Celtic Tiger, do you have any idea why the basketball team in the U.S. is called the Boston ‘Sell-tics’?” Steve quietly groaned.

“I’m aware of that, Jill,” the driver said, “and can’t say as I know why, especially when you consider that the team is in Boston, which having the Kennedys and so many Irish immigrants, should know better. Ah, here we are.”

The car had turned down an asphalt street and gone about three blocks onto Mayor Street, then pulled to a stop in a cul-de-sac fronting a boxy, glass-filled, modernistic building just steps away from the LUAS station and a much used set of bike racks. Over the twin glass entrance doors was tasteful green neon lettering proclaiming The Gibson Hotel; to the right were twin exterior elevators going halfway up the building and stopping just below a large steel grid roof that ran to the far end of the structure.

“The check-in desk is on third floor,” Sean advised them as he pulled their suitcases and carryon bags back out of the hatch, “and you can either take the elevator here,” pointing to the glass-enclosed external lift, “or try your luck with two stories of escalators. I’ll go grab some lunch and meet you back here in two hours, so you have time to settle in and eat lunch yourselves.” Waving to them as they headed for the elevators, he drove back down the street and out of sight.

x-x-x

Their modern room was on the fourth floor, along an oddly configured set of lights and recessed doors that seemed to stretch to infinity. Jill snagged a shiny apple from a tray sitting on an occasional table as they walked five doors down to the room. They didn’t explore the room, but noted the large, flat blind panels in the window, which overlooked a courtyard. It took only five minutes to unpack and lay out some of their clothes, but the couple didn’t bother with putting the suitcase contents into bureaus, since they’d be leaving in the morning anyway.

After exploring the hotel a little, and marveling at the eclectic assortment of trendy decorations, they persuaded the bartender at the third floor Hemi Bar to let them order food, despite the fact that the kitchen was just opening. They were beginning to discover that no matter who they met or talked to, the Irish people were unfailingly polite and helpful - well, except for the customs and immigrations man, Jill noted. After consuming Dim Sum for Two in the Asian landscaped outdoor private courtyard, they headed back outside the hotel twenty minutes before they expected Devlin to pick them up, only to find him standing patiently next to his car, drinking from a covered cup.

“Spot of tea,” he said, lifting the cup in greeting. “You’re a little early, but that’s quite all right. Maybe we can see a little more of Dublin then.” He held the back door for Jill as Steve climbed in the other side. “Hope you don’t mind if I don’t wear my cap,” Sean said as he pulled away from the curb. “I prefer to drive without it.” They assured him that they had no problems with that and Steve asked what the itinerary was.

“I thought I’d just give you an overview of the city today,” Sean said, “since we’re headed out into the countryside for a few days. No time to go outside the city today and this will give you an idea of what you want to see when we come back. That way, no lost time orienting yourself.” He headed along Mayor Street Upper until he reached Guild Street, then worked his way continuing west through back streets, thoroughly confusing them. At last he stopped at a red light at O’Connell Street, a major thoroughfare that was two lanes each way, divided by a sizeable flat median, sprinkled with statues and trees.

“This is as good a place to start as any,” Sean said. “It’ll be a whirlwind tour by car today, but if you see something you really need to take a better look at right away, let me know and I’ll stop and let you out.”

“Actually, I was wondering if you could drop us off at the Dublin Castle first for twenty minutes or so? There’s something there that I want to show Jill.” She gave him a puzzled look, since he hadn’t mentioned a castle before.

“This is Earl Street North, as a reference point,” Sean said, turning left onto O’Connell Street when the light went green. When Steve inquired about a very large metal cylinder in the median, Sean informed them that it was the Spire of Dublin, a stainless steel point jabbing almost 400 feet in the air. “Some call it the Stiffy by the Liffy,” Sean said, deadpan. Also in the median another three blocks farther south was a statue of Daniel O’Connell, the eighteenth century politician who was the revered first Irish nationalist. They passed over the Liffey on the main city bridge, also named for him, and turned right onto Dame Street headed west.

“On the right there,” he said, “is the famous Temple Bar area, which consists of a bunch of small streets from here to the river. There’s not a temple there that I’m aware of; it’s actually a group of art galleries, studios, clothing and other stores, plus clubs and pubs and restaurants. Mostly for tourists, I’d say.” He paused. “Of course, you are tourists.”

“Shopping,” Jill said dreamily. “I think I’d like to try that when we’re back in town. Just to get the real feel for being a consumer in Ireland.” Steve rolled his eyes in mock horror, “Oh, yeah, shopping,” he said in the most disinterested voice he could muster. But Jill just smiled, figuring that she could probably drag him along when it came time.

“On the left,” Devlin said, seeking to avoid any incipient disagreements, “is the City Hall and behind it Dublin Castle - you can see there, the round tower building over on the back left, called Record Tower. The castle also contains the State Apartments, which you can tour some other time. The British used it for state functions and we do also now, including inaugurating our president.”

Sean pulled up and let them out. The couple headed through stone arch marked in black signs with gold lettering: Dublin Castle and Pedestrian Entrance.

Once past the arch, they were inside the massive Upper Yard of Dublin Castle. Enclosed by buildings on all four sides, the Upper Yard stretched almost a city block and was paved entirely with varying shaped and colored stones inlaid as a flat surface.

“I checked it out on the map this morning while you were, ahem, ‘taking a minute or two to dry your hair’ in the bathroom,” Steve said with a broad smile. “Directly ahead of us, where the triple arches are, is the State Apartments building. At the far end of the courtyard on our left, down where those triple arches are, is the Lower Courtyard, where you can see the Record Tower up close - you can see the very top of it over the building down there. And at the opposite end to the right are…well, I think part of the Apartments. But we’re headed over here,” he continued, turning them completely around to face directly opposite the State Apartments, “to Bedford Tower.” Jill looked over the building before they moved toward it.

In terms of building materials, Bedford Tower was an eclectic structure; it was also smaller in size than the other buildings in the Upper Yard. The first floor was built of stone and had one window at each end, bookending three stone archways that led to the smallish front door. The second floor was brick, also with two windows, but had six stone columns in the center, supporting a small peaked roof. The “tower” portion was an additional two stories containing a round structure of darker stone than that of the lower part. The lower story had square windows while the upper had round ones, except for a clock which faced the Yard. Topping this all off was a large green dome - presumably weathered bronze - topped by a small green ball. To the right hand side of the building an interpretive sign titled at an angle and mounted on a wood pedestal described the tower’s history. “I didn’t know this sign was here - this is great,” Steve said as he quickly read it. “It will save me some explanation.”

Jill read the top few paragraphs first. The Tower was built in 1761 and was “the centerpiece of the north side” of the yard; it was occupied by various British functionaries throughout the rule of England. “So?” she asked.

“Now read the next to last paragraph,” Steve said. “It explains your next project.”

She found it and read aloud:

In 1907 the diamond Chains of Office of the Knights of St. Patrick were stolen from the ground-floor library of the then Office of Arms. The mystery of what became known as the missing ‘Irish Crown Jewels’ has never been solved.

Jill looked up in disbelief. “Now I remember….” she said, in mock horror. “You want me to help you solve a crime that happened 110 years ago! So all I have to do is track down the Irish Crown Jewels when no one else has been able to. Here we go again!”



Chapter 3

They walked over and through the triple arches at the eastern end of the courtyard. “Okay,” Jill said as they stood in the Lower Yard, “I’m willing to listen as to why you want to undertake this project, all these years later. Then I’ll tell you if I agree. Oh, and can you keep the explanation brief? I know you sometimes have a tendency to go on and on.” She looked at her watch. “And we only have about ten minutes before Sean picks us up again,” she said, giggling.

“Who me?!” Steve said with mock surprise at the accusation, clutching his chest. “Alright, I’ll do my best. First of all, I have done some more reading on the theft and I have a theory about what might have happened and where the Jewels are now.”

“Well, your theories about the Hermit were on the nose,” Jill said. “So, you’re essentially on a treasure hunt, of sorts, again. And you need my keen intellect to help you make the find.”

He laughed. “I do love trying to solve ‘unsolvable’ historical mysteries, and I know you do too, since you were the one who figured out where the missing Booth diary papers were hidden.”

“I guess great minds do think alike, to coin a cliché,” she said, laughing with him. “Okay, I’m in. What can you tell me?”

“Let’s walk while I explain…but first, these buildings are the Record Tower, as I said, and the Royal Chapel. I’ll take you around behind them to the Guarda Memorial Garden and the Chester Beatty Library, and as a bonus, I’ll show you where and how Dublin got its name.”

“Fine. But how about I ask brief and succinct questions about the theft and you give me succinct answers?” They began walking down the Lower Yard cobblestoned surface, which sloped toward a side street that was bordered by a modernistic, ugly building that looked like it was built in the 1970’s. Steve pulled a small black notebook out of his jacket pocket.

“Okay, okay. Go ahead with your questions.”

“First, what the heck are the Irish Crown Jewels?”

“Well, here’s what’s misleading about the name. The jewels are not really fitted onto a crown at all, as the name might imply. They are more ceremonial, used by the Order of St. Patrick for their ‘Knights.’ There were two pieces: a Badge and a Star, covered with rubies, emeralds and Brazilian Diamonds, mounted on silver. You can see pictures or, more accurately, drawings of them on the Internet, of course. I don’t think that there are any photos of them out there. The funny thing is that each piece bore a Latin motto that translates as ‘Who can separate us?’ Obviously someone could - from the British monarchy.”

“Wasn’t there a King of Ireland at some point, though? So the Irish Crown Jewels do not relate to an Irish king?”

“Yes, there were High Kings way back even before the time of the Norman invasion in 1169 and 1170. The most famous one was Brian Boru. And the King of England was at a certain point also called the King of Ireland. But the term ‘crown jewels’ in this case refers to ownership by the English monarchy: they are British Crown Jewels used in a ceremonial way in Ireland. By the way, they were valued about ten years ago - assuming they’re still in two whole pieces - at something like twelve million British Pounds. That’s over $17 million in U.S. Dollars. Also, there’s still a one thousand Pound reward here in Dublin for their return.”

“Now you’re talking!” laughed Jill. “And what is the Order of St. Patrick? Sounds like a Catholic religious order.”

“No, it was British, what they call a chivalric order, for honors and patronage. It was intended to be the Irish counterpart to the British Order of the Garter. The Knights were installed in St. Patrick Hall in the State Apartments that we’re going to tour when we come back from the country. The Order sort of went into suspension in 1922, when the Irish Free State was created, and finally died out in 1974 when the last member passed away.”

“Why were the jewels kept at Dublin Castle, in that first ‘tower’ you showed me? Bedford Tower, right?” They walked around to a street behind the complex, and could see a large open grass field ahead, with what looked like a smaller castle at the other end, although it had glass doors.

“First, some historical background,” Steve said. “Now with respect to the castle itself, the English rule of Ireland went back to 1177 AD. Dublin Castle was completed around 1230, and was originally set up as a huge walled and moated castle with large turret towers on each corner. Only the Record Tower right here,” he said pointing directly in front of them, “remains from the old castle. Eventually the walls were replaced with the State Apartments, Royal Chapel and other Georgian buildings and the paved courtyards that exist today. What is now Bedford Tower, where the jewelry theft took place, was originally the north gate to the castle. The River Poddle, which formed the moat on two sides of the original castle, eventually was covered over and flows underground here until it empties into the River Liffey a few blocks away from here.”

“So the Poodle River….”

“Poddle, not poodle. Yeah, it’s right under this street we’re on now. Which reminds me, this is also the area,” Steve said, turning around to face the open lawn, “that Dublin derives its name from.” His hand swept the land right in front of them. “There was a dark tidal pool here where the lawn comes up to the road. In Gaelic, ‘Dubh’ is dark or black and ‘lind’ is pool. So Black Pool, or Dublin.”

“Interesting,” Jill said, looking at him with a slightly amazed expression. “How the heck do you remember all of this stuff? It can’t possibly all be in that little black notebook you keep glancing at.”

Steve blushed a little and smiled. “Well, a lot of it is in there, but some I read about. See I also have an eidetic memory. Sort of like a photographic memory of everything I read.”

“I thought that only children had eidetic memories. “

“And a very few adults too. It’s a special talent. Comes in handy in my ‘spy’ work.”

Jill rolled her eyes. “I give up. Okay, now why were the Irish Crown Jewels kept in Dublin Castle? You’re doing pretty well so far on keeping it short and sweet, but I still don’t know why they were taken.”

“Well, Dublin Castle was the seat of power and administration in Ireland for the English right up until 1922, at which point it was turned over to the provisional Irish government. In fact, the Viceroy, who was the king’s direct representative to Ireland lived at the Castle. At the time of the theft of the Irish Crown Jewels in 1907, Ireland was part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, which was formed in 1801 and, again, continued until 1922 when the Irish Free State was formed. ‘Great Britain’ included England, Scotland and Wales, so that in 1907 the British monarch, in the form of King Edward VII, ruled the entire islands of both Great Britain and Ireland.

Edward, a noted playboy, was the eldest son of Queen Victoria, who had died in 1901; he died in 1910, so his was a very short reign compared to his mother who had the second longest reign after Queen Elizabeth II. He had been made a Knight Companion of the Order of St. Patrick right here back in 1868, when he was Prince of Wales, so he obviously had some attachment to the jewels. In fact, he was reported to be very pissed when he found out they were gone.”

Jill looked at her watch. “We still have about five minutes to get back. Before you tell me anything else about the theft, let me ask you about this big lawn and that stone pattern in the ground. And what is that castle shaped building behind the lawn?” The lawn stretched out ahead of them, with circular designs of stone imbedded in the ground, in no discernible pattern that she could see.

“Oh that? It’s a pattern, maybe based on Celtic designs, that can be discerned from the air - it’s a heliport. And over there,” Steve said, pointing to the left side of the field, where an enclosed portion was surrounded by a wall. “That’s the Garda Siochana Memorial Garden…for fallen police officers. The Garda - Irish police force - Museum is inside the Record Tower that we just looked at. At the end of the heliport is the Chester Beatty Library, which was created by an American mining magnate in 1950 and houses Western, Islamic and East Asian rare books, manuscripts, art and more.” The couple looked around for a few more minutes as a breeze kicked up, cooling the air slightly.

“We really ought to start back around the end of the Chapel, so that we can get back to where Sean dropped us off,” Steve said.

As they walked, Jill asked her final questions. “Who were the suspects, if any? If there were suspects, were they convicted of theft and why weren’t the jewels ever recovered?”

“Who wasn’t a suspect might be a better question. There are three theories about who pulled off the theft. First, as an inside job, which seems very likely as you’ll see when I describe the cast of characters who were suspected. Second, some think that Irish Unionists, who wanted to keep the status quo, did it in an effort to undermine Irish Home Rule - maybe make the King think that Irish Nationalists did it. Third is that the Irish Nationalists did do it, maybe to embarrass the king, maybe to hold them for ransom or to try to force independence for Ireland.”

“Where do you come down on this?” Jill asked. “I’m sure you’ve already been thinking about this for a while.”

“You know me pretty well by now,” Steve said nodding his head as they started back up the incline of the Lower Yard toward the triple arch that opened onto the Upper Yard. “I tend toward the third theory, but I’ll have to explain who else was suspected before you can see why I think the way I do. And, of course, I have what I think is a better alternate third theory.”

“Why does that not surprise me?” Jill laughed.

As they came through the triple arch, they could see that a queue for a tour forming outside the State Apartments. Steve continued, “The central figure in all this was Sir Arthur Vicars, who was the Ulster King of Arms, which entailed being a genealogy and heraldic expert; he also was entrusted with the crown jewels for safekeeping. He was appointed in 1893 and in 1903 had the crown jewels transferred from a bank to a safe in Bedford Tower, which we looked at. The safe was supposed to fit in the strong room way in the back of Bedford, where they also kept bejeweled maces, swords and other goodies. However, apparently no one measured the safe and they couldn’t get it through the door. Duh! So they stuck it in the Vicar’s Office of Arms and library that were off to the right of the entrance. Interestingly, the safe’s lock was opened and locked with a key, instead of the combination lock you usually see on old safes. There were seven keys to his office and only two keys to the safe. He’s one suspect of many, usually considered the prime suspect.”


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