A story about Emily Brown; a widow outside Marble, Colorado raising her 2 children, Tommy 10 and sarah, 9.
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The “Homestead Act of 1862” was the match that lit millions of Americans dreams back east of wanting to own their own land out west. Each married couple was eligible to own 160 acres of land “Out West” if they lived on the land, built a home and farmed it for 5 years. Marble, Colorado was one such “Tiny Town” that held the promise of “Work in the Silver or Marble mines.”
Was It Fate…Or Destiny? is a 256 page story about Emily Brown; a 24 year old widow and her two children, Tommy age 7 and Sarah 6 homesteading in the Crystal River Valley outside Marble, Colorado. Her husband Jess was a miner killed in a card room brawl at Kate's Saloon in 1890. Look through her eyes at the challenges she faces trying to raise and protect her children alone outside of town.
With Jess buried behind her cabin Emily doesn’t feel she can ever allow herself to fall in love with any other man. Travel back in time and see her meet Sam Bates, a kind but shy ranch hand bunking at the Triple R Ranch. See the struggle each of them endure trying to share their feelings for each other and her love she had for Jess before they allow their love to grow.
See through their eyes after they marry the strength it takes to survive the harsh Colorado Rocky mountain winters where one day it can be blue sky and the next, 4 feet of snow. 3 years later Sam discovers a jar of gold coins hidden in an old apple tree he chops down and their new found wealth nearly gets Sam murdered by 2 men seeking work as ranch hands. Tommy ends up saving families life from the killer’s.
Feel the terror in Emily’s heart as her family is terrorized by a grizzly bear. When Sam buys his children their own pony, he also buys Emily a horse for her birthday. After Sarah breaks her leg falling as she tried to put a baby owl back a barn rafter; Sam uses Sarah’s love for her new pony to help get to walk again. When the time comes for Marble to build their first schoolhouse, all four of Sam, Emily, Sarah and Tommy ride to town as a family as Emily wonders if it was “Fate Or Destiny?” that brought Sam into her life the day they first met on the dusty road as she lay crying beside her wagon.
Sam Bates was a ranch hand, bunking at the Triple R Ranch in the Crystal River Valley, east of Marble, Colorado. Emily Brown was a widow, making the best of raising two children on her 160 acre ranch. Sam had seen her a time or two at Campbell’s General Store. He even helped her put her goods in her wagon one day, as she smiled and thanked him. Neither knew if it was “Fate…or Destiny” that would make their paths cross that cool April morning. But on that wind driven day, he rode up on her and her 2 children.
On his way back to the Triple R Ranch he saw a wagon up ahead with a broken wheel lying on the ground. He saw Emily lying beside it crying, shaken, but unharmed, supplies scattered everywhere as her two small children tried to comfort her. Sam spurred his horse on and as he pulled back the reins, he jumped off his palomino. Gently, he lifted her up with his strong, calloused hands, making sure that nothing was broken. Then he gathered up cans, bags and bundles, placing them near the wagon.
Emily wiped away her tears, feeling her heart race. Her heart raced in a way she had only felt with her late husband Jess, who had died in a crooked poker game at Kate’s Saloon 3 years earlier. Perhaps it was the whiskey talking the night Jess called the big bearded miner a cheat. In the harshness of Colorado, she knew life often times was balanced not only by fate, but with the speed of one's draw. Jess she knew had never been quick with a gun!
As she stood there with her hair a mess, she studied Sam's frame. Tall, handsome, broad shoulders, soft blue eyes, he looked rugged, but gentle, she could sense it. Sam had never shown an interest in Emily, nor asked if he could stop by to visit her and her family. Now a days, her day started well before sun up and didn't end until her little ones now ages 10 and 9 were bathed and tucked in bed, after prayers were said; followed of course by a bed time story, a hug and a kiss.
Sure they fussed a bit, but gosh, they were good kids, she reminded herself. Sam unbuckled his gun belt, and wrapped it around his Colt 45 Peacemaker and handed it to Emily, as he looked into her green eyes. "I'll be back from the livery stable with your wheel ma'am quick as I can, don't you worry any!” he told her. He strapped the wheel over his saddle horn. But before he headed for Marble, he leaned down and handed her his canteen, and she whispered shyly, "Thank you."
As he looked at her 2 frightened children holding onto their momma's dress, Sam asked in an easy voice, "You youngin’s like peppermint sticks?" Their eyes suddenly lit up as they smiled and looked up at their Momma. Emily too smiled as she looked up at Sam and nodded. He gave her a nod, tipped his hat toward her, turned his horse around and headed for town. Time passed and it seemed like hours as the summer sun rose higher in the Colorado sky.
Her children with hands on their brows kept looking towards town for the first sign of dust from a horse, hoping it would be Sam with a bag of peppermint sticks. It was amazing how the death of their dad, her husband, 3 years earlier had somehow made them stronger. Nary was there a complaint, no matter how many chores were heaped upon them. Both of her little ones had Jess's eyes as she wiped the sweat and dust from her face.
Tommy, her oldest was the first to see a line of dust in the distance, followed by two squeals of delight, as they recognized Sam's horse with the wagon wheel tied to his saddle horn. The closer Sam rode, the wider Emily smiled.
When Sam climbed off his horse, he took out a small paper bag from his saddlebag, as he heard both kids giggling next to momma. They met him halfway, but he held the bag just out of reach of tiny hands, until he stood in front of Emily.
As Emily handed Sam back his gun belt, he handed her the bag of peppermints, smiling as he said, "Now did you youngin’s listen to your momma good while I was away so she could give you a peppermint stick?" Sam asked them with a grin. Emily laughed and said they had been good, and she handed them each a peppermint stick, making sure they said thank you first to her, then Sam. As Sam took down the wheel, he asked for Emily’s help as he bent over to lift the end of the wagon up.
As he strained to lift the wagon high enough, Emily wiggled and pushed the wheel back into place. Emily couldn’t help but admire how Sam filled out his britches and she felt herself blush. Once the wagon was upright, and good as new; Sam put her goods in the back of the wagon, and helped her up into the buck board before helping her children up. Emily thanked Sam and told him she didn't know what she would have done without his help.
She asked Sam, what she owed him as he climbed up onto his saddle. With an easy going smile, he answered, "No charge ma'am, glad to be of help." Then Emily said, "The least I can do is know your name?" Sam smiled as he told her; "My name is Sam Bates, and yours?” he asked in a relaxed and friendly voice. "I'm Emily Brown, Sam. Thank you so much for all you've done for us. These here are my children Tommy and Sarah.”
Both of them shyly waved at Sam as they licked their peppermint sticks. As he was about to ride away, he heard her call to him and as he looked back he saw his canteen in her hand. "Can't be forgetting this can ya Sam?" Emily called out to him with a giggle. Sam laughed and rode back and hung his canteen over the saddle horn as he thanked her. Emily almost felt a tear roll down her face, because the sound of his laughter sounded so much like Jess, as she and her little one's waved good-bye to him.