Here’s another entry in the “Grandma’s Wedding Quilts” series.
He’s vowed not to marry until he reaches Montana. Then he meets Amy, and she has other ideas.
Zebulon Benton dreams of going to Montana, but he’s the only son and his mother doesn’t want him to go and his father needs help with the family store. Unknown to Zeb, his mother sends off for a mail order bride. After all, if Zeb marries and settles down, he won’t want to leave.
Enter Amy Gordon from New York. She appears to be the perfect bride for Zeb. Except she also wants to go to Montana and nothing is going to stop her including her love for Zeb.
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Amy Gordon brushed the ever-present dust from her dress. She’d heard that Mrs. Chandler warned that her girls must be neat and proper, or she’d not match them to the perfect man. Well, being a lowly milkmaid didn’t leave her much opportunity to remain clean.
As it was, she’d traded her milking duty for gardening with Angela. Hah, yanking up weeds was hardly keeping her much cleaner than messing with the ornery cows. If only Papa hadn’t died a pauper, her life would have been different.
“Enough of that.” Amy wiped her hands again and made sure to get all the dirt from her nails which wasn’t that hard as she’d chewed them all down to the fingertips anyway. She sighed. If she’d been born a boy, she’d have already made her way west.
What had she read in the paper, Go West young man. Why was it that women were always left home? Thank Providence that Mrs. Chandler had taken an interest in the plight of young women.
She rushed up the cobblestone street to the big house on the corner, stopped to dip her hands in the water trough by the side of the road, and washed her face and hands. Another dip and she plastered the loose ends of her hair to make them stay down.
“That’s as good as I get with what I’ve got.” She smiled, put her head up, and walked as gracefully as she knew how up the steps to the two-story house. The place had a fairy tale look with turrets on each side. Painted a light blue with a shiny tile roof of dark red, the stately place set her imagination to work wondering what kind of magical woman Mrs. Chandler must be.
Amy stared at the intricately carved, wooden door, crossed her heart, and knocked.
The door creaked open. A rather stoic-looking butler questioned her with beady eyes. “Yes. Is Madam expecting you?”
Not really. But he didn’t have to know that. “I am Amy Gordon. I have come to find the perfect match for me in the west.”
He stepped back and gestured for her to enter. “I will notify Mrs. Chandler.”
She stood in the foyer and marveled at a marble floor so shiny that she could see her reflection. A far cry from the dirt floor of the shed she called home. She lived behind the barn that housed the cows she was in charge of milking. She bit her lip, hoping Angela remembered to be gentle with the young heifer that’d given birth two weeks ago.
After a moment, shoes tapping on the hard floor, he came out of a room. “She will see you now. Do you have your papers?”
Papers? No. What, was she supposed to be, a prized animal with a pedigree? She chose not to answer and instead, walked down the hall and into the room from where he’d come.
Books lined one wall. A piano against the window. And in the center, the most luxurious sofa and chairs she’d ever seen with velvety dark blue swirls adorned with red roses. And in a matching high-back chair sat a woman who looked as if she were a queen on a throne.
The woman waved her over. “Well, don’t just stand there. Do you have your papers?”
Amy strode to her. “What I have is standing before you. I’m young, strong, and have a desire to go west and marry a man. I will make him the perfect wife. I am not afraid of hard work or hardly anything else.”
The woman, who with her silver hair piled high atop her head, had enough wrinkles to be in her sixties. “I’m Mrs. Chandler. You’re a pertinent young thing. Could be pretty though.” She put a gnarled hand under Amy’s chin and lifted her head. “You have your teeth?”
“All of them. I bathe and am self-educated.”
“Hmm, so you can read?”
“Yes.” Amy left her, went to the bookshelf, and pulled out Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. With a confident voice, she read the first page. At least Papa had left her with a love for books and introduced her to the public library at an early age.
Mrs. Chandler sat back on her throne. “So you can read. Why do you think I would have a man for you?”
Amy’s resolve cracked. She replaced the book and went to stand in front of her. “Because you are my last hope at happiness.”
The woman’s eyes opened wide with interest. “I see. And you don’t mind going west to wild lands and possibly wilder men?”
“No, I am not afraid.”
“Of anything?” Mrs. Chandler raised her left eyebrow.
The truth. Tell her the truth. The advice reverberated from her soul. Squaring her shoulders, Amy looked the woman straight in the eye. “I am afraid of … horses.”
“Horses? Have you considered that a man of the west will more than likely ride horses, maybe even raise them?”
“I said I was afraid of them, but I have learned that any fear can be overcome. I will do what I have to.”
Shuffling though some papers, Mrs. Chandler pulled out a piece of paper on stationary decorated with roses. “I received this request just yesterday. A man named Zebulon in Colorado is seeking the perfect wife with blond hair.” She ran a finger over the stationary and frowned. “Though just what kind of man would write on such a flowery and perfumed paper makes me wonder of his, well, his masculinity. Perhaps, you would care to take a chance on this,” she looked down. “Zebulon Benton.”
A grin broke free from Amy’s lips. “Yes. I am sure I can make him the perfect wife.”
“Very well, I will send a reply. I suppose you don’t have money to get there do you?”
“No, ma’am, unless three dollars will cover the cost.” Amy’s hopes trembled. Would lack of money once again deny her dreams?
With a smile, Mrs. Chandler stood and came to her.
Amy didn’t back away.
Wrapping her in a hug, the woman placed the letter in her hand. “Perhaps you would care to read about the man you’re going to marry?”
Taking the flowery stationary, she read a letter that sounded a bit desperate, although the man thought much of himself. He wrote in a flowing handwriting how he was tall and handsome with dark hair and bright blue eyes. And prosperous. She handed the letter back. “I’m ready to go.”
“I don’t usually do this, but you are a most unusual, young woman. I admire your fire and confidence. I’ll pay your way and give you a healthy stipend. I’ll send a reply to Zebulon Benton, today. Give your notice to whoever it is that you work for. I will send Otto with the carriage to pick you up and take you to the train station tomorrow. The letter should arrive in Colorado the same day you do. Don’t disappoint me. I expect every girl I send to marry the man I pair her with.”
“I will not disappoint you.” Amy started for the door and stopped. “Thank you, Mrs. Chandler.”
The woman smiled with a gleam in her eyes. “I hope your dreams are realized.”
“I’ll make sure they are.” She curtseyed and then in a rush hugged the older lady.
Mrs. Chandler gasped and disentangled herself. “Be on your way now. Find Otto and tell him where to pick you up.”
Amy practically ran back to the farm. She was going west. Now, she’d pray that this Zebulon Benton with the flowery stationary and proud letter would be man enough to take her as his bride.
Patricia PacJac Carroll~ I am a writer, Christian first, and blessed beyond my imagination. I live in the Dallas-Ft Worth area of Texas with my wonderful treasure of a husband, my spoiled dog, Jacs, and my awesome son, Josh. Did I say I was blessed? The PacJac is from my initials and my husbands. I wouldn’t be able to write if it weren’t for him. I love adventure and the open road. The stories of the western era have always been a favorite of mine. I enjoy writing, and my goal is to write stories readers will enjoy.
Hope you are enjoying the series ~ Mail Order Brides of Hickory Stick. I have a new series this year set in Texas – Mail Order Brides of Misfit Ranch Bluebonnet, Texas
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Psalm 26:7 That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works.