* Thanks to those to take the time to read and review, it is greatly appreciated! I hope you enjoy this story! :-)
"There he is Shanda Dee, isn't he handsome?!" Lizzie said to her friend in a breathy voice.
"Completely!" agreed Shanda Dee.
The two girls stood by the schoolhouse, books in hand, gazing at a boy across the yard. This wasn't your run of the mill boy. According to the majority of the female population at school, Travis Cahill was the end all. Standing five feet eleven inches tall with dirty blond hair and brown eyes, sixteen year old Travis was the current teenage heartthrob. Besides his good looks, the girls admired him for his athletic ability and gentlemanly behaviour. In the short time he had been in Virginia City, Travis had shown to be a formidable opponent in the sporting activities him and the other boys played. His speed and endurance was believed to have been attributed to all the manual labour he did at home.
Travis' father had purchased the old Taylor place four months ago. Mr. Joshua Cahill had over two hundred head of cattle; not nearly the amount of the Ponderosa, but still an impressive herd. Travis and his older brother Patrick were sporadic school attendees, their mother, June, was the only reason they attended at all. She wanted her boys to have an education so they could contribute more to the world than livestock. Joshua, however, had other plans for his sons and they did not include wasting valuable work hours sitting at a desk reading and writing. Patrick and Travis had already missed five weeks of school due to their father's need of assistance on the ranch. Trying to keep his costs low and profits high, Mr. Cahill had only hired one ranch hand and school or no school; his sons were expected to pick up the slack.
As for gentlemanly behaviour, any minor act of kindness on Travis' part did not go unnoticed by the girls.
"Did you see what happened with Sally Quinn?" Shanda Dee asked Lizzie.
"No, what happened?"
"Well, you know how much of a bookworm Sally is..."
"She reads much more than I do, and that's saying a lot," Lizzie cut in.
"Anyways," Shanda Dee continued, "Bookworm Sally was toting a bunch of books and tripped, dropping them all in the dirt. Well, Lyndon and Wiley just walked by and laughed, but Travis rushed over and helped her up then picked up all the books."
"How wonderfully gallant of him," crooned Lizzie.
"Completely," agreed Shanda Dee.
"Do you suppose he will be just as gallant at the dance Saturday?" asked Lizzie.
"How could he be anything but?"
"So true; it was wrong of me to think otherwise."
"Completely," Shanda Dee scolded.
Miss Miller came out of the schoolhouse ringing a large hand bell signalling the start of class. Being so close to the school's entrance, Lizzie and Shanda Dee were the first to go inside.
"Oh blast!" Lizzie exclaimed. "I forgot my lunch pail outside."
"Well hurry and go get it," Shanda Dee told her, "you don't want Miss Miller marking you tardy do you?"
Lizzie made her way through the crowd of children in the foyer and out the door. Running to the side of the building where the pail was left, Lizzie found that it was nowhere in sight. After searching around for a minute she heard a voice behind her.
"Looking for this?"
Lizzie spun around to find Travis standing there holding her lunch pail. "Oh hello, Travis," she blushed, "yes, seems that I forgot my lunch pail."
"I know," said Travis, stating the obvious. "I thought I'd bring it inside for you, but since you're here... well here you are." Travis handed her the pail, giving her a big smile.
Lizzie almost gasped when his hand lightly brushed against hers as Travis handed back her lunch pail. "Thank you, Travis. That was awfully kind of you."
"Weren't nothin'; any fella woulda done the same," he shrugged.
"No other boy at school would, not even my brothers," she fibbed.
Travis just smiled. "So is your family going to the fair on Saturday?"
"Oh yes, we can't wait! My pa and uncles are entering the timber competitions and some of the rodeo events, and my ma and aunts all have baked goods and preserves they're entering. My sisters and I finished a lovely patchwork quilt that we're putting in the sewing contest." Shut up, Lizzie! She thought you're talking too much. Quick ask him something. "So, is your family going?"
"Yep, Pat and me are in the calf roping event."
"Wow, you must be very good! I was told it's hard to qualify."
"We can hold our own," Travis admitted proudly.
Lizzie was drinking in every word he spoke. Could a boy be more perfect?
"Well, Lizzie, me and you better get inside 'fore Miss Miller thinks we've run off together," he smoothly suggested.
Lizzie couldn't help but giggle as they walked towards the front door of the school.
"Um... Travis," Lizzie began nervously. "Are you going to the Spring Social at the town hall?"
"Sure, isn't everyone?" Travis said.
"Yes, of course, silly me. I just thought you might have chores to do on your family's ranch is all."
"Naw, Pa's pretty strict about us getting our chores done, but he still lets us have fun once in a while, 'specially if Ma has her say."
"Good. It won't be a fun dance without you Travis," Lizzie said.
"That's nice of ya to say," grinned Travis, touching the top of her shoulder as they entered the school. "Make sure ya save me a dance then, girlie," he said leaving the school's front foyer for the main room.
"I will," Lizzie sighed, watching him walk away. She hung up her coat and pail on a nearby hook then quickly snuck into the classroom as the teacher began to write the day's arithmetic questions on the board. As Travis' seat was at the back of the room with the older students, he was able to enter undetected. Lizzie, however, was not as fortunate.
"Elizabeth Cartwright, you're late," Miss Miller chided, seeing the girl come in out of the corner of her eye.
"Yes ma'am, I'm sorry it won't happen again," she apologized then took her seat next to Shanda Dee.
"See that it doesn't young lady. Now hurry and copy down your grade's equation problems," ordered the teacher then continued her work on the blackboard.
"What on earth took you so long?" whispered Shanda Dee.
"I was having a conversation," she whispered back.
Lizzie nodded her head smiling like a Cheshire cat.
"Tell me everything!" Shanda Dee demanded in a hushed voice.
"I'll give you the details at lunch," Lizzie muttered cautiously seeing the teacher glare in their direction.
"I can't wait that long! You have to tell me something!" she whispered when Miss Miller's back was turned again.
Lizzie just shook her head with an enormous grin on her face. Frustrated with her friend's unwillingness to share information, Shanda Dee kicked Lizzie under their desk.
"Ow!" yelped Lizzie, making the class cease their work and look at her, including Miss Miller.
"Is there a problem, Miss Cartwright?" asked the now irritated teacher.
"No ma'am, I just stubbed my toe, sorry."
Miss Miller rolled her eyes before continuing her blackboard work.
Lizzie gave her friend a dirty look then starting to record the day's lesson in her scribbler. Within a minute, however, her mind began to wander. My new dress will go so well with his gorgeous brown chestnut eyes, she thought. I wonder if he likes blue? Of course he does, he's a boy. What boy doesn't like blue? Boys also like green though, I hope green isn't his favourite colour. Maybe if I...
Lizzie's mental rambling was interrupted by a small slate being slid across the desk. On it was written 'SORRY'. Lizzie smiled and mouthed the word 'THANKS'. Shanda Dee pulled the slate back, erased it then wrote 'PLEASE TELL' before passing it over again.
Giving Shanda Dee a smirk, Lizzie cupped her hands over her friend's left ear and whispered "Travis asked me to the dance."
Shanda Dee was shocked over what she just heard. She looked at Lizzie, mouth gaped open, and then the two of them let out a tiny high-pitched squeal.
"Girls, that is quite enough!" reprimanded Miss Miller. "If I hear anymore chatter from either of you, you will be separated and letters regarding your behaviour will be sent home to your parents. Do I make myself clear!?"
"Yes ma'am," replied the girls.
"Good, then I suggest you both concentrate on your arithmetic lessons and leave the visiting for the lunch recess."
"Yes ma'am," they responded again.
Having finished scribing the day's exercises on the board, Miss Miller returned to her desk and proceeded to delve into the mound of paperwork that was there.
'GROUCHY SPINSTER' Lizzie wrote on her slate and slowly passed it her friend.
Shanda Dee giggled quietly. She swiftly erased the message and replaced it with 'COMPLETELY!'
Lizzie giggled herself then went back to her lessons all the while thinking my very first dance. I can't believe I'm going to have my very first dance with Travis Cahill.