The Baron

Free The Baron by Sally Goldenbaum

Book: The Baron by Sally Goldenbaum Read Free Book Online
Authors: Sally Goldenbaum
and stuck his small, square body between the two of them.
    “Aunt Halley?”
    “Yes, Mickey?”
    “It’s Archie.”
    Halley sighed. “Oh, no.”
    “Yep.”
    “Where is he?” Halley asked.
    “Back near Whisper Cloud’s grave.”
    Halley was already halfway to the door. “Mickey, have Kate heat up some strong coffee and bring it out back, will you, please?”
    Mickey dashed off without another word. Nick was left standing alone for a brief moment, then he turned and hurried after Halley.
    “Whisper Cloud’s grave? Archie? I have a feeling I didn’t get the whole tour, Halley.”
    “Well, you will now,” Halley tossed back over one shoulder as she hurried around the corner of the huge house and headed out toward a large wooded area in the distance.
    Just beyond the first clump of trees was a low fence, and beyond that was a scattering of neat, well kept graves.
    “A cemetery?”
    “Post Civil War,” Halley called out proudly as she weaved her way expertly around grave markers. “It’s a lovely cemetery, Nick. The Thornes’ ancestors are buried here, along with other families. I grew up playing hide-and-seek here and visiting the ghosts of Indians and soldiers.” She ducked beneath the low branch of an old oak. “Whisper Cloud is buried over there, beyond those maple trees.” She pointed, then hurried along through streams of sunlight.
    A low, gravelly moan met them as they wound their way between the trees. “I assumed Whisper Cloud—whoever the hell
he
is—was dead.” Nick muttered to the widening space between himself and Halley. Then, as the peculiar feeling of adventure sparked his soul, he gave pursuit and caught up with her just as the trees thinned out.
    She was standing beside a small grave, her glasses pushed to the top of her head again, her small fists dug into her narrow waist.
    Settled in a huge lump between the square marker and a giant maple tree was the bulbous form of a man. Nick drew closer and stared down at the still figure.
    “Oh, Archie,” Halley murmured softly.
    One wrinkled eyelid opened with difficulty, and through a bloodshot eye, the man peered blearily up in Nick’s direction. “Good evening, sir. Have we met?”
    Nick smiled as Halley crouched down, and shook her head.
    “It’s not evening, Archie, it’s late afternoon. The gentleman is Nick Harrington, and you are dangerously close to lying atop Whisper Cloud’s grave, as well as frightening the children half to death. What am I to do with you?”
    A whimsical smile played across the man’s puffy face. “Lemme shleep, Finnegan.” His heavy lids closed.
    “Archie, here.” Mickey appeared from behind Nick’s long legs with a cup of steaming black coffee heldtightly in his small hands. He grinned up at Halley. “Kate says it’s three days old and sure to wake him and put hair on his chest too!” He handed Halley the coffee and grinned up at Nick. “Sometimes Archie feels under the weather, you know.”
    Nick nodded as if he had some understanding of what was going on here, and hunkered down next to Halley. “Here, I’ll do that.” He slipped his arm behind Archie’s wide shoulders and forced him forward while Halley lifted the cup to his lips and began forcing the black, syrupy liquid down his throat.
    “Nish.” Archie winked at Halley.
    “Very,” Halley said. “But you’re not. Drink this, my friend. You know such celebrating is taboo on library grounds.”
    “Shorry, Finnegan.” His head rolled forward, and Nick had to bite back a grin at the man’s solemn contriteness.
    “I mean it, Archie.” Halley sat back on her legs and tried to look stern.
    The deep belching sounds Archie made in response brought a huge grin to Mickey’s face, but it was wiped away by one look from Halley.
    “Mickey, maybe you can talk Kate into fixing Archie some soup. Nick can help me get him over to the stable.”
    “Okay. See ya in a minute, Arch.”
    Mickey flew off again, and Halley rose. “Archie has a

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