Destiny: A Novel of the Oregon Trail

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Chapter 21: Longing for More

Chapter 21: Longing for More:

A year passed quickly. The next spring, 1853, Grandma and Grandpa Leasure got a claim just south of Nancy and Nathan’s and built pens for hogs and grew corn. There was a hog farmer near Salem that sold Grandpa 30 hogs, and he brought them down with James helping and we all helped him plant his corn, and build a small cabin for him and Grandma, and they settled in and built their own home.

George and Bessie went up north with their kids to stake a claim between Salem and Oregon City. Ma had a little girl she named Mary Ann and Nancy had another boy and named him Will. After we helped Grandpa build his cabin and pens, and plant his corn, James and John worked the farm with Pa and left the Blacksmith shop for me.

By the end of that year, I had the hang of blacksmithing. Pa or one of the younger brothers would come to help during the busy times, or Pa might come show me how to do something new or complicated that I hadn’t done in my short one year apprenticeship, but I was for the most part the full time blacksmith. I built a house on the lot behind the smithy, and settled in there. I was eighteen years old, and ready to have my own place. What I needed was a wife to settle down with.

Local girls were few and far between, but some of those near my age smiled and let me know they had interest, but I couldn’t see them. All I could remember was Lucinda’s eyes and voice. I guessed she must be married by now, she had been on her own for close to three years, and single women didn’t stay single long in that country. 1853 was another good summer and another good crop, and our family kept growing and prospering.

In April of 1854, I had been the blacksmith for just over a year. Pa got a letter from John McLoughlin saying he had several more anvils, and if we wanted a second one for our forge, he should send me up to get it. I was restless, and glad to go up and see what had become of Lucinda over the last year and a half. This time, I took a buckboard to carry the anvil, I also had in mind to get some tools for the forge and, Ma, Nancy, and Grandma all sent lists of things for me to pick up for them. I would have a pretty full buckboard as I drove back.

There was rain, but regular travel had hard packed the dirt, and made the path a pretty solid road. I reflected on the three day trip north on why I hadn’t made my feelings known, why I was silent, almost mute whenever I was around Lucinda. I suppose it was in part because I met her as a kid, she was beautiful, older than me, strong to get through all that had happened in her life and still come out smiling and pleasant, all in all, it was a little intimidating.

But those were also great qualities to look for in a wife. If she was able to go through losing a husband, raising a boy in a rough town alone, crossing the prairie and not losing hope when again she was on her own, she was a woman who could weather anything.

I had seen time and again how Ma got Pa through another crisis when he was ready to give up. Ma was tough. So was my grandma. She had been raised by a single mom, because her dad died young, and she grew up fast, helping with her younger half siblings when her Ma remarried, moving countless times and places as work dried up and they had to start over. She had been through so much, and still hadn’t feared crossing the plains to an unknown land and starting over as an old woman. These were the women in my life, tough, encouraging, and strong, and I wanted the same type of wife for myself.

Lucinda was a woman like these, a woman who could be strong and supportive and a success in her own right. If she had not already married by the time I got there, I would talk to her, and see if she would come back with me.

I arrived in Oregon City in three days and made my way to McLoughlin’s store. I bought the thing on the lists from Ma, Nancy, and Grandma, then told the clerk I was William Luckey and here to get one of the anvils. He had porters carry all of my purchases to the back, and I pulled the wagon around and we loaded everything up for the return trip, including an anvil. I bought canvas to cover it from any rain we might see, then I took the wagon down to the hotel. Lucinda was not there, so I got a room then went to the McLoughlin House.

Dr. McLoughlin was at a meeting, and the servant said Miss Anderson and her son had left Oregon City about a month ago. I was shocked. I had waited too long, and she was gone. I went back to the hotel, had dinner, then went to bed, intending to get up early and head back to Eugene City.

As I drove the buckboard back down to Eugene City, I wondered where Lucinda and John had gone. I couldn’t believe that they weren’t there when I arrived, and I wondered too if she had married someone else, if she had gone to start a hotel like she mentioned, I was at a loss.

The three days back home with the loaded buckboard were a blur, as I thought about missing my chance and regretted that I had never taken the risk of even talking to her while she was still in Oregon City. When I got back to Eugene City, I unloaded the tools and anvil at the smithy, then made my way out to Nancy and Nathan’s place. I shook off my sorrow and gave hugs all around, and gave Nancy the things she had requested from Oregon City. I mounted my buckboard to take the rest of the load to my grandparents then up to Ma and Pa’s homestead.

When I arrived to Ma and Pa’s house, they were sitting down to dinner, so I unharnessed the horses and rubbed them down, then fed them and went into the house. And sitting at the table with my parents and younger siblings were Lucinda and her son John. She was working at the hotel in Eugene City, and John was old enough to go to school. I was still tongue tied around her during the meal, but I was determined to make my feelings known.

It was slow and awkward, courting Lucinda. She worked at the hotel in Eugene City, and I worked in my Blacksmith forge and during the week, we hardly saw each other. We would go for Sunday rides after Church, or meet when I was visiting one or the other of my family, and for months, I tried in my awkward way to show her how I felt. This went on for months.

Finally, about Christmastime, as we were walking back from a dinner at my parents house, just the two of us, because her little son John spent the night in the loft with my little brothers, I got up the courage to ask her to marry me.

“So Lucinda, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I have been seeing a lot of you.”

“Yes, I had noticed that.”

“And well, I was wondering if you’d maybe wanna get married, I love you an awful lot, and…..” I paused painfully

“Will, you sound almost scared I might say yes, but I am going to, so you better get used to the idea.”

We were married just a week after Christmas, and the three of us started our life together. And I never once was sorry.

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