... years ago, I rode these prairies, with my bride so sweet and fair,
I remember, how it thrilled her,
Pretty bluebonnets blooming everywhere... *
The evening shadows were falling fast by the time Amos and Abigail finished their supper and made their way out to the cool of their veranda to enjoy the evening twilight.
"How many nights we've sit out here wondering where Emmett is, and what he's doing?" Abigail said, touching her husband's hand, as if to seek comfort and reassurance. "I still can hardly believe he'll be coming home to us next week for good."
Totally at ease with each other—as is often the case with people who have been married to each other for most of their lifetime—the two of them took their usual places.
However, this night was different. The two of them were filled with hope. They felt a comforting peaceful feeling watching the beautiful colors of the Sunset gradually fade into the darkness of night.
They sat together in silence watching the sun sink below the horizon. Darkness settled in across the Pecos River and extended its blue shadows deep into the lonely wilds of Mexico.
In the distance, they could hear the plaintive sound of that lonesome coyote, who had, over the years become like an extra soul mate to them. Each night he still called for his mate. His familiar lonesome cry even now was echoing out of some far off wild canyon in the distance.
Amos turned to the woman he loved. "Abigail, you know... , in spite of the fact he probably helps himself to one of our steers now and then—I just can't help hoping that old coyote out there in the wilds will someday be as lucky as you and I will be this time next week."
Smiling affectionately at her husband, she replied. "I feel the same way. Everyone deserves to have someone—even a coyote," she said, with a gentle laugh.
"Of course, we would probably miss that lonesome old sound of his," Amos said, gently, teasing her. "His howling has been keeping us company now, for more years than I care to remember."
"I wonder what Sarah will be like," Abigail said. "I just hope she's not going to be unhappy. You know, we're pretty isolated out here."
"Well, she shore is a healthy beautiful young woman," Amos said. "In that Tintype photo he sent us she looked mighty happy."
"Well, I don't think we have to worry. We've always been able to trust Emmett's good judgment. If she wasn't someone really special, Emmett wouldn't have married her," Abigail said.
For several moments they sat there silently—enjoying the peaceful quiet— broken only by the sound of the crickets and the occasional cooing of the doves down near the Pecos River.
"Oh, Amos," Abigail said, "I still can't believe after all these years, our boy is coming home. As for Sarah, if he loves her so much, how can we not love her too?" she said.
"You're right," he chuckled, "My favorite part of his letter was where he said he thought it was about time he settled down with a permanent Boss."
Abigail laughed. "Oh, how I've missed that boy's sense of humor. I'm sure when he and Sarah get here; they'll breathe new life into the old Circle X."
"It'll shore be nice to have a beautiful young woman like Sarah around the house," he said.
"Beautiful young woman? What am I?" Abigail said, pretending to pout.
"You're a beautiful older woman, darling, that I'm just as crazy about as the day I married you," Amos said, leaning over to kiss her cheek.
"I know, Amos," she said. "I know."
From the first day Sarah arrived at the Circle X ranch, she fell in love with ranch life, and the entire Lacey family.
Although she had been sad to leave her mother, and the rest of her family, back in San Francisco, she had never had one moment of regret that she had moved to West Texas with her new husband. It had been the culmination of a dream—to be back once again on the prairies she loved. I've missed all this, she thought.
As for Emmett, who she loved deeply—it was a strange wonderful feeling being married to the man she had first loved and adored as a little girl.
"Darling," Sarah asked, "Are you sure your mother and father will like me? I would just die if I found out they didn't like me for some reason."
"How can you even think that?" he replied. "You read their letter to us. They can hardly wait to meet you." Trying to make Sarah feel better, he laughed. "I know my mother's gonna love you—I've always secretly thought she would have preferred a daughter instead of a son anyway."
The morning they arrived in Five Forks, they found that his parents had thoughtfully brought two horses into town and had put them up at the local livery stable to provide them with transportation out to the Circle X Ranch.
Although still somewhat intimidated at the thought, that in a short while she would be meeting her husband's family—Sarah quickly forgot about that when Emmett had led the two horses out of the stable, saddled and ready to go.
"Looks like Dad picked out this little mare just for you," Emmett said, holding the horse by the bridle. "She's really gentle and seems to be very well trained."
Once they were clear of the Five Forks town limits, Sarah felt her heart almost burst with happiness. She was so thrilled and excited to be riding across the open prairies once again. She loved to feel the warm wind in her face. Leaning forward in her saddle she affectionately patted the neck of the little mare she was riding.
"Oh, Emmett, I didn't realize how much I've missed the wide open spaces until now."
"I knew you'd love West Texas—and that West Texas would just love you," he said, smiling at his beautiful wife. She is in seventh heaven being back astride a horse. My own little Texas Cowgirl, he thought, smiling to himself.
"Hey, quit wasting your affection on that darned horse," he said, laughing as he watched her leaning forward in the saddle patting the horse's neck fondly. "Save some of that affection for your poor husband," he teased.
"How much farther?" Sarah asked her voice filled with excitement and anticipation.
"About two more miles. We should be able to see the Circle X Ranch house in a few minutes. Boy! I'll bet my folks are going to be real excited when they see us come riding up.
A few minutes later, the happy couple saw a large group of riders in the distance galloping toward them.
"Emmett. Look. Who are they?"
"Well, whoever they are—I'm sure they're friendly," Emmett laughed. As the riders came closer, he felt his heart start to beat wildly in his chest. He could recognize his mother and father out in front of the other riders.
"Why, it's Mom and Dad and all their cowboys. Looks like they're all riding out to meet us," Emmett laughed, feeling himself excited at the thought of seeing his parents after so many years.
When the group of riders came abreast of Emmett and Sarah, they split. As Sarah watched, the two riders in front, an older couple, wheeled their horses around and got in stride with the two of them.
Riding alongside, the older woman leaned over her saddle and kissed Emmett. That must be his mother, Abigail," she thought.
Looking at the smiling older man, who was now riding alongside her, there was no doubt who he was. He was her husband, Emmett grown older. He has to be Amos, she thought happily.
"Welcome to West Texas," he said, "You must be Sarah—I recognize you from the tintype picture Emmett sent us."
"I would have known you anywhere. You're Emmett's father, Amos," Sarah said, laughing. "May I ask you something?" she said, merriment dancing in her brown eyes. "Is my husband going to be as handsome and distinguished looking as you when he's your age?"
Amos chuckled. "Lass, I knew I was going to like you," he said, laughing at her impertinent remark. "Welcome to the Circle X ranch."
Circle X Days...
Amid all the happy excitement of their arrival, the afternoon passed rather quickly. Sarah's head was reeling from all the excitement and the newness of her surroundings. She had been delighted when her new mother-in-law had invited her to join her in the kitchen. She's so much like my own mother, Sarah thought, as she watched Abigail preparing the evening meal.
"Isn't there something I can do to help," she had asked.
"Okay," Abigail had laughed. "You could set the table. Everything you will need, you'll find over there in the cupboard."
"Abigail... ," Sarah said, smiling at Emmett's mother. "What would you prefer I call you?"
"Well... ," Abigail said, smiling back at her, "Emmett calls me Mom. You might try that."
"I won't ask what I should call you. I shall call you Sarah. It's such a pretty name. Of course, when I introduce you, I hope you won't mind my introducing you as my daughter, Sarah."
"I'd be proud and honored," Sarah said, and meant it. I just love her, she thought.
Stepping over to her new daughter-in-law, Abigail embraced her warmly. "At last, I have a daughter. Sarah... , you're just what we need around here—another female," she laughed. "Welcome to the family."
Dinner finished Abigail said, "Let's get out of this hot kitchen and go join the men on the veranda where it's cool."
As she stepped out on the veranda, Sarah looked at the two men. Father and son, one just a younger version of the other. Looking at her husband's rugged face, somehow tonight it looked softer, gentler. He's so happy to be home," she thought, giving him a smile as she approached the two men.
"Sarah, honey, come sit here by me," Amos said, smiling up at her. "Emmett tells me you love the prairies. My cowboys and I are going to teach you to rope and to ride. We're going to make a real cowgirl out of you."
"Amos, maybe she doesn't want to become a real cowgirl," Abigail said, laughing at her husband's enthusiasm.
"Oh, Abigail... ," Sarah said, with a little laugh. "But I do. I really do... !"
"You know... , Sarah, "Abigail said, smiling at her new daughter-in-law, "you remind me of someone. I just can't think of who it is right now, but your face seems so familiar, somehow."
"Well," Emmett chimed in. "They say everyone has a double somewhere.
"Hon... ," Amos said, breaking the comfortable silence, "What do you hear?"
"Nothing," Abigail said, "I don't hear anything."
"Well, what do we usually hear this time of evening?" he prompted her.
"Oh, my goodness," Abigail explained. "We usually hear our old friend, the coyote, huh? Do you think he's found that mate he's been pining—for so many years?"
"I think it's a good sign. On the very day Sarah comes to us, our old friend the coyote gets lucky also."
"Maybe you're right, Amos. Perhaps it's a good omen," Abigail said, smiling at her husband.
The two couple's conversations continued to flow quietly as the evening sunset started to dip below the horizon.
"Well, tomorrow, son," Amos said, "You and I should take a ride across the ranch. It's much bigger now than when you left. There's been a lot of changes."
"I'd like that," Emmett said, smiling at his father.
"Sarah... ? Abigail said, "How would you like to take a ride over to my father's ranch, the Bar X tomorrow. I know he'll be dying to meet you. This way I can show you where I grew up," she said, smiling at her new daughter.
"Sure... ," Sarah said, "I can hardly wait. Emmett has told me so much about everyone. It should be fun to ride over there."
Bar X Ranch...
The next day dawned bright and clear. The two women were off early riding at a brisk pace. By ten o'clock that morning, they were riding through the ranch gates. Off in the distance, Sarah could see a large ranch house looming surrounded by a grove of trees.
As they rode up in front of the house, an older grey haired man stepped off the veranda and hurried out to meet them.
"What a wonderful surprise. And who is this good looking little filly you have with you?"
Both women laughed. "Daddy this is Sarah, your new granddaughter, Emmett's new wife. Sarah, this is my father, Emmett Herron."
"Wa'll, you gals get down and come in out of this hot sun. Gosh darn it, I don't have my 'specks' on. I can't see a thing without them," he grumbled.
Once they were inside the house, he went looking for his glasses. Abigail meanwhile introduced Sarah to Rosalie, the housemaid.
"Rosalie, I'm so happy to meet you. Emmett says when he was a boy, that you made the best cookies in West Texas."
"Yes, he always like cookies very much. When he little boy, I let him lick cookie bowl," she laughed, obviously pleased that he still remembered.
Just then, the Grandfather reentered the room. Putting his glasses on he said, "Now, let me have a look at my new granddaughter."
"Daddy, are you alright?" Abigail said, her face suddenly a mask of concern.
As Sarah turned to look over at the old man, she could see his face had suddenly turned ashen, he seemed to falter. Oh my God! He looks like he's about to faint.
"Yes... ," the old man stammered, his voice breaking up. Tears appeared at the edges of his eyes. "I'm alright."
"I'll be right back," he said, getting up and returning to his bedroom.
"Mom... , is he alright? I hope my coming wasn't too much of a shock," a concerned Sarah said.
Before Abigail could answer, the old man returned to the living room. He handed a large photo set in tintype to his daughter.
"Abigail, remember this picture of your mother, Emma?"
"Oh... , My... , God... !" Abigail gasped. "Now I know who you reminded me of," she said looking at Sarah. Silently she handed a puzzled Sarah the picture.
Looking back at Sarah from out of tintype was her own face. As if preordained, the lady looking back at her was also wearing bluebonnets in her hair.
On the way over to the Bar X, Sarah had insisted Abigail stop earlier that morning so she could pick some bluebonnets to wear in her own golden brown hair.
Stepping over to a Sarah, still in shock, the old man embraced her warmly. "You look so much like my Emma, for a moment there; I thought you were her resurrected from the dead. Can you forgive an old man his foolishness?"