Place to Belong, a
go tellin’ me what I can and can’t do. I’m an old man, and I can do what I want with what I own.”
    â€œBut what if your daughter comes back?”
    â€œI’ll send her a letter if’n I can figure where to send it. Seems like I don’t have too good a luck with my family folks. Something musta happened to her too, or you think I woulda heard from her by now.”
    Mavis and the others knew how his sons had either died or left and not returned. His wife died, and years earlier two of his little girls had died of some strange illness. Children often died young. And here he was, soldiering on.
    â€œNow, before you go to thinkin’ on all the reasons not to do this, you think on this. What else can I do with what I got? Sell it all? And to who? I don’t wanna give you no bad neighbors, you know. And besides, I’m not real good at takin’ care of myself anymore, as you know.” He paused, squinted his eyes a bit, and raised one finger in the air. “I got it. I’ll sell it all to you—lock, stock, and barrel. Give me a piece of that paper, Ransom, and I’ll draw up the deed right now. From me to you for one dollar and lifetime care. There!” He grabbed a blank piece of paper and reached for the pencil.

5

    D umbfounded was now a figure of speech Cassie understood.
    Glancing around, looking from under her eyelashes, she could see the others felt much the same. Ransom had shifted to his granite look; Lucas’s eyes were wide and he was shaking his head slightly; Mavis wore straight-lined eyebrows, a sure sign she was thinking hard on how best to deal with this shock. Gretchen caught Cassie’s glance and covered a giggle. Runs Like a Deer was studying her hands in her lap. Micah kept looking from Ransom to Mavis and back, as if he expected one of them to blow at any minute.
    â€œI know. I dumped a big heap of my longtime thoughts in your laps, all sudden like. But I’m gettin’ up there in years and if I wake up some morning in heaven next to my dear departed wife, I don’t wanna be wishin’ I’d taken care of this sooner.” He looked to Mavis for help. “Mayhap I should have come to you first.”
    Mavis shook her head. “Dan, you’ve had time to think on this, and you just caught us all by surprise, shock rather. I mean, we’ve been trying to figure out how to buy the sawmill, and you come up with all this.”
    â€œI ain’t just givin’ it to you, ya know. It’s a trade-off. You give me a home—only God knows how long that might be—and I get to have the time of my life, workin’ with these fine young men, dreamin’ big dreams and runnin’ more cattle on that spread of mine . . . er . . . ours. I couldn’ do all that without you all. Don’t you see? You’d be doin’ me the biggest favor of my later life.”
    Was this the way business was done in the West? A pencil and paper deed and a handshake? From the looks on the faces of those around the room, she had an idea this wasn’t the usual way for any of them. Cassie tried to wrap her mind around all that was going on, but she had enough trouble trying to piece together enough cash money to cover the necessities for those living in the cabin. Not that they were asking for anything, but they were her responsibility. She took that on when they left the Wild West Show behind.
    She glanced at Mavis again and realized she was praying. She kept telling Cassie that God was indeed in control and had a plan for her life. A plan that showed how much He loved her and all the rest of them.
    Ransom cleared his throat. “Okay, Arnett, let’s chew on this a while. I don’t want you signing anything over to us yet.”
    â€œHow long, son? You know I’m living on borrowed time as it is.”
    â€œHow do you figure that? You’re healthy as that mule in our back corral. I know

Similar Books

Abandoned

Angela Dorsey

Paws before dying

Susan Conant

Cypress Nights

Stella Cameron

Sire

Thomas Galvin

WRECKER

Sasha Gold