But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace.
Florence Caine huddled near the campfire outside their wagon, one of over thirty that were circled for the night. Winter rode the winds that had been blasting them for the last few days. Their destination couldn’t come soon enough to suit her.
She brushed her skirt with the palms of both hands trying to get rid of the ever-present dirt. Why did I ever agree to Joshua’s plan? If she’d known all the dangers they would face along the way, he would have had to make this journey without her … if he kept insisting on going. Her husband’s adventurous spirit had first drawn her to him, but she would have been happy to stay in
, until they were old and gray. Instead, she finally yielded to his fairy-tale vision—a new start in the West. The words had sounded romantic at the time, but their brilliance had dulled in her memory. Little Rock, Arkansas
Huh. As if men understood the desires of a woman’s heart and what brought her comfort. The tinkling and crashing of her precious bone china from
breaking into a million pieces as the crate tumbled down the hill still haunted her dreams. England
More than the journey sapped her strength. She doubted there would be the proverbial pot of gold at the end of their travels. No promised land for her, because what she really wanted, a child of her own, wouldn’t be found in the greener pastures of the untamed wilderness.
Clutching her arms tightly across her chest, she forced her thoughts even farther back, all the way to
. Their white house with the green shutters nestled between tall trees that sheltered them from the summer heat and kept the cold winds at bay. She remembered the times the two of them had sat before the fire—she knitting or sewing while Joshua read aloud to her from one of their favorite books. Or he might be poring over one of the many newspapers he often brought home after work. Now for so many months, they hadn’t heard any news except whatever they could glean at the infrequent stops along the Arkansas Oregon Trail or from the few riders who passed the wagon train. Sometimes the men stopped to share a meal and spin yarns for the ones on the journey.
She had no idea how much of their information was even true. But the men hung on to their every word. Loneliness for family and the desire to know what was going on back East ate at her.
A shiver swept from the top of
’s head and didn’t miss a single part of her body on its way to her feet. Even with multiple layers of woolen hosiery, her toes felt like ice. She’d often worried that one of them would break off if she stubbed it. She yearned for the snug house where never a single cold breeze seeped inside. Would she ever feel warm again? Florence
She glanced around the clearing, hoping Joshua would soon return to their campsite. If not, dinner would be overcooked or cold. Sick of stew that had been made from rabbits or squirrels these last two weeks, she longed for fried chicken or a good pot roast with plenty of fresh vegetables. At least the wagon master assured them they were no more than a three-days’ journey from
. Taking a deep breath, she decided she could last three more days. But not one minute more. Oregon City
Strong arms slid around her waist.
jumped, then leaned back against her husband’s solid chest. His warmth surrounded her, and she breathed deeply of his unique musky scent mixed with the freshness of the outdoors. Florence
“What were you thinking about?” Joshua’s breath gave her neck a delicious tickle.
“That our journey will soon be over.”
She could hardly wait to be in a real house with privacy. She had never felt comfortable knowing that people in nearby wagons could hear most of what went on in theirs, and she knew more than she ever wanted to know about some of the families on the train. She moved slightly away from him, but missed the warmth he exuded. Suddenly an inexplicable sense of oppression or impending disaster gave her more of a chill than the cold wind. This time the shivers shook her whole body.
He turned her in his arms, gently held her against his chest, then propped his chin on top of her head. “I know how hard this has been on you, Flory.”
He didn’t often use the pet name he gave her while they courted. The familiarity warmed her heart for a moment.
“You’re just skin and bones, but soon we’ll be in the promised land, and I’ll make sure you have everything you’ve ever wanted.”
I hope this little peek into the book has piqued your interest in the story.
Please leave a comment to let me know what you think.