First Sunday in the Valley
"...Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all
the host of them.
And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and
he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.
And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that
in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made."
Gia reads from the Good Book Genesis chapter two. Marcus closes
his eyes and lets his sister's voice wash over him. It had been a
hard week on all of them. A hard trek that took months, after a
hard life but this was a constant. Every Sunday, after morning
chores and breakfast, they'd make their way to church. Now in the
absence of a church, Gia would read from the Good Book. There
were certain things that had to be done, for God had charged them
with the care of the animals and the fields, but if resting on
the seventh day was demanded by God well that was just fine by
him. God would surely forgive him if some of the contemplations
on this Sunday are of his earthly plans rather then creation.
Over at the Spencer homestead, they are also taking the day off
but the Spencer's aren't a particularly religious family. Today is
for catching up on things that had slid because of all the
efforts to get the cabin put together. After all the morning
chores, Laura had set up her wash tub for heating water to wash
hair and bodies. Bobbie has a skilled touch as a barber, trimming
hair and shaving beards.
After Luke gets cleaned up with the heated water he kicks back
and lets his sister shave him of the weeks growth. It is set up
like an assembly line, Luke then Lucky.
Then it's Lulu's turn to have her hair scrubbed with the still
soft soap that had been made earlier in the week, rinsed well
with warm water and the final rinse of warm water with a capful
of vinegar to cut any remaining soap residue. Then Lulu is passed
off to Carly who gets her dried off and dressed in clean clothes,
combs out the baby's hair and quickly braids it. Once the guys
and Lulu are cleaned up and refreshed, Luke takes his son and
daughter down to the river to go fishing, letting the women have
some privacy for their own grooming needs.
Carly groans. "Oh mama, I have been waiting for this all
week." Bobbie's fingers work the lathered soap into her
daughter's scalp. Laura comes after Bobbie with the water rinse
and then the vinegar rinse. Carly starts towel drying her hair,
combs it out and then braids it to keep it out of her way. Then
she takes Laura's place rinsing the other woman's hair after
Bobbie washes it. That little tablespoon of vinegar in warm water
is a necessary step in the process because any soap left in the
hair would itch and actually attract dirt in the coming week.
Bobbie is the last one to get her hair washed. "I swear
sometimes I wish I could just cut it all off like Luke or Lucky."
She looks up from toweling dry her hair, it springs in vivid red
curls down past her shoulders. "Imagine all the time we'd
save." Laura and Carly laugh knowing that while Bobbie is
not serious, it was something they'd all contemplated in weak
moments. Luckily their weak moments had never coincided and there
had always been someone there to take the scissors out of the
While Sarah and Elizabeth are emptying the wash tub. Audrey
contemplates what has been preying on her mind ever since being
called on it by her granddaughter. She'd done wrong, and it nags
her. She picks up the Good Book and silently asks for guidance
then allows it to fall open and reads a passage from James aloud.
"But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and
continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer
of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.
If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his
tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain.
Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To
visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep
himself unspotted from the world."
"Forgive me, Lord." Audrey mutters. "And thank you
for reminding me that it isn't enough to speak the
gospel. I must also walk Your path. It's not my place to judge
the Spencer's or others, that is a task left to God."
Elizabeth comes into the cabin and hears Audrey talking to
herself. "Are you okay, Gram?"
"I'm fine. Just needed a little reminder of how blessed we
are to have each other." Audrey closes the Bible. "Will
you ride up to..." She thinks about it for a moment.
"...Zander Smith's place and invite him to Sunday dinner? He
needs to know he's not alone out here."
"I'll go right now." Elizabeth takes off her apron and
grabs her coat and heads out to the corral.
Nikolas contemplates the blisters on his hands and picks at them
absently. It's a first for him. Well there was the time when he
was a child when he'd learned the concept of hot. But this is a
first, blisters from work, from manual labor. And yet there is a
feeling of satisfaction that he hadn't realized before in his
life. Because of him, Zander Smith's cabin was now taller than
the future occupant. The only thing left to do was the roof.
"Where is that delivery of our things from the railcar?"
Natasha complains interrupting her nephew's thoughts. "It
should have been here by now. My books..." She pauses and
broadens the statement. "... Our comforts should have been
here by now."
"Sister, I am sure that the delivery will not happen today."
Stefan says easily from in front of the fire. "If it has not
arrived tomorrow then we will send a man to check on the delay.
Nikolas, you've been often absent in these last few days."
"I was exploring down the valley and investigating the
progress of the homesteaders there. They are... interesting.
Zander Smith, our closest neighbor, is from a place called
Florida. It never freezes there and they grow things year round.
He lived on the edge of a... swamp where he'd trap alligators."
"I have seen pictures of the creatures." Stefan is
fascinated. "A water predator. How would he trap them?"
"Baited them with pieces of chicken. But it is a risky
business, there are evidently some down in Florida called Lefty
because they have lost limbs to the creatures. And they eat
something called mudbugs. It is considered a delicacy."
"Fascinating." Stefan sets up the chess board that
always travels with him. "Come, we will have a game while
you entertain us with stories of these peasants. It will be a
pleasant distraction for your Aunt from the delay in her books."
"What are you thinking, Marcus?" Gia asks her brother
as she joins him down by the river.
"Just making a list." Marcus puts an arm around his
sister's shoulders. "And thinking of everything that can go
"Give yourself a headache why don't ya!" Gia punches
her brother in the side.
"It's spring, Gia, and we're still chipping ice off the
water barrel in the morning. What is winter going to be like
here? What have I gotten us into?"
"Instead of looking at it that way... why don't you remember
what you got us out of?" Gia counters.
"You're sounding like Mama there, girl." Marcus grins
but his contemplations are eased by the reminder. He grows
serious again. "I think it would be best if when the
Spencer's head back to town for provisions you go with them
instead of me. You and Mama can make a list of the things we'll
need and I know you'll keep an eye out for cheats and nobody can
squeeze a dollar the way you can. Cash money is not going to be
growing on the trees."
Gia nods. "Mama wants a smokehouse."
Marcus sighs. "Let me get a roof over our heads first.
Although the spot Mama picked for her garden has enough rock in
it to build two smokehouses. Pigs I think."
"We've got the milk cow for milk, butter and cheese but I
think we should concentrate on hogs to make money. That way we
won't have to winter all of them like getting another cow, and it
will give Mama something to smoke."
"Speaking of something to smoke... don't think I haven't
noticed the only planting you've done so far." Gia teases.
"It might not grow this far north." Marcus says
guiltily. "But I wanted a little something from home. And
it's just a few plants."
"Yeah, just enough for you." Gia nods then shrugs.
"And if it does take well then tobacco has always been good
for trading. I'm sure the miners in town would rather have
something local rather than paying more for the cigars that have
to be brought in by rail."
"See and this is why you should be the one going into town."
Marcus nods. "You're always thinking of ways to make hard
currency, goes right along with your hard headedness."
Grabbing at the collar of his Sunday best, Zander tries to get a
little room to breath. He'd been surprised to get the invitation
to Sunday dinner at the Hardy's but welcomed a chance to get know
his neighbors and to have something other than his own cooking.
"I just want to thank you again, Mrs. Hardy, for inviting me
to dinner." He says again after the food is on the table and
the blessing given.
"It's our pleasure, Mr. Smith. We traveled across with the
Spencer's and the Taggart's but didn't really get a chance to met
you or the Cassadines. I do believe in knowing my neighbors."
"Where are y'all from?" Zander asks.
"Upstate New York. After my husband passed, I was ready to
make a change and Montana is a progressive state that allows
women to own property, maybe soon even vote. The girls' parents
were killed in an influenza epidemic winters ago when the girls
were just babies. They were ministering to the afflicted and came
down with the ailment."
"I'm very sorry for your loss." Zander says awkwardly.
"It still pains us but we have to go on." Audrey
changes the subject. "Elizabeth tells me you are about ready
to put a roof on your cabin. You've made quick work of building."
"Nikolas Cassadine has been helping the last few days. It's
made things go more quickly. He said something... maybe since
you're from New York you can tell me.... How cold do you figure
it's going to get in the winter here?"
"It's not something that they talked about when they were
giving the property away." Audrey says wryly. "But I
assume we have to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.
I've seen winters in New York where there were nine feet of snow
on the ground and that was dropped in the course of a few days."
"Tying a line between the house and the privy so you can
find your way to and back." Elizabeth adds.
"Getting a lot of reading done because it was impossible to
get out of the house for weeks on end." Sarah puts in her
two cents worth in.
"You mean it. It's actually possible for it to snow so hard
and so much that it will collapse a roof?!"
Audrey glances up at the canvas covered hole in their ceiling.
"Yes. It is possible."
"Dang. I thought Cassadine was pulling my leg." He
shakes his head. "I can't even imagine it. He also said
something about having to cut a hole in ice to go fishing?"
Elizabeth nods. "Grandpa loved to go ice fishing on the
lakes back in New York."
"I don't think it's something we'll have to worry about here."
Audrey counters. "I think that the river is swift moving
enough that while it might ice along the shore the ice won't be
deep enough for it to be safe to stand on."
After dinner, Elizabeth and Sarah clear the table and start doing
the dishes. Zander walks outside. He sees a few small saplings
that have been stacked along the side of the house. He takes off
his coat and taking an ax starts cutting the saplings into
firewood for the women. Audrey comes out. "Mr. Smith, you
don't have to..."
"It's my pleasure to do it for you and your granddaughters,
ma'am. And I do have an ulterior motive." He pauses for a
moment. "I really appreciate you extending the invitation, a
man does get tired of his own cooking..."
"You're welcome anytime, Mr. Smith. I've missed having a
truly appreciative audience for my skills."
"Then let me make myself useful."
It had been a good day down at the river and the Spencer's enjoy
the bounty eating picnic style: trout dusted with corn meal,
biscuits, beans, and even breaking out a tin of peaches for a
taste of something sweet. After the filling meal and in the warm
afternoon sunshine, Lulu is soon asleep using Foster as a pillow.
Luke isn't far behind deciding to kick back and enjoy the day
pillowing his head in Laura's lap using his cap to protect his
While Bobbie and Laura converse, Carly rises to her feet. "I'm
going to go for a walk."
Bobbie looks around at the sleeping crew including the dog.
"Take my pistol with you." She says quietly. "It
might not stop a bear but we'll know you're in trouble."
Carly goes into the tent she shares with Bobbie and grabs the
small pistol from under Bobbie's bedroll. It isn't famous like a
derringer but it's definitely a pocket pistol. She shoves it in
her apron pocket and starts walking toward the back of the
property. She carries a basket for show. She'll find something to
stick in it... maybe dandelions or something but that is not why
she is going for a walk.