Jake, where is your ranch located? How much land do you own?
My ranch is in Northwest Texas and covers about 1,000 acres. The ranch used ta be bigger. But Ben Mitchell, the previous owner, gave up some acreage so a town could be built. It was named after his late brother Charelton.
How long have you been a rancher? And how would you describe yourself?
I been ranching since my Pa settled near Ben Mitchell when I was ten. He taught my Pa and us boys all about ranching.
My Ma called me a man of few words. But, I’ve learned its necessary to use a few more when you’re dealing with ranch hands. And according to Cookie, my right- hand man, I need quite a few more when talking to women.
After I come home from the Civil War I was not in a good place. The woman I thought had promised her heart to me married my brother. I was carryin’ on in ways I ain’t proud of and going to work as Ben Mitchell’s foreman made a big difference in the man I am today. My pa wasn’t very religious, but Ben Mitchell had been a missionary before he came to ranchin’. I found faith and a new life working for him. I married his daughter, but she died of consumption a few months later. I inherited the ranch because all his sons died in the war. It’s been big shoes to fill. I got me some good men and that makes all the difference.
I appreciate your honesty, Jake. I heard that you are having a bit of a time with your niece, Juliet. What’s going on?
Juliet came to live with me when she was six. That was the same year my sister-in-law died in childbirth and my brother died from falling off a horse. I’d just inherited the ranch. She was a healing thing for me. We’re very close. Juliet’s a bit of a tomboy. Shoot she’s a lot of tomboy. And lacks the education her ma would have wanted for her. I don’t want to send her off to boarding school and I don’t have the time to teach her much myself. She can read and write and cypher some. She’d rather ride the range then sew a seam. She needs more genteel ways. The gal is growing up too fast.
It does sound like you need some help for sure. What made you decide to try finding a wife by getting a mail-order bride?
Cookie kinda talked me into it. There weren’t no one around here that suited. They was either too young, too old, or a soiled dove. And none of them had much education either. I wrote Miss Evangeline for over a year. All the other gals wanted to come right away. I at least wanted to feel like she wasn’t a complete stranger.
Can you share something about the process with the readers?
Well, land sakes, you women ask a passel of questions. There’s a paper called the Matrimonial Times. It can be had all over the country. I placed an ad there. As I said I got a heap of responses. Enough to make me want to change my mind. Cookie helped me sort through ‘em. Evangeline offered to write awhile. That suited me fine.
Well, I don’t mean to be nosey, Jake, but we don’t hear about mail-order brides every day and I find the subject rather fascinating.
What do you think of Evangeline Olson? Is she the kind of women you’re looking for?
I hope so. She sent me a picture of her with her niece. She’s a beauty and it surprises me she’s still unattached. She was a nurse in the Civil War and from her letters she seems to have had a good education. She don’t need to know how to cook and such cause I got a housekeeper. But the other ladylike things are what I hope she’ll teach Juliet.
What are your hopes for the future of your relationship?
Cookie was right. I need to find a few more words to talk to a woman. Well, Kathy, I would hope we’d get along. I’d like us to come to love each other. I hope she’s of a kind nature. But then again she ain’t never married. So, I worry a mite. I pray she comes to love my home as much as I do. Mostly, I hope she and Juliet get close and Miss Evangeline helps her become a lady. I want the girl to find a good man someday who’ll take over the ranch when I’m gone. If love grows betwixt Evangeline and I maybe we’ll have a son to inherit the Double M.
Are we done here? I got a lot of work to do before day’s end. You have a good day, ma’am.
Why, thank you for your time, Jake. I won’t keep you any longer. I’ve learned a lot and I think you had just the right amount of words. You have a good day as well!
About the Author
Cindy Ervin Huff is a multi-published writer and her debut novel Secrets and Charades won the Editor’s Choice Award in 2014 and placed third in the Maxwell Awards in 2017 and first place Serious Writer Medal 2018. Her contemporary romance New Duetreleased in May 2018. She has been featured in numerous periodicals over the last thirty years. Cindy is a member of ACFW, Mentor for Word Weavers. founding member of the Aurora, Illinois chapter of Word Weavers and Christian Writer’s Guild alumni. Although she has been creating stories in her head since childhood it wasn’t until high school those imaginary characters began appearing on paper. After raising her family, she began her novel writing adventures. Cindy loves to encourage new writers on their journey. She and her husband make their home in Aurora, Illinois. They have five children and six grandchildren. Visit Cindy on Facebook at www.facebook.com/cindyehuff,follow her on twitter @CindyErvinHuff, or check out her blog at www.jubileewriter.wordpress.com.