Meghan and Evelyn reach the excavation site, which lies south of the Victorian house in a now-fallow field. Large sheets of thick, black plastic cover the summer’s work, held in place by cinder blocks.
“Jackson’s kept an eye on everything,” Evelyn says. “Especially after last month’s storm. But the tarps didn’t blow away, and there wasn’t any damage. You shouldn’t have any problems when you start again on Monday.”
“The heavy equipment will be here Tuesday. We’ll clear more of this rise and open up the area to the south. The house must have been here. High ground was the best spot, and we found some good early eighteenth-century ceramics on the surface. If the weather cooperates, we’ll excavate any new features when we finish the ones from this summer.”
“I’ve been thinking about that,” Evelyn says. “I know you planned on only digging part of the cellar, but I’d like you to do the whole thing. I’d hate to think something special was left behind. Actually, can you do all the features that way?”
Meghan rubs her neck in thought. “We can, but it’ll cost more. Remember, it’s all done by hand, and the cellar’s about thirty square meters in area. That’s more than three hundred square feet.”
“I keep telling you, Meghan, money’s not an issue. Why do you always worry about it?”
Maybe because I’ll never have anywhere near as much as you, Meghan thinks.
“Because most business folks do. They don’t like the state or feds requiring archaeological work before construction can start. They want it done quick and cheap.”
“Really? Maybe that’ll be enough to keep Riverton from building on the next property. How they got the county to change the zoning is a crime. A shopping mall next to my farm? Never. They don’t know who they’re up against.”
Meghan understands Evelyn’s complaint, even though “shopping mall” is an exaggeration. Riverton Developers’ plans call for a small building for six specialty shops and a restaurant. She wonders if Evelyn and her husband carry enough weight to derail the project.
Before buying Wyndham Thicket, Evelyn was a real estate agent, handling exclusive properties in Fairfax and Loudoun Counties. Douglas Browne is a senior partner with a powerful DC law firm. But Riverton has deep pockets and political ties. The legal battle should be fierce.
A flurry of long red fur and legs interrupts their conversation. Evelyn’s two Irish Setters bound across the field, each dropping a ball by the two women. In one smooth motion, Evelyn scoops up the slobber-laden offerings and throws them down the hill behind Meghan. Maisy and Chess stumble into each other in their eagerness to play.
“Such klutzes,” Evelyn says with a laugh. “They’re not the sharpest pencils in the box, either. But anyway, I don’t care what it costs. I really want you to find everything you can. Don’t you think a small reproduction building would be a nice way to show the artifacts?”
Before Meghan can reply, Evelyn’s smile disappears. “Oh, no. Maisy, Chess—stop!”
But the dogs knock Meghan to the ground in their rush to continue the game.
She rises to her knees, only to take Chess’s wagging tail in the face.
You can’t spend a few dollars on obedience training? Meghan wonders.
“I’m so sorry,” Evelyn says, pushing the dogs away to help Meghan stand. “I wasn’t thinking. I should have thrown the balls to the side.”
“That’s okay. I’ll take dogs over livestock any day. I slipped into a fresh cow pie once. Hopefully never again.”
She brushes the dirt from her pants. “A reproduction building would be a nice touch. But we might not find any complete artifacts or even broken ones that can be put back together.”
“Even the broken bits fascinate me,” Evelyn says. “I love holding something my fifth great grandparents could have used. Isaac Walker was a good man, no matter how much Mr. Sloma slanders him with those old legends.” Eying the western sky, she adds, “That rain will be here sooner than I thought. We’d better get back inside.”
A rumble of thunder punctuates her words, and the two women pick up their pace. Maisy and Chess, spooked by the noise, are soon far ahead of them.
I hope you’ll stay tuned for Part 3 next Tuesday.