Authors: Katie Crabapple
Tags: #Historical, #Romance, #Fiction, #Forever Love, #Victorian Era, #Western, #Thirty-Second In Series, #Saga, #Fifty-Books, #Forty-Five Authors, #Newspaper Ad, #Short Story, #American Mail-Order Bride, #Bachelor, #Single Woman, #Marriage Of Convenience, #Christian, #Religious, #Faith, #Inspirational, #Factory Burned, #Pioneer, #Minnesota, #God's Guidance, #German, #Immigrant, #Homely Woman, #Compromise, #Strong, #Humorous, #Stubborn
Sarah, Bride of Minnesota
Book 32 in the
American Mail Order Brides Series
Sarah, Bride of Minnesota
Book 32 in the American Mail Order Brides Series
By Katie Crabapple
Copyright 2015 Katie Crabapple
Kindle Edition, License Notes
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Table of Contents
Lawrence, Massachusetts, 1875
Sarah Brody did her best not to get dirt on her only dress that was even close to fitting her on her way to her first day of school. She didn't really want to go to school, because her dress was much too short. Mama had been ill, and she'd not been able to make a new dress for her eldest sister, Mary. The system of hand-me-downs had been halted. Mary passed her too small dresses on to Branna, who passed her dresses onto Fiona, who passed her dresses onto Keela, who passed her dresses onto Sarah, the youngest of all the Brody girls.
Because her dress showed way too much of her legs, Sarah was embarrassed, and wished she could hide in the bushes instead of going to school, but she'd promised Mama she would go anyway. Besides, she'd been raised to be a good girl, and that meant doing what she was told, even when she didn't much want to.
She stopped at the edge of the schoolyard, watching as all the friends greeted each other after a long summer apart. She'd wanted Keela to walk to school with her, but Keela had said she didn't want to be bothered by Sarah, so Mama had told her she must walk alone. She knew the way to the school as well as Keela did.
Her brothers, Thomas and Raymond, were already working in the mills, because the family needed the money they could bring.
Mary was in her last year of school, and she would soon marry her beau, so she hadn't wanted to even acknowledge Sarah as her sister, because Sarah was much younger than she was. A whole ten years.
So Sarah stood on the edge of the schoolyard, picking out all four of her sisters and trying to decide which one would be least angry if she joined her. She sighed heavily, knowing all of them would be upset and go straight to Mama as soon as they arrived home.
"How come your dress is so short?" asked a little girl who stood right beside her. The little girl was dressed in a way Sarah had never seen. Why, her hair was in blond ringlets and her dress was perfect without even a wrinkle. It wasn't a homemade dress either. No, her dress was perfect.
Sarah bent her knees so they wouldn't look so long under the dress. "My mama was too sick to make a new dress for Mary."
"Is your name Mary then?" the blond girl asked her.
"Oh, no, I'm Sarah. Sarah Brody. Mary is my older sister."
The girl frowned. "Then why is your dress too short if your mama didn't have time to make a new dress for Mary? That doesn't make sense."
"Well, you see, Mary would give her dress to Branna."
"I see. But you're not Branna, so how does that affect you?"
"Branna would give her dress to Fiona." Sarah was enjoying the other girl's confusion. She had to hide a giggle.
"You're not Fiona either. You're Sarah. Would Fiona give her dress to you?"
"Oh, no. Fiona's much bigger than me. I couldn't wear her old dress! No, Keela would give me her dress."
"And who would Fiona give her dress to?" the girl asked, obviously still confused.
"Keela, of course. Haven't you been paying attention?"
"That didn't make a lick of sense, Sarah. Why did you even open your mouth to talk if you were going to talk in circles?"
Sarah shrugged. "It was fun to confuse you."
"Why aren't you going to play? Are all of those girls you mentioned your sisters?"
Sarah nodded. "They are. And none of them want me to play. I'm the baby, so they don't much like me."
"Well, I'll be your friend then. I'm Bobbie."
"Bobbie? You can't be Bobbie. That's a boy's name, and you're clearly a girl."
The girl sighed. "Well, my whole name is Roberta McDaniel. I'm named after my grandfather, but my mother says that Roberta is too much of a mouthful for a little girl like me, so she calls me Bobbie. Father hates it, though."
"Well, I think I like it. Bobbie. May I call you Bobbie? Or is that a name only for your mama?"
Bobbie shook her head. "Oh, no. Anyone may use it. I would love it if you'd use my nickname. It's a shame about your dress, though. It makes your legs look odd with how short it is."
Sarah gave a sigh of long-suffering. "Oh, don't I know it. My brothers tease me mercilessly."
"You mean you have all those sisters, and brothers too?" Bobbie asked, surprised.
"Oh, yes. There are seven of us, God help Mama."
"Why do you say that?"
"Oh, that's what Mama always says when people ask how many children she has. 'Seven, God help me.'"
"Oh, I see. My mother almost never talks about God. We go to church every Sunday, but we don't think about God the rest of the week. Mother says people like us don't need God."
"Everyone needs God. My parents say rich people need God the most, because He's disappeared from their lives, and they don't know how to rely on Him."
Bobbie said a curse word under her breath.
"Bobbie, I won't be able to be your friend if you talk that way. Papa will simply forbid it. Please promise me you won't use that word anymore. I want you to be my lifelong friend, someone I will share all my secrets with forever." Sarah had heard her sisters talk about having lifelong friends, and she wanted one too. What better time to find one than her first day of school?
Bobbie nodded. "I promise, I won't do it again."
Sarah linked her arm through Bobbie's. "Oh, good. Then we shall be friends forever, and if we are old spinsters, we shall live together in a small apartment, and we will cook together and sew together. Our lives will be perfect. Everything will always be better, because we shall both have a lifelong friend."
When the teacher rang the bell a moment later, she saw two little girls coming toward her with their arms linked. One of them was dressed in a hand-me-down dress over ten years out of style that was much too small. The other was dressed in the latest fashion and looked as if she belonged in a catalogue for fashionable little girls.
"As lifelong friends, we simply must sit together in school," the little girl with brown hair announced to the teacher. "Will that be all right?"
The teacher smiled at them both. "I can't imagine why anyone would try to break up a lifelong friendship. Have you girls known each other long?"
"Oh, yes," the little blond girl answered. "More than ten minutes!"
She laughed as they walked past and found a desk to share at the front of the room. Lifelong friendships formed in ten minutes. Oh, how she hoped those little girls would realize how different they were, but still remain friends. Only time would tell.
Sarah sat on the sofa in the apartment she shared with three other women. Roberta sat beside her, shaking her head. "I still can't believe this happened. What are we going to do? There are over a hundred women without work! And it's all my fault!"
Sarah sighed. "Bobbie, I have no idea how you've come to the conclusion this is your fault. It's not. It's Mr. Brown's fault. He's the one who stole money, and then started a fire to destroy his own property, which still makes
sense to me at all. You are
responsible for the fire or for the jobless women."
"I know that on one level, but I still feel like I should find everyone another job or something." Bobbie's mouth turned up slightly at one corner. "Or I'll find them all husbands. Should be simple."
Sarah grinned, glad Bobbie had found at least a little humor. "My sister Keela found a husband through a matchmaker in Beckham. We should go see her. She places women with husbands out West as mail-order brides."
that's not a bad idea. Do you know her name?"
Sarah frowned for a moment. "I think I have it in a letter. Let me check." She hurried off to the bedroom she shared with Bobbie, coming back a moment later with a bundle of letters in her hand. "Help me look."
Sarah knew Bobbie normally would have refused to read someone else's correspondence, but she had already read every one of Keela's letters. Keela was like an older sister to her as well, and more often than not, she had addressed the letters to "Sarah and Bobbie," not just to "Sarah." Bobbie frequently referred to Keela as her sister, because she felt like she was.
"I found it!" Sarah said, holding up the letter in question. "She went to see a woman named Elizabeth Miller who lives on Rock Creek Road in Beckham Massachusetts. She even included the house number, and said the two of us should consider going to see her if we ever needed to."
"Let's do it. Now."
Sarah's eyes widened. "Now? Like stand up and get on a train and go to Beckham to see her? Without telling anyone where we're going?"
Bobbie grinned. "Where's your sense of adventure? I need my lifelong friend to help me do this. It might be not only our way out, but maybe she has enough men for all of us."
Sarah shook her head. "I don't know how I keep getting talked into these things. Let's pray first though. If He doesn't want us to do it, He'll put some obstacle in our way!"
Bobbie gripped Sarah's hand, bowing her head so her friend could pray for both of them. "Father God. We come before You with a unique problem and a very unique potential solution. Please help us know if this solution is the right one, and if it's not, help us know what our solution should be. We love You, Father, and want to do Your will not ours. We pray this in the name of Your son, Jesus. Amen."
They sat for a moment looking at each other. "Let's do it!" Sarah said, jumping to her feet. It was late September, and the fire had occurred two days prior. It was time for them to stop licking their wounds and do
about their situation.
Bobbie jumped up and ran to the other bedroom, pounding on the door. Poppy opened the door, glaring at her friend. "What? I'm trying to sleep here! No job, so I'll catch up on all the naps I didn't get for six months."
"We're going to Beckham. Back in a few hours."
"Beckham? What's in Beckham?"
"I'll explain later." Bobbie hugged Poppy. "I think I may have a solution."
Sarah walked up behind Bobbie and shook her head. "Bobbie's solving the world's problems again. We'll just go along with it."
"I'll take your turn cooking tonight then," Poppy offered, yawning widely. "Going back to bed now."
Bobbie and Sarah rushed out the door. "I'm worried about her," Bobbie said.
"I think she may have inhaled too much smoke during the fire. I worry that she's sick."
Sarah frowned. "Oh, I doubt it. She probably really is just tired."
They were used to walking everywhere, so the mile and a half walk to the train station was nothing for them. They bought tickets, both of them thankful they were only going to be on the train for an hour when they realized the cost. It just wasn't feasible for them to walk all the way to Beckham, though.
An hour later, the friends were standing in front of a large house on Rock Creek Road in Beckham. "Are you nervous?" Sarah asked.
Bobbie nodded. "It doesn't matter, though. We've got to get help for our friends."
"I know we do." Sarah took a deep breath and said a silent prayer as Bobbie knocked on the door.
It was opened almost immediately. "May I help you?"
The man standing in front of them was dressed impeccably, and was tall with blond hair.
"We'd like to see Elizabeth Miller, please," Bobbie said, always the more outspoken of the two.
Sarah was shy until she got to know someone, and then she never stopped talking. It had always helped her to lean on Bobbie, who was never afraid to talk to strangers.
"Do you have an appointment?"
Bobbie shook her head. "No, sir, but we've come a long way, and we really need to see her."
The man nodded, opening the door wider. "She's in her office. I'll show you the way." He walked down the long hall, opening the last door on the left. "Miss Miller, there are two young ladies here to see you."
The pretty blond woman jumped to her feet. "Come in! Come in! I'm Elizabeth Miller."
"I'm Roberta McDaniel, and my friend here is Sarah Brody."
Elizabeth frowned in thought. "Brody
I sent a Keela Brody to Montana to marry a nice young rancher there."
"Keela is my older sister," Sarah said softly, missing her sister greatly at that moment. She and Keela had been the only sisters still living at home when their mother had died four years before. Keela had chosen to become a mail order bride rather than go to work in one of the factories.
"Oh, that's wonderful. How is Keela? Happy?"
Sarah grinned. "Oh yes. She has two children now, and she writes often."
"I'm so glad to hear it. Some of the girls I send correspond with me for years, and some stop writing after their initial letter to let me know they're all right."
"Keela's not much of a correspondent."
"Why don't you two ladies sit down and tell me why you're here," Elizabeth suggested, waving to the sofa.
Sarah and Bobbie sat side by side, and Sarah waited for Bobbie to talk as she always did.
Bobbie explained quickly about the factory fire. "I feel responsible. I know I'm not, but it doesn't change how I
"That's awful!" Elizabeth said, frowning. "Are you thinking about becoming mail-order brides?"
"I'm thinking on a grander scale than that," Bobbie said with a grin. "I always think grander scale."
Elizabeth leaned forward in her chair, her hands folded on her desk. "Tell me what you're thinking."
"I'm hoping that you can find husbands for all of us that want them. About half the women are married, but the rest of us need to get a job or a new situation quickly. We weren't exactly well-paid to begin with, and this will eat up every dime any of us has saved."
"I can see that." Elizabeth frowned for a moment. "If you'd come a day or two later, it would be much easier for me to help you. You see, I've started a newspaper, and I'm waiting on the first edition. It's called the Grooms' Gazette. It's a paper with advertisements from many men around the nation who are interested in having a mail-order bride come to marry them. I have over one hundred ads in there, but it's not due to arrive until Friday."
Bobbie frowned. "And it's Wednesday." She looked at Sarah.
Sarah wasn't certain what to do. "I guess we could come back in two days, but we were really stretching our resources by coming here once, let alone twice."
Elizabeth frowned. "I stand to make a great deal of money from this paper," she said. "If I pay for you to take the train again on Friday, would you be willing to do that?"
Sarah immediately shook her head. "I don't think so. We couldn't accept charity."
Bobbie was shaking her head emphatically. "No, we really couldn't."
A knock sounded at the closed door of the office. "Miss Miller?" Sarah looked up to see the butler from earlier. "I've brought tea and cookies. Also, a shipment has arrived. I do believe your newspapers have come in."
"Really?" Elizabeth jumped to her feet, obviously excited. "Bring them in while I pour the tea then. These ladies each need a copy. These ladies each need about twenty-five copies. Will that be enough?"
Bobbie exchanged a look with Sarah. This was their answer. "That should be plenty," Bobbie answered.
They all sat sipping their tea and looking through the newspapers the butler brought them. "I think I want to write to this man," Bobbie said, pointing to a man who said he was from Wisconsin.
Sarah looked through and couldn't find anyone else from Wisconsin, so she chose Minnesota. If they were in neighboring states, perhaps they would be able to visit from time to time.
Both women wrote letters to the men they had chosen, handing them to Elizabeth when they were done.
Sarah took a deep breath. Now she had to have faith. God would watch out for her. He always had.
It was almost a month later when Poppy hurried into the apartment, the mail in her hand. "I have a letter for Sarah and a letter for Roberta."
Sarah took her letter and went to sit on the sofa to open it, while Bobbie went into the bedroom with hers.
Sarah slowly unfolded the single sheet of paper and read the words written in an unfamiliar hand.
Thank you for responding to my advertisement. You sound like exactly the kind of woman I'm looking for. I've enclosed the train tickets for your journey. There were no trains that would take you from Lawrence to Duluth, so I have included three tickets. The first will take you to Colby, Wisconsin, where you will change trains to go to St. Paul, Minnesota. There you will change one more time to go to Duluth, Minnesota. I will be waiting for you at the train station.
I'm tall with blond hair, and I will be wearing a black jacket. I look forward to meeting you.
Your future husband,
Sarah turned the sheet of paper over, willing more words to appear. Was that really all he'd said to her? There had to be more!
She sighed, realizing that no amount of wishing would change the letter, so she got up to go and see Roberta, knowing that her friend must have gotten her letter from her potential groom as well. Bobbie rarely received letters. Her parents still lived in Lawrence, even though neither of them had anything to do with her any longer.
After a moment of talking, they knew that they'd be taking the same train all the way to Colby, Wisconsin. After that, though, Sarah would be on trains for many hours longer. She would never be able to see her friend after the trip, which made her sad.
She had to be strong though, for Bobbie. Throughout the past month, when everyone had been scrambling trying to find new jobs or somewhere to go, Bobbie had been strong for everyone.
They packed together that night, having only two days before they must leave for their new lives. Hopefully they would both marry good men. It seemed as if God approved of what they were doing, so they would continue along the path they'd started down.
Sarah enjoyed the train ride very much. She'd only been on a train once before in her life, and that had been when they'd gone to see Elizabeth Miller. This time, she was able to soak in the scenery, and the two women sewed together the whole way.
They whispered through the nights, leaning on each other. Fifteen years before, neither of them had ever dreamed what was happening to them would ever occur. They were going to be parted. How did a woman go on without her lifelong friend?
They said a heartfelt goodbye in Colby, Wisconsin, and Sarah got off the train, looking down at her second ticket. She had to wait two hours before her next train arrived, and it was late at night. She didn't feel safe.
A young lady came and sat beside her. "Are you waiting for your train?" the woman asked.
Sarah nodded. "Yes, I'm taking a train to St. Paul and then to Duluth."
"Oh, I'm going as far as St. Paul. It's a nice city."
Sarah felt her heart drop. It would have been nice to already know someone from her new home. "I'm going to be a mail-order bride in Duluth," Sarah whispered, feeling as if it was something to be ashamed of. She hadn't felt that way when Bobbie had talked about it, but now that she was on her own, things were changing. People would think she couldn't find a man, when the truth was, she'd never really looked for one.
"Really?" the girl asked, her eyes wide. "I'm Samantha. I can't imagine being a mail-order bride. Aren't you scared?"
Sarah sighed, nodding. "I'm Sarah, and yes, I'm a bit frightened, but I know God will take care of me."
"Do you think God takes care of you even when you choose to do stupid things?" Samantha asked. "I mean, if you stepped in front of a stagecoach, do you think God would save you?"
Sarah shook her head. "No, I don't think He would. But I prayed to Him before I made my decision and again when I got my train ticket. I think He wants me to do this."
"What's his name?"
"Karl Schneider. I know very little about him except that he's a German immigrant." Sarah had been raised by Irish immigrants, and she knew that people who had the courage to come to America from other countries tended to be stronger, and more romantic. At least her parents were.