Anderson had not been idle in all these years. He was fast approaching his seventieth anniversary, but he was not a day older in spirit than when we first made his acquaintance. True, his hair was thinner and whiter, and his whiskers straggled a little more carelessly than in other days, but he was as young and active as a youth of twenty. Hard times did not worry him, nor did domestic troubles. Mrs. Crow often admitted that she tried her best to worry him, but it was like “pouring water on a duck’s back.” He went blissfully on his way, earning encomiums for himself and honours for Tinkletown. There was no grave crime committed in the land that he did not have a well-defined scheme for apprehending the perpetrators. His “deductions” at Lamson’s store never failed to draw out and hold large audiences, and no one disputed his theories in public. The fact that he was responsible for the arrest of various hog, horse, and chicken thieves from time to time, and for the continuous seizure of the two town drunkards, Tom Folly and Alf Reesling, kept his reputation untarnished, despite the numerous errors of commission and omission that crept in between.
That Rosalie’s mysterious friends—or enemies, it might have been—kept close and accurate watch over her was manifested from time to time. Once, when Anderson was very ill with typhoid fever, the package of bills was accompanied by an unsigned, typewritten letter. The writer announced that Mr. Crow’s state of health was causing some anxiety on Rosalie’s account—the child was then six years old—and it was hoped that nothing serious would result. Another time the strange writer, in a letter from Paris, instructed Mr. Crow to send Rosalie to a certain boarding school and to see that she had French, German, and music from competent instructors. Again, just before the girl went to New York for her two years’ stay in Miss Brown’s school, there came a package containing $2500 for her own personal use. Rosalie often spoke to Anderson of this mysterious sender as the “fairy godmother”; but the old marshal had a deeper and more significant opinion.
Perhaps the most anxious period in the life of Anderson Crow came when Rosalie was about ten years old. A new sheriff had been elected in Bramble County, and he posed as a reformer. His sister taught school in Tinkletown, and Rosalie was her favourite. She took an interest in the child that was almost the undoing of Mr. Crow’s prosperity. Imagining that she was befriending the girl, the teacher appealed to her brother, the sheriff, insisting that he do what he could to solve the mystery of her birth. The sheriff saw a chance to distinguish himself. He enlisted the help of an aggressive prosecuting attorney, also new, and set about to investigate the case.