"No! I won't go!"
Fourteen year old Lorena Burkley sat idly in the corner of her family's cabin. Her pa, John Burkley, stood across the room, back to her, gazing out the window. What he saw beyond the pane of glass was nothing more than the same thing he looked at everyday. The same cornfield that covered miles of land, the same pasture of the same horses, and the same dirt road that wound around the corn, and headed into town. He tried very hard to ignore his daughter's refusal, but he knew that his proposal was for her own good.
"They got money, Lorie. They could give you everythin' I never could," he said plainly. He knew that he was just a few bad excuses from breaking his daughters heart, but he knew that this was the proper thing to do for Lorena. Yes, sending her to Kansas was the proper thing, and he had been raised to do what he thought proper.
Lorena averted her gaze from her pa, and out the window beside her. She found herself looking at the opposite side of the Burkley farm, less corn, more trees. The South end of the farm had always been more pleasing to look at, instead of ones eyes getting fixed on a sea of yellow, one could rest their eyes on the lush green of the woods that lay beyond the back field. Lorena found the woods tearing at her heart strings. She used to frolic in those woods as a child, and she knew that she would loose this argument with her pa, and nevertheless, would never frolic in those woods again.
"I don't care about money, Pa. I wanna stay here and work the farm with ya," Lorena replied. She would not back down on this. "Ma would want me to stay, and you know it."
John inhaled deeply, and exhaled torpidly. Would his wife truly want her to stay when she had the opportunity for a real education, a real life? He hardly doubted so. The fact that Lorena looked so much like her mother made John want to keep her home, but he knew he couldn't, he felt obligated to send her to Kansas.
"You'll be goin' to Kansas like I said," he instructed softly.
Lorena stood from her chair. "What's Kansas got that ain't already here?" she asked. She placed her hands on her hips, just as her ma did. "'Sides, I ain't got no use for people with money. They don't know how to 'ppreciate what the land has to offer."
John suppressed a smile. Indeed she did act just like Clara had. He was proud that Lorena had taken after Clara, both in appearance and in attitude, but the girl's love for land and farming had been passed down from him. John sighed and reached for his hat on the rack. Although he was enjoying his last few days with his daughter, he still had to get her prepared for the journey.
She would travel by train. And he knew that she'd hate it, for the girl loved riding as much as any man did. It would surely displease her more if she found out that she would be going by train. She would surely be more displeased by the fact that John would not be traveling with her. He thought about it, but he knew it would be better if she made the trip alone, so tearing apart from her would be easier.
"Your Uncle Ken and Aunt Mavis will take good care of ya," John assured her lightly. "It won't be for very long. Just until I can get the farm back up again."
Lorena knew what he was trying to do. "Your lying!" she puffed. "If you was to get this farm back up again, it'd only be with my help." She began rolling up her dress sleeves. Just like her ma used to do, she stomped across the cabin, whipped open the door, and headed for the barn.
John just stood in the window looking at the cornfield. A gentle breeze came on, turning the corn into a sea of graceful waves. It reminded John of how Clara's hair used to flow whenever the breeze would kick up. It made him miss her more all of a sudden. He decided that since Lorena was out of sight, he'd have a moment to himself. John strode over to the small space under the ladder to the loft. There lay a sheet, something boxlike underneath it. With one fist, he tossed the sheet upon the floor, and dropped to his knees. He then presumed to run his hands over the beautiful Cedar of his wife's chest.
"Oh, Clara," he whispered to himself, opening it. The first item his palm found was what had been Clara's favorite hat. It was a man's hat, of course, but it looked much too nice on her to even think about pointing out that fact. He held it close to him, inhaling the scent of her that was embedded into the felt after many years of constant use. She wore that hat on a daily basis- even wore it church, when they had a mind to go. Clara hadn't been much of a religious woman, unlike her brother Ken, who would use much of his fortune to improve the conditions of churches.
"I like to hear the singin'," Clara would say whenever they attended church. And most of the time they were lucky to attend church on a day when the choir was present. Clara always made sure that they had the front row, just so she could be closer to the singing. Clara never failed to miss a good church choir.
Just then, just as John's tears began to soak the hat, he heard Lorena's boots on the porch. He quickly tossed the hat in the trunk, closed it, and threw the sheet over it before she managed to step inside the door. He watched as she came inside the cabin, moved to the table, fetched a piece of cornbread, and headed back out the door.
John dabbed his eyes on a piece of cloth used for a rag. He then made his way out to the porch, where he noticed Lorena hitching up the big plow horses. He watched silently, as they way she hitched reflected her skill. She did everything perfectly. She then mounted the plow, snapped a line, and called out to the massive animals. She drove over to the porch and halted them.
"I'm goin' to plow the west field. Be back before supper." Without another word, she tactfully turned the horses, and began driving down the dirt road.
John found happiness in the fact that Lorena was a skilled young girl. She had all the attributes of a future farmer. Although farming was a passion that ran heavily in the family, in his senses he knew that young ladies belonged in houses, not in a cabin or on a plow. As much as it hurt him, he knew he had to let go. There and then he made a hasty decision.
Lorena would be leaving for Kansas tomorrow.