The Convenient Mail Order Bride
her mother said. “We
know why you took them, and it was nice of you to protect us.”
    “We were just wondering if there’s something
else we can use in their place,” Phoebe added. “Are there any tools
or any other objects you have that will clang together like those
pots and pans do?”
    “I’d hate to use the tools,” he replied. “I
need them.” Then, just so they understood he realized they were in
a similar predicament, he amended, “Just as you need pots and
pans.” He shifted from one foot to another as he thought over all
the possible things he might have, but his mind came up blank. He
opened his mouth, ready to tell them this when he recalled Travis
Martin, the town recluse. “Well, there is someone who might have
something I can use. He has a lot of junk no one has any use
    “He collects junk on purpose?” Phoebe
    Amused at the shocked tone in her voice, he
grinned. “He takes old things and creates new things from them.
He’s actually good at it.”
    Her mother waved him over to the table. “Do
you have anything he made?”
    Obeying her silent invitation to the table,
he sat in one of the chairs but waited for them to sit before he
answered. “Actually, he fixed up a wagon and sold it to me for
cheap. I also got a good trunk in the barn and that worktable,” he
gestured to the table, “from him. He even sold me some of the tools
I use and that coffee pot over there. He can make anything.”
    Her mother poured coffee into their cups.
“Sounds like he has a gift.”
    He took the cup she handed him and thanked
her before taking a sip. Every time he drank it, it reminded him of
the white men who drank it so much, but, since Phoebe and her
mother seemed to like it, he supposed it wasn’t so bad. Besides,
they had a way of making it that made it taste better than anything
his mother did when she’d make it for his father. It was probably
the bitter connection to his father that bothered him the most when
it came to coffee. Now, at least, he’d have something pleasant to
connect it with.
    “I’ll go see Travis today,” he said as he
spread some butter on his slice of bread. “You two will have to go
along with me. I don’t like the thought of you staying here
    He glanced at them to see if they would
argue with him, but Phoebe smoothed the napkin on her lap and
smiled. “Since you had nice things to say about Travis, we have no
doubt he’s a good man. It’ll be nice to meet a good person while in
    “Well, he doesn’t live in town. He keeps out
of the way, and I don’t know if he’ll let you actually meet him.”
When he noticed their frowns, he quickly added, “He’s terribly shy,
especially around women, and the prettier they are, the worse it
gets for him.” He motioned to them. “You two will intimidate
    “Oh, Abe,” her mother said with a laugh, “I
wouldn’t have taken you for a flirt.” She waved her hand at him,
her cheeks pink.
    Not sure what she meant by “a flirt”, he
replied, “Granted, you’re older. You’re Phoebe’s mother, after all,
but it’s easy to see where Phoebe got her good looks.”
    This time it was Phoebe who blushed.
    For the life of him, he couldn’t figure out
why they should react this way. He glanced at one and then the
other. “I only speak the truth. Don’t any of the white men remark
on your beauty?”
    “Not in such a pleasant way,” her mother
    Her mother gave Phoebe a look that implied
something, but he couldn’t be sure what it was. All he knew was
that they were happy with him. He supposed that was good enough. He
turned his attention back to buttering the bread, deciding to put
their secret look aside. Who knew what women were thinking?
    The important thing was, they’d all go to
Travis’ together, and with any luck, the trip would be uneventful
and boring. After everything that happened yesterday, he’d welcome
uneventful and boring.

Chapter Eleven

    P hoebe

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