All, this is a continuation of my Zeke Stanford western story. The first part, Gold Dreams was posted in 2015, part 2, Ambush, was posted in April 2016, and the last part, Unexpected Guests, Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3, posted in July 2016. Part 1 of Quartz is here. I plan on putting the whole thing together with some editing, and publish it as a book. It’ll be a short book, less than 40,000 words as I see it. But that’s okay. It’ll be like the old dime thrillers of yesteryear. I hope you enjoy it.
Quartz, part 2
“Thank you! I was just going to see if there was some buttermilk and go sit on the front porch.”
“So you should. You’re thin as a rail. Pia!” she shouted.
Pia came running into the parlor.
“Get Zeke some buttermilk.”
Pia grinned and disappeared back into the kitchen.
“Now go on out there and have a seat. I’ll get your mail while Pia gets your milk.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Zeke gave her a bow, same as the dude did.
Mrs. Estrada laughed and shoo’d him out the front door. “Go on with you, then.”
He went out and selecting one of the rocking chairs, sat down and looked out over Mrs. Estrada’s little farm. He couldn’t hear the creek from here but the tree line revealed where it was. Her milk cows were in the pasture, between the house and the woods, slowly munching their way across the grass-covered lot.
Again he thought about the kind of ranch he wanted. Bigger than Mrs. Estrada’s five acres but not so big that parts of it were out of reach in a day’s ride. Turkeys, like she had, maybe ducks and geese, too, if there was a pond or something on the land. Horses, like his dad, that didn’t need to be driven to Flagstaff or Phoenix to be loaded on the train. Though that wasn’t far. He’d heard that in Texas, they were driving their herds all the way to St. Louis. No. Horses seemed much more sensible. Some nice spot with water for a garden. For Mary.
That was another worry. Mary’s folks were pressing her to marry some lawyer. That brought to mind his mine and the sale of it if Mr. Markum could find a buyer. He wondered how honest these mining companies were. If he’d get a good price. He’d need one if he were going to send for Mary. Even so, would she come?
Pia interrupted his thoughts when she came out onto the porch and handed him his buttermilk. “Dinner almost ready, Mr. Zeke. We all eating in the kitchen. Just like the old days.” She beamed with happiness.
He raised his glass to her. “Thank you, Pia. Can’t wait.”
She hurried back into the house. He’d only had a sip of the milk when Mrs. Estrada came out. “Here’s your mail, Zeke.”
He took it. Two envelopes. “Thank you.”
She nodded and went back inside. He appreciated that she always left him to read his letters by himself.
He opened the one from his father first.
We received your letter. Sounds like you just escaped with your life. Your ma begs you to be careful. Outlaws. I’ve had my run ins with them myself so I understand what you had to do. Not an easy thing, killing a man, but you had to do it. Don’t bother yourself with it. Everything is in God’s hands. Your ma and I pray for you every day.
That was a fast answer, Zeke thought after he’d read it through a second time. His letter home and the answer back in just under a month. He shook his head in wonder.
Then it was time for Mary’s letter. Like every time, he smoothed the envelope as best he could, then carefully opened it with his knife.
A gunfight in the street! How awful! I’m so glad you are unharmed. It was very nice for the sheriff and the assayer to come to your aid. I pray to God for them and you each night. The news about your mine is quite welcome. Father, especially, took interest, even though Mother still invites Thomas Drew to Sunday dinner.
After last Sunday, I told Mother and Father both, that I was not interested in Mr. Drew and that I was planning to marry you, as soon as your finances are arranged. I know that was quite bold and brash, but I had to let them know.
So, now I am telling you. I plan on coming to Payson on the next stage. I hope to meet your dear Mrs. Estrada, Pia and Cesar. And thank in person Mr. Markum and Sheriff Colton, for your life. I hope you understand, Dear Zeke. I cannot wait any longer.
Zeke was so surprised that he leapt out of the rocking chair. He re-read the letter standing up. Mary coming here! He looked at the date on the letter. Why, that was two weeks ago!
“Mrs. Estrada!” He ran into the house, letter flapping in the breeze of his speed. “Mrs. Estrada!”
Both Pia and Mrs. Estrada rushed from the kitchen.
“Zeke! What is it?” Mrs. Estrada, her voice louder than he’d ever heard it, shouted.
Both of the women stopped short, staring at him. “What?”
“Mary’s coming here!”