Jeanne liked Beatrice Miller. She was her favorite niece and everybody called her Bea. The young woman was good company and good help. She had been staying the week and helping her aunt Jeanne with the late summer canning. Today had been applesauce and green beans. Yesterday was the last of the ripe tomatoes. While the jars cooled, the two talked and knitted socks. Bea was full of the news of friends and family.
There were new babies. The Harpers had a new buggy they had bought in Columbus. Columbus! More than three days ride. Jeanne had always wanted to visit Columbus, the state capitol. Dayton was the biggest city that she had ever seen and Columbus was almost unimaginable.
As Bea chatted away, Jeanne's hands flew. The needles clicked quietly as the sock grew in length. This was a fine way to spend the afternoon. Her chores were much more enjoyable with good company. As the time flew by, Jeanne learned that the Methodist church had decided to finish their bell tower with a tall steeple. Evidently, the money to finish the construction was being donated by Emmet Durney, a man that Jeanne did not know. The Clausons were Episcopalians and did not attend the same church.
"Bea, who is this young man? What do you know of him? I do not know the family."
"He is a farmer like Papa. His parents, the Durney's have a large farm out towards Huber. Papa says that they have almost two thousand acres. Can you imagine?"
"That is a lot of land. I don't know that we would know how to work it. I think that I like our farm just the size that it is."
"Auntie, they have paid families that help them to work the farm. I think they must be rich. Emmet must have his own too. Wealthy enough that he provided the money to finish two other projects as well. A new window in the vestibule and benches in the choir loft. And auntie Jeanne, he is handsome and has pretty blue eyes!"
Jeanne laughed, did her niece feel some tenderness for the man? When Jeanne asked, the child blushed crimson and smiled. Jeanne knew most of the influential families in the area. Why was she not familiar with the young man?
"Young Mr. Emmet has his own farm?"
"Oh yes, he bought it after he returned from the war. I think you know of the place. Along the national road outside of Donnelsville, the farm lane has two large cedars near the road.
Jeanne knew the farm but did not know that it had recently changed hands. The old man that lived there had passed away two years past. She supposed that his wife must have moved in with family and had decided to sell the farm.
"The war has been over for six years now. Has Mr. Durney been living with his parents since his return?"
"Oh no ma'am, he only returned in March of last year and bought the farm straight away. Some say that he tarried in Atlanta and Chattanooga after the war. I can not imagine why. I would turn my horse to ruin trying to get home. I would miss Mama and Papa far too much to linger."
With that said, Jeanne looked at the watch pinned to her apron and stood up. Placing her unfinished sock in a basket along with the yarn, Jeanne turned towards the pantry.
"That will have to be the last of young Mr. Emmet Durney for today, child. It is time that we started the biscuits for dinner. Your uncle will be hungry when he brings the horses in. Will you fetch Stella from the barn while I get things started? Bring in milk and butter from the spring house on your way back."
As her niece closed the door behind her, Jeanne forgot about Emmet Durney and started to gather flour, bowls and her rolling pin. There was work to do.
I would like to thank you for reading along as my imagination creates the story surrounding the death of Ellie Clauson. Thank you for your support, encouragement and kind comments. You can find the previous parts of the stories here in chronological order (not the order that I wrote and posted them):