Saturday, July 19, 2014

Sample Saturday - July 19, 2014

Welcome to Sample Saturday. In this piece from Gone for a Soldier, the Owen Family Saga novel that will be released later this year, Rulon Owen receives a gift from his father.

“You’ll be needing a horse.”

Rulon turned from scooping oats out of the grain bin to see his father leaning against the door frame. Since Pa almost never leaned against anything, Rulon wondered how long he’d been standing there surveying him.

“I reckon I will. What will you take in trade for the bay?”

“You’ve worked the farm since you were old enough to lift a shovel or hoe weeds in the field. I figure that labor is plenty in exchange for the bay and her tack.”

Rulon felt his throat constrict with sudden emotion. “I’m obliged,” he managed to get out in a husky voice.

“You sure it’s the bay you want? The sorrel is well mannered.”

“The bay has spirit and don’t spook easily. I reckon she would make a good battle mount.”

“That’s canny thinkin’, son. I agree. She will be steady under fire.”

Rulon nodded. In a matter of days, he would leave this farmstead to live in town with his bride. Soon after, he expected to be doing some kind of patrolling, or picket duty, or whatever it was a cavalryman did to defend his country. That is, if he ever got a reply to his letter. If he wasn’t acceptable to Captain Yancey and the Harrisonburg Cavalry troop, he would have to start his search all over again. He found himself chewing on the inside of his cheek.

“What has you worried, boy?”

“I ain’t heard from Harrisonburg yet.”

“Give it time, give it time. Yancey’s bound to be a busy man. A lawyer, I hear. It’s likely he’s wrapping up his business.”

“You’re right. But getting married also has me perplexed.” He shook his head. “The tasks Mary has been doing make my head swim.”

Pa chuckled. “The ladies like everything fancy, son. Take a deep breath. Enjoy your day. It will be here before you know it.”

“I wish I could believe that. It seems a lifetime away.”

Pa nodded his head in understanding. “The day will come. By the way, your ma says there is another item you’ll be needing. My ma passed down her weddin’ ring to me when she died. It was intended for your ma to wear, but she already had the one I give her when we married, and she preferred that one. She said you should have it to put on Miss Mary’s finger. She’ll give it to you when the day comes around.” He raised his eyebrow. “I wouldn’t have given a geegaw like that a thought, so I’m pleased she recalled the little ring.”

“Such a lot of to-do.” He whistled.

Pa came over and clapped his hand on Rulon’s shoulder. “Silken entanglements, boy. All these arrangements for fancy ceremony and parties and such sometimes seem unnecessary, but they keep the ladies happy. That’s what matters, after all. Keep the wife happy, and you’ll have a happy life.” He tightened his grip briefly, then removed his hand.

“That’s the sum total of your fatherly advice?” Rulon grinned wryly. “No words of wisdom for, other matters?” His face felt hot as he said the words.

Pa stared at him for a long time, and Rulon noticed a pink tinge on his father’s forehead.

“Words of wisdom?” Pa cleared his throat. “Be gentle.” He paused for a long moment, then added, “Work out the rest yourself.” He turned away, then looked back over his shoulder. “Treat the bay gentle. She’s a lady, too.”

He was gone in a moment, and Rulon was left alone to chew on both his cheek and the words that still seemed to hang in the air.


Thank you for visiting! Please come back next Saturday for another sample of my writing.

Bestselling author Marsha Ward wrote a novella, Faith and the Foremen, in the Timeless Romance Anthology Old West Collection. Her short story, Bloodied Leather, will be published in Battling Mahoney and Other Stories, an anthology from Fight Card Publications, in late August.

Ward is the author of the acclaimed novel series The Owen Family Saga, which features members of the fictional Owen family of Virginia. Her last published book, Spinster's Folly, won the 2013 USA Best Book Award for Western Fiction, and recently was named Finalist in Western Fiction in the 2014 International Book Awards. A former journalist, Ward has published over 900 articles, columns, poems and short stories. She is the founder of American Night Writers Association, a.k.a. ANWA.

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