Chapter Three: The Coburn Mystery, Original Draft (1988)

By June Morrall

7:30 a.m., June 4, 1919

Joe Quilla, Sarah Coburn’s Portuguese ranchhand had finished milking the cows in the pasture behind the rambling house–and, as always, carried a bucket of the fresh milk to the back door. The remainder he sold to the villagers.

He knocked on the back door and waited. He knocked again and again but Mrs. Coburn did not appear. This was strange; it had never happened before. He tapped on the window, pressing his face against the cool glass. No answer.

But he did hear a familiar mumbling on the other side of the window–and the recognizable voice was that of Wally, Sarah Coburn’s stepson.

Sensing trouble, Quilla ran to get help. Right across the street he saw the boyish looking Andy Stirling talking with another fellow in front of Carl Coburn’s store, The Emporium.

Andy listened to the nervous ranchhand’s account and as a friend of Mrs. Coburn’s, he confidently reassured Joe Quill that there must be a good explanation. Then the two men walked back across the street to the Coburn house. Stirling, an ex-deputy sheriff, checked the front door that was always locked and found it open. He also noticed that the heavy chair Sarah pushed against the door for extra security was also missing.

Rushing to the back of the house they entered Sarah’s drab bedroom lit by a coal oil lamp.  Then they saw her: Sarah Coburn was dead.

…to be continued…

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