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   Chapter 2 The Letter

The Ranger's Daughter By LadyRosabella Characters: 8201

Updated: 2017-12-20 17:30


Garret Lace wandered into the general store. He needed to buy Gracie's spices and he wanted to find something special for her. A gift. Tom and his wife Maryanne owned the general store and though the town was small, they always kept their mercantile well stocked with useful items.

Maryanne was helping a woman at the counter and Garrett didn't see Tom anywhere. Either Tom was in the back or else he was still in the city helping his daughter. Garret selected the three spices their kitchen had been low on and then moved on to browse for a girlie gift. He really wasn't any good with deciding upon gifts for females. His wife had always said he chose the worst best gifts. They were truly terrible gifts but they were so bad that she loved them and treasured them. Garrett's blue eyes misted a bit as he remembered his wife wrapping her arms around his neck and pressing a kiss to his cheek. "Oh Garrett! This is the worst best go you've ever given me!" She giggled as she clutched the handful of grass in her hand.

"I though it was thoughtful!" Garrett defended his gift. "It's been a long winter and you said you missed seeing the grass."

"So you dug through several feet of snow until you found some?"

Garrett nodded, beginning to feel rather embarrassed about his random gift.

"Oh darling, " Belle Lace wrapped her arms around his neck and pressed her lips firmly against his. "I would dig through snow for you too."

Garrett chuckled. "Instead, how about you turn your back so I can snitch a piece of pie?"

"Garrett. Garrett? Garret Lace, I say, are you okay?"

Garrett blinked slowly and willed his eyes to focus on the woman in front of him. It wasn't Belle. "Hello, Maryanne." He greeted rather hoarsely.

"Are you okay, Garrett, honey? Maryanne asked, concern shadowed her face.

"Of course. I'm- " Garrett cleared his throat and willed his mind to stay focused on the task at hand. "I'm looking for a gift. For my Gracie."

Mary Anne smiled in delight and clapped her hands together. "Oh that is so sweet!" She exclaimed. "A gift without a reason! You always were a thoughtful one, Garrett. Now what did you have in mind?"

"Umm..." Garrett scratched his whiskery chin. "I don't rightly know. Just something nice, I guess. Something that she'll really love."

Mary Anne frowned in thought. "Well, " she mused, "there's the regular things like jewelry, fabric for a dress, lace collars. You have no idea as to what you're looking for?"

"I want it to be something she will truly adore."

Mary Anne raised her eyebrows as she wandered the store. "Well that's a tall order, Garrett. What about these?"

"What is it?" Garrett wheeled his chair across the room to examine what she held. "Sticks?"

"No, no!" Mary Anne giggled, truly amused by the man's lack of knowledge. "They're bamboos knitting needles with a decorative ivory ball at the top. See? They were imported! It took them nearly three months to arrive. I shouldn't have bought them but they were so pretty and I just knew that some woman would be glad she owned such s fine pair of needles. "

"My Gracie does love to knit. Are they awfully expensive?" He asked as he took the needles from her. His calloused fingers slid smoothly over the polished wood.

"I'm afraid so." Mary Anne frowned as she watched the man admire the needles in question. "They're nearly two dollars!"

Garret's bushy eyebrows shot straight up to his hairline. "Two dollars?" He repeated just to be sure he'd heard right.

"Yes, indeed. They're so fancy you see and it wasn't cheap to import them."

Garrett studied the needles in silence for several seconds, considering. Finally he nodded and handed the bamboo needles back to Mary Ann. "Wrap them up. And a couple skeins of that soft wool yarn my girl loves to work with."

"Of course! Of course!" Mary Anne bustled around wrapping his purchases and tallying the total. She was positively delighted with the sale. She just knew Grace would adore the knitting needles. "There you are. " she said handing him the packages and accepted the money he offer

ed her. "Anything else for you today?"

"Is Tom around?"

"I'm afraid not. Our daughter is having dome difficulties with her husband. He should be back soon. Should I tell him to call on you?"

"No, don't bother. Just give him this letter, will ya?"

"Of course I will!" Mary Anne assured Garrett as she accepted the letter. "You have a good day now!"

Garrett paused near the door as he places the hat on his head. "You too. And please don't forget the letter, Mary Anne. It's important."

---

"Pa!" Grace exclaimed in delight when she opened the brown package. "They're- oh Pa! Where did you ever find bamboo knitting needles?"

Garrett smiled at his daughter as they sat at the table after the noon meal. "I have my ways Gracie baby. Do you really like them?"

Grace promptly stood and bent to wrap her arms around her Pa's neck. "I'll treasure them even more because they are from you. This is a wonderful gift, pa. You are too kind to me."

"I'm glad you like them. You'll have to knit a sweater or something with the yarn."

"It is such a pretty shade of green, I wonder how they ever got that yarn dyed so prettily."

"It is nice." Pushing back from the table Garrett rolled towards the door. "I'm gonna go do some bridle mending in the barn. You enjoy your yarn and needles."

"Oh I will! Thank you, Pa."

"You're welcome. I love you, Gracie."

"Love you too, Pa." Grace smiled in joy as she fairly danced to the parlor to store her new yarn and needles in her yarn basket. She would have to use the yarn to knit a warm sweater for her pa. He would look so nice in that green. She giggled to herself as she went back to the kitchen to clean up after their noon meal. She may even have enough yarn for a pair of matching socks!

Once in the barn, Garrett moved slowly if a bit unsteady. It was difficult for him to walk and move around out of his chair. It was nearly impossible and very painful, mouth he could do it if he had a bit of support and a strong amount of determination and Garrett Lace was determined. Today was his wedding anniversary.though so many years had passed, his memory of the day remained untarnished. He could still see his beautiful Belle moving down the aisle to join her on to his. Till death do them part.

----

Mary Ann frowned at the letter sitting on the counter near the register. Tom may not be home for days yet and Garrett said the letter was very important. She paused, trying to decide if she should or she shouldn't. Convincing herself that their may be something she can do to help, she finally reached for the letter and tore it from the envelope. Unfolding it, she gasped as she read:

Dear Tom, If you're reading this, I'm already gone. I beg you please do not judge me too harshly. I am an old crippled man that misses his wife beyond words. I know you can't fully feel my pain because, thank the good Lord, you still have your beloved Mary Ann. I've been living nearly sixteen years without my Belle and each day is more difficult then the last. Please forgive my selfishness but I have served my purpose. Gracie is eighteen now, fully grown. She no long needs me around and I am tired, so tired, Tom. I write you to tell you how much you and Mary Ann have meant to me over the years. And though I know I have no right to ask it, would you please watch over my Gracie. Make sure she moves on and lives her life to the full. I want her to be happy and she won't be happy huddled away in a cabin caring for her crippled old Pa her whole life. Make her understand, Tom. I love her so very much. She is so much like my Belle. And so farewell, my dear friend.

Garrett Lace

Tears streamed from Mary Anne's eyes as she ran as fast as she could from the store. Storming into the livery she quickly mounted a horse that had been tied to the hitching post.

"Hey!" The blacksmith protested.

"I'll bring him back!" Mary Anne hollered as she spurred the horse to a gallop. Dear God, please don't let me be too late! Please, please, please! She prayed as the horse ran as fast as it could for the Lace farm.

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