It wasn’t supposed to be like this. She married a man with land and money, but four years later he was dead, and the drought had sucked up all the money and killed whatever hope was left in the land.
She went outside to greet Mr. Johnson, the bank manager, who was there to take the farm once and for all. Corey Jones, the owner of the adjacent farm, was with him.
Corey’s farm had a river running through it, so it survived the drought much better than most of the farms in the area, at least for the first few years. If her property line was one mile further west, she would have had that water, too. What a difference a mile can make, she thought.
Corey looked nervous. Annabelle was sure Mr. Johnson brought him along to make the whole situation easier. She did feel more comfortable with him there. He was always kind to her, and with him there she felt like maybe things would be okay after all.
“Annabelle,” said Mr. Johnson, dispensing with the normal greeting pleasantries, “I think I’ve found a way you can keep your farm.”
Annabelle held her breath for a moment, no longer feeling the chill of the winter air.
“I’d be forever in your debt, Sir, if you can let me and my children stay here. We love it, and it’s the only home they’ve known. And I really don’t know where we’d go if we had to leave…”
Mr. Johnson held up his hand to interrupt her and said, “I think I’ll let Corey explain…”
Corey dismounted and approached her, shuffling his feet in the dust. “You’re a handsome woman, and smart, too,” he said. “I’m not much, but I can provide for you and the little ‘uns.” He took off his hat and continued, “I know this may sound crazy, but if you think about it, it’s not. I’ve always cared about you. I think you know that.”
Annabelle smiled and nodded.
Then Corey finally came out with it. “Will you marry me? Mr. Johnson says I can take over your mortgage, and we can live here or across the river. Will you?”
Annabelle smiled through her tears. Corey could have just bought her land if he wanted it, but he wanted her. His offer meant that she and her children would be loved, safe and cared for at least as long as he was alive. It was more than a generous offer. It was a miracle.
After a moment, she wiped a tear from her cheek and said, “Yes, Corey. I’ll marry you.”
Corey swept her into his arms, and twirled her around. As he held her, he whispered into her ear, “Thank you, oh, thank you, Annabelle. You’ve made me the happiest man alive. ”
She whispered back, “Thank you for saving me. I’ll be grateful forever.”
“Well,” said Corey, “I think we’ve saved each other.”
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