Tap tap swish swish, okay okay, I'm up what time was it. I woke myself up shaking my head to help. That stupid branch was beating against the shutters again. John had to cut that down tomorrow. It wasn't the first time it had woken me since our stay had begun. The wind was sure howling. I heard others walking around and guessed it had awakened somebody else, too probably Charlotte or William. They were both light sleepers like me. I pulled on my robe, deciding I was a little hungry, maybe someone was already making a snack. As I started down the stairs I froze in my tracks. There was someone up alright, but they were using a flashlight. I couldn't breath. I didn't know whether to run or stay frozen. I decided the later. I peeked around trying my best not to make the stair boards creak. Suddenly I was more curious than terrified. I must be dreaming, I started to think, but the hot liquid pouring down my legs clued me I was indeed awake. Suddenly there was a figure. I couldn't make it out, but it seemed to be a man. He left through the back door, at least I thought. I waited a minute or two. I knew I had to get someone else up. I wasn't about to go down there alone, but I had to clean myself up first. I woke John and pretty much everyone else in the house. Strangely enough Mama and Daddy who were on the first floor, never stirred. Still we checked them to see if they were truly just sleeping, they were.
Rudy and John went into the living room first with William huddled behind them. Craig was still sleeping. "You guys better come here" cried Rudy to all. We stood in the doorway peering around each other. "Here's your burglar" mused John, pointing to that picture of my uncle. The one that had mysteriously fallen before. "And I guess who ever played the player piano last, forgot to pick up their mess" said Rudy. We looked to see dozens of player rolls scattered on the floor. We each insisted we hadn't done this, but still everyone was doubting I had seen anyone. We checked the side door, it was shut, but unlocked. There was my proof, but Rudy confessed he had left it unlocked accidentally. "Mystery solved!" cried John. I didn't argue. I knew someone had been there and probably it wasn't the first time since we had been staying in the house. All I had to do was figure out who it was and what they wanted. I decided that the next day I would tell someone about the letters.
The next day was Saturday. All would be around the house. Everyone was going to pitch in and start going through all of Grandmother's things. I made sure I took the closet where the letters were. We all broke for lunch. I was just about to go ahead and tell all at once of my discovery, when William came up with an old scrap book. " Hey Dad did you know there was a bank robbery here way back" asked William. "Oh yes I was about ten or twelve or so when it happened. It was big news around here" said Daddy. "But why did Grandmal keep a scrapbook about it?" asked William. "She was fascinated by it for some reason. Daddy and I never really understood why either. We just figured it was because it was such big news here" said Daddy. "And also because your mother knew some of the boys that were suspected of the robbery" said Mother. "It says here that a woman was wounded also" said William.
"Oh yeah I remember now it was some pastor's wife, from around here. Let me see that" Daddy reached for the scrapbook, searching the article for the woman's name."Here it is her name was Martha McDonald." ........McDonald ..pastor's wife...McDonald.. Quentin McDonald! I screamed.....that's the wife of the man Daddy that came by here a while back..the one you didn't remember, I reminded him. "Oh oh , okay , it's been such a long time since I've heard his name" insisted Daddy. "I never even knew Mama knew him. What on earth was he coming around here for" asked Daddy.
I wondered. Now I was convinced that Quentin McDonald was Queenie's love. The man whose letters she had kept all these years. This wasn't the time to bring them up.
"Says here no one was ever caught for the robbery" said William. "That's right, although everyone always thought it was several young men around here. Is a matter of fact uncle Connor knew some of the boys" said Daddy. "Your father won't tell you all this, but your uncle's disappearance was thought to be connected to something he knew about the robbery" said Mother.
"He was suspected of the robbery was he" I asked.
"No no he was just friends with Cally Thombs the kid, well he wasn't exactly a kid I guess, he was around nineteen or twenty, but anyway uncle Connor was thought to know something. He was either running away from or it was rumored he might have been murdered for what he knew' said Daddy.
William grabbed the article reading it aloud. "Huh that's pretty amazing. Did people really think uncle Connor knew some of the guys that did it." "Yeah nobody ever was sure if he knew anything or not, as I remember Mama saying uncle Connor was never heard of again. He probably was murdered" insisted Daddy. "I wouldn't put anything past your family, it wouldn't surprise mi if your uncle was in on it" quipped Mama.
I decided after breakfast I was going to the library in town to check this out. Some how the whole thing intrigued me and for the time made Grandmal's love affair look pretty tame.
It was late afternoon when I arrived at the only library in town. It was a neat old building, a two story brick, long narrow structure with skinny windows, that had glass distorted somewhat. This library was started in 1805. It was still heated by old radiators that had been it's "update system" decades ago. I remembered going to it many times as a child. My cousins June and Billy and I would walk to it by ourselves. Once we sneaked up in the second floor storage room and smoked our first cigarettes, don't know why we didn't try it behind a barn or something. The librarian caught us and called my grandmother who immediately sent me packing back home. She never told my parents. They thought she wasn't feeling well and that's why she sent me home. She knew she had to punish me but I guess she was afraid if they knew, I had smoked, they wouldn't let me come back. It was one of our little secrets. Seems Grandmother was better that I knew at keeping secrets.
Cal Henry was still working at the library. I couldn't believe it. What was he 150 by now. Old Cal was a hoot a real character. I told him what I wanted to look up. He quickly took me aside and what he said made me know I was on to something big.
"You don't wanna go dredging that up do ya. Why don't you just take a good old fashioned "love novel" (as he called them) and leave things be."
As I insisted that no was not an option, he practically jumped in front of me, as I tried to enter the records room. "You can't go in there now anyhows, bugs, bugs just everywhere. We just had it sprayed with that there bug juice. I wouldn't want you getting sick or something" he said. "I'll take my chances I told him. "Have it your way missy. You'll see you'll see what I mean one day, don't say I didn't warn you" he hissed.