Excerpt - Dear Mr. Weaver

Mail-Order Bride Ink Book One

Kit Morgan

From Chapter Two

Matthew and Daniel exchanged a look of alarm. Matthew swallowed hard and continued:

… Because of this, I have decided to become a mail-order bride. Mrs. Pettigrew comes highly recommended, so I sought her help.

I am five feet and three inches tall with blonde hair and green eyes. I am a hard worker and would keep your house clean and can sew for you. I am a fair cook, though my parents thought I was excellent. I learned to cook from both my mother and my mormor (Swedish for grandmother) …

“Swedish – that’s interesting,” Matthew said.

“Is that anythin’ like Eye-talian?” Daniel asked. “You know, like Bella, Calvin’s wife?”

“Well … they’re both from Europe, but other than that, no. Completely different.” Matthew cleared his throat and went on:

… I have no brothers or sisters and no family left to me in this country. I don’t like being alone, which is another reason I wanted to become a mail-order bride and start a family. I can read and write and am very good with numbers and I have all my teeth …

He stopped and began to chuckle.

“What’s so funny?” Daniel demanded.

Matthew grinned. “And I hope you have all of yours,” he recited slowly.

Daniel smiled brilliantly.

Matthew laughed and returned to the letter. “Ah, let’s see … I look forward to hearing from you and what you think about the two of us becoming husband and wife. Sincerely, Ebba Knudsen. P.S. …” Then his eyes went wide as his smile faded. He shook his head. “Good heavens, what the …” He looked at Daniel as his mouth opened, then back at the letter. “I don’t believe it!”

“Believe what? What’s it say?” Daniel asked as he leaned over the counter.

Matthew took a few steps back. “What the Sam Hill was this woman thinking?!”

“What?!”

Matthew gaped at him. “I … I … oh my …” He raised an eyebrow and stared at the letter again.

“What’s the dangblasted letter say?!” Daniel demanded. He was ready to climb over the counter if Matthew didn’t answer.

But just then Betsy Quinn, Matthew’s mother and Daniel’s aunt, entered from the hall that led to the family’s living quarters. Matthew quickly hid the letter behind his back, his face red. “Hello, Mother.”

“Why, Daniel! It’s so nice to see you!” she said, ignoring her son.

“Howdy, Aunt Betsy. I just came into town to fetch a few supplies and get the mail.”

“You’ll be spending the night, of course?”

“Sure will. Don’t fancy drivin’ the wagon home in the dark.”

She glanced around the mercantile that she and her husband ran with Matthew and his wife Charlotte. “Did anyone else come with you?”

“No, ma’am, just me.”

“Ah, I see,” she said with a smile. “Anxious to get your mail, I presume?”

Now it was Daniel’s turn to blush. “Ah shucks, Aunt Betsy, ya know I am. Speakin’ of which …” He turned to Matthew, who was shaking his head “no” vigorously. “… er … I was kinda hopin’ somethin’ came for me. Maybe tomorrow.” He shot his cousin a warning look, then quickly turned back to his aunt.

“You never know,” she said. “Of course, if you do get a letter from a mail-order bride, you know the sheriff will have no problem sending Deputy Turner out to your place to deliver it. That man loves going out there.”

“Him and Rose both do,” Daniel agreed.

His aunt smiled. “You know, sometimes I wonder what would have happened if Charlotte had married Deputy Turner instead of Matthew.”

“Perish the thought,” Matthew said in protest.

She turned to him. “It could have happened.”

“It almost did,” Matthew replied accusingly.

Daniel remembered that mess. About five years ago, Aunt Betsy had ordered poor Cousin Matty a mail-order bride without telling him. Matty returned home from college, eager to reunite with Charlotte Davis, the local girl he’d grown up with, only to find a mail-order bride on his doorstep the next day. He was furious, but his mother was determined to have her way.

“Well … it all turned out,” Aunt Betsy said with a placating smile. “And Matthew, I’m glad you and Charlotte are so happy. Now if you’d just give me some grandchildren, I’d be happy too!” With a swish of her skirts, she disappeared back down the hall before either man could comment.

“It’s not for lack of trying,” Matthew mumbled under his breath. Then he recalled the letter in his hand, and craned his neck to make sure his mother was truly gone before re-reading the postscript. “Wow.”

Daniel was still frustrated. “What’s that ‘wow’ supposed to mean?”

Matthew folded the letter, put it back in its envelope and handed it to Daniel. “Just what I said. Wow.”

Daniel glanced between his cousin and the letter. “If’n ya say so, Matty.” Now he was more curious than ever. “Did she say she was pretty?”

Matthew tried to stifle a chuckle. “Something like that. I think you should write her back right away. She sounds … like an interesting match. Just what you’re looking for.”

“She does? Well, that’s good news!”

“Indeed it is,” Matthew agreed, turning to the shelves behind the counter. He grabbed a feather duster and set to work. “Oh, did Aunt Mary give you a list for me to fill?”

“Aw yeah.” Daniel searched his pockets. “Hmmm, I know it’s here somewhere …”

“Well, when you find it, just set it on the counter.”

“Doggone, where’d I put that thing?” Daniel lamented as he patted his shirt pocket. He shrugged and went through them all again. “Oh, here it is!”

Matthew glanced at him over his shoulder. “I’ll fill it tomorrow before you leave, how’s that?”

“Sounds good to me. I’m kinda hungry. Think I’ll go see what Aunt Betsy has on the stove if’n ya don’t mind.”

“Sure. Supper will be ready soon. Don’t eat too much or she’ll take a stick to you.”

“I won’t.” Daniel headed for the hallway that led to the kitchen. “After supper, can ya help me write a letter back?”

Matthew smiled. He’d helped three of his Weaver cousins write their letters to prospective brides; what was one more? Besides, he was willing to do just about anything to get his boisterous cousins to settle down. Then they wouldn’t be in his hair so much every time they came to town for supplies.

The bell above the door rang. Matthew turned – and suppressed a wince. “Good afternoon, Mrs. Davis. What can I do for you?”

“I just need a few things, Matthew,” Nellie Davis replied as she made her way to the counter. “By the way, is my daughter in the back?”

“No, I’m afraid not. Charlotte’s out at the Riley farm visiting Summer and Elle. But she should be home soon.”

“Again? Good grief, does the girl think she lives there?” Mrs. Davis drawled in her sharp Southern accent. She patted her perfectly coiffed hair with a huff.

Matthew shrugged. “You know how close the three of them are. Besides, she likes playing with the children.”

Mrs. Davis nodded. “Yes, I suppose she does, seeing as how the two of you haven’t been able to …”

“Do you have a list for me?” he quickly interjected.

“Certainly – why else would I be here?” She reached into her reticule to pull out her list.

Matthew turned and scrambled up a ladder to fetch something from a high shelf. “Just set it on the counter next to Daniel’s. I’ll get to it in a minute.”

“Oh, all right.” She set it down, then glanced at Daniel’s list – and spotted the envelope underneath it. “Has your cousin heard anything from his prospective bride?” she inquired innocently.

“Yes, as a matter of fact he did,” Matthew called down as he rifled through a stack of boxes on the shelf.

“Is that so?” she said as she deftly extracted the letter from beneath the list. She suppressed a rush of excitement by biting her lip. “And has he read it?”

“Yes, ma’am, he has.”

“What did she say?”

“That’s my cousin’s business. You’ll have to ask him.”

“Of course.” She quickly slid the letter out of its envelope.

“Why, Nellie!” Betsy Quinn called from the hall. “How are you?”

Nellie did what any self-respecting gossip would do – she stuffed the letter into her reticule. “Betsy! How nice to see you. I need a few things, if you don’t mind.”

 
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