Bells Will Be Ringing

by Wendymypooh

Old West Christmas Series

Josiah Sanchez, Ex-preacher, and the eldest member of the 7 peacekeepers hired to protect the citizens of Four Corners, was head over heels in love. This realization hit him with the force of a lightning bolt upside his head as he prepared for the town’s annual Christmas party. He gazed at himself in the chipped mirror he stood before in the back room of the church, and let his mind wander back onto the day several weeks ago when he had first laid eyes on his Esther.

He had been in the middle of repairing one of the dilapidated benches that served as pews for his parishioners, when he heard the sound of soft footsteps entering the church. He had turned from his work toward the doorway as the door opened and the loveliest vision he had ever seen walked through the door.

Esther Wilson was in her mid-thirties, tall, graceful and a widow. She had waist length ebony hair that she wore in a loose braid or ponytail at the nape of her neck, smoky gray eyes, an ample bosom and generous figure.

In a lyrical voice that held a hint of an Eastern accent similar to J.D.’s, Esther had introduced herself and explained why she had sought him out. Her husband, Abram, had died two years earlier leaving her a small fortune. She had remained in the home that they had made together, idly attending social gatherings after her period of mourning was declared over, until she could not stand it any longer.

She wanted to live again, to go out west as Abram had promised her they would do once he had retired. One day she had decided that he dreams of going West did not have to die with Abram, and so she had closed up her house, packed her bags and headed out on her grand adventure.

She had been on the stagecoach headed back East after her trip to California, when it had arrived in Four Corners to pick up a couple more passengers. She had taken one look at the quaint community and something inside of her had urged her to stay. That same day she had set herself up in a room at the hotel, hired herself a carriage and gone exploring the town and its surrounding areas. Within the next couple of days she had purchased some land and decided that she would build a house upon it large enough to serve as a place where she could have boarders as well.

That was what had led her to seek Josiah out. She had heard around town that he was a good hand with a hammer. Josiah couldn’t think of a reason to turn her down, but did explain to her that his other duties as peacekeeper would have to take precedence over anything else if there was trouble in town. Esther had told him that she understood perfectly that his other responsibilities in town would not be hindered by her in any way, and a deal was made between them.

The more time that Josiah had spent with Esther, the more he found to admire. She was kind and gentle, and unafraid to work hard. She was intelligent with a good head for numbers, and a talent for drawing. She was the one who designed the plans for her house and Josiah had been impressed. Esther was always willing to listen to his judgment about which materials were best to use in the construction and what was readily available on hand.

Many nights after they had worked hard during the day, they would share supper together at the hotel. Sometimes they would sit sipping coffee and talking about the world that they had both seen. Esther delighted in hearing his tales of the places he had been, and the adventures that he and the other peacekeepers had shared together.

He had introduced her to the other peacekeepers one at a time and found that she quickly developed and easy rapport with each one. She did not treat any of them any different from the other, and it meant the world to Josiah. Chris and Nathan both; were used to be treated with prejudice, Chris because of his speed with a gun, and Nathan due to the color of his skin. Esther saw them simply as the men that they were and was soon quick to come to any of their defense if she heard a disapproving remark from anyone in town.

Now as he finished his grooming, slipped into his suit jacket, picked up the gifts that he had purchased for her and left the church, Josiah hoped that Esther loved him too. He rented a carriage from Yosemite and drove out of town to the boarding house, and pulled the carriage to a stop alongside the porch. He climbed down from it and sprang up the steps, pulling on the chain of bells that Esther had designed for visitors and guests alike to announce their arrival at the boarding house.

He did not wait for someone to come to the door, and let himself in and moved toward the parlor, where he found Esther waiting for him with her two new boarders, Chastity Cummings and Amelia Vanderson.

“Ladies, you are a heavenly sight to behold.” He complimented all three of them sincerely, even though his blue eyes were all for Esther.

The two younger women thanked him and then excused themselves from the parlor. Josiah settled his large frame into one of the dainty chairs and held out his presents to Esther. Esther took them with a delighted smile and unwrapped the smallest box first. Inside the velvet box was a cameo.

“Josiah it’s beautiful.” Esther said sincerely, her gray eyes lifting off the cameo and locking with his blue ones.

“It can’t compare to you.” Josiah replied softly.

Esther blushed at his words, and turned her attention onto the other package she held in her lap. Inside was a multicolored lace shawl. She fingered the soft material as tears filled her eyes. “I don’t know what I’ve done to be so blessed to have found you Josiah. I thought after Abram had died that I was destined to spend the rest of my life alone, but it seems that God had other ideas in mind for me.” “He certainly had ideas in mind for the both of us.” Josiah said, rising from his chair and moving over to stand in front of Esther’s chair. He held out his hand to her. “I don’t have much more than love to give you Esther, but if you consent to become my wife, I will spend the rest of my life loving you.”

“Oh, Josiah…” Esther said, setting her presents aside and rising from her chair and slipping her small hand into his larger one. “Yes…yes, I will become your wife.”

Josiah pulled her into his embrace, hugging her tightly to him, silently thanking God that he had deemed to give him such a precious gift. He lowered his head to press his lips to hers in a sweet kiss that held such promise to come for the both of them. They did not break the intimate embrace until several moments later when they heard the sound of tinkling bells announcing the arrival of someone to the boarding house.