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Taylor Broderick stood on the precipice of the dream she had carried for all of her almost thirteen years. Her heart soared above the cliffs of the green streaked mountains surrounding her. She threw her arms around teary-eyed Catherine Pickett. "Don't feel sad. Momma and I can go with you to California, Cat." Taylor's voice bubbled with such joy even the rank sulfur clouds from the copper mines dotting the canyon seemed to brighten.
The puzzled look from the bony, blonde "virginny" did not deter Taylor. "How could you ever think of going to California without me? You and your outrageous brothers are the only family I have--except for Momma," Taylor said.
Taylor had never told anyone, not even her very best friend, about the "family" she had left behind in St. Louis, or of her life growing up in the ordinary house with Mrs. Costello, Mandy and the numerous guests.
"Your Ma's made a right proper place for herself here," Cat challenged. "The town holds respect, looks up to her. Even Baxter don't trust nobody with his cash but your Ma and her bank."
"You weren't here when we arrived in Bisbee," Taylor reasoned. "Momma was spent, unable to come around, from a 'bout of fever and had no will to go on. We had traveled for two years from St. Louis to the territories in an effort to find Poppa. The last people who saw him said Jacob Broderick left Missouri for California. We only stopped here until Momma got better, and we could pay our way to California."
Taylor's smile stretched across her face and stayed, she couldn't stop the effervescent happiness tingling from her head to toe. I'm going to find Poppa. The mysterious Jacob Broderick! The father Ihave never met.
"I have to tell Momma." Taylor darted away in a half-skip and a hop. "We've barely enough time to pack. I'll come back later." She sprinted across tufts of wild grass chomped to their roots by a nearby cow, her boots skimming the rocky, brown soil. In seconds, the cramped cabin housing Cat and another six Pickett children and Mr. Pickett, plus his new muleskinner wife and her four offspring, disappeared from sight.
Taylor kicked up dust and pebbles behind her in a most unladylike dash down Main Street. As she neared Hilltop Hotel strains of music created a churchly canopy overhead.
Sunday, thank God. As President of Bisbee Bank and owner of the town's only assay office, Josie Broderick found few hours to spare, but when she did and the debilitating melancholia kept at bay, Momma played her violin.
Taylor burst through the door of the boarding house and raced up the stairs, three at a time, her gangly legs at ease with the span. "Momma, Momma."
On the top landing Taylor threw open the nearest door. Petite Josie Broderick stood at the open window, her hypnotic blue eyes wide in alarm. Platinum curls had broken free of a topknot and hugged an angelic face giving an appearance of softness, submissiveness, obviously a lady of quality. But, Taylor knew the strong will that hid beneath the delicate façade.