This from the prologue:
Her father drove the wagon while Kevin prodded their single
cow along and kept her from straying. Grace smiled, thinking of
her older brother’s silly jokes. He always seemed to find humor in
everything, and even when times got tough, he made her laugh.
Recalling a few nights back when he’d donned Mama’s bonnet and
danced a jig around the campfire to Papa’s fiddling, caused Grace’s gritty lips to lift in a smile. At twenty, Kevin should have a wife and be making his own plans, but with all the moving around, he hadn’t found a woman to share his life. Did it bother him? If so, he didn’t complain.
Lost in thought, Grace missed slamming into the back of the
wagon by inches. She swerved out of the way. Her father had
stopped the team to check the harnesses. She walked around
front and stood next to him. “Papa, when are we going to stop for
the night? My legs are tired.” Her words came out in a whine followed by a loud sigh.
He glanced at the surrounding terrain. “We’ve come a far piece
today. Don’t reckon’ we’ll find any place much better than right
here. Go gather up some kindlin’ for the fire.” The gaze in his eyes
turned dreamy. “Just think, in a couple more days, we’ll stop for
a good spell.”
* * * *
Living here, in the shadow of the mountains, two weeks had
passed. The loneliness and desolation weighed on Grace, and
made the time she’d lived in the wagon seem more like a lifetime.
She’d seen no other families, just solitary miners occasionally
passing by and working the hillsides, all too busy to share even a
howdy-do. Greed for the precious ore provided great motivation,
but left little room for making friends. The sounds of hammering
filled the days—a steady cadence that already grew tiresome.
She stared out at the miles of drying grass they’d traversed and
sighed. Surely this wasn’t to be her home until Papa struck it rich.
It might take forever. The accommodations paled in comparison
to living in a real house. The makeshift canvas tent, hooked to the
side of the wagon, served as a bedroom for her father and brother,
while she and Mama shared the wagon.
Papa and Kevin worked during the last glimmer of sunlight
every evening on a temporary shelter built from spare planks and
pieces of wood found in and around the mining area. The lopsided
building didn’t look like it could provide much more protectionfrom the elements than the wagon did.
More next week. Hop on over to the next person on the list for their offering.
Rhobin Lee Courtright