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THE CASE OF THE BENT SPOKE

A Poplar Cove Mystery


by

Patricia Canterburty



SMASHWORDS EDITION



* * * * *



Pegasus Pony/Patricia Canterbury on Smashwords


The Case of the Bent Spoke


Copyright © 2018 by Patricia Canterbury



All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.


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ISBN - 978-0-463136-7-37


Comments about Draugar The Case of the Bent Spoke and requests for additional copies, book club rates and author speaking appearances may be addressed to Patricia Canterbury or Pegasus Pony, c/o Marcus McGee, or you can send your comments and requests via e-mail to patmyst@aol.com.





Dedicated to my youngest nephews



Leonardo Velasquez,


Ethan Rasberry,


Aiden Rasberry and


Owen Rasberry

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS



Thanks to the late Connie Gipson, who first introduced me to the achievements of Major Taylor.

To Sherri Kirk, attorney extraordinaire, who gave me research on Major Taylor’s life.

To Nedra, Sacramento Reference librarian, for her assistance in weather information from 1928.

To Shirleigh Brannon, from the Department of Transportation Reference Library in Sacramento, for her information on road and highway conditions in the late 1920s.

To David of the Jenner, California Historical Society, for his information about the town.

To my husband, Richard, for his continuing support of all of my writing efforts and for his thoughts on various rewrites of this novel.

To Christopher Chaney, Christopher Colcleasure, Tyler Vaum and Charles Washington, now adults, who as pre-teens, gave me their memories from boyhood as they critiqued the first draft of this book.

And finally, to my weekly critique group: the late Maggie Anderson, Ethel Mack Ballard, Jacqueline Turner Banks, Janie Bess, Juanita Carr, Geri Spencer Hunter, Shakiri and Kim Wiley, for their suggestions, comments and prodding in fashioning this final product.



THE CASE OF THE BENT SPOKE


By Patricia E. Canterbury


Chapter One


The fall of 1928 was unbearably hot along the northwestern coast of California. Twelve-year-old good friends and classmates, Bobby Joe Allen and Eli Shaw III, or Three (as family and townspeople call him), raced each other down the Old Mill Road at the south end of Poplar Cove, the most densely-populated Colored town in the Tri-Cove area. The other towns, Grant’s Cove and Marshall Cove, were within twenty-five miles of each other off backcountry dirt roads. All three could also be reached via the Legislative Route 56’s dangerous, windy western shore, but the various merchants, townspeople and especially the children prefered the less scenic and quicker back roads. The Old Mill Road was one of more scenic of the non-ocean view back roads.

The dust kicked up by the boys’ bicycle wheels flew up into their sweaty faces and parched throats, choking and momentarily blinding them as they laughed and raced each other, darting among potholes, an occasional startled deer, and a few loose rocks that had fallen from the hills nearby. The stagnant air was hot and humid, even under the giant redwoods and black oaks that lined the road.

Their matching bicycles were scarred and scratched from years of wear and tear, sea air and the general forgetfulness of young boys with many things on their minds, so wiping off and putting away bicycles were not always foremost in their thinking. Both bicycles sported a worn leather “saddle,” where repair tools shared space with homemade sandwiches and warm bottles of Moxie soda, which was the current craze sweeping the nation, finally arriving in Poplar Cove. While both families had the means to purchase new bikes for the boys, the parents chose to spend money on repair of their farms and feed for the livestock.

Three’s front tire hit a pine cone hidden in one of the deep ruts that littered Old Mill Road, sending him over the handlebars and landing at the base of one of the towering redwood trees.

“You okay?” Bobby Joe asked as he jumped off his bike and rushed over to help Three to his feet.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” Three coughed through the settling dust, embarrassed by his lack of concentration. “Oh, look… I’ve bent the front wheel.”

Never one to ask for help when it came to the repair of mechanical things, Three opened the small, leather saddle, filled with wrenches, screws, bolts and miscellaneous wires. He looked at the empty soda bottle, instantly regretting that he’d drunk the last of the soda an hour earlier. Sweat ran down his face and his thin cotton shirt stuck to his small, sweaty frame.

Not to be outdone, Bobby Joe opened his saddle also.

“Here, I think this wrench will work better than the little one you have.”

Bobby Joe handed Three a medium-sized wrench. Three wiped blood and sweat from his cheek with his dirty left hand. He was bleeding from a place on his face that he’d scraped when he landed on some redwood bark on the road. Neither boy spoke as they fine-tuned the spokes and adjusted the wheel.

Only after the bike was back in riding shape did Three check his left arm and knees for additional scrapes. None of the scratches were as deep as those on his cheek. He wiped the blood off with his handkerchief, and wetting the cloth with spit, he cleaned the wounds. His left eye throbbed, but he could see well enough to continue the ride. He patted himself down and jumped up and down a few times.

“I don’t think that I have any broken bones,” he said to Bobby Joe as he got back on the bike. Three rode around Bobby Joe a few times, testing the front wheel. The scratches on his knees were just below the pant’s rolled-up cuff, thereby eliminating any unnecessary point of contact with the open wounds. The moist warm air felt good on the rapidly-drying blood. Satisfied that he could ride without damaging the wheel or himself, he rode ahead of Bobby Joe.

“Look at those clouds. I think that we may have a storm before night,” Three said, squinting up and towards the west. He could just make out the horizon, where the Pacific Ocean stretched as far as possible. Thunderstorms had been threatening all day.

“BOOM!”

“Did you hear that? It sounded like thunder. Maybe you’re right. We just might get rain later today,” Bobby Joe said as he got on his bike and caught up to Three. They began to peddle quickly down the road toward the Shaw’s farm.

“Grandpa Eli will be able to tell us. He always knows when it’s going to rain. Let’s go.”

“I don’t think it will rain. It’s been making noises for days,” Bobby Joe shouted, above the noise the bicycles’ wheels made as they crushed leaves and pine cones that littered the narrow two-lane street at the southern edge of Poplar Cove. “Let’s go over to Marshall Cove and see if Mike Trent wants to race to Grant’s Cove.” The warm wind had picked up and pine cones were raining down on the boys and the road.


*****


“Hello, Mr. Shaw. Me and Three are going to ride over to Marshall Cove,” Bobby Joe said as he got off his bicycle and leaned it against a branch of one of the Monterey pines that lined the path between the barn and the Shaw’s farmhouse. Three let his bike fall over on the ground as he got off.

“Three and I are going to ride over to Marshall Cove,” Grandpa Shaw corrected.

“Three and I are going to ride over to Marshall Cove that is if it’s okay with you and Miss Anna,” Bobby Joe said.

“There’s a storm coming. I think you two need to stay close to home. In fact,” Grandpa Eli stopped, wiped sweat from his forehead, took out his pipe and chewed on the stem. He lifted his head and inhaled. “The storms mighty close. Bobby Joe, you better head for home or the road may become too dangerous to ride on.” Grandpa looked at Three who stood in the shadow of the pine tree. “Three… come here. What happened to your face?”

“Nothin. It’s okay. I just have a scratch.”

“Scratch? Come here, boy.”

Three walked over to his grandfather, who turned him around in the sunlight. Three’s left eye was nearly swollen shut, and the dirty scrape had turned an angry purple. Grandpa Eli looked him over closely. The scrapes on his forearm and knees were red and beginning to scab over.

“All the clouds are over the ocean,” Three said, looking up into the clear blue sky above the farmhouse, trying to take attention from his face. Seconds later, a cloud hid the sun. The wind picked up again and the warm fall air turned cold.

“Bobby Joe, you’d better hurry home. Your ma will be worried about you.” Grandpa Eli put his arm around Three, turned and walked to the porch. “Three, come in the house and have Miss Anna look at your face and knees, then pick up you bike and put it in the barn.”

“But Grandpa…”

“Don’t ‘but grandpa’ me! The storm’s coming on shore.” Then remembering that Bobby Joe was still standing by the porch, he turned towards Bobby Joe and said, “Good bye, Bobby Joe. The storm’s coming in quickly. You have to ride hard to get home without getting soaked.”

Bobby Joe started to say something about how clear the sky was, but he’d been around Grandpa Eli too long to question him about the weather. If he said a storm was near, then a storm was near, and he thought he’d better hurry home.

“Bye, Mr. Shaw. Bye, Three. I’ll see you later,” Bobby Joe said as he got on his bicycle and peddled away. He lived with his parents near the middle of town and around the corner from Mayor Walker and his daughter, Amber—one of the town’s Triplets.

Ten minutes later, the sky was dark with thunderclouds, heavy with rain. Bobby Joe put his bike on his porch just as the first raindrops fell. Within an hour, the road in front of his and every home in Poplar Cove that was not on a paved street was a mini river of rainwater and mud. It rained for five days without let up.


*****


“Good Morning, Homer,” John Anderson said as he shook raindrops from his cowboy hat. He pushed and errant curl from his short-cropped, curly, dark hair off his forehead, wiped his hands on his jeans and shook hands with Homer Jones, the Postmaster for the Tri-Cove area.

Homer had stepped from behind the four-foot partition that separated the post office from the rest of the train station. He was approximately five inches shorter than John’s even six-feet and dark-skinned, with a baby smooth face and handlebar moustache. Homer often reminded people new to Poplar Cove of the Mexican bandit Zapata, who although dead for nine years, was still a cult figure in many northern California towns. It was a resemblance Homer used to utmost advantage when playing cards with John and other members of the Town Council. He was the greatest bluffer in the Tri-Cove area.

“‘Morning. John. Bet the rain’s kept you pretty busy up at the ranch.” Homer smoothed out his immaculately-groomed moustache.

“That and one of my prize bulls decided he needed to take a walk over to Marshall Cove in the middle of the worse of it. It took me and Danny almost all day yesterday to find him and bring him back.” John rubbed his left shoulder, winced in pain and leaned against the post office divider. “I better see Doc Calvin while I’m in town. I think I might have pulled something—that or I’m getting old.”

Both men laughed.

“Here’s your mail,” Homer said as he handed an inch-thick stack of envelopes across the counter to John. “I have a pot of coffee going,” he continued as he walked toward a wooden stove near the center of the station.

Homer poured a generous amount of the black liquid into a blue tin cup that he’d taken from one of the hooks near the stove. John shifted through the mail while Homer walked to the stove.

“Well, well, well. Looks like I might be getting some company,” John said, reading a letter that Homer could see contained the large fluid signature of someone who seemed to live in a hurry. Homer prided himself on his ability to guess people’s occupation by their handwriting.

He’d been postmaster of Poplar Cove for 17 years—ever since he graduated from Grant’s Cove High School. He was probably predestined to be postmaster, since he father was the postmaster before him, but he hadn’t expected it to be so soon after his graduation. A week after graduation, Homer’s father received an opportunity to work for the government in Oakland and moved, taking his wife and younger son, Tom, with him.

Homer filled in on what he thought was a temporary assignment. His father recommended him for the position, since he needed a job. Homer had wed his high school sweetheart, Ethelene, the day after graduation. Poplar Cove was his home. As Postmaster and Station Master, Homer made a very good living. He was also on the town council with John Anderson, the richest man in the county. They had become very good friends in the short time since John moved to California from Texas.

“Oh? Anyone I know?” Homer knew that if the person were arriving by train, he’d be the first to receive him, but he asked out of mild curiosity.

“Major Taylor. You remember me telling you about my friend who’s won all the bicycle races back in Illinois and Massachusetts? Well, he’s on his way to Japan and has a week or so that he can spend up here. He’s been retired for nearly ten years, but he gets invited to exhibition races.”

“Bicycle racer? Better not let the Triplets find out that he’s coming, or they’ll want to race him just to say that they did so—even if he’s retired. That won’t make any difference to the girls.”

“You know, that’s not a bad idea!”

“What’s not a bad idea? I’m not going to be responsible for having the girls get into any more trouble. They do just fine on their own,” Homer said, pouring himself another cup of coffee. He gestured with his cup toward the coffee pot. Homer was the father of Robyn, one of the Triplets.

The infamous Triplets were three best-girlfriends that the sheriff, in a moment of weakness, named to be his Junior Deputies. The girls had an uncanny ability to solve mysteries in and around the Tri-Cove area and had been successful at finding missing classmates and were instrumental in bringing murderers to justice. The fact that their only daughter was one of the Triplets did not set well with Homer and his wife.

In fact, none of the parents were pleased to have such headstrong, modern daughters as the Triplets, so nicknamed by the townspeople, because one rarely was one seen without the other two. The fact that the girls lived in Poplar Cove gave the town the unusual burden of assuring that everyone’s slight misstep was not pounced on by the girls and blown out of proportion, so the girls could continue their Junior Deputy status.

Every day, Homer and his wife wondered what new mischief their daughter would possibly find with which to entertain herself. They were also afraid that their young sons, ages two and four, would take after their big sister in ways totally unimaginable in their parents’ youth.

“No more for me.” John said, reading Homer’s gesture for more coffee. “Think about it, Homer… my son, Danny, Three and that Allen boy, Bobby Joe—all of them love to race their bicycles all over Poplar Cove. More times than I care to remember, Danny’s been off riding that bike when there were cattle to tend to. But enough of that, there must a number of boys at the Tri-Cove area that enjoy riding, so we could have a contest, say among the Tri-Cove villages… and have Major serve as a judge. I know that he’d enjoy it.”

“When is he coming out?”

“He leaves for Japan the middle of December and will be here around the first of December. It gives us almost three months to do something. There’s not much for the boys around here to do, and my hands could use a day or two off for some nice clean fun. I’m sure most of them can ride and they love nothing more that a good competition.”



Chapter Two


“Hello, Albert. I want to place an ad in your newspaper,” John Anderson said as he entered the Poplar Cove Tribune’s tiny office. Albert Borden, the editor, looked up from his desk, got up and shook hands with John.

“Selling one of your prized bulls again?” Albert asked. The grandfather clock at the left of his cluttered desk bonged eleven times. He took out his pocket watch, as if to verify the time.

John picked up a pen lying on the countertop, dipped it in the nearby inkwell and wrote a few words. He handed the note to Albert and said, “Nope, a friend is visiting, and Homer and I were thinking about how much my friend would like a bicycle race through town.” John smiled to himself as Albert read the ad aloud.

“BOYS, ten to twenty-five, test your skills as a bicycle rider by entering the first Tri-Cove Bicycle Race. Renowned Bicycle Racer, Major Taylor, will be the Judge for the race that will be held December 15, 1928. If you are interested in this race, be sure to sign up at the Grange in Poplar Cove, Grant’s Cove High School or Miss Ida’s Diner in Marshall Cove. The race will be 25 miles, between Marshall Cove and Poplar Cove. A small fee of five cents will cover the cost of any materials needed for the race. The race will begin at nine a.m. and will end no later than four p.m.”


*****


The Joaquin Murrieta Elementary School was one of the more modern buildings in town. It was located just north of Main Street, yet it was centrally located so that all the children in Poplar Cove lived close enough to walk to the small, yet efficient schoolhouse. The six-room building housed the kindergarten through third grade—classes that Mrs. Oliver taught. Mrs. Blake taught the fourth through sixth grade classes. In addition to the classroom, the building boasted a cafeteria, auditorium, gymnasium and all-purpose room plus two indoor restrooms. One restroom was for the students, and one for the teachers. Most of the younger students used the teacher’s restroom.

“Good Morning, students,” Mrs. Blake said. A clap of thunder momentarily drowned out her words.

“Good Morning, Mrs. Blake.” The students answered in unison through more claps of thunder.

“Mr. John Anderson,” she said, pausing to ensure that the students were listening. “Mr. Anderson has informed me that one of his good friends, Major Taylor from Massachusetts, will be visiting with him in December. He thought that it would be a nice gift if we were to have a bicycle race through the towns of Poplar Cove, Marshall Cove and Grant’s Cove where Mr. Taylor could be the judge.” Again, her words were lost, this time by the shouts and cheers from the boys in the class.

“Who’s Major Taylor?” one of the girls asked.

“A Major. I guess he’s someone from the Great War,” Amber Walker answered. Amber was one of the students who usually “knew” the answers to questions, even when totally incorrect, which was the case this time.

“MAJOR TAYLOR. I can’t believe it. Major Taylor’s coming to our town!” Three shouted to Danny, John Anderson’s son, giving him a slight punch on the left arm. “Your Dad actually knows Major Taylor?” He had spoken over Amber’s statement, his voice filled with awe.

“Yeah, Dad knows everyone,” Danny replied softly. He was a shy boy, and anything that drew him out of his books or away from his solitary bike rides made him nervous. He was tall, like his father, but stockier and near-sighted. His dark eyes appeared magnified behind the lenses of his glasses.

“Daniel, please come up to the front of the class and tell everyone who Major Taylor is,” Mrs. Blake said, following instructions Mrs. Anderson had given her during the last parent-teacher meeting, which included forcing Daniel to speak in public, especially in class, where he was surrounded by his friends.

Mrs. Blake did so as much as possible, knowing that Danny would take over his father’s vast cattle and horse empires someday. She tried many different ways to ease Danny’s shyness. One was to have him speak in front of the class as often as possible, but they were both failing miserably.

Danny stood off to the side of Mrs. Blake’s wooden desk, though close enough to touch it if necessary. He looked directly at Bobby Joe and Three, smiled briefly, looked down at his muddy, boot-clad feet and said, “Mr. Taylor was the best bicycle racer in the world. He’s real old now, almost 53. He has won all of the racing events back East and in Europe. He’s stopping by on his way to Japan to see Dad.”

“Japan?” someone in the class whispered, loud enough for everyone to hear.

“Yes. Mr. Taylor’s been invited by the Emperor to an exhibition race near Mt. Fuji. He’s sailing out of San Francisco, and Dad’s going down there to see about a new horse and will see him off. He’ll be our houseguest for a week. I told Dad that I thought that we had enough boys—between Grant’s Cove, Marshall Cove, the ranch hands and us here in Poplar Cove—to put on a decent race for Mr. Taylor. I didn’t know that Dad had already spoken to anyone else about it.”

Beads of sweat dotted Danny’s forehead and upper lip as he completed his statement. He walked quickly to his seat and sat down, not making eye contact with anyone. The room was very quiet as everyone looked from Danny to Mrs. Blake and back again. Someone in the back of the room coughed.

“Thank you, Daniel,” Mrs. Blake said as she got up from her desk and walked over to the blackboard. She wrote “MAJOR TAYLOR” and “bicycle race” on the board. The sound of papers shuffling and books opening filled the room.

“I wish I were a boy! Then I could race, too!” Robyn Jones, Homer’s daughter, whispered to the others, Jessica Johnson and Amber.

“Girls—no talking. We’re going back to our history lesson,” Mrs. Blake said.

All eyes were on the girls as the class laughed softly. The girls opened their history books and said nothing more. Nor did anyone else say a word about Major Taylor during the remainder of the class. The sound of chairs’ legs scraping on the wooden floor and chalk sliding across the blackboard filled the classroom until the bell rang at the end of school.


*****


Word spread quickly through the Tri-Cove area that Major Taylor was coming for a visit. Each town wanted to do something to celebrate his stay.

“I think a vaudeville show at the Grant’s Cove Theater is what we should do,” said one citizen of Grant’s Cove. The northernmost town of the Tri-Cove area was the only one with a motion picture theater. The theater also doubled as a professional stage for the few colored plays that appeared outside of Sacramento, San Francisco or Fresno.

“We should have a good old-fashioned Christmas Faire,” the citizens of Marshall Cove suggested.

“Everyone could dress up in Renaissance clothing, and we could have an old-fashioned party and bring presents for the less-fortunate among us.”

Many discussions followed about where to hold a Christmas Faire. None of the buildings in Marshall Cove was large enough to host all who would want to attend from the three towns.

Finally, the original suggestions of a combination bicycle race through the towns seemed the perfect celebration. Each town would host a portion of the race, and prizes would be awarded to the fastest, slowest, or most unique riders. At the beginning, two months appeared to be a long time to plan for a race. But as each day passed, townspeople began to panic, worried that there wasn’t enough time to do a proper job and have a great race.


*****


Three, Bobby Joe and The Triplets were seated in the rear of the Jefferson Five and Dime Store, sharing ice cream cones and milk shakes.

“I don’t know why girls can’t race!” Amber said, her foghorn-voice echoing off the back wall.

“Perhaps we can have girls cheer us on,” Bobby Joe said as he punched Three under the table.

“CHEER you on!” Robyn Jones shouted. Her reaction was just what the boys expected, and both erupted in peals of laughter.

“We… we knew you three couldn’t just sit on the side and watch us race. But I think that Mr. Johnson is only working on a race for us boys.”

“Then we have to change his mind,” Jessica “JJ” Johnson said, softly. “Even if I don’t want to race, I think that the girls that want to do so should be able to race, right along with the boys.”

The girls were seated on the rear seat, facing the front of the store, while Three and Bobby Joe were facing them. The rear booths were barely large enough for four small adults. and the five excited children took up the booth and the aisle. Fortunately, the soda fountain area was nearly empty.

“I’m going to paint my bicycle bright blue,” Three said. After a minute or so of silence, he continued, “Grandpa said I could use some of the farm money for paint. I could always use whatever is left over to spruce up something about the farm.”

“Blue,” Amber said. “Maybe we could have racing colors like they do at horse races.”

“That’s a good idea, Robyn said, “but I don’t think everyone is going to want to paint their bikes. We could wear the same color shirts, so that we’d all look alike. All of Poplar Cove’s riders could wear blue, and Marshall Cove red, and Grant’s Cove green. That would make it easy to cheer for our home town riders.”

“Don’t forget Mr. Anderson’s ranch hands. There’s almost as many of them as us.” Bobby Joe said.

“I don’t think that the older boys should race with little kids.” Jessica said. “All of Mr. Anderson’s hands are seventeen or eighteen. They’re all out of school.”

“I’m just saying,” Bobby Joe added, “that they’d have to have a color that’s different from a town color if they’re going to race as a team.”.

“I’ll ask my father to draw up the rules of the race, Amber said. “He’d make sure everything was fair. Not only is he the mayor, but he’s an attorney, so he might do it for free as a donation to Mr. Taylor.” The rest of the party nodded.


*****


In Worcester, Mass, Major Taylor walked out of the Midland Bank, picked up his bicycle, which was propped against the side of the bank near the entrance, and grabbed the handlebars as he walked the bike across the dusty street to the Post Office.

“Morning, Jeb,” he said to the rotund man behind the counter. The Worcester Post Office, much like in many small towns, was inside a general store.

“Morning, Major. When’s your next race?” The postmaster, a large man, with watery blue eyes, thinning hair and a permanent scowl, prided himself on the comings and goings of “important” people, both colored and white. He knew all of them by their given names and wasn’t above name-dropping if anyone else was within earshot.

“I don’t race anymore, except for a few exhibition races. I have one at the Velodrome over in Indianapolis, Indiana.” Major looked through the stack of letters Jeb handed him. Jeb continued sorting the day’s mail, his back to Major Taylor. They were the only two people in the Post Office section of the store. Three men played dominoes on a battered wooden table at the far end of store. Their light banter didn’t add much to the ambient noise of the building.

“Good. I was hoping that my old friend John Anderson would be available for company before I leave for Japan.”

“When ya leaving for Japan?” Jeb asked, turning around and looking closely at Major for the first time that day.

“I don’t actually leave for Japan until the middle of December, but I’m leaving for California right after the harvest, about November 25 or so. Thought I might do some deep-sea fishing off the coast. My friend has a ranch near Eureka.”

Major walked over to a map of the United States that was pinned to the wall behind the counter. He placed his right index finger on the map, pointing out Eureka. Jeb moved closer to the map, and wiping his eyeglasses with a crumbled white handkerchief, put his glasses back on and peered at the spot close to Major’s finger.

“I ain’t seen the Pacific Ocean.” Jeb said.

“Me, either. I’ll be sailing from Frisco on the Shogun Maru. The trip lasts for eight days.”

“Long time to be on a ship.”

“Yep, but I should be able to ride around the deck so that I won’t be too out of shape by the time we reach shore. See ya tomorrow.”

Collecting the rest of his mail, Major nodded to the three men, still working hard at their domino game, and left the Post Office. Jeb walked beside him and stopped at the table.

“He’s going to Japan this time.” Jeb said to the men.

“Sure does travel a lot for a colored man,” one of the men said to no one in particular.

“He’s raced that bicycle of his all over Europe during his prime. Used to be a champion racer, about eight nine years ago.”

Jeb’s status rose immediately.


*****


A few days later, Major wrote a reply to John Anderson’s letter.


Dear John,

Thank you for accepting my request for some vacation time in California. I’m hoping that we’ll be able to get some fishing in. I really like the idea of the townspeople offering to have a bicycle race in my honor. It would be a privilege to be a judge. Don’t go to any trouble trying to entertain me. I’m looking forward to some quiet time, perhaps some fishing, a long walk or two, perhaps some time to take my mind off the exhibition. I think that a nice little ride between towns would be great.

I’ve been feeling uneasy lately. I could swear that I’m being followed. It’s probably nothing—just tense from too much training. It’s been some time since I did any serious riding. I was hoping that we would see a lot more of our boys joining me in the sport, but as with so many other things, when we get too good at something, the rules change. We can discuss that later. You said that you have a telephone. I’ll call you next week, and we can go over some ideas about the race. I might be able to get one of my sponsors to come up with a prize or two for the winners. I’m looking forward to seeing your family again.


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