“Ah yes, my new compagno.” Lia stepped into the hallway and embraced Miss Morgan saying, “Welcome, we will have wonderful time together.” Aldon had learned that compagno meant companion, so apparently Signora had big plans for using the newly hired Chicagoan. Molly, however, meant to use her for a kitchen maid. In all this scrambling, Aldon hoped there would be time for him to teach her to ride.
“Giovanni is asleeping in his room, but won’t you come in?” The Signora was always hungry for company. Aldon couldn’t blame her; the ranch was a good piece from town. But Aldon was concerned about the city gal’s need for rest.
“Come on, we gotta get movin’.” He tugged on her elbow, but she jerked her arm out of his hand and gave him a dirty look. Even so, she went along the corridor with him.
“Home sweet home,” He flung open the door to the room he’d slept in most of his life. The plank floor was clean, and the dresser that his grandfather had fashioned with cherry wood, glowed with polish. His old quilt lay across the foot of the bed. He now preferred to sleep under the thick, woolen army blanket he’d been allowed to bring home after his service in the Great War.
“If you keep going in the same direction we were headed, you’ll come to the bathroom,” he told her standing aside so she could enter the room.
“Thank you for everything.” Miss Morgan’s voice was cool and distant. He wondered what kind of a savage he appeared to her, manhandling her as he just had. He vowed to do better from here on out.
“If you can wait a few minutes, I’ll fetch your trunk.” He left then but sensed her slipping from the room and down the hall to the new bathroom with its long, German-made bathtub and flush toilet.
When he returned with the trunk, she was lying across the bed still fully dressed, but now sound asleep. She didn’t stir when he removed her boots, rotated her by her feet until her head was on the pillow, and covered her with the quilt.
In the barn, he checked the tires on the Touring car for air, put them on the car, jacked it off the blocks, and lowered the car to the ground. He made sure of the oil level, then after filtering the gasoline, he funneled it into the tank. Tomorrow would be the automobile’s first time out since autumn, and he was looking forward to getting behind the wheel. Mechanical things always worked for him. But he didn’t know much about females. Ma, fed the boys, kept them clean, and tried to make gentlemen of them, and one of the things she insisted upon was that they knew how to treat a lady. Another was that they never kept company with the other kind of woman. She told them what to look out for so that they didn’t fall into a lifetime of having their hearts broken.
He grabbed the clean clothes Molly had laid out for him in the barn, picked up his towel and soap, and headed for the lake in the light of the stars and the crescent moon. The lake was one-of-a-kind as far as he knew. Of course, he hadn’t seen every lake in the world, but this one had a hot spring at one end, and a place where the creek entered by waterfall at the other. In winter, they plunged into the perfect warm water to bathe and in summer; they cooled off in the cold. What he liked was that both had shallow parts and deep parts. What he didn’t like was the place in the middle where the water stayed tepid. He’d take hot or cold any day, but not the wishy-washy stuff in between.
He got out, dried off, and dressed, appreciating the clean clothes. Molly said she didn’t mind washing for him because she admired him for keeping clean. He mentally thanked his mother, Nancy, who had trained him that way. He did wish Nancy would come on home where she belonged. He didn’t get why she thought her sister Gertrude needed her more that he and Molly did. She’s the best mother anyone ever had, he thought. She helped us stay morally clean by having us read the Bible to her every night before bed. She talked things over with us so that we understood how to work, how to save our money, and how to get along with other people. Dad taught us all about ranching. He never spared the rod where it might be needed for discipline, and I’m thankful for that, too.
He lay down on the cot in the loft alcove and pulled the heavy army blanket up to his chest. As soon as he let his body relax, his mind got to work again. He was back in his BeBe flying over France and into Germany not knowing whether he would die or return home a cripple. He rolled over and deliberately turned his mind to the young woman he’d just met. I hope she and I will be good friends, he thought. I’ll see her again tomorrow. And maybe sometimes we can talk. I’ll plant more wildflowers in the garden, she’ll probably like those. He had many good things to think about: the songs he’d play on his mandolin tomorrow at church, the young woman, and driving the Ford Touring car to church tomorrow.
DiVoran’s Promise Posters, Paintings from Go West as well as other art can be purchased as note cards and framable art