Fall Dance: A Carbons Creek Tale
Getting ready for winter
John came over to help me with my food storage and firewood for winter like he promised. He was always reliable as an employee and personally. Have I been taking him for granted?
“Do you remember when I first started working for you, Sarah?”
“ I remember I first came to Carbons Creek from Chicago. Uncle Jake had died because of to a fire set in the newspaper office. It was so sad; I knew my uncle had started the paper when he got back from the Civil War. I‘d only come back to settle his estate and meant to get back to the city and my job in a publishing house. I’ve been told that vengeance is a sin, but when I learned his death amounted to murder I wanted to stay in Carbons Creek and get whoever set that fire.”
“Yes,” John said. “I’d been working for him quite awhile. I thought you’d go back to Chicago. It was really great when you decided to stay on and run the paper. It was more than wanting the job. Your determination to keep the paper going was inspiring. Having such a pretty woman to work with was appealing too.”
I felt my face grow warm when he said that. “ I sort of grew up in the newspaper and publishing business,” I told him. “ It was probably a rash decision to stay and most people say it’s no job for a girl. We’ve got a sheriff here who thinks just that. Still the people in Carbons Creek were good to me. They had a building bee to fix the damage to the shop. You were the greatest help, though. I guess you were ready to move on figuring I would sell the place and go back to my job. I was more grateful than you know when you said you wanted to stay on. I needed all the help I could get. Truthfully it would have been difficult without you, “
“I never knew that,” John said.
“You don’t think I would tell you that did you?”
“You’re doing it now.”
“Maybe, something has changed.”
I admit that getting ready for winter seemed a bit overwhelming. When I asked John for help with getting wood and storing food, he was very agreeable about it even though it was my personal chores and not part of his job. So I guess I was grateful for the help and on impulse gave him a friendly kiss. Or was it more than that? I was kind of stunned when John pulled me to him and kissed me in a way that I knew was much more than what mine had been. I started to slap him but my arm wouldn’t move. To be honest, I liked what he did. I couldn’t right off tell him that though, could I? I was confused between a slight indignation and wanting to do it again. As a result I just turned and went back to work.
I think it odd that a woman like me is considered a girl in my mid-twenties. Yet, to most men we are beyond the age of being eligible marriage material, especially if we have interests beyond making babies and cleaning house.
John finished up with the wood pile and said he was going to go home and change clothes.” I’ll come back with the buggy about six o’clock and I’ll take you to dinner before the dance.”
“Oh,” I said.’ Are you going to the dance?” It wasn’t really fair but I got a devilish feeling. John looked confused and a bit embarrassed.
“Why don’t you come back though? We don’t have to go out. With all this food here, I think I can manage something for us to eat. I do know how to cook a little bit,” I said
John not only came back but he brought a bottle of wine with him. “Something for a special dinner,’ he said.
I told that it was nothing special, just what I could put together.
“It’s special alright.’ He said. “I never had you cook for me before. You look really fetching tonight.”
On an impulse I ordered a form fitting blouse with and open jacket from a catalogue. I guess I wore it to good effect.
After I put the food on the table John went to hold the chair for me and I was about to sit down. Then he turned me to him and gave me a long lingering kiss. This time I didn’t resist and I returned the kiss with enthusiasm. “I guess I’ll escort you to the dance tonight,” he remarked.
We’ve been to the town dances before but folks saw us in the role of working for the paper and noting who was there and gathering news. This would be the first time anyone would see me there with an escort. Tongues will be wagging and we will be the news, albeit unofficial news. To anyone who sees us we will be courting if not more.
John complimented me on the meal and kissed me again. Somehow it seemed natural.
Naturally nearly everyone in town was there and they all noticed we were together. It was kind of formidable but sort of fun too. Our horse trader, storyteller friend was the first to notice us. “By golly,” he said.” If only I were a bit younger I would have tried to latch on the pretty publisher meself.” I was embarrassed but pleased.
Next we nearly bumped into Sheriff Jason Taylor. As always he was dressed spotlessly. “Howdy, Miss Sarah. Glad to see you got someone who can run the paper for you when you get married.”
‘Whoa, Sheriff. Don’t rush us. And if we do get married it won’t get me off your back when we need news,” I said. John just smiled.
The band started playing a waltz and John was a very strong lead. That pleased me somehow. I think I need a strong man, yet one who respects me. Of course someone cut in. This time it was Ed Stock, the local saloonkeeper. ‘I hope your showing up with John means you two are seriously courting. You belong together.”
“ Ah, I said.” Like you and Bridget?”
“That be true, unless your man steal her away.”
“I think I can hold on to him,” I answered.
“Bet you can,' he said.
“ When the dance ended,” the four of us went to the punch table and discussed getting together someday soon.
Doc Jones wandered over. He and Ed chatted about how much trouble the dime novel writers caused them. Pretty soon the storekeeper, Gustaf Hanson, joined us. “If you two get married I give you that Franklin stove,” he said. Now there was an incentive. James McNulty the patent medicine dealer offered us best wishes. I was surprised to see Chief Red Eagle there, but he came over and offered us the best. I wished Sandy were there but he had not, as yet, come back after we went to the training school. He did write and say he had some folks he wanted to visit before coming back.
I somehow felt comfortable with John. The changing relationship might have some conflicts but right now it seemed very right.
We haven’t discussed who will be in charge of what yet. What happens then?
© 2011 Don A. Hoglund
More by this Author
The Turtle is a children's story based on our own children and dogs that we had at at one time.
This is a fictional western short story told by an anonymous narrator about the publisher of the town newspaper. It starts with a local business being vandalized and she investigates.
Wolf-dog hybrids are somewhat controversial. In some places, they are even banned. In this article, I try to relate an objective view about them.