Charity’s Ball
By Daisy Jones
Date: March 20, 2016
Ch. 2History Lesson


Thirty years ago, Charity’s mother, Sarah, first settled into the same cottage. Back then it was nothing more than a one room shack held together with nature’s glue and protected from destruction by the thick forest canopy. Sarah traveled for over six weeks and through three states in her horse-drawn covered wagon, searching for a new home. She felt an unceasing urge to settle down and plant roots since her gypsy lifestyle had taken a toll on her health and energy levels. Only days away from her twenty-fifth birthday, Sarah came upon the deserted cottage. The moment she set eyes on it, she knew it would be hers. Her first steps on the ground surrounding the would-be cottage were a revelation. The wind suddenly swirled around her and created an instant vortex. Leaves lifted from the ground and gently encircled her in a vigorous cocoon, then suddenly, fell back to the ground. Sarah felt it was assurance that she had found her home.

Caution contained happiness until she could establish ownership of the forgotten abode. She released her horse’s harness from the wagon with the ease of a seasoned trail hand and set out for the nearest town. Her amber gaze possessed a natural inner beauty. Anyone that met Sarah was instantly drawn to her expressive brows and almond shaped eyes. Skeptics were easily converted into believers when they first encountered her. She held a command of natural elements that few witnessed, and even fewer acknowledged.

Her dark auburn hair was streaked with sunlight and fastened atop her head with a wooden comb as she made her way to town on horseback. In 1882, a woman riding into town alone was an uncommon sight. The citizens of Proctor had witnessed their share of strangers passing through, but none quite like Sarah. She found her way to a water trough near the front of the general store and dismounted her horse, unconcerned about securing his rein to the hitching post.

“Well, how do you do, Ma’am?” Sarah turned toward the direction of the kind words and nodded a response. “Fine, thank you.”

“My name is Jesse Brown, at your service,” the tall, gun-toting man stated with a sideways smile protruding beneath the tip of his wide-brimmed brown hat. Sarah had a peculiar habit of sizing people up within sixty-seconds. She never shared her personal insights, but was always proven accurate, as the course of time would prevail.

“Thank you, my name is Sarah, Sarah Wells. Have you lived here very long, Mr. Brown?”

“Yes actually, for most of my life. However, this time, I’m just on my way through. My family settled here before the war. Of course, the war changed everything; but not here in Proctor. This town hasn’t changed much in my lifetime. Don’t expect it ever will.”

“Why is that?” Sarah was compelled to ask. “Proctor is one of those off-the-beaten-path towns. Nothing new ever happens here. The people of Proctor like it that way. They have one general store, one boarding house, one saloon, one church, one blacksmith, one teacher and one rule.”

“I see,” Sarah said with a heightened sense of curiosity. “Yes ma’am, Miss Sarah. These folks don’t like change. They are good farmers and honest folks, but they live ordinary lives here. And it’s by choice.”

Sarah’s first instincts about Jesse were already proving true, so she decided to let the conversation play out for as long as he was cordial and willing to reveal the town’s history and core values to her with vivid personal insights. Sarah detested violence but had grown used to men carrying guns on their hips. She grew up traveling her way through post-Civil War America and had battled hard to maintain her forthright belief in the sanctity of life. Her father died in the war and her mother soon afterward, leaving her homeless and alone at seventeen years. Throughout her subsequent travels, she’d witnessed countless testaments to the ravages of death committed by the hands of violence.

Her convictions and her tenacity were her only weapons when confronted by adversity in her travels. Anyone that encountered Sarah unconsciously acknowledged she had undefined forces of nature watching over her. Most often, Sarah lived her life with moral conviction and unexplained confidence. It was as if she had an invisible army to protect her and even she couldn’t see the soldiers, but occasionally had access to their weapons.

“Well, Miss Sarah, can I interest you in some refreshment? Coffee, tea, or perhaps something with a little more zip?” Sarah thought for a second and nodded, “Why yes, a cup of tea would be nice, and perhaps a bite to eat.”

“Sure, let me escort you to the finest and only diner in Proctor. They only have one lunch special a day, and if memory serves me, today is Wednesday. That means it will be creamed corn and brisket. And it’s been that way since before I can remember.” Jesse offered an abundance of information with each new sentence he uttered.

“Oh that sounds delicious! Lead the way, Mr. Brown.” The idea of a predictable lifestyle struck a pleasant yet unfamiliar nerve in Sarah, furthering her agenda of establishing residency.

Sarah’s impromptu lunch with Jesse laid the groundwork for their life-long mutual admiration and for Sarah’s final decision to make her roots in the abandoned cottage on the edge of town. Through Jesse’s revelations, Sarah learned the property was once owned by a single man who died fighting in the war and was written off the tax records until someone was willing to re-claim it through squatter’s rights. Being slightly removed from the town’s tight knit core of residents had left it an unclaimed blighted nuisance, enabling Sarah to claim a clear deed to her home on her twenty-fifth birthday. That was the same day she met Charity’s father, Josiah Adams.

Font size
Font color
Line spacing
Background color