An Ostrich-Plumed Hat: Chapter Eighty-One

an ostrich-plumed hat

Begin with Chapter One ~ Return to Chapter Eighty

Andrew Stevens, September 1915

“Mrs. Koehler, there was a man here last week asking me all kinds of questions about Mister Koehler. About you. He said he was a private detective. A former police detective.”

“You told the gumshoe nothing I trust,” interjects the Colonel.

“No, sir. I never made any of your personal lives my business before Mister Koehler passed away and certainly would not presume to do so now.”

“He probably was hired by one of those deadbeat insurance companies refusing to honor their policies,” says Mrs. Koehler. “They all must be worked up now. I had the Newtons file suit against three companies to try to collect on my behalf. Did he say who his client is?”

“No, ma’am.”

“Andy,” she continues, “the attorneys wanted me to send them the checks Otto wrote for the premiums. Will you send those over to their offices, please?”

“How can they possibly deny payment, Emma?” asks the Colonel. “Surely they’re not trying to insinuate you were part of some nefarious scheme.”

“Gallie Newton believes two of the policies caused suspicions to rise because they were in effect for only a brief period of time. They contained clauses whereby payments must be made if the holder met an accidental death within ninety days of issuance.”

“Mister Koehler asked me to make arrangements for those policies right before you left for Germany, Missus Koehler. He always took out one extra policy before those extended trips, but he was particularly worried with tensions so high in Europe.”

“Well, we might just need your testimony, Andy.”

“I beg you, Emma,” says the Colonel, “not to distract the Newtons with too much legal work. I have them occupied in Austin these days, attempting to keep the Attorney General at bay.”

“How serious are their antitrust charges, Colonel? And what of election interference?”

“They’re just fishing,” grunts the Colonel. “They know nothing. A bunch of leftover Campbellite prohibitionists. Sore losers is what they are. They’re desperate to poke and prod every brewer in Texas in their quest to find nonexistent evil. I don’t plan on telling them anything. My illness, though, might impair my capability of traveling to Austin for several months.”

“You look fine to me,” says Mrs. Koehler. “But they’ve issued a summons for Otto’s brother. Our auditor. Does Henry have any information we need to fear?”

“We have things under control, Emma,” insists the Colonel.

“Well, Henry can’t plead sick as well,” says Mrs. Koehler. “He has to answer the subpoena. These investigations are one more sign that we need to prepare. The prohibition movement is gaining ground. It’s high time to work on a formula to manufacture a near beer.”

“Pardon me, Emma.” The Colonel rises from his chair. “I am much too ill to discuss that now.”

Footnotes

Emma Koehler filed suit in September to collect insurance payments from three companies totaling $67,000.

The Attorney General aggressively was pursuing investigations into breweries. Henry Koehler was called to testify, while Otto Wahrmund pled his health was too compromised for him to appear.

Continue to Chapter Eighty-Two

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