Fanny and Louis

“Tell about the camp!” shouted Sammy, who never seemed to tire of the old stories.

“It was winter,” Fanny began. “Belle and I hadn’t been in camp with your father all that long. We heard there was going to be a party in the next settlement, a few miles away. I had brought a trunk full of dresses with me, only to find that they were far too fine to wear in Austin, Nevada. The camp was just a gulley of falling-down shacks, and the few women living there had to wash their things in the brown river water. No plumbing. No furniture. Nothing but a makeshift bed and a couple of pots in your father’s cabin when I got there. But I did get to wear one of those nice dresses the night we went to that party. Somebody had made a sled out of a big wood box with some runners. On it. There wasn’t mirror to be found in the whole gulley. When the other women came to get me, one of the girls held up a lantern and a metal pie pan so I could see to fix my hair.” Fanny touched her finger to the newspaper. “This woman in the article—she was the one who held up the tin pan.”

“Oh.” Belle signed, struck by the fairy-tale ending. “And now she’s rich.”

Under The Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan

under the wide and starry sky

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