The Girl from Montana (Chapter 1, page 2 of 12)

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Chapter 1

At all these funerals there had been a solemn service, conducted by a
travelling preacher when one happened to be within reach, and, when there
was none, by the trembling, determined, untaught lips of the white-faced
mother. The mother had always insisted upon it, especially upon a prayer.
It had seemed like a charm to help the departed one into some kind of a
pitiful heaven.

And when, a few months after the father, the mother had drooped and grown
whiter and whiter, till one day she clutched at her heart and lay down
gasping, and said: "Good-by, Bess! Mother's good girl! Don't forget!" and
was gone from her life of burden and disappointment forever, the girl had
prepared the funeral with the assistance of the one brother left. The
girl's voice had uttered the prayer, "Our Father," just as her mother had
taught her, because there was no one else to do it; and she was afraid to
send the wild young brother off after a preacher, lest he should not
return in time.

It was six months now since the sad funeral train had wound its way among
sage-brush and greasewood, and the body of the mother had been laid to
rest beside her husband. For six months the girl had kept the cabin in
order, and held as far as possible the wayward brother to his work and
home. But within the last few weeks he had more and more left her alone,
for a day, and sometimes more, and had come home in a sad condition and
with bold, merry companions who made her life a constant terror. And now,
but two short days ago, they had brought home his body lying across his
own faithful horse, with two shots through his heart. It was a drunken
quarrel, they told her; and all were sorry, but no one seemed responsible.

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