My oldest brother, Merlin, always had an almost uncanny ability to spot a person or matter that was suspicious. One of several examples was solving the mystery of a daylight theft. Our family had been away from home for most of the day. Soon after arriving home, we noticed that a Model T Ford engine that sat in a conspicuous place was missing. It was a mystery as to what had happened to it, until Merlin saw a car pulling a trailer, traveling in the direction of Atchison. The car was recognized as one belonging to a man we knew from Nortonville–a man we had assumed was a law-abiding citizen. Nevertheless, Merlin said, “I bet he has our engine.” Merlin persuaded Dad to follow and overtake the man.
Sure enough, the engine was in the trailer. The man was accompanied by his nephew who was among our youth at church. Amazingly, there did not appear to be any remorse for the theft, except perhaps regret at being caught red-handed. The nephew, in fact, laughingly remarked on how heavy the engine was to load. I never heard whether any kind of settlement was made or not.
Not too surprisingly, Merlin later became a guard at the Federal Prison in Leavenworth. There he gained some fame through his ability to uncover plots thought up and prepared by the prisoners. Yet it seems that his suspicious nature cost him a great deal of “peace and security.”
That nature showed up in his concern for his younger brothers. As I discovered on my visit home during my first year of college, he was ready to question me about the kind of life I was living. Somehow I was not disturbed, but realized that he cared for my welfare. When he died, I was able to say from my heart, “He was a good brother.”
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