The front door burst open and a slim girl rushed out. “Colby!” She threw herself into his arms. Reed sat his horse and looked on in amusement as Colby Powell tried to disentangle the girl’s arms from his thick neck. The girl couldn’t be more than seventeen but it was evident she had a crush on Colby. Catching Colby’s hand she pulled him toward the house. “Come in quick out of the rain.”
Colby gave Reed a pleading look, “I know . . .” Reed drawled, “See to the horses.”
“Everybody, look who’s here,” Millie yelled.
The Jones family had just sat down for their evening meal but they all rushed to greet Colby. “Where’d you come from? It’s been a blue moon since you was last here,” said James Jones, stretching out his big hand and welcoming Colby warmly.
“It’s good to see you sir,” Colby answered. “It has been a long time.”
Mrs. Jones had been standing behind her husband, waiting for the preliminaries to be done with. Now she stepped forward clucking over Colby like a mother hen does her chicks. “Colby Powell, you get out of those wet clothes immediately. Why, you’ll catch your death. The very idea being out in such weather as this. James what you suppose ails this boy? I know we brought him up to have enough sense to get in out of the rain.” Jo had been pulling off Colby’s rain-drenched slicker as she talked. Now she handed it to Elm who was the youngest member of the Jones clan. “You go hang Colby’s coat by the back door.”
Elm jumped to do her bidding. Colby tousled his fair hair, “Elm’s grown,” he mused, then laughed when Elm’s face turned bright red.
Jo continued barking orders. Her black eyes snapped with delight at having Colby home again. “Journal take Colby up to your room and get him some dry clothes.”
Journal slapped Colby on the back. “Just like old times, huh Colby? You were always coming in wet or covered with mud and I’d have to loan you my extra pair of pants ‘cause you’d already gone through yours.” Colby only grinned. It was good to be home where you were welcomed and loved.
Just as Colby and Journal started up the steps there was a knock at the back door. It opened and Reed stepped inside.
“Land sakes, Ma! There’s two of ‘em!” Journal exclaimed.
Reed stood in the doorway looking like a drenched hound. The rain dropped off him and puddled on the floor at his feet.
“This is my friend, Reed Butler,” said Colby. Reed, these folks are the Jones family. That’s James and Jo, his wife. This here’s Journal. Then there’s Boone, April, Laurel, Millie, and that’s Elm.”
“Howdy,” grinned Reed.
Jo began clucking again. Reed and Colby were taken upstairs to get dry clothes. Extra plates were set and soon they were all enjoying good food and good fellowship.
“Colby, what in tarnation brings you out in weather like this?” James asked as he passed the platter of hot biscuits.
“I’m back to my old job of surveying. The Virginia Land Company folks are ready to stake a dozen families for their new development in the Kentucky wilderness. We’ll need families who can make the settlement self-sufficient. You’re the first to know beside me and Reed. I plan to put my stake down there. Reed, too. It’s a good plan but there’s lots of hard work ahead. We’re gonna follow the Wilderness Road over Clinch Mountain and through the Cumberland then blaze our own trail from there. It should be quite an adventure. I’d like to take Journal and Boone along if you have no objections.”
“No objections, Colby, but how you gonna know when you find the right place to start your settlement?”
“Oh, I’ll know all right. It’ll be in a beautiful valley, the prettiest place this side of paradise.”
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