She was exhausted. She made her way to the staircase when she heard her name.
“Sarah? Is that you? Come in here for a moment,” her father hollered from the other room.
“Yes daddy?” she said as she walked in, hoping this wouldn’t take too long. Her feet were killing her.
“Well honeybee, you handled yourself very well tonight. Mr. Evans was very impressed with you. And well... we’ve come to an agreement.”
“That’s great, Daddy. Congratulations on your business deal,” smiled and turned to leave, "goodnight.”
“The arrangement was you, Sarah.”
Sarah spun around, anger and confusion flashed through her eyes. “What do you mean, me?”
“We’ve arranged for you to marry his son, Sterling.”
“Daddy, I’m not going to do that. You can’t just marry me off to some stranger!” Sarah yelled.
Her father straightened stiffly at her words. “Sarah Louise Doyle you WILL do this. It has been arranged. Do your duty to your family. It’s not like you’ve made a point to find anyone else. This will happen.”
Sarah stood frozen in shock. Then she composed herself and stormed out of the room and up the stairs, slamming the door to her bedroom. She stopped and took a breath, then slumped down onto her bed and cried.
Sarah woke in the morning, the sun shining through the thin curtains. She didn’t quite know how long she had cried, but her face was stiff from dried tears. She washed her face and changed her clothes and made her way downstairs, determined to at least not let this ruin her day.
“Good morning” she said quietly as she entered the breakfast room.
“Oh! You’ve finally joined us. I thought we’d have to send someone up for you,” her mother chimed.
Sarah took her seat, eating her breakfast in silence while her mother ranted about plans for the upcoming wedding. She was upset because it would be in two weeks which didn’t give her any time to make the big social wedding she wanted. Sarah didn’t care. She wasn’t going to let them think she was okay with this.
After excusing herself from the table she made her way to Katie’s. “SARAH!!!” Katie yelled, running down the porch steps. “Is it true? Are you really marrying him? When did he ask you and why did you say yes?!”
Sarah scowled. “He didn’t ask me. Our fathers arranged it. I have no choice.” Sarah could feel the tears welling in her eyes. She looked up to Katie to find her eyes wide with shock.
“What are you going to do?” Katie asked. Sarah could see her trying not to cry and she shrugged. Katie embraced her friend and they sat for hours on the porch swing talking and crying, knowing in two weeks they’d probably never see each other again.
The day of the wedding Sarah was exceptionally nervous. She was marrying a man she had only met once very briefly, a man she didn’t know.
Sarah’s mother was bustling and spinning around the room as Sarah stood staring in the mirror trying to find some ounce of bravery. She was interrupted by a knock at the door.
“It’s time. Are you ladies ready?” Sarah’s father entered. Sarah didn’t answer. She took a deep breath and turned toward her father.
“Doesn’t she look just beautiful?” her mother cried.
“Yes, are we ready?” her father asked. Sarah nodded and they walked out of the room
Standing outside the chapel doors she shook, trying to take deep breaths to calm her nerves. The wedding march began to play and she walked into the room holding her father’s arm. Her white dress flowed as she walked and her long veil trailed behind her. Her long blonde hair was down in curls with delicate flowers braided in. As she made her way to the front she saw him, standing in a fine suit. She had to admit he looked handsome. Standing in front of him they exchanged vows and he lifted her veil. Her deep green eyes met his rich, bright blue ones.
“I pronounce you husband and wife, you may kiss your bride.”
Sterling hesitated before giving her a small peck on the cheek. She blushed and he quickly turned away. The room clapped as they walked back down the aisle, her hand gingerly gripping his arm. There was a reception afterward where the guests each gave their congratulations and Sarah had to plaster on a fake smile to make it through the event. When she had imagined her wedding her smile was meant to be genuine, not an act for the guests she didn't care about and the man she didn't know.
When they arrived back at Sarah’s house it was the late afternoon. She showed Sterling upstairs where he could change and then made her way to her room to change as well. As she was fixing her hair in the mirror she heard a light tapping on her door.
“Come in,” she said still looking into the mirror. The door opened and Sterling walked in.
“Oh, you’re not finished. I’ll come back,” he said and turned to walk away.
“No, I’m done. What can I help you with?” She turned and smiled to him.
“I just came to collect your bags. We need to leave as soon as possible, it’s a long train ride.”
Sarah tried to hide the sadness on her face. “Yes... well my bags are all already downstairs. Thank you for being willing to help me.”
They walked down the stairs in silence together. Their families were in the large living room talking joyfully with each other. They cheered when the couple walked in. “All ready?” Mr. Evans asked. Sarah and Sterling nodded in reply and Sarah made her way across the room to hug her parents.
“Good bye, dearest. Be safe and be good.” Her mother embraced her tightly. Sarah gave her father an awkward squeeze and then Sarah, Sterling, and Mr. Evans walked to the coach parked out front. Before she climbed in she heard her name.
Sarah turned to see here best friend running down the walk. Sarah climbed off the step of the coach and ran to her friend, hugging her tightly. “I love you Sarah, make sure you write every week.”
“I love you too, Katie. Take care of yourself.” Sarah released her friend and walked back to the coach. She climbed in and the coach lurched forward heading to the train station. As it headed down the street she faced toward the window, wiping away a tear that fell down her cheek.
On the train they entered their first class cabin and each took a seat. Sarah could feel the exhaustion from the day creeping up on her.
“You ever been to Texas?” Mr. Evans asked, his words thick with his Texan twang.
She snapped her head up, “No, I haven’t.”
“Oh, my girl you’ll love it,” he replied. Sarah smiled and then stared out the window. I doubt it, she thought to herself as she felt the train begin to move forward.