The Lost Souls of Gilfords Falls

By Nancy Rich Foster - NRF All Rights Reserved ©

Adventure / Mystery

Chapter Sixteen

Stunned to almost speechlessness, they stared at the photo. Myrtle gasped and picked it up with a trembling hand. One glance and she knew, “Mary! It’s our Mary, isn't it?”

“My picture, where did you find my picture?” Exclaimed Mary, walking into the kitchen just as Myrtle picked it up. With trembling fingers, she had plucked it from Myrtle’s hand.

“This is all I have of my mother and me,” she said, wiping tears of joy from her eyes, at having it back in her possession. “I’d hoped this photo would guide us back to our home, but somehow I lost it.”

“See, there’s an address on the back, but most of the words are faded and blurred.” Said Mary. “If only I could figure out what it said, then I’d know where to look!”

“But Mary,” said Henry, watching her hold the photo lovingly in her hand. “If this is your photo, you don’t have to keep looking! Don’t you see, Mary, this is the place you’re - - -

“No, you don’t understand!” Said Mary, interrupting Henry mid-sentence. Tears streamed down her face as she said, “I stood in this very doorway watching as Angelia held and fed my son, the very first day we were here. With my whole being, I had wished she was my mother! But she isn’t my mother any more than this is my home! Don’t you see? I have to find my home! If I don’t we’ll never be safe!”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Michael having offered to tuck the tired young’uns into bed, now stood behind Mary, an unreadable expression on his face as he looked from his father to her.

“I thought you folks were going to the circus. You haven’t changed your minds, have you?” asked Angelia.

“Well,” said Michael, eyeballing his aunt suspiciously. “We’ve already been to the Rawley circus, and have dined at the Cabin Buffet. I’ve brought Mary and the children home and we’ve already put them to bed,” he said, studying the sheepish look on everyone’s face.

“Don’t you realize it’s after midnight?” Mary asked as she wiped the tears from her eyes.

“Really!” Said Henry. Sliding his chair back from the table he stood than stretched. “In that case,” said Henry with a yawn, “I guess we should continue this conversation in the morning.”

“See you tomorrow, Angelia. Get your things, Myrtle.”

“Oh no you don’t, Dad,” said Michael. “I walk into this kitchen and Mary’s crying and saying something about a picture and leaving. I want to know what’s going on. Why is Mary suddenly wanting to leave?”

“Look son, it’s late. We open the Deli at six. I’ll call Iona in the morning and ask if she’ll tend the store for a few days. I’ll explain everything to you then! Let’s hope it’s enough time to figure out this mess before Caroline shows up on Angelia’s doorstep.”

“Mess, I don’t know what mess you’re talking about Dad, so why don't you fill me in. Now!” replied Michael.

While Michael and Henry were talking, Mary had been studying the blueprints. Something on or about them had caught her eye. “What’s this?” she asked, pointing at what looked like a children’s park.

“You really don’t recognize Mary’s garden, even though you should. Do you?” Henry asked, looking ruefully at her.

“How would I know?” Mary asked, suddenly puzzled by Henry’s tone of voice and question.

“Henry’s right, it’s late,” said Myrtle, rolling the blueprints together, she handed them to Angelia and asked, can you stash these in your safe until tomorrow?”

Turning to Ben she said, “we’d appreciate it if you could put your crew to work and join us here at around nine o’clock in the morning.”

While Myrtle, Angelia and Ben, were talking, Henry had pulled Michael to the side and hopefully out of everyone’s hearing. “I need you to keep an eye on Angelia’s house guests, and make sure they don’t disappear, before I get a chance to question them tomorrow.” Henry said.

One look at his father’s face and Michael knew his dad was dead serious.

“You aren’t making any sense and I don’t like where this conversation is headed, so why don't you just tell me what’s on your mind dad.” Michael hissed through clenched teeth.

“I guess you’ll just have to wait until morning to find out.” Said Henry, as Myrtle shooed him out the door and closed it firmly behind them.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Mary stood as if rooted to the same spot she’d stood in for almost a half hour. Going to her Michael pulled her close. Turning to his aunt he said, “Okay, what in the name of all that’s sane, is going on here?”

“Tomorrow is soon enough to answer all of your questions,” she said, stifling a yawn. “Right now, I need time to rest and digest everything that’s happened, before discussing it with anyone.”

Angelia seeing Mary trembling with fright, hurried to her side. “What has you so frightened that your shaking Mary?” She asked.

“Why is Henry so angry with me? I heard him telling Michael to keep an eye on the children and me so we don’t disappear tonight. Is he angry because I took back my picture?” Mary asked, as tears glistened in her eyes.

“What did I do wrong? Is Henry going to put me in jail, because someone found my photo?” I was ten when the man gave it to me. He warned me that I’d be in big trouble if the police ever caught me with it! Henry is the police!” Said Mary as her whole body shook with fright.

“Oh child! How horribly frightened you must have been!” Said Angelia. “I know you are confused and worried right now but please believe me when I tell you that we would all give our very lives to protect you!”

“Now try to get some sleep, because unless I miss my guess, everything will become clear to you in the morning.” Said Angelia. Giving Mary a hug, she threw Michael sheets, blankets and a pillow. “Now off to bed with the both of you,” she said.

Michael, had been watching Mary closely. Seeing how tired, and confused she was, he pulled her tenderly to him for a gentle hug and a kiss on the forehead. Declining her offer to make the couch up for him, he had sent her to bed.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The twinges that had started in her lower back and stomach had become gradually stronger, after they’d arrived at Angelia’s. Along with the increasing pain was the discovery of a funny colored, smelly discharge in her under garments.

Drained and bewildered by the night’s events, she had said her good nights and gone to bed. Years ago, Mary had learned to ignore most of the pain inflicted on her and exhausted from the day’s events, she had had no trouble falling asleep.

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