WILHELMINA ELIZABETH...WOMEN OF THE DRIFTING ANCHOR RANCH
“White hot evil joy sliced through Beth. She knew that her desire for revenge would carry her through this day. Her mother was taking Beth’s hair out of rag curlers. Beth felt like she was outside her body watching everything that was happening.
Beth couldn’t accept that she would never have Eric Calkin. As long as she could remember she had a life plan to marry Eric. Angela Butler had ruined her plans. Her plans had changed. Beth would marry Jamie, Eric’s half brother. Then when she broke Jamie’s heart it would hurt the entire Calkin family.
How could they have ruined her perfect plans? She was a much better match for Eric. He needed a woman of refinement, and breeding. Eric needed a woman who could help him move forward into a positive future.
Jamie was a half-breed. Beth was convinced that he wasn’t good enough for her. When she revealed her spite for Jamie, when she made him as miserable as he deserved, well that would show Eric, and Angela. It would wouldn’t it? Sometimes in Beth’s darker moments it seemed that the only person that would be hurt by her twisted, bitter plans was herself.
For a moment Beth remembered her sister’s words of the night before. “Beth, Alexa asked me to speak for both of us. We feel very strongly that we should stop this marriage from taking place.” Alexa nodded her face grim. “We know that you aren’t in love with Jamie. You’re marrying him to get revenge. That type of marriage will never succeed. As your sisters we feel duty bound to stop you…” Bertie never finished.
Beth cut her words off. “You will do nothing of the kind. If you say one word to anyone I’ll let Richard Cloyd know that you were an opium addict.” Alexa frowned, “It won’t work this time WILLY. We’re not falling for your lies and blackmail anymore!” Beth turned towards Alexa. “You’ll change your mind when the school you want to attend finds out that you’ve cheated to get good grades!”
Bertie turned towards Alexa, Alexa towards Bertie. They stood and chatted in low tones for a few moments. Finally Bertie said, “Isn’t there anything we can say that will change your mind?” Beth frowned and nodded her head no. “This is my decision. I will live with the consequences. You have no business interfering.” “It’s NOT just your decision. Jamie, and his family will also live with the consequences.” Beth smiled a truly nasty grin, “If I work it just right I WILL make them ALL miserable.”
When Angela and Eric became engaged, Beth had convinced Angela that she must leave town. She told Angela that Beth could and would ruin Eric’s life if Angela married him. Angela left town with no note or word left behind. The entire Calkin family had been torn apart by Beth’s vicious plan to make Eric her own.
Her scheme had backfired. Eric left town. He searched high and low for Angela. When he found her he convinced Angela to marry him. When they returned from Baker City, Oregon they were husband and wife.
Beth was angry and bitter. She had lost Eric for now, but she was convinced that she would win him over in the long term. There would be a way to make good on her threats to Angela. She knew that the Calkin’s were a very tight-knit family. If she broke Jamie’s heart, it would hurt the entire family. If Beth couldn’t have Eric, she could still make the entire family as miserable as she was.
Lucille Bond, Beth’s Mother, was all-atwitter. Her oldest daughter was marrying Jamie Calkin. She would have preferred to have her marry Eric Calkin. After all, he was the oldest son. In addition, Jamie had the stain of being a half-breed Indian. Lucille convinced herself that it didn’t matter. After all the young man had breeding, and money. In addition, his Mother had been the Leader of the People, a very prestigious tribe of Native American’s.
Lucille helped Beth dress from skin out in her wedding raiment. Her under clothing were of the finest materials. Delicate lace trimmed them. Lucille had knitted the lace whenever she could snatch the time. As Lucille had stitched she had dreamed of this day. Beth wore a chemise, bloomers, corset, petticoats, and a white satin wedding-dress.
Celeste, Jamie’s Mother, had made the dress. Celeste was a seamstress with her own shop. The dress was designed from a new French pattern. There were rows, and rows of tucks in the bodice. There were tiny seed pearls sewn on the tall collar. In the back was a full bustle.
Beth looked elegant in the sophisticated gown. Her long thin neck looked graceful. Her small bust was camouflaged within the elegant tucks. The dress nipped in sharply at Beth’s tiny waist. Beth’s white blond hair was arranged in a lovely French Twist with gentle curled tendrils at the side of her face. Her fair skin, blond eyelashes, eyebrows, and soft gray eyes made her look like the Queen of Ice, lovely, but cold.
Beth looked at the mirror, and saw a reflective stranger facing her. She wondered who this woman was. Facing an uncertain future the lady in the mirror blinked back at her in seeming serenity.
All too quickly Beth was alone with her mother for the infamous, talk. Lucille was perspiring. It was obvious that she was uncomfortable about this discussion. “Wilhelmina Elizabeth, as your mother it is my duty to explain certain um, er, aspects of married life. You know that as a wife it will be expected of you to give your husband children. The creation of children can be an unpleasant experience. Indeed, it can be described as odious. Yet, it is a woman’s duty. She must make certain that her husband is pleased in all aspects.”
Now Beth was perspiring. This stiff, disconcerting, vague discussion of “odious duty” was not improving a nightmarish day. Lucille continued, “I have already explained to you the basics of childbirth. I have taught you about your body and it’s functions. I have taught you how important proper hygiene is.”
“You know that a man is created differently than a woman. It is necessary to be in umm, hmmm, well private positions. I’m certain that Jamie will know the duties that a husband has. This will make it easier for you to understand what you should do. Initially it may be painful. After that, well it may be unpleasant most of the time. Again, it’s simply one of life’s necessities to create life. You will also need to keep your husband satisfied. Men find this experience desirable. You will need to put Jamie’s needs ahead of your own.”
Lucille took her hankie out of her pocket, and wiped her perspiring brow. “Do you have any questions Wilhelmina Elizabeth?” Beth couldn’t have said a word if her life depended on it. Now she was not only heartbroken that she was marrying the wrong man but terrified of what was expected of her.
Lucille began to cry. She threw her arms around Beth. “Oh my precious baby. Where did the years go? I love you so much my darling. Don’t be frightened. You’ll find that there are great joys in loving a man, and bearing children. I am very happy that you will still be close. I couldn’t bear it if you married and moved far away.”
Willard, Beth’s father, knocked on the door, and stuck his head in. “Ladies, we have an impatient groom waiting at the altar. Oh my,” Willard’s breath came out in one loud sound. He walked into the room with his arms open. Beth walked into them. “Oh Papa.”
Beth began to cry. Willard was concerned, “Here, here, darling, what is all this about?” Beth took several deep breaths, “Oh Papa, I’m just now realizing that I’m grown up. I loved being your little girl.” Willard suddenly looked old. He bravely put a smile on his face. He was determined not to sadden this day for the child he loved more than life itself.
“Oh my sweet, wipe your eyes. This should be the happiest day of your life.” Beth realized that her father was right. It should be the happiest day of her life. Willard, and Lucille could just not know what she was about to do.
She looked in the mirror, pinched her cheeks, put a dash of rouge on her lips, and walked to Willard. “I’m ready now Papa, and Mother.” Lucille, and Willard Bond followed closely behind their oldest daughter. Beth had requested that both of her parents walk her down the aisle.
When they reached the door to the chapel Willard, and Lucille each put an arm through Beth’s. They walked with her ceremoniously. Beth saw Jamie standing before Blake Calkin. Blake was the town Justice of the Peace. He had been asked to perform the service since his two sons were the grooms.
Eric was on the other side of the wide aisle waiting for Angela. Beth nearly fainted. She pretended that she was walking towards Eric, and not Jamie. The ruse got her down the aisle. When she was next to Jamie; Lucille, and Willard each kissed her on the cheek. Then they put her arm through Jamie’s.
Jamie turned. He looked at her, and grinned. He was incredibly handsome. Jamie’s face appeared as though it was the creation of an artist. Chiseled his nose was not too long, or too wide. His teeth were perfect, even, white, gleaming when he grinned. Bronzed by the sun and his heritage his skin was a warm coppery color. Jamie’s thick, black, hair was shiny as the wing of a crow. When he grinned a faint dimple winked in his right cheek. The soft dimple kept Jamie from appearing too perfect. It made his heart stopping handsomeness more approachable.
They made a distinctive couple, her fairness, his darkness, her coolness, the warmth and passion of his glance. Beth did not understand the longing in her heart for the less handsome brother to the left of Jamie. Eric was not attractive in the traditional sense. His features were not even. His rugged face belied his charismatic personality, refined sensibilities, and many talents.
Beth’s long held dream had been marriage with Eric. She couldn’t change her dream this quickly. So, as she stood beside one man, and promised herself to him she imagined she was promising herself to his brother. It didn’t occur to her that by doing this she was committing many sins. She had become so used to manipulating life to achieve her desires she couldn’t imagine failing now.
When Blake Calkin told Eric, and Jamie to kiss their respective brides Beth imagined it was Eric that kissed her. She imagined that he kissed her with the hint of unknown passions to come. When she opened her eyes it surprised her to see Jamie looking down at her. Quickly she shifted her reality to fit her dream.
The reception was large, loud, and lonely. Crowds of people surrounded Beth. Still she felt completely, and utterly alone. She had never been hugged so much in her entire life. Jamie seemed uncomfortable. Beth refused to look at the other side of the room. Well-wishers surrounded Angela, and Eric. Beth made no move to congratulate the other couple. She simply could not bear speaking to them. Their obvious happiness deepened her anguish.
Within an hour Beth longed for a long, hot, bath. She felt dirtied by the contact of so many people. She had been hugged, over, and over, and over again. Others kissed her on both cheeks, and lips. The oldest man in Calkington, proudly one hundred years old kissed her soundly on the mouth.
Finally, her mother escorted her upstairs to help her change into her traveling suit. She and Jamie were leaving to stay at her families second home in Astoria. Astoria was a small town twelve miles southwest from their town of Calkington. Beth was very happy to slip out of her wedding dress. Soiled by the crowds of people and her vengeful motivation in marrying Jamie Calkin she knew she didn’t want to see the dress again.
A moment of panic swept through Beth as Jamie helped her into the buggy to leave for their honeymoon. The buggy had been decorated with large bows of ribbon. There was a sign that said, “Just Married.” Strings of tin cans, and old shoes dragged from behind the buggy.
Jamie said, “Giddiup.” The horse jumped forward. Beth kept her face trained on her Mother, and Father. She looked back at them until they were lost in shadow.