Loveland – next three pages

Like Father tells Emily, “Be patient!”  It’s hard to rewrite this stuff and change things around so much but VERY good for me and the book! Here goes…

 

Fort Collins was the only really big settlement nearby, located due North, close to the Wyoming border. It was a medium-sized fort, built right after the Civil War and was staffed with mostly infantry. It boasted a small trading post and provided a comforting presence for settlers, although as far back as Emily could remember, most of the Indian tribes in the surrounding areas had lived peacefully enough with the white folk and there had never been any trouble to speak of. Father always said that Loveland was a quiet and friendly place and that’s what had attracted the MacGregor’s in the first place.

The dwelling Father had built when they first settled the land was a modest but sturdy five-room cabin, well able to withstand anything the harsh Colorado winters could hand out. The inside was warm and inviting and it hadn’t changed much since her mother died, although Emily had gradually added a few touches of her own. The kitchen and living room were one great room, separated only by the kitchen table. Father had built it with lumber from the mill, as he had most all of the furniture in their house. Emily liked the great room because she could be busy in the kitchen and still see Father, sitting in his rocking chair by the fire, reading his Bible and smoking his pipe.

Her bedroom was just off of the great room and, with the white lace curtains she had sewn herself and all of her books, it was the haven she could go to when she wasn’t able to go down to the river. There were two very special crocheted doilies on her bedside table. The large one was the one her mother had crocheted for her and the smaller, more lopsided one was Emily’s attempt to duplicate it. On her dressing table lay her mother’s silver-plated hairbrush and mirror – a wedding present from Donovan. Emily never used them but they were always there in plain sight, a remembrance of her loving mother. She had one framed picture of her mother and father, holding her as a baby. It was the only picture she had of her mother and she cherished it with all her heart. It had been taken when they had gone to nearby Fort Collins for a special territorial celebration the summer after Emily was born.

The little room next to Emily’s was meant to be for the babies and her mother had already prepared it for their arrival before she had taken ill. Father had long since moved the furnishings out of the room and given them all to the pastor’s wife, Carrie, for their new baby girl, born the yaer after Eileen and the boys had died. The little room was now used as an overflow pantry, holding extra jars of preserves and canned vegetables, her mother’s treadle sewing machine and Emily’s sewing supplies.

Uncle Ian, his wife, Sarah and their three boys settled a twenty acre homestead about five miles on the other side of the river, closer to town. Because Uncle Ian and Father worked together at the mill, they saw each other most every day but they still enjoyed gathering both families together for dinners and most certainly, holidays and special occasions. Uncle Ian and Aunt Sarah’s boys – Colin,  Dylan and Ian, Jr. – were rowdy and rambunctious but Father always delighted in having them over. Emily thought it must have somehow made him wonder about what his own sons would have been like but he never let on.

Sometimes, on his way over to visit his brother, her uncle would find her down at the river if the weather was nice. She was most usually there reading one of her romance stories and he jwould never pass up an opportunity fo tease her. He would laugh and give her braid a playful tug then, in his thick Irish brogue, say something like, “What? Readin’ that stuff again, are ya? How much longer are ya gonna waste your time dreamin’ about somethin’ in a book, Lassie?”

Uncle Ian knew all too well how Emily longed for true love. She had talked with him about it often enough. “I only want to have someone love me the way Father loved Mother. Is that so wrong, Uncle?”

He would shake his head and sigh. “A love like your folks had is a wondrous thing, to be sure, Em. But you’ll turn old and gray waitin’ to find the very same thing. Get on with it, Lassie. Everythin’s not always like you read in those books. It doesn’t always happen that way and you’ll be waitin’ until it’s too late, I tell ya!”

As Emily started to argue with him, he would shade his eyes with his hand as he pointed to a mountain ridge above them. “Wait! Emily! Did ya see that? Why bless me soul! It’s a knight in shinin’ armor, it is, and I think he’s headin’ this way!”

Emily took Uncle Ian’s teasing in stride, mostly because she knew he just didn’t understand. she didn’t care what he said or how much he taunted her; she knew her true love was out there somewhere. She just had to be patient like Father said, but it was so hard.

Most every evening after supper, Father would sit by the fire with his pipe, the sweet smell of the tobacco inviting Emily over and she would sit at his feet while each of them shared about their day. It was those times that she felt most comfortable talking with Father about how she was trying to be patient but also how hard it was to wait for her someone special. She assured him over and over that none of the young men around Loveland came anywhere close to having the honorable and upright character she longed for. Father would always listen and smile with the occasional nod as Emily poured her heart out. He never teased or laughed at her like Uncle Ian. She loved Father even more for listening patiently as she shared her hopes and dreams with him.

One night, Father put his hand on her shoulder. “Em honey, don’t ever be afraid to dream. I know you take a lot of teasing for it but I don’t ever want you to be afraid to hope for what you feel in your heart the Lord has promised you. You’re right not to settle for anything less either because what the Lord has for us – His plan for each of our lives – is so special, not matter how long we have to wait for it. For right now though,” he chuckled softly, “don’t be in such a hurry.” He rose from his chair. “I’m going to check on the horses, then I’m off to bed. ‘Night my sweet girl.”

Emily orse and followed him to the door, kissing him on the cheek. “Goodnight, Father. I love you.”

She put on her flannel nightgown and quickly climbed under her patchwork quilt. Springtime in the Rocky Mountains still required heavy blankets and a fire burning at night to keep warm. At first, the bed was a little hcilly and she shivered but the heavy quilt held the heat from her body and soon she was toasty warm. She looked up into the rafters and prayed, “Dear Lord in Heaven, You know my heart; You made my heart. I don’t want to keep bothering You about this but I’m eighteeen years old now and, if You don’t send him soon, I’m afraid it may never happen. You know how these fellas are around here. Most all of them just want to steal a kiss. They’re not interested in settling down – at least not the ones I know! I want to be patient like Father says but it’s so hard!”

Emily closed her eyes and her mind soon wandered to the things that needed to be done the next day. In no time, she was fast asleep.

Next morning, she rose early. She was going into tow with Father and she would need to hurry breakfast along so everything would be done when he was ready to leave. She opened the back door to grab a few pieces of wood for the stove and she took a deep breath in. The chilly morning air smelled all too familiar and Emily knew Spring was well on its way. The pungent aroma of damp earth told her the snow pack was beginning to melt and she knew it wouldn’t be long until the trees began to bud and the mountains would turn as emerald green as her eyes.

It was a special time in Loveland, when the whole town would turn out for the annual Spring Dance and there was no shortage of food or fun – at least for everyone else. Emily sighed. She would go – she always did – but it was hard to watch everyone else having a wonderful time when she felt so alone. She would go to town and buy fabric for a new dress but she wondered why she even bothered.

As Father finished his eggs and bacon, he took a sip of coffee and smiled at her. “Good breakfast, Em. You about ready to head into town?”

Across the table, Emily nodded silently as she pushed her food around the plate.

“Now what’s the matter with you this fine morning?” Father stood up and came around the table to stand beside her. “I thought you’d be a least a little excited about getting things for your new dress and all.” He put his hand on her shoulder. “Em?”

“What? Oh, sure I am.” She looked up at Father, forcing a smile. “Let me get the table cleared and I’ll be ready to go.”

While Father went to hitch the team to the wagon, Emily cleaned up then grabbed her bonnet and shawl and met him outside.

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