I don't own anything. Well, except Elizabeth and her family.
It was about lunchtime when Mark Evans came riding into the yard. I'd heard a little of what had happened in town the day before, so when he came instead of Will to tell us, I knew something was wrong.
"Mark Evans, what brings you here?" my sister, Rachel, asked as soon as he dismounted from his horse.
"Well, Ma needs a cup of flour and Will asked me to bring a message to Elizabeth," Mark replied, tying up his horse.
"A message? Why didn't Will come to tell me himself?" I was dreading the response.
"Well, I reckon he would if he was still here."
"Still here? Where'd he go?" Rachel asked before I could respond.
"He went after Pa. Said he could ride and shoot better than all the men who left with him, so he had a right to go too."
"Where'd your pa go?" I asked, even though I'd already heard about Ben Wade in town.
"I'm not sure, but Ma said Pa had to take Ben Wade to Contention to catch the train. I also overheard them talking about how Pa might not come back, so he wanted Will to stay and take care of Ma and me," Mark explained, before going into a coughing attack.
"Come on," I said, leading him toward the house. "Let's go inside. I'll get the flour your Ma needs and you can tell me Will's message." Rachel gave me this look as if to say, 'you better come back out here because I'm not finishing these chores alone'.
"Don't worry, I'll be right back, Rachel."
As Mark and I came into the house, I lead him to the kitchen and I sat him down on one of the dinning room chairs. I went and got the flour and an extra jar, then came back to the table to talk to Mark while I measured out his flour.
"One cup right?" He nodded.
"I'll give you a little more just in case. So what's the message?"
"He said, 'Don't pay any heed to Charlie McDonald. He's not worth it and you deserve better.' I'm not sure what he meant, but he said you'd know," Mark told me, looking puzzled and apologetic as if he was sorry he couldn't answer any questions I had.
"Don't worry, I know what he means. He's crazy, but I know what he means. My question is though, why didn't he tell me himself?"
"He left, I don't know why he didn't tell you sooner though, he's been mumbling to himself about this for almost two weeks."
"Hmm…okay, thanks. Well, here's the flour," I said, handing him the jar. "And when, well, if he comes back, ask him to come see me as soon as possible."
"Sure, thanks, Elizabeth. By the way, where is everyone?"
"Well, Ma and Susan are in town getting supplies and food and John and Pa are out with the cattle."
"Oh, Ma wanted me to thank your Ma for the flour and to tell John 'Happy Birthday'. Will you pass on the messages for me?"
"Of course, bye Mark and thanks for the message."
"You're welcome. Bye Elizabeth," he said, heading back out to his horse.
As I was putting the flour away I heard him say good-bye to Rachel and then Rachel's pounding footsteps coming up the porch, into the house.
"So, what was the message?" Rachel asked, sitting at the table and looking at me expectantly.
"Not that its any of your business, but he said Charlie McDonald was no good and not worth the time of day," I said, importantly.
"Oh, what does he know, he's only fourteen. And so are you, you're way too young for Charlie."
"I'm not interested in Charlie. Will only thinks I am because of the errands you keep sending me on to find information about him."
"Did you tell Mark that, because if you did…"
"No, Rachel, your secret's safe with me," I interrupted. "I would never betray a sister of mine. That would be wrong."
She looked at me for a long, hard while before saying, "Fine, I believe you. Now help me finish the chores before Ma and Pa return."
William Evans and I have been best friends for years, ever since his family moved here because of Mark's tuberculosis. Well, John and me have been his best friends, at least since Richard died. Richard is, well, was my twin. When we were three, Richard was diagnosed with TB, and like the Evans, the doctor told my parents that the warm, dry climate of Arizona would help him live, at least for a while.
When Will moved in to the ranch next to ours, him, Richard and I became instant best friends, we told each other everything. Even our parents became great friends like we did, and Mark became the little brother I never had.
Richard was doing so much better and everything seemed to be going so well. Life was good. Then one night in late November, Richard had a major coughing attack and suddenly his health went down hill. Within three months, he was gone. Since he was my twin, I think I had the hardest time dealing with the loss of him, and Will was always there when I needed him.
Ma and Pa were real distraught over the whole thing, so having Will was a gift from God to help me through it. I'm the fourth child out of five, so being a middle child got me lost in translation a little with the rest of the town, even though he was my twin. I guess Will was so nice to me because he was afraid of it happening to Mark and knew I felt so bad, but it did kind of make us closer. John and I also became close after Richard's death and that's probably why he and Will became close too.
John is the oldest of us kids at seventeen years old. Then there's Rachel who is sixteen, but she acts like she's thirty and the queen of the world. We fight a lot because she uses me to get boys to notice her. She can't wait to get married, settle down and have a lot of kids. Right now, she's in love with Charlie McDonald, or so she tells me. She recruited me to find information about Charlie so that's probably why Will thinks I am interested in him. I almost laughed when Mark told me Will's message because Charlie is five years older than me and I have no interest in marriage, at least for now.
Next is Richard and I, twins, but he was born five minutes before me. No one thought that we would all make it out all right, but Ma, Richard and I all stayed alive and well. Richard was the family favorite, everyone knew. He was an all around great person, didn't even complain about the chores or work Pa made him do. He would have done big things, changed the world. He wanted to build buildings and bridges, and he would have been great at it, but I guess God had different plans for him.
Susan is the youngest, born a year after Richard and I. Let's just say I don't think she was planned, but she and Rachel are Ma's favorite, perfect little darling girls. They always obey our parents and sit quietly reading or sewing, the poster children of perfect daughters. Me, on the other hand, I like helping with the cattle and horses, running around getting dirty, but Ma likes to try and force me into a way of life I don't like. She wants me to marry as soon as possible, I guess so that she can make me someone else's problem.
I'm worried about Will. He has a tendency to run headfirst into problems and situations that get him into trouble. I really hope he and Mr. Evans come back safely, I know how painful losing someone is, and losing two would be horrible. He's a little rough around the edges, but Mr. Evans is like my second Pa and Mrs. Evans, my second Ma because of how much time I spend over at their house. I think I see and tell them more than I do my own parents. I'll go and help Mrs. Evans while her two men are away, at least to help Mark with the cattle. I'll ask Ma when she gets home tonight.
Will cared enough to tell me to stop thinking on Charlie McDonald because he's bad news. Everyone knows he is lazy and mean to kids. Its real sweet that Will's looking after me with Richard gone and John so focused on his education. Will also said that I deserve better, which could mean that he…No, he's my best friend, he can't think that way about me. Well, thinking back on the message Mark brought me from Will, I knew one thing was certain. I am in love with William Evans.