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Authors: Marcia Lynn McClure

The Touch of Sage

BOOK: The Touch of Sage
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Copyright
©
2007, 2010,
2012

The Touch of Sage
by Marcia Lynn McClure

www.marcialynnmcclure.com

 

All rights reserved.

All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the US Copyright Act of 1976, the contents of this book may not be reproduced, transmitted, or distributed in any part or by any means without the prior written consent of the author and/or publisher.

 

Published by Distractions Ink

P.O. Box
15971
 

Rio
Rancho
,
NM
 
87174

 

Published by Distractions Ink

©Copyright 2012 by M. Meyers
A.K.A. Marcia Lynn
McClure
Cover Photograph

“Nate and Andrea”

by ©
Mark Perkes

and Sara Robinson
/Dreamstime.com

Cover Design
and Interior Graphics
by
Sandy Ann Allred/Timeless Allure

 

First Printed Edition:
  July 2007
 

Second Printed Edi
tion:  May 2010/ November 2012

All character names and personalities in this work of fiction are entirely fictional,

created solely in the imagination of the author.

Any resemblance to any person living or dead is coincidental.

 

McClure, Marcia Lynn, 1965—

The
Touch of Sage
: a novel/by Marcia Lynn McClure.

 

ISBN: 
978-0-9827826-0-6

 

Library of Congress Control Number: 
2010929424

 

Printed in the
United States of America

To My Mother,

Patsy Christine…

You are the truest heroine!

Thank you for giving me life, joy, and love…

and for making everything a beautiful adventure!

I love you!

 

 

And

To My Friend

Patricia “Patsy” Maureen…

For gifting me one of the most

serene and peaceful memories of my life…

For our moments together in Ruth’s pasture.

Prologue

 


Rummy!
I win!

Rose Applewhite announced, laying her cards
faceup
on the table.

Rummy, rummy, rummy!

Pushing her chair back, she jumped up and began prancing about the parlor like a proud, gray-haired pony.

Rummy, rummy, rummy!

she sang.


For pity

s sake, sit down, Rose,

Mary Anne Farthen grumbled.

It

s
one
hand.


Oh, let her dance, Mary,

Livie Jonesburg chuckled.

She so rarely wins,

she added under her breath.


Rummy, rummy, rummy!

Rose sang again, swishing her skirts this way and that like a French can-can girl.


I can see all the way to yer knees, Rose,

Mary scolded.

And they

re as wrinkled as an ol

elephant

s.

Rose Applewhite quirked a once-blonde eyebrow. Her blue eyes sparkled brightly with mischief just as they had at age eighteen some forty years before.
Smiling, she continued,

Rummy, rummy…

and turning her back to Mary shouted,

Rummy!

as she whipped her skirts and petticoats high over her back
,
revealing the seat of her lacy, ruffled bloomers.


For cryin

in the bucket!

Mary moaned as Livie burst into giggles.

The girl has no shame.

Eugenia Smarthing smiled. She knew Mary delighted in Rose

s antics as much as she and Livie did.
However, Mary was a well-weathered, leathery old woman and use
d
to guarding her smiles like a rare treasure.
Still, Eugenia wondered how anyone could resist smiling at the sight of
Rose
Applewhite

s brazenly displayed bloomer ruffles.


And you quit eggin

her on, Eugenia!

Mary demanded, pointing a withered index finger in Eugenia

s direction.

Eugenia bit her lip to stifle another giggle as Rose returned to her seat at the parlor table. Leaning over to Mary, she whispered,

Rummy!


Oh, for cryin

out loud,

Mary mumbled.
She gathered up the cards and began reshuffling.

Eugenia chuckled, purely delighted with her friends.
What a blessing it was to have one another—four elderly widows living together at Willows
’s
Boarding House.
A blessing indeed
,
and Eugenia pondered each of them for a moment as Mary dealt the next hand.

Rose

Ros
i
e

Applewhite had been an actress—
a golden-haired song lark in
San Francisco
,
where she had caught the eye of a wealthy young silver miner from Leadville.
Johnny Applewhite married his

Silver Rose
,

as he called her, sweeping her away to a life of fanciful privilege in
Denver
.

No
w Rose was in her midfifties—
a fine and respectable age to obtain. Even though her darling Johnny had been gone for nearly ten years and her own hair was as ashen as granite, her blue eyes still spark
led as brightly as the heavens—
as did her spirits.

Mary Anne Farthen led a far different life than Rose.
A
t the innocent
and tender
age of fourteen
, s
he married an older man of nearly thirty.
Archibald Farthen was married twice before, both wives having died in childbirth.
He was left with three small children and a painfully demanding farm in
Oklahoma
.
He needed a wife, and when Mary Anne

s parents were both taken with a fever, Archibald married the young orphan.
To become an instant mother at such a young age, Mary, out of necessity to survive,
grew
stern and guarded.

Archibald was good to Mary Anne,
and they had three more children of their own.
He worked hard, too hard for his heart, and Mary Anne had been a widow for more than sixteen of her sixty years.
Yet s
he was a good, caring old woman—
even if her perpetual frown and rather ratty-gray hair caused folks to think otherwise.

At fifty-three, Livie was the youngest of the widows who boarded at Willow
s’
s Boarding House.
Olivia

Livie

Jonesburg, the third of Eugenia

s dear companions, was a cheerful white-haired old gal.
Her husband, Clive, died only the previous
spring.
Eugenia knew how cruelly Livie still struggled with the loss.
The feelings in her heart
quite often showed blatant on her face
.

Clive had come from Europe and fallen madly in love with Livie, a society girl, a debutant of the highest caliber, in
New York
.
Upon meeting Clive, Livie had forsaken her family, abandoned her home and its luxury to spend her happy life with her beloved husband on his bean farm in Cortez.
Life had been gran
d, full of happiness and loving—
until last May when Clive was kicked in the head by a frightened foal and died from the trauma.

Eugenia

s husband, a local cattle rancher named Buck Smarthing, also passed on the previous year.
He was the friend and lover of Eugenia

s dreams.
Together they raised four children and enjoyed life to its fullest. She mourned to the very depths of her heart and soul when he was lost.
She had been
very thankful for her children—
for the comfort they gave her, for their support in allowing her to remain independent and live in the
boarding house
she now shared with her friends.
She had a good life with Buck—a wonderful life. Though forced to be without him, she was thankful for the good and happy life she shared with the other ladies of
Willows’s
Boarding House.

Eugenia smiled as she watched Mary and Rose bicker over Mary

s dealing of the cards.
Livie was grinning, amused at the antics of the other two.
Yes, these were
the best of women—true friends—
the kinds of companions any widow would wi
sh for in her later years. S
he was ever thankful for the entertainment they lent to her life.


Who

s winnin

?

Sage asked as she entered the parlor and set glasses of sweet lemonade in the middle of the table.


Well, Livie

s winnin

all around…but Rose just won a hand,

Mary stated.


Miss
Rose
!

Sage exclaimed.

You won?


Why, of course I did,

Rose boasted with a smile.


Well, good for you,

Sage giggled.


Ya missed the victory dance, Sage,

Mary grumbled.

Thank yer lucky stars ya didn

t have to sit through
that
parade of nonsense and lace bloomers.

Sage glanced
to
Eugenia who winked
,
indicating Rose

s display had been quite entertaining.

Sage pulled up a chair, planted her elbows firmly on the tabletop,
and rested
her chin in one palm.


What

ve you been up to this afternoon, Sage?

Livie asked.

Sage shrugged her shoulders and sighed.

Oh, I got the bread baked and the hens fed.
Worked on my quilt a bit…
thought I might take Bullet for a walk in a while.


That dog,

Mary growled.
“Ya know,
that

s why they geld horses, Sage…calms

em down.
That dog could use a good
—”

“Oh
now, Mary,

Eugenia interrupted.

Bullet

s a good dog.
Just needs some direction through his pup years.


Hmph,

Mary breathed.

Ya shoulda made Karoline take that pup with her when she married Joel.

Sage shook her head.

No…Karoline is too busy with a new husband.
She doesn

t have any time for a spoiled puppy.

 

Eugenia studied Sage Willows.
Her young friend seemed too youthful to have the responsibilities of running a
boarding house
heaped so heavy on her shoulders. Sage should be somewhere being adored by a good-looking husband and raising babies of her own.
But life had dealt her a hard hand.
Like Mary, responsibility came early to sweet Sage.

Matt and Susan Willows died in a tragic accident when Sage was only sixteen. Their wagon had lost a wheel and plummeted into Raven

s Canyon, and Sage suddenly found herself responsible for three younger sisters.

Rose was already boarding at the Willows
’s
house when the accident occurred. It was with Rose

s help Sage was able to keep the house running, thereby providing a way of life for herself and her sisters.

As
it so often happened w
ith older daughters who found themselves rearing their siblings, all of Sage

s time and efforts were put into providing for her sisters

care when they we
re younger—
th
en seeing them happily married—
ensuring they were provided for further.
This left Sage with little or no t
ime to consider her own future—
let alone chase after it.

As a result, with her three sisters wed and moved away, Sage sat at the table in the parlor,
twenty-three years to her name—
unmarried and watching four old widows play rummy.

Eugenia smiled as she considered the girl.
What a pretty little thing she was.
Her hair was the color of an acorn
’s lid—
soft, silky
,
and unusually long. Most of the
time the length went unnoticed—
for she wore it in a rather spinsterly knot at the back of her head.
Sage had green, almond-shaped eyes, guarded by thick, black lashes, which curled up to meet her sweetly arched brows.
Though her eyes were her most striking feature, the rest of her face was pleasing as well.
A small nose, somewhat heart-shaped lips
,
and high-set cheekbones combined to make a very lovely girl.
Her frame was average in height and her figure properly curved as to attract the admiration of the men in town.

BOOK: The Touch of Sage
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ads

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