Tuesday, November 26, 2019

HOW TO FEED BABY? by Marisa Masterson

1897 Nestle's formula advertisement
A baby is left on the steps one wintry night. A man and woman join forces to provide it with warmth and food. Perhaps they might even give it a home. This is the premise of my latest novel, A Snowy Delivery for Christmas. While writing it, I needed to research how my couple, living in the 1920s, would feed this baby.

In so many wonderful romance novels I've read, a motherless baby is passed along to a wet nurse. While that sets up the possibility of romance between the grieving father and the woman nursing his child, what happened to a baby if no nursing mother was available? How did babies survive in a time before Playtex Nursers or Doctor Brown bottles?

Gag! They, ugh, would hold a baby up to the teat. As in animal teat. At one point in France, it was considered normal to hold the baby up to an animal teat and allow it to nurse. I suppose desperate situations demanded desperate solutions. The alternative to this was awkward and time consuming. The infant had to be fed milk from a spoon. Problems with choking immediately come to my mind as I imagine this way of feeding.
Why use an animal teat or a spoon? Other methods of feeding babies were available. Pewter containers with a spout were popular (known as bubby pots). A rag was tied over the holes in the spout (imagine a small watering can) for the baby to nurse. It wasn't a nipple, but it did work. 

So why did babies fed this way tend to grow ill? Bacteria! In fact, most of the earlier methods of feeding babies allowed for a growth of bacteria. Of course, the existence of bacteria had yet to be proved at that time so people could observe the effects and make the connection without knowing exactly why the containers made the babies sick.

In 1841, the first glass bottles were developed by an American, C. M. Windship. Imagine this, though. The bottle had to be fitted over the mother's breast. The point was to trick the baby into thinking she was breastfeeding. That idea didn't last long. Soon bottles closer to what are available today were developed. Still, the modern heat-resistant upright glass bottle wasn't available until the 1950s. 

Tube Feeding
The most distressing part of my research concerned the nipple. I say distressing because of my modern understanding of bacteria. In preparing my granddaughter's bottle, I wash the parts in hot water and then sanitize them in boiling water.

Before rubber was available dried cow teats or leather were used as nipples. Some nipples were fashioned out of cork. I can imagine a parent's frustration at that point. The leather or dried teat would give the baby bacteria and make her sick. The cork wouldn't regulate the flow of milk and could choke the baby. Bottles with tubes seemed the best solution, but those allowed for a growth of bacteria in the tube. Again, the babies grew ill when using that method of feeding.
Killer Baby Bottles

Rubber Nipple

Oh, the miracle of rubber! A rubber nipple was introduced in 1845. What a wonderful invention. Too bad that it smelled horrible. Who wants to suck something that smells offensive? Advances by the early twentieth century changed the rubber nipple so the odor was gone, making it the accepted way to feed a baby. Accepted that is if breastfeeding wasn't an option. The push away from this natural form of feeding a baby didn't happen until later in that century.

After witnessing my daughter's struggle to feed her new baby, I am glad for Doctor Brown bottles and modern materials. Still, I pause to consider the history of trial and error that brought us to this age of safe and hygienic options. Shudders run through me as I think over the information I read while research the history of bottles and nipples. 

Sources used while researching:

Christmas, 1921
Victrolas, flappers, and a rooming house where two lonely people live. Good thing for them that Mrs. Klaussen, their landlady, has Christmas magic at her fingertips.

Del Peale and Josephine Withers have both loved and lost. That is why neither has pursued their mutual attraction. A newborn left on the front steps brings them together. A cold house forces Del to face the home he shared with his wife and son. Is it enough to let them see that love is still possible if they share that love?

Will strange twists and an abandoned baby be enough to lead them to a Christmas wedding? Perhaps Mrs. Klaussen will need to step in with a miracle and a very special Christmas ornament?

About Marisa Masterson

Marisa Masterson and her husband of thirty-one years reside in Saginaw, Michigan. They have two grown children, one son-in-law, a precious new granddaughter, and one old and lazy dog.

She is a retired high school English teacher and oversaw a high school writing center in partnership with the local university. In addition, she is a National Writing Project fellow and a regular contributor to the Sweet Americana Sweethearts and Sweethearts of the West blogs.

Focusing on her home state of Wisconsin, she writes sweet historical romance. Growing up, she loved hearing stories about her family pioneering in that state. Those stories, in part, are what inspired her to begin writing.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Giving your Characters Hobbies

About six weeks ago, I was answering interview questions for a blog post to promote my latest title. This set of questions focused on drawing out information about me the person. Huh? I’d been answering such interviews as “me the author” for so long I’d almost forgotten that I used to do other things than write, research and read. So I dug deep and remembered what I did a couple years ago when I was in a writing slump and was avoiding the computer.

I crocheted baby afghans. I love this hobby because it’s portable and can be stopped and started easily. At least, much easier than when sewing or quilting were my hobbies. Plus in winter, I have the added bonus of the garment being created warms my lap. The hobby is relaxing and once I get into a rhythm, I can do it while watching a show on television. When my family lived in Texas, I used all sorts of scrap yarn that I’d gathered over the years and donated the finished blankets to the children’s hospital. My youngest daughter and I did a project at church where we made beanie caps and donated them to a homeless shelter. Unfortunately, a lot of that yarn got donated when we moved from Texas because we knew the 750 s.f. cabin we were moving to lacked enough storage.

I was in the garage a couple months ago looking for canning supplies on our shelves and ran across a couple boxes of yard. Now, I’ve caught the crocheting bug again and have finished several baby afghans in the intervening time. For me, crocheting is automatic. My fingers move in an established pattern while I watch TV and I feel relaxed. The finished projects will be donated to a local women’s shelter so I make all sizes from newborn to toddler.

The heroines of our stories would have crocheted (and knitted and sewed) out of necessity. So, I use the word ‘hobby’ is a loose way, meaning an activity done in spare moments between other tasks. But I have to believe they would have gained the same sense of quiet and used the time for reflection. A seamstress might tat collars and cuffs in the evening to add to her dresses. Such an activity would add unique or artistic touches to everyday wear and would feed the woman’s soul. As would sketching or painting or penning poetry. In other stories, I’ve given men whittling, woodworking, or leather craft hobbies. The characters become richer and more relateable.

In my latest release, A Vow for Christmas, mail-order bride Vika is aware on the train ride from Lincoln, Nebraska, to Gunnison City, Colorado, that she will have to crochet vests and scarves because the mountainous city has a much colder temperature than what she was used to. Then when she arrives, she expands the list to provide items for her new family. 


In the three years since his beloved wife died, rancher Chad Rutherford has done the best for his family. But with his sister leaving the family ranch to get married, he needs to find someone to keep house and tend his kids so he places an ad for a mail-order bride.

Left on her own by her brother’s murder, spinster Vika Carmichael must find a way to life. An ad for a mail-order bride from a widower with small children seems like the perfect fit. Until she arrives in Gunnison, Colorado Territory, and wonders if room for her exists in their hearts.

Will two proud individuals find a way to work together, or will their marriage vows be broken by Christmas?

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Wednesday, November 20, 2019


Post by Doris McCraw
writing as Angela Raines

In 1878, Adeline Hornbeck purchased property west of Colorado Springs in what was known as the Florissant Valley. Here the widow, with her four children, carved out a livelihood for themselves. Not only did the property have a well-constructed home, but it had many outbuildings including a milk and chicken house. The home itself was a marvel, the first two-story home in the area when it was completed in 1878. It still stands today and was in use as a home up until the 1960s.

Adeline's journey began with her birth in July of 1833 in Massachusetts. It was there she met and married Simon A. Harker. They had three children, Franklin, Anna, and George. According to the 1860 census the couple were in Creek Nation, Indian Land, Arkansas (Oklahoma) where Simon was an Indian agent, according to one record. By 1861 they moved to the Denver area and filed on 160 acres. Then in 1864, Simon died, he may have been sickly and moved to the area for his health. His death ended up leaving Adeline to fend for herself and the children. Instead of being defeated at the change in circumstances Adeline instead showed her business sense. She purchased 80 acres of the homestead, using a clause in the act, for $100.

Mt. Pisgah, in Colorado south of Florissant Fossil Beds
In September of 1866 she married Elliot Hornbeck. They had a child together, Elliot Jr. But things did not remain calm. Elliot disappeared in 1875. There is speculation he may have been married to another woman back east, or he may have died, no one seems to know. But it seems Adeline was not defeated. She accumulated enough cash to purchase the land in Florrisant Valley. It is from this base that she built her 'empire', although when starting out she worked in the mercantile in the new town of Florrisant.

Hornbeck Homestead
Adeline chose well. Her homestead was on the route to the gold and silver fields in the South Park area. Sitting on one of the tributaries of the South Platte River it had good pasture land, pine trees, and water. She was also an astute businesswoman, active in the community, holding social gatherings at her home and serving on the school board. By the time she paid off her homestead claim, in 1885, the property value was at least five times the price.

Around 1900, at the age of 66, she married 47 year old Frederick Sticksel, an immigrant who came to the U.S. in 1882. Five years later, Adeline passed away at age 71 of  'paralysis'. 

The property where Adeline Warfield Harker Hornbeck Sticksel built her home for herself and children is now part of the Florissant National Fossil Beds and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Adeline is buried in the Four Mile Cemetery, Florissant, Colorado. Adeline was a true pioneer.

In the novel "Chasing a Chance" Mary Gilpin is another woman who made her way in the west. After the death of her husband, she made her living as a mercantile owner. 

Below is a short excerpt:

 "When you're ready, fire away," Stu laughed.

Mary stood inside her store, horrified at the callous disregard the men who'd overrun the town had for anyone. Watching the one they called Stu force the gun into seven-year-old Bobby's hand and demand he shoot brought an anger she hadn't felt for years.
"What if I miss?" young Bobby asked, his hand shaking with the weight of the pistol and possibly fear.
"Well, just keep firing. You'll eventually hit something. You get six tries," Stu laughed, then jumped back when Bobby accidentally turned the gun toward him. "But not me!" he shouted, shoving the gun away and toward Tad, another child who'd been playing with Bobby.
Unable to let the scene continue, Mary could keep quiet no longer. It was bad enough the town was hiding behind their doors, justifiably fearful of these men. But to allow their children to be subjected to the games of these same men was outside enough. She marched out the door of her general store and grabbed the gun from Bobby's hand. She then pointed it at Stu's face, the anger giving her strength to hold the heavy gun, declaring, "Take your games and foolishness somewhere else and leave the children alone."
Perhaps it was the surprise that saved her, for Mary continued, smiling as she sweetly said, the gun still under Stu's nose, "Should I give it a try? Shall I keep shooting until I hit something?"

Chasing A Chance (Lockets and Lace Book 7) by [Raines, Angela]
Purchase on Amazon
Doris Gardner-McCraw -

Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women's History
Angela Raines - author: Where Love & History Meet
Angela Raines FaceBook: Click Here

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

For Want of a Nail...

Continuing with our series of cowboy sayings and proverbs related to horses, I ran across this one, which my husband (the farrier and blacksmith) often quotes:

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the message was lost.
For want of a message the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the war was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

In today's society, we often talk about the "butterfly effect" - that a small, seemingly insignificant thing could cause catastrophic results, because we often can't see the big picture being affected by such a small thing. The proverb "For want of a nail" is exactly the same effect. If a horse needs shoes, it needs a specific number of nails in order to get those shoes upon his feet. Usually 6-8 nails.

In the 1800's, if the blacksmith needed nails, he had to forge them himself or reuse nails that were still in good shape. If the blacksmith makes a bad judgment call on a nail, he may choose too few for the horse, or reuse a nail that shouldn't have been reused. In the course of being ridden or worked, the horse might also pull a shoe off partway, causing him to lose a nail or two. This will make the shoe sprung (bent) or loose. Either way, if the rider doesn't get the horse to the farrier soon, he may lose said shoe entirely.

When the horse loses a shoe in the harsh terrain and under hard work, he may wear his foot down too quickly or get a stone bruise which could lead to abscess. Either way, the horse will pull up lame and then become unable to do the job that he was meant for.

If that job was to deliver a message - especially an important one that needed to be delivered in a timely manner, the message could then be lost. If the message was important information about a battle that was coming, the battle lost - and therefore, potentially, a whole war. All hinging on the fact that the horse was missing a nail in his shoe.

The point of this proverb (which has been passed down for centuries in different forms) is that small things make a big difference and there is no detail that is insignificant.

On average, P. Creeden releases 2-3 stories each month. Interested in learning more? 
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Monday, November 18, 2019

Predictions From 1901

 By Sophie Dawson

Just as with the turn of the 21st century, predictions of what the world will be like in 100 years occurred at the beginning of the 20th century. These are from a 1901 issue of the Ladies Home Journal. I've chosen ones that struck a chord with me, either coming to pass or way off the mark. If you'd like to see the entire article, here's the link: https://www.popculturemadness.com/PCM/wp-content/uploads/1901/12/Predictions.jpg

You should be able to tell which have come true or not.

"These prophecies will seem strange, almost impossible. Yet they have come from the most learned and conservative minds in America. To the wisest and most careful men in our great institutions of science and learning I have gone, asking each in his turn to forecast for me what, in his opinion, will have been wrought in his own field of investigation before the dawn of 2001 -- a century from now."
( I could say his first mistake was only asking men, but I won't.)

Between 350,000,000 - 500,000,000 people in the US.

Mexico will seek admission to the United States as will other Central and South American countries.

Americans will be from one to two inches taller. (I checked this out and it's true. Men are 2.4" taller on average, women 2" taller.)

C, X and Q will have been abandoned in the alphabet because they are unnecessary.

English will be the dominate language spoken worldwide followed by Russian.

No mosquitoes, flies or roaches.

Ready-Cooked meals will be delivered to homes and the dishes returned to be washed. (Can you say pizza delivery, Home Chef,  Plated, etc?)

There will be no cars on the streets of large cities, they will be underground with broad subways and well-lit, well-ventilated tunnels. Therefore, cities will be free from all noise.

Photographs will be telegraphed from any distance and in total color.

Trains will run 150 miles per hour with cooled cars. Homes will be air-cooled also.

Automobiles will be cheaper than horses.

Fast electric ships will travel on a cushion of air and speed across the Atlantic to England in 2 days.

There will be Air Ships but they won't be able to compete with surface cars and water vessels for passenger and freight traffic.

Wireless telephones will make it possible for a husband in the middle of the Atlantic to speak with his wife in Chicago.

College education will be free. Etiquette and housekeeping will be important studies in all public schools.

Store purchases will be delivered by pneumatic tube to all homes or stations similar to post offices and delivered to homes by truck.

Vegetables will grow larger and faster by electricity which will also kill the weeds. (Not sure how it will kill weeds but not the plants wanted.)

Fast moving refrigerators will bring fruits and vegetable from South America, Africa, Australia, and the South Sea Island to the US in winter.

Strawberries, raspberries and blackberries will all be as large as apples.

Strawberries and cranberries will grown on bushes.

Melons, cherries, grapes, plums, peaches, apples, pears and all berries will be seedless.

Peas will be as large as beets.

Roses will be as large as cabbages and available in black, blue and green. Pansies will be the size of sunflowers.

Few drugs will be swallowed. They will be applied to the skin and carried to the organs by application of painless electricity.

The living body will be, essentially, transparent. It will be possible to see a living heart beat. Photographs of any part of the body will be taken and able to be magnified by rays of invisible light.

As you can see, some of the predictions have come about, maybe not in the way envisioned a century ago, but others not so much. Some I hope come in the future. No mosquitoes, flies or roaches, that's a yes. Same with strawberries the size of apples, yum.

So, what will be commonplace in 2119? Check out these links for predictions for the next century.




Sophie Dawson writes mainly sweet historical and some contemporary romance. You can find her books at https://www.amazon.com/Sophie-Dawson/e/B0084POHB6

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Pendleton, the Early Years

by Shanna Hatfield

Pendleton, Oregon, is a real place in the west I've used for the setting of a sweet romances that take place in the early 1900s as well as World War II, and contemporary stories. The history of the town goes back to before the Civil War, though.

In 1851, Dr. William C. McKay established a post office on McKay Creek along the Oregon Trail and called it Houtama. Later, Marshall Station was situated about a half-mile to the east on the north bank of the Umatilla River. Marshall Station was then called Middleton since it rested half way between what was then Umatilla Landing and the Grand Ronde Valley (known today as La Grande).

When a county was created in 1862, the temporary county seat was placed at Marshall Station. The post office was established there in 1865 with Jonathan Swift as the postmaster.

On October 8, 1869, the name was changed to Pendleton, named for George Hunt Pendleton, a Democratic candidate for vice president in 1864. The county judge, G.W. Bailey, suggested the name and the commissioners decided Pendleton suited the town. 

Much of the town proper at that time was owned by Moses E. Goodwin and Judge Bailey. Goodwin arrived in the area around 1861. He traded a team of horses to Abram Miller for squatter rights to 160 acres about three miles from Marshall Station. Goodwin Crossing was a stop for freight wagons. 

In 1868, Goodwin deeded two and a half acres of his land to the county for a town. A toll bridge that spanned the Umatilla River was constructed along with a hotel, a newspaper, and other businesses and Pendleton began to take shape as a community.

Back in those good old days, the community had a well where people would gather of an evening and visit. Pioneer accounts claim it was the sweetest water they'd ever tasted. 

That little tidbit of history and others are incorporated into Gift of Grace, the first book in a brand new holiday series called Gifts of Christmas I'll be releasing next month. 

Sometimes the best gifts
Are those freely given from the heart . . .

Ready to begin a new life far away from the sad memories of the Civil War, J.B. and Nora Nash head west on the Oregon Trail. They settle into the small community of Pendleton, Oregon, on a piece of land where they’re excited to build a future and their dreams together.

A devastating tragedy leaves them both reeling as they draw further and further apart. Nora blames J.B. for her unhappiness while he struggles through his own challenges. Only a miracle can bring them through their trials and reunite them for Christmas.

Together, will they discover the gift of grace in this sweet holiday romance brimming with hope, history, and abiding love?


Much to her dismay and surprise, J.B. stepped onto the bed with his damp boots and picked her up, holding her tight against his chest. Without missing a step, he walked off the other side and toward the bedroom door.

Nora clenched her hands into fists and pounded on his shoulders as he carried her into the kitchen.

The big galvanized tub they used for taking baths sat near the stove and she could see steam rising from the water. She had no idea what J.B. intended to do, but whatever it was she would fight him until her last breath.

“Put me down, you brute!” she demanded, shoving against his solid chest.

“Whatever you say, Nora,” J.B. said, dropping her into the tub.

Water splashed over the sides onto the floor and stung Nora’s eyes. She spluttered, pushing hair out of her face then rubbed her eyes.

Before she could stand and step out of the tub, J.B. reached down and ripped off her nightgown, sending buttons flying into the air. Appalled, she watched in horror as he wadded the ruined cloth into a ball and tossed it into a basket with dirty clothing sitting on the floor near the stove.

He glowered at her, pinning her in place with an unrelenting gaze. “You stink and your hair looks like you rubbed bear grease over your head. Take a bath and wash your hair. Maybe by the time you finish, you’ll feel better. At the very least, you’ll smell better than something left to rot on the side of the road.”

Shocked speechless by his actions, she remained as still as stone as he went into the bedroom and returned with the tray of tea and toast he’d prepared.

“When you get out of there, you eat that toast and drink the tea,” he ordered. “If you don’t, I swear I’ll force feed you.”

Defiantly, Nora lifted her chin. “I’ll eat when I feel like it.”

J.B. picked up a bar of perfumed soap and a wash cloth then bent down until his nose nearly touched hers. “Either you start scrubbing or I’ll do it for you.”

Nora grabbed the soap and cloth from him. If looks could have killed, James Benjamin Nash would have inhaled his very last breath in that moment.

Gift of Grace releases December 12. Right now, you can pre-order it for just 99 cents! 
USA Today bestselling author Shanna Hatfield is a farm girl who loves to write. Her sweet historical and contemporary romances are filled with sarcasm, humor, hope, and hunky heroes. When Shanna isn’t dreaming up unforgettable characters, twisting plots, or covertly seeking dark, decadent chocolate, she hangs out with her beloved husband, Captain Cavedweller.

Shanna loves to hear from readers. Follow her online at:
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Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Diamonds a Girls Best Friend? A Brief History of Engagement Rings by Kimberly Grist

Wedding Rings and Engagement Rings Traditions
While the exact beginning of the wedding ring tradition is a mystery, archaeological evidence of wedding rings has been found dating back thousands of years. The custom of wearing a ring on the third finger of the left hand is believed to have begun in Egypt. The Egyptians believed the vein of love, ran from the ring finger directly to the heart.

Fade Intaglio Ring, OMONOIA (harmony) Gold and carved onyx, 3rd Century, Roman. Source: Unknown
Wedding bands were simple and crafted out of iron or bronze. Gold and silver wedding bands were popular with royalty and the upper class and rings were exchanged in part to exchange wealth and as a symbol of a commitment to the marriage contract.
Beginning a tradition that would linger for centuries, in 1477, Archduke Maximilian of Austria presented Mary of Burgundy with a diamond engagement ring. Maximilian wed Mary within 24 hours.
The smallest engagement ring on record was given to Princess Mary, daughter of Henry VIII at the age of two, on the event of her betrothal to the infant Dauphin of France, son of King Francis I, in 1518. Mary’s tiny ring was set with a diamond.  
A Legendary Love
At the age of 16, Queen Victoria met the love of her life, Prince Albert. It’s been said they took an instant liking to one another and were eventually encouraged to marry. Since she was already Queen at the time of her romance, Victoria had to propose to Prince Albert.
What may seem a peculiar choice today, at the time, snakes were a symbol of wisdom and commitment. Prince Albert gave Queen Victoria a ring shaped like a serpent which included small rubies, diamonds and an emerald. Whatever Queen Victoria wore soon became fashionable and the snake ring enjoyed years of popularity.
In the 19th century, acrostic jewelry became popular. Each gem was assigned a letter of the alphabet. For example, amethyst for A, blue topaz for B, and so on. Those who desired to send a secret message or create a meaningful engagement ring like one Victorian favorite would choose, Diamond, Emerald, Amethyst, Ruby, Emerald, Sapphire, Turquoise - Dearest. 

After the discovery of the diamond mines in South Africa in 1870, 
these gems became accessible and affordable to the middle class. 

Due to the availability of newly mined gold and the discovery of African diamond mines, the betrothal ring transitioned to the “engagement ring” in the late 1800s.

Many engagement rings included the bride's birthstone. 
Rings often included multiple gemstones and coral, ivory seed pearls.  

Popular motifs included natural themes like butterflies, clover, garlands, daisies, doves, Gothic symbols and as previously mentioned snakes. 

Garnets were a popular stone used in jewelry in the 19th century. Cultures all over the world prize this gemstone for its beauty and durability. The traditional birthstone for January, it has inspired many legends and popular associations with love and friendship. It also happens to be the first name of our heroine, in my latest release, Garnet's Gift 

Twenty-two-year-old Garnet Adams longs to marry and have a houseful of children. Forced to support her widowed mother, she embraces her role as teacher, although the Carrie Town board of education's rules for female teachers leave no opportunity for a social life. She contents herself to play the violin at church. Tall, bearded, and rough around the edges, Deputy Noah Scott would rather hunt than socialize. Garnet thinks he’s a rude, insensitive drifter, and Noah's sure the last person he'd want to court is a schoolmarm--especially with her unladylike sneeze. As the needs of her students bring them together, opposites seem to attract until a certain Christmas present derails their future.

Chapter 1
1890 – Rules for Teachers
You must be home between the hours of six a.m. and before dark
unless attending church on Sunday or a school function.

Twenty-two-year-old Garnet Adams loosened the violin bow hair, deposited it in the wooden case with her instrument and snapped it closed. She ran her finger along the engraved letters. The violin once belonged to her father—the last gift he gave her on her fifteenth birthday six months before his death.
Garnet’s eyes drifted along the white clapboard walls she’d grown to love over the last year and landed on the darkening landscape outside the church’s window. She opened the pendant pinned to her jacket to check the time and blew out a breath.
Garnet’s boots tapped across the wooden floors of the sanctuary toward the front entrance. Where was Victoria? She’d agreed to stay after choir practice to give them additional time to rehearse for an upcoming service. Knowing the time restraint, Victoria promised to give her a ride home.
A burst of wind greeted her when she stepped out of the double doors of the church, causing a dark lock of hair to escape her pins. Garnet forced the unruly curl behind her ear.
The sound of voices made her turn toward Pastor Nelson, who stood nearby with a group of children. “Thank you, Miss Adams, for agreeing to lend us your talent with the children’s nativity drama, and we also look forward to hearing you play on Sunday.”
“I’m excited about the opportunity. My teaching job keeps me busy with the children. But it’s wonderful to communicate with adults even if it’s only for an hour.” The train whistle drew her attention toward the railroad station. The light shining from the hotel and diner reminded her darkness would soon descend on the boardwalk.
“I’m looking for Miss Wilson. She was going to give me a ride home.”
Pastor Nelson gazed in the direction of a retreating buggy. “I’m afraid you just missed her.” He motioned to the children. “Once their father returns from the livery, I’ll be happy to walk you over.”
Garnet took a deep breath and gathered her skirts. “I’m afraid I can’t wait. The school board requires me to be in my room before dark.” Rule number one, in bold handwriting and underlined, lest I forget. She frowned and cast a glimpse toward the small town. From her stance she could make out the hotel, diner and dress shop. The boardinghouse was about a ten-minute walk. ”It’s only a few blocks. I’ll be fine.”
Pastor Nelson’s face brightened. He waved his long arms toward a figure approaching them. “Deputy Scott, we require your assistance, please.”
The elongated silhouette of a tall man wearing a cowboy hat ate up the distance. A tin star hung on his vest, reflecting light from the lantern which hung from the church’s porch. With broad shoulders and a narrow waist, he sauntered toward her, his Peacemaker resting in a double-loop holster over his right hip. “What seems to be the problem?” The man’s voice was a rough bass.
“Would you be so kind as to ensure Miss Adams gets to the boardinghouse? There was a misunderstanding and her escort left without her.” The pastor glanced toward the lilac afterglow above the fading light from the setting sun. “She needs to be inside the boardinghouse before dark to avoid reprimand from the school board.”
The deputy nodded. “We’d best get a move on then.” He extended his arm and inclined his head toward the boardwalk.
Garnet felt more pulled than guided and struggled to keep up with the long strides of the deputy. She gasped for breath. “Could we please slow down a little?”
“Not if you want to make it to the boardinghouse before dark.” A shadow partially concealed his face, but Garnet could make out the set in his square jaw.
“Either way, I would like to arrive alive,” Garnet huffed.
The deputy stopped and pushed his hat to the back of his head. It was difficult to see his expression under his full beard. Did his mouth just twitch?
He reached for her violin case. “Ready?”
Garnet laid her hand over her stomach and took a deep breath. “Yes.”
Deputy Scott offered his arm. “You’re going to have to make more of an effort if you want to keep your job.”
Garnet gritted her teeth but accepted his assistance. The nerve of the man. How fast could he run wearing a layer of petticoats and a corset? “I don’t believe the school board would be happy to see me running across town either. But I do appreciate the escort.”
Deputy Scott nodded and guided her across the dusty street, which ran behind the mercantile and the diner. She would have preferred remaining on the boardwalk but understood the strategy of the shortcut. The dust kicked up from the deputy’s heavy work boots caused her to sneeze, loudly and consecutively.
Deputy Scott pulled a handkerchief from his pocket. “Wouldn’t have expected a sound like that to come from a schoolteacher. Not exactly prim and proper.”
Garnet felt her cheeks burn and sneezed again, this time burying her face in the neckerchief. If she weren’t already struggling to breathe, she would love to give the man a lesson on etiquette.
“But then again, I expect most teachers would have been more conscious of the hour.” He opened his pocket watch and gave her a curt nod. “Next time you might want to leave earlier.”
Clinching her skirts, Garnet hurried up the stairs to the boardinghouse. “Thank you for your help, Deputy.” Their fingers brushed as she reached for her instrument.
“Ma’am.” He tipped his hat.
Garnet stared into the bluest eyes she’d ever seen. She opened and closed her fists. “The reason for the delay was to help a friend. But I’ve learned my lesson and won’t let her talk me into staying late again.” Why do I feel the need to explain myself?
“Since autumn has arrived, it gets dark early.” Deputy Scott opened the door to the boardinghouse and nodded toward the train station. “There are a lot of people coming and going. But even if you didn’t have a curfew, it’s best not to be out by yourself.” He pivoted and disappeared into the darkness.
Garnet blinked, her nose twitched and she sneezed loudly into the deputy’s handkerchief. At the sound of a deep chuckle, heat rose from her neck to the roots of her hair.

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Combining History, Humor and Romance with an emphasis on Faith, Friends and Good Clean Fun. Kim's stories are written to remind us how God can use adversity to strengthen us and draw us closer to Him and give us the desires of our heart in ways we may never expect.
Website: https://kimberlygrist.com/