Chapter Twenty Two
A sudden severe storm had snuck in during the night, and was still beating at the doors and rattling the windows as it dumped snow on everything in sight.
They had just finished a breakfast of bacon, eggs, hash browns and sour dough flapjacks with butter and hot maple syrup and Angelia had poured everyone a cup of coffee seconds before everything went black.
The electric was out and the telephone was dead. It seemed everything had come to a sudden and abrupt stop.
“What did you do, Caroline, bring that nor’easter with you?” Joked Henry, as he dug the kerosene lanterns out of a cabinet in the woodshed, and hung them on hooks installed some eighty years ago, for light, when they had built the house.
Henry, unable to sleep, had mulled over several pros and cons, including filling Caroline in on Mary’s garden and what they’d found hidden under their very noses.
He’d also decided to swear Ben and Karr in as his deputies. Who better for the job then the two people he trusted the most. It was the only solution he could think of if he were to conduct a proper investigation.
“Earth to Henry,” said Caroline, giving his arm a good shake.
“Oh sorry, what were you saying?” he asked, forcing his mind back to what he thought would be idle chitchat. He sat bolt upright in his chair when he heard Angelia say, “That’s right, someone made a call to Henry about Rosebud Cabin or maybe Rosebud Lane, asking him to bring shovels, and flashlights and to hurry.”
Exasperated he picked up his coffee cup, took a huge swig, and gagged on the cold bitter brew.
“We would’ve given you a fresh cup, if you’d only ask.” Myrtle said, laughing at the expression on his face, as she handed him a fresh cup of coffee.
“Why did you need flashlights and shovels up at Rosebud?” asked Caroline curiously.
“I was just setting here sort of thinking about that,” he told her, knowing that now he’d have to share some of his information with them.
“I’m sorry Caroline, but due to the nature of this case and those it could affect, there’s not much to tell until I can gather some facts, which I can’t do until this storm is over. Maybe I could even collect enough evidence to get a conviction, if we can find the guilty parties.”
He’d no sooner uttered his statement then the lights blinked on for all of ten seconds, blinked off, then back on twice in quick succession. Then stayed on, thirty minutes later the phone rang.
“Caroline,” Michael said without preamble, “I’ve taken the liberty of putting Mary and the children, under a no visitors quarantine, to keep them safe. The quarantine includes mom, dad, Angelia and you.”
“Now, it’s imperative, I speak to my dad, please put him on the phone and I promise I’ll fill you in later,” he said.
“Michael says it’s imperative that he talk to you, Henry,” said Caroline giving him a questioning look as she handed him the phone.
“Michael what can I do for you son?” asked Henry.
“What did you say?”
“Someone did what?”
“No, no one that I’m aware of.”
“I don’t think so.”
“Are you sure it didn’t happen there?”
“You’re right, we do.”
“Okay, we’ll be waiting. See you when you get here and son, please be careful.”
It was almost two miles to Angelia’s, if you took the lane.
Michael could usually walk it in about thirty minutes, but because of the treacherous conditions and six-foot snowdrifts, it took him almost two hours to make it to Angelia’s.
If his information hadn’t been of the utmost importance, he would have waited until the roads were clear. The storm had caught everyone off guard, including the road crew and over forty-five people that had gone to watch the Beasley verses Gilfords Falls bowling teams battle it out for the bowling trophy in the last game of the season.
Both teams had been red faced when they had had to ask the Briersville road crew to clear the main road for them, from Beasley to Gilfords Falls. The phones were barely working when Paul Miller, called Michael with the news. All roads in and out of town would be closed until the Briersville road crew had time to dig them out.
It was after one when Michael arrived chilled to the bone and shivering, even though he was wearing the long, heavy Alaskan parka coat Caroline had sent him for Christmas one year.
His mother waiting anxiously by the door quickly let him in, taking his coat she hung it on the back of the cane-bottomed chair that sat in a corner by the fireplace.
She’d no sooner taken his parka then Angelia called him to the dinner table. They’d made all of his favorites, spinach stuffed chicken breasts, creamy macaroni and cheese bake, creamed peas with pearl onions, tossed garden salad and his mother’s lemon custard cheesecake. The minute he finished eating, Caroline sat a steaming cup of coffee in front of him.
“Okay son, what’s so important that you almost freeze to death getting here?” asked Myrtle. She had totally ignored the fact that he’d asked for and had spoken only to his father, then walked two miles in the blowing drifting snow to talk to him, not them.
“Now son, don’t give your dad that look, believe me, we tried but he wouldn’t budge. I don’t think we could’ve pried the information out of him with a crowbar! Besides, everyone knows the only thing that would bring you out in this weather is Mary and the children. Tell us what’s going on, before we have nervous breakdowns from worrying about them!”
“I just knew there’d be a catch,” said Michael. “The delicious meal, and you-all fluttering around like butterflies, wasn’t because of my good looks after all. It was a bribe to soften me up so I’d spill the beans!” He said, laughing at the guilty looks on the women’s faces. “Well it worked,” he said, as he patted his washboard flat abdomen. “Okay, here’s the whole story in a nutshell,” said Michael.
“Someone called the hospital late last night asking for a Mrs. Mary Snippet. The charge nurse informed the caller there wasn’t anyone registered at the hospital by that name. Calling her a liar, he demanded she ring Mary’s room. She again replied no one was there by that name. Threatening her and her family, if she didn’t cooperate, he again demanded to speak to Mary. The nurse again explained that Mary was not a patient there. Maybe he had the patient’s name or hospital wrong, he should try Beasley General or Briersville Memorial, she’d said giving him their phone numbers. But by now he was so hostile, that she forwarded the call to me.”
“It’s a good thing the Gilfords Times wrote an article about Mary and her children. I shudder to think what could have happened if not for that article.”
“The day I admitted Mary to the hospital, I had this gut wrenching feeling she wasn’t safe. I took several precautions to protect her, including installing her in the Gilfords Suite. I have been sleeping on a cot in her room every night since.”
“I’ll tell you something else,” said Michael indignantly. “The man informed me he knew Mary was there. He stated he was her husband and the father of her children, including her unborn twins. He said he trusted his informant and I had two hours to turn his wife and children over to him. I repeated there was no record of a Mary Snippet being at the hospital. I told him his threats didn’t scare me, and was about to hang up on him when the lines went dead.”
“Who would do such a thing?” asked Caroline.
“If Mary’s not registered under Snippet, what name did you register her under?” asked Myrtle.
Michael looked at his mother and blushed a bright red, “I, aah, well, aah, you see mom, I had to do something, didn’t I? After all, I promised Mary I’d keep them safe. I intend to keep that promise no matter what!”
“Son,” said Henry, trying not to laugh, because somehow, he knew what Michael’s answer would be. “What name is she registered under?”
“Well as I was trying to explain to Mom.
“What name did you register her under?” Henry roared causing everyone to practically jump out of their skin.
“Well, I had to protect her, didn’t I? I mean I couldn’t very well register Mary under her name, now could I?” said Michael sheepishly.
“Michaeeeel!” bellowed his father, “will you quit stalling and answer your mother’s question!”
“Well, I aah, I gave her a new name,” he muttered. “I know anyone of you would have done the same thing, under the circumstances,” Michael stated flatly.
“Does Mary know you gave her a new name?” asked Angelia.
“No,” said Michael, “I thought other things like getting her immediate treatment, would be more important than whose name was on the medical charts. Besides, you can’t technically classify Caroline’s suite as part of the hospital. It was and still is paid for in advance every year by Caroline’s estate as Cole set it up to be.”
“The provision reads: I Cole Michael Gilfords do here by dedicate Gilfords Falls Memorial Hospital, built by the Gilfords Foundation for the Betterment of Gilfords Falls, to blab, blab, blab so forth and so on, as set forth by my hand. Said hospital suite to be paid for yearly, in the amount of ---------. Said Suite to be used solely for Mr. and Mrs. Cole Michael Gilfords and Caroline Ann Storm Gilfords, their heirs and/or anyone they deem in need of said suite for their personal and private use, or safety.”
“This contract expires June the thirtieth, year forever and one day from today. All proceeds, including the amount set forth by my hand are solely for the up keep, repairs and expenses of said suite, including any patient expenses. The said suite shall now and forever, be separate and completely independent from and of the main hospital in all respects and deeds.”
“She isn’t technically a patient at the hospital. So the rules applying to the main hospital don’t really apply to the suite, now do they?”
“Okay, Michael, now that you’ve filled us in on all the background, will you quit stalling and tell us what name you have my granddaughter and great grandchildren registered under?” asked Caroline, seeing Michael’s determination to protect Mary and the children at all costs.
Whatever name you’ve given them? Oh Michael, you didn’t!” gasped his mother.
“I most certainly did,” said Michael, giving his mother a wicked grin. “They now have the best name around, mine!”
Henry looked at the ladies, and saw that they were grinning almost as broadly as he was. “Why! I never would’ve guessed,” he said, winking broadly at Michael and roaring with laughter!