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

TITLE: Whittingham Dynasty
By Brenda Rice


Abigail Whittingham is still an imposing figure, even at age sixty. Standing five feet, ten inches tall, she’s lean with salt and pepper gray hair. She has owned and operated the “Circle W” since she finished college. Everyone that knows her says, Abigail is one tough cookie.

The “Circle W” has been in the Whittingham family for five generations. Abigail is the only woman to ever run the ranch. Since the hands are all men, she had her work cut out for her. If anyone tells you she doesn’t know what she’s doing, you can be sure they don’t know Abigail.

Mac Whittingham died young leaving the ranch to his only child. Abigail had just finished college with a marketing degree, when her Father died. It was a difficult decision to step out of corporate America to run a horse ranch in Montana. That was almost forty years ago. Today the “Circle W” is one of the largest ranches in Montana. Horses raised and trained there are sold around the world.

“Yea, she’s tough alright, but she’s fair. Abigail is the only woman I’ve ever worked for. I respect her more than most men employers I‘ve had. She’s made a profitable business out of this ranch.” Hansford Langley, foreman.

“I call her A.W. for short. I started that early on, because I didn’t like telling folks I worked for a woman. That’s before I knew her very well. Abigail has a head for business, but more than that, she‘s full of compassion. She’s made me proud to work for her. I’d fight a circle saw before I’d let anyone mess with Abigail.” Ben Lucas, blacksmith.

“Reckon, all the men feel the same about Abigail. Since her folks are dead, and she never married, we consider her family. She feels that way about us, too.” Emmett Barnes, cook.

“Most folks around here wonder what she’ll do with the ranch when she retires. Oh, she’s got some cousins who own a spread nearby, but I doubt she’ll give them the option to buy it. My money’s on Hansford. He’s about forty, got a college education, and they work really good together. All the men like Hansford. So, I hope when the time comes, he’ll be the one.” Tom Watson, trainer.

“I know what Tom thinks, but I think she just might leave it to family, or sell it to them. You know keeping it with the Whittingham name. Whatever she decides, I know she’ll make the best arrangements for all us that she can. That’s how Abigail is.” Ben Lucas.

“I’ve worked for Abigail fifteen years. I loved this place the minute I saw it. The long tree lined lane leading to the main house was impressive by itself. Then, I looked to the left and saw the horse barns, I was blown away. Now, Abigail and I , we had to grow on each other. But we did, and it’s been great. Some of the men think she’ll give me the option to buy the ranch. Personally, I don’t know. Not, sure I’d accept it if she did. It would never be the same without her. She’s quite a lady. Nope, I really don’t know what I’ll do when that time comes. One thing I do know is when Miss Whittingham retires, it will be end of something very special at the “Circle W”. She’s one of a kind, alright. Yep, Abigail Whittingham will be a tough act to follow. It’ll be the end of a dynasty.” Hansford Langley.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 02/12/11
This is an interesting look at how tough it can be for a woman to work in what was typically considered a man's world. It reminded me of my mom. She was the first female bus driver in the school district. It took a lot of work, beat she too was respected by her male co-workers.
Norma-Anne Hough02/13/11
Interesting read about how a woman is able to cope.
Well done.
Mildred Sheldon02/13/11
What an enjoyable read. I bet Ms Abigail stood by her priniples. I've known some women like that. Good job.
Sara Harricharan 02/15/11
Love the voice in this one. Abigail turned out to be one special lady. I like how you managed to capture a 'western' feel in this one to add a second atmosphere to this piece. It was a nice read.
Kaye Swain02/22/11
I really enjoyed reading this and it left me wanting to read more. Especially, what did she decide to do. Thanks for a great story. :)