Authors: Mandy Wilson
Growing In Love
A Mail-Order Husband Short Story
By Mandy Wilson
Copyright © 2013 by Mandy Wilson
Cover photo © Istockphoto.com
All scripture taken from the King James Version
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other no
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Meeting the Groom
“Trust in the
with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6
Maggie Dawson heaved a heavy sigh full of exhaustion. She had prayed to the Almighty night and day before she made her decision to send away for a husband. The answer was always the same; seek a helpmate to share your life and burden. She firmly believed she was in God’s will when she posted an advertisement for a groom, but that didn’t mean she wasn’t experiencing a case of nerves. Her hands shook, and she clasped them together; from fatigue or concern she wasn’t certain. All she knew for sure was that her possible intended was scheduled to arrive on today’s afternoon train.
To be truthful, she wondered what type of man would show up.
This new-fangled concept of ordering a mate didn’t sit too well with Maggie, but she was in such a tight spot that she had little choice. There were few men around that she could imagine a life with. She’d rather take her chances this way. Matthew Anders and she had corresponded for several months before the decision was made that he would become her husband. But how could she know he was telling the truth about himself? And what type of man would willingly leave behind his life? For women, it was different. They hadn’t the options that men had. Silently she berated herself for the sudden doubts. She had prayed about it and must have faith in the answer the Lord gave her.
she waited as passengers unloaded from the train. Families greeted loved ones long unseen, and a few stragglers looked anxiously for those they were to meet. No one yet matched the description of Matthew.
please let him be on the train. I don’t know that I can make it the several months it would take to find someone new
. Time was of the essence if she wanted to keep the farm.
Harvest time was upon them
, and she needed this crop to make the final payment on the loan. And there was no earthly way possible she’d be able to harvest them herself. Her neighbor’s eldest sons had helped with chores throughout the summer, but soon they would be called back to their own family’s needs.
If only Aaron hadn’t passed so suddenly and tragically.
There’s no need to be wondering about what-ifs
, she berated herself. God has a plan and a reason for everything even if we will never understand it here on earth. There were days where she missed her late husband so bad it hurt. Those were the days she was thankful for her work load and that she didn’t have time to think about his premature death.
She felt a presence and looked up to see a man most would consider quite handsome, standing before her. He was exceptionally tall, probably over six feet with broad shoulders. His face had hard features and lines that spoke of a hard life spreading from his eyes, but they gave him an air of maturi
ty. Despite the rough and tough exterior, his eyes held a kindness.
“Misses Dawson?” the man asked in a deep voice. He removed his hat as he greeted her.
“I am Maggie Dawson,” she answered. “And you are Mister Anders, I presume,” she stated with confidence. Instinctively, she knew this was the man she had been waiting on.
Please call me, Matthew. I believe the familiarity will allow us to feel more comfortable around each other.”
“Very well then. You may call me Maggie. Do you have any trunks?”
“Just this one bag. I thought to see what you already had before adding my own belongings.”
Maggie thought his answer mildly peculiar but could see the prudence. Aaron and she had been so busy trying to work the land, they hadn’t
had time to build a proper home yet. He had promised her a real home built out of lumber once fall arrived and the crops were harvested, but fall had never come for him. An accident with the plow had seen to that. She’d continued living in the soddy, too exhausted at day’s end to contemplate the material that provided her shelter. Although her little house provided relief and protection from the elements, there was not much room for extras, especially not another household of items.
“After meeting me, are you still agreeable to a marriage?” he asked without hesitation. His eyes bore through hers
, and she felt a connection she couldn’t explain, but she did admire his directness.
Yes Matthew. I am in sore need of a man at the farm and fear I will lose the farm if I have to find someone new.” She saw his eyes flinch and realized how her words sounded. “Oh dear, I didn’t mean that how it came out. Sometimes I speak, and the words just escape before I’ve thought them through.”
“No harm done, Maggie. Neither of us are entering this marriage with grand illusions of love or romanc
e. You need help, and I have my reasons for wanting to be here.”
“All the same, I do hope we can become friends,” she told him. Her heart would never love another man like she loved Aaron, but she would enjoy having a friend.
The first trace of a smile graced his mouth. “Friends would be nice,” Matthew said. “When will the wedding be?” he asked.
“After the noon meal. I packed some biscuits with ham slices for us to eat. There’s one restaurant in town but Adelaide Gentry, the proprietor, is back east visiting her daughter
. Ever since her sister, Martha, took over the cooking, suffice it to say her patronage has gone down.” Maggie quickly stopped, realizing the unkind remark that had slipped out of her mouth.
The impression she must be making on Matthew. “I’m sorry. What I meant to say, is her cooking is just a different style than her sisters. A fine example of a Christian woman I am displaying for you,” she sighed and rambled.
“Don’t be so hard on yourself, Maggie. I am certain you are a fine Christian woman. And I appreciate you taking the time to pack us something to eat. It will be a welcome relief after the food served on the train ride.” He took her hand and placed it on the arm he held out for her.
“And the LORD God said,
not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” Genesis 2:18
Matthew was pleased as could be with his new bride. There hadn’t been much joy or laughter in his life since losing his wife and daughter in the war ten years ago. At the time, he wanted to curse and turn his back on God. Life wasn’t fair. He was the one who went off to war- fought in more battles than he cared to count and witnessed more bloodshed than any man ought to. But he survived while his beloved wife Anna and precious baby daughter Lillian were caught in the crossfire and killed.
After nearly a
decade the pain had rescinded to an ember, but he still felt the loss deeply. When the war ended he went west, abandoning his faith in search of any answers to make sense of the void he felt. Somewhere in the vast wilderness of America’s western frontier, he discovered that God was still with him and all the running in the world couldn’t escape that.
He’d come to terms with his losses but still wasn’t ready to return east. His father had tracked him down in San
Francisco and every few months would send a post, asking him to return and take over the family business. Each time, Matthew would politely decline. God was not calling him to return east. So instead, he remained mining his small claim. Most of the gold had long since been taken, but he was able to extract enough to have a tidy sum in the bank.
Finally at his father’s last request, Matthew knew it w
as time to return to his home in Maryland, if just for a visit. In order to move forward once and for all, he had to return to the place he had lost the two most dear to him. It was on that visit he saw Maggie’s advertisement. The concept of another family had never struck him, but in her notice she had written
Potential mate must be willing to accept this will not be a marriage of love
Her directness spoke to him. He knew he could never love another woman again, but he was beginning to question if a life alone was for him. Helping a
lady out while entering a life of companionship without the expectation of love, appealed to him. Ever since he’d arrived home in Maryland, he’d been itching to get back west and had been praying on where to go next. The same day he felt he had his answer that he wasn’t to return to California, was the same day he saw Maggie’s advertisement.
Guilt nudged him and he knew he must tell Maggie the truth.
He genuinely wanted a friendship with his wife and felt a growing fondness for her, just in the hours since they had met. Several times already, she had brought him to a smile and once even to laughter, a feat not many could boast of.
“Just about another hour until we reach the farm,” Maggie s
aid, interrupting his thoughts and breaking their first lull in conversations since becoming man and wife.
“Before we arrive, I need to confess something,” he began. He saw her eyebrows raise and lips tighten. Hating that he caused her that concern, he quickly went about his admission. “When I answered your advertisement, I was
not permanently living in Maryland and only there for a visit. I told you I am from Maryland and that’s the truth, but I can’t claim it as home.”
“Why, that doesn’t seem like anything so bad. You had me a touch worried there for a second.” she responded lightly. “You did not mislead
, but I appreciate that you felt the need to be completely honest when you felt you had. Where did you claim home?” she asked him.
“I traveled around the west for a few years after the war. All the way from Santa Fe to the Willamette Valley. A few years had passed and I settled north of San Francisco.”
“That sounds exciting. Aaron and I always said one day we’d go see the Pacific Ocean, but we never made it.” A sadness cast over her face, and she looked away from him.
An odd feeling settled over him that he didn’t understand. All he knew was he didn’t like seeing the desolate expression on her
, and he wanted the smile back.
s after the harvest, we can have a belated wedding trip and take you to California. With the railroad stretching all the way to the Pacific now, it’s much easier to do,” he offered.
The corners of her mouth turned up and he could tell she was attempting t
o suppress a laugh. “If that doesn’t beat all,” she said. “I up and married myself a fanciful man. That’s all well to dream about, but I won’t delude myself to think it’s a probability. Even if we could spare the time away, the train ticket itself would cost more than what will be left after the loan is paid and supplies purchased.”
“Maggie, I did not tell you before as I did not want to be chosen for this asset, but I am a man who does not lack for money. I have a fund my father created for me in addition to money from gold. God has blessed me and
I believe he has brought me to you so I can share those blessings.”
Maggie stared at him in a daze
, and he could see she was trying to comprehend what he just told her.
“I’m not sure I understand. Why did you choose to answer my advertisement for a husband? What do you have to gain from this?” She seemed genuinely confused.
He placed his hand on her forearm and looked her straight in the eye while his free hand controlled the reins.
“Because God told me too. I had been praying on where to go next, and then I saw your notice. Loneliness was setting in, and my life felt empty. Answering you would bring me companionship and helping you save your farm would bring meaning back to my life. And I knew you wouldn’t expect love in return.”
“I’m not sure what to say, but I do believe God has brought us together,” Maggie told him. “May I ask what happened to make you not want love?”
That was the question he knew would arise eventually, though he dreaded answering. However, since they would be sharing their lives, he felt she had the right to know. With a deep sigh, he began his sad tale. When he finished, she looked at him with understanding and empathy.
“I feel similar. Aaron was my best friend
, and we knew each other from the time we were babies. All the folks in town assumed we’d eventually marry, and we did. We had a good life up until his untimely passing. I’m glad you understand about not loving again. It’s a marriage of convenience and companionship, and I believe it will suit us quite well.”
The farm came into view
, and Matthew took in the sight. Spotting the soddy, he made a mental note to order lumber the next trip into town. Not that it was anything to be ashamed of, but he had the means to support his family with a more substantial dwelling and that’s what he aimed to do. The crops he could see in the fading light looked healthy and abundant, but he would perform a thorough assessment tomorrow. There were a few repairs he could see that also needed completing, but overall, everything seemed in decent shape.
“I’ll take care of the wagon and meet you inside,” he told his bride.
“While you do that, I’ll warm up some stew for us.”
“That sound right nice. The temperatures sure are dropping quickly.”
“Yes they are. I pray we can get all crops harvested before the first freeze. With this land, you just never know when it may happen.”
“Don’t you worry, Maggie. I’m here to help now and we’ll get everything taken care of,” he assured her.
She rewarded him with that smile he was too quickly becoming fond of. He watched her until she entered into the house and then he went about setting the team and wagon away.