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New Mexico Territory
“Ma! Pa! It’s a letter from Hank!”
Susan Sheridan looked up from the shirt she was mending as her youngest child tore past the doorway of the bedroom in a blur of brown hair and green calico. Susan sighed in frustration but quickly put down her work and hurried to the front hall where her husband, Andrew, was already waiting for her. Ike and Dave, the two boys still on the ranch, arrived seconds later.
“Why’d he write, Pa?” Angie asked, watching avidly as her father carefully took the letter out of her hand and opened it. “He’s supposed to be here tomorrow isn’t he?”
“Maybe he didn’t want to bring his girl here and have you embarrass him,” Dave said, nudging his sister.
“I wouldn’t, at least not too much,” Angie cried, shoving back.
“Course not, but you might make his bride a little jealous,” Ike said. He reached out to pinch her, but she was too quick and moved to the other side of her father. As the youngest child, and only girl, she’d quickly learned how to handle her five brothers. “He’s on his way isn’t he?” she asked trying to look over Andrew’s shoulder.
“Be patient and let your father read,” Susan said, her voice sounding calmer than she felt. It had been almost a year since Hank left to scout for the army and they had received only two letters from him since. One was to let them know he’d arrived safely. The other had come not two weeks ago informing them that he was coming home and bringing a bride.
All four silently stared at Andrew until he finally lowered the letter. “Well, at least he gave us a bit more information,” he said handing it to his wife.
As Susan quickly scanned the contents she paraphrased for her children. “It seems his scouting partner was wounded and asked Hank to marry his daughter and look after her. But after her father died she ran away and Hank is going after her.”
“I can’t believe Hank would do that,” said Ike, taking the letter and perusing it himself. “He’s loyal I know, but to actually marry the man’s daughter.”
“He must have been a very good friend,” said Dave.
“But why would she run away?” Angie asked, grabbing the letter from Ike. “Or even marry Hank in the first place if she didn’t want to?”
“Maybe they both agreed just to placate her father,” Ike said.
“Hank would not have done it if he wasn’t fully committed,” Susan said, shaking her head.
“He wouldn’t have made such a promise or taken vows lightly,” Andrew added.
“Do you think he’ll find her?” Angie asked.
“He’ll find her,” Dave said, “Even if she doesn’t want to be found.”
“I hope so, I was looking forward to having a sister-in-law.”
Susan watched her children leave the room then went to stand beside her husband. “What do you make of all this, Andrew?”
For a moment he did not speak, but then he took her hand in his and gave it a gentle squeeze. “I’ll admit, when we got the first letter I was shocked and a little wary. Now that I know more about the situation, I am not at all surprised. Hank has a smart head on his shoulders and a good heart, even if he is a bit rash. I think his friend knew he had a good man in Hank. I just wish this girl could’ve seen it as well.”
“I thanked God my boy was coming home,” Susan said with a sigh, resting her head on Andrew’s shoulder. “But it looks like I’ll have to pray a little longer.”
* * * * *
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