Authors: Susan Leigh Carlton
New Montana Brides Series
Susan Leigh Carlton
Susan Leigh Carlton
Copyright © 2013 by Susan Leigh Carlton.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, write to the publisher, addressed “Attention: Permissions Coordinator,” at the address below.
Susan Leigh Carlton
Publisher’s Note: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are a product of the author’s imagination. Locales and public names are sometimes used for atmospheric purposes. Any resemblance to actual people, living or dead, or to businesses, companies, events, institutions, or locales is completely coincidental.
Carrie’s First Love/Susan Leigh Carlton . -- 1st ed.
“I’m in love with Montana. For other states I have admiration, respect, recognition, even some affection. But with Montana it is love. And it’s difficult to analyze love when you’re in it.”
Carrie Elizabeth Owens is the daughter of Jack and Letty Owens, from Helena, Montana. Carrie was born after her parents had given up on the idea of having children.
Born of two loving and devoted parents, she sees no flaw in anyone she encounters.
She has a deep and abiding trust in her fellow humans.
Case Palmer Jamison, known as CP to his friends, is the only
son of a wealthy rancher and his mail order bride. His parents and Carrie’s parents are best friends. CP was born to be a rancher and will run the Lazy J Ranch someday.
Read the story of this young couple and what it takes for them to find they belong together.
Montana Territory 1873
It was ten minutes before the start of services at the Christian Church in Helena. It was nearly time for
Letty to take her seat at the piano, but first, she needed to get the details on a dinner invitation from Carrie Jamison.
“Mama, CP is being mean at me,” Carrie Elizabeth O
wens said, tugging at her mother’s dress.
“Carrie, you mustn’t interrupt when I’m talking to som
eone,” Letty said to her indignant daughter.
“Make him stop, Mama.
“CP, are you being mean to her?” she asked the towheaded boy sitting in the pew with her daughter.
“No ma’am. She’s holding my hand, and it ‘barrasses me.”
Her daughter was named for the woman with whom she was trying to talk. “What are we going to do with these two?” she asked.
“You need to tell your daughter to quit ‘barrassing my li
ttle man,” she laughed. “You go on to the piano, I’ll try to keep them separated.”
smiled. “Thanks,” she said. “I’ll get the details later.” She looked at her daughter, resplendent in her pink dress, with white ribbons. “You go sit with Aunt Carrie, and behave yourself.”
“I am being haved, Mama, she said
, “It’s CP that’s being mean.”
Shaking her head, Carrie made her way to the piano. Seated, she turned and looked back to the congregation. Ca
rrie had put CP between her and her husband. Her daughter was sitting on the other side of her namesake.
Jack Owens entered the sanctuary
, Bible in hand, from the rear of the church, and took his seat behind the altar. His wife began to play the opening hymn.
Owens had always been the sister Case Jamison did not have. After his parents were killed in a Sioux raid, she took him under her wing. She told him about the Matrimonial Bulletin and encouraged him to place an ad. Letty offered her the hospitality of her home, while waiting for the wedding. She and Carrie had been best friends since, and she had named her daughter after her and Doctor Palmer’s wife, Elizabeth.
The following Friday…
The Jamisons owned the Lazy J Ranch, the largest in Montana, located five miles outside Helena. It was to the ranch the Owens family was headed Friday afternoon. Carrie and Case had invited them for what Case called ‘the preacher’s weekend’, Friday night, because Jack would have to be in the pulpit come Sunday. It was CP’s birthday, and Doctor Palmer and Elizabeth, and their daughter, Lucy would be there also. Doctor had performed an emergency section to deliver CP, saving both of their lives.
The three women were the best of friends, and as far as Case was concerned, Carson could have anything, anytime.
Carrie Elizabeth and CP came into the living room, their faces flushed from chasing each other around the yard. Carrie Elizabeth pointed to a shadow box frame on the wall, and asked, “CP, what’s that?”
“It’s a Sioux arrow. Uncle Carter dug it out of Papa. Look,” he said. “It’s got blood and stuff on it.”
“Whose blood is it?” she asked.
“Papa’s” he said, reveling in the telling of an incident that nearly cost Case his life.
“Ewww,” she said. “Aunt Carrie, could we have some lemonade, please?”
darlings, CP do you and Lucy want lemonade too?”
“Yes,” chorused the three and ran into the kitchen.
Watching them, Case shook his head, “Carter, is there any way medically to capture some of that energy? If we could bottle it, it would fly off Silas’s shelves.”
Jack said, “Carrie wears me out, just following her around. She’s never still.”
After a late lunch, Carrie said, “Don’t you think we should put them down for a nap? I could use a respite from their energy.”
The three mothers took their children into the Jamison’s large bedroom and put them on the large bed.
Letty sang to them. Even though they fought to keep their eyes open, they soon fell asleep, as their batteries recharged for the rest of the day.
“Thank the Lord for naps,” said Elizabeth. I think they benefit the mothers more than the kids.”
“Amen to that,” Carrie said.
The men, from three different professions, trended away from the children and toward topics they did not discuss in front of the women.
“Case, what’s going on with the Sioux?”
though we signed a treaty back in ’68, the settlers are still moving onto the Sioux land. I think there’s going to be more trouble. If it happens, I’m going to move CP and Carrie into town until it’s over.”
“I don’t blame you, but knowing your wife, she will ne
ver go with it,” Jack said.
“I may have to get the sheriff to lock her up, but she will go,” Case said.
“I hope it can be settled peacefully. I’ve patched up enough arrow and bullet wounds to last me the rest of my life,” Carter said.
* * *
“Why aren’t you playing with Carrie and Lucy, CP?” his mother asked.
’re playing house. That’s a girl’s game,” he said.
“What would you like to play?”
“I like Cowboys and Indians. I showed Carrie ‘Lizabeth the arrow until Carter took out of Papa and all she said was ‘ewww’.
Girls don’t like to play things
about people getting hurt.”
“That’s dumb, Mama.”
Well, they probably think Cowboys and Indians is dumb too.”
“Well, I wish I had a brother to play with. He’d like Cowboys and Indians.”
“I do too, CP, but it isn’t going to happen. I guess the good Lord knew there wouldn’t be any little brothers, so he gave us the best little boy he had, and that was you.”
Her eyes had moistened and tears spilled out and rolled down her cheeks. “Give Mama a big hug, please?”
He put his little arms around her, and hugged her. “Uhh,” he grunted with the effort.
Case chose that moment to walk into the kitchen. “When he saw the tears, he asked, “What’s wrong, Honey?”
“CP is unhappy with the girls playing dolls and told me he wished he had a little brother.”
He pulled her to her feet and into his arms. “I know that hurt. It’s not your fault.”
“I know. I told him God knew there wouldn’t be any more, and that’s why he gave us the best little boy he had.”
You two still doing the hugging and kissing bit?” she asked with a smile.
“Every chance we get,” Case said.
“Can you believe he starts school in a few months?” Cased asked one evening.
“I can’t,” she said.
“I’ve been thinking about something<” she said.
“Before I came out here, I was teaching at the Academy in Oxford. I’ve been thinking with CP in school, I might like to try that again.”
“You don’t need to do that, honey. Lord knows the ranch is making all of the money we need.”
“I know that,” she said. But with CP in school and Maude keeping the house and doing the cooking, there won’t be anything for me to do. I can’t garden all of the time, and you’re out most of the day. It will be lonely in this big house.”
“If you were to go into Helena every day, I’d have so send someone in with you and come back to get you.”
“Why,” she asked. “I’m perfectly capable of driving a wagon.”
“I know, but the Sioux thing could start up at any time, and I can’t take the risk of having anything happen to you. I couldn’t live without you, and you know it.”
“If what you say is true, couldn’t they hit the ranch, just as easily?”
“I have someone keeping watch on the house when I’m not here. There’s always someone here.”
“I didn’t know that,” she said. “I’ve never seen anyone.”
“You weren’t supposed to,” he said
“I would still like to teach. You don’t know what it’s like to sit here all day with nothing to do. Unless you come up with a better argument, I am going to apply for my certif
* * *
Three months later…
Carrie had applied for and been granted a certificate to tea
ch in Montana schools. Her next step was to apply for a teaching position in the Helena schools.
Carrie accepted the teacher’s job offered by the Helena superintendent of schools and attended a two day orientation. The following Monday, she dressed, and helped CP finish getting ready and set out for their first day of school toget
They would not travel alone. At Case’s direction, Luke had assigned the cowboy who had been guarding the house, to accompany them to school and back.
Carrie had forgotten how much she enjoyed teaching. She found herself looking forward to the next day. “It sure agrees with you, Honey,” Case told her.
“It makes me feel as if I’m doing something worthwhile,” she said.
Carrie was at the chalkboard, showing her students how to solve a multiplication problem, when she heard a sharp rap on the door of her classroom.
Opening the door, she said, “Yes, what is it?”
“It’s CP Mrs. Jamison. The principal would like for you to come to the come to the office.”
“Has he been hurt? Is he all right?” she asked the teacher,
“He’s all right. There was a fight at recess, by the swing sets.”
“A fight? CP was in a fight? I don’t know what… CP doesn’t get in fights.”
The principal met her at the door to his office, and said, “Come in, Mrs. Jamison. We have a bit of a problem. It seems there was an altercation on the playground and your son was involved. He’s in the office.
“If I may offer some advice, “Don’t make a big thing of this. He has a scratch on his face. The other boy has a bloody nose.”
“What was it about? Who started it?”
“Jimmy Sanders is apparently a bit of a bully, and he was picking on one of the girls. Case came to her defense. This is nothing new. We’ve seen it before, but I want to try to pr
event if from happening again. After you talk to your son, I’d like to discuss it with you.”
“All right, I’ll meet with you after class,” she said.
She paused at the door and looked in. He seemed so small sitting in the big chair, pondering his fate.
“Tell me about this, CP. Why were you fighting?”
“Mama, Jimmy was hurting Carrie ‘Lizabeth and wouldn’t stop.”
“You should have asked a teacher for help, son. You can’t just hit people.”
“He’s bigger than her, and he made her cry, Mama. I don’t like to see Carrie cry.”
“If I remember correctly, you’ve made her cry.”
“But I don’t pull her hair and push her down,” he pleaded. “Am I going to get a spanking, Mama?”
“I don’t think so, but that is up to the principal. “You’re going to have to tell your papa when you get home.”
“Yes, Mama. I bet he won’t hurt her again,” he said fiercely.
“All the same, fighting is not the other answer.”
The principal thought her lecture, and requiring him to tell his father was sufficient punishment.
After school, she told Carrie, “I’m going to visit with your mother for a little while. Would you like to ride over with us?”
“Come on, Carrie ‘Lizabeth,” CP urged.
was in the kitchen when it was raided by the two youngsters. She gave each a sandwich and a glass of milk and told them to stay in the kitchen while they ate.
“So,” she asked Carrie, “How is teaching going?’
“For the most part, it is going well. I really do enjoy the interacting with the children. Let me tell you what happened today.”
“That almost sounds ominous.”
“No, nothing like that. I think it is kind of cute, actually. I was called to the principal’s office today.”
“Did you have to stand in the corner?”
“No, but it involved our little ones. CP was in a fight on the playground, and hit another boy in the nose, and made it bleed.”
“Oh, that doesn’t sound like him at all. He’s such a sweet little boy.”
“Yes, he is, but wait until you hear the rest of the story. The other boy was pulling Carrie’s hair, and pushed her to the ground. When she started crying, CP came to her defense and slugged the boy in the nose. He told me he didn’t like to see her cry. I reminded
him, he’s made her cry before. He said, “I don’t pull her hair and push her down.”
“Isn’t that the most gallant thing?”
Letty exclaimed. “He’s just like his papa. “
“I don’t like the fighting part, but I am proud of him for standing up to a bully for his friend.”
“I am too,” Letty said.
“We’d better be getting on home. Even though he sends a guard along, Case will be
starting to worry if we’re too late.” CP, come on, we’ve got to be getting on the road.”
“Coming, Mama,” came the reply from the bedroom.
“Tell him hello for me and we’ll see you on Sunday.” She hugged her best friend and said goodbye to CP.”
“Bye, CP,” Carrie said to her friend and protector.
Their guard helped them into the wagon, and they headed home, with CP waving to his friend.