They were all there, all the women and children that Michael and she had provided a home and help. Harriet, and the triplets, that Zachadiah had snatched from her, upon their second birthday, were also there.
Harriet had only been conscious a few minutes when she overheard two of the nurses talking about how the sheriff, his deputies, Doctor Patterson and several others had rescued the children and elderly from under the noses of the very people that were holding them hostage. They were also bragging about how brave eleven year old Naletta Amber had been, when she’d snuck into a storage shed and stolen a ragged blanket to wrap a newborn, whom Zachadiah had given his must die order, in to keep the baby from freezing to death.
Unbeknownst to the two nurses, their information was all Harriet needed to make a full and speedy recovery. As she later told a surprised Michael, “No one even knew about my babies and when I heard the nurses mention my Naletta, I just had to get well so I could take care of them, despite all the odds stacked against me.”
Mary having heard Harriet’s story had declared her as much a victim of Zachariah and Zachadiah, as she and her children had been. In fact, Harriet had been one of the first residents to live at the Home for lost Souls. She’d also become a close and loyal friend of Michael’s and Mary’s.
Harriet had been given the highly desirable status of matron of honor to Mary, in honor of her own recent marriage, and had flown with her children and new husband, from the home she’d inherited upon her Uncle Caleb’s death, to attend the wedding.
Mary had used a large portion of one of her many inheritances to finance, THE MAGGIE GILFORDS-KAREN JACKSON HOME FOR LOST SOULS.
She had, with Michael’s blessings, bought and renovated the huge run-down country club, golf course and Gilfords Falls Hotel. When finished the home encompassed two-hundred twenty-five acres of manicured lawns, gardens, play areas and a small well-guarded patch of trees with a shallow creek running through it. There, the children spent many happy hours building forts and playhouses in the tree branches. There were also fifty or so houses scattered all over the property where recovering families learned the true meaning of family.
The main buildings alone covered more than a five-acre area that was not part of the two-hundred-twenty-five acre park like setting. The complex had become more than a home to the women and children they’d found and reunited. It was a godsend to all those that found their way to it, or were rescued by family members or others.
Mary had insisted that besides the six of them, Michael, Caroline, Angelia, Henry, Myrtle and herself, the Gilfords Falls Foundation must have a hand in the management and running of the property, the offer was immediately accepted.
Everyone within fifty miles of Gilfords Falls, had shown up to hear the couple repeat their vows. In all over a thousand people were there to wish them a lifetime of love and happiness. At the huge reception, one of the workers handed Mary a small gift-wrapped package.
The package contained a crooked little trunk with a waterfall scene carved into it. Years ago, Cole, unbeknownst to Caroline, had built the chest into the train station’s platform for safe keeping.
The trunk fit perfectly into the space especially made for it. Caroline, seeing the secretaries and trunk together for the first time, suddenly realized that the piece she wore around her neck was the key to unlocking the box and thus the riddle.
Inside the trunk, they found a centuries old document that read:
Whoever has possession of this document holds the treasures of Gilfords Falls and all its possessions, in the palm of their hands! What was once lost, has now been found, and whomever holds the key to the treasure within, holds all of the Gilfords fortune.
For those that have been wronged, the wrong shall now be made right. However, be forewarned, the Gilfords treasures and fortunes will be yours only as long as you hold the key to the treasure chest! For only those that hold the key shall reap the rewards of the Gilfords fortunes.
May you and your descendants hold the key to the treasure, forever and ever, praise Yehovah God. Amen!
Signed and sealed by my hand, this nineteenth day in the month of May, in the year of our lord - - -
Cole Michael Gilfords, the First.
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