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Authors: Kirsten Osbourne

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Mail Order Madness

BOOK: Mail Order Madness
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Mail Order Ma


in the Brides of Beckham


By Kirsten Osbourne


Copyright 2012 Kirsten Osbourne


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Susan cannot stand living with her eleven younger siblings for another minute, so
she answers an advertisement for a mail order bride, carefully choosing a man who
has never married and has no children so she won’t be plagued with other people’s
ill-behaved offspring.  When she arrives in Fort Worth, she finds out her fiancé has
been killed, and his older brother is offering to take his place.  The only problem
is his brother is a widower with four young boys.  Dare she do it?

Chapter One


June 1884

Outside of
Beckham, Massachusetts


Susan breathed a sigh of relief as her day with the neighbor children was finally
over.  It wasn’t that the
kids were bad, because her own siblings made them look like angels, but she was just
tired of being around children all the time.  Everywhere she looked were kids getting
into everything.  She though
, not for the first time, that she needed to get married and escape everyone else’s
children.  She knew without a doubt, that she could make sure her own kids, if God
cursed her with them,

She wandered along the dirt road, breathing deeply of the warm summer air.  There
were flowers in bloom all around her and the trees overhead made a perfect covering
protecting her from the hot sun.  Summer was her favorite season of the year.  She
wondered if she’d have time to go for a quick dip in the family’s pond after dinner.

She walked the quarter of a mile to her family’s farm and went inside, knowing it
was time for her to help with dinner.  Her sister who was two years younger than her
at sixteen had been home with their younger siblings all day, and since there were
younger siblings
, she knew the job would be overwhelming for her sister. 

Their mother worked in town for one of the women there cleaning and doing odd jobs
around the house.  Ever since her youngest brother had broken his arm the previous
month, her mother had needed to work to help make ends meet.  Their small dairy farm
just wasn’t enough to support all fourteen of them and pay any doctor bills that came

Susan walked through the kitchen and noted the absence of anything cooking.  There
were egg shells and smashed egg yolks all over the walls and floor.  Where was Elizabeth?

She found her in the small parlor with her head in her hands crying.  Sitting beside
Elizabeth on the sofa, Susan asked, “What’d they do now?”

Elizabeth rubbed her eyes.
  She was small for her age, and not much bigger than some of their younger brothers. 
She had the same blond hair and green eyes Susan did, but at that moment, her eyes
were red-rimmed and her hair was sticking up in every direction.
Susan thought she detected a piece of egg shell in her sister’s hair, but didn’t
say anything about it.
“I can
do this anymore!  They’re hellions!” 
She threw her hands up in the air in defeat.

“Egg fight?”  Susan knew there’d been a pretty major egg fight in the kitchen, but
that was nothing new in their house.  Why would Elizabeth be so upset over something
like that?

Elizabeth nodded.  “To start with.”  She took a deep breath.  “Have you seen the outhouse? 
Or been in the barn yet?”

“No….”  What had the monsters done this time? 

“Well, first they had the egg fight in the kitchen.  I walked in and
yelled for them to stop before one of the twins bea
ed me in the side of the head with an egg.  I
was about to clean it up, but I had to answer nature’s call first.”  Susan nodded,
waiting for her sister to get to what the kids had done.  “They tipped over the outhouse…with
me in it!”

Susan pressed her hand to her mouth to hide the grin that wanted to pop out.  It wasn’t
funny, and she’d be furious if it had been her, but she couldn’t help the laughter
that was trying to bubble up and out of her.
  In retrospect the things their siblings did were funny, but it took a while to find
enough distance to laugh when you’d been the victim of their mischief.

“Then, when I finally got out and was coming back in the house, I saw Mary’s hands
were covered with paint. 
paint.  You know the paint Ma said we could use to paint our room?”  Mary was their
ten year old sister.  She was the next-oldest girl after Elizabeth and the three of
them shared a room. 


“Well, she didn’t want a purple room, so she
used the paint on Mabel

“Mabel?  She actually stood still for that?”

“She wasn’t happy.  I could hear her mooing from across the yard.  Apparently, Mary
pulled her in from the field where she was grazing and put her in her stall,
before painting her
.”  Elizabeth sighed.  “So no
room for us.  We have to put up with the
tic tac toe game
walls forever.”

Susan sighed heavily.  “I’ve got to get out of here.  I’m eighteen.  I should be married
by now and I wouldn’t have to put up with this nonsense anymore.”  She stared off
into space for a moment while she thought about it.  “Or I guess I could find a job
where I could live in.  But no kids!”

Elizabeth shook her head.  “Then I’d have to deal with them all without you.  Ma doesn’t
much care what they do, and I can’t do it alone.”
  Susan’s eyes looked fearful at the very idea of Susan leaving her there with the

“I hate to leave you in this situation by yourself, but honestly?  I’m doing it the
first chance I get.”  She looked around.  “What happened to the newspaper Pa brought
home yesterday?”

“Mary had Mabel stand on it so she wouldn’t get paint on the floor of the barn.”

That was finally too much for Susan and she felt the laugh rumble up from inside her. 
“So it’s okay to paint the cow, but not to paint the barn floor?  Did she get dropped
on her
when she was a baby?”

“It’s not funny!  You don’t have to stay here with them all day every day.  At least
you get to go to the Jacobs’ farm three days a week.  I want to go to the Jacob’s
  Elizabeth’s voice was usually calm and serene, but it had deteriorated to a whine.

“We should walk into town together after supper and get a newspaper.  Maybe we can
find you a job, too.”
  Susan had made up her mind during her conversation with her sister.  She was going
to get out no matter what she had to do.

“Okay.  But what are we going to fix for supper?  It’ll be time to eat in an hour.”

Susan stood up and held her hand out for her sister.  “We’ll figure something out. 
And then we’ll figure out how to get out of here!”

As they walked into town two hours later, the two sisters talked about their dreams
for the future.  “I want to
be a teacher
,” Elizabeth admitted.  “I don’t thi
nk I ever want to get married.”

Susan grinned.  “Just so you don’t have to teach our brothers and sisters!”
  Not getting married was a good idea, in a way, because then she would never be saddled
with children, but Susan wanted to find a man to love her.

Elizabeth finally saw the humor in her day and giggled a little.  “I want to be a
teacher in Oregon.  Or California.  I hear California is beautiful this time of year.”
  She stopped walking and looked at Susan with fear in her eyes.  “You don’t think
Ma and Pa would ever move to California, do you?”

Susan shook her head, pulling her sister along with her. 
“That’s a better plan.” 
kicked at a clump of dirt along her path as she walked.  They were almost to Beckham. 
“I really wish I could just get married, but where am I going to meet a man?  We go
to the same country church we’ve gone to our whole lives, and the most eligible bachelor
is old James Duncan.”

Elizabeth wrinkled her nose.  “He does seem interested in you.”  James Duncan was
seventy if he was a day, and he’d already buried four wives.  He was on the prowl
for number five, and Susan seemed to be the object of his affections. 

Susan let out a shudder.  “I don’t think so.”  They’d reached town and turned to the
general store, which was closed, but always set out the “old” newspapers at the end
of the day.

Each sister took one, and they settled themselves onto th
e bench in front of the store to scan the job advertisements.  Susan quickly scanned
through and stopped at an advertisement for mail order brides. 
“Mail Order Bride agency needs women who are looking for the adventure of their lives. 
Men out West need women to marry.  Reply in person at 300 Rock Creek Road.  See Mrs.
Harriett Long.”

Elizabeth looked at Susan.  “Nothing for me, but did you see the ad for a Mail Order

Susan nodded slowly.  “I just read it.  Am I really desperate enough to get away to
answer it, though?”
  She bit her lip thinking hard about whether that was something she really wanted
to do.

“I am!  If I wanted to get married and get away from

the demon horde

we call brothers and sisters I would do it in a heartbeat.”

Susan made up her mind to do it.  What could it hurt to just talk to the woman?
  “Would you go to see Mrs. Long with me?”

Elizabeth looked back down at the paper.  “Rock Creek Road.  Do you know where that

“I think it’s in the rich part of town.”  Susan’s brows drew together.  “Why would
a rich woman run a mail order bride business?”

“I have no idea.”  She stood and held her hand out for her sister.  “Let’s go see
if we can find Rock Creek Road.”

“You mean it?”
  Susan had expected Elizabeth to try to talk her out of going, but instead she supported
her.  She was a good sister.

Elizabeth nodded.  “One of us should be able to get out of there!”

Susan took Elizabeth’s hand and the two of them walked toward the rich side of town,
stopping once to get directions.  Once they were in front of the house on Rock Creek
Road, Susan’s eyes grew wide and she looked at her sister.  “This place is huge.”

BOOK: Mail Order Madness
11.81Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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