Authors: Joany Kane
Miss Annie And The Chief
By Joany Kane
Copyright 2013 Joany Kane
All Rights Reserved
raises an ax over her shoulder.
She swings it down, splitting a piece of wood in two.
She is pretty handy with an ax.
She has to be in order to survive,
living alone in the Pennsylvania countryside while her husband Caleb is off
fighting in the war between the states.
She picks up the
pieces and placed them in a woodpile next to a red barn.
She stops for a moment to smile at her
beautiful black horse grazing in the pasture, her one and only companion.
It is a glorious spring day; Annie
catches the scent of lilacs on the wave of a breeze.
Soldiers on horseback approach her homestead.
The men look weary from years of Civil War fighting.
Captain Harmon Taylor, aged beyond his
thirty-something years, the battle experiences covering up his farm boy
sweetness, leads the soldiers.
Annie stops her
chores and approaches the soldiers.
I'm Captain Harmon
he says, an unwanted and
ill-timed blush flushing his cheeks.
He hadn’t expected to find her so comely.
My husband has
written often of you.
He holds you
in high regard.” Annie replies.
“As I him.” Captain
Taylor smiles warmly before taking a heavy breath. “It is with deep regret that
I am here today, Mrs. Landon.”
She has feared this
Caleb, fought admirably. He continued to fight, even after he was shot. He was
not alone when he died. I was with him.
His last words spoke of you.”
That's a comfort to hear, Captain.”
Annie quietly responds.
her pain she turns her attention to the soldiers, noting their tired, ragged
“You and your men look
Why don't you camp here
for the evening and I will fix you supper.”
“That's a kind
offer, Mrs. Landon.
Captain Taylor motions for
his men to dismount. “Finish chopping the wood and make camp.” He orders.
Later in the
evening after dinner, the three soldiers sit by a fire near their tents.
One plays a fiddle while Annie sits
with Captain Taylor near the front of the Colonial house.
“You have a fine
home here, Mrs. Landon,” the captain comments.
“It's just a
A home is for a family.”
“It broke your
husband's heart that he couldn't be here with you when your son passed.”
away, the words bringing back more painful memories. “They're now together in
God's care,” she whispers.
more losses than any woman should have to endure,” the captain says with
He would give
anything to comfort her.
“Do you have
wanting to change the subject.
“The Army has
been my family.”
“Not much time
to feel alone these past three years,” the captain shrugs.
Maybe not for the captain, but
certainly for Annie as shown in her eyes.
“I beg your
pardon, Mrs. Landon, that wasn't the most thoughtful of responses,” the captain
stumbles his reply. “I know it's been nearly three years since you've seen
she quietly sighs.
“Too long,” he
house, after the soldiers have called it a night, Annie busies herself with
She focuses on her task
trying to keep her mind from dwelling on her loses, though tears are escaping
her eyes and rolling down her cheeks.
arrives, the soldiers are ready to leave.
The three soldiers have already mounted their horses while Captain
Taylor stands with Annie.
hands the captain a basket.
muffins and bread for your travels.”
“Thank you, Mrs.
Landon,” the captain says kindly, as the three soldiers give their thanks to
Annie for the food and shelter.
welcome. I appreciated the company,” she manages a smile.
mounts his horse.
He tips his hat
“Good-bye, Mrs. Landon.”
Annie watches the men
She returns to the house
and enters it.
It seems so big and
empty now, more so today than yesterday.
Her toddler son is dead, taken by the pox.
Her husband is dead.
Now what does she do?
She takes a wooden box from a shelf, opens it and removes a small pile
of hand-written letters.
through the letters, they're all written to her from an Aunt Selma.
She reads one.
"Dear Annie, We crossed the
Mississippi today. I've never seen such a wide river. Everything I've
experienced on this trip west thus far has been exhilarating. As I travel
across this beautiful country, I eagerly anticipate my new life in the Colorado
Territory. I wish you were here to share it with me.
With much love, Aunt Selma"
buggy, driven by Annie, rides down the main road of a small Pennsylvania
Annie parks the buggy in
front of a tavern.
mourning black, she steps down from the buggy.
She pats the nose of her horse, showing true affection for
her beast of burden.
She looks at
the tavern, at first unsure about entering.
Mustering determination, she enters.
Not one man in
the place looks like a gentleman, an observation not lost on Annie.
She clears her throat and looks at the
bartender. “I'm looking for Mr. Emmet Howes.”
The men seated
at the front of the bar turn their attention to a rough ole coot seated at the
end of the bar.
“He's at the end
of the bar,” the bartender replies.
down on his bar stool, not wanting to be acknowledged. He looks tough in most
spots, lovable in a few others, and could stand for a bath and a shave.
him. “Mr. Emmet Howes?”
Annie the once over. “If you're recruitin' for the Lord, ya picked the wrong
“I'm Mrs. Annie
You took Selma MacHattie,
my aunt, to the Colorado Territory a couple of years ago.”
his brow, trying to recall.
she that teacher?”
“Yes, she is a
I took her to Beaver
Went with the
The good bookers
determined to bring Jesus to the savages.”
“I wish to hire
you to bring me to Beaver Creek, to my aunt.”
If yer anything like yer
aunt, I ain't interested.
me so riled I had to drink warm milk for a month to calm my stomach.”
I can pay.
“Have you ever
seen a savage?”
You should keep it that way.”
“My husband is
dead, Mr. Howes.
My little boy is
I have no family other than
Please.” Annie implores
with quiet determination.
“I will give you
Emmet looks away
He gave her his
Annie, now embarrassed by
her pleas, leaves the tavern.
hops up into her buggy.
Emmet exits the
He studies the horse.
“Is this the horse?”
Emmet pets the horse's nose.
He was a present to me from my
“We leave at
daybreak the day after next.
you ain't ready, you ain't going.”
Annie answers with
At daybreak a
covered wagon rides up to Annie’s house, Emmet is at the reigns.
He whoa’s his horses to a stop.
Annie exits the house.
She approaches Emmet.
“Good morning, Mr. Howes.”
“It is good and
it's gettin' away from us.
be gettin' a move on,” he says surly as he hops down from the wagon to help
Annie with her trunk and two bags.
“This all ya
He asks as he looks at
the trunk and two bags.
“This is all I
Annie's horse to the back of the wagon.
“What's gonna happen to yer house?” Emmet inquires.
“I gave it to
the church. It was built for a family and a family should live in it.”
Annie up into the wagon.
up next to her.
“You got the money
for yer passage?” Emmet asks.
Annie hands a
small bag of coins to Emmet.
now and half when we arrive at Beaver Creek.”
Emmet giddy ups his
The wagon moves away from
“We're meeting up
with some abolitionists who will be riding along with us.”
Emmet shares with Annie.
teachers, missionaries and abolitionists, Mr. Howes?
I think the good Lord has already recruited you,” she
“Now that's just
plain not true.” Emmet scoffs.
The wagon rides
down the road, heading away from the homestead and away from the rising
Annie does not look back,
reaches a crossroads.
wagon waits by the side of the road.
There seems to be some sort of activity happening in the back of the
covered wagon, unseen to anyone.
approaches and pulls up alongside the waiting wagon.
He calls out.
“Ain't the best time to be professing yer love for each other, you
Peter and Jenny
Newton, a middle-aged couple, hop out of the back of the wagon. They're careful
to close the flap so no one can see into their wagon.
“Good day.” Peter
greets. “I'm Peter Newton and this is my wife Jenny.”
“It's a pleasure
to meet you.
I'm Mrs. Annie
Landon.” Annie warmly shares.