“I’ve got you, Sally, and the hawk is gone,” cooed Daisy to her best laying hen.
She had the hen in one arm as she backed out from the crawl space under the farmhouse. She had been collecting eggs in the hen house when Sally ran loose and was chased by a Cooper’s hawk. The hen was a bit of a tease for predators because she knew exactly where to run to hide from them.
“You’re a naughty girl, and you’ll get caught one day,” warned Daisy as she walked back to the hen house. The chicken squawked, and Daisy was quite sure Sally replied, “Never.”
She placed the hen on her nest in the hen house and picked up the basket of collected eggs. Before gathering the eggs, Daisy had milked Gracie, the cow, so she headed to the house with a basket of eggs on one arm and carrying a bucket of milk with the other. She knew her mother would be waiting for the eggs to get breakfast on the table for her father and two younger brothers, and the minute she walked in the door, her mother didn’t waste any time making it clear that the meal would be late because of Daisy.
“Oh, heavens, Daisy, look at you! Are you wearing your brother’s trousers—and what’s in your hair? Are those cobwebs?” fussed her mother, Sarah, taking the basket from her.
Daisy laughed as she ran her hand over her hair. “I guess they are, Mama! I had to go under the house to reach Sally. She was teasing that hawk again.” She set down the milk bucket next to the butter churner pot.
“Why you don’t call one of your brothers to do that sort of thing, I’ll never understand. Doing your chores is one thing but crawling on the ground in the crawlspace in men’s clothes is not what a well-bred preacher’s daughter should be doing!”
“Daisy? Well-bred? Ha!” whooped fifteen-year-old Daniel as he came into the kitchen. “Are those eggs in the basket meant for breakfast, Ma? I’m hungry this morning.”
“You hush about your sister, Mister Daniel! And it will take just a few minutes to fry the eggs. Daisy, please change into a clean dress before sitting at my table!”
Daisy smiled at her brother’s good-natured teasing and left the kitchen to change into a clean dress and brush the cobwebs from her tangled blond curls. She and her mother often disagreed about the clothing Daisy wore. As far as she was concerned, a dress was for church services on Sunday but not at all practical for farm work. Daniel was four years younger than Daisy, but his clothes fit her trim figure perfectly and were best suited for all the tasks that were her responsibility to help keep the farm and household running.
Once in her room, Daisy chose a simple blue gingham dress and brushed her hair free of the offending cobwebs, styling it in an effortless top knot. She thought she looked enough like the “well-bred” lady her mother wished her to be, but she knew she’d never be that — primarily if what she was planning worked out as she expected.
Daisy picked up the dime novel she’d started reading several days prior. It was the latest Edward Ellis story about the Western frontier, The Forest Monster or Lamora, the Maid of the Canon. Ever since she learned to read, Daisy had been fascinated by tales of the people and places of the West. She longed to see the sights and experience the adventures of the settlers who made new lives in Colorado, Nevada, California, and the Pacific Northwest. Much to her mother’s consternation, she’d find her daughter seeking out the day laborers hired to pick the cotton on the farm and listening to their stories of the Western towns they had visited.
By the time Daisy returned to the kitchen to join her family for the morning meal, her father, John, and twelve-year-old brother, Charlie, were sitting at the table with Daniel, being served eggs, pork sausage, and biscuits by Sarah.
“There’s my girl,” welcomed her father. “I hear Sally made another run for it this morning.”
Daisy rolled her big ocean blue eyes as she pulled out a chair to sit at the table. “Oh, Papa, she’s playing with fire, and I swear she knows it! That hawk is going to swoop down and grab her one day.”
Reverend John Adams grinned at his daughter. He loved all his children, but Daisy, christened Margaret Amelia Adams, had a way about her that reminded him of his one and only sister, who died of smallpox at the age of fourteen. Like her aunt, Daisy knew what she wanted and had a streak of independence that drove her mother to distraction.
“Are you ready to give up on her and let her run free?”
“Papa! Definitely not!” exclaimed Daisy. “I was thinking of making a separate laying cage for her so that when the eggs are collected, her place is the only one open in the hen house. She’d be less likely to escape if the attention was solely on her.”
“That’s a good idea, Daisy,” complimented Daniel. “I can help build it if that’s what you decide.”
“I’d like the help, Daniel, thank you. I’ll sketch what I have in mind, and we can go from there.” Daisy’s favorite pastime was drawing and painting, taking after her father in that respect.
Her brother nodded in agreement as he stuffed sausage in his mouth and glanced at his mother to ensure she didn’t see.
Sarah took a seat at the opposite end of the dining table from her husband after making sure her family had plates of food.
“Before any sketching is done, Daisy, I’ll expect you to accompany me to the quilting circle at Mrs. Gibbons’ home today. We must have one more quilt finished before the auction during the state fair in Houston next month,” she insisted. “The congregation is counting on the money for building four more pews. More and more immigrants are settling in the area and seeking out your father’s church, and they need a place to sit.”
“Mama, you know I’m not good at sewing, especially the tiny stitches used for quilt squares!”
“I think your stitching is fine, and it will give you practice for the sewing and mending you’ll be doing when you marry and have a family.” Sarah looked over the rim of her coffee cup at her daughter’s stubborn expression. “That reminds me, we need to decide which of your Sunday dresses you’ll be wearing to Martha Calhoun’s barn dance celebrating her engagement.”
Daisy placed the biscuit she was buttering back on her plate and gave her mother a forced smile. “Mother, I hadn’t planned on going to the celebration.”
Her father cast a wary eye at her, then his wife. Daisy only used the formal “mother” when aggravated or embarrassed, and he guessed she wasn’t embarrassed at that moment. Daniel and Charlie saw their mother push her plate aside, place her clasped hands on the table, and stare at their sister. They knew what would happen next─the argument about Daisy and marriage.
Daniel nudged his brother and whispered, “Let’s go.” Charlie agreed with a wink.
“This was a good breakfast today, Mama,” said Daniel, standing and smiling at Sarah. “We’re going to get started on our chores, so may we be excused?”
“Thank you, Mama. See you all at dinner,” chimed in Charlie.
The brothers scrambled out the door as fast as they could.
Reverend Adams wiped his mouth with his napkin. “Daisy, I’m sure your mother is as surprised as I am that you wouldn’t want to wish your friend happiness at her engagement.”
“Papa, I’ve sent Martha a note wishing her much happiness with Clifton,” explained Daisy as she turned toward her father. “After all, we weren’t very close during our school years, and I’ve not seen her much since then.”
Sarah hadn’t taken her eyes off her daughter. “Daisy, you need to go to be seen . . . to be social. How are the young men of Houston going to know you are available for courting if you don’t make an effort by going to events?”
“I’m not available, Mama, and I see no reason to be out and about if I’m going to be leaving to get married.” She sat tall in her chair and did her best to look resolute.
“Ah, I see,” responded her father as he sat back against his chair. “You’ve contacted a marriage broker.” He looked to his wife, whose face was drawn and pale. “It shouldn’t be a surprise, Sarah. She told us what she wanted to do.”
“Of course, it’s a surprise, John! She hasn’t spoken of it in more than a month! A mail-order bride seeking adventure in the West! It’s foolish, not to mention most dangerous!” Sarah rose and began to clear the table. “She’s going to the dance, and that’s settled.”
John also rose from his seat and went to his wife, putting his arm around her shoulders. “Sarah,” he began, speaking calmly, “sit back down. We agreed to hear Daisy’s plans if she heard from a reputable agency, and it’s time to hear her out.” He led her back to the chair Daniel had vacated and held her hand as he sat down.
“Daisy, tell us what has happened.”
“I’ve written to a marriage broker in Chicago that had placed an advertisement in the Houston newspaper. The lady I’ve been writing to is Anna Mason, and she’s given me the addresses of two other women she had introduced to their husbands within the last year. Both women highly regard Anna and are happily married.
“After hearing from them, I wrote to Anna, telling her all about me, my interests, and what I expect from a husband. It’s been two weeks, and I should be hearing from her soon.”
“And just what do you expect from a husband, Daisy, that you couldn’t have with a local young man?” asked her mother with a worried frown.
“Exactly the opposite of that, Mama,” sighed Daisy. “I don’t want to marry a man who lives here. I want to live further west—California, Oregon, or even Colorado. You know it’s important to me that I travel and experience everything I’ve read about since I was a young girl.” She met her mother’s eyes with a determination neither of her parents had seen before. “Mama, we have talked about this, and you know this is what I want to do.”
Sarah took a handkerchief from her skirt pocket and dabbed the tears threatening to spill onto her cheeks. “I don’t understand how you expect to find happiness so far away from your family—with a stranger! We won’t know him, so how do you suppose we learn to trust him with our only daughter?”
“I think, my dear, we will have to put our trust in our grown daughter to choose wisely, and I have no doubt there will come a day when we meet the man she agrees to marry and welcome him to the family,” consoled John. “After all, it’s not going to happen overnight, and Daisy will correspond with her intended for quite a while before she makes the final decision. Isn’t that so, Daisy?”
“Oh, yes, Papa, for at least five or six months. You will know as much about him as I will.”
Daisy’s mother quietly wept, and John gathered her in his arms. “Come, Sarah, let’s go for a walk. The Lord has blessed us with a beautiful June morning, and we should appreciate it with a stroll through the rose garden. Daisy will clean up.”
“Yes, of course, I will,” agreed Daisy. “The roses always delight you, Mama.”
Her mother gave a brief nod and allowed herself to be escorted out the door into the sunshine. Daisy knew if anyone could help her mother see her point of view, it would be her father. After leaving the seminary in Philadelphia, he had ventured to the West to establish a ministry and made it as far as Houston. He liked being near Galveston Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, and he told Daisy it was near as good as making it all the way to the Pacific Ocean.
“Papa and I have the same adventuresome spirit, so I know he’ll make Mama understand,” Daisy thought aloud as she filled the dishpan with water. “I just know it.”
Daisy’s faith in her father wasn’t unfounded. Sarah Adams trusted her husband in all things and declared that if he could give Daisy his blessing, so would she—with some conditions. What those conditions were would be discussed if or when their daughter traveled to places unknown.
They didn’t have long to wait. Twelve days later, Daisy presented her parents with a letter from Anna Mason informing her that she had found a marriage prospect for Daisy. She had included the gentleman’s name and background and indicated she would wait to hear of Daisy’s interest before writing to the gentleman.
Daisy was sitting at the dining table reading the letter as her mother cooked supper, and the reverend sat with Daisy, enjoying a cup of coffee.
“His name is William Chastain, and he’s thirty-one years old. Oh, Papa, he lives in Oregon City, Oregon!” cried Daisy. “Isn’t that wonderful? Oregon! He’s lived there for four years and owns a tack and leatherworking shop. He also has a five-room home on the outskirts of the city!”
“Thirty-one years old, Daisy? That’s quite a bit older than your nineteen years,” mentioned Sarah, turning from the stove with a frown.
Daisy lowered the letter and looked at her mother. “I don’t think it’s too much older, Mama. His age speaks to his building a business and home for himself—maturity. Don’t you think so, Papa?”
“I’d have to agree with Daisy, Sarah. And that’s only two years older than I am to you.”
“I guess, but does this Anna give you a physical description?”
“She writes that he’s over six feet tall, muscular but of a good weight, and has dark brown hair and brown eyes. That’s perfect as I’m five feet eight inches.” The excited and pleased look on Daisy’s face wasn’t lost on either of her parents.
Her father cleared his throat. “What happens next, daughter?”
“Well, if I’m interested, I’ll let Anna know, and she will write to Mr. Chastain to introduce me. If he’s interested, then he and I will start corresponding.”
“From the excitement in your voice and the look on your face, we’ll take it that you’re interested?” sighed Sarah.
“Yes, Mama, I am. I’m going to write Anna and get the letter in the mail tomorrow. The sooner Mr. Chastain and I are in contact, the closer I’ll be to deciding if the life he can offer me is what I want.”
“A Love Buried Deep Inside” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!
Being an adventurous spirit, Daisy Adams has chosen to become a mail-order bride and leave her home in Texas to chase her dream of living in the untamed West. Against all odds, her husband-to-be, William, seems to be just the one to fulfill her wish of romance and risky escapades, filling her heart with joy. Yet, Daisy will soon realize that William’s choices can put her happiness at risk…
Can she silence the echoes of her doubts and trust him?
Having left his dark past behind, William Chastain can finally settle down and let the unpleasant memories fade away. After the correspondence with an enthusiastic young woman, Daisy, he can feel his future changing. However, even though he is nothing but gentle and protective to her, there is always a hidden part of him threatening to destroy his newfound love…
How can he overcome his fears of rejection and show his true colors to this beautiful soul?
Although secrets always seem to stand in their way, Daisy and William share a bond they can’t deny. Will the distance between them eventually win over, or will their love for one another be enough to survive the challenges ahead?
“A Love Buried Deep Inside” is a historical western romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.