Thursday, September 26, 2013
“Isn’t she grand? Heavy and well built?" He walked around the latest purchase he and his brother bought from the sale of their father's estate. He looked so proud. "Yessiree, it'll haul all the timber me and Jacob could cut in a month.”
His unbridled exuberance caused a smile to blossom in her heart and bloom on her face. “It looks like a fine wagon, Andrew. I'm happy for you.”
“For us! It's our future, Susannah. Oh, it needs another coat of oil, and I’m going to stretch the canvas, but it’ll do. She’ll get us there.” He turned from what she was sure was the most expensive belonging he’d ever owned and faced her. “Did you talk with him?”
Her rose wilted then died, only thorns left to pierce. She examined the ground a moment before meeting his eye again. “I did. Last night right after supper.”
“Well? What did he say?”
She shook her head. “My father's pigheaded and doesn’t understand. Says we’re too young." Andy's hand reached toward her face, and he wiped a tear away. "Daddy said no. He will not give us his blessing.”
Her love slipped his hand over hers, his fingertip still wet. “Sue, we’re both of age. We don’t have to have his permission.”
She closed her eyes. Why was this happening? Why did she have to choose between the two men she loved the most in the whole world? It wasn’t fair. “Andy, can’t we wait? Maybe in the spring…”
“No, I just cannot. I gave my brother my word. Once the wagon’s finished, I’m leaving. I have to. Everything has fallen into place, Sue. We’ll be full partners.”
“Your brother… He’d understand, wouldn't he? What’s six months?”
“Exactly. The Judge isn’t going to change his mind. He wants you to stay right there in that big ol’ house cooking and cleaning like it’s always been since your mom passed. He can’t stand the thought of his little girl getting married and going west. Besides, there's no way for me to get word to Jacob. I've got to go. Please.” He lifted her chin. "Come."
What could she say? Of course he was right. Her father would be all alone. Him not wanting things to change... She understood, but couldn’t he see she was grown? He wanted her to stay twelve, but at eighteen, she was as mature as she was ever going to get. Most of her friends had already started a family. But could she leave him?
She looked skyward. Change his mind, Lord. Make him see.
She smiled again at Andrew. “I love you.”
“I love you, too. So what's it to be? Will you go west with me? Start our new life?”
She hated the look in his eyes. The same fear lurked in her heart. She couldn’t let him go, not again. “Can we come back to visit?”
“Of course! In a year or two, we’ll return, introduce him to his grandbabies. You’ll see. He won’t stay mad.”
“You promise we’ll come back?”
“You have my word. Three years at the most.”
She took both of his hands in hers and searched his eyes. He loved her, she was certain. “Yes. A thousand times, yes. I will marry you, Andrew Baylor.”