9:00 PM – Friday, August 29, 1919
A thin sliver of moon hung about an hour above the western horizon. It barely provided enough light to see a stealthy, yellow crowned night heron tip toeing along the shore of Blue Lake. The shore line had receded with the late summer dry spell, allowing the heron to forage a little inside the line of cattails normally found at the shore. Her head occasionally extended downward and immediately retracted with an unlucky perch or frog skewered on her beak. The small lake, once a meander of the Angelina River, was now landlocked in mixed open land and second growth pine forests. The silence was disturbed by the soft splash of a bass breaking the calm surface in his pursuit of top water feeders.
A few hundred yards to the west, rays from the low hanging moon penetrated the needles of a sparse stand of pine trees to dapple the front wall of a small wooden farmhouse. In the modest front room, illuminated by a kerosene lamp, lay five year old Leetie Dorsett. She was no longer sobbing, but tears still streaked her pouting face. Her emotions were in turmoil. She had just asked her daddy to get some of her favorite cereal, Cream of Wheat, the next time he went to town. Why would that upset him?
She raised her thin forearm to wipe her nose, but the tender skin with its blue discoloration brought a new burst of tears. She had just been trying to please her parents when she went out behind the hen house to search for a hidden guinea nest.
Recollections came flooding back. The area back there made perfect cover for the guinea hens, trying to conceal their eggs until they could hatch off a clutch of miniscule, precocious guinea chicks. Once they were hatched there was very little on the farm that could catch them. There was a sizeable patch of Datura, or “jimsonweed” as her father called it, growing as tall as Leetie’s head. Fortunately the lower half of the stalks were relatively barren, allowing Leetie to scurry along on her hands and knees. This time of day they bore large, white, tulip shaped flowers, beautiful but unpleasant smelling. Ordinarily she would have stopped to pick the flowers and stack them, cone fashioned, to create gorgeous princess gowns, but this evening she was on an important quest.
Leetie espied a couple of rusty barrel hoops and a few broken staves leaning against the back of the henhouse. A perfect hiding spot she thought.
Leetie trembled as she eased back one of the barrel staves, fully expecting to be face to face with a belligerent, bald-headed, brooding guinea hen. Her emotions immediately changed from nervousness to stark fear as she found herself only inches from a saucer-sized, paper wasp nest. The nest bristled with twenty or more yellow jackets. By the time the first wasp could launch its attack, Leetie stood, whirled, and ran screaming through the raspy leaves and stalks of datura. Before she could outdistance their territory she had received two burning stings on her right arm.
Leetie ran through the chicken yard, scattering chickens right and left, as they were feeding on shelled corn. Half blinded by her tears, she ran across the late summer garden rows, straight to her mother’s apron and waiting arms. Through her sobs, she was able to tell her mother of her plight.