Mail-Order Husband:The Millionaire's Debt

By: Rebecca Tilley
Chapter 1

Daphne Haynes scurried about her three room farmhouse tidying up and making the final arrangements for the guest that was to arrive shortly. She could not believe how fast everything had moved from the time she placed the small ad in the Texas newspaper until now. She could not afford to be picky; she needed a husband, and fast. Everything was moving along so smoothly she was afraid it was too good to be true, but there was no room for doubt at this point. Her small farm had fallen into disrepair since her late husband had passed, and the bank was closing in on her property. If things did not work out between her and the man that was on his way, she would lose the farm for sure and she had no place to go.

Daphne and her husband had moved to Colorado to start a better life for themselves. They were so young then, with so many dreams. They wanted lots of kids, cattle, and corn. Hank had the perfect plan, “If we can just lay claim on some property out west, everything will turn out,” he would say with excitement glinting in his eye. That was what she had loved best about Hank, his infectious optimism. She allowed herself to be dragged half-way across the country with no more than twenty-five dollars to their names. “When we get there we will buy seed to plant corn, claim our land, and watch the money roll in. When we have enough we will buy some head of cattle and before ya’ know it,” he would always pause at this point and start to daydream.

Daphne had trusted that he had a plan beyond that point, though she never heard one, and they started out. They got to Colorado and were kicked off the train because that was as far as they could afford. They didn’t know anyone in town and were forced to burn some of their money on lodging and food the first night. “Don’t worry baby,” Hank reassured, “this is all part of the plan.” She had her doubts, but his confidence was still in high gear.

The next morning Hank had gotten up to check on getting a claim, but there was nothing left. They were stranded in the middle of Colorado; no money for return fare; no land to work and make a new life; no hope. Hank was not yet broken, however, and he began making inquiries for land to purchase, but fifteen dollars doesn’t exactly get prime real estate. They needed money, the bank needed collateral, and the only valuables the two had were a pair of heirloom silver candlesticks that had been given to Daphne by her grandmother. She was reluctant to part with them, but Hank told her she would have them back in a few short months and she would be able to set them on top of her brand new mantle. She was so excited she handed them over without a second thought.

That had been eight years ago and Daphne was now a widow, eight years poorer, childless, and cattle-less. Hank had fallen into a bottle of whiskey after the first crop of corn failed, and he ended up drowning in it. Daphne had tried her best to keep the place afloat, but the learning curve was too steep. She fell further and further behind with the bank, and this month was the last chance she had to get current before they took the farm and her grandmother’s candlesticks with it. That is why she had resorted to looking for a mail-order husband. She needed someone that knew farming and had money. This was simply a business contract, and she made that clear to all of her prospective suitors. She had nothing to offer other than the candlesticks, and if someone would get them out of hock, and pay off the farm, she would gladly give them to that person. She just didn’t want Mr. Gantry, the bank’s assistant manager, to end up with them.

Mr. Gantry had been bullying Daphne for the last two years; threatening to sell the candlesticks to pay the debt her and her husband owed. He said he had a buyer lined up and he would be glad to have them out of the bank. She didn’t think this was true, however, because she had heard rumors that he had them in his own house, decorating his gaudy dining table. Daphne had hoped her husband would do something to defend her, but he was so useless that all he did was laugh at her anguish, and hope Mr. Gantry would continue to loan him a couple dollars a month to buy booze. Hank had taken to joining in taunting his wife when Mr. Gantry came around, so he wouldn’t be cut off.

All that was about to change, though, when the train came in today her savior would get off and set things right. How good it will feel to be out from under this tremendous weight, she thought.

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