The Final Goodbye By: J.L. Jacobs © 2015 (Full Length Book)

Out of sheer desperation, Sophia Lancaster flees her small town of Wellington, Ohio in order to become a mail-order-bride. Naive and full of hope, her world is shattered once again as she is quickly wed to Travis Ewing who seems to despise her from the moment they meet.

Over time, they fall madly in love with each other but Fate has other plans in store for them. This is a suspenseful and very emotional love story that is set in the 1890's where history comes alive. You will laugh and cry over Sophia's journey through hell and back as she fights for the only thing she truly believes in: Love.

*I love to hear your comments and feedback but please DO NOT POST ANY SPOILER ALERTS OR GIVE AWAY STORY INFO. This ruins the reading experience for others.* This is a rough draft version. This book is for mature readers over the age of 17 only. It does contain some profanity and a few graphic love scenes. The synopsis will be re-written, and I will be updating the book with edits.

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6. Chapter Six: To New Beginnings

Chapter Six: To New Beginnings

 

 

      Knocking several times at the door, he heard no response even after waiting for many minutes. Figuring she had left the room, Travis decided to use his copy of the key to room 224 and quickly unlocked it. Opening the door, he called out "Hello?" Still he heard no response. Walking further into the room he saw some evidence that she, indeed, had at least been there. There was a rather large reticule and a little dainty hat sitting on the bed. Then he noticed some clothing strewn about the floor leading into the bathing room where the door was left wide open. Hearing nothing, he followed the trail of clothing into that little room and stood in the doorway looking in. There she was, his bride-to-be, sound asleep in the bathing tub of all places! Quietly, he inched closer and closer in order to further inspect this sleeping beauty. Indeed, the closer he got, the more beautiful she appeared to be. The water was a bit murky but it still revealed all her hidden treasures. Lordy! He sure hadn't expected her to be this... this.... enchanting. Her perky breasts were full and plump and bordered on the larger side for someone as thin as she was. She had fine porcelain skin and long silky legs. Her stomach was perfectly flat and he couldn't help but become aroused at this vision of a woman who would soon be his wife. He then let his eyes travel to her sleeping face. Her eyes were closed in slumber and flickered a little bit as she dreamed of things he couldn't even begin to imagine about. She had a perfect little nose and her mouth was a shade of  light dusky pink that closely matched the color of the nipples on her breasts. A full mouth with plump lips that instantly enticed him even more. He had the sudden urge to kiss those lips. Hell, he wanted to kiss every inch of her gorgeous body! The slight arousal inside his jeans instantly grew even harder at the sight of this sleeping nymph, an arousal that he hadn't felt in many years now since his deceased wife, Rebecca, had died. He thought that her death had broken all of him; apparently not. Sophia had long thick hair that trailed down around her chest and into the water. Since it was wet, her exact hair color could not be determined. So this was Sophia Lancaster. He smiled and quietly inched his way out of the bathing room in order to not wake her up. Now back in the main room, he stood there for a moment looking around and pondered what he just saw until his arousal slacked enough for him to be able to leave the room. When he placed that advertisement he never once figured on such a fine looking woman to show up. In his mind, he didn't really care about what his new bride would look like; the only reason he wanted one was so that his children and household could be properly cared for. A sort of platonic arrangement. Never once did he imagine that their marriage would be anything more than two people strictly doing their marital duties. Well, this marriage of convenience obviously came with one major perk: his new bride was incredibly beautiful! Thoughts of Rebecca seeped back into his brain and Travis instantly felt awful for feeling desire over seeing Sophia lying there naked in the bathing tub like that. Rebecca. Poor, sweet, Rebecca who died giving birth to their baby girl. The baby girl named Marie who also did not survive, all because of that drunkard Dr. Folsom! Anger began to consume Travis as it normally did whenever he thought of Rebecca and Marie. He would NOT allow himself to fall for Sophia Lancaster no matter how beautiful or captivating she might be! He could never allow his heart to be broken by another woman again, even though it wasn't Rebecca's fault that she had died. Nonetheless, it still left him bereaving her and his daughter and it was too hard for him to handle even after all this time. No, he was resolved to keep this marriage as platonic as possible and he would harden his heart to any possibility of falling in love again. Filled with anger, Travis crept back to the door and  quietly let himself out making sure to lock the door behind him.

 

#

     Sophia was having such a pleasant dream; in it, she was in Wellington and wrapped within Jeremy's arms. The both of them were so happy. His dark brown eyes looked into her own and his mouth came towards hers for a kiss. A kiss that had completely melted her. They were in his office at his medical clinic where there was privacy to be had regardless of the impropriety of it. Their kissing increased and she began to feel desire for more until there was a persistent knock at the door. Suddenly, Jeremy disappeared as she began to, rather unwillingly, awaken from her dream. The knocking sound continued  and she groggily had to place where she was at. Looking around her, she noticed she was in the bathing tub and not in Jeremy's office. The water in the tub was now cold and she began to shiver at once. Another knock sounded. Then she suddenly remembered where she was at and quickly got out of the tub to wrap herself in one of the white cotton robes that hung on a wooden peg on the wall. She almost cried in that moment when she realized that the dream wasn't real and her heart ached something fierce! She pushed aside her thoughts and went towards the door in the main room where the knocking was coming from. "Who is it?" she called out, daring to not open the door while clothed only in a bathrobe. "Room service for Miss Lancaster." a male voice replied. "Please leave the cart out there and I will retrieve it in a moment. You just caught me while bathing." she called out. "Yes Ma'am." the voice answered politely. She quickly turned around to fetch her clothing that was strewn all over the floor. All of it was still dirty. With her luggage being transported to the Ewing ranch, she had no other choice than to but to put it back on. A few minutes later, after she was once again fully dressed, Sophia opened the door and pulled in the cart which was on wheels. Closing the door and locking it, she wheeled the cart towards the bed. She was famished and whatever was on that cart smelled wonderful! She sat down on the edge of the bed and removed the silver dome that covered up her plate of food. There was a roast beef dinner with whipped potatoes, onions, and carrots,  which was all covered in a bed of thick brown gravy. Next to it was a single biscuit that was dripping with the butter that the cook had put on it. There was a cold glass of sweet tea on the tray as well. Within minutes she had eaten every little bit of food there was and the sweet tea was so refreshing for her parched throat. Feeling so much better now that she had bathed and eaten such a wonderful meal, she went back into the bathroom to brush through her hair and pin it back up in a simple chignon. Errant strands of wavy hair escaped their pins but she didn't bother tucking them back in. She grabbed her matching hat and carefully pinned it back up on top of her hair at just the right angle. She took her bathing towel that was still slightly damp and dipped an end of it into her tub full of now cold water. Using the wet end of the towel, she proceeded to use it to clean some of the dust and dirt off of her dress and fashionable shoes. She then set the robe and towel on the counter top near the sink and put back on her pearl necklace and matching earrings that had been an eighteenth birthday present from her parents. Gazing at her reflection in the mirror, she not only looked, but felt so much better. Sophia carefully applied a little bit of the pink lip stain to her lips. She put the lip stain and the bottle of rose scented essence oil back into her traveling reticule. and noticed her writing journal. Just as she was considering to pull it out and make another entry, a knock sounded at the door again. She quickly walked over and opened it to find Mr. Cox standing there. Upon seeing Sophia he said, "If yer ready Ma'am, I can now escort ya to the courthouse so you and Mr. Ewing can get hitched." She looked at him feeling a little perplexed and asked, "Am I not to meet him properly first?" He shrugged his shoulders, "The boss told me just to bring ya straight there. I suppose you'll get to meet him before the ceremony of course." Sophia couldn't help but to feel disappointed by this news. She was really hoping to meet him good and proper before plunging into a marriage ceremony. What if she saw him and decided she didn't want to marry him? Her lower abdomen began to cramp up as her nerves started to get the better of her. She had traveled all this way to marry the man so now it was time to gather her things and get on with it she supposed. "Let me grab my reticule first." she replied, and did just that. On their way outside the hotel, Sophia asked Mr. Cox if they could go to the nearest telegraph station really quick so that Sophia could wire her parents letting them know she had arrived safely. He kindly agreed and escorted her there which was only a block away from the hotel. 

 

L & L Lancaster of Wellington, Ohio

Made it to Dallas safely. STOP. It was a very long journey. STOP. Miss you both. STOP. Will write more soon. STOP.

S.A. Lancaster of Turtle Creek, Texas

 

     It took about ten minutes to get to the courthouse. She half-listened as Mr. Cox told her about a fire that hit the other one in January of that year. Apparently the courthouse they were heading to was a temporary one until the main one was re-built. As they pulled the carriage up to the new courthouse and Mr. Cox tied the reins to the hitching post, Sophia began to feel a little bit sick to her stomach as her nerves got the best of her. After she followed Mr. Cox inside the large building, he led her towards a group of four people that consisted of an older woman, a very handsome man, and two small children. "Oh my!" Sophia thought nervously to herself, "This is it!"  She suddenly wished she could turn around and flee. The four people watched as her and Mr. Cox had approached them. "Here she is boss," Mr. Cox said, "Ain't she a perty one?" The man, who had to be the Travis Ewing, spoke up gruffly in his southern drawl as if plagued by boredom, "Yes Gerry, she's a pretty one." Travis then looked at Sophia with a cold look in his eyes. "I'm Travis." he said with no warmth at all in his voice. Before Sophia had a chance to reply, the older woman extended her hand out to Sophia saying, "I am Beverly Cox, Gerry's wife, but please call me Bev." Sophia shook her hand awkwardly but at least this woman seemed much friendlier than her soon-to-be husband did. Then Mrs. Cox pointed towards a little boy and said, "This here is Michael but everyone around the ranch calls him Mikey. There next to him is his little sister Hope." Sophia looked at the children with a smile while they peered back at her with a little curiosity and looks of something that bordered on disgust or perhaps even distrust? Neither one of them seemed very friendly either and didn't say anything. Not one single word. The little girl, who was a spitting image of her father but had auburn colored hair and some freckles that dotted her nose, wrapped both her little arms around Travis' leg. She actually started to look a little bit scared. Mikey also took after his father in looks; complete with the same dark brown hair and light colored eyes. He just glared at her. It was almost as if he had hated her. Sophia was taken aback by the trio's rude welcome and honestly didn't know what to think. Travis broke the uncomfortable silence by saying, "Well, now that everyone has been introduced, let's get this marriage ceremony over with." He picked up his daughter, then turned around and the small group automatically followed him, Sophia included. She never expected such a cold welcoming like this! It made her even more nervous about her decision to get married to Travis Ewing despite how good-looking he may be. She was definitively beginning to have second thoughts about this whole thing but the next thing she knew, they were in a tiny room with a magistrate. He wasted no time and quickly asked for the bride and groom to step forward. They both did. Travis didn't even look at her once during the short and perfunctory ceremony. The magistrate asked for them to each put a ring on each others fingers and Travis quickly pulled out two simple gold bands from his flannel shirt pocket. One ring was bigger than the other. He handed her the bigger one to place on his finger and her hands were shaky as she did so. His wedding band fit him perfectly. Then Travis quickly placed the smaller gold band on her finger which was a little too big. The magistrate instructed them to repeat their vows after him. Travis repeated his in a cold and emotionless voice. Sophia said hers in a quiet voice laced heavily with hesitation. She suddenly felt tears water her eyes. This was not how she ever pictured her wedding day to be like, even if it was to a man who was a complete stranger to her! "By the power vested in me, I now pronounce you man and wife. Mr. Ewing, you may now kiss your bride." the Magistrate intoned. Travis, still refusing to look into Sophia's eyes, didn't even bother to kiss her as was the tradition. Instead, he turned around and walked over to a small table where some papers, a quill, and an inkwell sat. Sophia's tears fell down her face as she was signing the marriage certificate with her new name: Sophia Ann Ewing. It seemed so surreal as if it were all a dream. No, more like a nightmare! There was no warmth at all coming from her new husband. As he signed his own name to the marriage certificate, she quickly stole a glance at him. He was sure handsome enough. At least he wasn't old, fat, and ugly. But the way he was treating her he may as well have been! 

 

     "Congratulations!" Mrs. Cox beamed at them, "Welcome to the family Mrs. Ewing!" Sophia snapped out of her brief reverie upon hearing her new name being used by Mrs. Cox. In an instant she went from being Sophia Lancaster to Sophia Ewing. How odd that seemed to her. Sophia turned to face the older woman and replied back in a shaky and emotional voice, "Th-thank you Mrs. Cox." Mr. Cox slapped Travis on the back a few times pretty hard with a big grin on his face, "Congratulations boss. You done got yerself hitched again!" Travis narrowed his eyes at the old man and walked away without saying a word. The children, after seeing how their Pa had acted towards Sophia, figured they were not supposed to like her as well, so Mikey glared at her while Hope stuck out her tongue, as they both quickly ran after their Pa. Mrs. Cox seemed to be embarrassed by their behavior and gave a small smile to Sophia saying, "Give them some time to get to know you Dearie." Then she, too, followed suit and walked out of that tiny room. Sophia stood there in that room, alone, in utter shock and dismay. Her new family, which comprised of Travis and his children, obviously hated her already! Then there were the two people who wasn't her family who had at least showed her some degree of kindness. Sophia had imagined all sorts of things before coming all this way but never once in any of her musings did she count on such a cold welcome for her new husband nor his children! This was not a good beginning to a new marriage and her heart sank to the floor as she tried really hard to force herself to follow the small group of people who had already abandoned the room and left her in it. When she found them all in the main lobby of the courthouse, she quickened her steps in order to catch up with them. As Sophia approached, Hope whispered loudly to Travis, "Hold me Papa." Travis lovingly picked up his little girl as Mrs. Cox grabbed Mikey's hand, then they all headed outside to the waiting carriage. Mr. and Mrs. Cox sat on the bench outside the carriage where Mr. Cox would lead the horses to drive them back to the ranch. The sun was setting as Sophia, Hope, Mikey, and Travis all piled inside the carriage to sit. Sophia was the first to sit down and soon learned that she would be sitting alone as Travis and his kids sat opposite of her, none of them so much as sparing a glance at her way. They acted as if she were invisible or something! As Mr. Cox led the carriage away from the courthouse, Sophia looked out of the little side window next to her with tears pouring down both her cheeks as she cried silently the whole way back to the Ewing Ranch.

 

#

 

June 10, 1890

I have made the biggest mistake of my whole life! I am at my new home now and settled into the bedroom that I am to share with my new husband. Travis went with Mr. Cox to Lord knows where, as he said nothing to me about it. Mrs. Cox was kind enough to ask me if I wanted to have a cup of tea with her before she retired to bed but I politely declined her offer by saying how tired I was. Her and Mr. Cox are the only two people here to show me any sort of kindness. My new husband and stepchildren all seem to hate me and I have no idea why. I guess that part of me expected an instant family that I could fall in love and create a happy life with, but this family has other idea's it seems. I have no clue as to when Travis will come to bed and whether or not he will expect me to perform my marital duties. I am guessing not. The man won't even look at me so I doubt I have anything to worry about from him tonight. 

I am missing home very much. Dallas is so different from Wellington. For starters, it's so much bigger. The ranch was about a thirty minute carriage drive from the city and it's really very lovely. The main house, which is where me, Travis, and the children stay, is a big enough farm house that is two stories tall. It was dark by the time we arrived here so it was hard to get a good look at it, but it looks white and has a big wrap-around front porch that extends all around the entire house. On one side of the back portion of the porch, there is a swing hanging down that I cannot wait to sit in and try out. The other side of it has two white rocking chairs. Before we headed inside, Travis had taken off with Mr. Cox, so the rest of us went in without him. Mrs. Cox got the children settled in their beds, then was kind enough to give me a tour of my new home. She showed me a room near the front door where there was a large stone fireplace with a nice mantle on it. A large rug sat on the floor before it, and on the rug was two rocking chairs that faced the fireplace. I can easily picture myself sitting with Travis on those chairs in front of a roaring fire, but that part might end up just being a dream. That room also contained an alcove with a large bay window that looked out onto the front part of the yard. Sitting before the window was a lovely miniature grand piano with a bench and I cannot wait to play it. I wonder if the children know how to play, and if not, I would be delighted to teach them. There was a nice looking settee on the other side of the room with two round tables on each side that had lanterns sitting on them. After that, she showed me another room that contained several bookcases that lined three walls which are full of all kinds of books, and there was a large desk in there that Mrs. Cox said was used by Travis. On the other side of the room there was another alcove with another large bay window, much like the one in the other room. It also faced the front of the house and in front of those windows were two armchairs with a round table in the middle of it. The last main room downstairs was the kitchen which was very lovely. It had a blank range cook top stove with two ovens. She told me that it was fueled by wood instead of coal which was cheaper to supply since Travis cut trees to provide the wood for it. At the back of the kitchen, to the right of the back door, is an alcove lined with wooden shelving that contained lots of mason jars filled with canned fruit, vegetables, and various other staples like flour, various dried spices, and sugar. Inside the alcove was another room that had steps leading down to the root cellar where it was cold enough to store meats, cheeses, eggs, large jars of milk, and other types of foods. Mrs. Cox then mentioned that sometimes the weather in Texas could get quite stormy and that twisters were somewhat common. The family uses that room as a shelter during those really bad storms. She then led me back up the stairs to the kitchen. I noticed a nice four shelf hutch in there containing various dishes, and the bottom of the hutch had two small doors for extra storage for miscellaneous items like trays. The kitchen had a long counter top that Mrs. Cox said Travis had built himself on the request of his late wife Rebecca. There was a sink complete with running water! Mrs. Cox explained that Travis had installed running water throughout the house many years ago and it had cost him a small fortune for that luxury. She said that most farm houses in this area did not have such luxuries, only the residences located inside the city proper did. She said that he was also getting electricity installed but that it would be some many months, or quite possibly as long as a couple of years, before it was finished. On the other side of the cook top range was another alcove with steps that led to the second story of the house where there was a hallway that contained four doors. One of them was a bathing room complete with a porcelain claw foot tub, another counter with a sink, and under the sink was two doors used for storing the bathing towels. There was also a divided wall. On the other side of that wall was a flushing commode. Mrs. Cox mentioned to me that only last year there was no commode up there and that the family had to go outdoors to use the outhouse. She said the outhouse was still there, but was now only used by the ranch workers or if the main bathing room in their bunkhouse was otherwise occupied. Back in the upstairs hallway, there were three other doors; one each for the children's bedrooms and one for the bedroom that Travis and I will be sharing. It's a beautifully decorated bedroom and I am guessing Travis's late wife did the decorating.There's a large bed with two down pillows, and a white duvet cover on top. On each side of the bed are two square wooden side tables, each with a miniature black lantern on them. There is an empty vanity with an attached mirror that has a wide drawer in the middle, and three small drawers on each side of it. A nice chair sits in front of it. There is also a writing desk i with drawers and a chair. The very same writing desk that I am making this journal entry in. In yet another alcove, Mrs. Cox showed me a small room with wooden bars attached to each of the walls. On one side hung Travis's clothing and the other side was meant for me to use. At the end of that small room there stood a tall square basket that Mrs. Cox explained was in each of the bedrooms and was used to put dirty clothing in which had been the former Mrs. Ewing's idea. What a brilliant idea! Underneath the area where Travis's clothes hung, there sat a few pairs of this shoes. Also a great idea. I need to write Mother, Rachel, and Maybelle to tell them of this. They would love it! After the tour of the house was over, I thanked Mrs. Cox for her kindness today. She said she would be back here tomorrow morning to help me prepare the breakfast meal that Travis liked served at six o'clock in the morning each day. I am not used to having to get up so early, and according to Mrs. Cox, I was to meet her in the kitchen by five o'clock in the morning! I am scared to find out what will happen when Mrs. Cox learns of my incompetence in the kitchen. I pray that the Lord give me strength to get through tomorrow and that the children and Travis become more welcoming towards me. ---- S. A. Ewing

 

#

     Later that night, Travis walked very quietly into his bedroom. There was a little light from the full moon shining through the window for him to see by. The wall lanterns and the table lanterns were all off. Sophia must have done that before she went to bed. Exhausted, he wanted to wait to make sure his new bride was fast asleep before he came to bed. Taking off all his dirty clothes and putting them into the wicker basket inside the open alcove of a closet, he left on only his drawers then crept into bed. Sophia was laying on her side facing the wall, so he couldn't get a good look at her to see if she was sleeping or not. He assumed she was. Travis did notice that she had unpinned her hair and it was now hung down her back in long, loose waves. He could smell her hair. It smelled so nice, like roses.

 

     The windows in the bedroom were open so he could hear the hundreds of crickets that made their homes somewhere outside in the grass surrounding the house. He had always loved that sound, and it provided him a sense of comfort ever since he was a young boy. His thoughts quickly went back to his new wife. Sophia. It seemed weird to have another woman in his bed since the death of Rebecca, and he watched her rhythmic breathing for a few minutes which reminded him of earlier that day when he walked into the bathing room of the hotel room and saw her fast asleep in there. The image of her perfect little body and those full breasts put him in another instant state of arousal. She was admittedly a very beautiful woman. He would not dispute that fact ever. But now that the marriage ceremony was over, he laid there in bed being reminded of a ghost from his past who seemed to follow him and he could not get past all the pent up anger and guilt that had been building up inside of him now that he was married to another woman. Rebecca and their sweet baby girl, Marie, would still be here if it wasn't for that man. Dr. Folsom. It didn't take Travis very long to hire a lawyer after Rebecca and Marie had both died. Marie never even had a chance thanks to that no good drunken lout! Marie lay buried, wrapped in her mother's arms, after they both had perished. Mother and daughter together for eternity in a cold grave, taken away from him much too early. Dr. Folsom would never practice medicine again. Travis had made sure of that! That old man was forced into an early retirement by the judge who proceeded over the trial. Because Dr. Folsom had no prior records of ever having been drunk while treating patients, the judge took it easy on him, but Travis's rage burned at an unhealthy level to this day. The truth was, part of him felt guilty and that was partially the cause of his rage. Rebecca and he weren't in love with each other but they had loved and respected one another a great deal. Both of their Pa's had arranged their marriage since they were children. Travis had grown up with Rebecca, so they had a deep friendship, respect for one another and love based upon the two. But if they had been able to choose different paths for their lives, they would have. Rebecca had fallen deeply in love with another man when she was seventeen and she had wanted very much to marry him. Miles Barker was his name. But when she told her Pa about it, he was adamant that she was to marry Travis instead. Travis, not wanting to upset his own Pa, had encouraged her to stick with the agreement. Perhaps if he hadn't done that then she would still be alive today. But Travis's own selfish greed caused him to talk her into doing something her heart wasn't truly set on doing, all because he wanted to keep his own Pa pacified. The guilt tore him up. He and Rebecca had a good marriage but she deserved to be with a man whom she was actually in love with, not just someone she had grown to love. Afraid of breaking their betrothal agreement, Travis was really only worried about himself and it took the death of her and their little baby Marie to make him see that. Travis had wanted to keep his father happy, and in doing so, he had the deaths of two people on his conscience. 

 

     Sophia's soft whimpers next to him brought him out of his reverie. Looking over at her, even though her back was turned towards him, he could tell she was not dreaming of something pleasant. What in the hell was he thinking, getting married again to someone he wasn't in love with? Then he remembered that it was for the sake of his two children who needed a mother to help take care of them. Mrs. Cox was more than suitable enough for the children, however, she wanted to be able to travel in a couple of months to see her own daughter who was pregnant, and so she wouldn't be able to help him with his children for much longer. He didn't even know this woman who was now his new wife. He thought that by placing an advertisement for a mail-order bride, he could get the needs of his children met. But only after Sophia was on the train headed there did he realize that he could have just hired a Governess instead and avoided another marriage altogether. Feeling honor bound to keep his commitment to Sophia though, he went along with that hair brained idea of his. He was curious to know why she had agreed to this arrangement in the first place, especially after seeing her for the first time. Surely she could have married someone else for love? Why in the hell was she even here? Travis laid there wondering why and became determined to find out the answer to that question soon enough. It took quite a while, but he finally fell asleep with the thoughts of his new wife plaguing his dreams.

 

#

     Sophia awoke the next morning, still feeling pretty exhausted. She had slept but it was a restless sleep plagued with dreams and memories of Jeremy. Looking next to her, she saw that Travis was still asleep in bed and was snoring softly and a thin white sheet covered his darkly tanned body. When had he come to bed? She was a little bit surprised to see him lying there next to her. She looked at him sleeping peacefully. Her new husband. The thought of that felt alien to her. She was a wife and mother now just like she had always wanted to be. Recalling the events of yesterday she didn't think her new family would be so, so.... cold and unwelcoming  towards her. She surmised that it might take a little time before things fell into place. But right now she needed to get herself dressed for the day. Mrs. Cox would be meeting her soon to prepare the breakfast meal. She lit the small lantern that was on the nightstand closest to her part of the bed in their bedroom, then dressed herself in a simple cotton light gray colored dress as quickly and quietly as possible. She finishing up by plaiting her hair into a simple braid with a white ribbon tying it off at the end of it. 

 

     Taking the lantern with her, Sophia walked downstairs and headed into the darkened kitchen, making sure to light all the wall lanterns to provide more lighting in there. The house was very quiet. With the two windows in there already open she could feel the warmth of the summer morning. Mrs. Cox walked in from the backdoor only seconds later, leaving the main door open and the screened door closed. She had a ready smile on her face. "Good morning Mrs. Ewing." she said brightly to Sophia. Sophia smiled at her sleepily and returned the greeting. "Good morning to you as well Mrs. Cox, but please, call me Sophia." she said to the older woman. "I can rightly do that!" Mrs. Cox laughed, "I see you already lit the lanterns. Now, we need to light the stove to get a kettle of coffee going and to prepare the breakfast meal. There is some kindling wood on a rack just outside this door. Grab me a handful of you don't mind." Sophia set down the lantern she was still holding onto the middle of the kitchen table while Mrs. Cox began to get out the pans and supplies needed for the breakfast. Opening the screened door of the kitchen that led outside to the back porch, Sophia saw the rack sitting on the wooden porch and grabbed a small stack of the wood in her arms. How much would she need to bring in? She had no idea, as she had never done this before. Surely it wouldn't require more than what she gathered up into her arms. She walked back inside with her semi-heavy load. "Oh my" Mrs. Cox laughed, "you must have a much bigger cook top range back at your former home to think we'd need that much wood to start." Mrs. Cox opened the black iron door to the bottom of the cook top stove so that Sophia could begin loading some of the kindling wood in there. Sophia blushed, it would be soon obvious to Mrs. Cox that she had no idea what she was doing. "Now, I got a pan on the cook top, so when you are finished with that, go ahead and make sure the ash tray is cleaned out. With you coming in to town yesterday, I honestly cannot say if I emptied it or not." Mrs. Cox said in her bubbly voice as she went to the basement root cellar to get a side of bacon, fresh butter, and some eggs from yesterday's collection of eggs from the hen house. 

 

     Mrs. Cox walked back into the kitchen only to find that Sophia was in a heap on the floor of the kitchen, crying her eyes out. "Oh goodness Sophia!" Mrs. Cox exclaimed, setting down the ingredients she had in her arms onto the long counter in the kitchen. Sophia proceeded to cry even harder as Mrs. Cox walked several steps over to her and bent over, grabbing one of Sophia's arms to help her stand back up. "Whatever is the matter Dearie? Are you homesick?" That only made Sophia cry that much harder. After a few minutes, Sophia looked over at Mrs. Cox, "I have a-a confession-" she started to say in between choked sobs. At that moment, Travis entered the room and looked at the two women with a quizzical expression. Mrs. Cox was the only one who met his eyes, and she nodded her head for him to go outside while she talked to Sophia. "I will go get some fresh milk from Bessie." he said simply before walking out the back door. Seconds later, after knowing full well that Travis was out of hearing distance, Sophia declared, "I'm a sham! I lied to Travis." Mrs. Cox stood there dumbfounded; she had no idea what to even say to that, but Sophia continued. "When I replied to his advertisement, I told him I was capable of running a household. I lied; the truth of the matter is, I have no experience with anything. Nothing. My parents, well, at my old home, we had Nellie. She did everything for us. The cooking and cleaning. I don't know how to do anything. When you asked me to make sure the ash tray was cleaned, I don't even know what that is!" Sophia looked at the woman with shame flaming her own face. Mrs. Cox stood there in shock. How could this woman not know how to do anything? If this information was true, then she must have come from a wealthy family. Knowing that Mr. Ewing would be back momentarily with a bucket of fresh milk for the breakfast, Mrs. Cox knew that he needed to be fed quickly so he could get started on his work there on the ranch. Thinking fast, she led Sophia over to the chair at the table, pulled it out, and gestured for Sophia to sit down in it. Sophia complied. "I am not sure what all this is about," Mrs. Cox said bluntly with a bit of harshness edging her voice out of frustration, "but Mr. Ewing and the children need their nourishment so they can start their day. Mr. Ewing will be back in here before we know it with the milk and the children will be down here soon as well. I need to get the food cooking now so they can be fed. Mr. Ewing doesn't like waiting. Once they are fed, you and I will need to have a talk." Sophia nodded her head mutely at Mrs. Cox. 

 

     The older woman began to quickly prepare the food, first checking the ash tray at the bottom of the cook top range to make sure it didn't need to be emptied. It didn't. Just as she got the bacon sliced up and put into the large wrought iron pan, Travis came back into the kitchen with the small metal pail of fresh milk. He sat it down on the counter near the rest of the food ingredients, looking at both the women curiously. He silently wondered why his wife wasn't helping Mrs. Cox prepare the morning meal. Mrs. Cox was busy cooking so she didn't bother to look over at him but said, "Mr. Ewing, would you mind waking Mikey and Hope up? I believe Mrs. Ewing is having some homesickness this morning." Travis noticed that Sophia refused to meet his eye. "Homesickness?" he muttered acerbically as he walked out of the room to comply with Mrs. Cox's request. It wasn't long before he and the children had made their way into the kitchen. The children were still in their pajamas and looked very sleepy. "Mr. Ewing," Mrs. Cox said brightly, "the food will be served a few minutes later than normal this morning." She then said to the children, "Good morrow Mikey and to you as well Hope. Why don't you two get yourselves dressed and start gathering up the eggs from the hen house while the food is cooking?" They went back upstairs, got dressed, and came back down a few minutes later. Mikey, looking grumpy as he typically was early in the mornings, said nothing as he grabbed a wicker basket from the bottom of the hutch that was lined on the inside with a white and red checkered cloth. Hope was curiously watching Sophia who was wiping her tears on the sleeve of her own shirt. She really wanted to know why her Step-mother was crying like that but quietly followed her older brother outside to do as Mrs. Cox had asked. "What is the meaning of all of this?" Travis asked his new wife once the children were away. "Are you lily-livered or something? I don't need a wife who's going to be making a fuss like this. I brought you here to make life around here easier not the opposite!" Sophia looked at him in shock over how rude he had been towards her since she arrived as he sat down roughly at the table. It was already very warm in the kitchen due to the summer heat even if it was still early and the temperature was getting only increasing in there from the heat of the range as Mrs. Cox continued to cook. Mrs. Cox couldn't help but notice Travis's behavior towards his new wife herself and wasn't very pleased about it, but knowing he would get even grumpier the longer it took to get his morning meal she chose to try and finish up her cooking instead of saying something to him like she wanted to. The sound of bacon sizzling could be heard, otherwise, the room was veritably silent. Not knowing what to say in reply to her husband's cutting words, Sophia panicked and got up from her own seat at the table and ran out of the room in a hurry. Travis watched with narrowed eyes as she left hastily. Sophia's footsteps could be heard running up the stairs. Mrs. Cox was now preparing the dough for the biscuits but also saw Sophia's flight from the room out of the corner of her eye. 

 

     Travis stood up from his chair a bit roughly and walked over to where Mrs. Cox was at, "What in tarnations is wrong with that woman?" he asked Mrs. Cox. "Mr. Ewing," she said sternly after a several seconds of trying to settle herself down so as to not lash out at him like he deserved, "your wife is most likely just feeling overwhelmed right now. She only arrived yesterday and has had no opportunity to get acclimated to life out here. To make matters worse, you didn't exactly give her a warm welcome. You's two haven't even been married twelve hours yet. Hell, then you married her without even giving her proper introductions, and you were completely cold and rude to her from the moment you's two met! It's no wonder she is in tears right now! I must say, your behavior towards her yesterday was not what I expected from you one bit and I would imagine she must be feeling the same way! If I were her I would have bolted long before now!" Travis suddenly guilty at her blunt assessment of the situation. He stood there quietly, saying nothing. "Oh, go talk to her already!" Mrs. Cox admonished him crossly, "I will have the food ready in about twenty minutes time." He wasn't used to her being so, so... cross with him. Mrs. Cox had always been quite respectful towards him, and she and Mr. Cox were considered to be a part of the family. They had been working for the family since long before his Pa had died back when the ranch was still farmland that was growing cotton. In all those years he had rarely seen her cross with anyone as she was pretty jovial in nature. "Go already!" she said once again, and this time, he listened. His footsteps were heavy as he made his way back upstairs, beginning to feel frustrated with even himself. Once upstairs, he saw that his bedroom door was slightly ajar and he could hear his wife crying from inside their bedroom. He walked over to it and continued to open the door further. As he walked inside, he could see that Sophia was sitting on the edge of their bed and her sobs were bordering on hysteria. Not knowing what to think or say, after all, he didn't even know her, he sat down next to her. "I'm so sorry!" Sophia cried. He noticed that her eyes were now puffy and red. "Sophia," he began in his southern drawl, "what is the meaning of all this?" She finally looked at him saying simply, "I think we made a terrible mistake!"

 

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