Monday, July 1, 2013

A Fiery Fourth

Hello everyone.  We are on the road, still in Texas (it  takes forever to get out of the state, lol). It is fiery hot, I will say that, where we've been and where we are going.  Today it's supposed to be all the way down to 112 in Phoenix.  Pretty usual for this time of year.  If it wasn't for our dearest friends living there, we would bypass but being with them is more than worth the discomfort. After that is relief though.  California here we come and the coastal side too.  YEAH.

This is a big weekend coming up for us state siders - 4th of July means fireworks and summer fun and with that in mind, this story has a 4th of July theme and it's a little different time setting than my usual stories. Hope you enjoy.

Lisabeth Colter had been born in an old Victorian house her mother had inherited from her grandmother not very far from the Town Square.  Her father had been killed in the War Between the States and so she had grown up among women and didn’t know much about men except what she had read in books and learned from listening to stories from her mother’s friends.

The year was 1876 and she was twenty-five years old.  Spartan Bend had planned an enormous 4th of July celebration for the country’s centennial birthday.   Lisbeth, being the schoolteacher, was put in charge of a play to be performed by the town’s children.  She was having a difficult time with one of her newer students. She wanted Luke Schofield to portray one of the founding fathers in the pageant but he had difficulty with his reading and letters.  She gave him as much of her time as she could in the classroom and thought that perhaps she could give him extra time outside of regular school hours and he would be up to taking on this part by then.  She wrote a note to his parents and suggested they meet to discuss the situation.  She was quite surprised the next day when an older version of Luke arrived at the schoolhouse. 

He stood there, with hat in hand, waiting until all the children had left the building.

“Hello, I’m Mark Schofield, Luke’s older brother.  I received your note and want to apologize for Luke’s misbehavior”.

“Hello, I’m Miss Lisbeth Colter, Luke’s teacher.  I addressed the note to your parents Mr. Schofield,  are they unable to come?”

“Our parents are dead Miss Colter and I am Luke’s guardian, tell me what exactly is it that Luke did and I will take care of it”

She explained that Luke had not misbehaved but that she felt he could use some extra tutoring with his reading and letters since he was behind the other children in his age bracket.  She thought with some extra help from her and some extra work at home he might even be able to have the starring role in the yearly pageant. 

“I don’t cotton to that kind of stuff for a man.  If you want to help him with his letters fine but this play stuff holds no water for me.”

“Be that as it may Mr. Schofield, but Luke should be able to read and write better than he does at present.  The play is a very important part of our 4th of July celebration and it would be a good learning experience for Luke.”

Mark told her that Luke could do what he wanted as long as his chores still got done. Lisbeth asked if Mark could help him out at home. Mark stammered a little and told her he wasn’t any better at his letters either and that is why he made sure Luke started school when they moved here.  He told them their Ma had taught them what they knew but once she passed their schooling had stopped.  Their Pa had won their small homestead in a poker game but he had gotten sick on their way to Spartan Bend and died shortly after they arrived. 

Lisbeth nodded and understood the courage it took to admit his shortcomings and volunteered to help them both.  Mark told her he wanted to learn more but was ashamed and didn’t want other town folk to know of his lacking of schooling. He felt they would try to take advantage of him. Lisbeth said there were many who didn’t have a great deal of schooling but it didn’t make them any less important than those with an education.  Nevertheless, he told her that’s how he felt and wanted to keep it that way.  She said that maybe the best way to get around this was to tutor both brothers simultaneously.  Perhaps they could come to her home on a weekly basis and she would work with them and give them work they could do at home.  That, together with Luke’s daily schooling, could make short work of their lack of education.

Mark agreed and they scheduled the first visit for the following Saturday afternoon.  After about three weeks, Lisbeth began noticing things about Mark Schofield she hadn’t noted before.  Things like the way his chestnut brown hair curled around his ears and at the nape of his neck; the way his golden brown eyes glinted when she praised Luke or him for achieving a goal; the way he always smelled of fresh air and soap; and, mostly his gentlemanly manners.  She found she loved how he was always careful to wipe his feet before entering the house, how very tall he was and the beautiful smile he always wore.   She mentioned it to her mother and Maddy Coulter said she thought Lisbeth might just be “smitten” with him.  Lisbeth denied it outwardly but inwardly she felt those little shivers whenever he was near. 

The following Saturday, Maddy invited Mark and Luke to join her and Lisbeth for supper the next day.  Mark readily accepted saying it would be wonderful to have a home cooked meal. He said that neither he, Luke nor his cowhand were good cooks and their vittles while filling weren’t very tasty. Maddy laughed and said she thought she and Lisbeth could do better than that.

During supper, Maddy mentioned a problem with their buggy wheel.  Mark said he would be glad to take a look at it, he said it was the least he could do after such a wonderful meal.  Maddy said she would appreciate that and suggested Luke help her clean up the kitchen while Mark took at look at the wheel. 

“Lisbeth, go take Mark out to the barn and show him the buggy wheel”.  Lisbeth noticed the smile on Maddy’s face and literally skipped out the door.  It was the first time she really had any time alone with Mark.  Either her mother or Luke were always around.

After Mark mended the wheel spoke and started back toward the house, Lisbeth suggested they take a little stroll.  Mark agreed.  It was a beautiful evening and not yet dark.  They walked down to the town square and started home just as the fireflies began dancing in the night sky.  It was all so romantic to Lisbeth and when they reached the house she leaned over a placed a kiss on Mark’s cheek. 

“That’s not proper” he told her as he pulled away.  “I hope no one saw you or there will be gossip all over town”

“It was just a peck on the cheek.”

“I don’t care, my ma told me it wasn’t proper to be kissing unmarried young ladies.  If  it’s not proper for me, it’s not proper for you.”

“Oh, fal de la, that’s old fashioned talk.  Why in some of the books I’ve read, there’s more than kissing going on before someone gets married”

“Well then you shouldn’t be reading those books and if you had a pa I bet he would take you out to the woodshed if he caught you.  It’s not proper.”

Lisbeth huffed and just to be naughty she reached over and pecked him on the cheek once again. He got all red faced and pulled her into the house without another word. He yelled to Luke they were ready to go and thanked Mrs. Coulter again for the supper and left.

Lisbeth ran upstairs.  Maddy followed and asked what happened.  Lisbeth told her and Maddy said they just had their first lover’s quarrel. 

“How can it be a lover’s quarrel if he won’t even kiss me and then scold me for kissing him”? she asked.

The following week Mark didn’t come to Saturday’s lesson.  He told Luke to say he was too busy.  When Lisbeth queried him further, Luke had no answers as to why he was so busy. I’ll fix him, Lisbeth thought.  The lesson over, Lisbeth hitched up the wagon and told Luke she would take him home.  As they pulled into the yard Mark came running out to see if something had happened to Luke. Finding out he was fine was a relief but he wasn’t relieved realizing Lisbeth was here alone and would be driving back to town alone.

“Why are you here?  Luke finds his way home every other day.  It was not necessary for you  to drive him home.”

“Aren’t you glad to see me?  I brought your lessons for the week since you were unable to come today.”

“You know darn well you could have sent them with Luke”

“Maybe I just wanted to see you”, she said.  Mark turned around to see if Luke was in earshot and saw him over by the barn.

“You are way too brazen and need a switch taken to your bottom Miss Coulter. That’s just what I would do if you were my girl”

Lisbeth got all red-face and flicked the buggy whip hard on the horse’s flank.  The horse was startled that he came very close to Mark.  Mark fell to the ground trying to get out of the way. He watched as she kept using the whip on the horse.

She’s taking her anger out on that poor horse he said to himself.  He caught up to her at the gate, pulled himself up onto the seat and grabbed the reins.  He pulled the whip out of her hands and told her he should be using it on her and not her using it on the horse. She tried shoving him out of the buggy.  He told her to calm down or he would be tanning her hide. With that, he started the drive back to town.  Lisbeth pouted the whole way.  When they reached her house, he drove into the back and she jumped down and ran inside.  As he was unhitching the horse he saw Maddy coming out.

“What happened Mr. Schoefield?.” Maddy asked.

“I think you should ask your daughter” he said and started to leave.

“Lisbeth will tell me her version, I want yours”.

He told her what happened and Maddy smiled..
“I didn’t think it was right and when she started to take her anger out of the horse I told her she needed her hide tanned”

“I think you are just as “smitten” with her as she is with you, Mark.  Why don’t you ask her to the church social next week and see if you can spend the whole time together without killing each other”

“She won’t go with me?” he said.

“How do you know if you don’t ask?  Now stop being a coward and march into that house and talk to her”.

He did as Maddy suggested and after much coaxing Lisbeth agreed to go to the social with him. They had a wonderful time.  He began courting her and one night a couple of weeks later he kissed her.

“I thought it wasn’t proper, she chided him.

“It isn’t proper for couples who aren’t intending to be married.  Will you marry me Lisbeth?  Be my wife and a big sister to Luke”.

“I thought you would never ask and the answer is yes”

“You are a brazen wench Lisbeth.  I think that I have my work cut out for me.  I think taming you will be the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

They were married in a small ceremony at the end of the school year in May.


Every year since she could remember, she attended the 4th of July Celebration in the Town Square. She wasn’t about to miss this one even if Mark had announced she was being punished and couldn’t attend. She had to go – she was in charge of the play. While he was off mending fence line, she saddled the buckboard and drove herself into town.  She left the buckboard at her mother’s and walked over to the town square.  The play went off beautifully, the band was wonderful and she was having a terrific time forgetting all about the time and getting home before Mark.  They were just getting ready to light the fireworks when she spied him in the crowd.  He inched his way over to her, leaned down and whispered in her ear.

“Enjoying yourself Sweetheart.  I hope so because when I get you home you are going over my knee and I will be using your hairbrush to light a fire to your bottom”

“But Mark, you spanked me yesterday and I am still a bit sore”

“Not sore enough to keep you from disobeying me.  I intend to rectify that situation”

“I liked it better when you didn’t know such big words, besides Luke will be home” she told him.  He laughed as he walked her to the buckboard and toward her date with his knee,  her hairbrush and fireworks of a more personal nature.

“Not tonight Lisbeth, he will be staying at Maddy’s.”   Lisbeth winced and unconsciously moved her hands to cover her bottom.

Stop over to governing ana today. I am the featured interview.  My 15 minutes of fame continues and my head keeps growing, I guess it's better than my nose.

Until then see you later for more Aimless Ramblings.

Lonesome Oak Ranch


  1. I love the historical settings, Sunny. I think this is my favorite story of yours so far.

    Sheesh, that heat sounds brutal. Enjoy your time with friends. I'm heading to Ana's to read your interview. I don't think you have to worry about getting a big head.



    1. Thanks Irishey.

      The heat is pretty brutal but this year everything seems to be topsy turvy everywhere.

  2. Nice story Sunny, you enjoy your fifteen minutes , you have earned them. I loved the book btw
    love Jan.xx

  3. Thanks for the excerpt. Also, I hope you have a wonderful trip. I have lots of experience with the hot summer weather in both Texas and Arizona. Drink plenty of water.

    I will check out your interview. Very cool.


    1. Thanks Joey. Me too but it is hotter than normal. Even the vehicle needs more water. lol

  4. I enjoyed this story. I love the time period!
    Our famous Sunny continues to make us proud!

    1. Thanks Minelle. Yes, I am a legend in my own mind. lol

  5. Hi Sunny,

    Goodness, I hope you manage to find ways to stay cool enough! Travel safe.

    Thank you for another wonderful story. I enjoyed this. Will definitely check out your fika! I'd say you're allowed to get a slightly swollen head Lol


    1. Thanks Roz. Thank goodness for A/C. Don't know how people did it back in the day before Mr. Carrier arrived. Obviously, you don't miss what you don't have or they were made of sturdier stock.

  6. Hi, Sunny --
    Enjoyable story, thank you! Best wishes on your travels. In that heat stopping for gas must be awful. Wishing you and Ray a wonderful July 4th!

    1. Thanks Meg.I think you are too shocked at the price at the pump too notice the heat.

  7. I love stories written in this time period :) Thanks Sunny!


    1. Me too and I don't know why they don't come to me more often.

  8. Oh SG, I did enjoy that. A wonderful story, Thanks so much for sharing it with us.

    Safe travels and enjoy the 4th of July celebrations.


    1. Thanks Ronnie for the good wishes. Glad you enjoyed the story.

  9. Sunny,
    I think you need to come kick my butt. I have a terrible habit of reading your wonderful stories, thinking Ahhh... I like that, and then not commenting. Sorry about that. You always leave me wanting more, and this story was no different. Please keep it up.

  10. Hey Sunny...thank you for another great story! Am heading over to Ana's to read your Fika...I'm sure you won't get a swollen head. Drive safely and stay as cool as possible.


    1. I won't get a swollen head as long as I have good friends around to keep me straight.

  11. 1800s r my fav settings for books love it great book and have fun stay cool :)

  12. Another winner sunny!
    hugs abby

  13. *Claps* i SHOULD say so more often - i love your stories, and this one was no different! Thanks for writing.

  14. You are welcome Fondles, glad you enjoy reading the stories. I enjoy writing them.


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