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The Traveler takes a mail-order bride.
The West
: Inga by Thomas Bowling

Previously:

The Traveler joined a cattle drive and witnessed the death of a friend.

Chapter 20

I pushed cattle across 
Texas until I saved enough money to buy some land. I paid $350.00 for 3,000 acres of dust. I built a house, bought 12 cents worth of seed, and planted vegetables.

Josie didn't take kindly to being hitched to a plow, but it was his new job. In time, he would be standing beside it in the morning, waiting for me.

As I waited for my crop to come in, I started building a house. It cost me another $35.00 for the lumber, some of the finest oak and cedar in this barren land. As soon as the house was finished, I sent for a mail-order bride. When she came, I would have everything a man needed.

I had to pay a bride-price to her family to compensate them for the loss of her labor. I considered it for awhile. I could have bought two horses for what she cost. In the end, I figured a wife would be more useful, so I signed the agreement that I wouldn't beat her unless she did something bad, and I sent for her.

Inga was a Swedish immigrant. She didn't speak English, and that didn't bother me. I never did care for what people had to say. Some folks just have to talk. It didn't interest me.

When Inga and I were first married, I thought she was dumb because she didn't speak English. In short time, she spoke both Swedish and English. I guess I was the dumb one. The only Swedish word I knew was samlag.

I sent for a foreigner because I heard they were easy to get along with. Clyde Steward sent for an American woman. The marriage lasted less than a week. The first time he yelled at her, she was gone.

------- ------- -------

Inga was tall and sturdy. She could plow a field as well as me. A wife had to work as hard as her husband in the west. The wilderness was just right for a man, but it was Hell for a woman. She was a handsome woman. She wasn't pretty, but she wasn't ugly either. She made a good wife.

We tried to have children, Inga was a Christian. I watched her pray every night for a baby. I felt so bad sometimes that I prayed with her, but Inga was barren. I had a trail of young 'uns from here to Arkansas. I wished I had a few of them here to help with the chores. Farming was hard work. You worked from sunup until sundown. In the morning, you started all over again.

I liked being a farmer. You saw the reward of your toils. You learned to trust God. No one has more faith than a farmer. He plants seeds and trusts God to send enough rain and sun to make a crop out of them. God never let me down.

Inga knew about farming and taught me a lot. My first crop didn't do too well. I had never needed to know how to grow things, but now I had to learn. Inga showed me that you have to let some of the crop go to seed so you'll have something to plant the next year. Without Inga, I would have starved. We lived alone and made do. With her help, we had more food than we could eat.

We had a few cows for milk and raised some pigs. There were no eggs. In the west, a laying hen cost more than a cow. I didn't care for eggs anyway. I never saw an egg I'd swap for a piece of meat.

When I bought the land, I knew the railroad would be coming someday. I hoped it would be close enough to bring some benefit, but the closest track was over two-hundred and fifty miles south.

We knew the railroad was somewhere though when we saw the buffalo herds starting to dwindle. Soon, they would be gone. That would be sad. You can't eat a train.


To be continued . . .


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Author Notes
Samlag is the Swedish word for sex.

     

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