"He explained to me that she was his child and the product of a romance that he had before he went into the army. They broke up and then when he went home on furlough, he heard she was having his baby. He said he didn't believe it at first, that they had only 'gotten together' one time. He discounted the fact that it could be his."
"Did he know about me?"
"Apparently not. However, when Savannah brought Rose to him, and he saw her red hair, he knew she could only be his. When they brought her to me, he said that the mother didn't want the baby, and he couldn't bear the thought of another man raising his child. So she became my little Martha Rose. He named her after his mother, Martha Jane. We called her Rose because of her pink skin and the little mouth that was shaped like a rosebud. I loved her like she had been born from my body."
"But what about me? Why did my mother give my twin sister away? Why would she do that? How much does my Granny know?"
"I'm afraid you'll have to find out from her. I don't know the answers to those questions. What I'm telling you is all that I know. I didn't know until I moved here as a widow anything about you. Even then, I had no clue that the two of you could possibly be sisters. Cousins, maybe, since Seamus had brothers and sisters, but certainly not sisters."
"I think I'm going to just keep this to myself for awhile, until I can take it all in, if you don't mind."
"Oh, I understand you would want to get used to the idea." Ellen O'Hanlon Tunstall smiled at the young woman and held out her arms.
Arlissa went readily into her arms and the two of them cried together for the first time over the loss of Rose in their lives.
The young woman still had a lot of unanswered questions, but she knew she had time to find the answers. There were other matters to be dealt with.
"May I borrow this album for a few days? I'll take very good care of it, I promise," inquired Arlissa, wiping her eyes.
"Yes, of course. Now shall we rejoin the others?"
When both of them came out of the kitchen into the living room, there was an almost audible sigh of relief from those waiting.
"Bobby Joe, could you please run me by my house before I go to the hospital to visit my Granny? I'd kind of like to see what it looks like now."
"Sure thing, Arlissa."
"Good-bye, everyone! Thank you for the wonderful meal, and all."
two young people were quiet on their way to the Hinton Farm, with
Arlissa clasping the photograph album to her bosom like an unbelievable
treasure she might lose.
Upon arrival at the house, Arlissa noticed the Cadillac parked in the yard near the back door.
"Surely, they're not working out here today, on a Sunday! Granny would be that upset if she knew they were."
left the car and went up onto the back porch, and saw the back door
standing wide open, indicating that someone had rushed through it.
a minute! Something seems off about this," whispered Bobby Joe. "You
can't just rush in like you're doing. Somebody could be laying in wait
for you, after all the trouble you've had."
no, I don't think so. That's Miss Hetty's car parked out here. She must
have forgot somethin' and came back out to pick it up."
Arlissa went on into the house and heard a noise in Granny's bedroom.
She recognized the noise as the squeak of the bedsprings when anyone sat down on them.
The door to the bedroom was partially open, and she pushed it the rest of the way open to see what was going on.
on the edge of the bed, sat Hetty McReynolds, attention fixed on the
task of unfolding the paper in her hands. The little rosewood box sat on
the bed open, next to her.
Hetty! What are you up to? What are you doin' with Granny's rosewood
box? Nobody bothers that! It's her personal stuff! How dare you?!!"
uh, uh...I came out to check on the paint, to see how the walls looked
after it dried, and found this on the floor. Somebody must've come in
and pilfered through your things, while nobody was here to protect it.
The box was on the bed and the paper had most likely fallen out of it, I
"Why didn't you just put it back into the box, then, Miss Hetty?"
"Oh, uh...I don't know, curiosity, I guess."
Bobby Joe spoke up then.
"Miss Hetty, ma'am, do you know what the penalty is for breaking and entering a house that don't belong to you?"
Miss Hetty stood and said, "Young man, where do you get off lecturing me
on the law? I was not breaking and entering. I have a key to the place!
I had a new back door installed yesterday and the fellow from the
hardware left it with us when we were working."
Miss Hetty realized that she should have stopped while she was not so
deep in the hole of her own making. She had said too much.
"ER...that is, we left it over the doorframe and I guess the person who broke in must have used it as well."
Arlissa looked at the woman for a minute or so, and then told Bobby Joe it was true that it was the custom around there.
"Hmmph. Needs to be changed, if you ask me."
don't we put this back where it goes and then check out the walls to
see how they look?" asked Arlissa, wanting the confrontation to end.
the paper from Miss Hetty and picking up the box from the bed, she
placed the paper in the box and returned it to the dresser drawer where
her Granny kept it.
Miss Hetty breathed a sigh of relief, mixed with anger that she had not gotten to see the contents of the paper.
walked throughout the house, with Arlissa still holding the photograph
album and complimenting Miss Hetty on the wonderful job the ladies had
done with the house.
"Well, there is still a lot to do, and we'll be back tomorrow afternoon, my dear. I must be going, dear children!"
She stopped and looked at Arlissa a moment.
"I noticed you are carrying about an album like we used to keep pictures in a long time ago!"
"Yes, it is. Thank you for all you have done for me, Miss Hetty, you and the other ladies. Maybe I'll see you tomorrow."
With those words, Hetty had no choice but to leave.
Arlissa and Bobby Joe looked questioningly at one another, then laughed.
"Do you think she was really out here to check on the paint?" Bobby asked.
"Well...I wouldn't like to think it was for anything else, but she did look awful guilty, didn't she?"
"Yep...Like the cat that got caught licking the cream out of the jug."
knows that if you want to know anything about anybody, Miss Hetty is
the place you go to find out. She loves to find and tell stuff more than
anybody I know."
Bobby Joe just looked at the lovely girl standing beside him.
"You're not thinking about asking her anything about your past, are you? How could you even believe what she would tell you?"
"Well, I never thought about it before..."
I've found, quite often just get part of a story and if they can't find
out the rest, they make it up. You could never be sure if what she
would tell you would be the whole truth. What about the paper that she
was getting ready to look at in that box? It must be something important
for your grandmother to have it stashed out of sight like that."
don't think she had seen it; I don't even know what is on it. It
belongs to Granny and I'd never look at it. We respect each others'
you'd best take the key with you when you go, Miss Arlissa, and the
box, too, or hide it somewhere. I saw the determination in that woman's
eyes, and she wants to get her hands on that box mighty bad."
let me see. I know, I'll take it with me to Sheriff Bradshaw's house. I
can do that on my way to the hospital, if you don't mind. I know it'll
be safe there! Whatever it's got in it, I want Granny to know it's still
private to her. Please, won't you call me 'Lissa, like my friends do?"
course, er ah, 'Lissa. That is a good idea about taking it with you.
Might as well remove the temptation from that woman's hands and eyes."
an afterthought, she decided to take the album to the hospital and
share the pictures and story with her granny. Maybe she could get more
information from that source.
Joe escorted Arlissa up to Granny's room, said hello to the old lady,
then told them both how very much he had enjoyed taking her to church
and having dinner with her. She thanked him for everything and told him
she enjoyed it as well.
just lay there smiling that little crooked smile of hers, thinking to
herself that she had made a good match between the two. Now that she had
seen her young charge with the prospects of a good marriage, she could
stop worrying about what would happen if she passed away.
When he left, Arlissa went out into the hallway with him for a few minutes.
Returning to the room, she saw Granny lying there smiling and said, "What?"
She had written on the slate, "Kissed you?"
"Now, Granny, don't you be gettin' any ideas! We are just friends; besides, it ain't none of your business, if he did!"
The young woman approached the bed and laid the photograph album on it.
have something to show you and to tell you. I have some pictures here
that I want you to see. Then I have a story to tell you. In fact, I have
a whole lot to tell you."
Granny just looked at her with some trepidation.
"Then, I have some questions for you."
said all this with a kind attitude, knowing it would most likely upset
her grandmother to be confronted with news like she had to share.
Opening the album, she showed Granny the pictures of Rose as a tiny baby. Then she pointed out pictures of Savannah O'Hanlon.
"Does this look like anyone you have seen before? And who does this tiny baby remind you of?"
The old lady shook her head in denial.
did Arlissa get the photo album? Who was the tiny baby that looked so
much like Arlissa did as a baby? How much did the girl know?
"Granny, I believe that Rose was my twin sister. Why didn't you tell me? Did you know?"
Granny's eyes filled with tears, not wanting to believe what she was hearing.
"Ellie was away from home."
"When she had me?"
"Headstrong like Rose," she wrote. "We argued, she left. Grandpa said not to come back till she apologized."
"Did you know about Rose?"
"Thought she died in childbirth."
"Who told you?"
"Ellie did. Asked me to put up tombstone for baby."
"How did you get me?"
"Savannah came, got me when you were born."
The old lady lay down the chalk and rubbed her wrist with the partially paralyzed hand.
"Why did you wait so long to go to Ma? Did you know she was expecting a baby?"
"No. Would have brought her home."
"Did you know where she was?"
"No. Followed Savannah, brought you home."
"Why have you waited so long to tell me all this?"
"Was Seamus O'Hanlon my father?"
Granny, remembering her promise, looked at Arlissa with pleading eyes.
"Can't say" the old woman wrote, still intent on keeping her promise.
if I guessed, then you wouldn't be telling me, would you? That's okay,
Granny. I think we both know the answer to that. Another question,
She looked up at her granddaughter, holding her breath in anticipation of the question.
did you tell me I was born in 1943, instead of 1942? After all these
years, I found out I'm a year older than I thought."
"Your Grandpa thought it best."
"I don't understand."
By now, Arlissa was becoming truly frustrated with the dodges of her Granny.
"I've got time, Granny. And you ain't goin' nowheres right now. Spill it."
"Rose came to O'Hanlon farm with father. Three years old. Same age as you."
"Yes, go on."
"He came to see me and your Grandpa, asking about Ellie."
"Didn't know she was gone, saw you. Wanted you."
"So, what did that have to do with my age?"
"Told him you were younger by a year. You were small for your age."
"So, he believed you?"
"Yes, had to keep up with lie."
"But Savannah knew, right?"
"How did you keep her from telling?"
"She promised Ellie she wouldn't tell him."
"But, he's been gone a long time. You could have told me. I could have had Rose as a sister all this time."
Arlissa cried out, with an ache in her heart. "All this time...all this time."
"Granny, all these lies...and you've always stressed being truthful. What am I to believe?"
Arlissa jumped up, grabbing the photo album, ready to flee, but Granny shouted a garbled, "Wait!"
She turned back to her Granny.
"Sorry. Should have realized."
Walking back to the bedside, she sat down, waiting to hear what Granny might have to say in explanation.
"Living more important than dead."
"Yes, Granny, we are. I have another question."
Blue eyes stared up at the girl, waiting.
"Have you ever talked about the circumstances of mine and Rosie's birth with anyone else, besides Grampa, I mean."
"Is Savannah still living? Do you know how to find her?"
"I think she is. Not seen her in long time."
"Please forgive me?"
The old lady's pleas were pitiable, and Arlissa could not hold a grudge; she was not made that way.
ought to take you out to the woodshed, Granny, but I won't." She smiled
lovingly at her. "You was between the devil and the deep blue sea,
tryin' to keep that promise, I know. But you should have trusted me
enough to tell me! I'll forgive you, but I'm hopin' we've both learned
somethin' from this whole thing."
"That secrets can fester and become big sores on our souls."
"Bring rosewood box to me."
"You mean the one you keep in the dresser drawer? Your private one?"
"Yes, time to do it."
"This evenin' be time enough?"
"Yes, now go. Need rest."
She hugged her grandmother once more, and kissing her brow, she left to see if the young deputy could come pick her up.
When Billy came to get Arlissa, she asked if he would take her to the farm.
my askin', 'Lissa, but why would you be wantin' to go out there? Aren't
you stayin' with the Sheriff's fam'ly right now?"
Billy, but I want to get my car. I should've done it earlier when I was
out there today, but didn't really think about it. I left it out there
when I found my house all messed up and my animals killed by Con
"I don't mind takin' you around where you need to go, though. In fact, it's a pleasure, if you don't mind my sayin' so."
He smiled down at her, as he walked her to his car.
"I appreciate it, and all you've done for me, but it's time I do some things on my own."
She reached up and kissed him on the cheek, just a peck, actually, and he turned a scarlet shade of red.
drove her out to the farm and waited while she got into the car. It had
not been used for some time, and the battery refused to respond to the
"I should 'a known it would be dead again. It needed to be replaced some time ago, but I haven't had the money to do it."
'Lissa, I can get one for you. I got a cousin that's got an auto repair
shop and he's always gettin' in cars that's gotta be junked. I'll pick
it up later today when I get offa the job. Okay?"
"How much will he want for it?"
he owes me some favors, so he won't charge me anything for it. We're
cousins, after all. His ma and mine are sisters and his ma would climb
his frame if he refused. Don't worry, you'll have it by tomorrow and
installed, to boot."
"Well, if you're sure...okay."
"You wantin' to head to the Sheriff's house now, then?"
actually, I'd like to take a little walk first, if you don't mind. I've
been kinda cooped up and haven't had a chance to go somewhere I've been
"Sure, you want me to go with you, don't you, to keep you safe, I mean."
could, but I've taken this walk many times in the past and have never
been in any danger at all. Con is in jail, and I don't know of anybody
else that would want to hurt me. It is kinda private, too."
"Okay, I'll check with the Sheriff while you're gone, and I'll be waiting right here when you get back."
felt uneasy about letting her go, but she was a grown woman and seemed
to know what she was talking about. He couldn't push himself on going
with her if she didn't want it, could he?
strolled along, listening to the birds singing, and realized how very
good she felt to be alive. Things had been difficult over the past
several weeks, but she had hopes for troubles to lift in the near
object in taking the walk was to see the tree where she and Rosie used
to meet and sit under, talking about what they were going to do in the
future. They had spent a lot of time in those teenage years sitting
there. She was wondering why Rosie had mentioned the tree in the note
she left for her.
remembered leaving and finding messages in the big hole in the crook of
the tree. It was their own way of keeping up with one another. They
were not allowed to tie up the telephone, especially since it was a
party line phone.
The old oak was huge and gnarled with age.
Ah, there it was!
Arlissa laughed and ran to the tree, then jokingly stuck her hand into the large hole.
Wait! There was something in it! Her fingers had hit something that felt like fabric of some kind.
Carefully, she pulled a canvas travel bag from the tree's cavity.
"What in the world? What is this? Where did it come from?"
She looked around carefully...then unzipped the bag.
It was full of money, stacked and banded with rubber bands. Hundred dollar bills!
Where did it come from? How did it get in here? What should I do with it?
She quickly zipped up the bag and then began to agonize over leaving it or taking it with her.
of that money. Who does it belong to? Could Rosie have left it there?
Where would she have gotten it? Why wouldn't she have just told me she
had it if it was hers?"
take it to the Sheriff! If it is illegal money like I think it is, I
don't want it unless he thinks I should keep it. I reckon maybe Rosie
was thinking that I could use it to take care of Benny and see he had
what he needed. She knew me and Granny don't have much in the way of
reached again into the tree and found a piece of paper rolled up into a
cylinder. Pulling it out, she decided to wait till she got the money to
a safer place before unrolling it. After all, it had waited this long.
An hour or so longer wouldn't make any difference, she reckoned.
almost ran all the way back to the yard, where Billy stood leaning
against his car, looking into the direction she had left earlier. His
features showed relief, and looked as though he had still been trying to
decide whether to look for her.
"There you are! What's that you've got there? Where did you get it?"
"Well, ain't you the curious one!" she laughed."I got it at the gettin' place!"
Apparently she had decided to keep that information to herself.
"I need to take it to the Sheriff, though. I think it's time he sees it."
felt a little miffed that she didn't want to share the information with
him, but then, he realized, it might be something that the fewer people
knew about it, the better.
"I was only joking! I trust you, Billy. I will show you what is in the bag as soon as we're in the car."
around to the other side of the car, he opened the door for her and she
slid in with the bag to her left. After he went to the other side and
got in, she unzipped the bag.
"Holy cow! All that money! I never seen so much! Who robbed a bank? Where did it come from?"
Picking up one of the bundles, he looked at the bank wrapper on it and read.
"Fourth National Bank of Pennsylvania is where these wrappers came from."
the O'Hanlons came from Pennsylvania about eleven or twelve years ago.
That's when I first met them. They had just come from there and their
listen, we'd best get this to the Sheriff, then. He'll know what to do
with it. He's in his office right now, dealing with that foreign fella
that beat up a woman."
two young people soon were on their way and arrived at the Sheriff's
office in time to see him talking to Wilbur Johnson and Alberto Donelli.
Most of the talk was with the lawyer, it seemed.
"When can we meet with the judge to have his bail set?"
Wilbur, you know he doesn't hold any kind of court until a week-day.
It's not going to kill your client to stay in jail another few hours.
He'll eat good while he's in here and our cells are not all that
uncomfortable. He can have his cigars or whatever he smokes, under
supervision, that is, when we've got an extra person to supervise his
smoking. Not good for him, anyways." Sheriff Bradshaw smiled
companionably at the two.
At those words, Wilbur Johnson picked up his briefcase and told Donelli he would be back on Monday and left, nodding to the two young people who had just entered.
Upon the entry of the two, Donelli stood and bowed to Arlissa.
the lovely Miss Hinton! Or should I say, Miss O'Hanlon? You are rather
in the same class as my little Benito, eh? Too bad your father did not
claim you as I want to claim my little one."
His eyes glittered with malice.
Arlissa's face flamed, then blanched. She stood toe to toe with Donelli and slapped his face.
"Sheriff! You saw that! She assaulted me! I want her arrested. Right now!"
shut up! Shut your filthy mouth! Billy, take the prisoner back to his
cell, right now." Sheriff Bradshaw felt disgust at the behavior that had
just taken place in front of him.
He was also proud that Arlissa had stood up for herself, refusing to let Donelli speak in such a manner to her.
happened to see the satchel carried by Billy as he placed it on the
Sheriff's desk. He recognized it as being his. It had disappeared with
Rosie. It dawned upon him. His money! Did Rosie put the rest of his
stuff in the bag as well? He had to get it!
Grabbing the deputy's gun, he held Billy in front of him.
deputy...bring the bag with you. We're leaving right now. Anybody that
follows gets a bullet between the eyes. I am an expert with guns; I grew
up with them. I have no problem with killing; I grew up knowing how."
on second thought, here, Miss Smarty, put these on your boy friend,
here. Don't try anything, unless you want him blown away!"
He tossed handcuffs from Billy's belt to Arlissa, all the while holding the gun on Billy.
Arlissa had no choice and neither did the Sheriff. They were all alone in the office, since it was a Sunday afternoon.
"Okay, you two come on with me and the snot-nosed kid, here."
Taking them back to the jail cells, he locked the three of them into the cell and took the bag holding the cash with him.
plans are changing by the second...he hasn't thought any of this
through," remarked the Sheriff in a quiet whisper to the other two
Con Douglas was in a nearby cell. He had been asleep, and sat up on his bunk.
- haw! Looks like we got some new jail-birds back here! Hey, fella!
How's about helping me outta here?" He shouted at Donelli.
shut up, kid! You look like nothing but trouble, probably as dumb as a
door-nail, or he wouldn't have caught you. Nothing but a hick town
the bag with him, Donelli left the three in the cell and left by a back
door. He had parked his car near the diner where he had met Savannah.
He had beaten her up in the alleyway, trying to get more information
about his son.
seconds, he was on his way out of town. Soon he was on the back roads
heading for the O'Hanlon/Tunstall farm, with the intention of picking up
his son, where he now knew he was.
laughed as he drove out of town, making plans to grab his son and soon
be on his way to his home, eager to get back to his family's lucrative
business. He was due to take over from his old man. It was growing
exponentially as more drugs were being created.
he drove, he was unzipping the bag he had recovered from the red-headed
sister of Rosie, regretting already not bringing her along. He realized
the boy would have been much easier to control in her hands.
Within five minutes, he was on the outskirts of Hickston, laughing about how easily everything was falling into place for him.
Alberto Donelli was used to driving fast and living dangerously, believing himself to have a charmed life.
He was young, handsome, had a way with the ladies, and rich.
One thing he didn't have was a real knowledge of the landscape that he needed in order to be driving as he was.
he was approaching Hinkle Road, he was rifling through the bag next to
him, looking down to see if his drugs were in the bottom of the bag.
The sound of the explosion was heard for several miles as it echoed through the hollow, reverberating for all nearby to hear.
It seemed that Dead-man's Curve near Hinkle Road, had claimed another soul.
Sheriff! You here? Billy? Who's minding the office?" Shouted Mildred.
"My little grandson is in town and wanted to see the jail! Hello?"
"Back here, Mildred! We kinda got locked in here accidentally."
"Gran? Why are you letting the bad man out?" The four year old boy wanted to know.
"Honey, meet the Sheriff! I think he maybe was testing the locks or something. Right, Sheriff?"
"Hey, young fella, what's your name. Mine is Sheriff Bradshaw, but everyone calls me Woody!"
"Mr. Woody to you, Clay!" Mildred admonished the boy.
"Yes, ma'am. "
boy reached out his hand to shake the law officer's, and then he
noticed Billy and Arlissa, who were still standing inside the cell door.
"Sheriff, what about Donelli? Shouldn't we be taking out after him?"
"I'll notify the state police and alert them to the situation. We can always use their help."
"Haw! Haw! Big ole Sheriff, asking State Po-lice for help!" laughed Con Douglas.
"Clay, there's your bad man, " Arlissa said, kneeling next to the little boy.
Clay reached out to her hair, touching it gently.
"Ah, out of the mouths of babes," remarked Billy.
"Hush, Billy! Thank you, Clay! You're sweet!"
She hugged and kissed the little boy, then stood.
"I need to get this to Ellen Tunstall," she said, indicating the rolled up paper still in her hand.
The sheriff was already talking to the State Police. They were working a wreck at Dead Man's Curve.
Bradshaw told Mildred and the others what was taking place and that one
of them needed to go out to the site of the wreck. Apparently, Bobby
Joe was out there, working the wreck along with another trooper. They
had tried to contact the Sheriff but he was in lock-up, so to speak.
didn't know yet who was in the wreck; apparently the car had exploded
and burned the occupant beyond recognition. It was several minutes
before anyone got to the car. It was down in Dead Man's Hollow, and not
easy to get to.
got a notion as to who it could have been," replied the Sheriff. "Look
at the tags and see if it was a rental, and get the number, if you can."
"I'm on my way."
the time that Sheriff Bradshaw got to Hinkle Road, several residents
had gathered and were looking on. Among them were Zeb and his
step-father, along with Les, Zeb's younger brother.
Mildred took her grandson and left the office, leaving Arlissa and Billy.
sorry about your car, 'Lissa. I'll call my cousin right now, while
we're here and see if he can't get out there sometime today. I know
you're anxious to have it."
Billy. I really appreciate your help. You and your family have been so
very nice to me. I'll never be able to repay y'all."
don't want you to feel that way, 'Lissa. You're a fine person, just
down on your luck a little bit. It could happen to anybody. Listen, do
you think maybe I could take you out sometime?"
I don't know, Billy. Let me think about it, okay? I don't know how your
family would feel about you taking me out; with you all bein' so rich
"They don't tell me who to go out with! I'm a grown man, and make my own decisions."
Picking up the phone, Billy called his cousin.
"Williams' Auto," said the voice on the other end. "How can I help you?"
"Hey, this is Billy!"
"Oh, yeah? Billy who?"
"Ah, come on, Buddy! You know Billy who!"
The Billy who's always wanting a favor, I'll just bet! What is it this
time? You know I do have other people to do work for that pay me! In
fact, I gotta get a tow truck out to Hinkle Road at the curve. Some dang
fool took it too fast and went over. Can't this wait?"
what I need done is out that way. A friend of mine needs a battery in
her Chevy replaced. It's a '59. Out at the old Hinton farmhouse. Can
you do that?"
"Girl, huh? Pretty, too, I'll betcha! Would you introduce me, maybe? That would be my payment.
Yeah, just introduce us."
you don't stand a chance with her. She's already got a fella, a highway
trooper. Least ways she went to church with him today. How about it?
Will you do the favor?"
"Sure, sure, give me a couple of hours, though."
"Thanks, cousin! See you soon."
"Yeah, yeah, when you need another favor, I'd say "
the conversation was taking place, Arlissa had unrolled the paper and
read again both papers, one rolled up inside the other. She was glad Donelli had not noticed the album she had laid on the desk when she and Billy had entered.
One was a letter to her. She wondered when Rosie had written it.
(To be continued)