From "All that Glitters"


"If you won't talk to me, Rosie, how can I say I'm sorry?"


Thomas Jennings scowled at his wife walking on the other side of the oxen team. He felt guilty enough. Did she have to rub it in? "Look at me. You haven't said a word since last night--"


She glared. "You hurt me! You did it deliberately."


"Aw, Rosie, not on purpose." Heat crept up the back of his neck. "I didn't mean to--"


"Well, you did!"


"I tried to make up this morning, you know that. But all you'd do is putter with those blasted pots and pans--"


She stopped, fists propped on her hips. "You want something to eat when we stop for the nooning, don't you?"


"Yes, but--"


"If I knew what you were going to do to me, I'd never have married you. Never! Not in a million years."


He flinched. "It's too late to cry over things you can't change." He ran his tongue over his bottom lip, then kicked at a clod of dirt. "It was my first time, too."


She peeked at him from under the brim of her poke bonnet. The blue and white gingham brought out the color of her eyes, more pure than the clear sky overhead. "You mean that?"


"Bridegrooms are supposed to know these things, but when I asked Pa...." He remembered how Pa had stammered and pulled on old Bessie's teats like a house a'fire, muttering something like "you'll find out, boy." When he'd asked his friends, they'd hoo-ha'ed and told him outlandish tales. Who ever heard of kissing a woman's breasts, her belly, or even more far-fetched, her, ah, down there?


Rosie's cheeks turned pink, as if she could read his thoughts. "Didn't your Pa tell you any more than Mama told me?"


"Guess we'll have to figure it out for ourselves."


Her mouth trembled. "I don't want you to do that to me again."


He'd tried to go slow, knowing she muffled her cries with the quilt, but once he'd figured out the hang of things, he couldn't stop. "It's what married folks do, Rosie."




"We'd have done it on our wedding night if you hadn't been? um? indisposed."


Rosie felt heat gush her cheeks. Even her neck felt hot. How could Thomas even mention her monthlies? She turned her back on him, facing the vast prairie surrounding them. Miles and miles of grassland, the emptiness broken only by otherwagon companies headed like themselves to Oregon.


She looked like she'd stand there forever. "C'mon," he urged. "Can't hold up the line."


"Go on, then. I'll catch up in a bit."


"Why don't you ride in the wagon, if you're tired?"


She whirled to glare at him. "Because all that jouncing around hurts my... me even more than walking!"


His throat tightened. "All right, then. Don't be long."


Roseanne stood still as the heavily laden wagon creaked past her. It had taken four men straining together to load the heavy barrels of foodstuffs for the store they intended to open. Next had come the farming implements, hardware, bolts of factory cloth, haberdashery needs, boxes of shoes and more. At the rear, where they could get at them easily, were the things they needed for everyday. There wasn't room for anything else, except for the small perch she'd kept for herself on the hard wooden seat.


Roseanne glared at Thomas's broad back. Being married wasn't what she'd thought it would be. She'd dreamed of entertaining first day company in the new little house their fathers had built them, sitting in the best parlor and showing off her gifts. Instead, they'd left the morning after the wedding. Now someone else would live in her house while she walked to Oregon! Thomas hadn't even asked if she wanted to go. He and Papa had sat at the kitchen table long after she'd finished the dishes, and even when she caught his eye, Thomas was more interested in talking about Oregon than being with her. Without telling her, he'd agreed to open a store there for Papa.


Roseanne bit her lower lip. "Mama," she whispered as moisture welled in her eyes. Mama had cried, too, when she and Thomas set out, though she'd tried not to let Papa see.


Falling to her knees, she closed her eyes, shutting out the sight of prairie grasses and wildflowers waving in a light breeze. I can't do this! She wrapped her arms around herself, holding close the memory of home. Only three days on the trail and months ahead of them before they got to Oregon. Then more months for a letter home to tell Papa where they'd settled, and then maybe even a year for Mama and Papa and her younger brothers to join them in Oregon. She hated that word! It was all she heard, day in and day out.

Oregon, Oregon, Oregon!


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