Dalton, Nebraska

March 20, 1858

Carson Pierce ran a currycomb over the neck of one of his big, bay horses, deep in thought. In the adjoining stall, his eight year old son, Amos, milked the cow.

Unconsciously, Carson's unoccupied hand moved to his pants' pocket and the letter inside of it. It was the unopened letter that caused his unrest. The handwriting and address were unfamiliar, which had caused Carson to surmise that it must be another answer to his advertisement for a bride, or, more accurately, a mother for his children.

"I'm done with the milking, Pa." towheaded Amos said, coming up to the stall, milk pail in hand.

"Good." Carson replied. "Take it on inside and tell your sister that I'll be in after a little while."

"Yes, sir." Amos answered, leaving the barn.

Carson quickly finished grooming the horse, and, taking the lantern, sat on one of the rungs of the ladder that led to the loft. He slipped the letter out of his pocket, opened it, and began to read the fancy script.

Dear Mr. Pierce,

My name is Sophia Perkins. I saw your advertisement for a bride and decided to reply to it. I will say first off that I have four children of my own from my previous marriage, ages seven, five, three, and one. Their names are Benjamin, Daniel, Fawn, and Harriet, respectively.

I am twenty-six years of age, with dark brown hair and hazel eyes, and I am petite. I can cook, clean, and care for children of all ages. I consider myself a fair, sensible, and God-fearing woman. My present home is my late husband's horse farm in Kentucky.

My children are as well-behaved and hard-working as children their age can be expected to be. I would anticipate next to no trouble from them, should we enter into the proposed arrangement.

If you would like to correspond further before you come to a decision, I would gladly comply.


Sophia Perkins

Carson put the letter back in his pocket and went inside, its contents running through his mind. Once inside, he placed the lantern on the table, took off his hat and coat, and scooped up his two year old son, Grayson. He slid him into his chair and sat down at the table while Claire, six, and Elaine, four, set the last of the food on the table.

"You forgot to wash your hands, Pa." Claire – who had become a little mother since Ginny's death – reminded him as she slid into her chair at the same time as Amos did his.

"So I did." Carson answered, going over and washing his hands in the basin.

He sat back down, said grace – adding a silent prayer concerning Sophia Perkins – and began to fill his children's plates.

"What are you thinking about, Pa?" Elaine asked curiously after a minute.

"Grownup things." He replied vaguely.

"Is it the letter from town?" an all too perceptive Claire inquired.

"Eat your supper, Daughter."

Claire obeyed, but Elaine insisted upon following up on the lead.

"If you don't quit prying," Carson threatened finally, "You'll have to go to bed early. Now, you eat."

At last, she did.

Later, after the children had gone to bed, Carson sat back down at the table and penned a response to Mrs. Perkins. He would have used his late wife's desk for the task, but to do so would have felt treasonous.

The whole thing did, really, but, for so many reasons, his children still needed a mother. Namely, Claire needed to be back in school, needed to be able to be a child again. Elaine and Grayson needed a mother's hand. The whole family needed good, sustainable food, the type his six year old could not yet concoct. So, for so many reasons – none of which being that he wanted a wife – he wrote to Mrs. Sophia Perkins.

The first chapter in Christmas Miracles, as promised. I don't know how long it'll be until I update this again or how long of a story it will be, I'm afraid. Reviews are a great motivator, though! Thanks, guys!:)