It was decided that Jesse and Danny would ride out to discover numbers and the rest of the men would make plans for the Yanks. Jesse and Danny would leave first thing in the morning. Jeff wanted to
go but Jesse insisted he stay behind and keep Lucy company.
Jeff wasn't too put up with that idea. He and Lucy had barely had time to constimate their marriage. He treasured his time alone with his new bride. Besides, Jeff's strategies would come in handy for planning for the Yanks.
As Jesse and Jeff left the church, a hand caught Jesse's arm. “Mister Thomas. I'm coming with you and Danny.” Jenny said.
Jesse turned and faced her abruptly. “No.” he repeated. “You go home and help find supplies for the men. You're needed here for support.”
“I'm going and you can't stop me.” she snapped.
“Wanna bet?” he asked.
Jeff put a hand on Jesse's arm. “Easy Jesse. Jenny, why don't you come over for dinner and we can discuss this civil and like adults. I'd like to get Jesse's gun away from him before he loses his temper.”
“Yes sir. That sounds like a fine idea.” Jenny replied. “I'll follow you there on my horse.”
Jesse watched with a grimace on his face as Jenny walked over to her horse and swung up into the saddle with ease. “She's not going.” Jesse snapped.
“I know.” Jeff replied. “But let's try to talk her out of it gently so she doesn't try to follow you.”
“I've never met such a stubborn woman in my life.” Jesse growled. “She needs to learn a woman's place in this world.”
Jeff laughed. “Oh c'mon, Jesse. You know you wouldn't like her if she was like every other woman.”
“I think you've got it backwards, Jeff.” he said and climbed into their wagon.
The clicking of Jenny's horse's hooves against the ground unnerved Jesse. He didn't know why but knowing she was behind them irritated and excited him at the same time. As they reached their new home Jesse hopped out of the wagon and waited for Jenny. Trying to remember his manners after snapping at her. He grabbed her by her hips and helped her down from her horse.
“Jeff, go ahead and take Jenny inside and I'll put the horses away.” he said and tipped his hat to Jenny.
Jeff held out his arm for Jenny and she looped hers through his and let him lead her inside. Jesse put the horses away, washed up, and went inside the house. Lucy smiled at him. “Ah, you're just in time for prayers. Would you like to do the honors Jesse?”
“How about our guest does the honors?” Jesse asked.
“Do you mind Jenny?” Lucy asked.
“Not at all Mrs. Campbell.”
“Oh, call me Lucy dear.”
They all sat down and bowed their heads. “Dear Lord. Please keep the town safe when the Yanks come to visit us in a few days. Let our guns be steady and well fired. Have our men be brave. And please give Danny, Jesse, and I courage and protection when we ride out tomorrow to spy on the Yanks.” Jesse looked up and glared at her. “Amen.”
“I said you're not going dammit and I'll hear no more of this nonsense. You're a girl and you will stay home where you belong. And if I think you're going to follow us like and ignorant woman would do then I swear I'll hand you over to the Yanks myself. Just so we can make the process shorter.” Jesse snapped. “I don't like to baby-sit and I don't intend on starting.”
“You need me.” she replied. “I can do what you can't to get information out of men.”
“What would that be?” he growled.
“A woman's duty. That would be showing them a good time in bed.”
“I'll be damned before that happens. Now the whole town is looking to me to watch out for you-”
“You just said you'd throw me to the Yanks.” she reminded.
“Dammit! You're not going and I don't want to hear another damn word about this! You understand me girl?”
“Mr. Thomas, I'd suggest you control that temper of yours. It's quite ugly.” Jenny murmured.
“Sit down Jesse and eat your dinner.” Lucy said calmly. “You have to quit getting so worked up all the time. It's unhealthy.”
“Sorry Lucy.” he replied and sat down slowly. He glared at Jenny as she placed a fork full of greens in her mouth.
“This is wonderful, Lucy.” she complimented. She bit into the corn bread and chewed. After she swallowed she added, “Maybe we could bring some of this corn bread on the trip.”
Jesse stabbed at his food with a fork and gritted his teeth. It was silent for a moment until she said, “I can't wait to see the look on those Yank's faces when we shoot 'em down.”
“You'll be at home where it's safe.” Jesse replied, his voice was one long growl.
“I'll fight.” Jenny replied.
Jesse glared at her again. “I ain't afraid to take you around the side of the barn and whip you girl. You're acting like a child and you'll be treated as one around here.”
“This ain't your property, boy.” she snapped. “This is Mr. Campbell's land. I think it's up to him how things run around here.”
Jeff nodded. “Thank you Jenny for making that clear. But Jesse is right. You're too young to fight. I know you want revenge on your family, but in the Bible God does say vengeance is his own.
And Jesse was right about our rules. You act like a child and you'll be treated as one. Guest or not. I know it sounds rude and that's why I'm giving you a warning. You are welcome to leave. But I won't stop Jesse from giving you a whipping if you deserve one while you're on this land.”
Jenny looked at Jeff, measuring his patience then swallowed her corn. “Then I suppose I should be on my way.” she said and stood.
“Wait!” Lucy said. “Before you go home I need you to take some corn bread and jam off my hands. I've done made enough for an entire army. Wont you help me?”
Lucy began to stand.
“Ladies,” Jeff sighed. “Why don't you finish your dinner? It will only take a few moments and that way you don't have to come back to a cold dinner.”
“That sounds like a good idea Jeff.” Lucy said and sat down.
“If it's all the same Mr. Campbell, I think I should be going. There's always work to be done and I've wasted enough of my night. I'll take the jam and bread off your hands tomorrow Lucy.”
“I'll escort you home.” Jesse said and stood.
Jenny nodded and looked at Lucy and Jeff then smiled. “It was nice meeting the two of you.”
Lucy stood and hugged her. “As well, Jenny. I hope to see you again soon.”
“As well.” Jenny replied.
Jesse rode beside Jenny, carrying the basket Lucy had hastily put together before they left. It was silent between the two of them.
Jenny sighed. “This weather has been dry. My crops are failing. I've tried irrigating them but it's a lot of work and I think it's going to be a long, penniless year ahead.” she explained.
“It's a lot of work for one person.” Jesse agreed. “We'd be happy to help you out any time you need it.”
Like any stubborn, self independent person would, Jenny stuck her chin in the air and replied, “I think I'll do alright on my own thank you.”
Jesse shook his head. “You are one stubborn woman aren't you?”
“I have to be.” she replied. “I'd like to hire some women to come stay and help me farm, but there aren't any near by and I don't really have the money. And of course I can't hire men on. The rumors that would go around I can only imagine. I don't usually care what people say about me but I do have my pride.”
Jesse was thoughtful. “Well, I think I do have a solution to your problem.” he said.
“What would that be?” she asked. “You got a magic wand on you?”
“No ma'am, but I got two hands. Now the thing is, you live a little ways off from us. It would be a long ride to make every day. But then the rumors about me coming over with you and being alone would affect your pride, am I right?”
“Yes. I'm not seeing your solution.” she murmured.
“Well, you need someone to help you farm, and Jeff and Lucy want to be on their own, though they'd never admit it. I say we get married. That way no one can gossip about your womanhood.”
Jenny snorted. “Why would I marry the likes of you?” she asked.
He huffed out a breath. “I just told ya why. I'm not sayin' we're gonna sleep together and such. Just get married for a while until I move on to Tennessee.”
She was quiet for a long moment. “I see. Though I hate to admit it, it makes sense and I need the help. But what if the Yanks take over the town?” she asked.
Jesse looked at her. “You really believe they will?”
“No, I suppose not. But with all the chaos that will be going on when do you propose we get married?”
“Well, I reckon it's about seven ain't it?”
“About.” she replied.
“We're not far from the house. I say we head back, tell Lucy and Jeff our plans, and have them ride into town with us to be witnesses. We'll get married tonight then handle everything else. If we get the ceremony out of the way we can worry about other stuff instead. It just makes sense.”
“I suppose it does.” she replied. “It sounds alright to me. Let's be going then.”
They turned the horses around and headed back to the house.
Jeff was sitting on the porch when they returned, smoking a pipe. “Jenny, did you forget something?” He asked.
© Copyright 2017 Cherie Arlavine . All rights reserved.
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