Authors: Zoe Matthews
ORPHAN TRAIN ROMANCE SERIES
BOOKS 1 THROUGH 5
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Written by Zoe Matthews
Copyright © 2014
All Rights Reserved
No part of this publication may be copied, reproduced in any format, by any means, electronic or otherwise, without prior consent from the copyright owner and publisher of this book.
This is a work of fiction. All characters, names, places and events are the product of the author's imagination or used fictitiously.
1850 and 1930, around 250,000 abandoned and orphaned children traveled on trains from the east coast of United States to different towns in the west in hopes of finding new homes. Most came from New York City.
This plan was started by a man named Charles Loring Brace who was very concerned about the amount of young children living on the streets of New York. He worked with an orphanage named “Children’s Aid Society.” He came up with this idea that if these children were taken west and placed in homes in rural communities, they would have a chance for a better life rather than spending their childhood in an orphanage or on the streets. Forty-five states eventually participated in this program, including Mexico and Canada.
Posters were placed around towns to advertise “Homes Wanted for Orphans.” There usually was a committee in the town that would screen interested parents and help place the orphans. These children were supposed to be adopted and treated as family members. This wasn’t always the case though, and sometimes children were placed in bad situations.
Despite this loosely structured plan, many children did find loving homes with caring parents and families
Amanda Drake walked into the General store and headed to the back of the large room. She was looking for some specific fabric for a new order she had received for a morning dress from the mayor’s wife, Mrs. Margaret Porter. She had asked for green plaid fabric, buttons, lace and ribbon. Amanda was hoping she would be able to find it all in the Maple Grove’s only General store and that she would not have to travel to another town or to have items ordered in. She was looking forward to making this dress, for it will help her seamstress business grow as word got around about her talents at sewing clothes, since Mrs. Porter had many friends.
Amanda breathed a sigh of relief as she saw the green plaid fabric that she had in mind was available. She was able to find buttons and lace that would work perfectly with the fabric. Although she couldn’t see ribbon that would match, she thought she might have some in her own dress shop supplies. Amanda brushed away some strands of her dark brown hair out of her eyes that had escaped her bun due to the Texas wind in the short walk across the street from her dress shop to the General store. As she started to gather what she needed, she felt a presence behind her and knew immediately who it was.
She turned around to face the last person she wanted to see that day and was hoping to avoid. Craig Parker was standing in front of her with a new shovel and a bag of nails in his hands.
“Hello, Amanda,” Craig greeted her with his big booming voice and teasing grin. Amanda couldn’t help but notice his sun bleached blond hair that desperately needed a trim and surprisingly bright sky blue eyes. He had removed his cowboy hat which was tucked under his arm.
“Hello, Mr. Parker,” Amanda tried to answer quietly so they wouldn’t attract attention from the shopkeeper, Mrs. Estelle Davis. Mrs. Davis, in Amanda’s opinion, happened to be the biggest gossip in Maple Grove. She said his last name pointedly, reminding him that she had not given him permission to call her by her first name.
Craig just grinned down at her, looking delighted that he had the opportunity to talk to her. “Have you thought more about my proposal of marriage?” He asked her, his voice sounding a little quieter but still loud just the same.
“The answer is still no,” Amanda whispered irritably. “Please don’t ask me again.” She walked over to a display of sewing scissors and threads, pretending interest in the variety of choices. She tried to hint to Craig to leave her alone and that she wasn’t interested in talking about it, especially in the General store.
“I don’t see why you won’t even consider it,” Craig pretended to pout as he followed her. “I know for a fact you have no other prospects, you being a widow and all, and childless besides.” Craig pushed himself between the display and Amanda.
“My decision as to why doesn’t concern you,” Amanda loudly whispered again. She tried not to look at him because for some reason every time she did, her heart would do a little flip. The last thing she wanted was to feel an attraction to a man other than her late husband, David.
“Well, I guess if you want to go through life as an old maid, it’s your choice,” Craig teased her. “But my offer still stands. I have purchased a great little farm that is located just outside of town, you know, but it’s kind of lonely out there, and I could use some help.”
“You don’t marry someone just to have extra help,” Amanda said firmly. “You should marry only if you love that person.”
“Ah, love,” Craig said, his eyes still twinkling with laughter. “That will come after we get to know each other.” Craig reached down and handed Amanda a pair of scissors that she had been pretending to study. “Besides, if you marry me, you won’t have to work in that shop of yours anymore. You would have someone else support you.”
Craig’s words frustrated Amanda and made her more determined to not marry him. She knew Craig had no idea that she didn’t have to work. David had left her a sizable amount of money when he died, along with the small house she was living in. After his death, Amanda had decided to turn part of her home into a dress shop and sew clothes for other women and children. She loved to sew and it kept her busy. Sewing also made her feel close to David as he had purchased the Singer sewing machine for her as a gift for their fifth wedding anniversary.
Amanda had loved David very much and didn’t think she could ever love another man. She had resigned herself to the fact that she would live alone for the rest of her life. If only she had been able to have a child with David, then she wouldn’t be so lonely, but it wasn’t meant to be, and she had long ago accepted her childless state.
Amanda felt angry with Craig because she was afraid he was just looking for another free “ranch hand” to work to death, like what had happened to her mother. Amanda’s father had died when she was a young girl and her mother had remarried soon after, mainly because she couldn’t support Amanda on her own and care for the farm she and her first husband had purchased before Amanda was born.
Her new stepfather was a very stern man and kept her mother and Amanda working and busy all day long and sometimes even late into the night. Despite all their hard work, there was never enough to eat and the small farm home they lived in was crumbling around them. Her mother died when Amanda was 16 years old, probably from exhaustion. She went to bed one night after an extremely hard day’s work and never woke up.
Amanda left the farm on her own soon after her mother’s funeral and was able to find work as a kitchen maid in David’s family home. Even though it wasn’t the proper thing to do, David and Amanda fell in love and married when she was 18 years old. She had many fond memories of her marriage to David. He was almost 10 years older than her. He was an attorney and they had moved to Maple Grove, Texas soon after they married. He died from falling off of a horse and hitting his head on a rock when he was on his way home from visiting a client on a ranch near Maple Grove. They had been married for 8 years. She has since been alone the last two years, and planned on being by herself for the rest of her life.