Morgan headed over to the saloon in a gloomy mood. Seth smiled when he walked in.
“What’ll you have, Morgan?”
“Give me a whiskey, Seth.”
Lewis Jeffords was standing next to him. “How’s it going, Morgan?”
“Oh, I don’t know. I think something’s wrong with me.”
“Something is wrong with all of us at some point.”
“I saw a pretty girl—the new school teacher. I was ready to ask her to the dance Friday. Then I saw another young lady. Totally forgetting the first one, i was ready to ask this new girl to the dance. If another one came to town tomorrow, I’d want to ask her, too.”
“I don’t see your problem. Most men are attracted to a pretty face and a swirling skirt. Sometimes they come in twos and threes. You may not be able to take them all to the dance at the same night; but you have plenty of time to get to know them. One will stand out.”
“I guess you’re right. I don’t have to make up my mind today.” Morgan felt relieved. “I don’t know why I get so worked up over things. Thank you, Lewis. Anytime you need anything…”
“How much influence do you have on these girls?”
Morgan looked around and shrugged. “I know most of them pretty good. What do you need?”
Lewis smiled forlornly. “Oh, I’m just being silly.”
“You got your eye on one of them?” A smile crossed his face. “You old dog! Who is it?”
“She’s a beauty for sure. Want me to whisper in her ear?”
“Thanks, Morgan; but it’s no secret.”
“Unfortunately, she has her sights set higher than a farmer.”
“Shoot, Lewis, don’t put a seal on that just yet. I’ve know quite a few saloon girls who wanted the moon but settled for a star.”
“You’re a good friend, Morgan. I guess I have nothing better to do than wait. It’s not that I wish her NOT to find what she thinks will make her happy. I just wish she’d change her mind about what that is.
“Don’t give up; it may happen.”
“Well, it’s time for me to get back. The pigs aren’t gonna feed themselves.” He slapped Morgan on the shoulder as he left. “See you later!”
When she stepped into the sitting room, she understood why Sarah didn’t feel comfortable with this person. He was about 6’ with dark hair. His eyes squinted as he smiled tightly. “I’m Lorraine McGintry. What can I do for you?”
“Well, Mrs. McGintry, my name is Ben Harrow. I’m Mr. McGintry’s son.” His smile broadened as he saw the shocked look on her face.
“That’s impossible!” Lorraine exclaimed. “Robert would have told me if he had children.”
“Well, lady, I guess he didn’t tell you about me.”
“What do you want?” she asked with distain.
“Calm down. I don’t want much. I have no use for the ranch or any of this fancy furniture. But I do need money.” His smile revealed a row of decaying teeth.
Lorraine was mad. Very mad. “Get out of my house.”
Harrow made a move towards her.
”Gus!” Sarah called out. He burst into the room, shotgun pointed. Lorraine wrenched it from his grip and leveled it to Harrow’s face. Despite the fact her heart was racing, she spoke slowly and evenly.
“Get OUT of my house.”
This time, he backed out of the room and ran out the front door. Both Sarah and Gus were totally surprised by Lorraine’s action. “The nerve! Coming into my home.” But as the minutes ticked by, she began shaking. She wasn’t used to raising her voice, lots less wave a loaded gun around.
“Sarah, get me some tea, please.” She put the shotgun down and sank into a large, green chair. Her brain began reeling. Who was this man? What if he came back? What if he wasn’t working alone? She had to talk to someone.
“Gus, saddle up my horse.” The lawmen would know what to do.
What a beautiful day it was in Tucson! What a beautiful day, indeed!
Sarah couldn’t help but grin, humming a happy tune to herself, as she glanced back through the window of the milliner’s shop one more time at the lovely young school teacher, and the older gentleman, the Deputy Earp. It was positively -adorable-! The Deupty was clearly smitten with the pretty young woman, and Chloe? She seemed to have not even a single notion of it!
The expression upon the older deputy’s face, however, that little hint of nervousness that seemed to hang heavy about him, left little doubt in the railroad man’s daughter that the teacher was likely find out soon enough. And, while the young lady from Back East certainly could be mistaken, for affairs of the heart, from all she knew of them, could be quite unpredictable, she could have -sworn- that she’d noticed just the faintest flicker of interest in the young teacher’s eyes as well! A deputy and a school teacher? It was a tale straight from the pages of one of those penny novels that she was never allowed to read! Oh, granted, the gentleman was older, but he was…substantial..and settled.. and that could mean a great deal to a woman of Miss Grey’s status – and being a deputy, he obviously held some status in the town, which could certainly help Miss Grey as she maneuvered through affairs of town politics. It was a good match, her Father would have said. To Sarah.. it was love. Pure and simple.
Oh, love! Oh, romance! The perfume of it practically danced upon the sweet Western breeze!
It was delightful, intoxicating…even if it wasn’t for her. Love was likely a luxury that Sarah herself wouldn’t discover for herself for quite some time, if ever – not because she wouldn’t welcome the idea. but simply because with travelling as she did, the opportunity for it had never really presented itself. Perhaps when she got back to Philadelphia, she might just give Mr. Ryland an opportunity to call upon her, after all.
With a new lilt in her step, one gloved hand twirling the handle of the parasol that shielded her from the elements, the other clutching to the small sack that held her newly purchased treasured hair adornments and gloves for the dance, the young lady from Philadelphia turned, making her way back down the street, toward the mercantile. Nothing went better with love, than chocolate , after all!
The skirts of her rich green skirt swished with her steps, the heels of her shoes sounding upon the wood of the boards beneath them, crystalline blue eyes sweeping about, taking note of the stores now opened, the bustle of activity now beginning to increase on the streets around her.
She didn’t notice the men until they were upon her, practically, almost bumping into them there, on the sidewalk, before she stopped herself. “Oh, my! Pardon me, I’m so sorry! ” an awkward laugh escaping as she sighed and shook her head. “I fear I was quite lost in my thoughts. My apologies, Gentlemen.” Taking a step to the side to the avoid them, Sarah’s crystalline blue eyes widened, as they stepped with her, blocking her passage, the look in their eyes more than slightly menacing.
“You that railroad man’s daughter, ain’t you, girl?”
Maintaining a masque of a smile, the only evidence of the real discomfort she felt in the situation , the moving of her fingers atop the bag she held clutched in her hand. “Indeed, Sir, Yes, that would be me. To whom do I have the pleasure of speaking?”
“I reckon that don’t matter, Miss…” the man spit a brown stream of tobacco waste down at the ground, the stain of it falling upon the hem of her dress, seemingly to the man’s great pleasure, given the dark smile that played upon his lips. As the other man stepped up, his fingers rather firmly curling into the delicate flesh of the young lady’s arm. “We’s just one of many herebouts what don’t much cotton to the idea of strangers comin’ in, tryin’ to steal our land.”
“I assure you, Sir..” Sarah managed a warm smile, her head canting, the man interrupting in a rather sharp, harsh voice.
“You don’t be ‘surin’ me o’nothin’, girl! Your daddy ought be teachin’ you your place! Girls like you, they’s seen, not heard, ‘specially in the affairs of men.” The dark glare in the man’s eyes sent a tremble through her, as the other man ‘s finger loosed from her bicep, beginning to trace over her forearm, the man’s companion leering at her as he whispered
“A real man could teach you ’bout bein’ a real woman..” the sound of his voice making Sarah’s flesh crawl.
Men could smell fear, her Father had always said it was so…and if she gave an inch, these brutes would certainly take a mile. And surely, here, in the eyes of all, they wouldn’t be so bold to do any harm to her in public, would they? Not with the local constabulary near, and a ton of townspeople to witness. Her smile dimming only slightly, her eyes met the man’s, her gaze steeled with a false bravado as her hand moved to push at the fingers that held her within their grasp.
“I’ll thank you to remove your hands from me, Sir…”
“Don’t be talkin’ too soon, Missy, you might just like it if..” the man holding her glared to her in return.
“BILLY!” The leader of the two men spoke sharply to his partner. “They’ll be time ‘nough fer that later. Let th’ girl go.. fer now.”
With a groan the man released her arm, stepping away, the leader stepping forward, and speaking quietly, darkly to the young lady. “You tell your Daddy that we don’t want none of his blood money here in Tucson. You tell him he ain’t goinna steal our land out from underneath us, not without a fight. You tell him he aint welcome here, an’ ‘less he wants somethin’ to might happen t’what he holds dear..he best just get back on that coach, an’ get on out of town. You tell him, girl. You tell ‘im. C’mon, Billy.”
The man nodded to the other, then stepped back, his companion stepping away from the young lady as well. The evil grin still playing upon his lips, he nodded. “Day to you, Missy…” walking away, as Sarah remained standing, glancing warily over her shoulder.
Maybe Tucson wasn’t quite as friendly, or welcoming as she’d thought…