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  • Teresa Keefer

The Gambler and the Preacher's Daughter-2

It had been two weeks since their arrival at Deadwood and she hadn’t left their rooms above the general store. Letty had no desire to walk down the rickety wooden walkway that lined the muddy street. There was nothing to see but saloons. And it wasn’t safe in her opinion. Even though her father assured her during the day most of the seedy inhabitants stayed inside.

In Pittsburgh, she would have been outside strolling the tree-lined streets to the park or to the library. Perhaps, joining one of her friends at their home for a cup of tea and scones. Even at night, a lady could safely stroll from her home to another or catch a carriage to her destination. Not in Deadwood. At night, all you could hear was the bawdy sounds of saloon music, drunken hoots, and the occasional gun shot. In fact, not a night passed that gun shots didn’t ring out in the streets outside her window.

Alas, she had promised her father she would get outside today. He had insisted she get some fresh air and sunshine and suggested she drop by to see the progress

on the church at the end of the street. She donned her cape and slipped out into the hallway and made her way to the rickety stairs that led to the general store below.

As she hit the bottom step, she was immediately greeted by Mrs. Carlisle. A short, round woman with a perpetual smile and twinkling eyes who still spoke with a German accent. Her face was flushed from her exertions of putting items on shelves behind the counter. “Good morning, dear! It is so good to see you come down from your rooms. ‘Tis a beautiful spring day, and the air should put some color back in those cheeks.”

“I promised Father I would go for a walk today.” She smiled at the woman who had been kind enough to bring them some ham and potatoes leftover from dinner the previous night. It had been a nice change from the stews and soups that Letty cooked on the wood stove in the rooms. How she missed the kitchen in Pittsburgh with its big stove and oven. At least she was mastering the trick of baking cornbread and biscuits on top of the wood stove.

Mrs. Carlisle came around the counter and held out a stick of candy. “Here’s a little bit of a sweet for you, my dear. They just arrived yesterday on the wagon.” She smiled gently. “Your father has been very busy, but I heard the church was coming along nicely.”

Letty took the candy stick and put it in the pocket of her calico dress. Her father had been busy for sure. He held church services every Sunday in the tent outside the mining camp, but she was not permitted to go because there were no women there. She also knew he had performed graveside services almost daily, whether it be for one of the men gunned down on the streets or those who had succumbed to the fever. “Thank you, Mrs. Carlisle. I haven’t had a candy stick since I left home back east.”

“Please. Call me Molly.” She put a hand on Letty’s arm. “And do come back after your walk and we will have a cup of tea and one of the scones I made fresh this morning.”


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