Saturday, February 04, 2012

Marie wonders about her suitor pool

Here's a scene from Spinster's Folly that I'm playing with again.

The night before Rod Owen trailed his beef cows to the Cuchara, Marie tossed and turned. Julianna elbowed her once, then went back into slumberland, but Marie's mind seemed to bubble with imaginings like a pot boiling over a too-hot stove. It wouldn't allow her the relief of sleep.

She wondered whether she dreaded or anticipated the next few days. If Pa liked Tom's prospects and proposed to add him to the family, the young man's reaction would play a big part in Marie's future. He might accept Pa's suggestion with enthusiasm, and jump into making and carrying out plans for a wedding and a life together with Marie. If, on the other hand, Ed Morgan's son had no notion of marrying her, his disinclination could spell spinsterhood for her.

Who else was there for her to marry? She lay very still, searching every nook and cranny of her brain for prospects. She'd seen the Dominguez brothers once or twice when they had stopped in to water their horses as they traveled on their way to Pueblo town. Enrique and Patricio Dominguez cut blazingly romantic figures, with their wide-brimmed hats and differently-styled clothes, their teeth-flashing smiles and flirtatious comments. She thought the pair of them was tremendously exciting. Given the chance, which one would she choose to wed?

After thinking on the exotic brothers for a time, she sighed and discarded the wild idea of being courted by such a man, knowing Pa would never agree to a marriage in that direction. That left her with a suitor pool made up of Tom Morgan, grubby freighters from Pueblo town, hard-rock miners from the north and the west, or her father's cowhands.

Tom had his distinctions. Despite being a farmer, he washed his hands before eating and wore fresh clothing to social events. He kept his medium brown hair trimmed above his collar, and it was never greasy. He had his flirtatious moments, but he'd always treated her with respect. Maybe too much respect.

Marie turned on her side, and let her mind examine that topic. Tom had never sought her out as an object of courtship, although she suspected his pa and her own had intended for some years for them to marry one day. She and Tom had never discussed the subject. During their journey to the West, Tom had acted the same way toward her as he had toward Ellen Bates and Ida Hilbrands--both of them betrothed girls. Tom could be merry, but he could be boring, as well.

Enrique Dominguez would never be boring. She didn't know how much English he spoke or understood, but it would certainly be interesting, no, it would be exciting, to live in his house, learning a new language, having servants, being married. . . .

She inhaled sharply and pulled the quilt over her head. What was she thinking? She was as bad as Julianna, trying to picture what goes on behind a couple's closed door. She'd seen horses mating, and a human encounter must involve the same elements. That wasn't her business yet. She'd learn all about it first hand, once she married Bill.

Bill? The hot flush of burning cheeks drove her out from under the covers. I don't mean Bill. I mean Tom. Lawsy! What am I thinking? She squeezed her eyes tight, trying to banish the errant image that persisted in her brain of Bill Henry's contrite face when she'd lashed out in anger at him the morning her horse had bolted.

The image lingered, however. She could not banish it in favor of Tom's bland visage. Then a series of Bills lined up before her inner eye: Bill, looking stricken as she berated him, the color of his eyes deepening almost to black, as though he willed them to shelter his soul. Bill, saying, "I didn't mean you." Bill, his moustache twitching on the left side of his mouth as she turned away from him.

Marie shook her head, trying to drive the specters away. Bill Henry should not be in her mind when she was, in all likelihood, going to end up the bride of Tom Morgan.

How many sleepless nights did you endure, wondering about your future? Or are you still engaged in such a struggle?

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