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Doc

 

 

A Letter To My Niece
For the Lancer Writers Challenge June 2012: On the Outside

 

My Dear Niece Agnes,

I am sure you never expected to receive any more letters from me, and you almost didn't. But a young lady has offered to take my dictation and write any letters for me that need writing, so she is putting down what I tell her.

I hope this letter finds you and Harmon happy and in good health. Is Harmon's business thriving? Do you enjoy living in San Francisco? It seems a very long time since we shared my house in Green River after your first husband passed away. I enjoyed those years.

My eyesight is nearly done. I can see well enough to fend for myself in my house but I am not able to read, or sew, or move about outside unless with help (although I am able to tend a small flower garden just outside my porch). The ladies of the church see to laying in my provisions and they make their men folk stop by occasionally to help with the chores. So you don't need to worry yourself on that account.

Every Sunday Clarissa comes by to take me to church, and every Wednesday she takes me to her house for supper. I would like to tell you more about Clarissa but I can't since I don't know Emily very well, Emily being the young lady who is taking down this letter, although she seems very nice. Emily, not Clarissa.

Green River continues to grow. We even have a sheriff now. There are many new people here. I don't know any of them as I am unable to participate very much in the social events of the town. Of the people you knew there is very little news-oh! Except Murdoch Lancer has been joined by his adult sons to help him at his ranch. I know you remember Mr. Lancer because you had your cap set for him for a while, didn't you?

Last year there were land pirates after Lancer, and that's when the Lancer boys came home. The talk at church was that one of the boys is from Boston and is very well bred and educated. The other one, though, is half-Mexican and is a gunfighter! I suppose a gunfighter could come in handy during a fight with land pirates, but each son has been given 1/3 of the Lancer spread, so it appears we are now existing with a notorious gunman in our midst! It's just as well you and Murdoch Lancer never got to courting. Can you imagine if you had, and gotten married? You would be the step mother of a gunfighter! (And I just remembered something to tell you later in this letter.)

Since his sons have come Murdoch Lancer seems a much happier man. Oh, he is still very loud and very sure of himself, but he smiles more. You thought he needed the love of a good woman to help him with his surliness (and I know you hoped it would be you, silly Agnes!) but it appears the return of his lost sons has been a tonic for him.

Some of my former students stop by every now and again and I enjoy their visits very much. They have grown into good, hardworking, responsible citizens and it does my old heart good to think I had something to do with making them that way. I don't think you would remember any of them so I shan't bore you with names and details.

Here is the thing I promised to tell you. It was several weeks ago, and I was outside kneeling in my garden doing some weeding. (At least, I hope I was pulling weeds, and not mistaking young flower shoots for them.) Old joints being what they are, I was unable to rise when I was done. Oh, I tried, but the wisest choice seemed to be to just sit down right there on the ground until I was able to get to my feet. Luckily the day was a nice one!

Wouldn't you know I fell asleep? Right out there in front of my house in my flower bed! (I guess that's why it's called a bed!) The next thing I know there's a young man kneeling beside me shaking my shoulder to wake me.

Well I was right embarrassed I can tell you!

He asked if I needed the doctor and I told him I wasn't sick, just old. So he helped me up and walked me to my porch. He sat me right there in my rocking chair and went over to the pump and drew me up some water. He stayed for a while making sure I was all right. We chatted a bit, and he had the nicest voice. I asked him if he might have been one of my students, but he said no, he had never gone to a proper school. He was very polite, calling me “Ma'am” and such-he even complimented me on my flower garden. I thanked him for his help, and he went on his way.

Except for my embarrassment there was no reason to tell you about this, except for what happened next. A bit later in the day there was a knock on my door, and who should stand there but Murdoch Lancer himself! He said he heard about me falling asleep outside and was stopping by to make sure I was OK. Can you imagine that! If you hadn't already found yourself your second husband you would be right jealous of me, wouldn't you?

And when I stepped outside to talk with him, he had two other men with him, and one of them was the nice young man who had helped me earlier. Turns out-and are you sitting down now, Agnes?-it was his son, the one that is the gunfighter! Well, you could have knocked me over with a feather! And I met the other son, too, who was just as polite and well mannered as the church ladies had said.

Since then the young Lancer, the one that is the gunfighter (his name is Johnny) has called on me twice. He asks how I am and if there is anything I need done. Once he has done whatever chore I need doing he always sits to visit a bit, and he always admires my flower garden. He is a charming young man! (Emily, the young lady who is writing this, thinks I should add that he is a fine looking young man as well. Ah, youth!)

I just asked Emily to read my letter back to me, and I am appalled at how common I sound. But she wrote what I said, so I guess that lends itself to a very different style of writing. I hope you understand.

Your loving Aunt,

Audrey

 

~ end ~

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