Sarah Newcomb was in the first-class carriage of a huge steam train thundering across the wide open country of Montana. She was a smart young woman in her mid-twenties with light brown hair and hazel eyes. She knew that she looked smart and up to date with the latest fashions, but it was not outlandish. Sarah had grown up with parents whose ambition was to be in the top echelons of society, and she had all the advantages that came with that situation.
Sarah knew how to choose clothes that told everyone that she was high class. Her dress in cream velvet was covered to a great extent by a brown coat, and she wore a small matching hat on her swept up hair. She was an attractive woman. The men on the train always offered a hand to help her step on or off the carriage and swept off their bowler hats with a flourish and a smile. Sarah always smiled politely and said thank you in return, but she was a quiet person and did not encourage a great deal of conversation.
In fact, she was enjoying looking out of the window at the changing landscape of Montana. This was the new experience for her. There were wide and sweeping plains that were dotted with cattle and sometimes a glimpse of men on horseback that she assumed were the cowboys who rounded up the animals. There was a part of Sarah that found the journey to these outlying places exciting. There was a sort of freedom that could not be explained.
So far, the journey had been pleasant and without difficulty. She sat back and had time to think about the situation that she had left behind. The letter that had arrived out of the blue had turned life on its head because a cousin had died and left her his ranch and land.
I wonder what it looks like, she thought as she gazed at the passing countryside. She sighed to herself and thought about how her parents had told her to sell immediately. They needed the money, and they wanted to continue their very expensive lifestyle counting state governors and wealthy business people amongst their friends.
Thank heaven for the lawyer that made the legacy dependant on me being there in person, she thought, it has taken me away from the pressure to marry the rather unlikeable Barty Matthews. Sarah knew her parents wanted the marriage because they were in business with the Matthews family, and it would give them some financial gains. She had no illusions about her mother and father although she cared for them and understood that she had a privileged childhood. The upper-class lifestyle that her folks were desperate to preserve needed money, and Sarah was one way of providing that. She smiled to herself and appreciated that the train was carrying her away from the immediate problems.
Sarah had quietly held out against the marriage idea with Barty Matthews and had a strength of character that was hidden under the elegant clothes and good manners. She really didn’t even know herself that she had that inner strength. Other travellers in first class had struck up conversation over the time they had been on board, but none of them were leaving the train at Lanbury Hollow. None of them knew what the place was like and mostly they were moving right across country to the coast. Sarah took her leave, and two of the men gallantly carried off her luggage and offered a hand to help her onto solid land again.
She stood and took in the immediate area and looked for someone to carry her bags. The place was bigger than she had thought. The railroad depot was busy, and the rear end of the train was having goods unloaded. The monster of an engine was hissing as the workers swarmed up on top of it and slotted in pipes to deliver water.
Very few other people had left the train at Lanbury Hollow, and she spotted a likely looking railroad worker and waved her hand. He came over and found a trolley to take her luggage.
“I am meeting a man called Adam Smithson,” she told the porter. “Do you know him?”
“Yes Miss, I do.” He looked around and told her that Smithson was over by the entrance. He headed in that direction, and Sarah walked alongside in her elegant clothes. She saw that Smithson was watching her approach and moving towards them.
“Let me introduce myself,” he said. “I am Adam Smithson, and you must be Miss Sarah Newcomb.”
“Very pleased to meet you, Mister Smithson,” Sarah replied and shook his hand. “It is good of you to take the trouble.”
“No trouble at all.” He smiled and told the porter to take the bags to his carriage. He indicated the carriage and the two of them walked over and climbed aboard. It was a short journey to the hotel, but she was glad not to have to walk the dusty road to reach it and stepped out of the carriage holding Adam’s outstretched hand.
Smithson introduced her to Jenny Cannell, the hotel owner and sent someone to collect the bags.
“I’ll leave you to recover from the journey and then come back to take you to meet the pastor who was the one that your cousin left to make the arrangements. I run the bank here, and the money side of it is in my hands. I am happy to help in any way that I can,” Smithson said, and she thanked him.
“I’ll show you to your room, and if you would like something to eat, I can arrange that,” Jenny told her. Sarah said that it would be appreciated and sat on the bed in her room to take in what she had found so far. The place was clean, and the bed looked comfortable.
“The hotel seems fine,” she said to herself and contemplated Adam Smithson. One of the things that Sarah had learned from many years of social activities, balls, race meetings, and dinners at grand places was to sense what was genuine and what was not.
Mister Smithson is polite and helpful but– she left the thought hanging in the air and used the water bowl and towels to make herself clean and tidy, changed out of traveling clothes and put on something that she thought might be appropriate to a small town. Although it is bigger than I thought it would be.
There was a knock at the door, and Jenny told her the meal was ready, and the two women walked downstairs together.
“I inherited a ranch of some sort. I think the pastor has the information. Maybe you could tell me about the pastor and the banker Mister Smithson.” Jenny sat down at the table with Sarah and told her to enjoy the food.
“I can talk whilst you eat,” she started, “and the pastor, Jacob Jordon and his wife, Elsa are really good people. They are completely trustworthy.”
“But not Mister Smithson?” Sarah queried, and Jenny smiled at her.
“You had already worked that one out, I think.” She looked at her new guest and told her that if she needed any help, she only had to ask. Then she glanced to the door and told Sarah that the pastor had just come into the room. The hotel owner stood up and waved the man over. “I think you are looking for my guest, Pastor Jordan. This is Miss Sarah Newcomb.”
The pastor was in his forties with grey hair and a grey mustache. His eyes crinkled at the sides when he smiled, and Sarah took to him immediately.
“Sit down, please. Will you join me in a drink?” she asked. The man sat, and they made the usual small talk. Jordan cleared his throat.
“Mister Smithson rather took it upon himself to bring you to the hotel. My wife has been looking forward to having you stay with us. I wonder if you would like to do that?” Sarah smiled and told him that she would love to stay with him and his wife.
“It was kind of Adam,” the pastor told her, “to offer to meet you at the depot. Your cousin was a good man and entrusted me with looking after his affairs. Mister Smithson runs the bank here and has been involved to some extent.”
“Thanks for clearing that up. What was my cousin like? I think I met him when I was very young but can’t remember anything about him.”
“He was a hard working and God-fearing man. He worked on his ranch with one man to help him and came to church most Sundays. He loved the piece of land that he owned and made a reasonable amount of money over the years because he was not someone who spent on fancy things.” He added that she would be quite a wealthy woman when she finally inherited.
“Finally?” she queried because it was a strange thing to say.
“There is a clause in the papers that said he could not own the land until he had worked it for ten years.” She nodded. “Unfortunately,” he went on, “you also have to work the land for the final ten months of the time or you cannot inherit it. There are also some debts involved.”
“Good heavens above,” Sarah exclaimed and sat back in her seat. “What should I do?”
“Let us have your things taken to my house and get you settled in, and then I will show you the papers. It will give you time to think about it.” She stood up and the man rose as well and they saw Adam Smithson arrive at the door. He came over, and she smiled. Sarah had decided that she would be sociable and friendly but careful. Her life in high society allowed her to do that easily.
“Mister Smithson,” she said and held out a hand which he gallantly raised to his lips. “You have been most kind, but the pastor and his wife have asked me to stay at their house. I will call at the bank when I have had time to find my way around Lanbury Hollow.” The pastor had asked Jenny to provide someone to carry the luggage, and she came over to the group.
“Miss Newcomb, you are welcome in my hotel any time. I will send over your trunks.”
The pastor offered to carry the large bag that she had with her, and they said their goodbyes to Smithson and Jenny Cannell. Lanbury Hollow proved to be quite a busy place with one main street, lots of stores, several saloons, and behind the main buildings, Sarah caught glimpses of the usual services like blacksmith and livery stables.
On the way almost everyone they met spoke to Pastor Jordan, and he introduced Sarah to some of them. The place had a good feel about it, and Sarah surprised herself that she found it pleasant. She had wondered if it would be so different to the city that she would hate the place on sight.
“This man coming towards us is your neighbor,” Jordan told her and held out a hand to shake the one of the man approaching.
“Sarah, this is John Hill, your neighbor at the ranch. John, Sarah Newcomb, she has just arrived to make arrangements for the ranch.”
“Welcome to Lanbury,” John Hill said and held out a hand to shake. Sarah took the hand that she realized was rough from hard work. The man had a serious look to him, and he did not smile. Despite that or maybe because of it, Sarah felt that this man could be trusted. She thought that she would ask the pastor about him later.
“What will you do with the place?” John asked, and she said that she had not decided. “I think you should see the place before you decide. It’s a good piece of land, and I have been milking the cows and goats for you and checking the place was safe.”
“That is so kind of you,” she answered. “You are right. I should see what my cousin left to me.”
“Can you ride?” Hill asked, and she nodded. “If you like I can bring a horse and take you out there,” he offered and she looked at Jordan who said it was a good idea.
“I can’t do it tomorrow because I have work to do,” he answered. “John will be the best person to tell you about it.” They parted company, and Sarah settled into the pastor’s house with a lovely welcome by Elsa.
The pastor found all of the papers which her cousin had entrusted to him and said that the land was good and had water.
“I will understand if you cannot think about staying, but the land has ten months to run on the lease. John and his heirs or family have to complete the lease before they can inherit.” Sarah bit her lip, and he continued to tell her that there were debts on the land. They could be paid when the lease was up and the land sold, but if she did not stay, the ranch would go to the Land Commission and be sold off immediately .
He handed her the papers, and she saw that the debts were quite considerable. Her father had instilled business into her head, and she asked what happened to the debts then.
“I am afraid that you are left with the debt and no land. I am sorry, my dear.”
Elsa Jordan sat beside her and suggested she go and see the place.
“I know people will expect you to just go back home, but think about it first.”
It was good advice, and Sarah decided to do just that. The thought that folk might think she was not up to the task was a little bit irritating. She straightened herself up and decided to see what could be done.
The next morning, John Hill arrived on horseback and a mare on a leading rein behind him. Sarah used a large stone to put herself into the saddle and looked at the open-mouthed stare that John Hill could not hide.
“Side saddle?” he asked incredulously. “You ride side saddle?”
“I always ride side saddle,” Sarah answered with a little frown. “So do all of my friends.”
John Hill shook his head and said that it would be a slow journey. He turned his own mount and asked her to join him. With the horses side by side, they moved out into the main street and certainly drew a few stares from the folk on the street. Sarah took this in and asked him if it was because of the way she was riding. She had noticed a couple of other women on horseback and one that was driving a wagon. John gave her a small smile, and it was the first time that he had shown any indication of emotion.
His eyes smiled as well, and she understood that the man was concealing what he wanted to say.
“Tell me the truth,” she told him.
“You will find that it is not possible to use the horse as part of the work and where you live without riding like the men do.” He paused. “It might not be ladylike, but it gives you better control and extra speed.”
“I have a lot to learn,” she answered with a smile. “But I can actually ride properly.” She hitched her skirt slightly and held the horse still as she slid one leg over the saddle and found the stirrups.
“We can speed up a little bit,” he said and set off again. In fact, she was quite a capable horsewoman and they made good time until they arrived at a rough gateway that had a handmade sign saying it was the J N Ranch.
“Jacob Newcomb,” she reflected as they turned in and made their way down the track until it opened out into a farmyard with barns and a small ranch house to one side. The two cows and three goats were in a corral together, and the chickens were scratching around all over the place. There were four horses in another corral.
“Two nanny goats and one Billy,” John told her. “The main stock is all out on the grazing land and will be quite alright for the time being. The two pigs have their own fenced off area,” John said and slipped from his own horse before holding out two hands to held her descend from the saddle. As she inelegantly brought one leg over the saddle to jump down, Sarah slipped a little and although she didn’t fall, gave a little cry of alarm. He did the instinctive thing to stop someone falling and caught her in his arms. Then he stood her straight down on the ground.
John Hill was always unsure around women.
“Thank you so much,” she said and smiled at him. The man was standing quite close and smiled in return. There was something about this man that gave Sarah a little buzz in her insides that she had never felt before. She put it down to the fact that he was helping her out in a strange place. John Hill was just under six feet tall, with dark brown hair and eyes to match. He had the lean but wiry body of a man used to physical work, and she instinctively felt that he could be trusted. She thought that he must be in his thirties
“Let me show you what is here,” he said and led the way to the house first of all. The steps led up to a small porch, and the door opened directly into the living room. It was surprisingly large and furnished with leather seats and a set of drawers at one side. There was a fireplace, and the living room led directly into the kitchen which had a scrubbed, wooden table, cupboards, and a stove with an oven. There was a pump in the kitchen that John demonstrated brought clean water from a well underground. There were two bedrooms, and to her great amazement, a bathroom with a tub on claw feet.
The whole place was clean and tidy, and when she cautiously opened the wardrobes, she found men’s clothing neatly folded or hanging and in the drawers a good supply of sheets and towels.
“Jacob was a very organized person,” John offered. “He lived carefully, and the ranch was his whole life. He was a good neighbor.”
“I wish I could remember him clearly, but I was just a little girl when we met. It is such a responsibility to be left someone’s whole life’s work. He was too young to die as well.”
“You are right about that,” John answered. “Come and see what is outside. They walked together around the barns and the corrals.
The horses came over to say hello, and John noted that she did automatically respond to them. He had wondered if the city girl would be nervous. She was being thoughtful, and it surprised him.
“I have been coming over each day to milk the cows and goats, and I took away the eggs. I gave them to the store in town because I have a supply of my own.”
John watched as Sarah leaned against the fence and took in her surroundings. There was a good supply of chopped firewood stacked under a shelter and hay in the barns for the horses.
“He did grow his own oats, and it will be ready in a few weeks to harvest,” John added. He waved a hand in one direction and asked if she would like to ride and see what was further out. “I should do that,” she answered, and they mounted the horses and rode out in the direction of the oats. The crop was fenced off from the stock, and when they reached the end of the fence, the land suddenly opened out before them and stretched for a huge distance away to the Rocky Mountains. Sarah drew in a breath.
“It is quite unbelievably beautiful,” she said.
“Well, I have always thought so, but I wondered if you would think it was uncivilized,” John told her.
She shook her head.
“I didn’t know what I would feel about it, but it is just so open and – I cannot explain it. Maybe I am just being silly.” This time she was rewarded with a genuine and broad smile that transformed his features into such a handsome picture that she got that strange little buzz inside herself again.
“I just don’t know what to do about it,” she confessed. “I don’t know how to run a ranch, and I would have to live here.”
John Hill took a big step and gave her his thoughts. It was not something he was used to doing.
“Knowing how to run a ranch is easy enough. If I helped you there and made sure you were getting things right, that could be one problem solved.” He gave her another and more relaxed smile. “Can you milk a cow?” She shook her head and laughed at herself.
“Would I need to hire help?” she asked him, and he gave it some thought. Sarah was beginning to realize that John Hill always gave things thought before he gave an opinion. She waited, and he told her that he knew a couple who were needing some work and somewhere to live.
“I don’t know how you feel about this. There is a small cabin they could have. Jacob had a couple live there at one time but lately he had a man come in from town to work but he went home again.”
“Who are they?” Sarah asked.
“The son of a friend of mine and his girlfriend have just married because she is having a baby.” He glanced at her. “It was not something planned, you understand?” She nodded and smiled. “They are living with my friend, but the place is far too small, and they are all struggling. He is a good worker. He knows what a cowhand needs to do,” he paused, “and she can milk a cow.”
Sarah laughed, and they started to walk back to the house.
“Is that the cabin?” she asked, and he nodded and headed toward it. The place was dusty and had a few bits of furniture, but it was sound enough.
“It seems sensible to get help myself and help somebody else,” she said. They walked up the steps and back into the house.
“So, you have decided to stay?” John asked.
“You know,” she answered, “I hadn’t made a decision, but it just seemed to be something that I always knew I would do.”
“That stove will light, and there are the makings of coffee around. While it heats up, would you like to try to milk a cow and a goat?”
Sarah Newcomb suddenly felt as if the world had opened up for her, and she nodded enthusiastically. The man was solid, helpful, and she liked his company. Sarah had never come across a man like him before in her world of people full of vanity and the latest fashions. Maybe it would be good to know how to run a ranch, milk a cow, and run a household of her own.
“I think it is what Jacob would have wanted,” John told her and lit the stove as he spoke. She found the coffeepot and used the pump to get fresh water. They left it brewing and found two buckets in the barn. On the way over, John pointed out that there were a couple of pigs as well.
“They mostly scratch up what they need, and they have quite a big enclosure and building to go into at night. They get all of the vegetables that are no use for humans and the remains of oats, bread, and anything else. They need water in the trough and the food trough added to each day. The male can be a bit grumpy and will have to be moved when the piglets arrive.
“Piglets?” Sarah exclaimed. “When?”
“A few weeks, I guess. She will deliver them herself, and she will be quite protective. I guess you need to make friends with her before then.”
John laughed and told her that piglets were cute but to remember that they would all become bacon in the end. Her face was a picture.
“You did know that bacon came from pigs?” She nodded and said that it seemed a shame that they had to end up on a plate.
“Or you could eat nothing but bread,” he said with his down to earth attitude and went and brought one of the goats first.
“These are smaller and quite easy,” he said. He sat on a stool and showed her how to squeeze the teats on the goat. It did not look that hard, but when she put her hands on the animal and no milk appeared, it was not as easy as he made it seem. She turned her head and caught him smiling.
“Alright. I am useless at it.” She had the grace to laugh, and he reached over and put his hands over hers.
“Rhythm,” he said, and she understood what he meant. Once started, he released his hands, and she went on with the action and milk poured seamlessly into the bucket. He brought the second goat, and she managed that one after a few false starts.
“Try a cow,” he told her and brought in a peaceful-looking beast called Prunella. “It’s a slightly different movement but still a rhythm.” He demonstrated, and she took his place at the stool.
“This is a really big animal,” she said and leaned her head against Prunella automatically. John reached across and showed her how to move and then let go of her hands and watched as she got most of the milk available from Prunella. Prunella contentedly ate some hay. When she was almost finished, she heard the sound of another cow and saw him bring in Nettle. He sat and efficiently milked Nettle as she munched on hay like her fellow cow.
Sarah sat back and moved the bucket so that Prunella could move away. She watched John Hill milk her cow with ease and familiarity.
“You leaned your head against her,” he said, “it is the one thing that helps if you feel sad or upset. Milking is a very peaceful thing to do.”
He stood up, and they took the cows back to the corral. Both animals wore head collars, and it was easy to bring them in and out.
“The eggs will be all over the place, and you have to look for them.” He picked up some as he went, and Sarah followed suit, and they soon had a basketful of fresh eggs. “In the evening, they have to go inside the barn or the wild animals will get them.” He found some grain and called to the chickens as he scattered some food inside the nearest building.
Sarah found it amazing that the hens simply ran inside and he closed the door. Then he bent down and picked up something from the ground. He suddenly looked concerned, and she picked it up immediately.
“Someone has been here since I let the chickens out this morning.” He held out a piece of stirrup. “The door would not have opened if that had been there.”
“Why would anyone come here?” she asked. He shook his head.
“I don’t know,” he answered. “Let’s go and meet Mack and Beth and see if they want the job.”
As Sarah cleared away the coffee cups, she looked out of the back of the house and drew in a sharp breath.
“Oh,” she exclaimed. “I didn’t realize there was a garden.” She opened the back door and stepped down the wooden stairs into a sort of sheltered hideaway. John followed her out.
“Jacob Newcomb was a man who kept himself to himself. He worked very hard at the ranch, but he enjoyed his garden.”
Sarah turned to look at him and felt a tear well up behind her eye.
“For the first time, I feel that he was family. I love gardening. I love flowers, and he has vegetables.”
“He grew almost all of his own food. He would be so pleased if you looked after it.” She saw that he was emotional like herself, but he was keeping it under control. His voice was a little gruff, and she noticed that he was affected by the little garden as she was herself. She went over and touched his arm.
“I am sorry you lost your friend and neighbor.” He nodded a thank you, and they went back inside. Then she smiled. “The cows are named after plants—Prunella and Nettle. I will enjoy his garden. We have a garden at my parents’ house, but there is a gardener, and I am only allowed to do certain things.”
“Nobody can tell you what to do in your own place,” John answered. “It is hard work but a good feeling.”
“Where is your ranch from here?” Sarah queried, and he pointed in one direction.
“I ride across country and it is not very far. Going around by the road it is about three miles.”
They left the place settled for the night and retraced steps toward the town, but John turned off the trail, and they followed another track for about half a mile and the lane opened out to display a farmhouse, barns, corrals, and the sound of people working and talking. John told her that this was the house of his friend where Beth and Mack lived. A couple of young children were chasing each other around and shouted that John had arrived with a lady. Sarah smiled.
A woman came out of the house wiping her hands on an apron and she was followed by a younger woman with ginger hair. John slid from his horse and helped Sarah down. They walked over to the women at the house.
“Mary-Ellen,” John said. “This is Sarah Newcomb who has been left Jacob Newcomb’s ranch. Sarah, this is Mary-Ellen Parkes.”
“Pleased to meet you,” the older woman said. “Come inside and have a lemonade.” The two children rushed up the steps. “Not you two,” Mary-Ellen added. “You go and play quietly when we have visitors.” She introduced the younger woman as Beth.
“It is really Beth and Mack that we have come to see,” John explained, and Sarah joined in as he wondered if her son and daughter-in-law would be interested in working on the ranch. Sarah saw the smile of sheer delight that swept across the girl’s face.
“Go and find Mack,” Mary-Ellen said, and the girl with the ginger curls bouncing in the breeze took off at a fast pace. “I am sure they would love to. John would explain that we are feeling a bit squashed in here these days.” She hesitated. “You do know that they are expecting a baby?”
Sarah nodded and asked when that would be.
“She is just starting to show. The baby will be due in about five months.”
Beth arrived back holding the hand of a fresh-faced young man of about twenty. Mary-Ellen introduced her son, and Sarah asked the two of them if a dusty cabin on a ranch and keeping her doing the right things about the place would interest them. The look that they gave each other before they answered told her all that she needed to know.
“We would be really pleased,” Mack told her and clutched Beth’s hand. “Mom is good having us here, but we need to sort ourselves out.”
“Today,” Sarah answered, “John has shown me around the place and taught me how to milk the goats and collect the eggs.” She laughed. “I am a city girl, but I think I have a bit of commonsense. I need help, and John thought that you might step into the breach.”
“Thank you, John,” Beth said and almost danced with joy.
“Details,” Mary-Ellen added. “When to start and how much will they be paid?” She looked at John Hill for an answer and to be fair, so did Sarah.
“The cabin is dusty and needs sorting out, but we can all help with that.”
“Tomorrow?” Beth asked, and Sarah nodded.
“If we get the place liveable, at least I can move in and have company.”
John looked at Sarah and named a wage with a raised eyebrow. She thought back to the figures the pastor had explained and nodded and said that would be fine, and Beth did a little dance around the table.
“It is very good of you,” Mary-Ellen told Sarah who shook her head.
“I really do need the help. Can we meet there tomorrow morning and make a start?” Everyone agreed with that, and a teenage boy who had quietly come in from outside was introduced as Mack’s brother, Ben.
“I get my bedroom back?” he asked, and Mack gave him a friendly punch on the arm.
John and Sarah took their leave and left the family chattering about what to load on the wagon the next day.
“Good suggestion, John. Thanks,” Sarah said as they rode away. “I think you just made Beth and Mack very happy.” He looked across at her.
“Have you delivered many babies in the past, Miss Newcomb?” he asked with a slight smile.
“That is five months away, and I can send for Mary-Ellen,” she answered. Then she added, “I like babies.”
They talked on the way back to the Jordans’ house about what she might need to take with her in the way of provisions.
“One thing I can do is cook,” she told him. “I was brought up to know how to run a kitchen and to sew beautiful embroidery. Those were things destined to help make me a good catch for a rich husband.” She laughed at the look on his face. “It’s true. I am escaping the marriage to Barty Matthews thanks to Cousin Jacob’s ranch and finding that I quite like the idea.”
Pastor and Missus Jordan were pleased that she had decided to stay.
“I think you need to visit the bank and make it clear that you are living and working the ranch. Mister Smithson has been here to see where you were,” the pastor told her. “I can come with you. I know all of the details.” She thanked him very much, and as John set off back to his own ranch, Sarah and Pastor Jordan walked down the street to the bank.
Adam Smithson whisked them into his private office and offered refreshment, but Sarah said that she would rather sort out the business. The pastor went over the details of the will that he knew full well Smithson knew off by heart. To be fair, Sarah already knew most of it as the pastor had explained everything.
“Jacob had a ten-year lease which had ten months to run before he owned the property outright. Sarah has inherited that agreement and is going to work the ranch for the last ten months of the lease. Then the property is hers, and she can sell it or keep it as she chooses.”
“I am hiring Mack and Beth Montgomery to live at the ranch and help me out, and we are starting tomorrow. John Hill has milked cows and looked after the place for his friend and neighbor. I am very grateful to him, but he has his own place to run,” Sarah said.
She thought that Adam Smithson covered his frustration well at having everything arranged without his being involved. It was clear that he well knew that the piece of land was a good acreage and worth a lot of money as a going concern. She suddenly understood that he had offered to meet the train and help so that he was in a position to buy the land. She wondered if he had thought that she would take a look and let the land go. He would have stepped in and scooped it up for a small amount with a lease left to run on it. Sarah was nobody’s fool. There was no one to take the responsibility, and she automatically took it herself.
She looked at the paperwork and asked how many acres there were, but she had spotted it on the plan in front of her anyway. Smithson gave her the facts and appeared to be glad that she was staying and using the land. The man could be absolutely charming, and he was being as helpful as he could.
“Will you sell it at the end of the lease?” he asked.
“I honestly do not know,” she told him.
Sarah had seen a lot of businessmen who dealt with her father. She had grown up with people vying to be the best, the richest, the most powerful, and she sensed this in Adam Smithson. She could not have put it into words, but what she had learned over all the years of her life was slipping into place. This was no slip of a girl who would let someone pull the wool over her eyes. She straightened her back and lifted her head as she had always been told to do.
She listened to her father talk business all of her life and smiled to herself as she actually wondered what he would do in these circumstances.
“I have the paperwork for the ranch, and I will need to see what money there is in the bank please.”
“Of course, Miss Newcomb.” He smiled at her. “Anything I can help with, you only have to ask.”
“I think,” Pastor Jordan added, “that Sarah would like a statement of the account.”
“Of course. Of course,” Smithson answered and went out of the room to bring the papers.
“Thank you,” Sarah whispered to the pastor. He smiled at her.
“Good girl. You are doing well,” he whispered back and Smithson came in with the statement in an envelope. Sarah and the pastor took their leave.
“I just do not trust that man,” she said when they were safely away from the bank.
“You are doing the right thing,” Jordan told her, and they went back to the house. Elsa Jordan had compiled a list in the meantime of things Sarah might need and was starting to collect them together.
“I cannot take all of your food,” Sarah protested and said that she would buy from the store. Elsa shook her finger at her.
“I am enjoying myself and would like to come and visit and see how you are doing.” She paused. “If it all gets too much, you can come back at any time.” Sarah went and kissed her on the cheek.
“I am excited and frightened all at the same time,” she confessed.
“Tomorrow you’re a rancher.” Elsa smiled at her. “Tonight, you can sit and put your feet up. I hear that you can do embroidery.” Sarah went and found the piece she was working on and held it out to her host.
“Sarah, that is exquisite. You must have eyes like a hawk.” She went to find her own work, and the two women sat comfortably in front of the fire. Sarah briefly wondered what John Hill was doing.
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Sarah Newcomb’s life is about to change forever when she receives a telegram from her belated cousin, that will change her life. Once she arrives at the small ranching town though, she will soon find out that selling the inheritance will not be as easy as she expected. Will she be able to survive this complicated challenge and fit into a new lifestyle? Is happiness even a probability when she is so far away from home and while having her own parents taking advantage of her for their own benefit?
John Hill is very different from anyone else she has ever met. Although he grew up in an orphanage, completely penniless, he is determined to work hard and prove himself. When John recognizes how confused she is, he is the only one to help her. Would he ever find the power to overcome his reticence and admit that he had fallen in love? Will his lack of manners and social graces become an obstacle to a life of happiness?
Sarah has found a sense of freedom that she never knew that existed, and a man that she could finally admire. Soon, a bond is formed between them, which will make them stand together against forces that are crooked and frightening. Could it be possible that a man, brought up in the hard world of an orphanage, and a girl, from the very top of society, have the same aims in life? Conspiracies against them will make everything more challenging, but the path of true love never runs smoothly anyway…
“A Relentless Love Defying Destiny” is a historical adventure novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cliffhangers, only pure unadulterated action.