Four days ago, George Hannity received a telegram at the Western Union in Houston. It read:
YOUR GRAND-NIECE ABBY WENT MISSING. I SUSPECT THE WHATELEYS. SHE JUST TURNED 13, AND SHE SHOWS THE FAMILY CURSE. HER PA IS DEAD AND NO ONE ELSE CAN HELP. IF THIS FINDS YOU, COME AT ONCE.
MARGARET VAN HORN
The telegram caught up with George in Houston, and he had the presence of mind to check his correspondence, which doesn’t always happen. George enlisted the help of his partner, a Texas Ranger named Henry, and gathered a handful of other volunteers to find the missing girl. The posse set out for the town of Livingston in East Texas. That was three days ago, and you’ve traveled at a grueling pace under an unseasonably warm autumn sun.
What you gather from the telegram and old George’s ramblings, Margaret is his second-favorite niece—the daughter of his dead brother Earl—who married a shiftless Dutchman and moved out to Livingston. Abigail Van Horn would be Margaret’s daughter. It’s been ages since he saw any of them, and he can’t recall if he ever met the girl.
Today you find yourself in Polk County, Texas, having just left the town of Goodrich behind. Next stop Livingston, 8 miles ahead. You’re all dusty and road-weary, but you should reach the town well before nightfall.