Sienna, Harrisonville, Cass County, Missouri 12th of May, 1860
Dear Lafe & Josie,
Customarily, I would not combine my words in one letter. And yet, today I am writing in haste as Tad will traverse to town presently and I wish to send this with him.
Josie, the communications I received from Jonathon Burgess and your brother obtaining my permission has led me to believe, Jonathon is a man of good standing who will provide well for you. It does feel unorthodox to give my blessing without having met your young man. However, times being as they are, I shall trust in Lafe’s wisdom that Jon will make you a sound husband.
My darling girl, my congratulations to you, I greatly wish I could be there. Yet you will be married and on your way to England before I could prepare Sienna for departure. I look forward to your extended visit once you return from abroad. My best wishes to you my dear and may your lives be filled with naught but happiness.
Lafe, I will speak with Tad tonight regarding the culling of the herd. I have concluded that sending Sienna’s stable South is the best course of action. I will write to you of who is to be sold at a later date. As for now, I need you to begin this first step, which is preparing L’Eau Sucree for their arrival. This will include hiring several men for the express purpose of the stocks care alone. You should prepare an area sufficient for at least ninety-percent of our herd. I hope this task will bring you great joy, as you will once more have horses on hand. You have not once written about them. Still, being raised here, they are in your heart and I surmise you have missed having them nearby.
Tad has arrived and is pacing my study. I shall tarry a bit more, as I know each of you can picture his impatience. Let me say though, neither of you will recognize Tad when next you lay eyes upon him. He labors on Sienna with an obsessive drive, and it has overall changed him. From the corner of my eye, I can see me making him wait is aggrieving his sense of standards. Imagine Thaddeus Robert with a sense of standards? This alone shows how much he has changed; I am quite proud of him as I am all of you. Give my love to Lorraine and Katharine. Also, please pass a large hug on to Mikey from me. May your days be easy and filled with pleasant memories.
Thaddeus ceased pacing to study the painting above the mantle. It was of a grass track horse race. ‘Painter did a damn good job on the sky and gazebos, but the horses look more like fuckin’ long-legged dogs. Why did Father buy this?′ he thought, as the bitter scent of sealing wax filled the room.
He did not need to look to know Father was pressing his signet ring into a thick globule of black wax, leaving behind a small a nestled inside a capitol C. It was the same emblem that appeared over all of Sienna, from the wrought iron gates to the livestock brands, Thaddeus had lived his life under the design and to him it stood for Sienna, even more than it did his Father’s name.
Shaking his head at what he felt was a rattlebrained painting, Thaddeus spun when he heard his Father rise from his chair. For a moment, the two Crowes studied one another other.
Antonio moved forward first, “Have I told you how proud I am of the way you have taken charge of Sienna?”
“Oui, de rien." Thaddeus replied, blowing his bangs out of his eyes, “still, it is my devoir. Is it not?”
“Your devoir?” Stroking his long mustache, Antonio eyed his son, “You sound very much like, Lafe.”
Taking the offered letter, Thaddeus smiled, but there was no humor behind it as he made the letter disappear into an interior pocket of his vest. “We are not alike.”
Antonio lowered his chin.
“Father, I respect m’ frère.” Thaddeus said, slipping his thumbs into his holster belt, “Damnation, times are, I would not mind being a hell of a lot more like ‘em. That is as far as it goes, for we are nothin’ alike.” His green eyes glinted in the light as he rolled his shoulders, trying to keep a grip on his rising temper. “I will never fuckin’ come near being Lafe and you might as well cease huntin’ for ’em in me.”
Leaning against his desk, Antonio thought to speak to him about his bearing and language. Instead, he chose an alternate path “Tad, I do see you as your own person, despite what I might say. I am also grateful beyond words that you love Sienna as I do, for I also see you as its future.”
A glowing warmth rose in Thaddeus.
“I am certain Web is awaiting you.” Antonio said, motioning toward the door. “Son, while in town, makes sure you visit Willer’s Emporium for a new wardrobe and you might consider getting your haircut. But, above all, I insist you do not skip visiting the Emporium. Charge it all to the account. For land sakes Tad, you are Sienna’s very own street urchin.”
Thaddeus snickered, “Will do.”
“Before you go, are you familiar with how many horses are currently on the property?”
Looking up and to the left, Thaddeus eyes’ squinted, “One-hundred and twenty-two… One-thirty four if you add in the work horses and mules.”
“You are certain.”
Thaddeus raised his chin, his lips pressing together.
“I am not questioning you. I am in awe, that whenever, I inquire of the stock, you have the answer stored away. One day you will move to managing this place full-time and I am coming to believe, it will be as easy for you as drawing that revolver is.”
Thaddeus looked down, stifling a childlike grin and canting an eye at his Father he said, ”Merci beucoup, really never thought you gave it much notice.”
“Oh, I notice more than you deem,” Antonio replied, patting his son on the back walking him toward the front hall. “Now, if we were to do a hard cut for selling, how many would you pull?”
“Fifty-five.” Thaddeus nodded. “That would leave our best breeders and personal favorites. If’n you throw in the un-trained yearlings, it would bring the cut up to sixty-five.”
“Fine. Then when you return, I want to start culling the herd as you see fit. Of our five young stallions, does any require gelding?”
“I would say Marquis Sapphire and Louie’s Gamble.”
“All right. See to that,” Antonio turned to catch his son’s eye, “and Appalachian Blue?”
“Cain?” Thaddeus said, his eyes telling Antonio everything his son felt about the horse. “I tell you, he is the fastest damn stud since Boreas. I want to take some more damn time with ‘em before decidin’.”
“Very well, I bow to your insight,” Antonio said, holding out his hand. “After dinner we will discuss this further over drinks.”
Thaddeus took his hand firmly. “I would be pleased to, Sir.” As he exited the study, he found his twin awaiting him by the front door.
Gripping tight of his hat, duster, and calfskin gloves, Eudora whined, “I wanna go.”
Taking his hat, he put it on and shook his head, “We are only pickin’ up supplies.” Then pulling his gloves from her, he pulled them on, rolling the tops down, and tightening them to his hands.
“I do not want you to go without me,” Eudora stated, her frown becoming a pout. “You will get in trouble.”
Pulling her into a warm embrace, he inhaled deeply of her lime verbena, “I will not get in trouble. Beside you have been a dozen times these past months…” he pushed her back with a grin. “... and me none.”
“Well, that is your own fault.”
Tugging his duster from her, he kissed her cheek, and trotted down the front steps.
Following him onto the porch, Eudora called, “Bring me something back.”
“Do I not always?”