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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Era (02/03/11)

By Jean Beier


The young woman looked around her while straining to pinpoint just where she was. Fear filled her entire being. Her smelly and sweat drenched clothes hung heavy upon her body. Her feet felt pinched in the high buckled shoes, and her long skirt was heavy and uncomfortable. Her bonnet set on her head.

Lucy Benton’s eyes focused upon the wagon she was walking behind. It looked to be fifteen feet long. The wagon bore a canvas covering which was positioned with several wooden bows that arched from side to side of the wagon bed. The flapping canvas door revealed furniture, trunks, pans, and all the necessities needed for the long trek.

Trek from where to where? Lucy felt the fear well up in her. It started in the center of her being and raced up to her head. She felt disoriented and dizzy. It was like she had stepped into another Era.

Lucy continued to take stock of her surroundings. The wagon she walked behind was being pulled by two brawny gray mules. Behind her five identical wagons were pulled, with men at the reigns, and families on foot along side and behind each wagon. Lucy surmised she was part of a wagon train, but how she got there, she did not know.

They walked till the sun’s rays settled to the ground and darkness threatened to engulf them all. The wagons were driven in a circle, and the pioneers took refuge in their protective ring of temporary homes.

Lucy found that she was crossing from Ohio to Oregon with a young family of three. The husband, wife, and ten year old son, shared their wagon with her. The wife told Lucy how brave she was to travel to Oregon to marry a man she had never met. Lucy sighed realizing she was to be a mail order bride.

It was tedious getting the fire burning and getting the utensils and food positioned for cooking their evening meal. After walking all day she was exhausted, and wondered how she would ever possess the energy to consume her meal. But she was hungry and did.

Finally it was time to bed down. A blanket spread on the ground, and another rolled for her head, made up her bed. The sky was her covering and was lit up by the dotted starry night. Lucy listened as the father prayed with his wife and son, thanking God for His protection throughout the day. Soon all were quiet and sound to sleep.

As sleep overtook Lucy, she began to dream. In her dream she laid sleeping in a four posted bed. It had boxed springs with a padded mattress on top. The bed was donned with satin sheets. She was covered with a down feather quilt and her head rested on a down filled pillow. An opened book was positioned across her chest, where it had landed as she had fell asleep reading, THE MAIL ORDER BRIDE.

Lucy loved reading and she especially loved reading stories about pioneer women and mail order brides. It all seemed romantic to her. She admired how strong and brave the women were. She liked their long dresses, bonnets, and the pretty petticoats.

Just before falling asleep while reading her book, Lucy thought on how it would be like to be a pioneer woman traveling by wagon train to marry a stranger. She wished she would have lived during that time period. She was sure she could be strong.

Ms. Lucy, “wake up!” Lucy’s eyes struggled to open. She heard the woman she traveled with calling her. Her back hurt from spending the night on the ground. Her feet were still sore from the long day of walking the day before. She remembered that she was heading for Oregon to marry a man she had never met. He was a widower with three young children. He needed someone to help him raise the children, and to take care of him. She was an orphan child, now legal age and had to have a home. So when she heard of the man’s request, she had made the decision to agree to the union.

“No! No!” she yelled, “I made a mistake. I’m not strong! I’m not brave! I don’t want to marry a man I’ve never met!”

“Lucy!” her mother yells. Shaking Lucy, her mother wakes her, bringing her back to 2011. A much better Era, with automobiles, down filled quilts, and marriages made of love.

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This article has been read 324 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Anita van der Elst02/12/11
I used to think it would be romantic to live during the pioneer days too. But if I had I would've died in childbirth so I agree with the MC when she awakened from her dream. Nice writing!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 02/12/11
It is fun to let our minds wander and wonder what it would be like to live in another time. I remember watching "Little House" when I was a kid thinking it would be a romantic era.
Kathy Stevens02/12/11
We don't think about heavy petticoats,exhaustion and pain when thinking about the romance of that time. Thanks for a detailed peak into the reality of that era. I think I'll stay here.
Norma-Anne Hough02/13/11
well done on this story of yours. What a life the early settlers and pioneers lived. Thankfully we are no longer in their shoes.
Lovely read. Well done
Mildred Sheldon02/13/11
I loved this story. Seeing movies about traveling by wagon train across the desert seems so romantic but you showed how difficult it truly was. Good job.
diana kay02/15/11
this was funny and descriptive well done. and i thought that "mail order brides" were a phenomenum of the modern era. how wrong i was!