One Thing of Beauty
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One Thing of Beauty
Published:
4/19/2006
Format:
Perfect Bound Softcover
Pages:
260
Size:
5x8
ISBN:
978-1-42590-194-3
Print Type:
B/W

A story of nineteen year old Eliza Meyers, her husband, Jacob, and their two young children migrating to an Iowa farm in 1858. Her dreams are shattered when their baby daughter dies of measles. Jacob is stricken with the disease leaving him physically and mentally disabled.

Arriving at the farm Jacob has homesteaded they find two unsavory characters have wintered in their home. Jacob’s friend, John Chardeau, a frightening and dangerous man, chases them away.

City bred, Eliza must summon the knowledge learned when Jacob spent long evenings explaining his modern farming methods to her. She fights nature’s wrath that damages her crops making her question her ability to complete her task. Her attraction to Chardeau, the gossip among the town’s women and a confrontation with an intruder further complicates her life.

Jacob’s health deteriorates. His death leaves Eliza alone with their son, Jamie, until a blizzard throws Eliza and a seriously wounded Chardeau together for the rest of the winter. By spring she realizes she is in love with him and accepts his marriage proposal.

At 23 Jamie inherits the wanderlust that plagued his father. Chardeau has been killed in the Civil War. Despite being left alone Eliza sends Jamie on his way. He settles in northern Iowa, falling in love with his employer’s daughter. His marriage is short lived when his wife dies giving birth to their daughter. Jamie raises Kathleen while working on his father-in-law’s farm. When she is thirteen, Jamie is killed by one of the farm’s prize horses.

When her aging grandparents cannot care for Kathleen, Eliza welcomes her granddaughter into her home. Eliza no longer looks for the “One Thing of Beauty” that gave her hope and courage through troubled times. She has found it in her memories and Erica.

Chapter Six

 

Two horses stood tethered in front of the cabin, their heads hanging down, their eyes closed.  She pulled into the yard and stopped.  Before she could dismount, a bearded man with narrow eyes and a thin mouth swaggered through the cabin doorway.  When he came nearer, a hot, sweaty odor drifted toward her and her nose twitched.

"Well, who do we have here?" he drawled.

She felt goose bumps rising on the back of her neck.

"I might ask you the same question," she retorted.

"Johnson!" he called over his shoulder.  "We got us a visitor and a mighty pretty one."

A man, twin in dress and smell to the first, appeared in the cabin doorway behind him. Johnson strode to the wagon wheel and leaned a foot against the spokes.

"And now, Sweet Thing, why are you here?" he asked, his glance roving over her slight figure.

"You''re trespassing on our property, and I want you off," she said, hoping her voice didn''t sound as trembling as she felt.

"Is that so?  And is a little bitsy thing like you going to make us?" His insolent tone angered her as much as the smirk on his mouth.

With a movement that was deliberate, but swift, she dropped the reins, leaned over and pulled a rifle from under the seat.  The barrel was inches from Johnson''s face as she stared at him.  Johnson stepped back, the leer frozen on his face.  A slight movement from his companion, and she cocked the gun.  For a moment she thought she heard an answering click, but the silence that followed made her decide otherwise.  She could hardly miss at this distance, and Johnson knew it.

"Craft, hold it!" he shouted.

Craft''s hand moved away from his gun.  His attention was not focused on her, but toward the rear of her wagon.

"Drop your guns, get your belongings and get out," she ordered.

There was no argument.  Apparently what few belongings they had were wrapped in a blanket and laying near their saddles.  Johnson swung into the saddle and waited while Craft picked up his saddle.

"Hold it," she ordered them and raised the rifle to her shoulder, sighting down the barrel.  "Don''t get any ideas about coming back here again."

Her finger twitched and the gun fired.  Craft''s hat flew into the air.  The sound of the shot drowned out Craft''s yip.  He dropped the saddle on his foot and interrupted his moans to curse his bad luck.  The unexpected kick of the stock against her shoulder nearly knocked her off the seat.  The gun flew out of her hand and dropped at her feet.

"You''re crazy!" Johnson yelled.

For a moment she stared at him, her mouth open.  Then once again she grabbed for the gun.  "You remember that," she advised him, "and remember something else.  That wasn''t an accident.  I hit what I aim at.  Now get out of here, and see to it you don''t come back."

In his haste to leave, Craft threw the saddle over the horse''s back with such force that it landed on the ground on the other side.  The horse threw up his head and pranced sideways.  With another curse he grabbed the reins and yanked hard enough to bring the horse to him.  He picked up the saddle and heaved it onto the horse''s back, straightened it, and pulled the cinch tight.  He mounted the horse and the two men spurred them in the direction of Bauer.

I was born 67 years ago on a farm south of Des Moines, Iowa, in the area in which Eliza lived. When I was five we moved to the house in which Jamie’s wife lived. A year later we moved to a farm east of Algona, Iowa.

My love for reading and writing goes back to the fifth grade. By the time I was a sophomore in high school I had written my first novel. I have it tucked away and maybe someday after extensive rewriting, I will publish it. I have had two short stories and a number of newspaper articles published.

I have worked full time as an insurance agent/customer service representative for 47 years, the same number of years I have been married. We have a daughter, son and four grandchildren of whom we are very proud.

For those 47 years I made the decision to put my family first, my job second and my writing third. Our children grew up and left the nest. At a time when I thought my life would slow down and I would finally be able to write, my husband became disabled and I found myself busier than ever.

As I get older and it looks as though there will be no leisure any time soon, I have decided it’s now or never. And so I offer this book and hope everyone who reads it will find it an enjoyable read.

 
 


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