February 14, 1914
I know it’s been a long time since I wrote in you, this winter has been such a whirlwind of activity. Here it is Valentine’s day. A day reserved for those you love, except I feel so empty. No Roy hasn’t forsaken me but this morning he had to leave. He didn’t want to leave on Valentine’s day, but train schedules don’t care about such things.
I got up early to ride with him and Papa to Aladdin to catch the train. Bundled up under the warm buffalo robes in the sleigh there was so much we wanted to say but couldn’t as Papa was along. I for one don’t think I could have said much anyway as most of the time I was choking back tears.
The train was already in the station when we arrived, so our good-byes were hurried. As the conductor called all aboard Roy gave us each a warm hug and I a peck on the cheek as Papa was watching. From deep in his jacket pocket Roy took out took out a box wrapped in scarlet ribbons and handed it to me.
“Open this when you get home and think of me,” he said.
Then he turned and climbed the steps from the platform to the train. I watched him find a seat by the window and we blew a little kiss to each other as the train chugged away.
I don’t know how I will survive his being gone so deep is my agony. I saved the box to open until we got back home, so I could be alone. Inside was the loveliest pendent watch you ever did see. The cover has flowers etched in gold with more of the same on the back and the initials M.E.P. for my name, Mae Edith Phillips.
Oh, my goodness I’d think I was the luckiest girl ever if only he wasn’t gone.
We had such fun while he was here. Lots of visiting with family and friends. Lots of snuggling on sleigh rides even if Hazel and Daniel or Sadie and Bert were always along. So many long walks on crunching white snow and warm laughter around the stove as it kept us warm on the coldest of days. And I know Papa and Daniel appreciated all the help he gave them with the outdoor chores.
He has given up on the idea of ranching in Montana as there is no good land to be had there or here. So back to Washington he has gone to find another logging job as soon as the camps open. But first he is taking a side trip to Deadwood to look up some kin folks for his dad.
We have agreed on a secret code we can put in our letters so prying eyes can’t read. We are calling it our China letters. No, it’s not Chinese, for then neither of us could read it. Ha, ha. Just a secret code only we two shall know.
And so here I still sit. I think Papa was getting ready to say I could go back to Washington to live with relatives after I turn 18 this coming May. But Mama got wind of it, planted her feet firm, crossed her arms and said, “she’ll not be doing that.” And at least when it is regarding her children, what Mama wants, she usually gets.
Sadie confided in me that Roy told Bert that he gave Papa his word that he won’t ask for my hand in marriage before I turn 21. And if there is one thing I know for certain it is Roy is a man of his word. But what about what I think, 21 is still such a long way off. I will be 18 in just a few months but 21 seems like an eternity.
I must tell you a little secret though while I am mentioning Sadie. She told me she’s in a family way. She doesn’t want everyone to know just yet but come September there will be a new little Marchant. I guess that’s one little thing for me to look forward to, a new little cousin, only I feel more like I should be the aunt and not Mama.
In the meantime, my heart feels fractured. I love Roy so, but I also love my family. I would hate to break Mama and Papa’s heart by disobeying them, but I am not sure I can wait until I am 21 to leave. I guess there is no point in fretting about this right now. It’s not like Roy has asked for my hand in marriage anyway. I have decided to make good use of the time and study by mail to get my teaching credentials. If I can earn my own way I could be more independent. Maybe even take a position in a logging town, ha, ha.
I just worry that in the meantime some Washington girl is going to catch his eye.