Once we entered the parlor, Al and I were herded to a two-seat divan. Helena and Gracie sat in straight back chairs on either side of a loveseat, which was occupied by Miss Rector and Kirk.
Needless to say, Kirk and Wanda Lu Rector were oblivious to any other humans on earth. Their obvious connection was just as formidable and immediate as when Daphne and I had first met.
I looked at the two love-sick young people and then looked at Al. He turned and gave me a grin from ear to ear. I nodded and rolled my eyes, which brought a low chuckle from Al.
Miss Rector broke the ice by pouring tea for all of us while Helena and Gracie passed around the sweet breads. Once everyone was served, we began to eat and drink.
I needed to know something about the gang of eight so I asked, “When do ya believe tha cutthroats will show up?”
Helena answered, “I expect they will be here about eight in the morning.”
I gave her a look of amazement at her precise pronunciation and then asked, “Ya said they’re heavily armed. What do ya mean by heavily armed?”
Helena, who had taken her seat after serving the sweet breads, said, “Each of them has two pistols. In addition, two of them had percussion rifles.”
I probed, “Do ya know whether tha rifles were two banded or three banded?”
Helena smiled at me and answered, “They were two banded.”
I raised my eye brows and nodded my head.
Kirk and Wanda Lu had turned to witness my exchange with Helena, but once we had finished, they quickly turned to look at each other and smiled like two kids caught with their hands in the cookie jar.
I had one more question for Helena, “Miss Simmons, which direction do ya think they’ll be coming from?”
Helena looked at the floor for a second or two and then said, “That’s hard to say. I expect they will be coming from the north part of town. The gang has taken up a roost in the local sporting house.” At the end of her explanation she looked at the floor and got an embarrassed expression on her face.
I nodded, turned to Miss Rector and asked, “Do ya have a barn?”
Miss Rector said, “No suh. We have always put our horses in Mr. Lofton’s livery stable.”
I nodded and then continued, “Well are there any outbuildings other than a privy in tha back of yar property?”
“Yes suh. Thar are two slave cabins, but they haven’t been occupied for quite a while,” she answered.
I nodded and then decided to mention the elephant that was in the room, “Miss Rector, may we stay here tonight on tha first floor? We can make ourselves comfortable here in tha parlor. In tha morning we will set up plans on how to deal with tha killers.”
Miss Rector smiled from ear to ear, and turning to look at Kirk, said, “Y’all are quite welcome to stay here.”
Kirk smiled back at her reply, and the two moonstruck youths continued to look at each other with blatant attraction for each other.
To break the spell I uttered, “Well, I ‘spect y’all need to get to bed and let us get a few hours of sleep before dawn breaks.”
This request finally got things moving. Wanda Lu turned to Helena and Gracie and said, “I know tha gentlemen would appreciate any extra blankets and pillows y’all can find from tha hall closet.”
This sent the two scrambling out of the room, while Kirk and Wanda Lu continued to stare at each other like two love-sick turtle doves.
Almost immediately the two ladies returned with six blankets and three pillows.
I got up and went to the fireplace and began to stoke the fire. I asked, “Is there any wood we can bring in to keep tha fire going?”
Wanda Lu got up and answered, “Yes suh. There is still a mess of wood on tha back porch.”
Al sprang up and said, “I’ll fetch it.”
I nodded and turned to look at Wanda Lu Rector. I bowed and then said, “I’m so sorry for yar loss and tha dreadful actions perpetrated against ya and tha ladies. We will see what we can do to alleviate yar problems in tha morning.”
At this juncture, Miss Rector turned to Kirk and presented her hand. He stepped forward, took her hand in his, bent over and kissed it with such panache that even d’Artagnan would have been envious. Then he stood up and gallantly said, “Until tha morrow, Miss Rector.”
From this, she took her cue to exit stage left. I mean, she left the room and headed toward the stairs with Kirk looking longingly after her.
I nodded at Helena and Gracie, who nodded back and followed Miss Rector upstairs.
It was all I could do to keep from busting out laughing, but I know I was just as goofy when I first met Daphne. So I kept my response to a gentle chuckle.