The Mona Lisa Sisters

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Chapter 14

The third day at sea, I leave the girls to nap while I walk the promenade. “Do not leave the cabin
until I return.” An afterthought, I take Sherlock with me. Almost to the end of the second-class
promenade, I spy the blonde headed man. He is fast asleep on a deckchair. Covered with a light
blanket, a dark top coat rests on the chair to his right. Despite a full beard, he seems familiar. I sit
on the chair to his left facing him. I shall read until he awakens.
He must be tired, as he sleeps for a good thirty minutes before he stretches and opens his
eyes. He blinks and stares wide-eyed. Looking away, he says, “Ah, Ah, excuse me.” Retrieving
his top coat, he uncovers a bowler.
“Oh, my God, you’re the man, the stranger.” Halfway to his feet, the man falls back on to
the deckchair with an audible sigh. As he slumps, I bend forward until my face is inches from
his. “Who are you? Why have you been following me?” The man looks as though he would
rather be anywhere else than here.
He offers a feeble, “You have me at a disadvantage. Please excuse me. I must return to
my cabin.”
“No. You are not going anywhere. If you insist on leaving, I will scream for help. Do you
understand me?”
“Yes ma’am I do. Allow me a moment to compose myself and I shall explain all.”
“I should hope so. You have been following me for quite some time.”
He gives a small shrug as his shoulders drop. “I’m sorry for any pain I’ve caused you and
the young ladies.” After a few more deep breaths and sighs, he says, “With your permission, I
will start at the beginning. It is a long story.”
“Why don’t you begin?”
“My name is Joseph Myer.”
“Myer? Are you related to my husband?”
“Yes, I’m Walter’s half-brother, illegitimate if you will.”
“Walter never mentioned you.”
“He didn’t know about me. His father was a major in the Union Army. In November,
1863 he was wounded at Chattanooga. My mother was a nurse at the military hospital where he
was treated and recuperated. They fell in love and I was born in 1864.”


“But he was married. What about his wife? Did she know?”
“Mrs. Myer never knew. I don’t think the major did either. My mother never saw him
again after he was discharged from the hospital.”
Even as I say, “Why should I believe you?” I know he is Walter’s brother. He has the
same gold-flecked green eyes as Walter. This man is a Myer!
“Mrs. Myer, there is no reason for you to believe me. If you choose not to, that will be
your decision. You are the only living relative I have, and that’s tenuous at best.”
“Why have you been following me?”
“My mother died two years ago. Before she died, she gave me this picture.” Joseph hands
me a faded photograph. It is grainy and time worn, but there is no question, the uniformed man is
Major Joseph Myer, Walter’s father.
“Mother told me about Major Myer. When I was born, she named me after him. Until she
gave me this picture, she refused to tell me who my father was, only that he was a soldier who
died in the war. After she died, I hired detectives to find my father. As you know, he was already
gone. I learned that I had a half-brother, Walter. I got regular reports from the detectives. When I
learned of the death of your parents, I decided to reach out to Walter when you came to New
York.”
“Why New York? Why not at our home in Ridgefield?”
“My practice is in New York. I thought it would be better there. I didn’t want to surprise
him in Ridgefield in the event the meeting went badly.”
“Practice? Are you a doctor?”
“No, I’m an attorney.”
I check my watch and see that I’d been gone from the girls for well over an hour. I make
a decision. “Mr. Myer I believe you. I need to return to the girls. They will wonder what has
become of me. Would you care to join us at dinner? We can talk at length after the girls have
retired for the evening.”
“I will be honored to join you at dinner. What shall you tell the girls about me?”
“The truth, to a point, I will tell them you’re my husband’s long lost brother and that we
met today by lucky happenstance. Is that satisfactory?”


As we stand, Joseph answers me. “That is quite satisfactory. I’m happy to finally meet
you, Mrs. Myer. I will call for you and the girls at six.”

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