Sunset in Kentucky

Sunset in Kentucky

by Carol Walls Howell


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781458203229
Publisher: Abbott Press
Publication date: 07/06/2012
Pages: 202
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.46(d)

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Sunset in Kentucky

By Carol Walls Howell

Abbott Press

Copyright © 2012 Carol Walls Howell
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4582-0322-9

Chapter One


It was a cloudy Sunday morning—dreary actually—and a light rain was coming down. Anna Marie had made sausage and gravy to eat with yesterday's leftover biscuits for breakfast. She and her husband were wearing their Sunday clothes and were almost ready to head out the door. Brady held his green-eyed, lovely wife close and kissed her on her cheek. He was aware by the size of her fully rounded midsection that her time was nearing. Soon she would deliver their first child. Brady and Anna Marie were married in Reeds Crossing, Kentucky on Christmas Eve, December 1833.

"My sweet Anna, I'm so lucky to have you for my wife. You are all that I will ever need. Now here we are about to become a father and a mother. We have so much to be thankful for. No man could want more than this."

Brady kissed his wife passionately and caressed her hair. She kept her head tilted up toward him and gazed into the gentleness he showed her with his eyes. "I felt a connection with you from the time we met at the barn warming dance over at Sara and Peter's place," Brady said. "You were standing by yourself watching Carter Riley as he played the fiddle. He was smiling and tapping his toes, truly enjoying himself, and you were smiling and tapping your toes, both of you lost in the music."

"I wasn't really watching Carter," said Anna. "I was watching him play that instrument ... the connection that was there between the player and the fiddle. He was lost in the sounds he created, and so was I. Music is just in a person. I can't imagine what this world would be like without music. Thank goodness God created songbirds. Their music can fill your soul with peace and happiness."

"I don't know anyone who can sing as lovely as you," he said softly. "Music is in your soul. You are by far the best singer in the church choir."

"Such sweet talk," she said flirtatiously. "Thanks for the compliment. Speaking of the church choir, don't you think maybe we should start for church soon?"

Brady walked with his wife to the cabin door and helped her step out into the misty day. In the distance there was a little rumbling of thunder, a promise of more to come. He had already hitched the horse to the buggy and had tied it up close to the front of the cabin. She struggled getting into the buggy. Even with Brady's strong grip on her arm, the added weight of the baby made it difficult. The buggy was covered, so they would be somewhat protected from the rain today. Brady placed a blanket over Anna Marie's lap to insure her warmth. "That should help," he said. He walked over to the driver's side of the buggy and climbed up with ease. Gathering the reins, he clicked his tongue, and they were on their way as the horse fell into an easy trot down the path to the road. They wound around a grove of trees, most of which were either in full bloom or had already dropped their blooms and were covered now with leaves that were nearly full sized.

Now on the road they started up the first small hill. As the horse trotted along, they saw a doe and her fawn off to the side. The deer stopped their grazing for a short while, checked for danger as they watched the horse and buggy pass by, and then continued their morning fare. Over the hill and down along the meadow, the buggy made its way to the river. Muddy River it was called. The nearby farmers had been busy keeping the beaver population under control. Big Al would go down to the creek and fish often. If he saw those pesky beavers working on a dam upstream, he would take a trap up to where they were working and set it nearby. He would continue to trap the beavers until he had enough pelts to take to town with hopes of selling them for a tidy sum. The pelt money filled a need for Al and his family. Brady slowed the horse down and forded the river with ease. He made a mental note to get back to that crossing soon and add some stones where the riverbed had washed so the crossing would remain safe to travel over. As soon as they made the crossing he urged the horse back up to speed. They passed Big Al and Lucy's place. They were only two miles—about twenty-five minutes—from town and just another short ride to the church. They should arrive in good time.

Anna Marie said, "Look over there. I saw lightning." Right away the thunder rolled overhead and rain sprinkles started falling. "We may get to the church just in time before it rains harder."

"Do you think you would be all right if we trotted along a little faster?" Brady asked.

"Go ahead; I think I'll be okay." Anna Marie gripped the seat a little tighter as their speed increased.

The lightning came quicker now, and the thunder was almost a continuous roll above their heads. The rain had picked up to a steady pace. They pulled up to the church along with some of the townspeople. Brady jumped down off of the buggy and quickly tied the horse to the hitching post. He rushed around to Anna's side and helped her down. She clung to his strong arms, and they were soon inside where it was dry. They felt much calmer and safer than they had only a few moments ago.

Several of the women were at Anna's side. "Are you all right?" "Do you feel okay?" "Can I help you?" "Do you need a towel to dry yourself?"

"I'll be just fine," Anna Marie answered. "We had to hurry Mandy along a little faster. She did a good job bringing us here safe and sound."

"You must be especially careful now considering your condition," the minister's wife said. "No one here wants you to have any problems."

The lightning and thunder continued roaring along during the entire church service. It wasn't good weather for anyone to be out and about. Some of the little children were crying and clinging to their mothers. It was difficult for the older members to keep their attention on the message the preacher was bringing that morning as the lightning, rolling thunder, rattling doors and windows, crying babies, gusts of wind. Everyone watched the flashes of lightning, what else could they do? At last, the final hymn was sung. "Amen" murmured the congregation.

One woman's comment echoed the sentiments of all those present: "Now what can we do? It's too stormy to go outside."

The women and children huddled together and the men looked outside. Everyone decided that they all must stay in the church until the storm played out its fury. Full acceptance of the circumstances that held them hostage replaced the anxious moments of just a short time ago. Rain had blown in over the windowsills and under the main church door. The children naturally were drawn to the minipuddles. They flipped water drops at each other with their hands, and giggles soon replaced tears. The mamas and papas talked about the weather and what they were planning to do in the week ahead. After what seemed like a long stretch of time—actually only an hour or so—the storm had passed through on its way to other farms, hills, and valleys. The men pushed the door open, and the families began to make their way out. Tree branches, leaves, stray weeds, and bits and pieces of wood covered the walkway as well as the buggies. The horses were soaked, and drops of water fell from tree leaves and buggy coverings.

Big Al and Lucy gathered their five children as the families headed to their buggies. "Follow us home. We should stick together—no telling what the road will be like," Al hollered to Brady and Anna Marie.

"Sure thing," Brady replied. "Lead on." He turned to Anna Marie and asked, "Are you feeling all right?"

Anna smiled and nodded. "Except for this baby kicking like thunder inside me, I am just fine," she said.

Brady clicked his tongue and snapped the reins lightly, and they were on their way. They didn't know what this stormy Sunday held in store for them.

The trip to Al and Lucy's home went well. They had to drive around a few tree limbs and washes on the road. The wind was now just a breeze, and a few brave birds were flying about checking for bugs and worms. Some of the birds were perched on tree limbs nearby whistling their own special tunes. A doe and her bunnies were hopping around bushes and tree trunks nibbling on the freshly washed grass, oblivious to the two horses and buggies passing by.

Al and Lucy reached their farm and waved good-bye. "Come visit us," yelled Lucy.

"Don't you worry. We'll be back soon. We want to hear some more of Big Al's stories," said Brady. "Have the popcorn ready."

They all waved good-bye. Brady urged the horse on down the road. It wasn't long before the horse and buggy were approaching the river. The water had risen after the hard rain, and now it boiled across the rocks and tree roots. Limbs and leaves coursed past. There wasn't any way the buggy would make it across. Anna Marie let out a short scream as she felt the spear of pain. Brady stopped the buggy. He turned and held her arm.

"Brady, I think the baby is coming. What will we do?" Anna said.

"Let's head back to Al and Lucy's place. I'll turn the buggy around right now."

Brady hastily headed the buggy back down the road they had just covered. He snapped the reins a little harder this time. No time to tarry.

The labor pains increased a lot faster than Anna thought they should. She doubled over and groaned with each one. As Mandy trotted over the big hill, Brady noticed that a tree had fallen right across the road. There were stones and stumps alongside, and there was no way to pass. He jumped out of the buggy and began tugging at the tree. It was of no use. He remembered that he had left a rope in the back of the buggy. He quickly grabbed the rope and wrapped it around the base of the tree. He then had to unhitch the horse from the buggy and tie the loose end of the rope to the harness. In a short time, he and the horse had cleared the tree off of the road. Having accomplished the task, Brady hitched Mandy back up to the buggy. Anna remained bent over with labor pains.

"Brady, do you think we'll make it to Lucy in time?"

"All I know is that I am going to do my best to get you there. It's only a short way now. Try to hang on." Anna was excited and yet scared ... very scared. Here I am, she thought, a grown, married woman expecting to give birth to her first child, this little creature I have carried and loved. But I certainly don't feel very sure of myself. What if we don't make it to Lucy's in time? I may well have to have this baby out here in the open, woodsy countryside! And there's nothing here in the buggy for comfort or warmth or protection. I know Brady will do all he can, but how will he know what to do? He'll hold my hand, but I need more than that. I don't even know what to do myself! I've never been with any other woman who was giving birth. I know only bits and pieces of overheard conversations, interspersed with jokes and laughter.

"Oh, God, please let us get to Al and Lucy's home in time," Anna prayed.

Brady had his hands full, pressing the horse and buggy as fast down the road as he could and trying to be cautious enough so as to not harm his beautiful wife and the unborn baby. On they raced against the elements of nature and the ticking of time. We're almost there, Brady thought, just around the next bend is Big Al's. He saw the cluster of trees along the side of the home of the Bannings' place. Brady pulled the buggy up close to the cabin and hitched the horse. He ran to his wife's side and, as quickly as possible, helped her to the ground and guided her toward the front door. Lucy, having seen them come to the house from the road, was already at the door to greet them.

"My Lord, what is goin' on?"

"It's my Anna. She's having the baby. Anna began labor just as we got down to Muddy River. The river was running over the bank with all the rain water that had come down, and we had to turn around and start this way and ..."

"Never you mind telling the whole story right now. We have to get the little missus to bed so she can go about her business. Understand?" Lucy led Anna to the bedroom at the back of the cabin.

* * *

Big Al had sent his children to the loft to play quietly. Now he took Brady by the arm and guided him toward the kitchen table. He knew his job was to keep Brady as calm as possible, especially as Anna's labor became more intense. Al took a small box from the shelf above the fireplace and brought it to the table. It was a rough-hewn box that he had put together several years ago during a snowstorm. The snow had been so deep neither man nor animal dared to be outside. With just the knife that he carried with him every day, he had worked several evenings beside the oil lamp scraping and carving the irregular chunk of wood until the shape suited his purpose. The box now held his collection of Indian arrowheads, and a fine collection it was.

Al took the lid off of the box and proceeded to dump the contents onto the table. "Look at this, would you? Did you ever see such a collection?"

Brady looked at the arrowheads and moved his hands over them. He picked up a few and examined them. "I've never seen arrow heads like these. Where did you find so many?"

"Most were along Muddy River," answered Al. "You know, I've spent many, many hours on the banks of that river. When the fishing is slow, I prop my fishing pole up on a forked branch and just start looking along the bank. Indians liked to camp along a waterway, you know. Sometimes they would stay a short time, and other times they would stay a month or more if the food was plentiful. When they moved on to another place, they would almost always leave something behind like tent poles, pieces of pottery or, as in this case, arrowheads.

Suddenly, from the bedroom, Anna Marie let out a scream that made the men jump. Brady jumped up and started to go to her, but Big Al caught his arm once again and shook his head no. "You can't help this time, Brady. Nature will have its own way. Neither you nor I can do anything. Lucy has had her own children, and she's helped others birth their babies. Your child will come in its own time. Let's hope that she won't have a long, hard labor. Come, look at the arrowheads here, and maybe we can figure out what some of them were used for."

Time crept by. The old clock on the mantle seemed to tick louder than usual. The rain outside was beginning to slow down, interspersed with a few rumbles of thunder and the scratching sounds of limbs and sticks blowing around. Every time Anna shrieked Brady would stiffen his body, deeply regretting that his beloved Anna was going through such suffering. Suddenly they heard a small, muffled cry. Then they heard a smack, and a full-blown baby's cry filled the air. The two men quickly rose from their chairs, and both grinned widely at each other.

Al shook Brady's hand, "Seems you got your baby, young man."

At about that, time Lucy opened the bedroom door. She smiled and said, "You got yourself a baby boy. Come, see for yourself. Anna did a fine job bringing your baby into this world."

"Thank you, thank you, Lucy." Brady peered into the bedroom and hesitated at the sight of both his wife and his son before he went to their side. He kissed both their cheeks. His heart was filled with a joy that he had never felt before. My own son, he thought.

The storm had blown its last flurry of wind and rain, and now the clouds parted as a bright, golden stream of the setting sun broke through. It glowed through the tree limbs and came all the way to the west window of the bedroom where the three huddled together. A new beginning was upon them.

Brady and Anna Marie and the baby stayed with Big Al and Lucy for several days until Anna was strong enough to travel home. They decided to name the baby Patrick James. Brady rode back and forth from his farm to the Bennings' home every day, as he cared for his livestock . He had quite a responsibility, but nothing a strapping young man couldn't handle. At the evening of each day, he was tired but quite happy. Then the day arrived when he could take his family to their home.

Chapter Two


It was autumn in Kentucky. The trees, bushes, and vines were all displaying various colors of red, yellow, brown, and orange. The hot summer temperatures had ended, and the days were growing noticeably shorter once more. The wheat fields and cornfields had been harvested, and the grain was stored away to be used through the cold, blustery weather that lay ahead. Brady and Anna Marie would grind wheat and corn into meal for themselves, and the rest would feed the horses, the two sow pigs, and the cow and her calf while they were sheltered inside the barn. One whole side of the barn, except for the pig stalls, was filled with grasses that had been cut during the summer. These would also be fed to the animals. The barn was located about fifty, Brady-size steps from the kitchen door north of the cabin. Against the far side of the barn, Brady had built a lean-to that enclosed a chicken roost. No farm was complete without its own flock of laying hens and a couple roosters. He had also built a fence that encircled the barn and the barn lot. This provided twofold insurance—it kept the animals near if they somehow got out of the barn, and it provided a barrier between the farm animals and any wild animals.


Excerpted from Sunset in Kentucky by Carol Walls Howell Copyright © 2012 by Carol Walls Howell. Excerpted by permission of Abbott Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Sunset in Kentucky 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A good historical fiction for young adults on up. The plot develops quickly and keeps you engrossed to the last page.