12th of May, 1842

To Gabriel:

I am writing with several pieces of good news, but first let me congratulate you. I think you'll do fine in New York and I'm glad Mr. Smithfield could take you on with his group. I'm sure Jonathan is very proud. I have to say though, your last letter was inconvenient. It arrived just as I was finishing one to you and I had to start over after reading it.

I dare guess you will find my own good news exciting as well. This morning I finally mustered the courage to ask Mr. Todd—that being Todd Senior, not Eli—for permission to marry Ann. He did not consider as long as I thought he might before saying yes. So I make my first official engagement announcement!

Another announcement, just as exciting, I think, is that I have finally raised the capital to start my own ranch. Mr. Todd is giving me my full pay from working with him in land and I saved enough money out of my Christmas gifts from you and Jonathan to build a small house and stable. Evan and Michael have been helping me clear the land and we start building in June.

Mr. Todd is expanding his father's business and has agreed to pay me to stable next year's spring foals. I'll also be stabling two horses of my own: the mare the Todds gave me when I finished my apprenticeship and her new foal, Buttercup.

And the final piece of good news for this writing: I will be coming to visit. My last job for Mr. Todd as his employee will be to escort the horses Jonathan bought in April. Mr. Todd will be coming with me—four are a bit much for one person to drive—and we will arrive at the end of the month. Jonathan already knows, but it would not surprise me if he hasn't told you.

I suppose I should go. I've been at this letter for twice as long now as I expected and Michael will accuse me of leaving them to do all the chopping on purpose. Again, congratulations and I look forward to seeing everyone. Say hello to Jonathan for me and give Beth my love. (Don't tell her about Ann. I'd like to do that myself while I'm there.)

As ever, yours,

Derek Neilson