The next morning, I heard a rap on the door to our room. I came instantly awake, and pulling a Colt from under my pillow, ventured, “John Lee?”
“Yeah, it’s me,” was the answer from the other side of the door.
“I’ll meet ya down stairs in a few minutes,” I said.
I heard John Lee’s footsteps as he made his way toward the second floor landing.
Daphne stirred and wearily asked, “It isn’t time to get up, is it?”
“Yep, it is,” I returned.
“But we just got to sleep,” she whined.
“Yep, we did,” I laughed.
She giggled and said, “Okay. I’ll get up.”
We both vacated the bed and got dressed for our journey to Shepherdstown. Going across the hall, we gingerly stepped on the window glass strewn over the floor while we accumulated our clothes and possessions. Pulling the top sheet off the bed, we dumped the glass refuse on the floor and utilized the bed to pack Daphne’s bags and boxes. Once we finished, we transferred the baggage to the room we had confiscated for the night, locked the door and went down stairs to find John Lee.
When we entered the lobby, we were flabbergasted that Mrs. Douglas and Hattie were already awake and in the lobby waiting on us with John Lee. We greeted the assembly of fellow travelers and discovered our group was the only hotel guests ready to eat breakfast. The desk clerk told us the dining room would be open momentarily, but we would have to endure no front glass windows to shield us from the elements. We nodded our acceptance of the consequences from the rogue tornado and stood in silence until Daphne boldly asked Mrs. Douglas, “What name did William say would be the name of our baby?”
I was so surprised by Daphne’s question that I had no time to stifle Mrs. Douglas’ reply of, “Jamie Lee.”
Hattie, John Lee and I stood with our mouths open in astonishment, while Daphne grinned from ear to ear and nodded her approval.
I gave Daphne a “there ain’t no way” look, but she just raised her eyebrows and, much to my alarm, smiled inscrutably.
At just that moment, the cook came toward us and asked, “Y’all want tha helpers’ table in tha back as usual?”
I nodded that we did. She turned and marched toward the small room. We followed and evaluated the main dining room as we moved to the back of the building. The dining room had been cleaned of all the glass and furniture debris. However, there weren’t as many tables as normal and the front windows were missing, which allowed wind to send dust to mingle with any food stuffs on the tables. I was grateful that we would be ensconced in a windowless room for breakfast. Food tastes much better without a layer of grit.
Breakfast proceeded without any mishap. John Lee and I ate in silence while we were privy to stories about the guests who attended the wedding and reception. It never ceases to amaze me the conclusions that women reach from the minute nuances of individual tones of voice, facial expressions and body language. I was amused by the whole pantheon of human frailties, vanities and dispositions that were provided for our edification.
All the amusement ended when Daphne described a man who came through the reception line with features like an eagle, holding a brown hat with a silver heart on the hat band.
I suddenly demanded, “When did he come through tha line?”
Daphne was surprised with my adamant question. “He came through when ya went in tha dining room to talk with Tom. Ya were gone for just a moment,” she explained.
“Did ya see him again?” I snapped.
“Not that I remember,” she answered in a fearful voice. “What’s wrong?” she asked as all eyes at the table became fixed on me.