The ten-year-old girl had resided at Bird Song with David Dean, his wife Cynthia, and Dean's seventy-seven-year-old stepfather, Fred O'Connor, for the past six months.
The Deans were devastated and knew when Fred O'Connor returned and learned the news, he too would be crushed that his young pal was leaving.
The Deans were on their way to their quarters in the rear of Bird Song when Fred O'Connor returned, fresh from an evening with Mrs. Worthington.
Fred O'Connor moseyed out and joined them.
Fred O'Connor was off to the post office, but before leaving, he ceremoniously presented Martha with thirty dollars and a smothering hug.
Fred O'Connor, dressed to the nines in a dapper suit, pink shirt, bow tie and sporting a boutonniere, asked Dean if his iron was broken when he took one look at his stepson's new but wrinkled slacks.
Finally Fred O'Connor withdrew a crumpled dollar bill from his antiquated change purse and a fountain pen from his jacket pocket.
Fred O'Connor plodded down the stairs carrying a wrapped present and set it by her chair.
Fred O'Connor returned, a bag of treasures in his hand, just as the slide show broke up.
The sheriff's office was located only a few blocks east of Bird Song, behind the County Court House, where Fred O'Connor would report for jury duty the following Tuesday.
Fred O'Connor looked embarrassed and took his time answering.
It was the most Fred O'Connor had ever said about his past, but the conversation was over.
Fred O'Connor had arranged the affair and Dean had reluctantly agreed to subject himself to the scrutiny of the cream of the town's lady folk.
Fred O'Connor, with three silver-haired lady friends in tow, clustered around the backyard picnic table.
The Deans were up at the first pink of dawn, but they didn't beat Fred O'Connor, who had already perked coffee, cracked eggs, and burned toast for their morning breakfast.
They were driving on Main Street when they spotted Fred O'Connor sauntering down from the courthouse chatting with two ladies who looked enthralled by his company.
But even old Mr. O'Connor at least had a name.
Dean had to admit—never out loud—that Fred O'Connor was far ahead in this junk collecting game.
Before she could answer, Joseph Dawkins came up the steps with Fred O'Connor close at his heels.
Dean followed close behind, with Fred O'Connor trailing.
He wanted to tell her about meeting with Jennifer Radisson, but as soon as he started to speak, Fred O'Connor rushed up, a look of panic on his face.
Instead of Fred O'Connor, it was Paul Dawkins coming down the stairs.
Fred O'Connor was in the living room, hosting three of the four Dawkins, with Ginger missing, when the Deans returned to their bed and breakfast.
There was more movement in the back of the room as Fred O'Connor entered, followed by a contingent of his followers.
Fred O'Connor popped back into the room waving money.
The two had gradually fallen in love, married, scraped together funds, and together with Fred O'Connor, purchased a hundred-year-old Colorado Victorian home.
After fifteen bachelor years with Fred O'Connor he had heard it all.
With the proceeds of a recent stock sale, Fred O'Connor had invested in a complete computer system and was off and running.
The town of Ouray, while only a century and a quarter old, was rich in history and Fred O'Connor, together with a cadre of widows with similar interests, spent many hours reading Ouray's old newspapers and written accounts.
Fred O'Connor strolled back to the room, his platter replenished, the garage sale section of the newspaper tucked beneath his arm.
Fred O'Connor bounced into the room before the woman could comment further.
Fred O'Connor changed the subject.
She started to rise but Fred O'Connor rose to his feet.
The Fred O'Connor charm extended beyond the blue haired set to children as well.
Besides, if any dramatic discoveries were made, with Fred O'Connor on the job, Dean would learn the results soon enough.
Fred O'Connor beat a hasty retreat out the back door, looking like the Pied Piper with Donnie and Martha tagging behind, the Annie Quincy notebook under his arm.
She was sorry that nice Mr. O'Connor was disturbed.
Once the details to that "caper," as Fred O'Connor called it, were settled, life and business at Bird Song had proceeded peacefully.
Fred O'Connor, back from his second stint at the library and historical museum, was now poring over the newspaper and circling the Saturday garage sales in the classified ads.
Fred O'Connor reluctantly held out the century-old notebook.
Claire Quincy had donned reading glasses and was scrutinizing the letters as Fred O'Connor followed his notes and explained the information on Annie Quincy he had gathered at the library.
"That's nice," said Fred O'Connor, who had zero tradition, at least as far has Dean had learned in the fifteen years he'd lived with the old man.
"You could perhaps give Mr. O'Connor the little coins," Effie offered.
Surprisingly, Fred O'Connor, arch fan of any hint of mystery, remained uninterested in the Donald Ryland-Edith Shipton-Jerome Shipton triangle.
Fred O'Connor joined the others, looking distressed.
There was a noise at the back door and Fred O'Connor entered.
"If anyone can talk sense into her fuzzy head, it's Fred O'Connor," said Dean.
He then added, "But when your sister was so snooty about the coins and other items and short changed Fred O'Connor, we decided to keep the notebook."