Due to the popularity of the first three books in the series, comments in reviews, and emails from readers, I decided to release the cover for Gertrude & The Sorcerer’s Gold – Book Four in The Gumboot & Gumshoe Series as well as a short preview.
Preview of Gertrude & The Sorcerer’s Gold
A cop, a pig, & a sorcerer know all that glitters might be gold!
The Gumboot & Gumshoe Series: Book Four
COPYRIGHT© 2020 Laura Hesse/ Gertrude & The Sorcerer’s Gold
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means or stored in a database or retrieval system without prior written permission of the publisher.
The author and the publisher make no representation, express or implied, with regard to the accuracy of the information contained in this book. The material is provided for entertainment purposes and the references are intended to be supportive to the intent of the story. The author and the publisher are not responsible for any action taken based on the information provided in this book.
All characters in this publication, other than those clearly in the public domain, are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Gertrude & The Sorcerer’s Gold/by Laura Hesse
Cover Artist: Autumn Sky, Self Pub Book Covers Inc.
Publisher: Running L. Productions, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada
Distributed worldwide on Amazon
“Gold conjures up a mist about a man, more destructive of all his
old senses and lulling to his feelings than the fumes of charcoal.”
― Charles Dickens, Nicholas Nickleby
The stars in the Milky Way shone like diamonds in the cloudless sky. A full moon illuminated the giant Red cedar, Sitka spruce and Douglas fir trees that marched up the steep slopes of the island to the crest of Watchtower Mountain.
Waves broke on the rocky beach, the water making a shushing sound as if it was telling the night birds to hush.
A large tugboat, its silhouette black against the moon glow on the water was anchored off shore. Two lanterns, one on the bow and one on the stern, cast minimal shadows on the secret endeavors of the boat’s crew. The name on the bronze plaque on the bow read Kheunaten.
A wiry middle aged man with dark bronzed skin, a smattering of white hair amid his blue black locks and bush of a beard, and his companion, a short brunette woman with a stern countenance, climbed out of a wooden hulled dingy. They carried two heavy wooden boxes, two feet wide by two feet long and two feet deep, one balanced on top of the other. The woman staggered under the weight.
“Don’t drop it,” the man growled.
“Don’t be stupid, of course I won’t,” she snarled back.
The pair carried the boxes up a slope and into the forest.
“Here. Put it here,” the man ordered once they reached the tall tree that bordered the edge of a small meadow.
The woman gratefully dropped the boxes to the ground with the soft tinkling of glass rubbing on glass. The woman looked up into the dense foliage of the Garry oak that rose above her, blocking out the moon.
“Are you sure we’ll be able to find it again,” she hissed.
“I know where I am,” he whispered hoarsely.
“That’s not what I asked,” she retorted, agitated.
The man ignored her and returned to the dingy.
The woman stood alone in the meadow. She shivered despite the warmth of the night. The dark was absolute, the forest that bordered it so thick that the moonlight couldn’t penetrate the dense stands of deciduous and evergreens. There were no signs of civilization anywhere on this side of the island.
The man returned with a shovel and began to dig. He dug a hole large enough for the two boxes to lie side by side in and then slid them inside of it. The boxes landed with a thump on the earth at the bottom of the hole. Once again the jingle of the glass bottles inside the wooden boxes tapping against each other was heard, much like the sound of silver bells, each note echoing prettily in the quiet solitude of the meadow.
“What if something happens to you,” she said. Her voice was husky and demanding. “I need to be able to find this Godforsaken place.”
“Fine,” he mumbled.
He took his shovel and carved an eye inside a triangle in the rough bark of the Garry oak tree.
“But where exactly are we?”
“Where it was foretold,” he groused and stalked off.
The woman looked around and then trotted after him, her boots crunching on the gravel as she left the shelter of the forest to stumble across the beach towards the waiting dingy.
The woman stopped to stare at the squared off top of Watchtower Mountain and the moon which hung above it like a dazzling Christmas ornament. She let the image burn into her memory until she was sure that she would recognize it again.
“Hurry up,” her companion snarled, pushing the dingy into the water.
“I’m coming, Brother,” she soothed him.
The woman climbed into the boat and then the man pushed the dingy away from the shore. He vaulted over the side like a man much younger than his fifty years.
“I’m sorry if I offended you, my dear,” she purred.
“You didn’t my love,” he replied, his voice cracking. “Let them all be damned.”
The woman laughed.
After a moment so did the man.
“Oh, Gertie, do stay out of trouble,” retired Supreme Court Judge Violet Bone said, wagging a finger at the grey and white pot-bellied pig.
“You too, Peaches,” the silver haired Archie Bruce warned the cream colored Jersey cow.
The pig squinted through the folds of fat that half covered her eyes, her inquisitive look darkening at being unceremoniously escorted out of the kitchen and onto the back porch.
The cow stood in the yard nibbling on the seeds within a gloriously large and brilliant yellow sunflower, a perpetual look of confusion on its face.
A blush crept over the woman’s cheeks as she looked up into the cheeky sparkle in the eyes of her companion. The two returned to the cottage and closed the door on the annoyed pig.
“You did remember to lock the front gate didn’t you,” the woman whispered as the door clicked shut.
“Don’t I always,” the man’s baritone voice rumbled.
“No,” the woman whispered huskily.
A series of girlish giggles and the stomp of feet across a hardwood floor was all that the pig heard after that.
Tea and cookie time was over.
Gertrude was getting used to be shunted outside.
Gertrude’s hooves clattered on the wood planking as she waddled off the porch and down the cobblestone lane leading to the drive.
Her buddy mooed pathetically, not wanting to leave the garden full of sunflowers.
Gertrude snorted, her nostrils quivering.
She was bored.
Gertrude toddled down the driveway, her curvaceous body jiggling as she walked towards the gate. She stopped and checked over her shoulder. Despite the call of the sunflowers, Peaches followed her friend, her teeth working the sunflower seeds in her mouth into mulch. The pig grunted in satisfaction.
The two had always been friends, but were inseparable now that Special Agent to the RCMP, Betty Bruce, had retired and moved back to Seal Island permanently. Betty had adopted Peaches after Andy McCowell had willed his house to Betty shortly before he died. Gertrude was supposed to stay with Archie, but she preferred to live with Peaches and no one seemed put out by it.
Gertrude ambled off in search of a friend with a handful of dog biscuits or a pint of beer that they were willing to share.
The gate at the end of the driveway stood open.
Gertrude sniffed the air, looking first right towards the pub and marina, and then left towards the McDonald’s farm. Stew Mann, the owner of The Bristling Boar pub, might offer her a dram of beer now that his mean wife was gone, but there was no guarantee of that.
Gertrude was a smart pig. She only stayed with Archie and Violet when Betty and Reggie were off cruising on Reggie’s boat. It hadn’t taken the pig long to figure that out. Without Reggie, the likelihood of a shared beer was remote.
She looked up North Shore Road. Heat shimmered over the packed gravel and dirt. The grass at the side of the road was coated with dust and burnt brown from the summer sun. It would be a hot walk, but Rainbow always had Milk Bones in her pocket.
That settled it.
The pig trotted up the road with thoughts of Milk Bones twirling around and around in her head. Where Gertrude went, Peaches followed, and so the adventure began.
Gertrude walked with her head down into the McDonald’s farm yard, a thin strand of drool dripping from her mouth. The noon day sun beat down upon the pot-bellied pig and the Jersey cow.
Heat waves made the air hazy. A thin layer of wispy cloud made the top of Watchtower Mountain look grey green instead of its usual vibrant dark green.
A water fountain gurgled at the front of the small log cabin. Bees buzzed. Water striders skipped along the top of the dark water between the lily pads.
The pig dove into the little pond. Lily pads and bright white flowers cascaded over the paver stone border.
The cow stopped for a much needed drink.
The McDonald’s Blue Heeler ran towards them, tongue lolling. It first nosed the cow to say ‘hello’ and then dove into the fountain alongside the pig, barking furiously. Water flew everywhere.
Rainbow, her auburn and blond streaked dreadlocks pulled back under a multi-colored scarf stopped picking herbs in the fenced off garden, and shaded her eyes from the sun to see what was causing all the commotion. She laughed when she saw the heeler and the pot-bellied pig cavorting in the ornamental pond.
Frank sat aboard a tractor in the far fields, his focus fixed on the task at hand. The tractor’s revolving blades growled as they turned over the dry ground, the engine humming, metal screeching when it hit rock. Dust hung thick in the air behind the man and his machine.
The McDonalds one farm hand, a pretty young woman with a mane of peach colored hair and a sparkling personality, stepped out of the barn, a glass of iced tea in her hand. She too laughed when she saw the pig and dog in the fountain.
Melanie went back into the barn and returned with a couple of Milk Bones for the pig and the dog and a carrot for the cow.
Rainbow waved at her and returned to work, clipping thyme and pruning sage.
“You guys give new meaning to The Three Musketeers,” Melanie chuckled.
Gertrude and Blue, the Blue Heeler, stopped playing. Blue jumped out of the pond and vigorously shook himself off. Gertrude snorted and lay down in the water for another roll.
“Here you go, Peaches,” Melanie said, handing the cow a carrot. The cow gently took the treat from the tanned woman’s hand. She then kissed Peaches on the soft swirl of hair between her eyes.
The dog sat obediently, his blue grey and black coat glistening in the sunshine.
“Good boy, Blue.”
Gertrude stood up, her curly tail wind milling furiously. She grunted and snorted, but refused to come out of the water.
“I’m not going in after you just to give you a Milk Bone if that’s what you’re thinking,” Melanie chortled, holding out the treat.
Gertrude sighed, disappointed.
Melanie burst out laughing.
“Come on, out you come or I’ll go and fetch a broom.”
Gertrude eyed her dubiously, but hauled her great heft upwards and leaned forward, trying to nip the Milk Bone from Melanie’s outstretched hand.
“Oh, no, you don’t. All the way out, you cheeky pig,” Melanie cajoled the errant animal.
Gertrude snorted in disgust and stepped out of the pond, a lily pad sucker root wound around her tail.
Melanie handed Gertrude the biscuit and patted her gently on the forehead.
“Ooh, but you stink, Gertie. I would love to visit with you, but I have work to do and everyone else is working as well so off you go.”
Gertrude understood the tone of Melanie’s voice and walked past her, farting once as she did so.
“I’ll remember that the next time you want a treat,” Melanie glowered, waving a hand in front of her face.
The pig cast a sad look the girl’s way and then waddled past her, its hooves clicking on the meandering pebbled path that lead down to the ocean. Peaches followed the pot-bellied pig and the Blue Heeler, its tail wagging as furiously from side to side, followed the Jersey cow.
Melanie grinned as she walked back to the barn. The threesome shouldn’t be able to get into too much trouble at the beach or so she thought.
Gertrude followed her nose. The tangy scent of salt and rancid smell of rotting seaweed greeted her. The seaweed didn’t much appeal to her today, even though she quite often found tasty treats nestled within it like the wonderful old sneaker with the severed foot inside it that she found last year. She had been really irritated when Betty and Archie had taken it away from her.
A couple of seagulls paddled by, yellow eyes watching the pig as it stared out to sea.
The dog barked and splashed into the water, chasing the gulls away.
The cow munched on the sea asparagus that grew in the moist areas along the shore.
The air was still with hardly a breath of wind rippling the waters of the Strait of Georgia between the British Columbia mainland and the rocky coast of Seal Island.
Gertrude’s bristling hair was already dry from her swim in the pond and her skin was beginning to burn. The cool shade of the forest was only a short distance away. That appealed to her more than the open beach.
The dog whined as it watched the pig stroll across the beach and into the forest. The cow quickly trotted after it. The dog knew it wasn’t allowed to go any further, spun around and galloped back the way it had come, leaving the pig and cow to their wanderings.
The small cabin was built into the side of a rocky shoal. The back of the building was a wall of rock and the front opened up into a patchwork quilt of light and dark offered by the shade of a giant Garry oak tree. The oiled parchment that covered its front windows was yellow and cracked with age. The sod roof was thick with tall sedge grass. The door canted sideways, one of its hinges broken.
Gertrude stuck her snout through the partially opened door and inhaled deeply. The smell of rot and mold greeted her. She pulled her head back out of the building and moseyed over to the base of the old oak tree.
Peaches mooed and climbed the steep bank. She walked onto the roof of the cabin and began to devour the lush green grasses that grew there. The old logs creaked under the cow’s weight, but held fast.
The pig snuffled around the base of the tree. A rotting black ball of truffle popped out of the black earth. Gertrude ate it swiftly.
She routed around for more, digging and digging with her sharp cloven hooves.
Gertrude squealed in pain as something hard caught between her toes. She tried to dislodge it with her mouth, but the thin round gold rock was wedged in tight. She stomped a foot, but that only lodged the painful thing in deeper.
She stumbled forward.
The cow looked up with beseeching brown eyes, not wanting to leave until all of the sweet green grass was gone.
Gertrude’s eyes watered. The thin round thing caught between the toes of her left hoof was excruciatingly painful.
She limped through the small meadow and turned left onto the deer trail that wound its way onto South Shore Road. She wanted Betty… or Reggie… or Archie to fix it. They were the only people she trusted, especially after one human shot her best friend with a taser.
Eventually, her best friend, the Jersey cow, joined her as Gertrude headed to the landing to get help.