Author's Note:

Here's my first old western piece fiction, besides "Married On the Oregon Trail", but that's not really western. I hope you all like it and feedback and reviews are very much appreciated. Critical or positive. At the end of each story I'll have a little note, kind of to clue you in.

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Chapter 1

A dirty, stained covered wagon rolled into the tiny valley town of Janice, Texas. A little girl with mousy, brown hair and wide eyes peeked out of the end of the wagon, a melancholy look on her face. In the front, a man with graying black hair held the reins, calling to the little girl. "Meg," he yelled, "Come up here, take a look at our new town."

The girl scuttled up to the front, dodging chairs and a table, held up with strings. "What Papa?" she asked softly.

"Look Megan, this is Janice, pride of this valley," the father responded happily, waving around to all the salons and banks. "What do you think?"

"It's very different," Megan tearfully said, watching the staring people pass by, "Can we go home back to Illinois?" she begged softly, "Is Mama going to meet us here?"

"Honey, your Mama ain't comin' back home, sweetie, it's just me and you now," her Pa explained, hugging the girl to him with one arm. "It'll be okay, we're gonna be alrigh'."

"Will we see her again?" she asked tilting her head.

"Of course we will, honey. As sure as heck she will, your Ma ain't one to forget or give up."

The little girl snuggled against her father, tired after they're dusty journey. She sighed exhaustingly and her eyelids slowly closed. Letting her drift off to dreams of candy and her mother.

"She's so innocent," her father thought to himself. "She doesn't know of sickness of death. At eight years of age, she's pretty immune." He thought of Jessie, his wife. "Oh Jess," he whispered, "Help me, how am I supposed to raise this child? Much the less, a little girl? I'd do anything to have you here."

Megan stirred in her sleep, "What Papa?" she asked rubbing her eyes.

"Nothing honey, just go to sleep." Megan soon fell asleep and stated snoring gently.

But now Megan and her father, Thomas, were on their own. He went to the bank, where he quickly found directions to the piece of land and house he had bought and started to move in.

Next Sunday

That Sunday Thomas and Meg got all dressed up. Megan's hair was dangled, and her dress was rumpled when they got to church. Thomas obviously didn't know how to take care of a little girl. Together they walked in and took a seat in the last pew. Thomas smiled a lot and tipped his hat to the people he met, trying to make a good first impression.

But all the women just saw was his adorable, dirty little daughter with wide eyes, holding her daddies hand. Throngs of women crowded around the little girl, and she clutched her fathers hand tighter, startled by the sudden approach.

"Aww honey," they cooed, "Want to go join Mary Sue, or Margaret, my daughter?"

Megan just shook her heard fervently and tried hiding behind her father. Eventually the women gave up and walked away, chattering about Megan's father and whispering cautiously where the mother might be.

Thomas was talking to the other men, discussing crops and live stock, while Megan was cowering behind him. For what seemed like hours she watched other children play and run, hiding in the shadow of her father. Mothers had set out picnic blankets next to a small stream and were laughing while, juggling babies in their arms. The sun was shining, and a faint breeze was drifting by, perfect weather.

But in the shadow of the church, a little girl was standing. She wasn't that tall, and looked to be near 7 or 8. Her hair was blonde, streaked with light brown streaks, and she had pretty brown eyes. The little girl was sitting on a wooden log, her face red with tears. Off a ways in the distance there will little girls making pouty faces at her, waggling their tongues and crossing their eyes.

This only made the young girl's eyes well up and she turned away, wiping her eyes with her small, pudgy hand.

Meg looked up at her father, then quickly darted away towards the little girl. "Why are you crying?" she asked, sitting right next to her on the wood log.

The girl sniffled for a moment, then wiped her nose and said, "Them girls are making fun of me, they say my hair is ugly and my Pa is the laziest slum in town."

Megan patted the girl on the shoulder strangely and said, "Well you shouldn't pay attention to them, because look at them, they're so ugly making those faces that they'd scare a rattlesnake away."

The other girl, giggled, her face losing its redness.

"My name's Megan what's yours?" Meg asked.

"Ashawee," the younger girl said, pronouncing her name strangely, with a twang.

"You mean Ashley?"

"Yeah, but my Ma says that I don't say it right." Megan laughed, feeling more comfortable.

"Ashley!" a voice called, "Darlin' come back over here? Ashley? Where are you?"

"That's my Ma," Ashley whispered.

"Ashley, for goodness sake child! What on heaven's name are you doin' over here? And why goodness, is this a friend of yours?" Ashley's mother said, smiling at Megan and crouching down.

"Yes, this is Me-ge-an," Ashley said, drawing out all symbols in Megan's name.

"It's Megan," Meg replied softly, "Or you can call me Meg, like my Ma used to."

"And is your Ma here, I don't think I've met her before, is she here?" Ashley's mother asked, looking around her.

"No," Meg replied softly, "My Mama died, and Pa says she's not comin' back, but someday I'll see her again."

"Aww, you poor thing! Well I insist that you come with Ashley and I back to our home for supper," Ashley's Ma insisted, tears started to glisten in her eyes.

"I'd have to ask my Pa, but I think I can go."

"Well let's go ask him then, honey, and by the way call me Mrs. Paulson," Mrs. Paulson insisted, heading towards the crowds of men by the front of the church.

"I sure hope you can come! We'll have so much fun! Maybe Ma will let us look at her Glady's women magazine," Ashley said, her face lighting up in a huge smile.

"Yes, I'd like that," Meg responded, smiling and feeling happy for the first time in a while.

"Come on, let's go!" Ashley said, grabbing Megan's hand and heading for her mother who was striding through the grass towards the men.

And that was the start of a wonderful friendship.

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Author's Note:

The town of Janice, is made up by me. Totally fictional. Okay, that was a kind of boring chapter and I PROMISE romance is gonna come up soon, that was a flashback really to Ashley and Meg's friendship. But drama is coming up. Please review! Thanks!