I stared down the barrel of that Colt’s revolver and slowly put my hands up.
‘Why am I under arrest?’ I asked.
‘You are under arrest for working in a bogus Detective Agency!’ said the man with the gun.
‘I ain’t working in a bogus Detective Agency,’ I protested.
‘Then what d’ye mean by this?’ said the other man.
He slammed a wooden shingle onto my desk.
It was upside down but I could see it was the sign from outside my door.
It had the words P.K. Pinkerton, Private Eye. We Hardly Ever Sleep painted on it along with a picture of an eye.
‘Why did you take down my shingle?’ I said.
‘Because it ain’t legal and it ain’t authorized!’ said the man with the gun.
The other man turned to him. In a Scottish accent he said, ‘This one’s nay more than a bairn. I dinna believe he’s in charge.’
‘Get your pa!’ commanded the man with the gun. ‘We are going to throw him in jail for the rest of time!’
I said, ‘I do not have a pa.’
‘Then get your boss. The man you work for!’
I said, ‘I do not have a boss. I am boss of myself.’ I spat some licorice juice to make me seem tough, but my mouth was too dry & some of it dribbled down my shirt.
I wiped my mouth with my sleeve.
‘Dinna shout, Ray,’ said the Scottish one, putting a hand on his partner’s arm. ‘And put your gun away. He’s only a bairn.’
The man named Ray uncocked his big revolver and lowered it. But he did not put it away.
The Scottish one turned to me. ‘Will ye explain yerself, please?’
I took a deep breath & then I let it out slow. ‘My name is Pinkerton and I am a detective,’ I said, ‘but I am not a genuine Pinkerton Detective.’
‘Dang right you’re not genuine,’ growled Ray. ‘You are bogus!’
‘We’re from the Agency,’ the Scottish man said. ‘If we had operatives here, we’d surely know.’
I was confused. ‘Agency? Which Agency? Who are you?’
‘We are the Pinkertons.’
‘You are the Pinkertons?’
Ray stuck his revolver in his belt. ‘Yup,’ he said. ‘We are the Pinkertons. The genuine Pinkertons.’
I could not believe it. it was my dream to work for the Pinkerton Detective Agency.
I said, ‘It is my dream to work for the Pinkerton Detective Agency. I know all about it. It is located in Chicago, Illinois. It was founded by Allan Pinkerton. A few years ago he thwarted an assassination attempt against President Lincoln—’
‘Hang on a wee moment,’ said the Scottish man. ‘The Pinkerton Agency wasnae founded by Allan. it was founded by me!’
‘It was founded by you?’
‘Aye,’ said the man. ‘I set it up nigh on twenty years ago to protect passengers, goods and guards on trains and stagecoaches. Me brother didna come in with me till it was well established.’ He turned to his partner. ‘Everybody makes the same mistake,’ he said. ‘They all think wee Allan is the founder.’
‘You are Robert Pinkerton?’ I said.
‘Aye, that’s me. And this is Mr. Ray G. Tempest.’
I am usually inscrutable but I reckon my mouth was hanging open.
The man standing before me was the older brother of Allan Pinkerton, the most famous detective in the whole wide world.
He was also my long-lost pa.
The Case of the Bogus Detective by Caroline Lawrence is the fourth P.K. Pinkerton Mystery. You can buy the first 3 real cheap HERE. And you can read the rest of this one HERE. Or just check into this blog, where I will be posting chapters weekly!