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The Mona Lisa Sisters

By gdcramer All Rights Reserved ©

Other / Children

Chapter 24

Never fond of Boston, the need for this visit does nothing to improve my opinion. Three hours shy of noon; I meet with the two Boston detectives at a pub a few blocks from where Mary McCarthy lives. They were hired through a fellow attorney practicing in Boston. I see I’ve made a mistake as the more talkative of them begins his report. He smells of stale whiskey and his words, already difficult through a thick Irish brogue, are slurred. The man is drunk or close to it. His companion is in worse shape.

“Mr. Myer, we chatted up all of Mr. Dean’s neighbors for the information you seek. At first, none could tell us anything about a relative. Then we visited the local pubs, and even talked with some of the man’s old acquaintances at the Irish Cultural Center. Still no luck in finding a relative.”

I ask, “Why did you go to the pubs and the Irish Cultural Center?”

“Considering the line of work Mr. Dean was in, we figured some of his old cronies might know something.”

“Did you get anything from his old cronies, all thieves and murderers I imagine?”

“Mr. Myer, we are Irish ourselves. These are all honorable men. We got nothing at first. But then I had an inspiration. I offered a reward for anyone leading me to a relative of his. It worked. Paddy O’Toole, he owns O’Toole’s Tavern, sent for me. He told me that for fifty-dollars, he’d introduce me to Francis Dean’s half-sister, Mary McCarthy. So I gives him the fifty.”

“And what did O’Toole give you in return?”

“Why, he calls his barmaid over and asks her, “Mary, do you know Francis Dean?”

“She says to me, she does, ‘Why Francis Dean is my brother, only he don’t know it.’”

I’m skeptical of the truth in this report and in what Miss McCarthy is claiming. I’m not sure how to proceed, but I know that I’m finished with these two drunken sots. “Thank you for service. I won’t need anything else from you.”

“We thank you for the work. Seeing as how we found the lady, would you be considering a bonus for a job well done?”

I doubt they deserve a penny, but I’m in no mood to start a disturbance.

“Present you invoice for services rendered and I will entertain a suitable bonus.”

The two are all smiles as they order a round of whiskeys. I decline to join.


I meet with the Pinkerton Detectives two days later. “Mr. Myer, we’ve interviewed Miss Mary McCarthy and there is nothing to make us believe she is related to Mr. Francis Dean.”

“Why do you say that?”

“She claims she is the product of a liaison between Mr. Dean’s father, Patrick Dean, and her mother.”

Such liaisons are not all that uncommon, so I ask, “Why don’t you believe her?”

“According to the material you provided, Francis Dean was the son of Patrick and Catherine Dean. We’ve found no birth records for either parent, nor have we found any burial records. There are no death records for either of them.”

I know that not all birth and deaths are recorded with the state, in fact, most home births go unreported. “Does this woman have a home bible with records of births and deaths?”

“No. Another record that doesn’t seem to exist is the birth record for Francis Dean. Do you know where he was born?”

“No. I should have asked that question myself. I will get you an answer. Where does Miss McCarthy claim she and Mr. Dean were born?”

“Miss McCarthy says she was born in Worcester in 1864. I’ve sent another detective there to check for any record of her birth. We have no reason to doubt she was born there.”

“I want to interview Miss McCarthy myself. Please arrange a meeting in a public room at my hotel for tomorrow afternoon. Meanwhile, I want you to contact her neighbors and learn everything you can about her parents and her life. I want no stone left unturned.”

“We will arrange the meeting and shall have a report to you in time to review before the meeting. If we run into any difficulties, where can we find you?”

“I don’t intend to stray far from the hotel or the courthouse. If I’m not here, I will be at the courthouse. There are some records I wish to pursue.”


The Pinkertons arrange for a meeting with the woman who claims to be the sister of Francis Dean. “Miss McCarthy, thank you for agreeing to meet with me on such short notice. My name is Joseph Myer and this lady is a detective with the Pinkertons. I believe you have met her.”

“Yes, she is the lady who asked me to come here and talk to you about the girls.”

“Did she bring you here tonight?”

“Yes, I told her I would talk to you but I had no way to get here. She brought me in a cab.”

“Do you know why I wish to speak with you?”

“It’s because I want to take care of the girls, my nieces.”

“Yes, that’s why. Can you tell me their names?”

“Ah, ah, Catherine and Mae…?”

“Miss McCarthy that sounds like a question. Do you know their names?”

“Well, ah, I never met them.”

“All right. Let us begin. What is your name?”

“Mary McCarthy.”

“How old are you Mary?”

“Thirty.”

“Do you have a middle name?”

“Yes, Louise, Mary Louise McCarthy.”

“Have you ever used any other name?” Before answering, she rubs her hand through the back of her hair. This isn’t the only thing I notice, she’s biting her lip and staring out the window.

“Excuse me sir, what do you mean any other name?”

“Just that. Have you ever gone by a different last name?”

“No, just Mary McCarthy.”

“Was McCarthy the name of your mother?”

“No.”

“What was your father’s name?”

“Patrick Dean.” Now she is biting her fingernails. “Can I have a drink or some water?

“Where did the name McCarthy come from?”

“My mother told me she had to put a father’s name down when I was born so she used. McCarthy. Daniel McCarthy was her man then.”

“Did your mother tell you why she didn’t put Patrick Dean on the record?”

“No.”

“But she told you that Patrick Dean was your father, is that correct?”

“Yes.”

“Did you ever meet your father?”

“No.”

“Did you ever meet your brother Francis?”

“No I never did.”

“How do you know Francis was your brother?”

“My mother told me about him a few years ago.”

“Do you know if your mother ever visited Ireland?”

“No. Why would she? She’s German.”

“Where is your mother?”

This time there is no sign of hesitation. “She run off with a whiskey drummer when I was twelve.”

“If you haven’t seen your mother in eighteen years, how is it she told you about your brother Francis Dean a few years ago?”

McCarthy’s mouth drops and she says nothing. I continue.

“When did you learn of your brother’s death?”

“Mr. O’Toole told me about it and the girls.”

“How did he know Francis was your brother?”

“Ah, ah, I don’t know.”

I’ve had about all I can take of this woman’s lies. It’s time to put an end to this farce. “Mary, isn’t it true that Mr. O’Toole told you about Francis and then told you to claim to be his half-sister?”

The woman’s reactions are immediate. Her mouth falls open, but it is hard to see it as she covers her mouth and eyes with her hands. An audible gasp escapes, as she says “No.” The gasp is louder than the word no.

“Mary, do you know how I can tell you’re lying?”

Hands on her head, elbows close together, she takes a gulp of air as she bends over hiding her face from view. She whimpers, “I’m not lying.”

“Mary, Patrick Dean was born and died in Ireland. He never set foot in America. Your mother never went to Ireland. They never met. They never had a child. Do you want to hear more?”

“No.” After a pause, she adds, “O’Toole told me all I had to do was to pretend that I was the girls’ aunt. He said a rich lady would give me money so she could keep them. I know a little about Francis.”

“How do you know Francis?”

Mary seems to regain her composure as she drops her arms to her lap, raises her head and looks directly at me. She has become a different woman in a matter of seconds. “After his wife died, him and me, we had a fling. It didn’t last long; he was too interested in his girls to spend much time with me. Every so often, he would get the urge, and we would make a night of it. For a hooligan, he was a decent chap. He loved his daughters mightily.”

“Mary, I need you do something for me.”

“What is that?”

“I need you to sign a declaration. A statement that you’re not related to Catherine, Katie, and Ada Mae Dean. Can you do that for me?”

“O’Toole will kill me.”

“You don’t have to mention him in your statement, just that you’re not related to the girls and have no claim on them. I won’t show the statement to anyone unless you try to make a claim later.”

“What do I tell O’Toole?”

“Tell him I called you a liar and threw you out.”

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