THE OLDEST RANCH IN AMERICA

IMG_1702When you say the word ‘ranch’ you generally think of the west with its wide open spaces and endless plains. You certainly don’t think of the east coast, and much less likely the east end of Long Island, an area generally associated with coastal resort living and fishermen. But that is exactly where the oldest ranch in America is found—at the very tip of Long Island, 118 miles east of NYC, in the village of Montauk…right down the road from me.

To be fair, ‘oldest ranch’ might be a stretch. In 1658, the year Deep Hollow Ranch claims to have been established, the land was used for pasturage of cattle, and certainly in that way it has been in continual use. At that time, the pastures were leased for grazing from the Montaukett Indians. There is an earmark register with the Town Clerk here in East Hampton (of which town Montauk village is a part) that goes all the way back to the 1660s. Up until around 1700, the value of two cows was equal to a small house, so this source of wealth had to be protected. With this in mind, by 1747, three houses were built on the road from East

Third House, courtesy Long Island Collection, East Hampton Library

Third House, courtesy Long Island Collection, East Hampton Library

Hampton village, where most of the settlers actually lived. These residences were to accommodate travelers and the keepers, men of prominent families who could ensure the integrity of the shared pasture. The houses were numbered according to the order one passed them on the road from the west. Third House eventually became Deep Hollow Ranch.

While the First House keeper was responsible for entering all the cattle in the common pasture on a list and repairing fences, and Second House was responsible for sheep, it was left to the Third House Keeper to have a list of all stock kept on the fatting field, which is now the land around Deep Hollow. He had to ride out Tuesdays and Fridays to check on the cattle, and the great June round-up was also held at Third House. The first cowboy? The Town Trustees fixed the number of cattle permitted on the pasture according to the condition of the grass, with one horse equaling two head of cattle, and one beast equaling seven sheep. Eventually, as many as 6,000 head of cattle, horses and sheep grazed this fourteen mile stretch between East Hampton and Montauk, May through November; they came from

Third House today

Third House today

as far as seventy miles away. If a landowner did not use his full allowance, he was permitted to rent out his share of the pasturage. In winter, the cattle would be driven back to the individual farms on a date fixed by the Town Council. If the weather held, this could be as late as December, and Thanksgiving, at a time when it was still a moveable feast, was not held locally until after the cattle drive.

During the Revolution, the British sailed in to replenish their supplies. Some 2,000 cattle were removed to safety while 3,000 sheep remained. One hundred and forty men came to protect the livestock, and stood on a hilltop where they could clearly be seen by the British in their ship. They repeatedly turned their coats several times to fool the enemy into thinking there were more men than sheep. Hence, ‘turncoats.’ While the British left on that occasion, residents were less lucky in the War of 1812 when the English came ashore.

Third House burnt down in 1806 and was rebuilt, being restored once more in the 1950s. In 1879, Arthur Benson bought 10,000 acres for $151,000 and proceeded to make Third House his residence, building an extension. His idea was to force the Montaukett off the land and make the area into a resort. But at a time when it took some six hours to travel the distance from East Hampton alone, riding through mosquito and fly infested dunes, the idea never took off. In 1895, the Long Island Railway was extended into Montauk with the thought that it might become a major seaport, easing the port of New York.

Teddy Roosevelt (lower right) & Rough Riders at Camp Wikoff, 1898--courtesy C. Frank Dayton collection, East Hampton Library

Teddy Roosevelt (lower right) & Rough Riders at Camp Wikoff, 1898–courtesy C. Frank Dayton collection, East Hampton Library

The seaport never developed but the railway reduced the cattle drive to the pasture. Benson’s heirs sold off his land, mostly to the federal government for various service bases. In 1898, when Teddy Roosevelt returned after the Spanish American War, the land was used to accommodate more than 29,000 men. It was then called Camp Wikoff, and Third House was TR’s office. The Rough Riders were eventually disbanded here.

In the 1920s, Benson’s heirs sold more land to entrepreneur Carl Fisher. ‘Mr. Miami’ envisaged a Miami of the north, and Indian Field, the main field across from Third House, became a polo field for a time. Fisher was impeded by the LI State Park Commission seizing nearly 2,000 acres by eminent domain in 1924, and he later lost his fortune in the 1929 stock market crash. Eventually, in 1936, a very young Phineas Dickinson III leased the land with the help of his family and brought in 150 head of cattle. Deep Hollow Ranch became a cattle and guest ranch—and at times cocktail lounge and restaurant—

The cottages today

The cottages today

and in October a hunting lodge, with the exception of the WWII years. Dickinson contacted Texas ranches to supply his cattle, and for ten years this went on with the cattle being shipped by rail followed by a four mile cattle drive from the station to the ranch. The West had come east.

Deep Hollow Guest and Cattle Ranch passed through several hands over the ensuing years. A brochure I have advertises ranch rides, moonlight rides and range riding as well as archery, deep sea fishing, golf, hunting, swimming and tennis—not all of it on the premises, of course. I see advice on what to wear and “Trained cowboys will

Entertainment at Deep Hollow Ranch, courtesy Montauk Library

Entertainment at Deep Hollow Ranch, courtesy Montauk Library

instruct the novices in riding ranger fashion, roping and even ‘bull-dogging’” In the 1930s, the rate for a two bedroom private cottage with meals was $104 weekly!

Since that time, the approximately 1,157 acres around Third House, including Indian Fields, have gone through various permutations as first Indian Field County Park, Montauk County Park and Theodore Roosevelt County Park. In 1971, nineteen year old Randy Leaver, a former ranch hand at Deep Hollow, bought the

 Round-up at Deep Hollow, ca. 1955 courtesy Shank Dickinson Collection in the LI Collection, East Hampton Library

Round-up at Deep Hollow, ca. 1955 courtesy Shank Dickinson Collection in the LI Collection, East Hampton Library

concession to the ranch, which now sits in the county park. Married to one of the Dickinson daughters, he developed the ranch pretty much as it is today. He brought in fifty head of Black Angus cattle and leased another 4,000 acres for trail riding through the dunes. Chuckwagon rides and Texas BBQs became part of the attraction, as did rodeos—

courtesy Montauk Library

courtesy Montauk Library

fighting local ignorance about ‘animal cruelty’ in such events. The Leavers also instituted Back at the Ranch benefit concerts with the help of neighbor Paul Simon. These went on for many years with notaries such as Jimmy Buffett, Billy Joel and The Highwaymen as attractions.

Just as western ranchers have land disputes and upsets with the BLM and other government bodies, so Leaver had a dispute with the local Board in the early 2000s. Saying he was spending more on lawyers than on the ranch, he eventually decided to retire

Deep Hollow Ranch, Postcard collection, courtesy Montauk Library

Deep Hollow Ranch, Postcard collection, courtesy Montauk Library

and passed on the concession five years ago to its present managers, Pat and Cate Keogh. Cate is a local Montauk gal while Pat is purebred Colorado cowboy and rodeo star. The Keoghs run Corriente/Longhorn cattle and train cutting horses, in addition to managing the ranch. Wagon and trail rides through the dunes are supplemented by a pony camp in the summer and Native American presentations for schoolchildren. While they live a short distance down the road with their three children, they are hoping to expand the ranch with a Center for Wildlife Rescue, and renovations to the old cabins and Third House for future guest use. It looks as if Deep Hollow Ranch is set for quite some time to come.

The Keogh Family, courtesy Cate Keogh

The Keogh Family, courtesy Cate Keogh


My sincere thanks to Robin Strong, Archivist at Montauk Library, for her help and guidance in the research for this article. I would also like to thank Steve Russell Boerner and Andrea Meyer, Librarians and Archivists, for their help and guidance at East Hampton Library. Finally, my thanks to Cate Keogh for taking the time to show me around Deep Hollow Ranch and share its history with me.


There is one rather unpleasant footnote to this story. While researching in Montauk Library, Archivist Robin Strong pointed out to me a stamped sentence at the bottom of the 1930s ranch brochure: “The clientele is restricted to Gentiles” She was as amazed and disgusted as I at such blatant anti-Semitism. Happily, such restrictions are long gone.

 

FORGOTTEN FACTS

We’ve often talked on these pages about the shifting sands of history, the kaleidoscopic view of past events. Differing opinions, new information come to light, changes in attitudes—all these can make small aftershocks in the picture of an historical event. But what about those facts that are gently sidelined from the viewing stand? The information that is there, uncovered, but, for whatever reason, never discussed? Here are nine facts your history teacher may have glossed over.

  1. Christopher Columbus

    Christopher Columbus

    Ever wonder why our continent in the New World is called America and not Colombia? All right, we know America was named after Amerigo Vespucci:  but why? Authors like myself know quite a bit about the necessity of promotion and, in that way, times have not changed. While Columbus continued to sail the ocean blue and thence out of his contemporaries thoughts, letters from Amerigo Vespucci were published in 1502 and 1504; further letters he had purportedly written to his benefactors from four voyages to the New World were also later published. Although there is a dispute among historians as to how many voyages Vespucci actually made, as well as to various other of his claims, his popularity at the time was huge. In 1507, a geography book was released by Martin Waldseemüller first naming the new continent as ‘America’ –the feminine form of Vespucci’s Latin name, Americus. Despite the contention surrounding Vespucci, the name America has stuck.

  2. Benjamin Franklin

    Benjamin Franklin

    New England whalers in the 1700s mapped the Gulf Stream by following the migration of whales, dropping thermometers at intervals, noting the pace of the whale’s air bubbles, and the change in color of the water. They discovered that the mammals moved quicker when crossing the Gulf Stream rather than trying to swim against its current. When Benjamin Franklin heard about this, he tested the theory himself, found it accurate, and kept it secret from the British. By avoiding sailing against the Gulf Stream, American and French ships were able to cross the Atlantic at far greater speeds than the British, thereby gaining an advantage in the Revolutionary War.

  3. Button Gwinnett

    Button Gwinnett

    We think we know about all the great men who signed the Declaration of Independence, but who the heck ever heard of Button Gwinnett? Born in Gloucestershire, England, in 1735, Gwinnett became a merchant in Bristol but eventually emigrated to Charleston, SC, and thence on to Savannah, GA. Appointed to the Continental Congress, he was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Unfortunately, his personality was such that he was vengeful and embittered over an argument with a fellow gentlemen back in Georgia. This eventually led to a duel, and Gwinnett died from his wounds in 1777. His signature is so rare and highly sought that one sold in a 2010 Sotheby’s auction for $722,500.

  4. The White House

    The White House

    The outside of The White House is pretty much imprinted on Americans’ brains.  We see it in news articles, television news and in programs like ‘The West Wing’ or ‘Scandal’. But how much do we actually know about its construction? The capital was moved from Philadelphia in November, 1800, and the original name for Washington, D.C. was Federal City, D.C., changed to honor the first President. The design of the city was made by Pierre Charles L’Enfant and included a palace for the President, some five times its present size, with terraces, fountains and gardens.   President Washington fired the architect and a competition for a design was held, the winner being James Hoban. Originally grey, the house was unlike what we know today. The British torched the residence during The War of 1812 and, although the mansion was rebuilt in 1817, new plans were drawn up to include the north and south porticos. The White House as seen today was completed in 1828.

  5. Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo

    Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo

    On February 2, 1848, President Polk’s envoy concluded nine months of negotiations with the Mexicans subsequent to the Mexican-American War. In the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, he got the Mexicans to accept $15 million for what is now CA, NV,AZ, NM, UT, and parts of CO and WY. The timing could not have been better: on January 24th, 1848, gold had been discovered in California. Had the Mexicans known…

    Mary Todd Lincoln dressed for her husband's inauguration

    Mary Todd Lincoln dressed for her husband’s inauguration

  6. We think we know a great deal about Abraham Lincoln, his wisdom and his leadership in preserving the Union. But his problems with his wife are only recently being discussed: a true shopaholic, she used his $25,000 salary to pay her outstanding equivalent clothing bill, and bought a $2000 dress for his inauguration along with a $600 parure of seed pearls.
  7. images-2Most of us learn that standard time was initiated by the need of the railway system. When people changed from traveling an average of 4.8 miles an hour on horseback to sixty miles per hour on train, some form of standardization became vital. The United States east to west could have as many as three hundred time zones. For instance, before standardization, Philadelphia was some five minutes behind NYC and five minutes earlier than Baltimore. Great Britain had started setting standard time in 1847. But it was a Canadian who instigated the General Time Convention in 1883, suggesting that the world be divided into twenty-four time zones separated by one hour, fifteen degrees longitude apart. On November 18, the US railway timetables took up this standardization in a ‘Day of Two Noons.’ Eventually, the idea was taken up by large cities, and, finally, in 1918, Congress passed the Standard Time Act.
  8. George John Dasch

    George John Dasch

    Although not old enough to have been around during World War II, it was certainly in my education that America had been safe from German invasion because of the distance from the European theatre of war. Not actually so! In 1942, the Germans prompted Operation Pastorius, landing eight saboteurs from two submarines, one in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL, and the other in Amagansett, Long Island, New York. Their mission was to blow up railways, industrial plants, Jewish businesses, and so on, and they came prepared with explosives, detonators and other necessary items—including money to spend. Chosen by the Germans for their ability to speak good English and their past experience in the United States, Hitler’s government never thought the men might try to defect. With one man having served time in a concentration camp and others with loyalties to America, the leader, George John Dasch, reported the group to the FBI. Unfortunately for him, turning State’s evidence did not help him. Of the eight men, six were executed, and Dasch and one other received lengthy prison sentences.

  9. US Constitution

    US Constitution

    I’d like to end on one small fact that may be of interest to all my fellow authors. The only ‘right’ granted in the Constitution of the United States, Article 1, Section 8, gives Congress power to “promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.” It was written in 1789, three years prior to The Bill of Rights.


    Some of this information was brought to my attention in American History Revised: 200 Startling Facts that never made it into the textbooks by Seymour Morris, Jr. ( Broadway Books, New York, 2010) Although the book has, by my humble reckoning, a number of discrepancies, it is certainly well worth the read and highly entertaining.


    All photos public domain

Continue reading

WHY YOU DO IT

This month I’m taking ‘medical leave’ and handing over to a guest I’ve known for thirty-one years: my daughter, Cristal. Since I’m an extremely proud mother, I could write a couple of pages on her brilliant achievements but I’ll spare you that. It’s sufficient to say that Cristal holds two Masters degrees, and currently works in Bogota, Colombia, for the International Organization for Migration, a branch of the UN. As she’s always been considered somewhat un-athletic (her swimming instructor called her “spaghetti legs”), I was obviously surprised when she took up running. When I asked her why, this was her response…


IMG-20150223-WA0000Running: the final frontier. Or perhaps I should say that writing about running is the final frontier, as I’ve never written about anything athletic in my life and much less about running, which I only took up six months ago! Continue reading

What I Know About Texas

When I was growing up in the suburbs outside of New York, what I knew about Texas would just about have fit on a pin head. Under the age of ten, I could probably sing ‘She’s the Yellow Rose of Texas’ and ‘Deep in the Heart of Texas,’ having some vague idea that Texas was called ‘The Lone Star State.’ Aside from that, I knew it was somewhere ‘out there’ in the middle of the country, was the largest state in the union as was then, and that, for some reason, everything in Texas was big. The mind boggled. Around the age of ten I learned there was something called The Texas Rangers but had no idea who they were, and also that noname-2all the men wore cowboy hats. I was aware that Texas was the center of the American oil industry, and that there was a family named King who owned the largest ranch in the United States. And then there was Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie and The Alamo, Continue reading

The Girls Who Civilized the Old West

0-3 B J (Bill) Scott is a novelist who sets his stories in the mid to late 19th century of the American West. He is the author of five books: The Angel Trilogy, Light On A Distant Hill, and the newly-released The Rail Queen. Continue reading

A Brief Reflection on the Holidays

christmas-clip-artRecently, I’ve had a few health issues, which are making me sit down and take stock and think about things to be thankful for—and there really is plenty at this time of year. I love the tree lighting, the scent of pine as I walk city streets past tree sellers, the buoyant mood of people rushing against chill air to join loved ones. I love the food, the games, the being together and the age-old decorations. I’m happy to see Santas on street corners collecting for charity and uniformed Salvation Army members ringing their bells. Displays in shop windows are a fascination, and the extra street lighting makes everything look so much more cheerful.

The holiday season now also unfortunately entails non-stop shopping, continuous ads on television for every sale going and blatant commercialism. Maybe it’s human nature to want the bargains, to hunt the deals, and Life has become so inundated with things, with stuff, any way to get it all at the best price is welcome. So many times I’ve been asked why I write western historical stories and what the appeal is. To me—and I know this is very personal—there is something far more appealing about that life. Their Christmas would have had simple decorations, homemade gifts, a joy in just being together rather than the mad rush to buy, buy, buy. SURELY it was more fun to pop corn and string it up with sour apples than to go out and buy colored balls, tinsel and various other little ornaments to hang on the tree—made in China? Surely, the hand-knit sweater meant more to the receiver than the latest iPad or phone?

Maybe not. Humanity hasn’t really changed; these items were simply not available so folks were happy with what they got. But happiness is still, pretty much, based on the same agenda. We’re happy to have our health, our home, our family and friends who support us. IMG_0804We still gasp at a breath-taking dawn and the beauty of a sunset behind majestic hills. We’re in awe at the variety of wildlife in a setting that stuns us into silence, while the laughter of loved ones and children and those close to us still tugs at our hearts.

At least that’s what I’m thankful for. What are you thankful for and what are you looking forward to in the New Year? Please let me know… I have 3 simple gifts to give away, and a cartload of good cheer.DSCN1497

 

There are 2 digital copies of my books to give away and 1 surprise gift.  The winners are Irene Bennett Brown, Mary M. and Vicki Batman.  Thanks to everyone who responded!

BEST WISHES FOR A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY AND HEALTHY NEW YEAR!!

Mormon Row: Historic Site or Ghost Town?

What is the difference between a ghost town and a vacated  historic site? Is there one?

Recently, back up in the Tetons, I ventured with a couple of friends to visit

Map of Mormon Row drawn by Craig Moulton, courtesy of Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum

Map of Mormon Row drawn by Craig Moulton, courtesy of Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum

Mormon Row, a four mile stretch of homesteads and ranch houses just southeast of Black Tail Butte in the valley of Jackson Hole. Here were solid, but decaying, remnants of a community that once thrived, was vibrant with life, if not exactly prosperous by today’s way of understanding. The National Park leaves its historic buildings to decay naturally, which I daresay means that, with time, they’ll be gone. But for now, the buildings stand as a monument to what people do to secure a better life, to survive, perhaps also a monument to what really matters in life. Continue reading

The Good, The Bad, & the Ugly of Deadlines: Pt. 2

Sydney St. Clair continues:

Today, I’ll finish talking about deadlines, those necessary evil’s of life. Let’s look at:

Types of Deadlines Writers Face

Completed Manuscripts This is the most common and the most important. None of the other deadlines can happen until you meet this one, and no one else will be able to meet their deadlines unless you meet yours. If you are not published yet, you will never be published unless you finish that manuscript or two or three. As said earlier, being productive and making progress is the key to making writing a career. Continue reading

The Good, The Bad, & the Ugly of Deadlines

For the next couple of weeks, I have fellow author from The Wild Rose Press, susan picSydney St. Clair visiting and talking about that dreaded part of author’s lives:  deadlines!

Sydney St. Claire is the pseudonym of Susan Edwards, author of 14 Historical Native American/Western/Paranormal romances and the author of the popular “White” Series. Continue reading

Cunning Inspiration: Dearest Darling and The Cunningham Cabin

20131018_155648Nothing takes my breath away quite so much as the landscape of northwestern Wyoming. If I say it leaves me speechless, you will understand how very difficult it is for me to relate the love affair I have with this small section of our vast country, how I feel no dictionary is complete enough to supply words to describe this patch of land where the earth has struggled like an indecisive artist to create high plains that stretch themselves into the harsh, jagged peaks of the Tetons. One can only feel reverence, one can only feel a minute speck in the vast panorama; it makes you realize how tiny and inconsequential you are in the scheme of things. So now, imagine how envious I am of those who are lucky enough to live there year-round compared to my two, comparatively brief stays each year. Then you can realize both the awe in which I hold those who homesteaded this unforgiving country and the jealousy I feel that they were able to live here. This is a land that gives you a sense of history, a sense of destiny. It is a geography of hope, forged by nature and hard won by man.

One of the men who would put his mark on this country was J. Pierce Cunningham. A fellow New Yorker, he arrived in the Jackson Hole area of the Tetons around 1885, aged about twenty. A few years later, he and his wife staked DSCN1349a claim under the Homestead Act, and thereby laid the foundations for what would become the Bar Flying U Ranch. The cabin they built, which under the Act had to be at least 12 x 12, was what is commonly known as a dogtrot or double-pen cabin, encompassing two separate rooms with a dogtrot or breezeway in-between. Although a more substantial home was eventually built, along with sheds, barns and other outbuildings, it is the original cabin that still stands today.

When I first visited Cunningham’s cabin I was immediately struck by the isolation of this remote location, how lonely it must have been in the 1880s. Although more than four hundred claims were filed in Jackson Hole in the latter part of the nineteenth century, the vastness of the valley meant there could be little interaction, especially during the harsh winter months. And this was a hardscrabble life; rocky soil led to high operating costs as ranchers struggled to feed their cattle during the long winter. The horrendous winter of 1886/87, as I described in my book Loveland, put an end to much of the open range ranching.DSCN1348

One might think, why do it then? I can only answer for myself as to what I feel when I stand there, surrounded by a landscape so startling, so inspiring, you feel purified, whole, inconsequential and ephemeral. Not having been born there, I cannot fathom my own attachment to this place, why I feel the oft-repeated need to return there, but it somehow cleanses me, clears my head. It was obvious that I somehow had to employ this site as the backdrop for a book. You might think it a poor reckoning, to use a setting so magnificent in my modest western historical romance.   After all, I could not possibly do it justice.

The view from Cunningham's cabin

The view from Cunningham’s cabin

But I have tried…

Dearest Darling comes out Oct. 8th from The Wild Rose Press.  To celebrate, I’ll be giving out copies of both this new novella and my full-length novel, Loveland, to up to 5 people who leave a comment.  The winners are Liz Flaherty, Eunice Boeve, Roni McFadden, Susan J. Tweit, and Rolynn Anderson.  Congrats to all and I hope you enjoy the books.

DearestDarling_w8647_750Stuck in a life of servitude to her penny-pinching brother, Emily Darling longs for a more exciting existence. When a packet with travel tickets, meant for one Ethel Darton, accidentally lands on her doormat, Emily sees a chance for escape. Having turned down the dreary suitors that have come her way, is it possible a new existence also offers a different kind of man?

Daniel Saunders has carved out a life for himself in Wyoming—a life missing one thing: a wife. Having scrimped and saved to bring his mail-order bride from New York, he is outraged to find in her stead a runaway fraud. Even worse, the impostor is the sister of his old enemy.

But people are not always as they seem, and sometimes the heart knows more than the head.

EXCERPT:

Emily liked the sound of his voice, low but not husky, a slight twang he had cultivated, but not pretentiously so. When he spoke, she envisaged melting caramel, something delicious, the way it could be so appealing as she stirred, with a shine and slow drip from the spoon, before it gradually solidified. Soothing. A liquid velvet.

But he hadn’t spoken today. Not since first thing when he’d told her to get ready. Not through breakfast, or as he helped clear dishes, or gave her a hand up into the wagon.

“You haven’t seen her. You didn’t see her picture, did you?” The questions came sudden, yet without malice.

Emily straightened, alert. “No. No, I didn’t.” Would I understand better? Is that what he meant?

“I keep it with me.” Daniel began to fish in his pocket. “Would you like to see it?”

“No. No, you keep it, please. It won’t change anything.” Emily panicked. She would be beautiful, the other, that would be the answer. So stunningly beautiful that just her photograph had enthralled him, mesmerized him into loving her. Emily couldn’t bear to look, didn’t want to know the answer. Didn’t wish to torture herself further. “And I’m sorry. I’m sorry for reading the letters.” A rush of words, they flowed out of her. “I should never have done that. It’s not like me. But you…well, you understand it seems—”

“You’re probably wondering what I see in her. Or what she sees in me. As for that, what she sees in me, I have no idea. Maybe, like you, she wishes to get away.”

Emily studied his profile, the planes and contours of his face, the eyes set straight ahead, the slouch hat low on his brow. He gave nothing away, was a man in control of his emotions, thinking, maybe still wondering how he had won that woman. Or maybe set on keeping the answer to himself.

Overhead, clouds scudded, scoured the sky, leached the blue, threatened.

“Did you ever ask her? Why you?”

“I did. She never answered. I’m thinking what she sees in me is husband material. I guess. She tells me about her day, the people she knows, what she does. As you read.”

“She just seems so…so outgoing, so…so very social to ever want this life. I found it difficult to believe.” She jutted her chin out, then turned to him, waiting.

He gave the reins a sharp shake. “I don’t know. I never asked if she knew what she was getting into. I described it. I assumed if she wanted to stop the correspondence there, she would have. I was pretty damn amazed and happy she’d wanted to come, written back even though I described the cabin to her, the isolation.” His gaze slid toward her.

“And you think she’ll make you a perfect wife, do you? Be happy living here? Cook your meals, mend your clothes, keep your cabin, have your babies?” Exasperated, she tried to make him think, think of what he was letting himself in for, how long a marriage like that could go on, how it could end up being even lonelier than he was now. Emily would seem to him to be trying to win him over rather than making him see the truth, but push him she must, save him, stop him. She knew those sorts of women, the debutantes, the socialites. Not a one would last out here, not for a single day.

His head snapped around to stare at her. “She’s been writing. She hasn’t stopped.”20131018_155503

Buy at: Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Dearest-Darling-Letters-Andrea-Downing-ebook/dp/B00NGWT816

The Wild Rose Press: http://www.wildrosepublishing.com/maincatalog_v151/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=195&products_id=5842