A Chapter by jstricko

Matilda went up to her room and removed her hat.  The tub had been brought in and this time Steve had also brought a privacy screen.  Matilda wondered why she would need a privacy screen.  The last time she bathed Steve and Sam left the room to allow Stella to help her with her bath.  "Surely Steve and Sam weren't going to stay in the room.” she thought to herself.

George returned to the Whayberry to find Sam waiting for him with a room key.  "Mom said to tell you to sign in at the guest register and to go up to room 3.” Sam said.  "Ok", George replied and added, "This rain is needed, but do we have to get a whole year’s worth in one storm?"  Sam just shrugged his shoulders and said, "Beggars can't be choosers."  George knocked the rain off his hat and chuckled at the comment.

Sam walked up the stairs with George and showed him to room 3.  "I'm supposed to tell you not to get undressed yet.” Sam said.  George was a little surprised by this and asked why.  Sam said, "I 'dunno." and he walked away.

George was drenched and really wanted to get off his wet clothes.  He also knew Stella well enough not to purposely make her mad.  He went into his room and took off his boots, socks, belt and hat.  He figured he was still descent for whatever Stella had in mind.

Steve, Stella and Sam all showed up at Matilda's room carrying buckets of steaming, hot water for the bath.  Stella said something to Steve and Steve and Sam left.  Stella went right to work getting Matilda undressed and into the tub.  A soft knock at the door made Matilda's eyes widen.  She looked at Stella with shock and panic.  "Relax dear, it's just Steve with Mr. Robinson.", Stella said.

The words Stella spoke did nothing to inspire confidence and calm in Matilda.  "That's why you have a privacy screen.” Stella said.  George needs a warm bath too and it's not like we can carry the tub around full of water.” Stella added with gesticulation to emphasize the obvious.

Of course, Stella was right.  Matilda realized the necessity of the situation and regained her composure.  Steve left George to find a seat in the room to await his turn to bathe.  Stella, in a little louder voice than normal said, "George you just sit down and get comfortable we will be done here in just a little bit."  "No hurry.” George replied.

Matilda's bath seemed short.  She just wanted to put clothes on.  Stella helped her wash the mud out of her hair and off of her face.  Matilda pulled her night gown over her head and came out from behind the privacy screen.  George saw her wet hair and simple cotton nightgown and smiled at Matilda.  "You look good.” he said to her.  Matilda blushed and shooed him off behind the privacy screen for his bath.  George told Stella he would be fine on his own.  Stella said she would take the dirty clothes down to wash them.  Stella glanced at Matilda to see if she would be ok if she left the room.  Matilda feeling much more herself now that she had clothing on assured Stella she was fine.  "You behave!” She warned George before leaving.

Matilda sat at her dressing table brushing her hair and humming.  George listened intently trying to determine the tune.  Frustrated that he was unable to identify it he finally asked her what it was called.  "It's a lullaby my mother used to sing.  It's called, "All Through the Night.", Matilda said.  She began singing,               

"Guardian Angels God will send thee,

all through the night. 

Soft the drowsy hours are creeping,

hill and vale in slumber sleeping,

I am loving vigil keeping,

all through the night."

George was struck by the beauty of her voice.  "That was really very lovely.” he said.  "Thank you", Matilda replied.  "My mother would always sing that to us at bed time.  It is an old Welsh folk-song.", she said.

Matilda had finished brushing her long, red hair and was braiding it when George came out from behind the privacy screen with a towel wrapped around his bottom half.  Matilda could see his reflection in the dressing table mirror and turned around abruptly.  She looked at his sculpted abdominal muscles and bulging biceps and leg muscles.  She wasn't sure of his plan as he came toward her across the room.

George looked a little uncomfortable with this predicament.  "Pardon me.", he said and went out the door and into room 3.  Matilda began to laugh as she realized he must have been stuck behind the privacy screen trying to figure out how to get to his room for a while.         Sam knocked on George’s door and said, "Mom said to tell you she'll get your clothes washed up for you as quickly as she can."  "Thank you", came the muffled reply.

The Whayberry Inn was always acquiring clothing items that had been left behind by travelers.  Steve loaned George some clothes to wear until his where once again available.  Steve and George knocked on Matilda's door to retrieve the tub.  Once Matilda had shut the door and the two men were alone, Steve asked, "So, how are things going between you and Matilda?”  George smiled and said, "Well, I like her a lot and I think she has taken a liking to me too." George said with a smile. The two men made quick business of clearing the tub out and putting it away.  Stella walked up on the two men having heard their conversation.  "I am so glad.  Should I see if the minister would like to come to dinner?” Stella asked in an excited tone.  "Stella!” Steve snapped.  "Oh, that's all right.” said George.  "I am sure the minister would like one of Stella's fine cooked meals.” George added.

Stella was very happy at the thought of possible nuptials in the near future.  "I'll run get him.” Stella said with a child-like excitement.  Steve smiled and shook his head.  Steve and George had finished securing the tub and Steve stood up and moaned about his back hurting.  "Maybe you should hire some help.” George said looking at Steve with concern.  "I might.” Steve said with a reflective expression.

Steve stopped by Matilda's door and knocked.  Matilda poked her head out of the door saying, "Yes?"  "Good evening, Miss Matilda.", said Steve.  "How can I help you?” asked Matilda.  "Just thought I'd let you know we will be having an additional guest for dinner.” Steve said.  "Oh, I completely forgot about dinner.  I'll get ready and be down shortly", she said with a slightly embarrassed smile.

The rain was alternating coming down in steady moderate sheets and then in pounding buckets.  The roads were a river of mud.  Stella made it to the minister's home between bursts of heavy rain.  The minister answered the door and looked at Stella a little surprised.  "Hello Stella.  Is everything alright?” he asked.  "Oh, yes.  Yes indeed!” Stella said.  The minister opened the door for Stella to come in out of the rain.

"So, what are you all fired-up about?” the minister said while motioning for Stella to take a chair.  Stella conveyed the story of George Robinson and his soon-to-be mail-order bride, Matilda.  "We would like you to come to dinner this evening and if everything goes well, perhaps perform a marriage ceremony.” Stella said glowing with excitement.  "I'd love to.” said the minister.  Stella accompanied by the minister walked back to the Whayberry.

Matilda put on a gown and pinned her braid up into a bun.  She pinched her cheeks and bit her lips and surveyed her appearance in the dressing table mirror.  Freshened by her bath she decided she looked presentable.

George came out of his room just as Matilda was coming out of hers.  "Ma’am", he said offering her his arm to escort her down to dinner.  Together they descended the stairs.

Sam was setting the table for three.  There were four men at a table in the corner playing poker.  Stella and the minister came bustling in out of the rain.  "Who is that with Stella?” Matilda asked George.  "That would be the minister.” said George.  Matilda froze in her tracks.  George turned Matilda to face him a took booth of her hands into his.  "Matilda, I am very fond of you and would like to marry you as soon as possible.  The minister is hoping to perform the ceremony this evening.  I would like for you to meet him and be at ease.” George said.

Matilda was glad George was being so considerate of her feelings.  "I guess I do need to get on with this if I am going to do what I came here to do.  Do you think until I am a little more comfortable with you I could have my own room at the ranch?” she asked.  George was so happy to hear this.  "Anything you would like.” George said with a large smile and kissed her hands.  He helped her into her chair and went over to the minister who was removing his overcoat and hanging up his umbrella.

"Hello George.” the minister said.  "Good evening minister.” said George.  "She is a lovely girl.” the minister said.  "Thank you.” said George.  "I think after dinner we are going to be in need of your services.” George continued.  "Well, let's meet her!” the minister said as he slapped George on the back.

© 2012 jstricko

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Added on July 28, 2012
Last Updated on August 7, 2012
Tags: mail order, bride, west, love, honor, ranch, survival, rain, bath, minister



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