CHINA PAINTING–A LOST ART FORM–by Cheryl Pierson

I’ve talked some about my mom’s artistic “bent” in some of my past blog posts—a talent that escapes me completely. At least it did skip a generation and manifest itself in my kids. But today I wanted to show you some exquisite examples of China painting, done my mother, El Wanda Stallings Moss.

She didn’t consider herself “good” at this by any means, though, to me, it was perfect. Mom was a perfectionist, and she could always see that something might have been done better or could have used another leaf here, or a flower there. But I don’t think she ever realized how talented she was in so many areas—cooking, sewing, painting in several media, and just being an all-around great manager of finances, the running of the house, and dealing with so many things on her own with Dad’s crazy oilfield schedule.

At night, when everyone was in bed, Mom would get her paints out and create these lovely works. It was her time to unwind and relax and just have her time to herself to be a creator. We lived in Seminole, Oklahoma, from 1963-1974. Seminole was not a large town, but it boasted one of the best China painting teachers to be found—Opal Stover.

Mom took lessons from her (her one and only extravagance for herself) and painted all kinds of beautiful things—trivets, ashtrays (my dad was a smoker) and decorative dishes such as pitchers and serving plates—which we never used, because…one slip and they’d be nothing but slivers.

Here are a couple of the trivets she did early on in her China painting efforts. 

 

China painting, or ceramic painting, had been an art form for many centuries in China before it ever made its way into other cultures. It didn’t become a popular art form in American until the 1880’s. Oddly enough, men dominated this field in Europe. Edward Lycett brought his knowledge and talent to America in the 1880’s and taught others the methods he’d learned in England.

This is truly a vanishing art form. I don’t know anyone who does this now, but there is a Porcelain Art Museum here in Oklahoma City that I would like to visit. From their description, they have many, many pieces from all around the world. I’ve always been fascinated by this process, but of course, my “un-artistic self” just admires it from afar.

 

 

I cherish those memories of my mom setting up her paints in our den and claiming those late-night hours for herself, so engrossed in her painting details I don’t think she ever heard me tip-toe to the den door and peek in to see if she was still working. I always went back to bed with a peaceful feeling.

Now that Mom’s gone, I have many of the pieces she painted and they proudly rest in her china cabinet I inherited in my dining room. I admire those every single day, but I know I would never have the kind of patience I’d need to even try to do that kind of work. I’m so glad she did. (This is one of those ashtrays I just cringed to have to clean because I was afraid I’d drop it. It’s one of my favorite pieces of hers!)

 

 

This pitcher is one of my favorites, too, because I know how much work it took for her to do this. It’s displayed in my living room in a cabinet with a glass door. The green trivet is also a favorite because it’s just so different in color than so many of the other pieces she did. But I truly do love them all. 

 

 

Do you know anyone who China paints? Do you China paint? 

Our 15th Birthday Filly Fact or Fib WINNERS!!

 

Did you have fun learning some facts about us?  

Did we fool you with our fibs?

 

We hope you’ll keep visiting Petticoats & Pistols and enjoying our books long after the birthday confetti has settled and the balloons have popped.  The fillies have enjoyed being bestsellers in the western romance market, but even more important, we have enjoyed each one of YOU coming to visit us every day.

 

And now – drum roll, please! – because we love giving away prizes, here are the winners of THREE $50 Amazon gift cards!!

 

Yvonne Wohlfeil

Susan P

Teri DiVincenzo

 

Each of these ladies met our Fifteen Filly Fact or Fib challenge by knowing all but three answers!  We think that’s pretty amazing!  

Pam Crooks will contact the winners for the email address to send the $50 Amazon gift cards!!

6-way tie – final winners chosen by random.org

 

Happy Birthday to us!

 

Our Filly Facts and Fibs Revealed!

Did you have fun trying to figure out what was Fact or what was a Fib about us?

Here you go . . . the TRUTH!

1. Shanna Hatfield got so “up close and personal” to a bison during a stampede she could have counted the beast’s eyelashes if she hadn’t been busy trying not to hyperventilate while her life flashed before her eyes. 

 

While this story sounds too wild to be true – it is! Back when I was a newspaper reporter, I was sent out to interview a family who raised bison for beef. They sold the meat at restaurants throughout the area. The day I went out to interview them, the wife took me out to see the herd in their big dually pickup. In the back, they had a carcass from an animal they’d recently butchered that she forgot was there. The animals smelled it and stampeded the truck! We turned around and raced toward the gate we’d left open. The windows were down and one big fella had his head right in the window of the pickup cab next to me. When the wife told me to jump out and wave my arms to keep the bison from running through the gate, I concluded she was crazy! Thank goodness her husband was there to handle the gate before any of the herd escaped! I can still hear the pounding echoes of them thundering around and behind the pickup as we zoomed across the pasture trying to beat them back to the gate. 

2. Jessie Gussman, the herd’s newest filly, was supposed to start blogging in summer of 2021, but an accident involving a dirty cow, a bottle of Windex and a roll of toilet paper delayed her start until 2022. 

I know this totally sounds like one of my wild, real-life stories, but it is a total concoction from my imagination. I started blogging in January of 2022, right on schedule.

 

3. Karen Kay and her husband love animals so much, they recently adopted a family of pigeons.

While it is true that my husband and I love animals and have adopted many an animal, it is a fib that we recently adopted a family of pigeons (although I think we might adopt them if we had to — and teach them to carry messages).  The truth is that we have recently added 18 chickens to our family.  It’s more work than we ever thought it would be, but quite rewarding.

 

4. Karen Witemeyer’s first post as a filly came eleven years ago and extolled the merits of manure in keeping womenfolk out of livery stables.

My first hero, Jericho Tucker from A Tailor-Made Bride, owned a livery stable and I shared my research regarding services offered, prices, and how the livery was a man’s domain and the “gentleman’s club” of the old west.

 

5.  Winnie Griggs helped design the header image for the Petticoats and Pistols home page, and all but two of the images came from the fillies themselves, including her.  Her contribution was actually shot at her daughter’s wedding.

 

Yep, it’s the large picture anchoring the left side of the header. My daughter wore cowboy boots with her wedding dress and this is a cropped photo of her sitting on a low brick wall outside the wedding chapel.

 

6.  Mary Connealy had twenty finished books on her computer before she sold her first one. Now, nearly all twenty of those books are in print, plus fifty more.

My first book sold very well for Barbour Publishing, and they innocently asked, Do you have anything else? HAH! One year I sold eleven books to them. Not all to release in one year of course. With one exception, my sixth book released for them before I had to WRITE ONE. I did tons of rewriting to polish up those books on my computer, though.

 

 

7.  Kari Trumbo’s first post on Petticoats & Pistols was back in 2016 and featured auto accidents in early cars.

 

My very first post here (not as a filly, but as a guest) wasn’t on cars, but was more of a literal train wreck. I was talking about my book, To Love and Comfort, which features a pretty amazing train wreck. I was very thankful to be invited back then and am blessed to be a regular filly now.

 

8.  Pam Crooks joined Petticoats & Pistols 2 years after the site launched.

Actually, I was one of the founding fillies, so I’ve been here since Day One.  Back in 2007, Petticoats & Pistols was my brainchild, and I’m delighted to say that Linda Broday and Karen Kay were also founding fillies.  I’m honored and thrilled these ladies are still with me today.

 

9.  Cathy McDavid has only been a filly for a year-and-a-half, but her connection to the blog goes back years.  She and Winnie Griggs share the same agent, and she, Jeannie Watt and Kari Trumbo write for the same publisher.

     What’s that they say about six-degrees of separation? We writers of cowboy romances have a way of finding each other and connecting. I’ve known Winnie and Jeannie for years, hanging out with them at conferences and author events. Kari and I are new friends, but I’m looking forward to getting to know her, too.

 

10.  Linda Broday – The name of our fictional town on Petticoats & Pistols is Petticoat Junction.

Nope. Our town’s name is WILDFLOWER JUNCTION.

 

11.  Kit Morgan started with Petticoats and Pistols in 2019 and has posted several times about her sister who works with cows.

 

Nah. I started blogging with Petticoats and Pistols in 2018 and my sister, a retired race horse jockey, is a horse trainer. Though it WOULD be interesting to see her try to train a cow!

 

12.  Cheryl Pierson’s first novel was published by the Wild Rose Press and was called “Fire Woman.”

I can’t tell you how excited I was to learn that my first novel was going to be published by the Wild Rose Press–that’s been nearly 13 years ago–BUT, the title of that story was Fire EYES, not Fire Woman. That title was a “meant to be” since my daughter told me years before when she was little that if she was an Indian woman “back in history” she would pick FIRE EYES for her name. And in my book, my heroine’s name is Jessica–my daughter’s name!

 

13.  Jeannie Watt lives in Montana where she raises goats.

Not true.  I live in Montana and raise cattle.  

 

14.  Julie Benson never visited the Petticoats and Pistols’ corral as a guest author before becoming a filly.

This one’s a fib. My first blog post I actually wrote other than answering questions was here at the corral! I’d just released my first book, Big City, Cowboy, and didn’t have a clue what I was doing. (Not that I know much more now, but at least I know what I don’t know.) I wrote about my inspiration for that book, a real life cowboy named Rory I met who people kept asking him to model! I still have his picture in my office for inspiration. 

 

15.  NY Times Bestselling Regency Author, Lorraine Heath, was once a filly.

Yep!  It’s true.  Lorraine was writing westerns at the time we launched in 2007, and she was delighted to hear we were starting a blogsite dedicated to western romance.  She agreed to stay on for a year to help us spread the word, and we sure were happy to have her!

How did you do? 

Winners of our

Fifteen Filly Facts or Fibs

are announced in a separate post!

Debra Holt Has a Winner!

Thank you for visiting, Miss Debra! We’ve enjoyed having you and talking about big ranches.

Now for the drawing………

One commenter will win a copy of The Texas Cowboy’s Proposal!

And that lucky person is………….

JACKIE WISHERD

Woo-Hoo! Big congrats, Jackie! Watch for Miss Debra’s email and check Spam if you don’t see it.

Come back tomorrow to see the winners of our big birthday celebration!

Texas Ranching History – by Debra Holt

“Other states are carved or born;

Texas grew from hide and horn.”

                                            — Bertha Hart Nance, 1932

 

Texas ranching has a long and storied history. Its roots go back to 1493 when Christopher Columbus made his second visit to Hispaniola. He brought with him several head of cattle, who were the ancestors of the Texas Longhorns bred throughout the state today.

The 16th and 17th centuries saw cattle ranching advance through Mexico and into modern-day Texas. The first cattle ranch was found in the El Paso region, where several thousand cattle were raised. These early ranches were formed by Spanish missionaries; private ranches would arise in the mid-18th century.

The Mexican War of Independence destroyed the Spanish missionary ranches. The Austin colony was formed at the end of the war, attracting Anglos to come stake a claim on the land and the cattle on it. They brought their eastern cattle to breed with the Spanish cattle, and the result was the Texas Longhorn.

The U.S. annexed Texas in 1845, and it spread out land for railways and new settlements. There was plenty of land to go around, and the demand grew high for beef. The cowboy system we’ve come to hold so dear began around this time.

It wasn’t just men who worked on the ranches; women were important to ranch operations, too. One woman, a former slave named Julia Blanks, helped with roundups, planted crops, raised up animals, and helped with the cooking during roundups on the Adams Ranch.

Her daughters followed in her footsteps — “My oldest girl used to take the place of a cowboy, and put her hair up in her hat. And ride! My goodness, she loved to ride.”

The first woman who led a cattle drive was Margaret Borland. After her husband passed, she became the sole owner of the Victoria ranch and 8,000 longhorns. Six years later, she had 10,000 cattle in her care. In 1873, she became the first female trail boss, leading 2,500 longhorns, her three children, and several cowboys up the Chisholm Trail into Kansas.

In recent years, ranches have had to adopt newer ways of bringing income, as the cost of cattle and maintaining the land has risen. The historic YO Ranch let its land for hunting and outdoor recreation. The Matador Ranch soon followed suit.

This past spring, the last ‘grande dame’ of the Texas ranching world was laid to rest. And last month, one of the few remaining ranching ‘empires’ went on the chopping block.

I call it a chopping block because here in Texas, far too many of our great and historic ranches have been sold to the highest bidder (usually someone residing outside the country, let alone the state) and chopped up into smaller pieces, the land and its resources plumbed until nothing worth anything remains, and a vital chapter of our Texas heritage and history has been wiped clean.

This sad fate of a place I consider to be a bit of Texas heaven inspired this story and this series — the Texas Heritage series.

In the first book, The Texas Cowboy’s Proposal, we meet the two granddaughters of Sarah McNamara Burkitt…Laurel Annabella and Samantha Josefina. The heroine of this first book will be Samantha, aka Sammi Jo. She has just been handed a hard blow when her older sister shares the finer points of their grandmother’s will.

GIVEAWAY

Stop a minute and comment about a piece of your heritage that still impacts your life today.

One lucky commenter will receive a free copy of The Texas Cowboy’s Proposal!

Purchase The Texas Cowboy’s Proposal here

Find Debra online at her website here

Happy 15th Birthday to Us!

Here at Petticoats & Pistols, we think it’s pretty spectacular that we’re celebrating our 15th birthday, and we can’t let such an important and amazing milestone pass by without a little celebration, can we?  

Are you ready to join our party?  C’mon in and make yourself comfortable!

 

Let’s play Fifteen Filly Facts or Fibs!

Are we telling the truth?  Or not?

 

To be eligible to win one of three $50 Amazon gift cards, just determine if we are stating a fact – or a fib!

 

(Please number your Fact or Fib in the comments.  Must answer all 15 Fact or Fibs to be eligible.  Winners announced on Sunday!)

 

Ready?  Set?  Go!

 

1. Shanna Hatfield got so “up close and personal” to a bison during a stampede she could have counted the beast’s eyelashes if she hadn’t been busy trying not to hyperventilate while her life flashed before her eyes.

 

2. Jessie Gussman, the herd’s newest filly, was supposed to start blogging in summer of 2021, but an accident involving a dirty cow, a bottle of Windex and a roll of toilet paper delayed her start until 2022. 

 

3. Karen Kay and her husband love animals so much, they recently adopted a family of pigeons.

4. Karen Witemeyer’s first post as a filly came eleven years ago and extolled the merits of manure in keeping womenfolk out of livery stables. 

5.  Winnie Griggs helped design the header image for the Petticoats and Pistols home page, and all but two of the images came from the fillies themselves, including her.  Her contribution was actually shot at her daughter’s wedding.

6.  Mary Connealy had twenty finished books on her computer before she sold her first one. Now, nearly all twenty of those books are in print, plus fifty more. Until she got published, her family might have considered her to have obsessive compulsive disorder.

7.  Kari Trumbo’s first post on Petticoats & Pistols was back in 2016 and featured auto accidents in early cars.

8.  Pam Crooks joined Petticoats & Pistols 2 years after the site launched.

9.  Cathy McDavid has only been a filly for a year-and-a-half, but her connection to the blog goes back years.  She and Winnie Griggs share the same agent, and she, Jeannie Watt and Kari Trumbo write for the same publisher.

10.  Linda Broday – The name of our fictional town on Petticoats & Pistols is Petticoat Junction.

11.  Kit Morgan started with Petticoats and Pistols in 2019 and has posted several times about her sister who works with cows.

12.  Cheryl Pierson’s first novel was published by the Wild Rose Press and was called “Fire Woman.”

13.  Jeannie Watt lives in Montana where she raises goats.

14.  Julie Benson never visited the Petticoats and Pistols’ corral as a guest author before becoming a filly.

15.  NY Times Bestselling Regency Author, Lorraine Heath, was once a filly.

We Have A Winner — Well, Two — for Karen Kay’s Drawing

Yes, we have two winners.  Sometimes when I draw names, I accidentally pull out two names instead of just one.

The winners of the e-book, SHE STEALS MY BREATH — or a book of your choice, is:

BN 100 and

Laurie

Congratulations to you both!  I’ll need you both to contact me personally at karenkay.author@startmail.com so we can talk about what book you’d like that I can send to you.

Many thanks to all of you who came to the blog yesterday and who left a message.

Have a beautiful rest of the week!

 

Romance Author Debra Holt Comes to Visit!

On Friday, August 12, 2022, romance author Debra Holt will visit Wildflower Junction!

We’re busy sprucing up the place and getting ready. Miss Debra is going to talk about big Texas ranches and the first woman to drive her cattle to market. You’ll love it.

She’s also toting with her a copy of The Texas Cowboy’s Proposal! Yee-Haw!

We’re just so happy to have her. We’ll have a rip-roaring time.

Don’t forget our big P&P Birthday celebration tomorrow (Thursday, August 11th!!

Bar D Chuckwagon

Back in June, my husband and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary. To commemorate this milestone, my hubby planned a great trip for us to visit Durango, CO. Knowing how much I love the history of the west, we visited several museums, rode a steam train to Silverton, and even stayed one night in an 1800’s hotel.

One of the highlights of the trip for me happened at the very beginning of our trip. We spent an evening at the Bar D Ranch for their Chuckwagon Supper and Old West Cowboy Music Show. It was FANTASTIC!

The Bar D is more than just a ranch. It’s a western village complete with chapel, blacksmith shop, mercantile, chocolate shop, art gallery, and even a train depot. We made sure to get there early to have lots of time to explore.

This adorable little chapel is rented out for weddings. It contains lovely stained glass, and on the night we visited, a couple of cowboys were using for a cowboy poetry reading. The well was right outside the chapel, and since I’m currently working on a westernized Snow White tale, I couldn’t resist a photo by the wishing well.

They also had a large smithy where a local blacksmith was busy plying his trade.

We took advantage of photo ops by the covered wagon and cowboy cut out as well.

I bought a few souvenirs, perused the art gallery, and we even dared spoil our dinner with a sweet appetizer from the chocolate shop. So good!

Then it was time for dinner and a show.

This gorgeous mural was on display as we lined up for our grub. In true cowboy fashion, they served us on tin plates and filled our water/tea/lemonade cups with giant galvanized coffee pots. All the shops close down winner starts, and the staff become our servers. Even the cowboy performers we’d soon see on stage. Everyone wore period western costumes to add to the experience. The costumes were more 1950’s TV western than actual 1800’s western, but I didn’t care. It was too much fun!

The food was delicious! You could choose chicken, roast beef, combo plate, or pay extra for a rib eye steak. Several of the people at our table ordered the rib eye, and it looked amazing. I had chicken and loved it. Wes went for the combo plate. We both ate every bite. Meat, baked potato, biscuits, homemade applesauce, and a slice of spice cake.

As we finished eating, the Bar D Wranglers made their way onto the stage. This was the true highlight of the evening. Fiddle, string bass, and two guitars with four-part cowboy harmony. Everything from Tumbling Tumbleweeds to The Devil Went Down to Georgia. We even had an instrumental version of the 1812 Overture highlighting Gary Cook, one of the Wranglers who is a 2-time National Flat Pick Champion on the guitar. So impressive!

There was comedy too. One of the songs they did was Old MacDonald’s Dysfunctional Farm. It included a lisping snake, an asthmatic cow, and a foul-mouthed chicken just to name a few. We were all in stitches.

A fifth wrangler joined the show for about four or five songs. He was a yodeling cowboy who held us all spellbound. Wow! He flipped between registers with the agility of a a concert pianist. So fast and so clear. I loved it!

What a great way to kick off our vacation! We were grinning the entire night.

If you were going to eat a chuckwagon dinner, what is the one cowboy dish that would be a must to include?

Don’t forget about the P&P Birthday Party on Thursday. It’s going to be so much fun with some great prizes!

 

SHE STEALS MY BREATH, Excerpt and e-book Give-Away

Good Morning and welcome, welcome to another tiptop Tuesday!

What a hot August we are having!  Goodness!

Hopefully, the chance to win SHE STEALS MY BREATH (or another e-book of your choice) will make the heat a little more bearable.

Well, I’m going to post another excerpt of my newest effort, SHE STEALS MY BREATH.  Now, in this excerpt, the heroine is realizing she made a mistake.  Much of the excerpt are her thoughts and how she comes to realize she’s made a mistake.  But, there’s another creature that helps her along that path.  So, first I’ll post a brief blurb of the book and then the excerpt.  But, do read to the bottom because at the end of this blog, I’ll be posting some info about our birthday event here at Petticoats and Pistols.

Her Beauty Takes His Breath Away… Only She Can Restore It.

 

A raging blizzard forces Eagle Heart of the Blackfeet Nation and Laylah, the daughter of a Trader, into each other’s company.  As their attraction deepens, both fight the knowledge that a love between them is forbidden in both their worlds.

SHE STEALS MY BREATH

by 

Karen Kay

The suggestion of riding out onto the prairie was an idea Laylah could little resist.  But, she would not go with Thomas.  Rather, she would make this trip alone.  Perhaps the wide spaces would serve to ease the affliction within her heart.

Also, if she were to be truthful, she would have to admit it was impossible to resist leaving the fort to go in search of Eagle Heart.  If he were still somewhere in the fort’s vicinity, could she find him?  Would he have set up camp close to where they had once sat out the blizzard?

Feeling a little happier, she left the trading room to rush to her quarters in the proprietor’s part of the house.  There, she dressed as quickly as she could for an excursion out-of-doors and, using her cane, hobbled  toward the livery.  There, she was able to attain help in saddling her pony, Honey Sugar, for, with her right arm broken, it was a task she could not do alone.  She was glad to see the gate was open, and she fled out of it, wistfully hoping no one in the fort took note of her flight.

Interestingly, Honey Sugar appeared to know where to go.  Laylah didn’t even need to steer the animal.  Hoping she might catch Eagle Heart still in residence at their shelter, Laylah found she could barely breathe.  She had so much to tell him.

Keeping to a fast pace, she came quickly upon the coulee.  But, rather than ride her pony down a hard pass, she dismounted—though with some difficulty because her ankle wasn’t fully healed—and walked her mount down into the ravine.  At last, she beheld the place where she and Eagle Heart had once encamped.  It looked to be still there.

She smiled.  Was he within?

Throwing her pony’s reins to the ground, she limped as quickly as possible to the place where she and Eagle Heart had so recently resided.  But, she saw at once that where their shelter had once stood, nothing remained to indicate the adventure she had once shared with Eagle Heart.  Nor was Eagle Heart anywhere to be seen.

Was it really such a short time ago when she’d had Eagle Heart’s attention all to herself?  Though only a week had passed since they had sat out the storm together, it seemed like a lifetime ago.

As she stood looking at where the hut had once been, she realized she might never be the same again.  She had thought she would be able to start her life over, as was expected of her by her family.  But, more and more she was coming to realize this might be impossible.

She shouldn’t feel this way.  After all, she had made her choice and had refused Eagle Heart’s proposal.  And now, having done so, she should try to live with it and marry Thomas, as was expected of her.  But, could she marry Thomas when, to the depths of her heart, she felt she belonged with Eagle Heart?

Perhaps another question she might ask herself was this: was she ready to throw away the lessons her grandmother had taught her?  Hadn’t her grandmother married a man she didn’t love?  Hadn’t it ended in a bad way?

Truly, it was beginning to seem to Laylah as if she were plunging headlong into as heartbreaking an experience as her grandmother’s.

When she had left Eagle Heart, she hadn’t fully realized the extent to which she had changed.  Had it taken losing Eagle Heart to pound some sense into her, to see him more clearly?  Because of the differences in their cultures, she had been unwilling to break with her former ideas of love and marriage.

But, it was a mistake.  In her heart now, she knew it was a mistake.  Was she, however, too late to tell Eagle Heart she had changed her mind?

Gray Falcon had said his friend had blocked his thoughts from her.  She knew he had done this because he did not wish to interfere in her life.  Would it follow, then, that he might leave, never to know she was experiencing a change of heart?

He might do exactly this if she couldn’t get a message to him either through her own efforts or via Gray Falcon.  Perhaps when she rode home tonight, she would seek out Gray Falcon, ask him to find Eagle Heart and beg him to relay a message for her.

She worried, because one aspect about this was becoming very clear to her now: she would never forget Eagle Heart, even if she married another and never saw him again.  Nor would she ever stop loving him.

Oddly, along with acknowledging what was truly in her heart, came a sense of responsibility and an awareness of greater self-confidence.  At least she knew now that what had been between Eagle Heart and herself was more important than others’ ideas—as well as her own mistaken belief—of how she should live her life.

The idea was freeing somehow, and this spurred her on toward another realization: she had to throw Thomas away.  Really, she had no other option.

Besides, she was fast becoming aware that Thomas possessed an injurious trait she had chosen to ignore; one that had almost claimed her life: he did not wish to give up any part of his privileged life to be of service to another.  Indeed, he had valued his own comfort over hers and had left her for dead, apparently after engaging in a show of trying to find her.  He had only left the fort twice in search of her, and, according to Millie and her mother, hadn’t tried again.

At last, it was clear to her.  He did not love her.

Yet, he at least deserved that she should speak to him and inform him of her change of heart and her wish to not marry him.  And so, she would seek him out, and possibly would do so tonight.  She would not criticize him; she would simply let him know she wouldn’t marry him.  And, perhaps this, once done, would allow her to come to Eagle Heart with an open and clean heart.

She could only hope Eagle Heart might still wish to make her his woman.  If, however, she were to discover he didn’t, what would she do?  Return to Fort Union?

No.  She couldn’t.  Perhaps, were this to be a reality, an alternate plan might be to return to St. Louis, for she would always be welcome at her grandmother’s house.  Yes, this was a good plan.  But, if she left this country and didn’t marry Eagle Heart, would she become, then, an old maid?

Perhaps.

Oddly, the idea of leaving behind the security of her own world did not cause her to turn away from what she felt she must do.  Truly, it would be hard to live Eagle Heart’s lifestyle when she was not accustomed to it and didn’t know its rules and mores.  But, it was worse thinking she might have to live her life without him.

Yes, as soon as she returned to the fort, she would find Thomas and speak to him; she would break off their engagement, and then she would try to contact Eagle Heart once again with the mind speak.  If this didn’t work, she would try to find a way to convince Gray Falcon to take her to Eagle Heart or at least relay a message for her.

And so, it was on this thought that she turned to leave, and that’s when she beheld the gray wolf watching her.  At first she was afraid of the creature, but then a memory returned: it was the recollection of the wolves lying next to her freezing body, keeping her warmer than she would have been without them.

She owed them her thanks.

Hesitantly, she watched as the wolf slowly paced toward her.  Using her cane for balance, Laylah came down onto her knees to show the wolf she wasn’t a threat.

Her voice was almost a whisper when she asked, “Were you one of the wolves who, many days ago, came to help me?  If you were, let me tell you how much I appreciate what you did that day.”

The wolf bent down to rest its paws in front of it, its back legs sitting upon the ground as though it were ready to spring up and retreat in an instant.

“I wish I had something to give you, wolf, but I don’t.  I came here without food.  I don’t know really how I can properly thank you.  I wish I could speak to you in the mind-to-mind talk like Eagle Heart can, but I can’t.”

The wolf looked her directly in the eyes before it came up onto its feet and turned around, trotting back in the direction it had come.  However, before it went too far, the animal turned around and asked in distinct mind speak, “Where is the human boy?”

“The human boy?” Laylah asked uncertainly, also using the mind-to-mind form of talking.  Was she really speaking with a wolf?

“Your mate,” answered the wolf.

“My mate?  Oh, you mean Eagle Heart?”

“Yes.”

“I don’t know where he is.  He is gone from here.  I was hoping he would be here, but he is not.”

The wolf didn’t answer.  Instead, it turned away and trotted off again.  In the distance, Laylah could see another wolf waiting for the one who had approached her.  The first wolf had been a female, she realized, because the one she had talked to was smaller than the bigger wolf lingering in the shadows.

Laylah watched them both as they trotted away, though the female paused once and turned her head back to take another look.  Briefly, Laylah brought her good hand up in the sign of a goodbye, and it was some minutes before she realized she had spoken to a wolf as though this were an everyday occurrence and as easy to do as speaking with another human being.

What else was she going to learn in this wild land?

No wonder she now understood she could no longer marry Thomas.  She had forever changed.

 

 

 

And don’t forget to come by on Thursday to help us celebrate our 15th birthday!!

 

Spread  the word – there are going to be BIG prizes and BIG fun!

Play Fifteen Filly Fact or Fib? and you could win!

Happy Birthday to us!