completely replaced. No longer obscured by the classified section, the necks of two large pottery jugs jutted out from their nest. The rows and rows of packed boxes all contained pottery! But why would Hillary Keane keep all his pottery out here, out of sight? Pottery collectors loved to touch and see their objects of desire. How had Keane planned to show her his collection if it was all buried out here in the garage? She walked back toward her car and dialed the office. Swanson's secretary informed her that he was home with a cold and gave her his home number. She knew that there was a good chance her "sick" boss would be out fishing, but he answered his phone with an angry grunt. "Carl? It's Molly." "This better be good," he grumbled. "I've got a nasty cold, you know." "Sorry to hear that. I'm at Hillary Keane's house, for our appointment, but he's not here." "And what would you like me to do about that?" Swanson demanded. "I'm just checking to make sure this is the correct day," Molly said carefully. "Of course it is!" he barked. "I talked to him on Thursday, the day before the Burle kiln opening. He said he was thrilled to be able to show off his collection. Really wanted to help spread the word about the local potters. Seemed like a decent guy." "Well, maybe he had to leave town. What should I do now?" Swanson sighed, "I'll call my friend and see if he knows what happened to Keane." "His name wouldn't be Gil, would it?" Molly asked. "No, it's Bryant. Why?" "Keane was supposed to play golf with Gil on Sunday. There's a note here from him. Apparently, Keane missed his tee time." Uninterested, Swanson replied, "Ah, that's where I'm going right now. I need something to get my mind off of this cold." Molly hung up and returned to her sweltering car. As she reversed down the driveway, the house seemed to be watching her through the streaked sunlight. It seemed especially silent on its lonely hill. Molly suddenly remembered how George-Bradley had cut in front of Keane at C. C.'s kiln opening. The look of outrage in Keane's eyes was unforgettable. Had George-Bradley stepped on Keane's toes more than once? Molly had a strong feeling that something was wrong in Hillary Keane's life, and it wasn't more serious than a head cold. One thing she felt with conviction. Whatever had caused Hillary Keane's absence was linked to those boxes of pottery.
On the ride home, Molly called her mother to see if she wanted to go out for dinner. Clara was settled in a lounge chair reading. She sat up lazily and reached for the phone; only her interest in hearing about Hillary Keane's collection could tear her away from the mystery she was reading. "How's Lord Menes doing?" Molly asked after the novel's hunky Egyptian hero. She had already plowed through the series of five books. "Handsome as ever. Every other paragraph is about his tan, muscular torso. I can't stand it." "What will you do once you're finished?" Her mother sighed longingly. "I'll just have to reread all the Horatio Hornblower books to keep me satisfied. How was your interview?" "Didn't happen." "What do you mean?" Molly told her mother about her visit to Hillary Keane's. Clara listened, frowning in thought. "The pottery was packed in cardboard boxes?" Clara asked, completely perplexed. "What's the point of having such beautiful and interesting pieces of art hidden from view?" "Maybe Keane just liked to hoard stuff. My boss said he sounded like a nice enough guy when they talked on the phone," Molly said. "It's the South. Everyone sounds kind and cordial on the phone. Doesn't mean they can't snap at you like a rabid dog if duly provoked." 'True, but I may never find out. Carl is trying to locate Keane and will call me back tonight." "What are we doing for dinner?" Molly heard the sound of fabric stretching and imagined Clara leaning all the way back on her lounge chair, her long legs crossed as she set her novel aside. "It's too hot to cook.