Fiction: Tangled

“Seems the bit of merriment you boys had got the lieutenant shot,” said the veteran doctor.

Buck swung his legs to the side of the bed. “I have to see him.”

“No, I’m afraid not, son. Fahy won’t want to see you. He’s upset and angry, poor devil. Says you both stole horses and deserted him—even set him up somehow.”

“We didn’t steal anything! It was Fahy himself who put us atop those damned horses!” said Buck.

“But you left the camp and put everyone in danger,” the doctor said.

“But we were drunk,” said William. “Even the lieutenant was fuddled. Why would we set him up?”

“Well, of course when you’re recovered you’ll have your chance to give your side of the story, boys.”

“Are we under arrest?” Buck asked.

Buck laid back on his pillow and the doctor unwrapped his head. The old West Point wound still looked worse than the new injury, and it concerned him. “The Apaches turned in the fool who shot Fahy, so that’s done. It’ll be kept quiet. No one wants any civilians taking revenge. Fahy’s in trouble with creditors. He’s very popular at Fort Grant, but one of his men here blurted out something about fixing the rationing scales.”

Buck glanced William’s way.

“Do you boys know anything about it?” the doctor asked.

Neither of them said a word.

A commotion outside the door distracted them. The door flew open and Thankful ran to Buck’s bedside. “Oh, Buckie! I came as fast as I could!”

Buck pulled her close. “Thankful, I’m so sorry for you!”

She smoothed Buck’s hair from his inflamed temple. “You’re such a silly pet! Buck, will you ever stay out of trouble? But you’re all right now, aren’t you? At least you’re still alive. The telegram was so vague. Won’t you reconsider the army?”

“No, of course not. But—well—you know about the lieutenant?”

Kenyon made signs that she didn’t, but too late.

Thankful pouted. “Lieutenant Fahy hasn’t written in weeks and I‘m sore at him.”

Kenyon came to her now and took her hand.

“What’s happened to him?” Thankful asked.

“Dear girl,” Kenyon began but turned to the doctor to finish. The missionary hated bad news.

“Miss Crenshaw, the lieutenant has been very severely injured.”

“How? But he told me it was safe here for him!”

“I’m afraid Lieutenant Fahy was shot by a young Apache—very intoxicated and foolish.”

“No. But they’re friendlies—that’s what I was told.” Thankful’s voice quaked.

“Fahy followed us up into the mountains after the party he gave in Buck’s honor—and got caught out,” William explained.

“I knew it!” Thankful cried. “I knew you were involved in this! Your stupid behavior has gotten poor Buck hurt and my future husband—I hate you! You’re selfish and reckless and so stupid!”

“Thankful, stop it!” Buck said. “It’s not his fault. I chased after Willy and so did Fahy. We were all reckless and drunk.”

“Everyone has to chase after you and follow you and rescue you, William! It’s disgusting that I ever loved you!” Thankful slapped her hands to her mouth, having said more than she wanted to, and cried bitterly.

William hobbled over against Buck’s silent protests. “Thankful … I wish I’d known it sooner—I love you too.”

Thankful stared up at him. “I said I once loved you, but you’re hopeless now.”

“I can change if only you’ll have me.”

Thankful laughed. “Don’t ever dare ask me to be responsible for your behavior. Who are you? A man should be responsible for himself. Just leave me and my family alone. What sort of man considers himself when another is suffering because of him? I would never desert Lieutenant Fahy!”

William’s blood boiled. “He’s no great shakes.”

Thankful jumped up and slapped him hard. A fly buzzed at the window, and men a long way off laughed at a joke. Thankful turned to the doctor. “Please take me to him.”

“Of course, Miss Crenshaw. ”

The doctor’s face scared Thankful then, and she turned to Buck. “Won’t you come with me?”

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Featured Image: “Portrait de Femme au Chapeau Noir” by Gustave Jean Jacquet

Fiction: How To Keep a Man Happy (Part Two)

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Thankful makes a decision about Mr. Fahy . . .

When Mrs. Markham awoke to find the fire puttered out, and the coffee not made, she wasn’t pleased.

“Thankful Crenshaw, I love you like a good friend’s daughter, but honestly, crying at this hour and before coffee is just wrong. I don’t pay you to pout. I’m sorry to be so upset, but you know how I am about coffee.” Mrs. Markham watched for reaction from Thankful out of the corner of her eye, but when she did not get it, turned more emphatically in the girl’s direction. “I allow other things to slide, child, but not this. I will have a word with Captain Markham about our arrangement.”

Again Thankful sniveled. Mrs. Markham wanted coffee, but softened. “I’d hate to lose our friendship over such a trifling thing. I’m at wits end, and the captain knows best what to do.” The mantle clock clicked the time slowly. A horse whinnied.

“I’ll pack my things, Mrs. Markham,” Thankful sobbed.

Mrs. Markham rushed to her side. “But you have no place to go, my sweetness, just be more mindful of your chores!”

“Yes. I’m sorry.” Thankful rose to fetch the coffee pot, wiping her eyes on her gingham apron–one Mrs. Markham had a laundress make for her pet.

“Whatever are you fretting about?” Mrs. Markham asked, sitting to write out Thankful’s endless list of chores. “Do you miss home?”

Thankful nodded, but then shook her head.

“Poor girl, you’re all mixed up. That’s what love does. I should know—the captain still keeps me in conflict. But love is love, and you’re lucky to have it. Some never do.”

“Mr. Fahy is demanding,” Thankful hinted.

“That’s men. Would you rather he left you to yourself and found another?” Mrs. Markham asked. “I didn’t think so.”

“But he’s very demanding,” Thankful said, wondering if the captain’s wife was really the friend she needed right now. “I just don’t know. . .”

“I don’t know how to say this.” Mrs. Markham took the pot from Thankful– too theatrically for Thankful’s taste and mood–and filled it herself with a scolding look. “I do love you, but you’re selfish in a way. A man has to be given his way once in a while—he needs to think that you trust his judgment. I’m sure that Mr. Fahy, of all men, wouldn’t lead you astray—he’s a fine gentleman.”

“Mrs. Markham, has he had any girls before me?”

“Many girls have sought him from what I hear, but I’ve never seen him take especial notice. I do believe Lieutenant Fahy is saving himself for you—that’s very sweet, I think. You’re a very lucky girl. Everyone thinks so. Don’t ruin things for yourself by being hard on him. After all, he’s only a man.” She laughed.

Later that day Mrs. Markham went visiting while Thankful took the children out to play. The sun blazed as Thankful’s temper flared. The older children fought, and the younger ones hung off her, wilted and cranky. Thankful could see Lieutenant Fahy smoking on the porch at headquarters, and this infuriated her. Usually he tripped up to see her for a moment around midday.

“Come along, children. It’s time to go indoors for your naps.” The young ones whimpered in protest, and the three eldest ran off, knowing Thankful could not give chase with the little ones clinging to her. “Horrible little wretches,” Thankful muttered as Fahy finally trotted over to her. She pushed past him.

“Thankful, please slow down, would you?”

“Why should I? I’m busy!” she said.

“I wanted to apologize for this morning. I can be a right bastard sometimes.”

“How you curse!” Thankful said, relieved and glad for his apology.

“It’s just that you’re so darn beautiful. I’m not a patient man, and I want you. But if you don’t feel the same way . . .”

“But I do, Mr. Fahy! I’m afraid of it though, and I only want to do what’s honorable and right.”

“But no one has to know and you’re nearly my wife.”

“I would do anything,” Thankful began–she must be honest, however immature it may seem to this man, “but that.”  She saw he was not pleased. “Oh, but let me explain. It’s very horrible really . . . I’ve never told a soul, but my parents conceived before they were married. It’s been a horrible marriage, and I’d hate for us to end so sadly.”

Fahy wiped his brow. The babies were crying, and the toddlers smelled like sewage. The lieutenant sighed. “Thankful, you’re a great girl—too good for me at times. I came over to apologize but also to let you know that I won’t be by this evening.”

“Oh,” Thankful said, a rush of panic and hurt coming over her. Had he even listened to her? “Well . . . why not?”

“Some of the fellows, well, I’ve been neglecting my friendships lately, and I have tonight free.”

“What will you do?” Thankful hated herself for asking.

“Just drink at The Buckskin. Nothing more.”

“Town? You’re going to town?” Thankful cried.

“Yes. Oh, you don’t think—what I said before about the others?” Fahy rolled his eyes and looked truly affronted. “Now I see you really don’t trust me!”

“No, it’s that I don’t know what to think! Before you threaten to use a whore and now. . .”

“I never threatened it!” Fahy said.

“Go ahead with the boys, but don’t expect me to be friendly tomorrow!” Thankful cried.

“So now I can’t have any friends?” Fahy complained. “You’re being unreasonable!”

“You can have as many friends as you like,” she said. “But I have no friends here at all!”

“And how is that my fault? Maybe if you were a little less stuck-up. You girls are always so dramatic!” Fahy fumed.

“You said you loved me!” Thankful sobbed now. “And I’m not stuck-up!”

“I do love you!” Fahy turned her away from passing soldiers. “Bear-up, Thankful. You’re making a fool of yourself, now,” he said irritably but hugged her. “My passion for you is so great that I don’t know how much longer I can wait. I’d never spend another moment with the lads if only I could have you the way we talked earlier.”

“So you would stay home for me?” Thankful asked. “I’m the most important to you?”

“Of course. It’s all I want, but I need to know that you trust me for everything.”

Thankful grabbed his arm. “Mr. Fahy, please come to me tonight, and I’ll be ready.”

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Excerpted from WEARY OF RUNNING. Read more about Buck Crenshaw, his sister Thankful and William Weldon’s  misadventures when you buy the book today!

“The second installment in The Tenafly Road Series definitely did not disappoint. With the introduction of new characters and the return of familiar ones, Weary of Running made for an exciting read. The protagonist, Thankful, is the real highlight of the novel. She consistently makes very poor decisions but in the end, you can understand why she has made every last one of them. The story ranges from love and romance to questions of faith and morality. It does all this without being preachy and explores many angles of different aspects of life. This is one of the best books I have read in a long time.” Amazon Review

“Buck Crenshaw is my favorite dysfunctional lovable character.”

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Fiction: The Watch

William travels to Camp Grant to return Thankful’s watch (pawned to a worker at the stables by Haviland).

the watch“He’s intoxicated, the thief, and should be left to wander the desert,” Baker, the preacher’s son said when William arrived at Fort Grant that night.

“I’m not drunk—now let me see Thankful.”

The other sentry with Baker laughed. “She won’t be pleased to see you. No one will.”

“Shit-ass, just let me in,” William said with a slur.

The men relented, William being protected property of Captain Bourke’s.

William heard the tinkling of laughter and music at the end of the wind swept parade grounds. What day was it? Saturday? An officers’ dance was on. He limped towards the music, remembering his timid attempt at dance with his mother in the kitchen. His grandmother’s laughter had put a stop to it. “He’s no Simon, is all I have to say!”

No one could ever be like his Uncle Simon. William remembered him as always so at ease and generous—nothing like his father. He sighed, edging closer to the chapel dance hall and shivering in his light jacket. A visiting party of officers and their wives amplified the merriment and noise. A small window offered him a secret glimpse.

old-camp-grant-280Along the larger windows at the far end stood the regular company men and the laundresses envying the lace and cut of the gowns worn by the officers’ wives. Flags and bunting hung everywhere bursting with national colors. William studied the unfinished paintings of swords and chivalrous sayings on the rough walls. No one had attempted completing William’s work. The music from a few members of the regimental band made something ache inside of William.Why couldn’t he ever remember those times in the army with Mother and Papa—and Eliza? He missed things, but couldn’t figure what.

The notes of a waltz came up, and the honor of leading the dance went to a young officer and his new friend. The captain’s wife had been ingenious in getting up, with a few minor alterations, a dress suitable for Thankful, mix and match always the way at the frontier posts where clothes must last. Though more old-fashioned than Thankful usually wore, the lavender bodice and black full skirt set her streets ahead of the other ladies.

William heard a few of the bachelor officers arguing over promised dances, and he wanted to pummel them. Thankful’s laughter annoyed him, too, as she swung along with Fahy, her dark curls bobbing and shining in the candlelight.

Would the musicians ever stop? William cringed when things grew quiet and Thankful pinned her fan beside the corps badge on Fahy’s jacket. Why couldn’t she just stab him? But everything about the Crenshaws went smooth as silk.

William finished the rough whiskey in his bottle and made his way around to the front where a makeshift punch and refreshment table stood with favors and unusual edibles made with army rations and lit by polished lanterns. William grabbed a snack and waited for his chance to speak with Thankful. He upset a small platter with the carbine dangling off his shoulder. The noise caught Mrs. Markham’s attention. She handed her punch to a young pet officer and hustled over to the uninvited guest.

“Mr. Weldon, how are you here tonight? You know how much I care for you—and the captain, too. We’re both still upset you moved away, but this dance is for officers only, I’m afraid.”

William spotted some civilians, but what did it matter if she lied? “Mrs. Markham, I’m here to return something to Miss Crenshaw.”

“So you did take the money then?” Mrs. Markham asked. “I don’t know how it’s all gone so wrong for you. Well, Thankful was certain it was only some sort of mistake. And I suppose it was—to leave money in town the way she did, she’s very foolish, but so darn lovable—practically family already. You know how the army is, William.”

William squirmed.

Mrs. Markham gave him a hard look after spotting the old boots he wore. “Where are the boots the captain and his men got for you?”

“Lost.”

“You exasperate me, young man, truly, you do. But you realize even our lost sheep are welcomed back into the fold if only they’d come,” Mrs. Markham said with marked emphasis.

“Mrs. Markham, I like town,” William replied. “I only came to see Thankful.”

“My, she’s the belle of the barracks, isn’t she?” the captain’s wife said, admiring Thankful.

“She’s lovely,” William said as he caught sight of her, flying by on Fahy’s arm.

“Are you very distant cousins, Mr. Weldon?” Mrs. Markham asked with a confused look.

“No, just up the hill.”

The captain’s wife guided William out of the light. “Sweetie, your cousin is a fine young lady, who I’m sure doesn’t want her chance for a little society to be ruined and cut short by her pickled cousin. Now be fair. I know that it’s far too late for you to go back to your suite in town, but you can’t hang about here looking all dour. I’ll have you set up for bed tonight and you may speak to Miss Thankful first thing.”

Fahy and Thankful dashed up to the table in high spirits and took drinks.

“Those darned buttons and medals and such are pretty to look at and certainly keep my attention, but they scratch awfully much in a dance,” Thankful giggled, rubbing her cheek.

“If you weren’t so energetic in your steps, Miss Crenshaw, maybe a fellow would have a chance to mind his buttons,” Fahy laughed, his dark eyes full of merriment.

“Well, Mr. Fahy, I learned to dance from my father and he’s gracefuller than most,” Thankful said with her nose in the air.

William hated when she spoke childishly for attention.

“I guess your father had less buttons to get in the way,” Fahy quipped.

“Oh, Father has his big belly to watch out for. . .” Thankful burst into tears.

“Miss Crenshaw, did I offend you in some way?”

“Oh, it’s just you’re such a gentleman—like my father and you’ve all been so kind—what with taking up a collection for me—almost thirty dollars even! I’m so horrible and partly homesick—but I’ve made some very special . . . friends here, I think. I’m so mixed up!” A familiar figure stepped out of the shadows. “Willy?!”

Mrs. Markham could not hold him back.

He tucked his shirt as he walked up. “Thankful, I’ve retrieved something of yours.”

“Oh, William! I knew you couldn’t have taken the money. You wouldn’t! It’s not in you!” Thankful cried, deserting Fahy.

“No, Thankful . . . it’s not the money.”

“Well, whatever is it then?” Thankful asked with pained expression.

“It’s this; your watch.” He handed it over.

Fahy came up behind Thankful, protectively. “What has he done?”

Thankful flipped the elegant watch in her hand. “He’s given me my watch back,” she replied, expressionless.

“What’s the matter, Weldon? You couldn’t pawn it?” Fahy asked.

“Mr. Fahy, I think it’s best if you stay out of family business,” Mrs. Markham warned.

Thankful wiped her teary eyes. “I’m so ashamed of myself! I’m no better than poor William who has some excuse! He’s no cousin of mine—just a friend from home, and we lied to you. I put William up to it so I wouldn’t have to stay in that awful town! And I never should have taken the money from my father without permission! I’m a terrible girl who has brought shame to my family. I hope you can see it in your hearts to forgive me!”

Mrs. Markham took Thankful’s hand. “Oh, child, sometimes we learn from failure—I hope you will. Of course, I forgive you.”

“I just feel a little offended, Miss Crenshaw,” Fahy added. “That you would think that the men of the army would ever allow you to stay in town!”

“I realize that now and feel so mortified and foolish to leave my money—and now I will have to leave before I can regain your trust and friendship, Mr. Fahy.”

“You already have my friendship, Miss Crenshaw, and maybe it is you who must learn to trust others who will like you even more for being honest.”

“I will remember it as a lesson learned, Mr. Fahy,” Thankful said, flashing her long wet lashes up at him.

The color rose on Fahy’s face, and he took her hand in his and kissed it.

William froze. The way they gazed at each other was like his mother and father once did. It was like looking at his own lost dream.

Thankful turned to William, her voice icy. “Thank you for the watch back, but . . . well, it’s broken and all. Maybe you should pawn it.”

“Thankful, I just know that I would never take your money—I know it,” William said.

“Then where is it, Willy?” Thankful demanded.

“I think that maybe my friends . . .”

“Your friends? Who are these friends?” Thankful pulled William aside. “Are they the other drunks from town? I’m ashamed to know you. You’ve turned into what your friends are and your father would be very upset.”

“My father? What do you know about him, Thankful?”

“All I know is that he’s a sweet old man, and he’d be as heartbroken as I am seeing you like this!”

“Who do you think you are? After two days you’re sparking with the officers! Lieutenant Fahy even! Getting their hopes up only to go off and take up with someone else. I thought maybe you were better than the other Crenshaws, but you play tricks with people like nothing!” William said.  Unsteady on his feet, he took a step back.

Fahy and Mrs. Markham inched closer again.

“I’ve never played a single trick on you!” Thankful cried. “Why are you so cruel?”

“Because all of you Crenshaws are a pack of liars and cheats!”

Thankful threw the watch at him, “You are so eaten up with hate and jealousy. There’s no helping it! I don’t want a friend like you when there are men like Mr. Fahy. I’ll be a true and loyal friend to him—in letters even—if he’ll allow it.” Thankful turned to the lieutenant.

Fahy lingered in her adoration a moment.  He turned to William then. “Bill, you need to go to bed. I’ll set something up in my quarters,” he proposed with a magnanimous smile sent Thankful’s way.

William was in no shape to decline his offer.

PREVIOUS EPISODE FROM WEARY OF RUNNING

Excerpted from WEARY OF RUNNING. Read more about Buck Crenshaw, his sister Thankful and William Weldon’s  misadventures when you buy the book today!

“The second installment in The Tenafly Road Series definitely did not disappoint. With the introduction of new characters and the return of familiar ones, Weary of Running made for an exciting read. The protagonist, Thankful, is the real highlight of the novel. She consistently makes very poor decisions but in the end, you can understand why she has made every last one of them. The story ranges from love and romance to questions of faith and morality. It does all this without being preachy and explores many angles of different aspects of life. This is one of the best books I have read in a long time.” Amazon Review

“Buck Crenshaw is my favorite dysfunctional lovable character.”

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Fiction: Maps

Thankful and William travel uncharted territory at Fort Grant.

“You’ve got visitors, Captain Markham.” Lieutenant Fahy waved William and Thankful in.

Markham, an athletically built man with small eyes and wrinkled skin from too much desert, greeted William with a firm handshake and fatherly knock on the side of the head.

“Bill, how are you holding up in that God-forsaken town? We haven’t seen hide nor hair of you in weeks.”

He turned a surprised eye towards Thankful who curtsied.

“Captain Markham, my cousin Bill has been very busy at his drawings and such. I’m terribly pleased to meet you. My name is Thankful.”

She held out her hand again.

“What a pretty little thing you are, miss,” the captain said, holding her hand between his for a moment. “You say you’re Bill’s cousin? That’s very nice to come see the boy.”

“Well, sir, I’ve come to see his drawings, really. They’re quite superb and I’ve always felt he would go far with them if only they fell into the right hands. But he’s so foolishly modest.”

“Bourke told us that Bill had talent, but we’ve never been honored with a viewing,” Lieutenant Fahy said, giving William a disgusted glance. “I for one don’t believe that anything good can come from town.”

“Well, Mr. Fahy, I can prove you wrong and I don’t mind showing it,” Thankful laughed.

William stood in awed silence.

Fahy and Markham gave Thankful their indulgent attention glancing at each other in pleasure as she fished from her bag the pieces of William’s map.

William hadn’t noticed her taking them and the place names were wrong! He wanted to run, but where would he go? Thankful had no right!

Thankful pushed the captain’s things to the side of his desk, turned the lamp higher and spread the gloriously colored drawing like a carpet for the men to see. The men leaned into the intricate and accurate depiction of the territory they had traversed for years.

“Thankful, why did you save that?” William asked. His palms sweat.

Markham and Fahy looked up at William with new eyes.

“It’s magnificent work, isn’t it?” Thankful winked at William.

The men nodded in agreement.

“But. . .” William began, “the place names . . . I never get them right.”

The officers looked again. “Oh, those small settlements come and go. That doesn’t take away from the overall presentation of our little part of the world. It’s damned impressive, Bill,” Markham stated. “Bourke told me your uncle Captain McCullough was a good map maker.”

“Was he?” William asked, missing the uncle he hardly remembered. “He went to West Point.”

“William has so many fine drawings of the military, too—you should see them,” Thankful boasted. “Well, unfortunately they’re torn up.”

“May we keep this, Bill?” the captain asked.

“You want it? Sure, you can have it,” William said, relieved and looking like the boy Thankful so admired at home.

“Cousin Bill, remember that you promised it to Mr. Bourke.”

“Oh, well . . . we’ll just save it for him,” Markham said with a grin. “You beat all, Bill. Now why don’t you come back to us more often?”

Thankful pouted, swaying a little while twirling a curl. “My cousin wants me gone by tomorrow, so may I stay in camp? I’d feel safer with military men than the common sort in town.” She blushed at William. “I didn’t mean Willy–Bill of course. My cousin is a gentleman.”

Fahy raised his brow, but the captain gave him a stern look.

“We can keep you till morning, Miss Crenshaw,” Captain Markham said. “My wife will set a bed for you in our home.”

“That would be just bully, Captain Markham! You’re all so much as I’ve imagined. I knew the army would be full of nobility–not like everyone says back east.”

The men stood a little taller under Thankful’s gaze. William’s stomach turned again. He scratched his head with a sigh.

“So, good luck, cousin,” William said with an awkward grin. He touched his cap, playing at good spirits.

Thankful pecked him on the cheek. “William Weldon, be good,” she whispered.
The dash of alcohol in Thankful’s lemonade this afternoon lingered on her breath. She was beautiful.

“Bye, then, Thankful,” William said. “Good evening, Captain Markham and Mr. Fahy.”
In the cool night he stood for a moment on the porch, which smelled so much like the cigars his father always smoked in the army—the ones from the commissary. Men slept under their porches and a coyote yelped. Tomorrow would be the same as always.

William considered saying a prayer for his father’s tremors, but didn’t. His leg ached in the special boots he wore to hide the limp he’d gotten when he fell from the horse years ago. Captain Markham had purchased them for him. William unhitched his horse, said good-night to the guard and raced under a starry sky back to town.

PREVIOUS EPISODE HERE

Excerpted from WEARY OF RUNNING. Read more about Buck Crenshaw, William Weldon and Thankful Crenshaw’s  misadventures when you buy the book today!

“The second installment in The Tenafly Road Series definitely did not disappoint. With the introduction of new characters and the return of familiar ones, Weary of Running made for an exciting read. The protagonist, Thankful, is the real highlight of the novel. She consistently makes very poor decisions but in the end, you can understand why she has made every last one of them. The story ranges from love and romance to questions of faith and morality. It does all this without being preachy and explores many angles of different aspects of life. This is one of the best books I have read in a long time.” Amazon Review

“Buck Crenshaw is my favorite dysfunctional lovable character.”

Fiction: Taken By An Officer

Thankful meets Lieutenant Fahy.

A lamp flickered low in the window at headquarters. A soldier stood outside smoking.

“Land sakes, the soldiers I’ve seen so far are barely handsome at all,” Thankful whispered.

“What did you expect?”

“I suppose more like how I imagine your father when he was young—like you, sort of—well, when you were home—not now, I mean . . .”

The smoking soldier stepped forward from beneath the porch and the moon lit him.

“Lieutenant Fahy, is Captain Markham in, sir?” William asked.

Fahy stepped closer and bowed to Thankful. Her eyes lit up, and she giggled at the sight of him.

William’s stomach burned. “This is my cousin, Miss Crenshaw, sir.”

“Very pleased to meet you, Miss Crenshaw.”

“And you! You’re from Dublin, aren’t you?” Thankful asked.

The lieutenant grinned. “Why, yes, how did you guess? I’ve tried right hard to lose the sound of Ireland.”

“Oh, you shouldn’t! My father has a doctor friend from Dublin and he’s smart—not a shanty Irish type . . . my goodness I should just stop now, sir—I think your accent is charming.”

“Where have you hid this girl, Weldon?” Fahy asked.

“She’s run away from home and is going back to her father in the morning, sir. She’s very young . . .”

“I am not, Willy!”

Fahy took a drag from his pipe, his head tilted in amusement.

“I’m eighteen!” Thankful said, swishing her skirts slightly.

Fahy gave her the once over. “My sisters and brother and I came to America when we were young like yourself. You’ve got a great country here.”

“Oh, yes, of course it is,” Thankful said. “And how many sisters do you have, Mr. Fahy?”

“Just buckets of them and brothers, too. I’m a twin, in fact, but my brother joined the navy for a lark.”

“By golly, I’m a twin. How very coincidental.”

They laughed.

“Thankful, we need to talk to the captain,” William reminded her.

“Thankful? What an unusual name,” Fahy gushed.

“It sounds nice the way you say it, sir.”

“Come along now, COUSIN, I have to get back, you know,” William said, taking her arm.

Fahy sighed. “Bill Weldon, you should try to enjoy life a little.” He turned to Thankful. “Your cousin is a good fellow, but always so serious.”

PREVIOUS EPISODE HERE

Excerpted from WEARY OF RUNNING. Read more about Buck Crenshaw and his misadventures when you buy the book today!

“The second installment in The Tenafly Road Series definitely did not disappoint. With the introduction of new characters and the return of familiar ones, Weary of Running made for an exciting read. The protagonist, Thankful, is the real highlight of the novel. She consistently makes very poor decisions but in the end, you can understand why she has made every last one of them. The story ranges from love and romance to questions of faith and morality. It does all this without being preachy and explores many angles of different aspects of life. This is one of the best books I have read in a long time.” Amazon Review

“Buck Crenshaw is my favorite dysfunctional lovable character.”

 

 

Fiction: Pretend We’re Cousins

William agrees to take Thankful to Fort Grant

“Call me Bill at the post,” William coached. “Lieutenant Bourke is the only one to hold to my childhood name, and it gives too much a laugh to the others.”

“Maybe it’s not your name they’re laughing at,” Thankful said, poking his side with her thin, gloved finger.

“What are you saying?”

“I just mean that maybe they have their own concerns and aren’t as against you as you think.”

“I know well enough if I’m being played the fool,” William said, but his stomach pained him. He wasn’t sure of anyone’s motives.

At the stables, Thankful laughed at William’s pony. “The Friesians at home could swallow that little thing. Are you sure he’ll hold me too and with the carbine?”

William pat the horse’s rump. “You shouldn’t go making fun of Sophie. She’s a good girl.”

“Sophie? What a name for a horse.”

“I like it. Maybe I had a dog or something named Sophie. You’ll have to ride Indian style. I had to sell her saddle.”

“No one will see that I care about,” Thankful said with a blush as she straddled the horse exposing her striped pink stockings.

William steadied her and pretended not to notice her shapely legs. Thankful was tall like her mother and father and solidly built. The sunlight streaming through the stable window played up her deep blue eyes.

“Thankful, I have to drive her. You’ll have to hang off back if you don’t mind.”

“I can ride quite well, Mr. Bill Weldon!” Thankful said, but slid off to let William on first.

“Maybe so, but you’re your mother’s daughter.” William swung his leg over the horse with a shy smile.

Thankful followed and wrapped her arms around William’s middle. He felt flustered again. But this was crazy. She’d be gone tomorrow.

Although his parents tried to keep him from horses after his accident, William always found a way to ride. He enjoyed this one good thing about himself and liked showing off to Thankful.

They cantered out on the desert path and rode for hours.

“William, have you missed me?” Thankful asked in his ear.

“I . . . I guess I miss the folks at home sometimes—you being one of them—so yes . . . I guess so,” William said.

Thankful stayed quiet until the fort came into view at twilight. “I’m so excited!” she said.

The guard’s ears pricked at the sound of Thankful’s voice.

“Bill Weldon, who do you have there?” the guard asked.

Thankful slid from the horse. “I’m Bill’s cousin from home with no place to sleep tonight—will the army put me up? I’ll pay.” She held out her hand, confident in the effect her looks had on men.

The man sported a big yellow grin. “Bill, you’ve got cousins? How many?” he asked, looking Thankful over. “I don’t know for certain, young lady, but I think the officers could find you something. Your cousin’s got special privileges.” He smacked William’s back. “Nice to see you, young fellow. We’ve missed you.”

The guard led them to the sergeant of the guard who gawked with pleasure at the girl with high cheekbones.

“Miss Crenshaw, Bill will show you in—he knows the way,” the sergeant said and whispered to William, “I guess we owe you now—bringing in such a beaut—she’s not spoken for is she? Has she got sisters?”

“A twin,” William let slip.

The man’s eyes lit. “The officers get this one, I guess, but send for the other and give us non-commissioned men a chance at happiness.”

PREVIOUS EPISODE HERE

Excerpted from WEARY OF RUNNING. Read more about Buck Crenshaw and his misadventures when you buy the book today!

“The second installment in The Tenafly Road Series definitely did not disappoint. With the introduction of new characters and the return of familiar ones, Weary of Running made for an exciting read. The protagonist, Thankful, is the real highlight of the novel. She consistently makes very poor decisions but in the end, you can understand why she has made every last one of them. The story ranges from love and romance to questions of faith and morality. It does all this without being preachy and explores many angles of different aspects of life. This is one of the best books I have read in a long time.” Amazon Review

“Buck Crenshaw is my favorite dysfunctional lovable character.”

 

 

Fiction:Taking Chances on Lost Men (2)

William Weldon sobers at the prospect of Thankful Crenshaw spending the night after her SURPRISE VISIT

“I’ll just wash my face at least,” Thankful said, moving toward the wash basin in William’s filthy room above the saloon.

“Let me go fetch fresh water.” William grabbed the basin before she could see the contents. He took a while to scrub it clean in the yard near the water barrel. The saloon keeper had pity on him so William brought back a lemonade drink, on credit, for Thankful and found her sifting through the drawings and maps he had hidden.

“Thankful, those are nothing. Please, take this drink.”

She glanced up at William with her big eyes but wasn’t listening. “Willy, when did you get so good at people?”

“Thankful, you’ve come all this way to snoop? Let me have those back. The colors are off. My paints aren’t very good.”

“They’re wonderful. Will you sell them?”

William tried to pry them away from her. “I do sell some to magazines. Now let me have them.”

“So why were they crumpled behind a table? Aren’t you afraid of ruining them? And look at this lovely map—what’s it for?”

“Oh, that was just something Captain Bourke wanted from me, but it’s too late now.”

“You mean the officer who invited you here asked for something and you didn’t deliver it?” Thankful shook her head and clicked her tongue at him with deep concern. “What will that say about you?”

“Hey, I don’t give a damn what it says about me! And what business is it of yours? Are you sure my parents didn’t send you?”

“No one sends me anywhere, Mr. William Weldon. I’m surprised at you. Drinking in the morning and leaving promises undone. That’s not the Willy I know.”

“First off, it’s almost 12 o’clock and a man can drink when he wants to.”

“A man finishes his work first.”

“I have finished my work! It’s not a regular thing . . .”

“Maybe it would be if you gave in your assignments on time.”

William scratched his head again, trying to hold his temper. “You’re not my teacher! That stupid map took me weeks and it was never right—and I thought—I should check the place names again and well, it just didn’t get done. The army has its own cartographers, anyhow.”

“You’re all rough around the edges now, William, but I know you’re just afraid Mr. Bourke won’t like it much. I’ll take it to him.”

William pulled it from Thankful with force this time. “Bourke isn’t here at the moment, and he’s less than happy with me over some foolish things.”

“Oh, so you were thrown from the army like your poor father?”

“My father wasn’t thrown from the army—though he should have been. I was NEVER in the army, you remember. Only for a visit. No one wanted to know me so . . . say, what are you smiling about?”

“You paint yourself as a right and true martyr. It tickles me.”

William glared at her. “How long have you been here? It feels like years and I’ve got— “

“A headache, I know. I know you better than you think, Willy,” Thankful laughed in adorable smugness.

“It’s Bill, I told you,” William said admiring her.

Thankful shook her head and went back to perusing the drawings and came upon a landscape. It was the prairie after a storm in late summer.

“I did that on the way out—for my father.”

“Why didn’t you send it? I don’t know much about real art, but it’s lovely and melancholy all the same.”

“So you think of it as real art?” William asked.

“Why, of course! Not like those awful paintings of bowls of peaches Mama buys up. Sometimes I feel I’ve grown up in a rotten fruit market.”

William nodded with a grin, remembering how his father used to make fun of the still life paintings at the Crenshaw home, but then his father knew nothing of art.

“Willy, your father would love this, I bet.”

“No, it’s too sad, and he likes to be happy all the time now,” William said, mocking his father’s tone.

“Is that a bad thing?” Thankful continued to admire the drawings until she found the nude prostitutes in acrobatic positions.

“William Weldon, so this is why you move to town? To frolic with filthy whores? I am so ashamed of you! What would everyone at home say? You’ve turned so bad. And why would you let me see these horrible drawings?”

“I didn’t! You took them. You Crenshaws try to run other people’s lives. I thought I had escaped that. How did you find me anyway?”

“Your father, he told me when I asked.

“He knew you were coming?”

“No, of course not, you scalawag. I told him I’d write you now and again so you wouldn’t be lonely.”

“I’m not lonely. I have friends enough,” William replied rubbing his scruffy chin.

“You just told me that no one liked you—unless you consider low women with their legs spread . . .”

“Thankful, don’t talk like that!”

She laughed. “I’ve had brothers to educate me. I’ve seen a woman’s body—I have one, you know.”

William pulled the papers away from her and tore them apart. “I don’t want to hear this. This whole day has me on nerve’s end.”

Excerpted from WEARY OF RUNNING. Read more about Buck Crenshaw and his misadventures when you buy the book today!

“The second installment in The Tenafly Road Series definitely did not disappoint. With the introduction of new characters and the return of familiar ones, Weary of Running made for an exciting read. The protagonist, Thankful, is the real highlight of the novel. She consistently makes very poor decisions but in the end, you can understand why she has made every last one of them. The story ranges from love and romance to questions of faith and morality. It does all this without being preachy and explores many angles of different aspects of life. This is one of the best books I have read in a long time.” Amazon Review

“Buck Crenshaw is my favorite dysfunctional lovable character.”

PART ONE HERE

PART TWO HERE

PART THREE HERE

PART FOUR HERE

PART FIVE HERE

PART SIX HERE

PART SEVEN HERE

PART EIGHT HERE

PART NINE HERE

PART TEN HERE

PART ELEVEN HERE

PART TWELVE HERE

PART THIRTEEN HERE

PART FOURTEEN HERE

PART FIFTEEN HERE

PART SIXTEEN HERE

PART SEVENTEEN HERE

PART EIGHTEEN HERE

PART NINETEEN HERE

PART TWENTY HERE

PART TWENTY ONE HERE

***Featured image from Pinterest.com

FICTION: Words Said In Confidence

Christmas on Fifth Avenue by Alice Barber Stephens

Christmas on Fifth Avenue by Alice Barber Stephens

After learning that Fred has taken his girl, Buck Crenshaw advises his sister Thankful against marriage.

Buck and Thankful could hear their parents bickering below them in the parlor.

“I wish they would just divorce!” Thankful complained.

“Marriage is foolish,” Buck said, feeling even more hopeless. “I won’t consider it again.”

“You say that now, but one day . . .” Thankful began.

“It’s impossible,” Buck insisted, closing the subject. “And what about you, sis? Anyone in town who strikes your fancy?”

Thankful played with her curls and rolled her eyes. “No, no one who’s in town.”

“So someone who’s gone out of town then?” Buck laughed. “Someone I know?”

“Yes, but he hasn’t noticed me and he’s in the West.”

“Not William?”

“I know you don’t like him, but. . .” Thankful began.

“He’s a moron!” Buck moaned. “No, Willy won’t do.”

“William is not a moron. He knows about art and other things too– if only you got to know him you’d see. And he’s so kind to his parents—the way he helps his father—it’s so—chivalrous. And he helped me out of a puddle and took it so seriously,” Thankful said as if she might swoon.

“So you want someone who can splash around in puddles with his morphine-addicted father? Very high standards you have, sis. And how would Willy earn his keep? It’s so like him to become an artist of all things. Maybe Father could bankroll the bastard,” Buck said, getting to his feet.

“Stop it, Buck,” Thankful replied, holding out her hand for Buck to help her up. “Why are you so jealous?”

“I’m not. It’s only I don’t understand why women and even Father are so impressed with a morose, coddled little cripple.”

“I suppose we should all be impressed with a thin, violet-eyed cadet who gets in heaps of trouble,” Thankful teased. “Was it his fault that he fell from a horse? I might go and visit William sometime.”

Buck laughed. “Good luck getting permission for that. You’re such a dreamer.”

“Why shouldn’t I go?” Thankful asked, hands on hips. “You boys go wherever and all I do is watch babies. I wish Father and Mama would stop it. I don’t see how they still do it with all that fighting.”

“They’re idiots.”

Thankful laughed. “Land sakes, you have a kind word for everyone this Christmas.”

“Well, I like you, Thankful.”

“Thanks, Buckie, I’m honored.”

Buck took her by the chin. “You don’t want to go west. If a man wants you, let him come.”

“Maybe William has already met a nice girl.”

“In the West? I doubt it. But maybe he doesn’t want a nice girl.” Buck meant to insult William, but saw it hurt Thankful. “Stay home till I graduate and we’ll take a bully trip together.”

Thankful embraced Buck with her eyes on the door. She had her own plans.

 

***FOR MORE ALICE BARBER STEPHENS: AMERICAN GALLERY

Excerpted from WEARY OF RUNNING. Read more about Buck Crenshaw and his misadventures when you buy the book today!

“The second installment in The Tenafly Road Series definitely did not disappoint. With the introduction of new characters and the return of familiar ones, Weary of Running made for an exciting read. The protagonist, Thankful, is the real highlight of the novel. She consistently makes very poor decisions but in the end, you can understand why she has made every last one of them. The story ranges from love and romance to questions of faith and morality. It does all this without being preachy and explores many angles of different aspects of life. This is one of the best books I have read in a long time.” Amazon Review

“Buck Crenshaw is my favorite dysfunctional lovable character.”

PART ONE HERE

PART TWO HERE

PART THREE HERE

PART FOUR HERE

PART FIVE HERE

PART SIX HERE

PART SEVEN HERE

PART EIGHT HERE

PART NINE HERE

PART TEN HERE

PART ELEVEN HERE

PART TWELVE HERE

PART THIRTEEN HERE

PART FOURTEEN HERE

PART FIFTEEN HERE

PART SIXTEEN HERE

PART SEVENTEEN HERE

PART EIGHTEEN HERE

PART NINETEEN HERE

PART TWENTY HERE

PART TWENTY ONE HERE

A Sentimental Journey

The sentimental in writing and life; how do you get the first definition without the second?
Adjective
  1. Of or prompted by feelings of tenderness, sadness, or nostalgia: “she felt a sentimental attachment to the place creep over her”.
  2. (of a work of literature, music, or art) Dealing with feelings of tenderness, sadness, or nostalgia in an exaggerated and self-indulgent way.

I, for one, am a sucker for sentimental stuff–but then I want to be sick when it goes too far. So when do you know you’ve gone too far? Be very careful when and how often you make men weep or children speak (even if they’re adorably precocious).

At Yaddo in Saratoga yesterday I realized that the Trasks (Spencer and Katrina) had all the makings of a very maudlin story, but they avoided it with grace. I feel certain that after the deaths of ALL FOUR of their young children, many tears were wept. One of the children had even suggested the name of the place which could have been a sentimental disaster, yet somehow it’s not.

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Spencer created the rose garden as a gift to his wife who had always dreamed of a garden of “delight and romance” as an “expression of her own life.”

Spencer Trask was a Wall Street financier and Katrina was a poet–the stuff of romance. Off to one side of the rose garden is a grove of trees with a statue of a youth “Christalan” sculpted by William Ordway Partridge as a “memorial to the children of this house.”

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Christalan represents youth, chivalry and victory over mortality.

Think upon the grief of parents who obviously took their children seriously enough to allow them to name a grand estate. Then imagine a couple who remained devoted to each other even after such tragedy. We sometimes imagine bitter old, rich misers–a sort of bitter resentment of our own at another’s success, but these two people lived lives of grace and dignity.

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With no heirs and a great appreciation for artists of all kinds they secretly formed what would become known after their deaths as The Corporation of Yaddo endowed in perpetuity to administer a working community of artists. And the artists came:Milton Avery, James Baldwin, Leonard Bernstein, Truman Capote, Aaron Copland, Langston Hughes, Sylvia Plath, Flannery O’Connor and more.

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Under restoration . . .

There’s no great statue of Spencer or Katrina and even their monstrously big home they opened up even in their lifetime to all sorts of people. The public today has free access to the gardens.

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And the artists who continue to fellowship here have the house at their disposal.

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The sundial in the garden is inscribed with words from the Trasks’ friend Henry VanDyke:

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Sometimes fictional sentiment doesn’t hold a flame to the real thing.

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