Western Short Story - The Bride

The Bride



 

I guess you could say I was little nervous as I combed my hair down one more time. The sun was just peeking over the eastern horizon, and the bedroom smelled of pomade and coal oil.

The chickens were fed, and the cows had been milked, both new chores for me, and chores I didn’t ask the cowhands to do. They hated anything that had to do with farming. The Chinese cook tended the garden, another task that cowboys hated. However, they didn’t complain about having eggs, tomatoes, butter, and cream in their coffee.

When I got that letter accepting my proposal of marriage, she had made it on condition that I buy two milk cows, build a good sized chicken house, stock it with hens and at least two roosters, and then put her in a vegetable garden. I did it all with a smile. She was going to be a real humdinger, that one!

I’d come west when there were no neighbors for fifty miles, and I’d the built R Bar from scratch. I owned two thousand acres outright and claimed two hundred thousand more. I had four barns, twenty waterholes, and close to eight thousand head of cattle, many ready for market. I wasn’t the largest rancher in the territory, but I wasn’t far from it either. I had fought off rustlers, Indians, and lasted through two droughts, but it had all been worthwhile. Now I was ready for wife and family, and my new bride would be in on the noon stage.

She answered the advertisement I’d placed in several papers, as was the custom. The west was just now becoming tame enough for womenfolk, and lonely men were bringing them in sight unseen. I had no notion what my bride looked like nor had I asked. It wasn’t polite, and a man like me had no right to be choosy. After all, I was hardly what you would call handsome myself. In fact, the face looking back at me in the mirror was big, rawboned, and just this side of downright homely.

Frank Russo had brought the spanking new buggy around front and was checking the harness. He looked up and grinned as I stepped down from the porch.

“Hell, boss, I ain’t never seen you all duded up like that!”

I was wearing my new, black broadcloth suit and an eastern style bowler hat. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Red Swiller slap Johnny Quince on the back over by the horse barn, and I heard them both howling with laughter. My face grew red. I guess I did look a little foolish.

I climbed into the carriage and gathered up the reins “I should be back by sundown Frank.” I glanced at the horse barn. “Have Red and Johnny milk those cows later, and feed the chickens.”

Frank’s grin grew ever wider.

“That’ll teach them two to laugh at the boss!”

I flicked the reins and headed for town.

The ‘noon’ stage was just a guess. Usually, it was closer to one o’clock, or later, but today, it was right on time, rattling, jingling, and swaying as the driver halted the team on front of the Emporium. The shotgun messenger, Ted Blackwell, nodded at me, and climbed down, leaving his double barrel shotgun in the boot.

He stepped to the side door and opened it. A drummer stepped out, turned and offered his hand to a tall, slim woman with auburn hair piled on top of her head. She nodded at him and stepped down. Her eyes swept around and settled on me. I guess I looked like I was there for a reason.

“Do I have the honor of addressing Mr. Tom Randall?”

I smiled at her. “At your service ma’am”

She didn’t smile back. Her lips thinned and then pursed as her cool eyes frankly appraised me, sweeping up and down. What she saw was a big man with wide shoulders, and large, work hardened hands. I removed my hat, and she saw a shock of black hair, pomaded and combed straight back.

She looked me in the eyes, her lips still pursed.

“Very well Mister Randall. Will you fetch my belongings then?”

I was just getting ready to ask which were hers, when I heard Charlie Park’s voice booming from across the street.

“Randall! I’ll be having my satisfaction with you!”

Charlie Park was ramrod for the Double T, and he’d been drinking. Two weeks ago, I heard him make a disparaging remark about a local townswoman, and I hit him square in the mouth. When I hit a man, he usually goes down, and big Charlie Park was no exception.

“Excuse me for a moment, ma’am.”

Park had two men with him, as I stepped into the street. I waited as he walked up grinning.

“I owe you one Randall.”

Too late, I saw him glance over my shoulder, as two more men stepped up behind me and grabbed my arms. Charlie Park stepped in and threw a hard, overhand right straight to my jaw, and it shook me to my boots. I felt my knees buckling, and I was wondering if I was going down when a tremendous blast rattled the air behind me.

I turned my head and saw my bride-to-be up on the stagecoach, holding the shotgun messenger’s sawed off weapon, smoke still curling from the right barrel. Coolly, she broke the action and dropped in a fresh shell from several on the seat. She snapped the action closed again and lifted the shotgun to her shoulder just like she’d been doing it all her life, which she probably had.

“Drop that man’s arms, or I’ll cut you down where you stand.”

There was no doubt in any mind that she’d do exactly that, so my arms were released immediately.

“All four of you men step away from the fight. Move to the boardwalk across the street.”

They obeyed, and she spoke again.

“You may finish your fight, gentlemen.”

I guess I was mad about having my arms pinned, so I set out to make Charlie Park woefully sorry for picking a fight with me on this day, of all days. He swung another right that I easily ducked, and I countered with a right of my own that skidded along his left temple and smashed his ear. I followed up with a left hook to the jaw and a hard right to the gut. He grunted and doubled over, so I caught him going down with an uppercut that had all I could muster behind it. He crumpled to the ground and didn’t move.

I looked across the street at the other four, but they had suddenly lost all interest and must have decided that there was work to be done back on the ranch. They mounted up and left town without a word or even a backward glance at their boss lying motionless in the street.

I stepped back to the coach and helped my bride down. She stood there looking at me, and I spoke to her.

“You’ll do.”

I instantly regretted it, for even though that remark was known as high praise in the west, she might have misunderstood. I need not have worried.

“You’ll do too, Tom.”

She cocked her head slightly to one side and regarded me again. For the first time, her face softened, and a small smile danced on her now full lips. Just like that, she went from merely pretty to downright beautiful.

“Now if you’ll fetch my belongings, Tom, we can go look up a preacher.”

I grinned at her.

“Yes ma’am. And which ones belong to you?”

“They’re all labeled with my name, Tom...Maggie May McAllister.”

...

Note: The idea for this story came from babasanju, and his Hub on arranged marriages.

More by this Author


Comments 80 comments

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

I like strong women characters. The real women back then had to be tough to survive.Rate it up and awesome.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you dahoglund!


kennynext profile image

kennynext 5 years ago from Everywhere

This is very good. A fiance ready for anything while a bowlers hat is a must for meeting her the first time. Up and awesome.


Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 5 years ago from Jamaica

Will you brought back Maggie May.....GREAT!

I adore you WillStar.

This is awesome, the fight, the way you built up the story. Great.

Love you Will.


Nan Mynatt 5 years ago

Great hub I marked you up.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 5 years ago from Southern Illinois

Will, this is a great story. I was looking for a twist at the end and you didn't disappoint me. I liked the way they both said, " you'll do. "

Smiles


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Hi kennynext!

Can you imagine the anticipation?


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Hi Cardisa, and I love you more! :-)


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Hi Nan Mynatt!

I enjoyed your school Hub.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Hi always exploring,

"You'll do" was quite a compliment in the old west. It meant that you would be trusted to do your part and hold up your end. It was an understated accolade.


Becky 5 years ago

I loved this. She is a great character and deserved to be continued. Great job, Will.


Old Poolman profile image

Old Poolman 5 years ago from Rural Arizona

Welcome back Maggie May, I have missed you.


randslam profile image

randslam 5 years ago from Kelowna, British Columbia

Great story, Will! Gotta love a woman that stands by her man...or at least shoots from behind him. Great twist revealing an easier style of 'going a'courting.'


Truckstop Sally profile image

Truckstop Sally 5 years ago

Fun hub! A woman, a shotgun, a cowboy . . . love is in the air!!


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Hi Becky,

Yes, Maggie May is a real western woman. :-)


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Hi Mike!

I missed her too!


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Hi randslam,

Good to see you again!


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Hi Truckstop Sally,

Maggie May McAllister rides again! :-)


diogenes profile image

diogenes 5 years ago from UK and Mexico

You did it again, Will. Marriage to her is going to be fun! bob


Alastar Packer profile image

Alastar Packer 5 years ago from North Carolina

Looks like Charlie and the bride to be both made good choices. Wouldn't want to lay a bet on which one will wear the pants in the family though. You bring um alive Will.


Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

WhooHoo, Maggie-May is here to stay. She was making changes even before she arrived and stood shoulder to shoulder with her man from the get go.

But, Alastar, I think she loves her skirts. A strongest kind of woman is one who doesn't have to wear the pants. She sewed them and knows they are restricting so she keeps her place as the heart of the family.

WillStarr, you entirely deserve to be an internationally recognized writer and these stories in books everywhere. Another winner and a fine fine read. "It'll do."


Ginn Navarre profile image

Ginn Navarre 5 years ago

Great as always. I still swear that western women WON the west and thats my story and I'm sticking to it!


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Hi diogenes,

Actually, quite a few western women were like Maggie May.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Hi Alastar Packer,

Tom will wear the pants. Very few western women dressed like men. That's what made Calamity Jane so different.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Hi Hyphenbird,

You flatter me! I'm blushing.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Hi Ginn,

You may be right!


drbj profile image

drbj 5 years ago from south Florida

This was a humdinger of a story, Will. With authentic early Western description and narrative. It will more than just 'do.' !


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you, drbj, for the great compliment!


50 Caliber profile image

50 Caliber 5 years ago from Arizona

Great start with Maggie May McAllister, soon to be Maggie May Randall? a woman after Shotgun Willey's heart. I don't roll without my double barrel coach gun, 14 inch barrels. Ain't no other like a coach gun, both hammers set to the right so a feller or Maggie can cock them with a thumb at one time, pulling both triggers is a bit harsh but not as harsh as the giving end.

Will I'll be looking for a good follow up to a great start! Dust

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eK-7k8MHvnE


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Hi Dusty!

Maggie May has a past. Four of us have already written about her! :-)


50 Caliber profile image

50 Caliber 5 years ago from Arizona

I read 'em all, some say she was killed but I see that's a myth, she just got a bit tougher and meaner, I heard she killed half a family for messing with her :) dust


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

You're right Dusty...talk of her early death was a myth, as we shall see. She lived a long and storied life as Maggie May McAllister-Randolph


50 Caliber profile image

50 Caliber 5 years ago from Arizona

I so love a violent ending.....but one that takes a good while to reach, dust


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 5 years ago from South Africa

Tom and Maggie May McAllister seem to be a perfect match! I just love this story, and I do hope with all my heart babasanju will also meet his perfect match. As always, WillStar, I believe your stories should be published, e-books galore.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Hi MartieCoetser,

Tom and Maggie May may be back!


Twilight Lawns profile image

Twilight Lawns 5 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

A wonderful read as usual. Nice one, Will.


SubRon7 profile image

SubRon7 5 years ago from eastern North Dakota

All across the board, Will, great story. I do agree with many of your commenters, and past commenters. You should be officially published. I've never heard of a book filled with "western" short stories, but I think you could fill one.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 5 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

A couple of rough hewn characters to tame the wild west. This story has strength.


biblicaliving profile image

biblicaliving 5 years ago from U.S.A.

Will, you've got some good stuff.. Your creativity probably keeps you up at night don't it? Well done!


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you, Twilight Lawns!


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Hi SubRon7,

Louis L'Amour published lots of short story compilations and they sold very well. Ronald Reagan read them while recuperating from his assassination attempt.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Hi mckbirdbks, and thank you!


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Hi biblicaliving,

Actually, most of my short stories are written in less than two hours. When I get the urge, I write, and it never keeps me up.


epigramman profile image

epigramman 5 years ago

..well I always come home to the 'master' and it's pure genius how you can master the short story genre with such ease - particularly the western short story genre - heads up Zane Grey and Louis L'amour - there's a new hombre in town - and Frederic Remington would like to paint him.


CMerritt profile image

CMerritt 5 years ago from Pendleton, Indiana

Son of a GUN!....didn't see that one coming. I LOVE IT!!

As you well know I am a Maggie May fan!!!

E X C E L L E N T !!!!


Dexter Yarbrough profile image

Dexter Yarbrough 5 years ago from United States

Great story, Will! Tom is cool but Maggie May is awesome!


Diane 5 years ago

Will, I was wondering, do you ever sleep? I'm guessing your story lines come faster

than you can put them on paper. Loved this one too and totally agree with all the other

comments from your fans. Thanks Will for another good read!


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Hi Epi!

Can you tell that I'm a L'Amour and Grey fan?


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Hi CMerritt,

Maggie May does it again!


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Hi Dex,

Tom and Maggie have many an adventure ahead.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Hi Diane,

I sleep like a baby!


breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 5 years ago

Love the story. I think this marriage may work as well as your story line. Up and awesome.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Hi Pop, and thank you!


b. Malin profile image

b. Malin 5 years ago

The Old West not only had Strong Men...But they also (thank you for showing that Willstarr) Had Strong Beautiful Women. Wonderful story...I'll bet they lived Happily ever after...Will there be a Sequel? Mmmm.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Hi b. Malin!

"Will there be a Sequel? Mmmm."

I suspect that Tom and Maggie will have other adventures that'll need telling.


quester.ltd profile image

quester.ltd 5 years ago

again with the strong women - love it! /glad to have this one back from the . . .

good job-wote up and awesome

q


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you quester.ltd!


NotWiredThatWay profile image

NotWiredThatWay 5 years ago from New York

Another winner Will. I was sorry when it ended. I could just see the adventures their going to have. Your western stories remind me of Lonesome Dove. You write with a clarity that draws a person in.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you so much, NotWiredThatWay!


Auntie D profile image

Auntie D 5 years ago from California

Good story with a nice but teasing beginning...will patiently wait to see what happens next with Tom & Maggie.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Hi Auntie D!

Tom is new, but Maggie May McAllister has quite a history here on HubPages!


Maggie-May profile image

Maggie-May 5 years ago from the Island of Cape Breton to the Eastern Shores near Halifax, NS

Oh my goodness gracious!!! Wow! Will, I sure didn't see this one coming, what a nice/terrific surprise. Your stories are downright sensational from the opening paragraph right on through to the shocking yet gratifying finish, and always contain a hint of more to come--I sure hope more will follow with this one..I can actually picture a life during those times, and I'm quite certain I too would have stood by my man and been as equally talented with a gun...lol...A very nice surprise Will...I don't know how I haven't received notice of your publishing new Hubs, weird..I will just have to make sure I stroll by daily...Take care my friend, and please keep your magical pen flowing...MM


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Hi Maggie-May!

I don't think many people were notified of this publication.


Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

What a woman Maggie May McAllister is! This is such a great story. I really, really enjoyed it. Plus, I feel as though I've just stepped away from my office into an entirely different time and place... it was so refreshing. You're so good with that sort of transporting writing, WillStarr. Rock on!


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author


Guanta profile image

Guanta 5 years ago from New York City

Thank you WillStarr, that was masterful!


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Hi Guanta, and thank you!


suziecat7 profile image

suziecat7 5 years ago from Asheville, NC

I finally have a day off to catch up on some things. Your female characters never disappoint me. Especially Maggie. I keep trying to think what actor I would choose to play her in the movie. Thinking a red-haired Charlize Therron would do. Great stuff, as usual.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Hi suziecat7! I was starting to wonder about you...it's been a long time.

Thank you!


minutecreature profile image

minutecreature 5 years ago

Great hub!


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you, minutecreature!


Ghost32 5 years ago

I also "kinda missed" Maggie May myself; glad to see her back in action. The line that made it the MOST authentic for me:

"Coolly, she broke the action and dropped in a fresh shell from several on the seat."

Never could stand those stories where the protagonist(s) DON'T reload ASAP.

You'll do.

Up and Across.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

"An unloaded gun ain't good for much."

- Rooster Cogburn, True Grit.


kirutaye profile image

kirutaye 5 years ago from London, UK

I'm just loving your stories, Will. Good job.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Hi kirutaye!

I'm taking a look at your work, and I like what I see!


Nickels-and-Sense profile image

Nickels-and-Sense 5 years ago from New Orleans, Louisiana

Very enjoyable, nice flow, and laid out to near perfection; nice twist when she grabbed the shotgun and defended her man; I didn't see that coming, and although I'm not even familiar with Maggee may, I could feel the impact when she introduced herself. Very well written, awesome and one up!


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Hi Nickels-and-Sense, and thank you!


ubanichijioke profile image

ubanichijioke 5 years ago from Lagos

Wow! Did i say i like this, whoop! I loved and enjoyed it. The change of mood from a quiet, serene ranch to the tough and action packed lady gave me joy. Lovely!


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Hi ubanichijioke!

I enjoyed writing it.


Larry Fields profile image

Larry Fields 14 months ago from Northern California

Hello, Will. Sorry for taking so long to read this beautiful story. I love strong women.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working