The headlights of the two cars punched yellow tunnels of light over the dark four-lane divided highway. Chris was driving Aunt Lizzie’s car, Aunt Lizzie in the front passenger seat, he two nieces, Jennifer and Linda, in the back. Sam, Chris’s partner, followed in her own car with Dr Goldstein, Jennifer’s and Linda’s cousin Steven, and friend Savi. The four children and four adults still wondered why the police had released them at three o’clock in the morning after detaining them for two hours at Edmundston. Even Savi had been allowed to proceed, her fears of imprisonment and deportation allayed–for the moment anyway.
During the delay, a couple of officers had spent most of the time on the telephone. The police still didn’t believe the group’s mission–one that, if successful, could alter the course of Canadian history. The journey should now be straightforward, though its final outcome was still a gigantic question mark.
So the last thing they expected late at night on a deserted highway was for a car to suddenly pull out from the side of the road into their headlights and stop, blocking both lanes. Chris braked hard, and as the car squealed to a halt, two big men slid out of the vehicle ahead.
“What now?” asked Aunt Lizzie, hands braced against the dashboard. “A holdup?”
“It’s almost like they’ve been waiting for us.” Jennifer’s voice was shaking. “But how–why?”
The past danger of arrest suddenly seemed trivial. At least till now there’d been no threat of violence.
Linda’s mind, so quick at linking disparate facts and incidents ,flashed back over the events of the past week looking for an explanation–and came up blank.
“This does not look good,” said Aunt Lizzie.
Five days earlier the doorbell had chimed downstairs at the bed and breakfast where Jennifer, her younger sister Linda and Steven their cousin were in the girls’ bedroom deciding the next day’s summer-holiday adventure.
Jennifer glanced at her watch–nearly 10 p.m., late for Mrs Gelthorpe, their landlady, to have a visitor. Perhaps one of the guests had forgotten their key. They returned to the matter at hand.
“What are the tides doing?” asked Steven.
“I’ll look,” said Linda, “but if it’s like this morning we should have the current with us going down to Ministers Island. If it turns near noon we might even get it with us coming back. Tides here in the Bay of Fundy are much bigger than back home on the west coast.”
Footsteps sounded on the carpeted stairs.
“Couldn’t be better,” said Jennifer. At fifteen, she was the oldest, with rights to the bedroom’s only chair. “I’ll ask Mrs Gelthorpe at breakfast if we can make sandwiches.”
The footsteps stopped outside their door, followed by a knock.
“Come in!” called Jennifer.
“Letter for you,” puffed Mrs Gelthorpe, opening the door. “A note at least. I’d have set it beside your breakfast dishes, but I seen it says ‘Urgent’ on the envelope, so brought it along right away.”
“Thank you, Mrs Gelthorpe,” said Jennifer, looking at the envelope, but making no move to open it. She knew a hand-written note contained a message too confidential to risk being sent electronically. “It does say ‘Urgent.’ But it also says ‘Private.’ ‘Urgent and Private.'” Jennifer looked up and smiled at Mrs Gelthorpe.
Mrs Gelthorpe harrumphed. “Alright then, I’ll leave you to it. Remember, no noise after ten o’clock. My other guests want to sleep.”
“We’ll be quiet,” said Jennifer, still smiling and waiting patiently.
“Well, good night, then.” Mrs Gelthorpe reluctantly left the room, leaving the door open.
Linda got off the bed and closed the door, whispering, as it clicked shut, “Nosy old busybody.”
“She’s kind, though,” said Jennifer, ripping open the envelope. She spread the single sheet of paper on her knees, read it and gasped.
“What’s it say?” demanded Steven, sliding off Linda’s bed and coming to lean over Jennifer’s shoulder.
“Dad’s been arrested!”