Read Prayers for Sale Online

Authors: Sandra Dallas

Tags: #Mountain, #Older Women, #Depressions, #Colorado, #West, #Travel, #Fiction, #United States, #Suspense, #Historical, #Female Friendship, #1929, #Cultural Heritage, #Contemporary Women

Prayers for Sale (38 page)

BOOK: Prayers for Sale
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Lydia Travers had come to Georgetown five years before, after her husband died, the brute. She’d run a boardinghouse in Kansas City, not just an eatery like the Georgetown boardinghouses, but a place that provided beds as well as meals. She’d run it with Lute Travers, worked her fingers to the bone, while he drank up the profits, and fisted her, to boot. She was not yet forty, but she looked ten, fifteen years older, thanks to the poundings Lute gave her. Then he died, passed out in the street and drowned with his face in the mud, and Mrs. Travers sold the boardinghouse and moved to Georgetown, vowing she’d never take another husband.

Nealie thought over the proposition for so long that Mrs. Travers said, “Well, come and stay anyway. You don’t want to get mixed up with the likes of her, a sorry girl, if you take my meaning.” Mrs. Travers nodded her head at the woman in the fancy dress who’d smiled at Nealie.

“I know about such,” Nealie said. She added quickly so that Mrs. Travers wouldn’t think she was acquainted with them, “Their kind was at home. And I’d be obliged to accept your offer, missus.”

“Travers, Mrs. Lidie Travers,” the woman introduced herself. By then, the crowd had thinned out. Mrs. Travers picked up her bags and looked around for Nealie’s luggage.

“Oh, I don’t have anything but my extra dress, and I’m wearing it under this one,” the girl explained. “If Pa had seen me leaving with a box, he’d have tied me up in the barn and switched me good.”

“How did you think you’d manage without so much as an extra handkerchief?” Mrs. Travers asked.

Nealie laughed at the idea. “I never had even one handkerchief, so I guess I can get along just fine without an extra. I didn’t think about packing, not that it would have made a difference. I never had much. I had to get away is all, just had to.”

The girl was so fierce that it was obvious she carried some secret. Perhaps she’d been beaten, or even worse. But Mrs. Travers only nodded and didn’t ask questions, because she had never been one to pry into what wasn’t her business. Perhaps she thought that in time, the girl would tell her where she’d come from and why, but until then, Nealie’s past was hers to keep.

Without a word, Nealie took one of Mrs. Travers’s bags from her, and the two walked out of the station into sunlight bright enough to hurt Nealie’s eyes. The sun warmed her back, and the air was so thin and dry that Nealie felt as light as a blade of grass. Sounds of hammering swept down from the mountains, and the distant boom of a dynamite charge made the girl jump. A fog of smoke from the smelters hung over the town, but that did not bother Nealie, because it brought only a little haze. She liked the bustle, the sense of importance.

And now, just two months after her arrival, Nealie felt more at home in Georgetown than she ever had on her parents’ farm.

is the author of nine novels, including
Whiter Than Snow
Prayers for Sale
New Mercies
. She is a former Denver bureau chief for
Business Week
magazine and lives in Denver, Colorado.

Photo Credit: Povy Kendal Archison

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BOOK: Prayers for Sale
4.48Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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