The Mona Lisa Sisters

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Chapter 3

Joseph Myer

Mother has been gone almost two years now. I should introduce myself to him.

Our father loved both our mothers. Of that, I’m certain. Had he known of my existence, I’m sure he would have shown me the same love he bestowed upon my half-brother.

He has a name, use it.

Walter Myer. I’m Joseph Myer. Until two years ago, I believed that my father died in the Civil War, before I was born. I was always proud of that, but not pleased that he hadn’t married my mother, God rest her soul.

Mother served as a nurse in the Union Army. That wasn’t uncommon. What was unusual was that she was born and raised in Tennessee, a Confederate state. She suffered after the war because of both. Reconstruction was hard on southerners. The union carpetbaggers had no mercy for Tennesseans. The townspeople where I was raised knew mother had served the Union Army. They treated us almost as badly as the freed slaves. It helped me grow up strong. I had to fight every day until I went north to college in New York.

“Joseph, you must have an education if you’re to succeed in this world of ours. Here in Tennessee you will be denied your right to that. In New York you will have the same opportunity as every other student, regardless of your birth.”

I argued with her. I didn’t want to leave, nor did I want to use the money she had spent twenty years saving by going without just so I could get an education.

“Mother, I can’t do this.”

“You can. You must do it for me.”

In the end, she won out and I made my way to New York. With her money, my winnings from prize fighting, and scholarships, I managed to graduate from Columbia College where I took a law degree. The son of a Union sympathizer, there was no chance of my success in Tennessee. I stayed in New York, hung out my shingle, and built a successful practice.

Not long after I began my law practice, I needed the services of a private investigator. After several bad experiences with local detectives, I began a search for competent help. Over lunch with my friend, the successful attorney Louis Brandies, I broached the subject with him.

“Louis, I must thank you for introducing me to Delmonico’s. It certainly is the finest restaurant in New York.”

“It’s the only one in the country with a worldwide reputation. But, I sense that you have something else on your mind. Is it something I can help you with?”

“I could use your advice, but it’s almost too trivial to bother you with.”

“Go ahead.”

“I’ve found myself in need of private investigators several times recently. Those that I’ve used have been lacking in their ability to obtain the information that I’ve needed. I wonder if you might have one or two that you could recommend.”

Louis recommended the Pinkerton Detective Agency. “They’ve been in business since 1850 and have the highest standards in the nation. I’ve never been disappointed in the quality of their work. I’ll put you in touch with Donald White. He heads up their New York office.”

I met with Mr. White a few days later. After explaining that while Pinkerton would always do its best to satisfy my investigative needs, he told me I needed to understand that the results might not be what I wanted or expected. “Thank you Mr. White. I appreciate your honesty. That said, I would like to hire you to handle a personal matter.”

The detective he assigned to my family search established that my father had died long ago. White told me he had one other son. “Your half-brother Walter is a successful engineer for Grisham Railroad. He married the owner’s daughter. His father-in-law, George Grisham, has passed away, as has his wife.”

“What else can you tell me?”

“Mrs. Myer is expecting but is having some minor issues. Her doctor wants her to come to New York to be seen by a specialist.”

I want to meet my brother and his wife. If I go to their home, it might be a shock that could harm the wife. I don’t want to do that.

“When they come to New York, alert me, and tell me where they are staying.”

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