Mail Order Bride Margaret (Montana Destiny Brides, Book 1), page 1
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Mail Order Bride Margaret
Montana Destiny Brides, Book 1
Copyright © 2015 by Amelia Rose.
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Mail Order Bride Margaret: Book 1
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“Are you comin’ to the tavern with us, Declan?” a burly man called out from where he was standing, filling the doorway with his oversized frame.
“Nay Osgar, you go on ahead, I’ve got things to do. I’ll see you in the morning, though, to be sure.” The younger man tipped his cap back over his shaggy brown hair and picked up his dinner pail, readying himself to go.
“Aye, you never make time for the boys no more since becoming a working man on your own farm! What’s the problem, you can’t hold your drink now that you’ve grown into long pants?” his friend jested, grinning in that way that always put people at ease despite his massive size.
“Not to worry, my drinking’s just fine, thanks! I’ve just got better ways to pass an evening than to spend it staring at all of your ugly faces!” he fired back, keeping a long-running joke going between them. Osgar hooted a deep rolling laugh, then waved one last time as he headed to join the others.
“So, you’re not joining up with that bunch of your old buddies at the tavern tonight? Odd, I thought you Irish loved nothing more than to sit around a table with a mug of that black stuff you all seem to love.” Coming from anyone else, Declan would have taken offense and taken swift action to remedy it. But coming from the kindly old foreman, he knew it was nothing more than a light-hearted joke, the kind that made the workday go by faster.
“Not tonight, Mr. Sawyer. Got better ways to spend my wages than staring down into an empty glass!”
“That’s right smart thinking, son. You keep that kind of head on your shoulders and you’ll have your claim paid off and every bit of it legal in your name in no time!” The old man waved goodnight, then tottered off to his meager quarters around the side of the building.
Declan couldn’t help but smile to himself as he walked to the small stable where the men stalled their horses during the work day. He saddled his black mare and rode towards his claim, letting the horse lead the way while he stretched his sore back and leaned this way and that. Working at the saw mill nearly eleven hours a day was hard work and didn’t leave much time for working his land, but it was one of the best ways for a homesteader to earn the materials for his house, his barn, and the hated fenced he was required to put up.
“That’s a good girl,” Declan said quietly when they came to a stop outside the unfinished barn. He climbed down and petted her velvety nose while she stamped her forefoot eagerly. He knew what she was after with that impatient stomping, and he smiled before reaching into a small barrel by the door and retrieving an apple core. He hated giving his horse his leftovers, but until he had his claim settled and was bringing in crops, there was nothing to spare.
“I know, I know, don’t go looking at me like that. I’ll get this barn finished for ya soon enough, then you’ll have four sturdy walls around you to keep you safe at night. I’m aiming to get started in the morning if’n the weather holds.” Declan patted the horse’s nose one last time and went inside his cabin to make his supper.
After eating and washing up, he headed back out to the barn where his own bed waited. With only a roof and four supports covering the small fenced-in stalls where he penned his animals, the farmer himself had a duty to keep watch at night. Coyotes were the biggest threat to his farm that he’d faced out here. Until the barn could be shut tight against danger in the dark, he’d kept his bed made on a series of hay bales.
It had been a long journey to this farm. After agreeing to sign onto a merchant ship, Declan had earned his passage from Ireland over the course of two years of hard work. Then it had taken him another year of criss-crossing the country by working for different overseers in several different industries to reach the Montana territory with a little money to his name. After all that, sleeping on hay that he’d brought in from his own fields, under the cover of a roof that he’d made from trees he’d felled himself, felt every bit as luxurious as if he’d had his own castle.
Declan spread out his sheet on the pile of hay after fluffing a small mound of it into a pillow. He took off his shoes and hung his clothes on a nearby nail, eyeing the gun he kept overhead to ward off predators. He stretched out under the blanket his mother had sewn for him before he ever left home. He called out a few words of goodnight to his horse and the rest of his small stable of livestock, then patted the hay to call his watchdog to come up and sleep at his feet.
It was heavenly, and there wasn’t much missing from his life. Declan smiled wearily as he took one last look at the stars shining just beyond his property, and closed his eyes.
It felt like only minutes later that his dog licked the back of his hand, signaling him to get up. He startled for a second, ready to face whatever danger there was head on, but realized it was only sunrise that had the animal so agitated.
“Aye, I’m up, Blue. There’s a good dog. You’re better’n any fancy church bells, aren’t you? More reliable, anyway.” He scratched the dog’s ears and laughed when the collie seemed to smile, then climbed out of his bed to get the day started.
With no work at the mill on Saturdays or on the Lord’s day, Declan had the whole weekend ahead of him to work on his farm. He’d cut down some more trees and hauled them to the mill to be turned into boards several weeks ago, and now that they were slightly weathered, he could start work on the barn walls without fear of them shrinking and pulling at the nails. Before he could hammer away at the walls, though, he needed to move the animals to shady grass within easy reach of the creek, so as not to stir them up with all the noise.
After leading his horse, his two pigs, and the handful of goats to the creek that ran through his property—he knew the chickens would scatter at the first swing of the hammer, so he didn’t bother wi
“Hallo, O’Bryan!” a man called out from his saddle, raising one arm in greeting. “I’m here to work on ya barn with ya!”
“That’s good of you, Ned!” Declan called back. He waved and finished the row of nails he’d started before climbing down from his ladder.
“I’ll start right over here and meet you in the middle,” the older man suggested, pointing to the boards that Declan had already leaned against the wall to measure them for spacing.
“Aye, sounds good! And in case we’re both beat to death by dinnertime, let me thank you now for coming out,” he answered with a laugh.
“Oh no, it’s the least I can do, seeing as how you’ve already helped me get my barn up and most of my fence put in. As soon as we get a few good weeks of rain to soften the ground, I’ll be back to help you with your property fence.”
They each went to their work, but conversation was impossible over the pounding of the hammers and the sheer size of the barn. Even without speaking, though, having another body on the place made it less lonely, and the sky overhead less intimidating.
“That’s some good looking trees you’ve put in,” Ned Jackson said when they stopped for a drink of water. “I remember you planting them from just thin little sticks, and they’re already getting tall. Are you thinking to turn this into an orchard?”
“Oh no, hay will most likely still be my main crop. But apples always keep well come winter, plus they’re good for your livestock. I put ‘em in when I dug in my root cellar, seeing as how I had enough room to store more than just carrots and potatoes.”
“That’s some smart thinking!” Ned replied, impressed. “That’s why your claim is going to be successful, where others have already had to turn tail and head back east. You plan ahead, that’s what you do.”
“I don’t know that I’m any more capable than anyone else. Look at your place! You’ve already brought in enough crops to pay off the fees in just the first two years!” Declan answered, lifting his tin cup of water to the other man in admiration.
“Well, I got an early start, and of course, I wasn’t trying to work at the mill while getting my property squared away. You’re doing double duty out here!” Ned took a long sip of water before refilling his cup from the pail. “You know what we’re missing on our claims?”
“What’s that?” Declan said, but inside he was thinking there was a lot missing from his property, namely a finished barn, furniture in his cabin, the fence to mark his borders, and a good three hundred acres of plowed fields.
“A wife,” Ned said quietly. “And I aim to fix that.”
“How can you be thinking of providing for a wife and a family when we’ve just barely got the roofs over our heads?” Declan demanded, so surprised by his neighbor’s answer that he started laughing. “And where would we find such creatures anyway, given the herd of mostly men who live around this part of the territory?”
“Why, you find a wife same way you find a plow or a new bag of seed crop… you have to order one.”
Declan spit out the sip of water he’d just taken and started coughing. When he could finally catch his breath, he turned to stare at Ned.
“No! You don’t order a person the way you order yer farm equipment! Leastways not someone as would be worth having for a wife! Are you daft?”
“I’m telling you the plain truth, I swear it! There’s agencies to write to, or you can place an advertisement in all the farm journals… there are really women looking to find a husband who’s come out West. They want to get away from the cities, and they’re willing to marry a man they’ve never laid eyes on. You can even write off for an Irish bride for yourself if you’re missing the gals back home!”
Declan sat silently, both appalled and intrigued by his neighbor’s words. Writing off for a wife? Like he’d sent five dollars and a letter to get his dog? The image of waiting at the train station down in New Hope on the appointed day and signing for the small barking crate made him shake the thought out of his head. It was too bizarre.
“Well, that’s enough sitting around, I’ve got work to be doing myself. Let’s get this last wall up so I can head home to my chores!” Ned said brightly, jumping up from the stump where he’d been resting. He didn’t seem the least bit bothered by the notion he’d just put in Declan’s head.
Together they finished the final wall as the sun started to head towards the horizon. Ned said his goodbyes, taking a pan of cornbread that Declan offered him as thanks. When he was alone on his property, Declan went to the creek to retrieve his animals and show them their new home.
“You like the new barn, dontcha girl?” he asked his horse, Bonnie. “You got four walls to surround you now, just to keep you safe and sound. That’ll be a help in making you sleep good at night, I wager!”
With the animals penned in their various stalls, Declan set about filling a long linen sack with fresh hay. He tied the end shut and carried it into the cabin for his bed, pleased that he’d finally sleep with a roof over his head and walls on every side of him as well.
Other author's books:
- Mail Order Bride Margaret (Montana Destiny Brides, Book 1)Silver Heart (Historical Western Romance)Cowboy Heart (Historical Western Romance) (Longren Family series #3, Kitty and Lukes story)Humidity Rising (Romantic Suspense)Promises Made (BBW Billionaire Romantic Erotica) (Vegas Billionaire)Adventure For A Bride: A clean historical mail order bride romance (Montana Passion Book 3)Freedom For A Bride: A clean historical mail order bride romance (Montana Passion Book 2)Counting on Love (Contemporary Cowboy Romance) (Carson Hill Ranch series: Book 3)A Bargain For A Bride: Clean mail order bride romance (Montana Passion Book 1)
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