…Necessity! ( …excerpt from the original short story “Persistence”.)

They buried Jason Thompson up on the hill behind Barrow Creek, where they had started the new cemetery.   Cemeteries should be on hills, and this was the only hill short of a mountain in the immediate area.  A few days after the funeral, Rose Thompson was receiving callers.  A month after burying Jason, she married Wing Carter.

Back home in England it wouldn’t have been proper; it wouldn’t have been right, and most certainly would not have been accepted by anyone in her old home town, let alone her parents.  She wasn’t sure, but she expected they were turning over in their graves at the very thought of such carryings on by their daughter.  They had certainly been upset enough at her moving to this God forsaken land in the first place.  Wild, unsettled, savage infested wilderness was no place for a proper girl with proper upbringing.  But this wasn’t England.  This was Dust Springs Reach territory, dead centre of the flattest, dustiest land ever created by the deity that had seemingly forsaken it.  Raw and wild and seductive, primitive Canadian prairie,  flat as far as one could see, except for the small cemetery hill just back of town, and barely, just barely, if the wind wasn’t whipping the dust too thick and you squinted your eyes, a hint of mountains worlds away to the west.

There had been other callers, even more persistent callers, and Rose could have had her pick of the lot of them.  Terry King had been interested, and perhaps would have been a serious contender if not for his high opinion of himself.  Rose had been forced to deflate his ego with a somewhat precisely placed, perilously close load of buckshot when he arrived at her camp with a man of the cloth in tow to perform the nuptials.  She never did see Terry again, actually, she never saw that particular preacher again either.  Five days after that skirmish, she married Wing Carter.

Mrs. Caniver stood with the bride, Mr. Caniver stood with the groom.  The bride’s son sat with the Caniver boys and the Caniver girl held the bride’s infant daughter, while the Reverend Harnsworth performed the ceremony in his cramped, one windowed, plank-floored parlor.

When the Reverend finished with the words, and Wing had made an awkward attempt to kiss the bride, the Reverend’s wife and Mrs. Caniver hugged the bride, the Reverend and Mr. Caniver shook the groom’s hand, the boys made smacking sounds on the backs of their hands, and the baby began to cry.  Wing Carter stood sheepishly, red as a beet, stiff and uncomfortable in a too small coat, and his shirt buttoned clear up so his collar would hold the tiny bow-tie.  Rose Thompson, Rose Carter now, took her baby daughter from the Caniver girl and soothed it.

Mrs. Caniver was a hearty, brisk woman, who although she had lived a great deal of her hard life in this unforgiving land, was sensitive and perceptive.  “Rose, my dear, why don’t you let the children stay with us a spell – well until you sort-a get –.”

Rose smiled in a faint, forgiving, understanding, yet empathetic way, and in her cool, gentle voice said, “Thank you.  But they’re my children, I’ll look after them.  It’ll be alright.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *