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Authors: Susan Leigh Carlton

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BOOK: Yankee Mail Order Bride
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Chapter 14:  A Letter To Mama

 

Anna sat down to write the letter to her mother letting her know she was all right. She had left a note in her mother’s jewelry box telling her what she was doing, but not where she was going. She had been afraid the long arm of her father might somehow reach out and pull her back to marry Throckmorton.

 

She wrote:
Dear Mama, I take pen in hand to write a short note to tell you all is well with me. I arrived safely in Cheyenne, Wyoming. I am married to a wonderful man who owns a ranch outside Cheyenne. His name is Josiah Moore. He is now 23 years old and is a widower. His wife died of diphtheria leaving him with a two year old daughter. Both of his parents were killed when a tornado destroyed their home. Mama, the ranch is large and prosperous. We have a nanny named Beulah, for Rebecca. Beulah is also the primary cook. We also have a housekeeper and Josiah has several ranch hands to help with the operations of the ranch. Mama, you shouldn’t worry about me. I am very happy. In fact, yesterday, Josiah surprised me by having a piano he had secretly purchased, delivered to the ranch. I am going to teach Rebecca to play and would appreciate it if you could send my books I was using when I took lessons. You can send them to Mrs Josiah Moore, General Delivery, Cheyenne, Wyoming Territory. I love you, Mama and hope Father did not blame you for my leaving, but there was no way I would marry Mr Throckmorton. Please forgive me if I hurt you and know I will always love you. Your Loving daughter, Anna.

 

She put the letter on the dresser in the bedroom so she wouldn’t forget to post it on their next trip to Cheyenne. Josiah was pleased when she told him, since he knew her mother was probably worried about her only daughter.

 

The days passed quickly now. Anna found the sewing machine belonging to Josiah’s mother and was pleased to find it in working order. It was similar to the one her mother had back in Plymouth. Her first undertaking was the making of a dress for Rebecca for her third birthday. Rebecca would sit on the floor in the room that had been converted into a sewing room while Anna sewed.

 

The letter to her mother had been posted, now Anna waited for an answer. Anna thought, “Would mother write? Or did father have her so intimidated she would be afraid to write. I do hope that is not the case. I guess I just have to wait and see.”

 

Anna had reserved an hour each evening for reading to Rebecca. She had also begun teaching the alphabet to both Rebecca and Beulah. She was not surprised to find Beulah a quick learner since she had displayed an innate intelligence since their first meeting. Beulah had progressed to the point where she was sounding out the letters. The next step would be combining the sounds into words. It wouldn’t be long at the rate the learning was progressing.

 

For her part, Beulah was trying to introduce Anna to the art of cooking. It was a slow process since Anna came with no experience whatever. The first few efforts were laughable disasters. After one of her efforts, she had proudly served it to Josiah, who chewed it, and chewed it some more. Finally, he spat it into his hand. “Honey, I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but that was terrible.”

 

“It was pretty bad, wasn’t it? I thought I had made it just the way Beulah does, but I guess I missed a step or two,” she said.

 

“Somewhere around here, Caroline had a few cookbooks, She was not a good cook when we married, but ordered some books. If you find them, it might be easier than trying to follow Beulah’s way. I’ll see if I can find them for you.”

 

She kissed him, and said, “I hope I didn’t poison you.”

 

“I’ve got a cast iron stomach. I mean, if I can eat from the chuck wagon, I can eat anything.”

 

One evening as they were finishing dinner, Anna said, “Josiah, Beulah and I have a surprise for you.” Turning to Beulah, she asked, “Are you ready?”

 

“Yessm. I’m ready.” She picked up one of the children’s books Anna had purchased for Rebecca and slowly read a page, sounding out the words as she moved her finger along the page. When she reached the end of the page, Anna took her hand and said, “Well done. I’m proud of you.” Beulah had tears in her eyes as Josiah added his congratulations. “She has really worked hard, and she was reading, she has not memorized the page.”

 

“Thank you, Miss Anna. I’m going to keep doing it.” She hugged Anna fiercely.

 

“Now, for the piéce dé résistance. Let’s go to the parlor. You too, Beulah.” She led Rebecca to the piano and sat with her on her lap. She said, “Now, Miss Rebecca will entertain us by playing the scales.” She whispered in Rebecca’s ear and said, “Just like you’ve been doing.” Rebecca went through do re me fa so la ti do perfectly. “Now, honey, take a bow.” Rebecca hopped down and bowed to her audience.

 

Josiah hopped to his feet, clapping and saying, “Bravo, Bravo.” He grabbed his daughter and began dancing about the room. Anna quickly began playing to the rhythm of his dance. He put Rebecca down, and went to Beulah and said, “Dance with me.” Anna began playing
Camptown Races
while they danced about on the wooden floor.

 

“My land, that was fun. Thank you Miss Anna and Mr Josiah,” Beulah said. Music had quickly become a part of the Moore household.

 

The Moore family had gone to Cheyenne for supplies. Anna walked to the post office with Rebecca by her side. At the General Delivery window, she was given a letter. The answer from her mother had arrived. She was dismayed at the reaction of her father. Of course it was her mother’s fault Anna had left and the merger with Throckmorton had failed to go through. He didn’t understand how Anna could be so foolish to abandon the opportunity for a life of comfort and ease for such an unknown. Her mother said he had been livid and his rage had gone on for days. Anna’s name was not to be mentioned in his house.

 

Without saying anything, Anna had handed the letter to Josiah who read it. “You see all I left behind to come marry you?” she asked. “Thank you for accepting my word and responding so quickly. I doubt I would be alive had you not answered so quickly.”

 

“Honey, I’m so sorry. No daughter or son should ever have this kind of experience. I know ours won’t.” He hugged her tightly and said, “Let’s give our supplies list to Asa and have lunch at the cafe while he gets it together. It’s going to take a while since we have all of the things to stock the chuck wagon for the roundup.” In addition to the normal guard, he had with them, he had another wagon come in to help with the supplies. He gave the two cowboys money for meals and told them what time he would like to leave for the ranch.

 

After lunch, the wagons were loaded, candy for Rebecca and Beulah had been purchased and they headed home. Josiah did not notice at first, Anna was weeping softly for the ordeal her mother was having to endure. When he did notice, he pulled her closer, and transferred the reins to one hand and hugged her tightly with his other arm. “I wish there was something we could do, Anna, I truly do.” She squeezed his arm and moved closer.

 

“Thank you again, Josiah,” she said.

Chapter 15:  An Emergency

 

Six months later…

 

Beaulah put the plate with her breakfast in front of Anna. She looked at it, put her hand to her mouth and hurried to the back door. Josiah followed her. “What’s the matter?” he asked anxiously.

 

“I think we may have tempted fate one too many times,” Anna said.

 

“What do you mean? How did we tempt fate?”

 

“Well, I’m about three weeks late, and that never happens. I am always right on the day expected. I think I’m with child. I know you wanted to wait, and I’m sorry. No, wait. I take that back. I wanted a baby and I am most certainly not sorry about that.”

 

“Whooee! We’re going to have a baby. We’re going to have a baby,” he said.

 

“You’re not upset?” she asked.

 

“Upset? No I’m not upset. I love you and we’re going to have a baby. How could I be upset about that.”

 

“Well, I know you’re not ready…” Tears welled in her eyes. “I know you love me and I love you, but that’s the first time you’ve told me so.”

 

“Are you sure? I’m positive I’ve told you,” he said.

 

“Not out loud, you haven’t,” she said.

 

“Well, I do,” he said. He yelled aloud, “I love Anna. Is that loud enough for you?”

 

“I’d rather you whisper it in my ear,” she said coyly.

 

“We need to take you in to see the doctor to make sure everything is okay,” he said.

 

The next day, they rode
into Cheyenne. The doctor checked her over thoroughly and pronounced her healthy and gave her the usual precautionary warnings.

 

Three months later

 

A sharp pain stabbed Anna just below the waist and awakened her. It was dark outside. She checked the clock and found it to be just after three o’clock. She rubbed the tender spot, but the pain wouldn’t go away. She sat up, but it was still painful. She tried to stand, but it was too much.

 

She shook Josiah. Groggy from being awakened from a deep sleep, he asked, “What’s the matter, honey?”

 

“I don’t know. I have a terrible pain in my side and I can’t get comfortable, and I almost fell when I tried to stand.”

 

“Beaulah,” he yelled. No answer came. He went to the door and called out again. She came hurrying down the hall.

 

“What’s the matter, Mr Josiah?” she asked.

 

“It’s Anna. She’s in a lot of pain. It would take too long to ride in and get the doctor, I’m going to hitch up the buckboard and take her to the doctor. Will you stay with her?” he asked.

 

“Yessir, I will but if you gone take her to town, I should go with you. Maybelle can look to Miss Rebecca.”

 

“You’re right. I’m getting the wagon. Get some quilts to make a bed in the back and get Maybelle. Hurry!”

 

“Yessir,” she said, and hurried down the hall to get Maybell.

 

He carried Anna to the wagon and gently laid her on the makeshift bed in the back of the wagon. He helped Beaulah into the bed of the wagon. He shook the reins, and cracked the whip over the horses' heads. He drove them as hard as he dared, trying not to listen to the moans coming from the woman he had come to care for so much.

 

Even though he drove the horses hard, it took nearly an hour to travel into Cheyenne. The Catholic Diocese had opened St. Mary's DePaul Hospital in Cheyenne in the past year and it was here he took Anna. He carried her in and asked a nurse wearing a nun’s habit for help. She directed him to a bed in a nearby room, and sent someone for a doctor. He said, “Sister, Doc Williams is our doctor. Can you send someone for him?”

 

“I will send for him and our doctor will look at her while we wait.” The nurse took Anna’s temperature. “Her temperature is elevated.” she said to the young doctor that had just walked in.

 

“She said her side hurt really bad, before we left the ranch,” Josiah informed the doctor. The doctor palpitated the abdomen, and Anna cried out in pain.

 

“I think she has appendicitis,” the doctor said.

 

“Think? How can you tell for sure?” Josiah asked.

 

“She has the classic symptoms, A fever, abdominal tenderness and rigidity,” answered the doctor. “It needs to come out. If it ruptures, she could die.”

 

While he was talking, Doc Williams came rushing in, carrying his battered old black bag. “What is it, doctor?” he asked the young man.

 

The young doctor said, “Fever, abdominal tenderness and rigidity. I think it’s appendicitis.”

 

“I agree with you,” Doc Williams said, “Will you operate?”

 

“Wait. Stop! Doc, I want you to operate. Anna would want that too,” Josiah said.

 

“Josiah, this young man is a surgeon. He knows a lot more about this than I do. Anna has a better chance with him doing the cutting.”

 

“Doc, are you sure? I can’t lose Anna, Doc. I can’t,” Josiah said on the verge of tears.

 

“Then let him do his job. I’ll be in there the whole time. It’s her best chance, Josiah.”

 

“Okay, Doc. If you say so,” Josiah said in surrender.

 

Two nurses materialized, and draped a blanket over Anna and moved Anna to a stretcher which was then carried down the hall by two men wearing gowns. Josiah started to follow, but was prevented by the doctor. “It’s sterile there and you can’t go back there. Doctor Williams and I will go scrub up and we’ll take care of your wife, Mr..?”

 

“Moore, Josiah Moore, doctor,” finished Josiah.

 

“One of us will be out to keep you informed, Mr Moore,” the doctor said and moved quickly after the stretcher.

 

Josiah went back to where he had left Beulah. “It’s appendicitis, Beulah. They’re going to have to take it out.”

 

“Lord help,” she said, “Is she gone be all right?”

 

“I’m praying she will, Beulah. She can’t be taken too,” he said.

 

One of the nuns came over. “We have a small chapel down the hall here if you feel the need to talk to God,” she said.

 

“Thank you, Sister. I do. Will it be all right if she comes too?”

 

The nun looked at Josiah strangely and said, “She’s a child of God too isn’t she? Of course she’s welcome.”

 

“Thank you, sister. Beulah is one of the family,” he said.

 

Two hours after they had taken Anna away, Doc Williams came out. Josiah rushed over to him. “How is she, Doc?”

 

“She’s holding on. Josiah, that young doctor has gifted hands. He got to her just in time. Much longer and the appendix would have burst and I think would likely have killed her. It’s like nothing you’ve ever seen in there. Everyone wears a gown, a mask and gloves. He’s very strong about sterilization. It prevents infection and infection kills. I’m going back in there. I want to watch him work. I’ll keep you posted.”

 

It was another hour before the weary Doc Williams came back out. “She’s all closed up now. She should be waking up from the ether in half an hour or so. Josiah, she lost the baby. That’s what has taken so long, Jonathon was trying to save the baby, but it wasn’t developed enough to take the trauma. I’m sorry. I know how much this meant to her.”

 

Shortly after Doc Williams left, Dr. Cartright came out. “Mr Moore, I’m very sorry. I tried everything I knew to save the baby, but it’s heart had not developed enough to survive the strain. Your wife is still asleep. The nurse will come get you after she wakes up. Unless she develops an infection, I think she will make it. I used carbolic acid to try to give her as much chance as I could. She’s in my prayers and so are you.”

 

After the doctor left, Josiah remarked, “He seems like such a gentle man.”

 

“That’s probably because he’s also a priest. He had an angel on his shoulder tonight.”

 

It was two hours before they took him to see his wife. She was covered in a white blanket pulled to her neck. She looked so pale and weak when he looked at her. He sat by the bed and took her hand. Her eyes fluttered open and she smiled a thin smile. “Hello, honey. Welcome back,” he said. Doc Williams had suggested he not tell her about the baby until she had regained some strength.

 

She lightly squeezed his hand, and grimaced. “Hurts,” she muttered. Her eyes drifted closed. A nurse came in to check Anna’s vital signs. She took the temperature and listened to her heart.

 

“Her heart sounds strong,” she told Josiah, She lifted the dressing to check for bleeding, and sprinkled carbolic acid on the wound. She smiled at Josiah’s concerned look and said, “Doctor’s orders.” Satisfied, she left the room and Josiah was left alone with his wife. He closed his eyes, and said a silent prayer.

 

“I had better go talk to Beulah,” he said to himself. He went out to the room where Beulah sat, alone with her thoughts. “I just saw her, Beulah. She was awake for just a few seconds and went back to sleep. The nurse said she’s going to be doing that for a while. The doctor said if she doesn’t get an infection, he thinks she will make it. Beulah, she lost the baby. The doctor said it was just too small to stand the shock.”

 

“Lord, hold her hand,” Beulah prayed.

 

“Beulah, I want you to go back to the ranch with Clay and see to Rebecca. Tell her her mother is sick and I’m going to stay with her. Would you have someone bring me some clothes please?”

 

“Yes sir, I’ll surely do that. You take care of yourself, Mr Josiah. You got to be strong for her and Rebecca. Don’t you go getting yourself sick,” she said.

 

“Come on, I’ll walk you to the livery stable. That’s probably where Clay stayed.” They walked down the hall and out of the building. After they met up with Clay, Josiah went back to the hospital to keep his vigil over his wife.

BOOK: Yankee Mail Order Bride
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