When she manages to get herself hired for the cattle drive, all of Samantha's prayers seem to be answered. The hundred dollars she'll earn will pull her family's Texas farm out of ruin and pay off their debts. But keeping the cowhands fooled that she's a boy becomes harder than she'd expected where one cowboy in particular is concerned.
Matthew Hart wants two things: to forget the tragedies he witnessed on the front lines of the War Between the States, and to reclaim his cowboy life. The last thing he wants is the responsibility of a tagalong youngster on the cattle drive. His closed mind and hardened heart are territory best left unexplored, until a fateful moment turns his world upside down.
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November 07, 2006
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Excerpt from An Avon True Romance: Samantha and the Cowboy by Lorraine Heath
BOYS FOURTEEN AND OLDER TO HERD CATTLE
TO SEDALIA, MISSOURI.
WILL BE PAID $100 AT END OF DRIVE.
IF INTERESTED, SEE THE TRAIL BOSS AT 7 IN
THE MORNING OUTSIDE THE GENERAL STORE.
With her heart thundering, Samantha Reynolds read the notice that someone had tacked to the wall outside the general store. A hundred dollars seemed like a fortune. What she wouldn't give to be a boy, so she could have the opportunity to earn that money for her family!
At sixteen she could barely remember the last time that coins had jingled in her reticule. Mr. Thomas, the owner of the general store, allowed her family to buy on credit. He kept a tally of supplies purchased and debts owed. Samantha didn't want to consider how long their tally sheet was getting to be. It had been months since her mother had been able to hand any money over to Mr. Thomas.
p>At this very moment her older brother, Benjamin, was loading their most recent purchases into the wagon. At twenty, he was old enough to be hired for the cattle drive. But she knew it would be nearly impossible to convince him to go. Since he'd returned from the war that had devastated many of the southern states, he was reluctant to do anything that took him away from their farm.
Her sister Amy was fourteen, old enough. But just like Samantha, she wasn't a boy. Her younger brother, Nate, was only twelve. He wouldn't qualify.
Samantha thought about the bolt of blue calico she'd seen inside the store. She wanted to sew a new dress, but the material was expensive as all get-out at ten cents a yard. She was wasting her time longing for it and hankering for any of the frippery and finery that the general store was slowly starting to stock, now that the war had ended.
Still, she did yearn for things. She wanted the life she'd had before the War against Northern Aggression,as most folks in these parts referred to it. She longed for people to start laughing again. Or if they couldn't laugh, at least to smile once in a while.
A hundred dollars wouldn't return life to the way it had been, but it would purchase several bolts of calico, canned goods to last through the winter, a new hoe, some chickens, a cow, and too many other things to count. She got dizzy with the possibilities swirling through her mind.
"I think we ought to have us a spring dance," the girl standing beside her on the boardwalk said.
Lost in thought, Samantha had almost forgotten Mary Margaret Anderson had been visiting with her. They'd been best friends forever. They'd sat beside each other in the one-room schoolhouse until they were fourteen and passed the exam that proclaimed they knew all that was to be taught. They'd shared confidences and dreams.
"We finally have some fiddle players in the area, and most of the boys learned to play a harmonica while they were away," Mary Margaret added.
"Do you even know how to dance?" Samantha asked distractedly, more interested in the notice than in dancing. If she stared at it long enough, maybe the words would change to include girls.