The Mail Order Bride

The farm. Well, it’s not a farm really. It’s where we live. My five children and I. My wife died a year ago when she was having Eleazar. We buried her over by the well house behind that small smattering of trees. Esther was twenty-four. We had been married ten years. I thought about leaving and moving to town, but this here farm is our livelihood and our life.

This farm which I inherited from Papa. Papa’s brother, my Uncle Elisha, said that I needed a new bride—a wife for me and a mother for the children, a woman to keep my loins warm.

I found this here Mail Order Bride Catalog at the General Store, looked through it, found myself a good woman—someone who looked like she could hold up through the winter—and I sent for her.

Tomorrow she arrives on the train from St. Louis. Me and the children and Uncle Elisha will hitch up the buggy and go into town and meet the noon train. That will give us enough time to get home before dark.

The Preacher will come and marry us next month. Me and my new wife and the kids and the neighbors will have ourselves a picnic to celebrate.

Next month is planting. She said in one of her letters she was raised on a farm. She knows all about farms. She is sixteen and seems plenty eager for a husband and children.

Before we leave for town, I visit Ruth’s grave as I do every Sunday. I thank her for the life she gave me in this here wilderness and tell her I miss her and tell her that she will never be replaced in my affections by another. She will always be my first love. I tell her of this new woman, how it was Uncle Elisha’s idea, how she will be my bride and the children’s other mother. I tell her that the children need a mother and hope she understands.

Then we hitch up the horse to the buggy and head on in to town.

The Tractor

Jed’s father’s tractor sat in the field. It was an old tractor his dad often had to work on but somehow kept it going. When he had a particularly hard time repairing the tractor, he’d say to Jed, “That’s the way with tractors.”

Jed asked him once, “Why don’t you get a new tractor?”

“What, and turn this fellow out to rust? He’s got a lot more miles in him.”

Jed looked at the tractor. What was he going to do with it? He walked up to the beast and crawled up into its seat. He checked the gas gauge. It had a quarter of a tank. He put the key into the ignition and said to the tractor, “Now don’t give me a hard time.”

Jed turned the ignition. The tractor didn’t start. He tried a second time. Still no start. Just a grrrrrr. The grrrrr seemed to say, “Say please.”

Jed gently, patiently, said, “Please.” It was a serious please.

“Grrrrrrrr,” went the tractor. Then it’s engine kicked off with what Jed thought was a “Thank you for asking.”