Read Yankee Mail Order Bride Online

Authors: Susan Leigh Carlton

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BOOK: Yankee Mail Order Bride
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“Anna, slavery has been abolished in this country. You don’t have to marry someone if you don’t want to. We’ve put a lot more information in your letter than in most, so maybe that can speed things up for you,” Mrs Barnhurst said.

 

“If he makes me leave when I refuse to go through with it, I will have no place to go. I couldn’t go to my father’s relatives, they’re just like him. My mother’s family couldn’t take me in. They can’t afford it.” She burst into tears at the thought of her predicament.

 

“I have an idea. I’m going to include a request for him to answer by telegraph if he’s interested. That can save a week. Also, I will personally ask if he will provide return transportation if either party deems other party to be unsatisfactory,” said Mrs Barnhurst.

 

When Anna returned home, her father summoned her to the parlor. Her mother sat to the side and stayed out of the conversation. “Young lady, your behavior was reprehensible and will not be tolerated. Furthermore, you insulted Mr Throckmorton. Nevertheless, he is a gentleman and a man of his word. He is still willing to go through with the arrangement.”

 

“Papa, I’m not going to marry that man.”

 

“You will do as I say,” said Caleb.

 

“Papa, he put his hand on my leg during dinner. I removed it and he did it again.” She heard a gasp from her mother.

 

“”You must have misunderstood his intentions,” said Caleb.

 

“I didn’t misunderstand,” Anna said defiantly. “I stabbed his hand with a fork. When you left us alone, he grabbed me. I got away and he fell over a chair trying to grab me. That’s when I left the house.”

 

“Go to your room. This isn’t over yet,” Caleb said.

 

As Anna left the room, she overheard her mother say, “Surely, you wouldn’t let this… this monster marry your daughter?”

 

Her father’s answer was lost as she went up the stairs to her room.

Chapter 5:  Josiah Makes A Decision

 

The kitchen of the Diablo Ranch…

 

“Mr Josiah, what happened to your face?” asked Beulah.

 

“I was on the wrong end of a cowboy’s fist.
My nose is broken. I went to see Doc Williams and he packed it with gauze. It has to stay in there four days, and he said neither of us should take it out, so I have to go back to see him. I think he’s just looking to charge me for another visit,” Josiah said.

 

“Mr Josiah, you know the doctor wouldn’t do nothing like that. Any ways, what are you doing fighting in the first place? You ain’t got no call to do that.”

 

“Beulah, I had a long lecture from him and I don’t want another from you. You’re right. All of you are right. I have been a mean, ornery man and have just been looking to pick a fight. This one wasn’t much of a fight. He hit me and I hit the floor.”

 

“All of that’s past. I’ve learned my lesson. Doc said Caroline would have been ashamed of me for the way I’ve been acting. I’m ashamed of myself. It’s over. I owe you and Jud both an apology, so, Beulah, I’m sorry for my behavior. I will try to do better. Now, where’s my little girl? She’s really the one that deserves an apology. I haven’t been much of a papa to her and I intend to start making it up to her.”

 

“She’s still down for her nap. I’ll go get her.”

 

She wiped her hands on her apron, but before she could go out of the room, Josiah said, “I’ll get her. I want to talk to her.”

 

“She’s just a little girl, Mr Josiah, don’t put nothing heavy on her. You’re her pa and she loves you.”

 

“I won’t,” he said simply. He headed for his daughter’s room. She was sitting up in bed when he walked in. He sat beside her. “What are you doing, Rebecca?”

 

“Playing.”

 

“Can I play too?” asked Josiah.

 

“Papas don’t play dolls,” she said.

 

“I will if you show me how,” he said.

 

“Well, you have to hug them a lot,” she said.

 

The simple remark nearly broke Josiah’s heart. “You mean like this?” he said and scooped her up into his arms and held her tightly.

 

“Don’t mash Susie, Papa,” Rebecca protested.

 

“How would it be if I hugged you in one arm and Susie in the other? Would that be all right?” he asked.

 

“That would be okay,” she said.

 

Holding the two of them, he walked to the rocker Caroline had insisted he put in the room and sat. “Would you like for me to tell you a story?” he asked.

 

“Yes, Mama used to tell me stories.”

 

“Okay,” Josiah said. “Once upon a time, there was this beautiful little girl who lived on a ranch…”

 

“What was the little girl’s name?” she asked.

 

“Her name was Rebecca.”

 

“That’s my name, too,” she said.

 

“Why yes it is,” Josiah said. “Anyway Rebecca’s papa had been mean to all his friends and his little girl.”

 

“Why was he mean, Papa?”

 

“He missed his wife very much and just didn’t know what he was supposed to do,” said Josiah.

 

“Did he make the little girl cry?” she asked.

 

“I don’t know. I hope not. Do you ever cry?”

 

“Sometimes when I’m in bed. Auntie Beulah holds me and makes it all better,” she said.

 

Beulah had walked silently to the bedroom and stood peeking in. Neither Josiah nor Rebecca knew she was there. They didn’t know she had tears in her eyes either. She went back to the kitchen.

 

“What happened to the little girl, Papa?” asked Rebecca.

 

“Well, her Papa decided it was wrong to be mean to everybody so he stopped right then, and hugged everybody. And they all lived happily ever after,” said Josiah. “Now, let’s go see if Auntie Beulah has anything good for us to eat.”

 

When the threesome walked into the kitchen, Beulah’s eyes were glistening with the tears. “Auntie Beulah, do you have any cookies for a sweet little girl?”

 

“I speck I might have some around here someplace since she’s been extra good.” She found them, and poured a glass of milk for her.

 

“Papa too, and Susie too,” declared the little girl.

 

Josiah stood and started toward the door, then paused. “Rebecca, I’m going to see Mr Jud, do you want to go with me?”

 

“Uh huh,” she said. “Susie too?” she asked.

 

“Of course, Can you hold her. I might drop her?” he asked. She nodded her head. With her in his arms, Josiah headed toward the barn, where he thought he might find his foreman. “Jud, you here?” he called out.

 

“Over here, boss,” came a voice from somewhere in the back.

 

He walked toward the voice.

Jud did a double-take when he saw Josiah’s face. “What happened to you?” he asked.

 

“A cowboy knocked some sense into it,” Josiah said.

 

“It’s about time,” said the foreman. “Rebecca, I declare, you’re prettier every time I see you.” She nodded her head.

 

“You got that right,” Josiah replied. “Jud, I’m here to apologize. I have been acting like a total a-s-s, and I’m sorry. I want to apologize to the hands too. It won’t happen again.”

 

“Good to have you back, Josie. We missed you.”

 

“Do you think you could get in touch with those that left. I’d like to tell them too, and welcome them back if they’ll come.”

 

“I think I can find them,” Jud replied.

 

“Good,” said Josiah. He extended his hand, which Jud shook heartily.

 

The next morning…

 

“Men, I want to apologize for the past six or eight months. I have been acting like an ass…”

 

There was a chuckle and someone called out, “You can say that again.”

 

“All right, I will. I’ve been acting like an ass. I’m sorry, it’s over, I won’t let it happen again.”

 

“Where’d you get the shiner, boss?” another voice called out.

 

“You should see the other guy, not a mark on him,” Josiah said.

 

The men walked away to their various responsibilities.

 

Back in the house, Beulah said, “Mr Josiah, What you need is a wife. A good woman to look after you. Yessir, that’s what you need.”

 

“Any suggestions where I can find someone that can put up with the two of us?” he asked.

 

Actually, he had an idea. In town, he had seen a sign in the window of the Cheyenne newspaper about mail order brides. When he went to see the doctor to have his broken nose checked, he went into the office of the paper to check it. He was given the name and address of a Mrs Barnhurst. Borrowing some paper and a pencil, he went over into the corner and composed a letter to Mrs Barnhurst. It said in part: “ Twenty three year old widower is desirous of finding an 18-25 year old woman willing to take a chance on him and his beautiful two year old daughter. I am 5 feet 10 inches tall and weigh 155. Dark hair and brown eyes. Matrimony a possible outcome if suitable. Owner of a prosperous ranch. We have a housekeeper, but we need something else. Transportation furnished.

 

He went to the post office, bought an envelope and a stamp, and sent the letter on the way.

Chapter 6: An Agreement To Meet

 

One week later…

 

Josiah checked the post office and found a letter from Mrs Barnhurst. She had found a young woman in whom he might be interested and was enclosing her letter. Josiah hastily read the letter, and then went to one of the benches outside the post office, sat and read through it twice more. The letter concluded by asking him to reply by telegraph if he was interested. The young woman’s straits were dire. He read it once more, then folded it and slipped it into his shirt. He walked over to the depot and the telegraph office and sent off his answer. To wit: Am interested. Please send your requirements by return telegraph collect.

 

He then walked over to the doctor’s office to have his busted nose checked. When he walked into the doctor’s office, Doc Williams looked at him and laughed. “You must have a little bit of Irish in you Josiah. That is a nice shade of green you’re wearing.” He laughed heartily.

 

“Go ahead and laugh, you old quack. I’ve made my peace with everybody else. I guess I can tolerate you. At least until you get me fixed up,”

 

The doctor removed the gauze, poked and prodded and checked for infection, “This looks okay, no signs of infection, I’m not going to repack it,” he asked, “What did Beulah say? About your nose, I mean.”

 

Josiah answered, “She told me I need a wife. She didn’t have any lying around, so I put an ad in the paper for one.”

 

“Hmmmm,” said the doctor.

 

“Doc, do you know anything about the mail order bride thing?” asked Josiah.

 

“I do, as a matter of fact. There are several couples around Cheyenne who met that way and have happy marriages. There are others that didn’t work out so well. Usually, that is because one or the other has misrepresented themselves or distorted the facts. There is something of a risk involved, but when you look around town, how many young unmarried women do you see? Mother nature has a way of producing boy babies when times are hard and help is needed, and producing girls in better times. You know how hard life can be here on the frontier, so we have boy babies, not to mention all of the single gold miners and Chinese railroad workers. You pay your money and take your chance.”

 

“Well, I paid my money, now we’ll see what comes as a result of it,” Josiah said.

 

Ten days later…

The US Post Office had a letter for Josiah. He sat on the same bench as before to read it. It began,
“Dear Sir, I am in the company of Mrs Barnhurst as I write. I am nineteen years of age, I am five feet seven inches tall and weigh 125 pounds. I have long blond hair and blue eyes. I have been told I am pleasing to the eye.

 

My mother has seen to it that I am well educated. I also play the piano. I was raised in a fine home in one of the nicest sections of Plymouth, Massachusetts. My father is a clothing merchant seeking to expand his business by way of merger. The merger is conditional in that I must marry the owner of the other business, a man older than my father. I refuse to do this. I would look favorably on the opportunity to move to Wyoming. I feel I am good with children and get on well with others.

 

In all honesty, I must tell you I know nothing of cooking. I am a quick learner and should gain the skill quickly if you don’t die of starvation or the ptomaine first. I also have no means should I leave the home of my father. The wedding is planned for three weeks hence. I shan’t be there. I look forward to your quick response.

 

“Well,” Josiah said, “She seems honest to a fault, and she seems to have true grit. She is willing to give up what would be a life of luxury rather than a marriage that is forced upon her. It seems she has nothing to offer but herself. Do I take a chance? She’s a little younger than I am. Would she be a good mother to Rebecca. Tough question to answer at this point. I need some advice. The only people I can think of being Beulah and Doc Williams. I’m going to see Doc.” With that part of the question resolved in his mind, he gathered his hat, and the letter and returned to the good doctor’s office.

 

“Doc, I need some advice and you are just about the only one I respect enough to ask this kind of question. I told you about the ad I placed. I have one answer so far. I don’t want to influence you so I won’t tell you what I think. Would you read the letter and give me your opinion? Do I wait, to see what, if other responses come in or do I respond to this one.” He handed the letter to the doctor.

 

The doctor took the letter, and sat in his squeaky office chair. He opened a drawer in the desk and propped his feet up. He read the letter, then put it on the desk. He glanced at Josiah with a questioning look, picked up the letter and read it again. Once more, he laid it on the desk. “I like this girl. Her letter has a ring of truth to it and she mentions Mrs Barnhurst is with her, so undoubtedly she had input to the content. This girl is ready to give up known security for the unknown, rather than marry some old fart She has enough propriety not to speak badly of the intended other than comment on his age.”

 

“I picked up on that, Doc. What about Rebecca? She doesn’t mention any experience with children and I did specifically say I had a small child,” said Josiah.

 

“She did say she thinks she is good with children. I think she has the grit to make it in a life on the frontier, and the Diablo Ranch is not as tough as most of the others. And, you have Beulah.”

 

“What you say is all true and I appreciate your opinion. I’m going to wire the money for her to travel,” Josiah said.

 

“If this is the direction you want to go, I would say jump on it,” Doc said. “I think you need a wife that will provide direction and she seems strong willed enough to stand up to you and speak her mind.”

 

“Thanks, Doc. I’m going back to Western Union and send the money.”

 

“Good move. You take care of the nose. If it starts bleeding, have Beulah cram some of this gauze in it and get back in to see me immediately.”

 

“You got it, Doc. Thanks again.”

 

He left and went back to the Western Union at the depot. He found out the price of Pullman tickets, added a liberal amount for enroute expenses and wired the money, along with a message that said, “Am looking forward to meeting you. Please advise schedule. Respectfully, Josiah Moore.” Josiah made arrangements with Western Union to have them deliver the reply directly to the ranch. He paid the clerk the estimated amount for the return message plus a generous payment in advance for the delivery.

 

He pulled the his wagon up in front of the general store, went in and gathered the supplies Beulah and Jud had asked him to get while he was in town. Once they were loaded, he went back into the store and got some peppermint candy for Rebecca and chocolate for Beulah. Satisfied he had everything, he climbed onto the seat, flicked the reins and headed home.

BOOK: Yankee Mail Order Bride
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