The second drawer contained several trays of oil paints in tubes, a couple of well-used palettes as well as various brushes neatly wrapped in a leather sheath.
"Tools of the trade." said Sean. "Those pigments look as if they were expensive. Are there any collectors of vintage pigments?"
"There are collectors for almost anything. Those labels are all in French, certainly prewar, I imagine that they would fetch some serious money in the right auction. I know a dealer in Seattle who would be most interested in these." Mary said, taking pictures of the drawer contents. "I'll send these image files to her."
The bottom drawer held a paint-spattered drop-cloth covering a pile of old newspapers.
"No treasure here." said Sean as he emptied it, "We should box up these paints and put the drawings in a portfolio. The rest we can toss—those newspapers are just want ads. This is a nice commode, even if it's not in 'Seattle Modern' style. If you don't want it we can put it in with the rest of the stuff for the auction. I'll go get some boxes."
After he left Mary put her hands on the commode's marble top and closed her eyes. Again she saw nothing but held her pose and tried to quiet her thoughts—as if Emily would speak to her if she would only calm her inner voice. Still nothing. Mary opened her eyes and began to look closely at the commode. It was well made, with distinctive joinery on the edges of the drawer-fronts. She carefully lifted the marble top off and set it aside. Empty, and with the top removed, the commode still seemed heavier than its appearance suggested. On a whim, Mary turned the piece on its side—exposing the bottom.
Underneath the commode was smooth wood, flush with the bottom edges of the sides and back. Something about it didn't look quite right.
"Even an expensive piece of furniture wouldn't be finished like this on the bottom." Mary thought, "There should be blocks of wood glued here. What's behind this?" She gave the panel a rap; it responded with a muffled thud. Looking at the perimeter of the panel, Mary noticed that there was a thin gap where it joined the sides and the back. On the front, however, the panel was rabbeted into the kick-plate and the joint was filled with a bead of glue.
"It's another drawer." she said aloud, yanking on the kick-plate. It made a cracking sound but didn't yield.
Sean walked in with some cardboard boxes.
"What's up?" he said, noticing the upended washstand.
"I think there is another drawer in this thing; behind this panel. Set it down again. OK, on the count of three give that bottom board a yank on your side as I pull on the other side. One… two… three…"
The front board released with a loud 'sprong' and, just as Mary had suspected, revealed itself to be the front of a shallow drawer held in place by flat springs mounted on its sides. It held old stamped envelopes, stuffed with handwritten letters. All of them were addressed to Emily Carroll.
"Treasure." said Sean.
After the EMTs wheeled Roger Ramsen out to the ambulance Sally O'Donnell returned to Roger's office to notify his daughter with the bad news. She picked up his phone and searched the phone's directory for Nora's number. When she found it she placed the call. As she waited for a reply she came to the realization that Roger's computer, which he had never allowed anyone else to use, was still on. When Nora answered Sally told her of Roger's attack and where he was being taken. Nora said that she would be there in an hour.
After Sally hung up, she rifled through Roger's desk where she found a new USB drive in an unopened pack. She opened the package and put the drive in Roger's computer.
Sally took a deep breath and began to search through his email.
"The only thing left is the trunk." said Mary. "Will you do the honors?"
"This has been a day full of surprises," said Sean, "can you stand another one?"
"Just open it, Sean." Mary said.
Sean lifted the heavy trunk lid and opened it all the way.
"More old newspapers… " said Mary, as she peeled them away, "… tissue paper… and beneath it's… it's full of clothes. Emily's clothes. Oooh… designer labels!" Mary lifted up a red satin gown. She draped it over her body. "Just my size!"
"Thinking of going retro?" asked Sean as he handed her a stunning black and white art deco outfit.
"God, these are all stunning!" said Mary, her eyes widening.
They began to pile the garments, interleaved with tissue paper, on top of the commode. At the very bottom of the trunk they found a garment bag. Sean held it up while Mary opened it and looked inside.
"It's a wedding dress." said Mary.
"It's your wedding dress." said Sean .