... 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.
.... There is more of this story ...