Samhain Retro Historical
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Excerpt from Donovan's Bed
Everyone watched the bed come through town.
The three old men sitting outside the Four Aces saloon ceased their checker playing as the antique passed by in the back of Amos Carver’s ancient buckboard.
“Would ya look at that,” Mort rasped, pushing back his hat with gnarled fingers. “Big enough for a whole family.”
“Or for one hot-blooded woman,” Johnny said.
“Amen,” Gabriel whispered.
The wagon continued down Main Street, sunlight gleaming along the bed’s carved headboard. All activity in Burr came to a standstill, as if the entire town were bewitched by the fantastic sight.
Marianne Westerly, the preacher’s daughter, gripped her mother’s arm as they stepped out of Pearson’s Mercantile. Her hushed comment carried the longing of a prayer. “Oh, Mama, look at the carvings.”
Nearby, Ellie Pearson stopped sweeping the wooden walkway outside her husband’s store to look with wondering eyes upon a bed splendid enough to birth a king. She caressed her ripening belly, where her unborn child slept. Her husband, Nate, stepped out beside her and slipped an arm around her shoulders. Resignation underscored his tender smile as he watched the unattainable pass him by.
The Tremont sisters even forgot their rumor swapping with the mayor’s wife to stare in goggle-eyed amazement at the magnificent spectacle.
“Oh, my stars!” Emmaline Tremont exclaimed, then blushed when her sister elbowed her for staring.
From the window of the newspaper office, Sarah Ann Calhoun also took note of the extraordinary bed. The morning sun imbued the walnut finish with warmth, as if the wood itself still lived. Old Amos Carver, spitting and cursing at his mule from the driver’s perch of his decrepit wagon, seemed an insult to the bed’s majesty.
For a moment, half-forgotten dreams of white lace and baby cradles drifted through Sarah’s mind. Then she shook off the foolish notions. It’s just a bed. Just another of Jack Donovan’s foolish acquisitions. It meant nothing to her.
Nothing but an opportunity.
With a grin, she reached for her pad. Her duty as editor of the Burr Chronicle lay in reporting anything that might interest the town. And the town was very interested in Jack Donovan.
He had arrived in Burr almost a year ago and deposited a scandalous amount of money into the bank. Then he bought some fine grazing land and built up a ranch, filling his beautiful house with wonderful furnishings from back east. Rumors abounded about the source of his wealth. Some said he had discovered gold. Others said he was a notorious outlaw who had retired to enjoy his ill-gotten gains. But since he came to church every Sunday and never had more than one drink at the saloon, the matrons of Burr chose to overlook his mysterious origins. In fact, many a young lady had set her cap for Jack Donovan.
But not Sarah.
She stepped outside the newspaper office, resolved to put an end to the speculation once and for all. Jack Donovan and his mysterious past would evade her no longer. There was something about him, a dangerous edge, that told her that he wasn’t exactly the law-abiding citizen he appeared to be. She was determined to uncover the truth. Once she discovered his secrets, she would finally make her father’s dream come true: the Burr Chronicle would become one of the biggest newspapers in Wyoming Territory.
And her own demons would be silenced forever.
She watched Amos and his wagon disappear over the rise. Around her, the town began to bustle once more. Conversations picked up where they’d left off. Horses whinnied, leather creaked, and wheels rumbled over hard-packed dirt. Down at the church, a group of men resumed hammering the dance floor they were building for the spring social on Saturday night.
Sarah’s shoes tapped a purposeful beat down the wooden boards as she went to fetch her horse. The time had come for Mr. Donovan’s reckoning. She would have the answers to her questions, and she would use that bed to get them.
Copyright © 2012 Debra Mullins
All rights reserved — a Samhain Publishing, Ltd. publication