A Long Ride Home

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"It was real sweet of you boys to help Mabel this morning." She says softly, trying to draw him out a little after the first five minutes of the ride passed without conversation.

"It was nice of Mabel to find something for us to do."

He doesn't say anything else after that and she takes his hand, lacing his fingers with her own and pulling it into her lap.

She decides there's something to be said for silence when she hears a bird calling in the distance.

"I'm sorry I'm not much good for talkin' sometimes."

"I spent some time with Josie yesterday. Quiet can be nice too."

He squeezes her hand softly. "I just didn't want you to think I don't want to talk to ya. Hell, I could listen to that story about that bird in your window back in Boston for hours. Markus used to read it over and over till Daniel would go sleep on the couch just to get away from the talking, but I didn't mind."

She laughs. "My Robin would go on grand adventures. I don't know how many I told you but I told myself plenty over the years."

"If you know more stories I'd like to hear them." His thumb sweeps gently over the back of her hand.

"You are just starved for female attention out here in the great wide wilds of Wyoming." She laughs, but Silas suddenly shifts uncomfortably.

"What?"

"You know that personal ad went into a dozen papers right? You weren't the only one to answer. We got a whole chest full of letters from ladies all over. You weren't the only one that answered."

It's an odd feeling, like when you're walking upstairs you've traveled a hundred times before, and you're sure there's one more step, but when you put your foot down it's only air.

It's like waking up from a dream because you think you're falling or trying to grab a railing that someone had just taken down the day before.

"Sarah? You alright?"

She forces a wide smile.

"Of course! Why wouldn't I be?"

"Don't rightly know, but that ain't my business now is it. You got every right not to like something. Even if you're supposed to." That makes her think of how uncomfortable he was when Josie catcalled him just that morning.

"I suppose I never thought I was competing with anyone else. I was just writing letters, getting to know you, I suppose I always felt you were the one to prove to me that you were worth the effort of coming out."

"If it helps I was gone on you from your first letter. 'Dear Sir, I am writing to inquire after the advertisement you placed in the paper seeking a wife.' "

With his hand still twined with hers, he loops his arm around her and pulls her tight into his side.

"You sounded so fancy, and you didn't dip it in no perfume, but you had this pretty yellow paper. Like the color of a buttercup. You asked all these questions like it mattered more if we was good men in your eye than if we was wealthy, or had a passel of kids that needed caring for. I liked that."

She laughs, remembering how stiff the first few letters had been. It had felt like she was looking for a job. Until it began to feel like she was writing to a friend.

"So how many ladies did answer you?"

She's not jealous, she's just curious.

"It had run for six months so a few hundred."

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