Chapter Thirty Five
“How could they just vanish into thin air?” asked Henry, shaking his head in disbelief. “It’s as if they’re ghosts or something! I just don’t get it! We finally find out where they took those poor people. We talk to the hospitals, clinics and churches that helped them and they’re sorry, but they can’t help us!”
“They can’t tell you what they don’t know, now can they, Henry.” said Ben.
“He’s right, you know,” said Karr, drinking the last of the coffee in his cup.
“It still seems awful strange that not one single person, has seen any of them, since that write up in the papers,” said Henry.
“Excuse me gentlemen,” said the waitress, as she timidly, poured them fresh coffee and sat their orders of freshly baked mincemeat pie and whipped cream in front of them.
“I, ah, hate to intrude. But, ah, I ah, overheard you say you’re looking for ah, some girls?” she stammered glancing around apprehensively.
“We are,” said Ben, smiling at the gaunt but pretty, very pregnant young lady, “Why do you ask.” He said, puzzled at her sudden wariness.
Again, the girl looked anxiously over her shoulder, “Why, ah, are you, ah, looking for those people? The ones from that place? Ah, are they in trouble? Are you, ah, going to, ah, to arrest them, when you, ah, find them?”
“What makes you think, the police would arrest someone for talking to them?” asked Karr, stunned and perplexed by her statement.
Henry, quickly recognizing her fears as the same fears Mary had had, quickly weighed the odds, then played his hunch. “Isn’t it funny that our Mary had the same fear? After finding her family, she was also afraid I’d arrest her, because of a photo she had.
The young woman throwing caution to the wind, stammered, “Are they safe, did she get my message?”
Suddenly realizing what she’d said, the girl turned to flee. In her haste, she tripped on the leg of Karr’s chair, sending the half full pot of hot coffee and the tray sailing through the air to land with a crash onto the floor beyond Ben.
Seeing the panic in her face Ben, pulled the girl to him, to keep her from falling.
“By this time the girl was so terrified that had he not had her arms pinned to her sides, she would have struck out at him. “Please, oh please, don’t hurt me,” she sobbed, “please, please, let me go, let me go!” she begged struggling to free herself.
“Don’t be afraid little miss! Everything’s going to be alright, I promise,” said Ben. “We’re not the bad guys and we’re not going to hurt you. You’re safe now.” In her struggle to get free, her hair had tumbled about her face and into her eyes. Soothingly he brushed it back so he could see her face, and gasped.
“What’s your name?” he asked softly.
“My name?” she asked, “Why do you need my name?”
“So, we can tell your friend Mary that we saw you,” said Henry, joining the conversation.
“I’m sure she’d want her friend to know she’d had her babies,” said Karr.
“Babies!” said the astonished girl no longer afraid of the man that still held on to her, “you said babies?”
“I’ll tell you, if you tell us your name,” said Ben, anxiously waiting for her to confirm his suspicions.
“I’m Casey. I don’t know my last name. We weren’t allowed to use a middle or last name, until we were married. I guess my name would just be Casey.
“Casey Hannah Crowley! I know who you are! You’re my little sister!” Exclaimed Ben, as tears of joy filled his eyes, he pulled her to him in a loving, gentle hug.
“How could you possibly think I’m your sister?” she asked pushing him away. Suddenly, it was too much like her dreams and she was afraid to hope.
She was a child at a party. The bad men had given them something to make them sleep. When they’d awaken, they were in a nightmarish place, alone and frightened. In her dreams, she could hear her family calling! Casey, Casety, where are you. And in her dreams, they’d answer, we’re here, we’re here, Mommy, Daddy, we’re here, we’re here!
Everyone would be calling their names, and they would answer, we’re here, we’re here, and they would come and rescue them. But, no one ever came. The dreams had faded. And all hope had died, until now.
She had waited so long to be rescue that it seemed like a dream! Except the man holding her so tenderly and so lovingly, that she could hardly breathe, was so real that she could feel his breath on her cheek.
“Reaching up he parted the hair on the left side of his head, and smiled gently down at her, “We all have the same birthmark, on the same spot, just inside our hair line,” he said. You’re my sister and you have a twin named Casety Anna Crowley, I’m guessing she’s also a Snippet?
My name is Benjamin Adam Crowley. My wife, children and I live in Gilfords Falls, in the same rambling old house that we all grew up in.”
“No, you not my brother Ben, I was just a little girl, but I remember! I did have an older brother, fourteen or fifteen at the time named Benjamin, but he was sick and couldn’t walk. You’re all trying to trick me! I don’t believe you! You’re not my Benny, you can’t be!” she said, bursting into tears as she jumped up and slowly backed away from the table.
“What lies are you telling, Casey?” snarled the angry, red faced, fat man standing behind her. Grabbing her wrist, he gave it such a savage twist, that she cried out in pain as it made a sickening, snapping sound. “Get this mess cleaned up immediately, and get back to work, before I make you wish you’d never opened your mouth, you little trouble making hussy.”
That was as far as the man got in his tirade before Ben’s fist caught him under the chin sending him flying. “Mister! This lady happens to be my sister. If you ever lay a finger on her again,” said Ben, leaning menacingly over him and shaking his fist in the man’s face, “I will personally have you locked up for assault and as for the mess, clean it up yourself,” he said.
Taking Casey gently by the arm, he said, “This needs to be x-rayed immediately to see how much damage he did to your wrist and arm.” Then turning back to the man still cowering on the floor, he said, “That’s right, you little weasel, just lay right there, don’t move and don’t go anywhere!”
Ben calling the man a little weasel, was due to his ability to make a joke in any situation. And with his curious play on words, considering the man’s size and bulk. He had just made one! “You can bet we’ll be back.” he said, taking a menacing step toward the man.
“I can’t leave,” said Casey, watching as her wrist and arm painfully swelled to twice its normal size. “Casety should have been here hours ago. I won’t leave without her. She’s not strong like me, besides she’s due to have her baby anytime now. So you see, I can’t leave, I just can’t.”
“We’ll stay right here until she shows up,” Henry promised.
““We’ll wait for her even if it takes all the rest of the day and half the night,” said Karr. “And I’m your sister Lyla’s husband. The name’s Cameron Karr Jackson and I’m mighty pleased and honored to meet you, ma’am” he said, “Now go on with the two of you and get that looked at seeing as you’re pregnant and all.”
The doctors and nurses at the emergency room were none too happy to see them and had refused to even look at Casey until the estimated and over inflated bill was paid in full and in cash.
“Is that so!” said Ben, angrier than he’d ever been in his entire life. “Would you care to put that in writing for my lawyers to see? You know, for the lawsuit we’re going to file, because you refuse to treat this lady.”
“In fact, I think I’m going to call one of them right now. Where’s your pay phones.” he asked. Spying them on the wall by the bathrooms, he said, “Never mind, I see them.”
Two minutes later, Ben was talking to Evanston Garner the Third, who’s stellar reputation preceded him everywhere, The man was in such high demand he could, not only name his own price, but pick and choose his clients as well.
The minute his secretary answered the phone and Ben said, “Caroline Gilfords and related business.” Evanston Garner immediately took the call.
Ben quickly explained that Sheriff Henry Patterson, Deputy Karr Jackson and himself, Deputy Benjamin Crowley had found one, possibly two of the Gilfords Falls kidnapped victims, approximately three hundred miles from Gilfords Falls.
He then explained that he was at the hospital with one of them who’d been assaulted by her employer. To make matters worse the lady was at least eight months pregnant, and the hospital had refused her treatment until she paid the ridiculously high sum of forty-five hundred dollars!
Exactly three and a half minutes after hanging up the phone, the staff was swarming around them like bees to honey. “You’d think we were royalty or something!” Ben would tell them when he recounted the story for his family.
Thirty-five minutes later and with several apologies from the staff and doctors, Casey’s wrist and arm had been set then put in a cast, and they were on their way back to get Casety and the others.
Ben was surprised to see a GONE OUT OF BUSINESS sign in the restaurant window and a big padlock on the door.
Henry and Karr were huddled together shivering in the doorway. There was no sign of Casety or the proprietor.
“What are you doing out here in the cold?” asked Ben, as they climbed into the warm car.
“Not long after you left the little weasel started bad mouthing your sisters. He was bragging about what he’d done to them in the past, how he’d bought them from Zachadiah, and how he could do whatever he wanted with them.”
“He said if she didn’t want the other arm broke she’d better be back by morning, seeing as her lazy good for nothing sister had been too lazy to show up. Then he-kind-a-laughed and said he couldn’t be arrested over what was his.”
“I couldn’t believe it when the little maggot pointed to a framed certificate on the wall, verifying that Zachadiah had sold the girls as indentured servants’ to him about six months ago.”
“When Karr snatched the thing off the wall and hit him again, he started yelling he’d sue us for assault and theft of property. I immediately told the little wuss slavery went out with Lincoln.”
“He said he didn’t care about no law or no slaves. He’d paid the man fifty bucks a month for them and he was going to sue Zachadiah for selling him shoddy goods.”
“Of course, we couldn’t resist,” said Karr, laughing “we just had to tell the man in the most explicit language we could, so the poor thing would have no doubts about it, how a whole bunch of rats went up in a blaze of smoke and fire.
Then Henry here, told the guy that he might as well start boarding up the place, because you’d probably be bringing back a warrant with his name on it when you returned for us and your other sister.”
“That’s when the weasel said, did we take him for stupid or something? He’d seen the out of state tags on the car and knew we had no authority here.”
“It took him less then twenty minutes to shut the place down, empty the cash register and beat it down the road, after Henry shoved his United States marshal’s badge under the man’s nose. He didn’t even take the time to see how legal it really was,” said Karr with a grin.
“Legal it ain’t!” said a grinning Henry. “Now back to the business at hand, which is where is Casety?”
“I don’t know? She should have been here by now. I can’t believe she never showed up,” said Casey worriedly.
“I’m beginning to think somethings happened to her or that the weasel grabbed her on his way out of town,” said Henry. “Could she still be at your place?”
“Wherever she is we need to find her before it gets too dark to see.” Karr replied.
“We live down there,” Casey said, pointing across the road and off to the right.
“How can anyone in their right mind call this poor excuse of a wagon track a road,” said Henry, trying not to get stuck as he maneuvered over and around ruts, tree roots and potholes, as they looked for Casety.
They were almost at the end of the road before Ben said, “I didn’t see anything but a falling down chicken coop, some dilapidated pig sties and a couple of burned out old homesteads with nothing but the chimneys standing. Are you sure you live on this road?” Ben asked, looking around in dismay.
“I’m sure Ben,” she said, blushing at the thought of them seeing the wretched conditions they lived in. “But we don’t live in either the chicken coops or the pig sty. We live there by that tree,” she said pointing to what looked like several tattered and worn blankets sewn together and thrown over a low tree branch, held down with rocks, stones and pieces of wood.
“Stay here,” said Ben as he swiftly went to the tent, pulled back the blanket, dropped to his knees and entered the small space that his sisters called home. The minute he saw Casety huddled shivering under a dirty ragged blanket, he almost lost it.
Angrily ripping the blankets from the tree, he scooped his sister tenderly into his arms, and carried her swiftly to the car, where Karr had a warm blanket ready to wrap her in.
Henry took one look at the semiconscious girl, and muttered something indiscernible and discretely under his breath. Once he made it to the main road and hit the sirens, he was at Gilfords Falls Memorial Hospital in less than three hours.