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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Pig in a Poke Chapter Chapter 8 An offer

It was a Good Offer - But I was Confused
I got a job working in the restaurant that had a room in the back.  This way I had food and a place to stay and more importantly kept warm.  As spring began to break the miner who had the most productive mine at the diggings had came down and went to San Francisco.  On his way back he stayed at the hotel and ate at the restaurant.

I was cleaning the tables when he recognized me and struck up a conversation.  He said isn’t it about time you went back to the diggings?  I said yes I was planning to go this week. 

He told me that I could go with his party if I wished to. I said, “That would be fine with me.  All I had to do was load up my supplies and I would be ready to go.” 

As it turned out traveling in a group was a lot better than going it alone.  No one would try to take your goods from you or they had a big fight on their hands.

I knew Bartlett the owner of the mine, but on the trip I got to know him better.  He said after I got settled in he would like to see me about something I might be interested in so I told him as soon as I got settled in and checked on Charlie I would be available.

A couple days later I went over to Bartlett’s mine and met with him.  While I was waiting for him to come to the office a grubby looking individual came in and sat at a desk over in the corner almost out of sight. 

Bartlett came in a moment later and asked if I wanted some coffee, to which I said “Yes.” 

He poured me a cup of coffee and said, “I have a proposition to make to you.”

He continued, “I have a daughter who is just coming into the marrying age.  Now I must admit she ain’t much to look at but she might make someone a decent wife.  He said before her Ma passed on she made me promise to get this gal a husband.” 

He went on saying; “You seem to be a decent young man and you need a wife so here’s the deal.”

When he said that, my heart felt like it dropped to the floor.  Marriage, me, no way, not at all, I wasn’t expecting that. 

Then I came to enough to hear him say, “When you marry her I will give you half interest in this mine and you will be a rich man.”

He then called the person with the soiled clothing on over and removed her hat so I could see her face.  It was then I realized why he made such a good offer to the one who would marry her for she was homely as all get out, to put it nicely.

Bartlett said, “Now she’s no beauty but if you saw her without her clothes on you would see she is very shapely.  In fact from the neck down she is far above almost all women.”

I was speechless, it took me some time before words would come out of my mouth and then only after I had a drink of water.

I had to get out of there so I told him I would give it some real thought and get back to him.  The next morning he was down at our diggings wanting to know what I had decided. 

The only thing I could think of was I want to get to know her before I decide and she needs to get to know me before she would agree to marry me.  This seemed to satisfy him but then he said, “I’ll see you this evening and every other evening until this bargain is struck.”

This was one of the longest and most miserable days I had ever spent.  I knew if I didn’t show up for supper at Bartlett’s place he would come down to our diggings and I would be trapped there. 

So I showed up as if I couldn’t wait to get there. 

The one thing I didn’t want to do was to make Bartlett mad at me.  He could have me run out of the hills with nothing but the shirt on my back and with

the promise of great harm if I came back.  When I arrived he asked me if I wanted a drink and I told him I didn’t drink to which he said, good.

I had sipped some cider but tonight I had to have a clear mind. I asked Bartlett if he didn’t mind could I know what his daughter’s name was.

He laughed and said sure; if you are going to marry her you should know what to call her.  He went on and said her name is Lucinda.  I always call her Cindy but if you don’t like that you can call her what ever you want.

Having nothing else to say I said “that seems fair” to me. Everything he said carried with it the fact that I had already agreed to marry her which I hadn’t promised anything.

Cindy brought in our supper and Bartlett said Cindy is as good a cook as her Ma that is when I can keep her out of the mine.  The smell of that food changed my whole line of thinking.  She had traded some gold to some settlers for some chickens, greens, and milk.  She also got an already made apple pie.  That was some feast we had that night.

After supper we went into the parlor such as it was and while I was waiting for Bartlett I ventured over and looked into the big mirror on the wall and thought I ain’t what you might call purty myself.

I had never give that any thought before and it came as a shock to me. 

When he came in he wanted to talk business. He said, “I need to know what your decision is going to be.”  The word has got out that I offered you half interest in the mine in exchange for marrying Cindy and they are lining up to marry her on that basis. 

All the things that happened in the last couple of days like the supper tonight and my looking at myself in the mirror had caused me to look more favorable on her.

I told him I would be over the first thing in the morning and give him my answer.  I said if it would be alright I would like to talk to Cindy for I never heard her say anything and I wanted to make sure she could speak.

He agreed but said, “Do not get too close to her until you make up your mind.”  Shortly, she came in and sat down.  It looked as if she was ready for bed.  I guess Bartlett had told her to get on in there and talk to him without giving her a chance to get dressed.

I felt a little embarrassed looking in her direction.  I had to agree with him that she had a shapely shape.  Looking at her bodily form made it hard to talk but I finally got started and said, “How do you feel about marrying up with me?”  She said, “I don’t feel nothing.”

I wasn’t satisfied with that answer so I asked her if she didn’t want to marry me.

She said, “I don’t know if I do or don’t.”

I could see I wasn’t getting anywhere so I told her she had better get to feeling something pretty soon for whether it was me or some other man she was going to be wed cause her father had made a promise to her Ma.

I said I would be back in the morning and she better get ready for she may be married to someone tomorrow.

As I left she spoke up and said, “If she had to, she would as soon marry me as anybody she guessed.”

I said okay and I could feel the noose of matrimony tightening around my neck.

To be Continued


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