Where Courage Calls

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Lady Alainn, Sep 10, 2014.

  1. Walking up that dusty lane was the hardest thing Ezekiel Hamilton, or Zeke as he often went by, had ever done up to date. Dreading to know if he was too late, dreading to know if he was on time, Zeke plodded on towards the darkened windows of the farmhouse. His home. He'd successfully ignored the turned heads and whispers behind cupped hands as he rode through town, focusing instead on the weathered paper clutched in his hand. It read simply:


    Ma's awful sick. Doc says she don't have too long. Come home, please? She wants you.


    Now, if those words weren't heart-wrenching enough for the rancher to digest, what was more so were the three tattered letters accompanying it when he'd pulled into civilization after a long spell in the brush roping wild cattle. Joe had been trying to reach him for months. And now... It was a miracle they'd gotten into Zeke's hands at all.

    Approaching the front door, Zeke rapped twice before trying the latch. It opened easily. Stepping inside, he squinted into the dimly lit house and softly shut the door behind him. He tossed his hat on a wall peg and looked about. Everything was in disarray from the ashes piled in the hearth to the muddy footprints of various sizes caking Ma's prized wooden floors. Clothes, rocks, broken bird nests, and the like littered the place. Zeke licked his dry lips. If this was the parlour, he was petrified to see the kitchen.

    A noise from the stairwell along the side wall caught his attention. Four wide-eyed faces peered between the banisters. "Zeke?" one of them whispered hoarsely. "That you?"

    "Yeah, it's me," he replied, shame lowering his eyes to the letter still crumpled in his hand. He didn't even know which one was Joe. "Is-Is Ma...?"

    "Funeral was yesterday."

    Zeke turned to see a young, broad-shouldered man step from the kitchen into the parlour with a towel in his hands. Shaggy, dirty blonde locks hung over the man's dark eyes, a sharp contrast to Zeke's own chocolate curls and light grey eyes. The young man must have read the confusion on Zeke's face because he held out his hand to Zeke.

    "Joe," he said simply.


    "Whatcha writin', Zeke? Huh? Whatcha writin'?"

    Ezekiel moved his shoulder to block the paper from Obediah's prying eyes. "Isn't it time for you to be in bed?" Obediah started to protest, but a sharp look from Joe silenced him and sent the four younger boys scurrying upstairs.

    "What are you writing, Zeke?" Joe asked as he sank into one of the chairs by the hearth and kicked his feet up onto the grate. That explained the soot prints. Zeke sighed. He'd hoped to keep this all to himself, but all this pestering was worse than any teasing might be.

    "All right, all right! Was talkin' to Ned earlier today. No one's willin' to take in all the boys and I don't think Ma woulda liked them being apart."

    "No, she'd like their oldest brother home and lookin' after 'em," Joe countered with a dark look.

    "You know I can't do that, Joe. I got a good head of cattle sittin' by and if I don't want to lose 'em, I have to go get them."

    "Cud-chewers are more important to you than family?" Joe admonished. He let that sink in a moment before continuing. "Anyway, what's that got to do with you writing all secretive over there?"

    "Ned suggested I send in an advertisement out east for a wife." Joe tilted his head back and crowed. "It's nothin' like that!" Zeke protested hastily. "We'd get hitched, and she'd stay here to look after you lot until Levi is grown while I go back to doing what I do best."

    "And what'll you do with her after Lee's all grown up, hm?" Joe laughed. "She'll still be your wife."

    "I don't know. Don't have it figured out that far," Zeke admitted. He turned back to the piece of paper on the desk and crumpled it up. "Aw, forget it. It's a fool idea." Zeke rose from his chair and stomped to the door. "I'm going for a walk."

    Joe cast a look toward the paper, a slow smile on his lips. If Zeke had himself a wife, he'd end up staying put, wouldn't he? Joe moved over to the desk and started unfolding the advertisement. "Eli! Obie! Jay! Lee! Get yourselves down here and help me, will you?"

    Ezekiel never sent out that request for a mail-order bride, but somehow an advertisement made its way into one of those eastern papers Ned had mentioned all the same.

    In Need of Wife: A sensible, easy-tempered woman. Able to help raise a small family of angelic children. Must have all her teeth and a good singing voice. If interested, contact Ezekiel Hamilton. Much appreciated.
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  2. In Jamestown, a great maypole decorated a field nearby and the loud laughter of a crowd overpowered most any sound in the area, children laughing and the braying of several prize livestock merely adding to cacophony. Sitting at a small table, in the sweltering sun, one Faith Taylor grew wearisome of the beautiful but rather irritating day. She was bound up in the tightest corset her mother could have dragged out from their cupboards, to 'show off' her beauty but they all knew the real reason. She was approaching nineteen years of age and yet, here she was, unmarried! A great travesty, the town had concurred and so this May Day had seen families across town bring relatives even they hardly knew, as rich as they could get and they really hadn't minded the looks.

    But she knew they were trying to save their own little financial states, for if she herself were to marry well and her family benefited, then everyone benefited. Her mother was a charitable woman, respectable but far too demure and plain for Faith to ever wish to be her. She yearned with a fiery heart, though this time really didn't condone such a thing but she could never chase her own adventures if she truly stayed here as a pretty wallflower with a rich husband.

    Which one again led to the paper advertisement that she had picked up almost a week ago, an act of God she had surmised. It had merely blown into her and the words had captured her at the start and she had already sent ahead a letter indicating her acceptance of such an offer a week ago.
    An Advert from the WEST!
    In Need of Wife: A sensible, easy-tempered woman. Able to help raise a small family of angelic children. Must have all her teeth and a good singing voice. If interested, contact Ezekiel Hamilton. Much appreciated.

    Ezekiel Hamilton was going to be her husband but really, if he was looking for a child-raising wife then he probably wasn't going to be an extremely active player in the household. Probably a gold miner or a cattle drover, with great amounts of time and effort out in the countryside. So, back to the advert. She fit most of the criteria, though definitely no to the first two. Sensible and easy-tempered.... That's was her mother in a nutshell but she loved children all the same. She was a child at heart, knowing how they thought and what exactly they wanted was always good. In her other hand she held a ticket. A ticket marked for a train that left in an hour.

    With a look at where her mother socialised in her own circle, she walked to the cab she had requested and when she knew no-one was looking, quickly climbed in and made sure her luggage was aboard. She had taken her entire money stores and dowry with her, securely packed and protected. More than enough to live off and help support the family she would be joining. The horse cab started off and she sighed as she began to leave her old life behind, leaving her family to fuss over her siblings and her older brother.

    An hour or so later, a great black steam train pelted through the countryside and though she knew it was carrying her away from everything she knew, she couldn't make herself calm. As the minutes turned to hours, she turned to her books and spent many an hour reading them on the long journey, even as the night approached and she took her slumber with a book clutched in hand and feeling rather comfortable with a rather loose corset and much less fancy clothing on.

    When the train cabin she occupied was rapped on sharply in the morning, she could have laughed in delight. A small country town lay outside her window and with a small tip to the cabin boy, she allowed him to help her carry her luggage to the station platform where she hoped to see someone waiting for her. Though, she had just realised she had no real idea of what he looked like.
  3. "Joe! Joe! It's a letter, dang-nab-you! A letter!" Japheth yelled, waving the neatly printed envelope wildly over his head as he dashed up the lane from town.

    "It's Dang-Rabbit!" Obediah corrected from his seat on the fence that separated the grazing lands from the farmyard. He shoved his glasses up the bridge of his nose in scholarly fashion. A bowl balanced precariously in his lap with just as many green peas rolling around inside as there were tumbling down his legs. Believe it or not, the thirteen-year-old was the best in the family at shelling peas, and the most read of the boys.

    "That's dangnabbit, and you shouldn't be usin' words like that anyway, Japheth Hamilton," Elisha frowned. He clucked at his horse over to the fence and held a hand over his squinting eyes to make out Jay's small frame eagerly scrambling over the wooden beams. "Now what's this about a letter?"

    "I ain't showin' it to anyone 'cept Joe!" Japheth taunted. "But it's in a lady's writin'!"

    "Aw, give it here, you!" Obediah lunged for the flailing arm, dropping the bowl of peas in the process. Of course, this startled the roan and off rolled Eli, who landed squarely on his rump. "Obie, you done gone and spilled the peas! Now stop your tom-foolery and pick them up before Joe catches you!"

    "Before I catch what?" Joe rode up with Eli's horse in tow. "What's going on here?"

    "Zeke got himself a letter!" Jay perked up again. He hopped over the fence and offered the sacred relic reverently to Joe, who bent down to receive it. Joe slid a finger under the seal and extracted the note. A low whistle sounded when he got to the end of it.

    "Well?" Eli prodded from his seat on the ground.

    "Well, looks like Zeke done got himself a wife," Joe said in a dumbfounded tone. "Didn't think this ordering business actually worked."

    "Has she got all her teeth?" Jay asked, standing up on tip-toe to tug on Joe's pant leg.

    "I reckon so, if she thinks she fits the bill." Joe read the letter again. "Hey, Obie, what's the date today?"

    Obediah paused from his pea-picking to furrow his brow. "Um, the 19th."

    "Dang! That woman's coming today!" Joe shoved the letter into his vest-pocket before barking orders. "Eli, you better dust off that bum of yours and get it to the station. You want a lady named Faith. Got that? Faith Taylor. I'll go find Zeke. Obie, Jay, you two see if you can tidy up a bit around the house, ok?"

    And so, while the two younger boys sprinted to the house whooping and hollering, Eli readjusted his cowboy hat and got to work on hitching his horse to the only cart the Hamilton's owned-- a two-seater with a long bed of hay. The lad pulled up to the station just as the long, black engine blew its whistle to signal its arrival. Eli tethered the roan to the hitching post and swung himself onto the platform, not bothering to waste time crossing to the stairs. He slipped his hat off his head as he approached the conductor and rotated it nervously in his hands.

    "I'm, I'm lookin' for a Faith Taylor," he said quietly. The conductor pointed to a young blonde standing expectantly in the shade of the overhanging roof. Eli swallowed hard. She was pretty, and not much older than himself he reckoned. A slow blush worked its way up to his cheeks as he approached her. He worked his hat more fervently in his hands.

    "Ah, 'scuse me." Shoot, his voice was cracking. It hadn't done that in years! "Are you Miss Taylor?"
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  4. "Yes ma'am." Eli reddened further as she chuckled. He pulled himself up taller and tried to look older, a bit wounded at the "young" she'd thrown in front of the "sir." It was common knowledge out here that when a boy reached the ripe old age of 16, he was practically an adult. Why, in a year he could get himself legally hitched, too!

    "Zeke, he's ah-- he's back at the house." 'And not expectin' you.' Not sure where to look, but sure as heck not willing to look Faith Taylor in the eye, his gaze dropped to the hat bunched in his hands. Shoot, what was Zeke gonna say when he showed up with this pretty girl? She seemed nice, and did he mention she was pretty? Eli hoped Zeke would let them keep her.

    "This all your luggage here?" He gestured to the couple of suitcases nearby.
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  5. She could only chuckle further as he puffed up a little, drawing himself a few inches taller and obviously offended by the euphemism she'd thrown out there. He was probably only younger than herself by a few years but still, she felt a lot older faced with the prospect of marriage at her age.

    He was looking mighty nervous as he mentioned his brother but she shrugged it off as just nerves with meeting the newest member of the family. With a laugh, she smiled and handed the handle of one of the suitcases and grabbed the other in her own hands. Starting towards what she assumed to the young man's transportation and hauled the suitcase onto the back.

    "Yep, that's it! Shall we not keep Ezekiel waiting then? Now, you've got my name but I don't have yours!"
  6. Eli gripped the suitcase in one hand while plopping his hat back on his blonde head with the other. He felt bad not taking both cases, but the lady seemed so determined he didn't dare ask for the other one. He wondered vaguely if her cheerfulness was a result of nerves or if she always beamed that brightly. Hopefully, it was the latter. Ma was like that, too. Always smiling. Until she got sick. Then it was just in her eyes, but you knew she'd be smiling if she could. Eli shifted his thoughts back to the present before any more recollections could start jerking tears. The suitcase in his hand joined Faith's in the back of the wagon and he latched the back closed.

    "I'm Elisha, but everyone mostly calls me Eli," he volunteered, walking over to the wagon seats to offer Faith a hand up.
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  7. Faith was definitely living up to her name at the moment, she had such great hope in the success of this venture. She wanted out of her old life, one with no future and then this appeared. It had to mean something, surely? Or that was what she had thought anyway. She had just wanted to get out, grasping at straws every-which way to get her out of her life.
    As the blonde boy-no, man, heaved her suitcase up onto the back and latched it shut tightly, smiling as he walked beside her and offered a hand up to the wagon seats. She accepted the proffered hand and sat on the seat beside the rein holders, tightly gripping the small luggage bag that contained her precious items. "Well, it's a fine day to meet you Eli. You've got the same name was my father too. A good christian wonder-worker, Elisha was. You've got a good stout name there. Now, shall we head off?"
  8. Mumbling something in reply, Eli jogged around the wagon to the other side and hefted himself onto the seat beside Faith. He went to reach for the reins and found they weren't there. "Oh, right, forgot..." Eli blushed again and hopped back down. In moments, he untethered his roan and with a cluck and a snap of the reins, they really were off for the ranch house. The looks they got as they drove through town caused Eli to sit a bit straighter in his seat. Who knew? Someone might start a-gossipin' about Elisha Hamilton riding through town with a smart looking woman and Mary Jo might get wind of it and come down with a nice case of envy. The thought made Eli grin. Hopefully Faith wouldn't mind it none. He cast a sly look Faith's way. Boy, she was right pretty! Eli cleared his throat and attempted to small-talk.

    "So, uh, Faith, where are you from?"
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  9. Chuckling as the young man clambered into the seat once again, she held tightly to the side of the box as they made their way through the town, garnering curious glances and glancing at the young man beside her, smiled at the straightness of his back and the pride in his shoulders. Maybe there was a little miss that he wanted to make green, or maybe it was just being with a young woman such as herself through town. He was grinning like a jackal and she grinned back in a similar fashion.
    "Well, I was born in Harrisburg, in Pennsylvania but where am I from? Jamestown is where I came from yesterday, a nice little town but a little too busy for me. So, tell me. What's Ezekiel like? How many children in total are in your family, just so I can prepare myself!"
  10. "Pennsylvania, that's Dutch country, ain't it? Er, Pennsylvania Dutch or somethin' like that." Eli paused to cluck at the horse again as they passed the last of the houses to pick up the pace. No point in tarrying if there was no one to impress. The silence grew as he thought about how to answer her question about his family. Honestly? He had no idea. Sure, there were six boys altogether, but Joe had said nothing about her babying all of them, just the three youngest. Then again, he didn't want to go right out and tell her the whole truth. That wasn't his department, but Joe's. He'd been the one who instigated this whole thing, and it'd been a right hoot of a joke to begin with. Until Faith's letter came and sobered them all up.

    As far as what Ezekiel was like? He didn't know. The last two weeks they'd had with their prodigal brother weren't really a fair judge as he'd been busy trying to make arrangements so he could up and leave them again. Eli had only been 9 when Zeke first left. Levi hadn't even been born yet. Eli pushed his hat further back on his head with his thumb and shrugged. "Zeke's just Zeke, I guess," Eli answered lamely. "He's real keen on providing for us, but he don't like sittin' still for very long. Least, that's what I think about him. He's got Dad's laugh. The kind that when he starts laughing, you start laughing because you know you're going to join in anyway." Eli sighed. He'd managed to handle that question pretty well, or so he thought. Now on to the trickier one. "As far as children? There's three."

    Off in the distance, he could just make out the roof and chimney of their house over the scraggly hill. Eli lifted a hand to point it out to her. An obvious pride filled his voice as he commented, "There she is, Faith. Home sweet home. Hope you'll like it here."
    #10 Lady Alainn, Sep 10, 2014
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2014
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  11. "Dutch country it is, most definitely. Though we get a few new settlers arriving now, from every-which way." She settled as the cart began to move just a little quicker, leaving the main town behind and entering onto a dirt track which stretched from miles from what she could see in the distance. Listening to the young man, she frowned a little. There was an edge on the story, just not enough information and he was so patchy. It was like he hardly knew the man, as if they were just barely acquainted strangers. There was definitely something going on here, nothing everything added up. But still, this Ezekiel character didn't sound too bad. At least he could laugh, not many men could laugh freely back east.

    She'd lived in a town like this, just off the edge of Harrisburg when she was growing up. She had a lot more freedom as a child, growing up in a country town with loose stigmas and one that let their children run free in the countryside. It had been where she'd learned to ride, to run on sore feet and really, the place that had lit the fire she had refused to put out. It was hers and hers alone, though maybe she could give some oomph into what seemed a fairly average family.

    As the house came into sight and Eli pointed it out to her, she smiled at the small house. It seemed quite small from her viewpoint but as the hay cart pulled into the yard, she realised it was a fair sized house. It was dirty though, obviously inhabited by boys without a woman around. She had guessed their Ma had passed, because there was no washing on the lines and even the entrance of the house seemed in need of a good clean. "Home sweet Home it is." She jumped down with a laugh and made her way to center of the yard, looking about in content. She could work with this, definitely.

    "Alrighty, Eli! Where is the man of the house? I'd like to get the proceedings going as soon as possible."
    Before her family tracked her down, she added mentally.
  12. As the words left her mouth, a commotion from inside grabbed their attention. Shouting, a door slammed, heavy footsteps, and then two grown men poured out from the house, the shag of blonde hair following closely upon the heels of chocolate curls. Ezekiel stopped short on the edge of the front porch when he caught sight of the woman standing in the yard, a hard line settled on his mouth, and then without a word he stormed off the side of the porch toward the pasture.

    "Zeke, wait!" Joe hollered. "I can explain, you dumb-" Then Joe noticed the woman. He paused in his shouting, tipped his hat with a "Howdy, ma'am," and then continued on with his pursuit. "Zeke! Wait!"

    Eli shuffled his feet nervously. "Uh, that was, uh, Zeke. And Joe." He scratched his head and glanced back and forth between the house, the woman, and the luggage sitting in the cart. What was he supposed to do with Faith now? Get her settled inside? Judging from the sharp looks, Zeke would skin him for that. Leave her in the yard? Joe would skin him for being inhospitable. Take her back to town? Eli would skin his own hide for letting a nice girl like her go. While he stood puzzling over the situation, Obediah, Japheth, and Levi came tumbling from the house. Obediah had egg yolk sticking to his trousers. Japheth's face and chest was covered in soot. And Levi? Levi stood grinning like a banshee with his hands dripping with red juice. Possibly tomatoes.

    "You look a sight, you do!" Eli admonished when the trio arrived. "What have you been gettin' yourselves into?"

    Japheth broke from the group and ran up to Faith, his dimpled face turning upwards to examine hers. He circled her once, then pulled up beside Eli and whispered none too softly, "She got all her teeth, Eli?"

    Eli removed his hat and whacked Japheth over the head with it.
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  13. That must be him, she thought. A hard face, tight in anger and framed by dark curls. Why, she hadn't seen someone so angry since ol' Mabel, their maid, had broken her mother's prize vase! There had been hell on her mother's face then, she was sure of it! She thought to the man Eli had described, able to laugh and she couldn't think it of the man she had just seen storm off towards the pasture. A blonde man with a mop of hair tipped his hat at her and she nodded her head, as he ran off after the surly looking man she assumed to be Ezekiel.

    She wondered what the hell was going on here. Nothing was making any sort of sense, not in any of the three language she knew! She couldn't believe her luck, seemed she had gotten caught in a web of family secrets. Just as she had processed the quick events, three young boys had tumbled out of the house in a great disarray. She could not stand it but just laughed at the state of the younger siblings, covered in food and soot an inch thick if she had to guess. The golden yolk of an egg covered the trousers of one, while the youngest it seemed had gotten into the tomatoes with a vengeance. She liked them already.

    "What were you three a'doin? Making an artwork or some such?!" She just laughed at the exchange between Eli and the soot covered child, grinning in mirth at the pouting look on the younger boys face. "Well, I got all my teeth young sire!" She smiled widely. "Proof enough?" She wondered if she was shocking them with her un-ladylike tendencies but she really didn't think it mattered. With a determined set to her shoulders, she turned to Eli and smiled tightly. "I'm going to go speak to those foolish men and find out what exactly is going on here!"

    She stalked in the direction of the two men, Joe and Ezekiel if she recalled correctly. "Gentlemen, I believe someone here owes me an explanation and for your sakes, it had better be damned good. I've had a very long journey and nothing is making sense. Can someone please enlighten me already?"
  14. "Artwork?" Levi made a face. "That's girl stuff!"

    "So's cookin'!" Japheth crooned, rubbing his head where Eli's cap had gotten him. "An' Obie can do that just about as good as a girl!" Obediah adjusted his glasses. "Well, in my defense, someone had to do it or we'da starved to death!" he retorted. Eli stood by helplessly.

    They paused in their bickering to ooh and ahh over Faith's smile and see that she did indeed possess all of her pearly whites, though Eli was staring at Faith more because of her manner than her perfect teeth. He'd never seen a grown woman carry on like a girl, but he had to admit he rather liked it. She was fun. Then with a snap of the fingers, the fun vanished as she braced herself for venturing out to the storm brewing out back. Eli nodded and started corralling the boys towards the house. Whatever was brewing down, they didn't need to be a part of it.

    When Faith joined the two men, Ezekiel had his hands clasped behind his back and was pacing under the oak out back. Joe had his arms crossed over his chest as he leaned against the back of the outhouse. Both men looked up as she approached.

    "She's just a kid!" Zeke exclaimed in shock. Immediately, he ducked his head and rubbed the back of his neck. "Oh boy." The kid--woman--started demanding an explanation. Zeke sure didn't have one. He threw a menacing glare towards Joe. "All right, Joe, you got yourself an audience. Mind enlightenin' us both? Or are you still plannin' on keepin' things on the sly?"

    Joe, always the calm-headed one, took the glare in stride and flashed Faith a brief smile. She was young. Barely older than Eli, he reckoned. "Well, I guess I better air out the laundry, so to speak," he said with a sigh. Shoving himself off the privy into a standing position, he faced them both. "Truth is, ma'am, we need an extra hand around here. Ever since Ma got sick, Eli and me have been balancin' workin' with raisin' the others. It ain't been goin' too great. Since Zeke came back, it's been gettin' me thinkin'. We could really use a woman 'round here if we can't get another ranch hand." He jabbed his thumb in Zeke's direction, "Zeke here started it by suggestin' the whole mail-order thing. I just made sure it got properly written and sent in. Thought maybe a wife might convince him to stay around more. Honestly, didn't think it would do anything so quick. Sorry about that, ma'am."

    The hard line came back on Ezekiel's mouth. He didn't say anything, waiting to see what this woman had to say first.
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  15. The kid comment had almost made her blow her top but she held her composure but most of what little control she owned was soon gone as Joe began to explain the entire plot. She pinched the bridge of her nose and sighed in deep frustration, just clutching at the last semblance of calm within her own mind. She took a deep breath and began pacing the small area, grateful she had already placed her bag down as she wrung her hands angrily.

    "Joseph Hamilton, I do not believe that sorry is really applicable. It might be if I lived down the street but no, I have abandoned most of the things I know and come from Jamestown! I did not expect something like this to waste my time, for me to make my way out here only to find out that the man I agreed to marry really had no idea of the plot!" Her voice was rising angrily but as she took a deep breath, her voice calmed and cooled to a point somewhere below freezing. "Now, gentlemen. I can understand your positions but please consider mine at this point. I am trying to escape my family and the only way I can do that is get to hitched and settled down. Now you have ruined everything that needed to go right! Devil Damn you all!" Her voice had once again risen and she stopped in her aggressive pacing, calming herself down and taking several deep breaths.

    "Mr. Hamilton, Ezekiel in this case, I came to marry you here and get my life on the road as soon as I could but unless you are willing to go ahead with this, I'm off on the next train or I'll find somewhere else. But I can see your brother's point here, your family is in need of support! By Jove, the three youngest don't seem like they've washed in a donkey age! You either accept my offer or you'd better get someone in here, cause your brothers don't seem to coping none better than you would!"

    She stood, tapping her toes and her gaze as harsh as she could get it on the wilting young men before her. She wanted an answer, damn it.
  16. It all started when she called Josiah Joseph. That thin little line crept upwards at the corners and continued broadening out as the woman continued to fume. By the end of her tirade, Ezekiel threw his head back in a deep, from the gut laugh. This whole situation was absurd! Ridiculous! The kind of thing that only happened in books and here it was playing out before him.

    "You know, Josiah," he used Joe's full name in a gentle correction, "you two should get yourselves hitched. You could use a good hell-raiser when I finally get out of your hair. Besides, you're the one who wrote for her. Wouldn't be fair to send her back now, would it?"

    Joe coloured. "I can't marry a woman I don't know!" He hurried on to explain himself before Zeke or Faith could protest. "When I marry, I want to settle down. Raise a family. Be responsible. But you," he pointed at Zeke, "you're always off. Doesn't matter to you none if you've got a wife, 'cause you'll never be around anyway. So what if you don't know her? At least your brothers will have a good influence!"

    Zeke's mouth clamped shut again, those lines of mirth reverting to their former tone. He shook his head and sighed. "It's not like you think it is," he whispered to himself.
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  17. This was just getting all too much for her now. It was getting way out of hand and she was actually on the verge of falling into a panicky mess, because nothing was working. It was all going downhill and she had no idea what to do, damn it. And then he laughed. A deep, gut laugh that seemed to shake him a little. Then the slight embarassment of the mixed up name but how in the hell was she to know that?

    "I apologise, Josiah. I did not know, I am sorry. But I came here to marry a man who wanted to help his family but on second thoughts, only yourself and Eli seem to care at all! And you!" She rounded, not angrily but rather calmly, on the dark haired man. "I cannot return to my family now, I have nowhere to go! Is this a joke?"

    She took a deep breath, fully composing herself and preparing to steel herself in resolve. She would need it to return to her family after such a stunt , running off to get married to someone she hardly knew. "If it isn't like we think it is, then explain. Otherwise, I will be leaving this mess behind me. I don't have other choices." God dammit, moisture was collecting on her bottom lid of her eyes and she wiped them furiously. She hated this habit of hers, her emotions bubbled so close to the surface that they were mostly uncontrollable.
  18. When Faith turned on him, suggesting that he didn't care about his family, Zeke looked like he'd been slapped. If only they did know how much he loved them. What he'd gone through for them. He sighed and buried his face in his hands for a good few seconds as he mulled over this situation. If he did marry this feisty woman it would prove his love in a way, wouldn't it? Putting their needs before his own? And Joe would be around to watch out for her and help her out with the kids. Things would be so much simpler if Joe would just take the bride, but when Joe set his mind on an idea, it took nothing short than the voice of God to change that fool mind of his. There was no denying the younger ones needed a woman.

    "All right, fine. I'll do it," he said in defeat upon emerging from his hands. "If you're still willing, Miss..." Jumping Jehoshaphat! Was he really just agreeing to marry a girl when he didn't even know her name?
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  19. Finally, the man seemed to see reason! With a sudden change in temperament, she grinned and walked forward slightly within touching distance and curtseyed lowly, to both of the men.
    "By Jove, it's nice to see you gentlemen have agreed on something. My name, Ezekiel, is Faith Taylor and I suppose I should have introduced myself right at the start, though I believe my composure levels were a little low to attempt much at that point." She picked her carry bag from the ground as she stepped back, with a smile that lit up her face despite the strange topic of conversation. She was actually nervous now, that she had gotten her way and she would actually be married in the sight of God to this man. Not that she could deny her physical attraction. He was a typical man, with a tall stature but his face was handsome if rugged, his chocolate curls suited him. Acceptable, if she said so herself.

    "So, shall we organise this a little better? If it's okay with you, perhaps a glass of water would be good. The heat here is very extreme compared to Jamestown."
  20. Joe, who'd been standing by silently all this time to let the two get things sorted out between them, now took over. Striding up alongside Faith, he stuck his hands in his pockets and nodded toward the house. "We can get you a glass inside. Zeke, why don't you go work things out with the preacher in town and I'll get Faith settled in here."

    "Now, just a minute!" Zeke called after them. "If I'm the one gettin' married, I get to call the shots, you skunk! No more meddlin' in my life, got that?"

    Joe waved a hand in dismissal, but continued walking toward the house all the same. "Sure, Zeke. We'll meet you at the chapel."

    "Damn it, Josiah!" In seconds, Zeke was upon them and linking his arm through Faith's. He turned an angry eye-- not the kind of heated anger as before, but more like the anger of a trapped animal who is fighting for air --on Joe and pointed toward town with his free hand. Though his voice was no longer raised, it still carried a deadly weight to it that Joe knew better than to argue with. "You go set things up with the parson. I'll get Faith her damn glass of water, I'll get her settled in, and we'll meet you at the chapel proper-like as a man and woman contemplatin' marriage should. If we're going to do this, we're gonna do it right. Now get!"

    As Joe scampered, Zeke stepped back from Faith and looked away with a tired sigh. "Every damn time I come home, somethin' crazy always cooks up," he muttered. Then to Faith he said, "Well, let's get your bags inside and find you that water. Where'd you leave them?"
    • Love Love x 1