Driven in Love

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic


Abby just made the cut with cowboys trying out for the drive. Now she has to go home and tell her crippled pa and little sisters that she's going to pretend to be a man for the entire duration of
the drive so she can bring home money they so desperately need.

Chapter 1 (v.1) - The Separation

Submitted: January 21, 2019

Reads: 260

A A A | A A A

Submitted: January 21, 2019

A A A

A A A

Chapter One

The Separation

 

This was it!  Abigale took a deep breath and tapped the sides of her mount.  The bay sprinted down the hillside after the stampeding cattle. 

“See if ya kin cut out that one on the end!” a burly cowboy yelled. 

Abigale did as she was directed.  She’d personally trained her mount.  Thunder could sense her thoughts almost before she could. 

As Abigale looked at the big steer, the horse assessed her body position from atop of his back.  The two worked as one and quick as lightening, the steer was cut from the herd. 

When she returned, the big cowboy said, “That were pretty good, son!  What didja say yer name was?”

Using the lowest normal Cowboy-sounding voice she could, Abigale answered, “Lee Gale, sir.  If’n ya want to call me ‘Gale’, that is jus’ fine.”

“Gale it is.  Meet the group back here at daybreak.  Yer gonna need a bed roll, canteen, food, and clothes.  Ya might want a bandana to keep the dust away.  If’n ya have any rain gear, that would also be a good thing to pack up.  And ya know ta bring extre horses.  One horse’d get too tired.”  He paused.  “This is yer first cattle drive, I assume?  Yer too young to have otherwise.  It’s a tough road, son.”

“Thank ya, sir.  I knew it would be rough when I signed up.  Ya gotta do what ya gotta do to put food on the table.  I got some sisters back home that need food and clothes.  Ima all they’ve got.  Well, my pa ain’t no good.  He’s crippled.”

“Makes sense.  Jus’ so ya know, if’n ya got a gun, it ain’t a bad ider ta bring that along as well.  Some of them Missourians like ter shoot at us.  Welcome aboard.”

Abigale found her hand swallowed in the large cowboy’s meaty grasp.  He pumped her arm and released it suddenly.

“Thank ya.  I’ll be here bright and early.”

 

<><><><> 

 

“Papa, we don’t have any other choice!  Elizabeth and Catherine can’t go.  Ya can’t go.  I have to.”

“Abigale Leah Lewis!Now ya hear me!  I ain’t gonna be responsible fer your demise!  Ya go on that long cattle run, you’ll be killed.  Or worse!”

“Papa.  There ain’t no choice.We’re outta food, and we’re ta the point of havin’ to sell off everything if something ain’t done.  If Ima out earning money on the trial, ya could slaughter that hog and continue milking Bess and collectin’ a few eggs.  With one less mouth to feed, ya kin make it.  I’ll bring back all the money I don’t have ta have ta live on!”

“How didja ever get them to agree to let’n a woman ride on the trail?”

“Um, Pa.  I do what I do sometimes.  I dressed like a boy.”

“Ya cain’t keep that disguise up during all them nights on the cattle drive, Abby,” her father said in exasperation. 

“And why not?”

“Fer one thing, you’ll be gone months! Yur a purty girl, Abby.  How are ya gonna hide that pretty hair?  Ya cain’t sleep in a Stetson.”

“I may have ta cut it, Pa,” she answered simply.  “I kin knot it up and make it look a lot shorter, but that’s just too much work.  Some guys have longer hairstyles.  They think Ima young boy, so longer hair is more acceptable.  I kin pull it off.”

“How short are ya talkin’?”

“Shoulder length.”

“Abby, I love yer hair.”

“Pa, I’ve got ta do something ta be safe.  Yer reaching fer reasons not ta let ma go.”

“Ima tryin’ ta get ya ta see how dangerous it is!  Have ya thought about how yer gonna clean up?  Men just strip in front a each other.”

“I either won’t bathe or I’ll sneak away in the night ta clean up.”

“Abby,” he pleaded, “How am I ta manage without you?”  Her Pa’s blue eyes watered up. 

“Papa I know ya cain’t do what a normal person can, but ya kin do a lot.  Ya just do it a little slower.  Catherine and Elizabeth kin pick up the slack.  They’re more than old enough ta help more.  Ya just relied on me ta do it all.”

Abby’s father hung his head.

“Aw, Pa.  I didn’t mean no disrespect.  I love ya and am happy to help in any and all ways I kin.  I just cain’t assist in the same way as I have been.  It’ll be good fer ma sisters.  Thur ten and twelve now.  I’ll still be a help’n by bringin’ home money.”

“Honey, ya don’t understand what yur gonna do!  It’s dangerous.  Injuns are still around.  People shoot the cattle on the trial and whoever is with ‘em.  Ya know how this place works, but ya ain’t experienced in the ways of the world… and the ways a men.  On down days, they’ll be whisky’n and whore’n.  What ya gonna do then?”  Pa implored her, anxiety chiseled in his features. 

“Pa.  We. Have. No. Choice.  I ain’t really want ta do this neither.  Ima kinda scared ta go, but we’ll hafta eat all of our livestock and then we’ll be in the same boat.  If we eat everything, what’ll we do then?  I’d rather do this now and salvage what we kin.  Ima doing it fer ya and fer ma sisters.”

“What if’n we never see ya again?”

“Papa, ya will.  I swear I’ll come back.  It ain’t gonna be like it was when ya were hurt.  Ima gonna be chasing a whole herd, not just messing with mean ole’ bulls!”

“Oh, Abby.  I know ya need ta fer us.  I just don’t want ya to.  What if’n ya never come back?  I just can’t take losing more family.”

Abby approached her father and wrapped her arms around him.  He sniffed a few times and hugged her desperately back. 

Her father continued, “If’n ya made up yer mind ta go, then take the two steers we have out there.  Get what ya kin fer ‘em.  We’ve gotta few cows left ta calve.  And take ma revolver. I got ma rifle Ima keep here.  I cain’t just send ya without some form a protection.”

“Pa, I hate ta ask this, but Ima also need one or two extre horses as well.”

“I got the ox.  Just take them othern two horses.”

“Papa.  Ima so sorry.  If there was another way…”

“I knowed.  Yur right.  It must be done.  But ya protect yourself.  Those cowboys kin be rough.”

“Okay, Papa.  I know how ta shoot a gun, lasso a cow, cut a steer, and take care of myself.”

“Ima sorry fer that, too.  Ya shoulda been a boy, and I raised ya as one.  That was a mistake.”

“Why do ya say that?”  Abigale was too concerned over her father to be insulted.

“Because if’n Ida raised ya like a girl, ya wouldn’t feel like ya had to leave now.”

Abby hugged her father again, tightly, and that is how Catherine and Elizabeth found them when they walked in the door.

 

<><><><> 

 

“Whatsa goin’ on, Pa?” Elizabeth asked, her crystal clear blue eyes wide with wonder.  Her gold ringlets bounced with natural body as she softly closed the cabin door.

“Is everything alright?” seconded a brown-haired blue-eyes Catherine.  Her irises were just as sky-blue, but her hair was soft waves of the ocean soothing the beach of her back on a calm day. 

Their older sister countered, “How was school today?”

Both froze and stared. 

“It.. was… fine.  Yur a scaring me,” Catherine declared; she was a little bolder than her blonde sister due to having experienced a couple more years of life.

“Let’s talk about it after supper,” their father said.  “Now ya girls get started on yur homework while yur sister and I start dinner.”

“Yes, Pa,” they stated in unison.

 

<><><><> 

 

Dinner was eaten in silence.  The heavy curtain of dread silenced conversation.  Anxiety permeated the home and was pressure that choked everyone up.  Finally, Pa pushed his chair back from the table. 

“Ima really going to miss these fresh-baked rolls, Abby.”  His half-eaten biscuit was shiny with fresh butter.

“I kin make rolls almost as good as her!” Catherine stated indignantly before the meaning of the statement really sank in. 

“What do ya mean, Pa?” asked Elizabeth.  “She kin make more bread anytime!”

“Catherine and Elizabeth.  I need ya to be big girls, Okay?  I need ya to cut my hair,” Abby informed her siblings.

Both girls gasped.  “Ya want me to… cut your hair?” Catherine stammered.

“But it’s so pretty!” Elizabeth exclaimed.

“It’s got to go.  I need it shoulder length.”

Elizabeth’s eyes started to well.

Papa said, “Come on over here, Liz. Sit on papa’s lap.”  He turned to Catherine and addressed her.  “Cat, kin ya step up and be the big girl?  Your sister is going to have to leave us fer a while.  She’s gonna work cattle fer a few months to help out our money situation.”

“And they’re making her cut her hair to work cows?” Elizabeth asked, eyes still watery.  A fat tear slipped out of her eye and trailed slowly down her rosy cheek.

“I got to look like a boy,” Abigale confided.  “Ima sure they wouldn’t let me go if’n they knew I was a woman.”

“What if they find out, Abby?” Catherine’s mouth was nearly an O-shape.  “What’ll they do to you?”

“Ima not sure.  The worse they could do would be to fire me.  But that ain’t gonna happen.”  Papa shot her a worried look that escaped her sisters. 

“We don’t want ya to go!” wailed Elizabeth. 

Papa shushed her and said, “Ain’t a one of us that wants her to go, baby.  What’s gotta be done has gotta be done.  We ain’t got no choice.”

<><><><> 

 

“This has got to be a sin,” Catherine wailed as she chopped more than a foot from her sister’s bronzed auburn hair.  Its gleaming radiance spiraled to the floor like a graceful ballerina pirouetting.

“Just… cut it,” Abigale grumbled through gritted teeth.  Her hair was her pride and joy, but the labor of love was necessary. 

“You’re still beautiful,” Elizabeth stated.  “Your green eyes still look pretty with your hair.  And now your hair is flu-ffy!”

“Grreeat…” she muttered.

“You’ll hafta braid your hair, probably.  The curls have come back.  There ain’t gonna be no controlling them,” Pa stated matter-of-factly.  “That’s a definite give-away.”

Green eyes flashed in response, but what else could Abigale do but take his advice. 

“Yes, Papa.”

“After ya clean up that mess, tuck your sister in and pack up.  I want to spend time with ya before ya leave.”

“Yes sir.”  Abigale gave him a soft smile as she did his bidding.

 

 


© Copyright 2020 Sheri Chapman. All rights reserved.

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