William looked up, smiling. “I keep a space clear to work at, and I know where everything is if I need to refer to it again. I’m still working on the July first ceremonies and banquet. I need to know who’s who and who not to seat together. I’m nearly done, and when the door opened and the same young lady came in. “The desk will be clear in a moment, Betty works miracles seeing to that.” He added with a smile.
Betty laughed and began gathering books and files. Soon the desk was clear, and Little could see the papers William was working on. Layouts of rooms, what looked like plans for organizing the parade lay to one side, and a paper with a list of names, divided down the centre was in front of William, who looked up again, smiling.
“There, that does it. Who will sit with whom, and the order of march, all in order.” He looked at his watch. “And it is almost time for Mr. and Mrs. Wallis to arrive. We had better go to the reception room.” He stood up and walked to the door. Opening it, he stood aside while the Sgt. Major went through, and followed, closing it behind him.
Half an hour later the guests were shown in, and after introductions were made, they settled down to talk of Sgt. J. B. Sutton. Mrs. Wallis did most of the talking, her husband sitting quietly and putting in a word or two but content to let her take the lead.
“Grandma Sutton was inclined to save things. Every time they moved it was necessary to throw out a lot of junk. We think that, for some reason known only to herself, she removed the headstone and took it home. They did live on Elm Ave. in Port Colborne, and Aunt May said that Uncle Jim lived with them for some years. I’ve spoken to her and Aunt Lily. They both have fond memories of Uncle Jim, remembering him as a fun uncle, and a bit of a jokester.
“However, they disagree as to whether he lived on Elm Avenue. Aunt Lily says that he died in 1936, when they lived on West Street, when she was eight. They moved to Elm Ave. when she was fifteen, and going to high school. She is looking through some of her mother’s records to get proof. She also says that there is no way Grandma Sutton could have removed the stone. Neither she nor Grandma could drive, so someone would have had to drive her to the cemetery. Grandpa Sutton would have hit the ceiling if she’d started digging the headstone up, and neither of her sons in law would have helped either.
“Another thing Aunt Lily said, if the headstone had been in Grandma’s possession someone would have noticed it during the many moves they made before they moved to Elm Ave. So it is still a big puzzle. There were other Suttons living on Elm Ave. at the time they lived there, people they didn’t know, and who were not related to them. It may be that one of them thought that Sgt. J. B. Sutton was a relative of theirs, and took the stone. Aunt Lily says the address where it apparently came from was too far to the west on the street. They lived closer to the canal. So it is still a mystery.”
“Thank you, Mrs. Wallis that was very concise. Since we do know that Sgt. Sutton was your relative, we thought it would be best if you took charge of the stone. Perhaps at some point the family would like to see it replaced where it belongs. Certainly Sgt. Sutton deserves to have his grave marked, If you know where it should be.” Sgt. Major Little said.
He stood up and moved to a table, where the granite headstone lay, encased in clear plastic. “Do you want to take charge of it?” he asked, turning to look at them.
They exchanged glances, and then Mr. Wallis said “yes, we are the only family in the vicinity, we will take it. We’ll get in touch with the rest of the family, and see what can be done to have it replaced. I agree, a soldier’s grave should be marked, and honoured. And I know both Aunt May and Aunt Lily won’t be satisfied until it is.”
William stood and after the usual amenities of departure, lifted the headstone and carried it out to the Wallis’s car. “Good day, sir and ma’am. I hope the stone is replaced, and the mystery solved soon. It bothers me that anyone would remove a headstone like that.”
“Yes,” Mrs. Wallis said. “Thanks for all you have done. We will let you know when the stone is to be restored to its rightful place, and anything we can find out about its removal. Good day.” She closed her door and they drove off, the mystery still unsolved.