Winds West – 8

     Mr. Langdon returned home, and, as he had hinted in his letter, he returned with a new wife. Clara was nice enough to Liza, but made it obvious that she intended to run the house her own way and considered Liza superfluous, not to mention low class. She was too nose-in-the-air for Liza’s taste and had definite ideas about her proper station in the community. It was the first time Liza had ever met anyone with social pretensions and it amused her no end. It also made it easier to finally take the big step and strike out on her own. The differences between Clara and Liza were certainly not lost on Mr. Langdon, but he had a foot in both worlds. Coming from a background like Clara’s, he had lived many years in a world more like Liza’s and appreciated the faults and virtues of both. Now he had made his decision and Liza’s staying would only create friction in the house. It was time to close one chapter of the book and go on to the next.

     “Liza, when you came to us, I was grateful and I always will be. You were more than just an excellent housekeeper. But I think we both know it’s time for you to move on. You never had much chance to follow your own star, what with having to take over your own home, then mine. Now you can do whatever is in you to do. I’ve watched you these last two years and I’ll tell you frankly you can do anything you’ve a mind to. And as I said, I’m grateful. Anything I can do to help you get started, you need only ask. Perhaps you could become a schoolteacher. I have some influence in the town and I could arrange that. You would have no trouble getting a certificate. You’re much better read than most of our leading citizens.”

     “That’s because you let me use your library, Mr. Langdon. You don’t know how much that has meant to me since I came here. But while I appreciate you wanting to help, I think I’m going to go West. This country somehow seems to stifle me. Everything is so settled and proper. It’s like everyone here thinks their way of life is the only possible or proper way. You know the difference between folks in a big city and folks in the country. So do I, even if I haven’t been to a real big city yet. But what I want is more country, less city. Even Ohio is becoming too much like the East for me. I want to be able to stand on my own and build my own life without fretting about what other folks do or say. I can’t do that here.”

     “You’re right, of course. Feeling as you do, you would never be happy here. Different people have different views, and sometimes there isn’t as much tolerance as there should be. In some ways I envy you. It was your kind that built this country, then others came along to enjoy the fruits of that building. What I find sad is that the latecomers usually don’t appreciate what it took to build the land.”

     “I don’t blame them for that,” said Liza. “There’s no way they could understand what it took or what life was like years ago. They grow up with houses and churches and stores and all, with lots of people around. It just seems natural and normal to most folks. Somehow I’m different. I don’t know if it’s a blessing or a curse. I just know I don’t want to stay here. If it’s alright with you, I’m going to go home next week. I want to visit Papa and the family before I start West.”

     “That’s fine, Liza. But I do want to show my appreciation for these last two years. I can give you letters of recommendation and introductions to some business acquaintances in Colorado. They might make it easier for you to get started out there, if that’s where you end up.”

     “Thank you, sir. I probably will go to Colorado. A friend of Papa’s runs a mercantile store out there and told Papa he’d help. Who knows? I may even run into the minister’s nephew!”

     “You might, at that. As I recall, he mentioned coming back here when it was time to find a wife, and somehow I think he had his eye on you. He’s a fine young man with a good chance to make something of himself. You could do worse. But Liza, don’t marry him or anybody else just for that. You’re still young and needn’t be in a hurry to wed. Indeed, it’s hard for me to remember just how young you are. But there’s a lot of life you haven’t had a chance to live yet. Give yourself that chance. Marry someone you love.”

     “I suppose I will, someday. Providing I find someone who feels the same way about me. That’s always a question, isn’t it?”

     “Not so much as you might think. Somehow, falling in love often seems to provoke the same reaction in the other person.”

     “Well, I guess I’ll just see what comes. As to Ryle Tate, I was only joshing.”

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