Chapter One

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"Oh, wow!"

Wide plains spread out for miles, occasionally disturbed by rolling hills, and clear blue mountains hiding the horizon. The air was crisp, but warm enough not to need another layer. My heart soared as Papa pulled onto the hill, stopping our horses to graze.

We all hopped off the cart, which was so uncomfortable I had to use my dress as a cushion. My three sisters and one brother came out behind me, chatting up a storm about how they would fight of savage Indians with bows and guns.

Papa chuckled as all four of them ran off into the sage. He turned his knowing eyes towards me. "You like it, don't you?" He asked in his gravelly voice.

I twirled in a circle, arms wide. "Papa, this is the most amazing place I've ever seen!" I hugged him. "This is much better than Pennsylvania."

My stepmother made her way out, mumbling about her torn skirt. When she saw us two together, she smiled softly. She didn't acknoledge us any longer as she pulled out her luggage, scrummaging through it. Papa and I separated and stared at our view.

My stepmother, Grace, stood far away from where we stood. She didn't like the bowl-like scene that lay before us. I couldn't get enough of it. Just the feeling of being alone, but never being isolated. It was a confusing feeling, but I liked it.

I heared the horses whine as Papa pulled them away to the nearby trees for healthier grasses, and probably to observe the logs himself, so he would know which ones would be perfect to make a lodge out of.

Grace cautiously came to my side, and for her sake I stepped back a few feet so we wouldn't be so near to the edge. "Look at it, Stepmother!" I breathed.

She gave me a sideways glare. "You know, I've been telling you, do not call me Stepmother. Call me by my real name." She sighed. "I do not think as myself as your stepmother. But more as... a friend, I suppose."

I nodded quietly, and decided I should help my siblings get their things so we could sort out our living situation for the summer. It was only late May, so we had a good four months to build the cabin. Papa has Joey, my brother, to help him, since Joey is well old enough to start learning construction. My sisters and I could probably help by farming. But where will we sleep?

I found them all in a path of soft, leathery sage. They were all petting the leaves. My youngest sister, Elizabeth, smiled at me as I came closer. "We're pretending their kitties." She said.

Mallary looked up at me with big, round eyes that always reminded me of the Pennsylvania moon. "Emily, when will we be able to get a kitty?"

I looked over my shoulder for Grace or Papa, and leaned in closer to Mallary and Elizabeth's ears. "Soon," I whispered. "Town should have some for sale."

That made them squeal and run away to tell the other two, and I watched them go, wishing I had that kind of energy like them. I sighed. In my teenage years, I was expected not to go running around in fields, but to do housework, and...other things that I most definitely did not want to do.

Anyways, I went back to the ledge and breathed in the fresh air, which smelled of fresh dirt and blooming flowers. A nearby lake blinded me with the light of the sun. A couple geese broke the light beam by piling over my head.

I sighed. This was it. My life, the first few moments of it.

Papa came back with a grin on his face. "Good news, Emily." He said, chewing on a piece of grass. "Those logs should be perfect for a house. We better start as soon as possible. Maybe even tomorrow, just getting the layout ready."

My feet urged to jump in happiness, but I had already shown enough childness for one day. "That's great news, Papa!"

He nodded slightly. "Now go help your stepmother with the luggage. We're sleeping under the stars for a while. We better make it last."

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