Authors: Trinity Ford
Tags: #Fiction, #Victorian, #Sweet, #Western, #Historical, #Mail-Order Bride, #Romance, #1880's, #Forever Love, #Bachelor, #Single Woman, #Midwife, #Secrets, #Series, #Wives In The West, #Short Story, #Kansas, #Fort Worth, #Texas, #Sheriff, #Tragic Past, #Scary, #Encounter, #Trapped, #Trust Issues, #Christian, #Faith, #Inspirational, #Journey
Wanted: Wives in the West
Book 2: The Mail Order Midwife’s Secret
All rights reserved.
To Wendy, for helping me find my title.
To Cindy, for her incredible editing skills, friendship and guidance.
To my Mom, for her unwavering support.
And to my 3 angel babies, who are the reason I love life.
Author’s Note on the Wanted: Wives in the West Series
The series is set in the 1880s in the fledgling town of Fort Worth, Texas. Based around a tiny congregation, led by Pastor Stanley Littlejohn, these stories tell the tales of brave men and women who overcame many struggles to achieve the life and love they always wanted.
This book is the second in the Wanted: Wives in the West series. I hope that you’ll check out the others and as you read, you’ll be pleased to see characters from the other books in the series making an appearance occasionally, but each one can be read as a standalone story.
This series is a bit different from many mail order bride stories, because it’s not a situation where a woman writes to a man, they decide to marry, and that seals the deal.
I have read a lot about the Harvey Girls and the way they worked the frontier and then settled down, so the female characters in this series come to work and settle in, with marriage and love as a byproduct of their brave journey.
If you’re ever in Fort Worth, Texas, I recommend going to visit the Log Cabins as well as the Fort Worth Stockyards, so that you can
the rich history of the pioneers and what they went through to help develop America and its people, including the American Indian tribes whose lives changed with ours.
I have a special affinity for the fierce and protective Comanche tribe, which is part of my own ancestry.
Thank you for reading, and I’d love to hear from you if you want to reach out, here:
The Comanche brave circled around the schoolhouse on horseback, peering into the windows. Rose tried shooing him off, but he was undeterred—the look in his eyes one of rage and hostility. There’d been trouble brewing with the tribes for months now. It wasn’t because of the regular Fort Worth citizens, but the vagrant trail driving cowboys, who’d continued stealing horses from the Comanche Indians, even after being warned not to. There’d also been a rumor that one of their women had been assaulted, although it wasn’t confirmed.
“Miss Rose?” Charlie asked, huddled behind her desk with the other children in the class.
“Yes, Charlie?” she said softly, trying to remain calm so the kids wouldn’t agitate the brave even more.
“Is he going to hurt us?” he asked, innocently. All kids on the frontier knew about the dangers of life here. It was just something parents had to instill in them as they grew up. Rose took a deep breath. She’d never personally encountered a hostile Indian, but she’d been warned by the men, including her husband, John, not to travel alone because of the bad blood with them right now.
“Of course not, Charlie,” she said, not knowing if the words coming out of her mouth were a lie or not. “He’s just curious, that’s all.” The older children looked at Rose with concern. She was sure they’d been told the truth about the situation.
“Mama?” Grace and Anna said in unison. “We’re scared.” Their soft, blond hair sat atop their little heads like beautiful halos, wispy strands escaping to frame their faces. Normally, Rose braided their hair, but today they’d begged to have it put up in a bun, just like their mama.
Rose took her twin daughters into her arms as she bent down to comfort them along with the others in the class. “You know where your papa is right now?” she asked the twins. They shook their head no and waited for her to tell them.
“At this very moment, he’s riding out with the other men in town to talk to the head Indian chief,” she explained. “And when he gets there, you can bet he’ll tell that old tribe to stay away from our schoolhouse!” Rose knew her husband was headed there, but she wasn’t sure what the outcome would be. Maybe they’d already met and it didn’t go well. Or maybe John had been killed in a fight with the Indians. She couldn’t tell the kids that, but the
raced through her mind like lightening.
The answer seemed to satisfy the twins and the others. They all felt safe when John Lockhart was in charge. Rose realized that huddling behind her desk was making the kids more fearful. So she ordered them back to their seats to continue their lessons, always keeping one eye on the window to see where the Indian brave was. Suddenly, he darted off over the hill. Rose felt relieved that he was gone, but she was still shaken, so she summoned Charles Wiley to her desk and quietly ordered him to go fetch the marshal or any other men in town so they could come to the schoolhouse and make sure they were okay.
Charles ran out the door, and down the street, heading into town as fast as his legs could take him. Rose continued looking out the window, not really paying attention to what the children were reading aloud. “Ma’am?” Bertha Evans asked when Rose wasn’t responding.
“Oh, yes, Bertha,” Rose replied, startled back to the present. “What was it you wanted to know?”
“Are we going to eat lunch today?” Bertha asked. It was past lunchtime and while the teacher may have been preoccupied, kids never forgot when it was time to eat.
“That sounds like a great idea,” Rose said. The kids took out their lunch and began heading for the door to eat outside as they always did until she stopped them. “Today we’re eating at our desks.” A groan of unhappiness sounded throughout the room. She knew the kids just wanted to get outside and get some fresh air and play, not be cooped up inside all day.
Rose got them all settled and then went back to her desk. She looked up and glanced out the window and saw, not one Indian, but a group of them, riding back down the hillside toward the schoolhouse. She quickly walked to the back of the room and placed a chair under the door handle. There was no lock on the door—no way to keep out anyone she didn't want getting in. The kids were busy eating and talking, so they didn’t pay attention to what Rose was doing. She hurried back to her desk and took out a piece of paper and began quickly writing John a letter.
My hope is that you’ll never have to read this letter, but with what I’m facing outside the window, I’m not certain of our fate.
The most important thing is that you know how much I loved you. I don’t want you mourning for me long, if God’s plan is for me to not have much time left in this world. We will see each other again in His kingdom.
You have too much love to give, so I want you to go on with your life and never wallow in sadness. Oh, John. I will miss you and I love you more than you know.
Because I know you’ll want justice, I want to give you details about what’s happening. A sole Indian brave circled the schoolhouse earlier before running off over the hill to the East. He returned with a group of about 20-30 braves and they are now moving toward us. They’re part of the Comanche tribe. I hope that they’re coming in peace, but the look in the eye of the one earlier tells me it’s something completely different.
I’m scared, John. But I won’t let the girls see it. Please take care of them if I don’t make it. Grace and Anna will need you to be strong.
All my love,
“Mama?” Anna asked from her seat. “Why are you crying?” Rose hadn’t realized that tears were streaming down her cheeks. She quickly put a smile on her face, dried her eyes and dabbed her tears off the letter, folding it and putting it in the center of her desk. She glanced outside and saw the Indians coming closer, almost to the schoolhouse now.
“Just happy tears,” she lied, trying to keep the children calm. “Okay, I want you all to be very quiet and come sit with me behind my desk. We’re going to tell stories.” The children did as they were told, each one looking concerned and skeptical.
“Mama you’re shaking,” Grace said when she sat down in Rose’s lap for story time.
“That’s because I’m so excited,” Rose lied again. “Now, who wants to start story time?” she asked. As the kids chose someone to go first, Rose held Grace and Anna close to her, kissing the tops of their heads and saying a prayer in her mind that they would all be okay.
Silence fell over the room when they heard the horses whinnying outside and the sounds of footsteps coming up the stairs of the schoolhouse. She held her finger over her mouth as if to say, Shh to the kids, who stared wide-eyed at the schoolhouse door.
Rose and the children jumped as the door crashed open and they were blinded by bright sunlight and the silhouette of a sea of angry warriors.
…Two Years Later
John Lockhart bolted upright in bed, breathing heavily and soaked in sweat. It had been a long time since he’d had one of those dreams—picturing the tribe murdering Rose and hearing the screams of his little girls. He’d long since forgiven himself for not being able to save them, but the subconscious reminders that hit him every so often were brutal.
He fell backwards onto the mattress and laid there with his arms under his head, watching shadows dance along the walls as the sun began to set. Life for John now consisted of a very lonely home life, contrasted by a job where he was surrounded by people who admired him, but who couldn’t fill the void that his wife and children once had.
He got up out of bed and walked over to his dresser, opening the top drawer where Rose’s letter waited. He touched it gently, as if the paper itself were her soft cheeks that he wished he could feel just one more time. He could still see the smudged stains where her tears fell—where she said her last goodbye and tried to put John at ease about his future without her.
That was just like Rose
, he thought.
Always taking care of others instead of worrying about herself.
John closed the drawer and cleared his throat in an effort to keep his own tears at bay. He turned and looked at the bed—at the side that was perfectly intact. That was where Rose once slept. He missed the way he sometimes heard her laughing in her sleep and he’d lie there staring at her, wondering what was so funny—or how he’d come to her rescue and wake her out of a scary dream if he heard her whimpering, trapped in a nightmare.
Now, the nightmare was his, it was real, and there was no one to wake him out of it. The house felt so large now that it was only him living in it. He remembered thinking about how small it seemed when they had Grace and Anna, and were planning more children. They’d had a talk about where to add on to the house for a nursery, and how they’d need a bigger dining room and table for suppertime.
It seemed so long ago.
John made his way to the kitchen, stopping by Grace and Anna’s bedroom to glance inside.
They would squeal when they saw him wake up every morning.
Come play with us!
John would go into their room and scoop them up into his arms, putting each one of them on one of his shoulders as he carried them in to wake up Rose.
Duck your heads
, he’d warn as they went through the doorway, where he would toss them onto the bed in a fit of giggles as they crawled onto Rose, smothering her in kisses and snuggling up to her as she started her day.
The room was empty now. Barren, after he’d given the belongings away to a needy family that was new in town. He didn’t need physical reminders—there would never be a time when he would forget them or their life together.
Rose had urged him to move on and share his love with someone else if she didn’t survive. At first, he couldn’t come to terms with her saying that—with her truly wanting that. But over time, he understood that it was the last loving act she could give him. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to share his life with someone again, but his nights were spent maintaining law on a side of town where no reputable women lingered, and his days were spent sleeping to prepare for every night. This made it awfully hard to grant her wish for him.