Read Cora: Bride of South Dakota (American Mail-Order Bride 40) Online
Authors: Susan Horsnell
Tags: #Historical, #Romance, #Fiction, #Forever Love, #Victorian Era, #Western, #Forty In Series, #Saga, #Fifty-Books, #Forty-Five Authors, #Newspaper Ad, #Short Story, #American Mail-Order Bride, #Bachelor, #Single Woman, #Marriage Of Convenience, #Christian, #Religious, #Faith, #Inspirational, #Factory Burned, #Pioneer, #South Dakota, #Political Ally, #Grandfather Age, #Ranch, #Family Life, #Tragedy, #Decision
Mail-Order Bride of South Dakota
American Mail-Order Brides Series
Book No 40
All rights reserved
Copyright © 2015 by Susan Horsnell
Thank you for purchasing this book. It remains the copyrighted property of the author and may not be reproduced, scanned or distributed for any commercial or non-commercial use without permission from the author and publisher. Quotes used in reviews are the exception. No alteration of content is allowed. If you enjoy this book, then please encourage your friends to purchase their own copy.
This book is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental or historical. The characters are productions of the author’s imagination and/or are used fictitiously.
Cover Design and Production by Erin
Cora, Bride of South Dakota is fortieth in the unprecedented 50-book American Mail-Order Brides series.
Cora Ancelet’s father hates her.
When a fire ravages the factory where she works, her father orders her to find another source of employment or marry his evil political ally, a man old enough to be her grandfather.
After being handed a
Cora takes the desperate step of becoming a Mail Order Bride.
John Franklin wants a woman to wake up to. A woman who will love him and his ranch, and ultimately give him the children he craves.
Will placing an advertisement for a Mail Order Bride turn out to be the best decision he has ever made for both him and Cora or, is tragedy afoot?
If you enjoy reading this book, there are 49 more in the series! Find out about the rest of the American Mail-Order Brides here,
Cora hurried to the park where Roberta had asked to meet some of the women who were now out of work. A week since the factory fire and she’d had no luck finding alternate employment. She hoped and prayed her former manager had something to offer her.
About forty women were gathered together, worry and desperation etched their faces. Cora waited off to one side as Roberta spoke about her idea for becoming a mail order bride. Many of the women surged forward and accepted a
Two other young women stood beside Cora, watching the pile of papers disappear.
“Your name is Cora isn’t it?” One of the women asked. “I’ve seen you around the factory and someone mentioned your name.”
“Yes, it is.” Cora didn’t know any of the women very well, as she had only worked at the factory for a short time and at eighteen years old, was younger than most. The other women tended to mix with either those they lived with or girls closer to their own age. Cora lived at home with her brutish father who controlled her every move. He didn’t give her much time for friendships.
“I’m Laurel and this is my friend, Eva,” she indicated the other woman.
“Pleased to meet you but I wish it was under better circumstances,” Eva said.
“I can hardly believe the factory burnt down. I’d only been there a few weeks but I was really enjoying it,” Cora said.
“Are you going to do this?” Laurel asked.
“I’m not sure.” Cora gnawed her lower lip. “I need to think about it.”
“Okay. If you decide this is what you want to do, let us know so we can all stay in touch. Look out for one another. Do you have a piece of paper? Eva asked Laurel.
Laurel produced one and Eva scribbled on it before handing it to Cora. “This is our address here, drop around and let us know what you decide. Maybe we can meet for tea sometime?”
“Thank you, I’d like that.” Cora placed the paper in her purse.
“Come on Eva, let’s do it,” Laurel said. The two girls linked arms and stepped forward, claimed their copies of the
and moved away. Groups of women huddled together, conspiratorially perusing who was on offer.
Can I do this? What choice do I have? I can’t stay at home.
Cora wrestled with herself.
Her father had made his feelings very clear when she had informed him about the fire and her loss of job, “I will not support a lazy, jobless, gadabout.” The words still rang in her ears. He had wanted her to marry a political friend of his. A man 36 years her senior! Cora knew it was a ploy to not only get rid of her but, as his son-in-law, the ‘friend’ would feel obligated to help her father further his political aspirations.
Pierre Ancelet had travelled from Bourges in France at the age of seventeen to pursue a more lucrative life in America. He had met and instantly fallen in love with her mother, Catherine Pope. A year later they were married and her brother, Peter, was born ten months later. Her father had the son and heir he craved, he couldn’t have been happier. Cora had been born when Peter was two years old. Her birth had been difficult and her mother had bled to death. Her father had never let her forget that it was her fault she didn’t have a mother. An even bigger sin was, she had denied his beloved son the chance to be nurtured by his beautiful wife. When Pierre’s temper was up he would shout at her, “you stole the love of my life and my chance to have more sons. It should have been you that died not your beautiful mother.”
While Peter was lavished with love, attention, gifts and opportunity, Cora was left to sort things out for herself. Thank heavens her best friend, Millie’s mother, Linda had taken her into the fold from her first days at school. Cora turned to Linda Reynolds for things she should have been able to go to her father for. Linda and her father had many heated arguments over the years, they had a deep dislike for each other. Millie’s mother had wanted to take Cora to live with her but Pierre refused to relent, he would not allow her to be happy. It had broken her heart when Millie’s parents bought a farm outside Sioux City, Iowa. They had been gone almost two years and she sorely missed them.
Cora had refused to become weak and compliant, she became tough with a mind of her own. As she grew older, this caused her to argue with her father more than ever.
Cora’s response to a marriage with his ‘friend’ was, “I would rather live on the streets than marry a fat, lazy man who is old enough to be my grandfather.” Rumours abounded that the ‘friend’ had forced himself on several young women and when one had complained about being pregnant, she had mysteriously disappeared.
Pierre ranted, “Be careful what you wish for, my dear. I will disown you and you will find yourself living on the streets quicker than you can blink your eyes.”
Cora bit back, “You can’t disown someone you have never, and will never, own.”
The argument continued as her father raged, “you may stay under my roof only as long as you pay for your room and contribute to the cost of your meals.”
“If I have to contribute to the cost of meals, you’d better find someone else to do the cooking,” she retaliated.
Her father had paled at the thought of paying someone to do a job he could have Cora perform for free. “Very well. You will not pay for meals but you will pay for your room.”
Since the fire at the factory and the loss of her job, their relationship had deteriorated until it was almost unbearable. They avoided each other at every opportunity and barely spoke a word when their paths crossed. If only Millie and her family had not moved away. Never had she felt so alone or desperate.
She couldn’t turn to her brother for support. He was struck from the same die as their father with political aspirations of his own. He was just as selfish, caring about no-one but himself.
“Cora?” Roberta startled her from her bitter thoughts.
was being held out towards her and Cora made a snap decision to accept it.
“Do you have someone to stay with while you await a response to your enquiries?” Roberta asked.
“I can stay at home while I have the funds to pay for my room,” Cora answered without thinking.
Roberta lifted an eyebrow questioningly. Cora knew her ex manager was curious about her statement and she elaborated. “My father and I barely tolerate each other and a condition of me staying under his roof is that I pay for my lodgings. I also have to cook for him and my brother.
Roberta placed a hand over her heart, she felt sorry for the young girl. Like the other women, she hadn’t had the opportunity to befriend Cora. On the occasions their paths had crossed, Roberta had formed a deep respect for Cora’s strength and self-confidence. She was a hard worker and would make any man an excellent wife. “Is there anything I can do to help? I can’t offer you accommodation as we are full but maybe some of the other girls would be happy to share with you. I can ask on your behalf.”
“Thank you but I’m used to doing things on my own. I’ll be fine at the house for a few weeks. Hopefully, I will find a man who will accept me very soon.”
Roberta slipped a small piece of paper into Cora’s hand. There was the name and address of someone in Kansas written on it. Cora read it and lifted her eyes to Roberta.
“It’s my sister’s name and address. If you need me for any reason or you find yourself in trouble, either write or find your way there. I promise you will be helped.”
“I’m sure I’ll be fine. I’m going to stay in touch with Laurel and Eva while we’re still here in town. Hopefully we’ll stay in touch when we move away.
“I hope it works out for you. Remember, if you need anything, contact me.”
“Thank you Roberta.” Cora stood on tiptoe and placed a kiss on the kind woman’s cheek before turning and trudging off.
Wiping a tear from her eye, Roberta watched as the girl was swallowed up by a crowd of women. She was so young. What did the future hold for her? For them all?
Cora concealed the
under her coat. If her father or brother had returned home early, she didn’t want them to notice the paper. It was highly unlikely they would be there, they usually stopped by the saloon on their way home for a couple of whiskeys. Even so she didn’t want to risk either one of them discovering her plans. If her father in particular found out, she was sure she’d be tossed out on her ear. She could hear him now, “You mean to say you won’t marry someone of good standing who we know but you’ll whore yourself out to a stranger?” No, she would avoid his wrath at all costs. She didn’t put it past him to lock her in her room and force her to marry his obnoxious friend.
She slipped her key in the door and tentatively pushed it open. The house was quiet. Dashing to her room, she slid the
under her mattress before removing her coat. She changed into an old house dress and hurried downstairs to the kitchen to make supper.
The aroma of freshly baked biscuits wafted through the house, three steaks hissed and spat in the pan and beans bubbled in a pot. Cora was setting the table when her father and brother swaggered in together.
“Smells good, sis.” Peter hung his coat on a hook by the kitchen door.
“It’s only steak, beans and biscuits.” There was a disinterested note to her voice.
Her father rubbed his hands together. “My favourite.” He dragged a chair across the floor, the scraping sound caused Cora to stiffen. The screech set every nerve in her body on edge. She remained tight lipped, refusing to give her father the satisfaction of knowing how it affected her. “You found another job yet?”
Cora turned toward the stove as she let out a deep sigh. He never let up. “No, not yet, but you needn’t worry, I have enough money saved to pay for my room for a few more weeks.”
“Your money won’t last forever so I suggest you hurry up and find something. I’m warning you again – you will either find work or marry Eric.”
Cora busied herself with plating their meals although she no longer had an appetite. She chose to ignore her father’s comment. She refused to argue with him again. As far as she was concerned, she would die before marrying
horrible little man.
She placed the meals on the table and slipped into a chair. The air was thick with tension. Every mouthful of food lodged in her throat. She couldn’t wait for supper to end. As soon as the meals were finished, the dishes done and the room straightened, she fled to the sanctuary of her room.
Cora locked the door, pulled out the
and plopped down on her bed. Excitement danced down her spine as she read the advertisements carefully. Could this be her future? Could she finally be happy?
“Where the devil is Montana?” She pulled a history book from a shelf and turned to a map of America. “My, it’s so far away.” She discounted one man after another – too old, too stuffy sounding, too this, too that. She began to despair. “I’ll never find someone to marry. I’m going to end up on the streets or worse still, in one of
places.” Tears trickled over her cheeks and dripped onto the paper smudging the ink.
She sat up abruptly when a knock sounded at her door. She composed herself, swiped at her eyes then unlocked and opened her door.
Peter stood before her. He noticed her red, puffy eyes. “Are you okay?” he asked.
“Yes, what do you want?” she asked impatiently.
“I wanted to know if you’d be here tomorrow. I’m expecting a package and it needs to be signed for.”
“I’m not sure. What time is it coming?”
“I don’t know. I need you to be here all day.”
“I will probably be in and out. I have a job to find or have you forgotten? If I’m here I will sign for it otherwise you will have to collect it from the Post Office.”