Hat Creek Trouble

The One about Weddings

Call, Dish and I had rode into town a few days later. Call offered to buy my wedding dress, despite my protests. He told me I wasn’t allowed to pay for it. And Dish came along just so that I had a second opinion, as I wasn’t going to let Newt see it until the wedding day.

We parked the wagon in front of the dress shop and Call grumbled about its appearance. I ignored him as Dish helped me down and we headed into the store. Angelica had just finished helping a customer and smiled when she saw me. “Selena! So good to see you. Where’s your handsome young lad?” She asked.

“He’s at home. He asked me to marry him.” I said with a smile.

“Oh! Congratulations!” She said, coming around the counter to hug me.

“Captain Call has graciously offered to buy me a dress.” I said, ducking my head a little.

“Captain, it’s pleasure to meet you.” Angelica said with a smile as she shook his head.

“And this here’s Dish. He came to help.” I told her, gesturing to Dish.

“Also a pleasure, Dish.” Angelica said.

Dish nodded to her, sliding his hat off his head.

“You don’t look like you want anything complicated or fancy.” She told me, glancing between me and the Captain.

“I ain’t payin’ for anything with too fancy.” Call warned.

I smiled. “No, nothing fancy.” I said, turning to her.

She nodded. “Let’s see if I remember your proportions.” She said, heading for a small rack of wedding dresses. She searched for a moment before pulling a few out. “Shall we?”

I smiled, feeling excitement as I followed her back into the dressing room. She helped me pull off the green dress and helped me into the clean, white dress. I had been happy and excited, but seeing the white dress, this symbol of purity, reminded me how I wasn’t pure. I ran my hands over the lace and felt the despair wind up in my chest.

“What’s wrong, dear? You look sad.” Angelica said, watching me.

The memories of being tied to the wood range were starting to drown me. “I can’t.” I said, turning away from the mirror. “I can’t do this.”

“Shush, honey. Calm down. It’s okay. What’s wrong?” She asked, setting her hands on my shoulders.

“I can’t marry him. I can’t do this.” I told him, feeling my eyes well up.

“Why, honey? What’s wrong?” She asked gently.

“I got attacked, by three men. There were four but he didn’t get a chance. That doesn’t make a wife. I can’t do it.” I told her, closing my eyes and burying my face in my hands.

“I’ll be right back, okay? Sit right here.” She told me, guiding me to a chair before leaving the room.

I sat there, crying into my hands. I couldn’t bare it. I couldn’t stand the memories that haunted the back of my mind.

“Hey, why ya cryin’?” Dish asked softly.

I looked up at him through blurred vision. He was kneeled on the ground with his hat next to him. “Newt deserves a better woman. I can’t do this, Dish.”

“Ain’t no better woman. Ya hear? You make the best damn biscuits I’ve had north of Texas. And ya ain’t got eyes for the rest of us, but you treat us all decent, even Pea and he ain’t too bright.” Dish told me.

“Would you marry a woman who was attacked by three men? It’s insane.” I said, shaking my head.

Dish nodded slowly. “Yes, ma’am, I would. If it meant she was good to me and she wouldn’t mind a poke every once in a while.” He said, smiling a little. “Lots of men, they don’t want a woman who ain’t pure. They’ll call ya bad names and be awful to ya. But not a one of us here are one of those men. I knew we was supposed to hang that fourth one, but he kept talking.” Dish said, shaking his head. “Ya know why I did it?”

I shook my head. I had no idea why he felt inclined the shoot him.

“Because he was disrespecting you. After all he’d already done to you, hurting you and tyin’ you up; he had the nerve to talk about it like I’d agree he was right. I shoulda hanged him. I shoulda hanged him like the other three. But he kept hurtin’ you, talkin’ like that.” Dish told me.

I put my hand on his cheek. “You’re an honorable man.”

He ducked his head slightly. “You’re a brave woman. Don’t know a lady in town that wouldn’t kill herself from what you went through.” He told me and the look in his eyes was serious. “But you’re strong.” I nodded, looking up around the room. “And here ya are, crying in a pretty dress ain’t no one gonna see but me if ya don’t go show it off.” Dish told me.

I looked down, smoothing the lace over my stomach. “You think it looks pretty?”

“Ma’am, I’m rightly certain you’d look prettier than sunshine in just about anything.” Dish said, making me blush.

“Do you think I should show the Captain?” I asked him.

He smiled. “He ain’t gonna buy it if ya won’t show him.”

I nodded and Dish stood up, holding out his hand to help me to my feet. I turned to look in the mirror. Dish held out a rag and I took it, drying my eyes before handing it back to him. He held out his elbow and I smiled, letting him lead me out to the main room of the store. I stood there nervously in front of Captain Call as Dish went to sit back down.

“Oh, here.” Angelica said, coming around to put a veil on my head so that it hung in front of my face and she gently swept it back.

I nervously looked at the Captain. “What do you think, Captain?”

“Don’t believe I’ve seen anything prettier this side of the Brazos.” He told me.

I smiled, feeling the despair slowly seep out of my chest.

“I think ya look plum gorgeous.” Dish told me from his seat.

Call nodded. “Best wrap it up.”

I couldn’t help but smile at him. “Thank you, Captain.”

He waved it off. “Best get out of it before you get it dirty.”

I hurried back into the dressing room and Angelica helped me get out of it, back into the green dress. I could still feel some sadness sitting in my chest, but it wasn’t devouring me just yet. After the dress shop, we went into the general store and Call bought me a few blankets and other things to go in my new cabin. I thanked him repeatedly and we headed back to the ranch.

Dish parked the wagon and helped me out of it. The rest of the men swarmed the wagon, helping carry things in and put things away. Newt found me pretty quickly as I started on lunch.

He pulled his hat off as he entered the cabin. “Ya find somethin’?”

I nodded, smiling a little at him. “I did. Captain paid for it and everything.”

Newt nodded. “Good. That’s good.”

But there was something different about how Newt stood in front of me. I turned to him, concerned. “Are you alright?” He nodded, but stayed silent, his feet rooted. I walked over to him, gently putting my hand on his cheek. “Tell me.”

He looked at me, like he was trying to find the right words. “Are ya doin’ okay?”

His simple words caught me off guard a little and I nodded. “I’m doin’ okay.”

Newt looked worried. “Dish… he told me ya had a hard time at the dress shop.”

I nodded, suddenly feeling dread creep back into my stomach. “I uh… I had problems seeing myself in the dress.”

Newt looked pained, like he’d caused the problem. “I’m sorry.”

I shook my head. “Don’t be apologizin’. You didn’t cause none of this.”

Newt’s eyes welled up and he looked towards the ceiling. “I can’t stand ya hurtin’ like this.”

I wrapped my arms around him, hugging him tightly. “Don’t you worry yourself. We’ll get through it together, remember?” I asked.

He nodded, wiping his eyes as Needle stepped into the threshold of the door. “Pardon, ma’am. We need Newt in the barn.” He said, slipping his hat off his head.

“Will you give us just a moment, Needle?” I asked him.

He seemed to understand the urgency of the matter and nodded, closing the door behind him.

I turned back to Newt. “Newt Call, you’re a strong man. Strong enough to keep us together this long, even after what happened. You never once looked at me like I was nothin’, not even once. So don’t you worry. We’ll get through this thing hand in hand, and come out stronger on the other side.”

Newt nodded and took a breath, seeming to release all the hurt he was carrying for letting me get injured. “I’m sorry ya had a hard time at the dress store.”

I smiled at him. “Well, luckily I won’t have to see myself in it again. But you’ll have to.”

“I wouldn’t miss it for the world.” He told me, kissing the top of my head before putting on his hat and leaving the cabin.

I nodded, going back to lunch. I called the boys in when it was finished and we all ate together silently. When lunch was over and done with, I asked Call if he had a moment to talk with me. He let the boys leave the cabin before turning to me. I bit my lip, wringing my hands a little bit. “I wanted to know if you’d walk me down the aisle.”

He watched me for a moment, like I was daft. “Thought we already decided that.”

“Well, I figured you might, since you bought me a dress and things for my house. But I didn’t want to assume you would. I wanted to ask.” I told him, feeling the intensity of his gaze.

He shook his head. “Course I will.” He told me, putting on his hat and closing the door behind him as he left.

I smiled to myself, turning to the pail of dirty dishes. I picked them up and took them down to the lake to wash.

I stood in the small room in the back of the church with Angelica fixing my dress and veil. I told her I couldn’t stand to see myself in the thing again, so she’d been kind enough to remove the mirror from the room. When she finished, she called in Dish and Call. Newt had asked Dish to be his best man and Dish couldn’t rightly turn down the offer.

Dish stopped in the door way, his jaw fallen.

I started to panic. “Does it look that bad?” I asked, looking down at myself. “I believe you’re the prettiest thing I ever seen since we left Texas.” Dish commented. I looked up at him, trying to make sure he was being serious.

The Captain nodded. “You’re certainly a sight, ma’am.”

I felt relief flood my system and I smiled at both of them. “Thank you. For everything.”

Dish grinned widely. “Lucky bastard. You best know if you’re ever disappointed in the sprout, you come runnin’ my way and I’ll take good care of ya.” Dish said with a wink and a tip of his hat before exiting through the door to return to the alter.

“I guess we best get. Don’t want him waitin’ too long.” Call said, offering me his elbow.

“I’ll tell the piano player to start playing.” Angelica smiled, taking her leave.

I took the Captain’s elbow, wondering how Gerry would take the news of my marriage. He’d be ecstatic of course, and upset he’d missed it. But he’d be happy for me. That gave me some comfort as Call led me from the room.

The piano music started playing and I smiled at everyone seated until I looked up to see Newt in his finest suit. When he saw me, his mouth fell open and Dish had to close it for him, giving him a start. I smiled, ducking my head for a moment.

“And who here gives away this woman in holy matrimony?” The preacher asked.

“I do, sir.” Call said, standing up straight before moving to sit with the rest of the boys.

I was so excited, just seeing Newt standing there in front of me, I hadn’t even heard the preacher. “Ma’am?” He asked. I looked up at him, surprised. “Do you take this man, Newt Call to be your lawfully wedded husband?” He asked, obviously already having asked the question.

I blushed, looking over at Newt. “I do.”

“And do you, Newt Call, take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife?” The preacher asked.

I’d never seen Newt smile so big. “I do.”

“Then by the power vested in me, I pronounce you husband and wife.” He said. “You may now kiss your bride.”

Newt kissed me deeply and I wrapped my arms around his neck, savoring his touch. He pulled back with a smile to match my own. The boys hooted and hollered and Angelica and her husband grinned at us. All of us made quite a commotion as we exited the church and came out to the buggy the boys had decorated in our absence.

I grinned at it as Newt and Dish helped me up into it. Newt climbed up next to me and kissed me passionately, making the boys hoot and holler some more.

“Where to, Mrs. Call?” He asked with a grin.

I bit my lip, smiling at him. “How about you take us home, Mr. Call?”

The excitement in his eyes could’ve been seen from the ranch. “Home it is then.” He smiled, getting the horses to start moving in that direction.

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