(For your enjoyment – a selected chapter from the soon-to-be-released sequel to Daughter of Texas. Advance orders for autographed copies are being taken now, through my website catalog page.)

Chapter 19 – The Last of the Lone Star

 In the morning, Margaret rose at the usual hour, when the sky had just begun to pale in the east, and it was yet too early for the rooster to begin setting up a ruckus in the chicken pen. She had a house full of guests, even though most of them had not spent the night. One of the last things that Hetty had done before retiring for the night was to have Mose move the dining table back into the room where it normally resided, and return all the household chairs to their usual places. Margaret viewed the now-empty hall with a sigh, for the temporary glory that it had housed on the previous day – now, to see to breakfast for those guests who had remained. That breakfast should be every bit as good as the supper on Christmas night – for Margaret would not allow any diminution of her hospitality. She tied on her kitchen apron and walked into the kitchen, where she halted just inside the door, arrested by the expressions on the faces of the three within. Hetty bristled with unspoken irritation, even as she paused in rolling out the dough for the first batch of breakfast biscuits, Mose – who stood by the stove with an empty metal hot-water canister in each of his huge hands – had a nervous and apprehensive expression on his dark and usually uncommunicative face. Carl sat at the end of the kitchen table, interrupted in the act of wolfing down a plate of bacon, sausage and hash made from the leftovers of last night’s feast. He looked nearly as nervous as Mose, and his expression – especially as Margaret appeared in the doorway – appeared to be as guilty as a small child caught in the midst of some awful mischief, mischief for which he was certain to be punished.

Margaret took in each countenance in a lighting-flash, apprehended that something had happened in her household, and demanded, “What is the matter, then?”

Mose answered, in his thick and barely articulate mumble, “I took de hot watter to de gennelmun rooms, mam  . . .  an’ de Gen’ral, he still ‘sleep, mam  . . .  but he don’ chop down de bedpos’, mam.”

“What?” Margaret demanded, and Mose only looked more stolid. “He chop down de bedpos’, mam. Gen’ral Sam,” as Carl said, with an air of someone trying to placate an unappeasable fury, “He took an ax to the bedposts, M’grete. He  . . .  got a little merry last night, I guess – after you had gone to bed. Some of the others . . .  well, there was bottles bein’ passed. I didn’t think he would take to your best bedstead, though.”

Hetty looked from Margaret’s face to that of her brother, and the hapless Mose, and murmured, “Mother Mary save him, she’s got her Maeve face on, for certain.”

“There wasn’t anything I could do, M’grete,” Carl temporized, even as Mose returned to filling the canisters from the hot water reservoir at the side of the vast cook stove. ”He’s the General. I did not think you would object to the men getting a little merry on Christmas. You had wine with dinner, after all, M’grete.”

“I do not object to the drinking of alcohol under my roof,” Margaret answered, in a voice tight with suppressed fury. “I object when men drink of it to excess. And I object most strenuously to barbarous conduct, after they have drunk to excess. Little Brother, Mose. You may bring up the hot water later – for a now, each of you fetch a bucket of cold  . . .  from the spring-house, please.  . . .  Then all of you come with me.”

“I just put the biscuits in…” Hetty began to protest, but Margaret cut her off with a few curt words, as Mose and Carl obeyed. “This will not take a moment.”

The heels of Margaret shoes made a brisk tattoo on the floor, echoing in the hall as she swept imperiously up the staircase, in her fury outdistancing all of her acolytes. At the top of the stairs, the door to the best guest room stood slightly ajar: Mose had not closed it entirely on his departure. Margaret waited for the two men to climb the stairs, Hetty puffing in their wake. She took a deep breath, Mose’s words having prepared her for the worst. Well, now she knew why she had dreamed of someone chopping wood during the night. She opened the door all the way; oh, no. The room smelt faintly of stale drink, underlaid with odor of sweat and male toiletries. The slave man’s words and her own imagination had not prepared her for what she now saw. General Sam lay snoring in the middle of the bed, on top of the counterpane with his boots and coat cast carelessly aside on the floor amid splinters and roughly-hacked chunks of cherry-wood. All four of the tall and gracefully carved bedposts were roughly hewn down, almost level with the head and footboard. Margaret felt sickened by the intensity of her anger: her best bed, purchased at such a cost, from the earnings of hers and Hetty’s labor – a beautifully-wrought and cherished thing, deliberately mutilated. Behind her, Hetty gasped, horrified alike. They had both taken such pride in the new furniture, in the look of their best guest room. Now, Margaret was certain she would never look at it again, in quite the same way, now that it had been so desecrated.

“Carlchen,” she said, and her voice shook. “And Mose. I want you to waken the General with the cold water. And once he is awake, assist him in resuming his clothing. Assemble his luggage, too. Carlchen, you will see him conveyed to Mrs. Eberly’s without delay.” Carl hesitated, and Mose looked between them, and to the ruined bed with General Sam snoring in deep sleep.

“B’foa breakfast?” Mose ventured, and Margaret snapped.

“Yes. The water, Carlchen – it is how one rouses drunks, is it not?” Shrugging, Carl carried his bucket to one side of the bed, Mose to the other. They hoisted the buckets to chest-level, poised to pour them out onto the sleeping General Sam, while Margaret watched, hawk-eyed. “Now!” 

Shrugging, Carl emptied the bucket, Mose doing so a split-second later. Margaret turned on her heel, as General Sam bolted upright with a bellow. The very satisfactory sounds of sputtering and curses followed her down the stairs, Hetty fairly running in order to keep up. Margaret thought that Hetty once or twice thought to speak, but thought better of it. The two girls who assisted with the kitchen and the table were in the kitchen when they returned – no, they did not dare to speak, either, once they had glimpsed her face.

Having seen breakfast preparations completed, Margaret withdrew to the private sitting room, simmering with such anger that she did not entirely trust herself not to give way to an unladylike fit of temper in the presence of her guests or the kitchen help. Her pride with last night’s triumph had turned to ashes, ashes, dust and chips of wood, scattered on the floor of her best guest room. Presently, Hetty tapped respectfully on the doorjamb and put her head into the room.

“Marm  . . .  are you not going to take breakfast, as usual?”

“I think not, Hetty. I am not  . . .  in a cordial mood this morning.”

“I should think not,” Hetty shook her head. “Aye, well. Your Maeve-face, Marm, is something that would curdle the digestion of an innocent man, so it’s for the best, not presiding over the table this morning  . . .  though I will say that if the Young Sir was right wi’ regard to th’ gentlemen bein’ merry last night, some of them may have a curdled digestion this morning anyway. I’ll bring a tray for you.”

“Thank you, Hetty,” Margaret said, not for the first time grateful for Hetty’s friendship and support of her. What a lonely prospect this enterprise of hers would have been, without Hetty, her friend and good right arm these years past!

Presently, Hetty brought her a tray, beautifully set with a plate of food; biscuits with a dab of preserves, another of fresh butter, and a little dish of honey, some scrambled egg and a pat of sausage, spiced and fried to crispy goodness. Margaret ate all of it, although she was not particularly hungry. If she did not clean the plate, then Hetty would notice and feel something of hurt, although every bit of it was as flavorful and expertly cooked, just as Margaret had always required. As she was buttering the last biscuit-half, she heard the rumble of a deep male voice, speaking from somewhere beyond the turns in the corridor that enlarging Alois Becker’s simple log blockhouse had made inevitable. It sounded like General Sam’s voice. Margaret chewed and swallowed that last bite of biscuit, just as Hetty and her brother appeared in the doorway. Both of them appeared rather apprehensive.

“Th’ General, he wishes a word w’ye, Marm.” Hetty was twisting her hand in a damp dishtowel. Obviously, she had been interrupted in sorting out the influx of dirty dishes, mid-breakfast. Carl had nothing in his hands, yet he looked equally as unsettled, as he ventured,

“M’grete, I think he wishes to tender an apology . . . “

“As well he might,” Margaret answered crisply. “For he is a great man, of which better conduct might have been expected  . . .  and his wife is a dear friend, who will be most cruelly disappointed to hear of his abuse of the hospitality of my house. Say to the General  . . .  that I am most disappointed. Say to him also, that I am so distressed with anger, that I do not trust myself to be courteous with regard to this incident. I fear that anything I might say with regard to this unfortunate occurrence will spell ruin to our friendship, a mutual friendship and regard which I have treasured for many years – so I will not receive him. Leave him to tender his apology to me through you. Assure him that at some time in the future, I will welcome him to my house again  . . .  but not at present. And if you would remind him,” Margaret added, as Hetty and Carl exchanged looks of apprehension, “of a piece of advice which he once rendered to me, regarding silence giving no purchase to gossiping tongues – I will be most grateful.”

“Yes, Marm,” Hetty answered, although she did not look happy at having to bear such a stern message to the General.

Carl hesitated for a moment, as the door closed behind Hetty. “I’m real sorry about the bed, M’grete,” he ventured at last. “I don’t reckon there is any way to fix it back.”

“No,” Margaret answered. She had not thought about what she would do about the bed. “If you would, Carlchen – take the bed apart, and put the pieces in the barn.Hurst is a fair carpenter; I will ask him what he might be able to do upon his return. I am certain that General Sam is ready to depart now.”

With that, Carl nodded, and left the little parlor. Margaret contemplated the remains of her breakfast, wondering how it could be that every man whom she loved, cared for or respected had let her down in one way or another, beginning with her husband, and the wife that he had left in Boston. Papa, ridden and haunted by his foul temper. Carl, away in the Llano, leaving all the business of life for her to see to. Seamus O’Doyle had left, and so had the Englishman, Mr. Hattersley – he who had only come to Texas to write his vile little book, feigning friendship all the while. And now General Sam had smashed the best bed. Were there no men in her life worthy of her deepest trust at all?


Although Margaret vowed to herself – and to Hetty that she would say no word of the matter of the wrecked bed – it was too delicious a morsel for the gossips to allow it to remain untouched, even while preparations went forward in the weeks after Christmas for the formal annexation to theUnited States. During that time, Margaret and General Sam encountered each other, making nothing more than a show of careful courtesy.  Only Mrs. Eberly dared ask Margaret outright for the particulars, to which Margaret responded, “For the respect in which I hold the General and the friendship I have with Mrs. Houston, I do not care to discuss it.”


In January, Carl received a message from Bexar, and departed. Margaret could not contain her disappointment: he had never remained so long before, nearly two months, and she had begun to believe that perhaps her brother might yet be looking kindly upon settling down. But no – not if the failure of Mr. Slidell’s mission to Mexico was any indication, and in far California, American settlers there were restive against the Mexican government of that place.

“Looks like it will be heating up again,” Carl explained laconically, as Margaret filled his haversack with bread, and cured sausage, and as many of last seasons’ apples as she could fit. The last of the harvest had been stored in barrels of sawdust in the coldest corner of the barn, and still retained much of their freshness. “Jack has been called to recruit a body to serve as scouts with the American Army. They say Gen’ral Taylor is ordered to the Nueces. His men won’t know it the way the Rangers do, and that’s for sure.” He smiled, with an expression of deep contentment in his eyes. “Looks like we’ll make ol’ Santy Anna behave himself for good and all, this time.”

“Be careful,” Margaret said, aware of a feeling of helplessness; how many more times would her brother court death in the Llano, or in the Nueces borderlands and escape unscathed?

“I always am, M’grete,” he answered. Margaret and the boys watched him go, from the deep gallery at the front of the house. He waved once, from the bottom of the hill, before spurring his ill-tempered grey horse into a trot on the road that led to the south.


On a bright late-winter day, blessed with a fair sky and pure white clouds floating in it, Margaret, her sons, Hetty and all of her household gathered on the hillside below the white-washed capital building. They stood with hundreds of their neighbors and citizens gathered from across Texas for the formal ceremony to mark Annexation, men in their best jackets and top-hats, and so many ladies, their mantels and the ribbons of their bonnets fluttering. All had put on the very best of the garments they possessed, to mark this momentous day.

“It has seemed so long-promised, that I cannot believe this day has come,” Margaret remarked. “Like a woman’s wedding day, at long last!” She and Hetty laughed, recalling how Margaret had likened the endless negotiations regarding annexing Texas to the United States to a flirtatious girl.

“Aye, but without the rejected suitor at the back of the church,” Hetty replied, comfortably.

“The rejected suitor is all the way the other side of the Nueces and the Rio Grande,” Margaret observed, “And with a regular Army to ensure that he stays there!”

She did not like to say any more on that subject, not to spoil her sons’ pleasure in the day. There was the President, Dr. Jones, with General Sam and a whole host of important men on a platform erected in front of the capitol building porch, which made a splendid stage for what was to follow. The flag – the three fields of red, blue and white, with a single five-pointed white star on the blue field snapped in the brisk wind. The staff from which it flew stood close to the porch, which was adorned with tri-colored bunting. Margaret’s eyes rested briefly upon General Sam, who looked as happy as a bridegroom himself. No, he had long wanted Annexation, had schemed and negotiated for it for at least half of the eventful decade just past. Now their delivery was at hand, after ten years of intrigue, war and threats of war on two fronts. Margaret recollected the words of the old witch-woman spoken twenty years past, on the banks of the Sabine – the day of her twelfth birthday, when Alois Becker and his family first arrived inTexas.

“He in a big rush to be a Mexican… don’t he know dat America gwine follow him, no matter?” The old woman had chuckled in rich amusement. She had looked at Margaret’s palm, predicted that she would have two husbands and a large house, that the water would never harm Carlchen and would be his savior  . . .  and for their brother Rudy, the old witch had seen nothing but dark clouds like smoke surrounding him. For a long time she had wondered how the old witch woman had known such things about the future. The last but one of her predictions was about to come true: America had followed them, at long last. The future of Austin was secure as well, which was of no little relief to Margaret and Angelina Eberly: it would be the capitol of the state government, and the legislature would continue to meet at the accustomed interval.

What with all the comings and goings over the last year, Margaret’s enterprise had done well. As she stood among the crowd, with Peter’s hand in hers, and Horace offering his elbow with all the hesitant gallantry of a young gentleman of fifteen, her thoughts began to wander; perhaps this summer would be a good time to add another wing to the house. A sawn-plank structure could be built with great rapidity, as she had seen  . . .  and she would certainly be able to fill the rooms. Why, she and Hetty had to turn away prospective boarders, after filling all the rooms with three and four gentleman guests to a room, which was not the kind of gracious hospitality that Margaret wished her house to be known for. And when had Horace grown so tall – the top of his head was above the level of her shoulder?

Her wandering mind was suddenly concentrated – it seemed that the speeches were over, and the attention of the crowd was suddenly riveted as Dr. Jones stepped forward to the foot of the flagpole. He unwound the lines, stretched them out and began to lower away – the proud single-star flag.

In a loud voice, Dr. Jones declaimed, “The final act in this great drama is now performed – theRepublic of Texas is no more!” A gasp swept the crowd, a murmuring almost of grief, and Margaret felt tears sting her eyelids. She had not expected this: that she and everyone would be so moved by the ending of their brief and desperate republic, born from the ashes of the fires of rebellion, the ashes of fires which had burned the body of her brother Rudi outside the Goliad citadel, the fires from the pyres set on the Alameda in Bexar to burn those fallen in the defense of the Alamo. Ten years, of war on two fronts, against a resentful, treacherous Mexico and the avaricious and brutal Comanche, ten years of steering an uncertain course in a leaking vessel between Scylla and Charybdis, seeking recognition from the great nations, and safety for her citizens, by their own efforts keep in tenuous safety and freedom  . . .  and now to arrive in that promised safe harbor.

As the flag came down, it was General Sam, the architect of it all, who stepped forward – perhaps on an impulse, and perhaps it had all been planned – and gathered the folds of it into his arms, as if something that he cherished and wished no risk of harm. Margaret and her sons stood very close; she could see that General Sam was deeply moved. He was a terribly sentimental man, Margaret knew – one of those who felt no shame in revealing strong emotion. He had held Sue Dickinson’s hand, and wept as she told of what had happened in Bexar, on the evening that Gonzales burned and Margaret and her family and friends began their long retreat to the east. Now someone stepped forward with a new flag, many-striped in the same colors, with a constellation of twenty stars arrayed on the blue field, a flag which unfurled and snapped in the bright wind, the sound of it sounding so very loud in the murmuring silence.

“Mama, will we still be Texians, when we are Americans?” Horace asked in a low voice, and at her other side, her youngest piped up,

“I’d rather be a Texian!”

“Yes, we will,” Margaret answered, feeling as of her throat were to close on her voice. “We will always remember what it is to be Texians; that we were here and held our own for ten long years.”


She hosted a gala at-home that night, at which Dr. Anson and the General did make brief appearances, for there were many celebrations going on inAustin; a chance to celebrate before picking up one last burden. It now appeared that war was inevitable with Mexico, yet again – but at least this time, they would not be fighting it alone. This cheered Margaret immensely, but did not in the least relieve her apprehensions regarding her brother. Almost as soon as the celebrations were done, she set about planning the new addition: a long wing of six rooms on the ground floor with a corridor between, and three adjoining larger rooms above, the ground floor to be surrounded on three sides by a deep porch. All the ground-floor rooms would have tall French-style glass windows, some of them opening as doors onto the porch. The roof overhead would provide shade on the hottest summer days, the windows would admit the slightest passing breeze, and the best of them a view of the apple trees and the town below. This work provided a welcome distraction: for when she was thinking of the best disposition of fireplaces within the rooms, the efficient draft of chimneys, and where to procure good hardware for the doors and glass for the many windows, she was not worrying about Carl, or such of her other friends and acquaintances when the fighting began in earnest, in mid-summer.

John Ford’s wife became ill at about that time, although Louisa Ford had been in uncertain health for many months. It wrung Margaret’s heart to witness John Ford’s concern for his wife, and his increasing distress as his medical arts proved fruitless to arrest Louisa’s decline. Another reason for Margaret to spend buried in the plans and the unfolding of the new wing of the house – a diversion from cares and worry, while soldiers and statesmen came and went. So the nervous summer of 1846 passed, broken only by a brief coda to the heartbreak of Mrs. Simpson and her lost children. On a mid-afternoon in early summer, a small party of horsemen came to the back of the house, where now besides the smokehouse and the spring-house, there was a newly-enlarged stable, a new summer kitchen and three little cabins to house the Negro attendants of her guests. At first Margaret thought the horsemen were more workmen arrived, to begin shingling the roof of the new wing, which had already arisen in skeletal timber form to that side of the house which overlooked the river, and which Margaret had decreed would have the best views and the best chances of catching the lightest breath of a breeze on a hot summer day. Hetty came rustling to fetch Margaret from the private parlor and schoolroom, where her sons were having their daily lessons.

“Marm,” Hetty whispered, “It’s young Mr. Simpson – from Bastrop, with Tommy, him who was taken nearly two year ago. They have a party of men with them, now  . . .  to follow the trail along of where himself and Emma were taken.”

“Oh, my God!” Margaret immediately dropped her pen – she was writing a letter to Margaret Houston. She and the boys both sprang up from the tasks at hand. Horace saying firmly,

“Mama, I will go with them!” and Jamie exclaiming, “Oh, Mama – was Tommy with the Indians all this time?” while Hetty added,

“I asked after the girl – they wi’not say. I’d say from their faces . .” Hetty looked at Johnny and Peter’s faces and bit back what she was about to say at first, adding only, “I dinna think there’ll be hope, Marm.”

“I fear not,” Margaret replied, softly so that only Hetty could hear, as her family emerged from the breezeway between the back of the house and the summer kitchen. Yes – there was Captain Coleman, a handful of other volunteers from Austin, and a thin young man with an angry face who must be the oldest Simpson. He had not come to live in Austin with his mother and younger siblings, but worked in Bastrop in an enterprise set up by Mrs. Simpson’s brother  . . . and there was Tommy. Margaret could have wept – for he looked immeasurably older, older than the year and a half since he and Emma had been taken by an Indian raiding party, older by far than Johnny, who was his age. Thin as a rail and burnt as darkly brown as any of the Comanche, as brown as the white renegade who had come with the raiding party on the day that Captain Coleman’s bluff had send them packing. Tommy’s hair had grown long, and harshly sun-streaked. Now he sat in the saddle of one of those spry little mustang ponies, looking at nothing more than his hands, as Margaret exclaimed,

“Oh, Tommy – we are so glad to see you safe and back with us again! Your mother was devastated with grief, and now she must be happy beyond measure. What of Emma, was she also ransomed as well?”

Tommy looked at his hands, without speaking. His older brother answered for him. “Emma was killed almost at once, Miz Vining, so them red devils could make a get-away.”

“I’m so sorry,” Margaret answered, although she was not in truth surprised.

“I tole her,” Tommy whispered, “I tole her not to fight them, she didn’t ought to make sich a noise, mebbe they’d treat her fair. But one of them, he took her away with him into a thicket over beyond Mount Bonnell an’ came back at once w’ her hair hangin’ on his saddle. He showed it to me, an’ he laughed an’ laughed . . .”

“Hearing of this is a terrible grief to all of us,” Margaret said. “With no news of her, we did have some small shreds of hope. But now, alas . . . Do you wish Horace and Daddy Hurst to go with you? My son wishes to and Daddy will want to, if you can wait for a moment.” There was little need to wait, for Tommy nodded silently, and Horace had already gone to fetch Daddy Hurst from the stables. In a moment, they had Bucephalus saddled, and Daddy riding on one of the draft mules which Margaret had purchased to pull a light wagon for errands. In a few minutes the party vanished silently among the green shadows of the woods at the foot of Mount Bonnell.

Some hours later, Daddy Hurst returned alone, explaining to Margaret,

“They done found her, Miz Vining  . . .  jus’ where the boy said. They ast me to fetch up the coffin they done have made. Eighteen months, pert-near nothing but bones. They knew it wuz her by the scraps o’ her dress.”

The next morning, Margaret saw a small wagon, heading out from Austin on the river-road towards Bastrop, a wagon with the coffin on the back of it. It was too far away to see which of the brothers was driving, and which was riding the paint-pony. But there was no doubt about who was in the back of that wagon – the last remains of a pretty girl, with hair the color of cypress leaves in the fall, a pretty and feisty girl who fought against her captors to the very last ounce of strength.     

The war with Mexico ground on, all during that summer long. Now and again Margaret had a brief and usually unsatisfactory message from her brother – who was, as Hetty had observed – as uncommunicative in writing as he was in person. Margaret and her household took universal satisfaction in the fact that this time; the fighting was all on Mexican soil. Only the town of Mier had ever before felt the wrath of an army invading from the North. Now, it looked as if Mexico was about to become sated on that banquet, as General Taylor’s army, and the Texian Rangers under Carl’s old comrade, Colonel Hays besieged Monterray.

“Let them have a taste of what they have served to us, all too often!”  Margaret exclaimed one night, at the supper table. “And see if they relish that dish any better! Do you know,” she added thoughtfully, “Although my brother has served with Colonel Hays since – I believe it has been ten years – I have never met him in person!”

“He must be the only important man in Texas who has never dined at your table,” John Ford chuckled – which Margaret was glad to see, since Mrs. Ford was still quite unwell, and her husband was so terribly worried about her. At least, dining at the table of an old friend was an opportunity for him to set his troubles and worries aside for a little. “When he next presents himself in Austin, Ma’am, I will do my best to see that he has an invitation – and bring him myself, if there is no other way to persuade him!”

“Do, please – my brother is almost completely innocent of social graces that he would never think to invite Colonel Hays himself,” Margaret replied, and everyone at the table laughed. Margaret was very pleased: her table was one of the most sought-after in Austin, and the dining room was set in splendor almost every night.

 * * *

 With the news of the fall of Monterray came the longed for end of the summer’s heat, and the new wing was complete. Margaret so liked the look and the comfortable aspect of the new wing that she moved her own articles of furniture and possessions into the room nearest the existing house, which had a view from the long windows which pleased her enormously. No, this was much better than the upstairs room, and it was more convenient to her office-parlor and the kitchen – the very heart of her enterprise. Now that autumn had arrived, Margaret rejoiced in the cool breezes and relief from the discomfort of sweat-dampened linen against her skin. Fastidious to the core, she had come to hate the smell of clothing and sheets which became ringed with pale yellow stains over the blistering days and stifling heat of summer. One of her private sources of happiness for having done so well with taking in boarders was being able to hire laundresses, so she and Hetty did not need to labor long days over the washtub and scrubbing board. With autumn came the turning of leaves, and an early rain, which came dribbling out of sullen grey clouds which lingered for days. Now it became necessary to close the windows in the evening to keep out the chill – no matter how Margaret had relished and welcomed the first breaths of winter. Why did not the weather remain at a comfortable median for more than a few weeks in the spring and in the fall, Margaret wondered – neither too hot or too cold?

      “Takes me back to Wexford, it does, Marm,” Hetty said, half vexed and half longing, “Weeks would go by, with niver a sight of the sun, and our Mam would say if it went on any longer, we would be after growing moss on us. And it’s fair cold of a night, Marm – I think it is time to allow a fire in the boarder’s parlor of an evening.”         

      “We should order another wagon-load of wood,” Margaret answered, “To what we already have cured and split for fires  . . .  I like the smell of a wood-fire of an evening, Hetty. I daresay the boarders will relish it also.”

      “Nothing takes me home than the smell o’ peat burning,” Hetty replied, “Our Mam would tell us that our hearth-fire had been burning since before her Mam was born.” She sighed nostalgically, and Margaret said,

      “If there were a peat-bog in this country, I would send Daddy Hurst to cut some for you, Hetty – just to remind you of Wexford. But there isn’t – so we make do with what we have.”

      “Oh, but I don’t miss it that much, Marm,” Hetty answered, “The soot it made inside our cot was dreadful  . . .” she tilted her head, listening to the sound of rain, thrumming on the verandah roof, outside of Margaret’s little parlor. A fringe of rainwater, falling off the veranda edge, and the rain itself veiled the distant view of Papa’s apple trees all in gray. “It’s coming down proper, now, Marm. To be sure I pity any Christian out in the weather tonight!”