Welcome to this private webpage. Only here do I have all of Abigail and Richard’s correspondence from my book, Rider’s Desire. Why did I write Richard’s letters to Abigail? Because I wanted to make sure his side was there, even if I never published his words. Even better, I included Clay’s letter to Abigail without all of his inner self-doubt. You’re now able to read what she read, too.
I hope you enjoy this sneak peek behind the scenes of one of my books. There are no spoilers, so if you haven’t read Rider’s Desire, you’ll love the story more after finishing this page.
What happened in the beginning? Abigail found Richard Crandall’s mail order bride advertisement. She and her sewing circle mailed him a question, thus resulting in a conversation and romance ended too soon.
Dear Mr. Crandall,
I have a few questions for you concerning your advert for a mail-order bride.
While I’m not seeking a husband, I am curious about why a man would request a stranger’s hand in marriage. The ladies in my sewing circle read the requests every Saturday afternoon when we meet. I must confess, sometimes we do laugh at the specifics in various adverts. No one laughed at yours, however. We each considered your request the best in conveying what a man should want in a wife.
I would like to know more about your thoughts on what sort of woman you expect to drop her Eastern life and marry you.
Richard Crandall’s reply.
Dear Miss Sterling,
I appreciate you and the other ladies not poking fun at my request. I know it may seem like a man out in the gold fields of California might not be a good husband. One might say a prospector could never make a good prospect. I would beg to disagree. Had I been able to speak to your sewing circle, I’d say time in the mine gives a man a fresh appreciation for home comforts. Any man can fend for himself. Most should know how, in fact. While I can cook near anything for my own meals, I can’t be as good as the average woman.
If you know of any marriage minded ladies in your group, kindly forward this letter to her. I’d like to write further on the many reasons a lady might move west to meet me.
Mr. Richard Crandall
Dear Mr. Crandall,
None of us felt inclined to mock you. In fact, when I’d mentioned your request the other ladies wanted me to read your letter to them verbatim. A couple agreed you sounded very interesting and have a way with words. We then fell into a discussion of how to live in the wilderness. Thus, we all have additional questions which I’ve been asked to pass on to you.
Feel free to answer in any order. Do you have your own home or do you share with others for economy? Do you live in the mine? Liese asked the prior question. She thinks living in a mine might be interesting. Consensus is it would not. Continuing on, do you live near any sort of civilization? I assume so because of your letter reaching us at all. Did you plan on marrying the woman without seeing her photograph or portrait? Do you expect to change your mind if she’s unappealing? Would you allow her to change her mind if she suddenly grew homesick? Rachel asked the last. She is rather attached to her family.
If I haven’t completely turned you away with all of our curiosity, I hope to hear from you soon.
My dear Miss Sterling,
Your questions are both amusing and interesting. I appreciate your group wanting to know more about a lonely miner’s life.
Answering in order is fine. I have your letter in front of me and will do my best. I have a small cabin near my claim. It’s closer to the mine entrance than the creek. Summers are hot while winters are pleasant. I don’t live in the mine but often feels like I spend all of my time underground. Tell Liese thank you for the question and working in a mine is tough and dirty work. Dangerous, too, but she’s right. Very interesting indeed.
In reviewing my days to describe them to your group, I’m at a loss. My life is simple. I wake, eat breakfast, work in the mine until tired or out of lamp oil, eat dinner, and sleep. Sunday is my rest day and when I wash. While cleaning myself and surroundings may not sound restful, after a week of mining, anything short of busting rocks is a luxury. You assume correctly that I live near civilization. Otherwise, I’d not be able to post these answers. I save one Saturday a month to visit town for supplies.
I had no real plans for an immediate marriage if I were lucky enough to get an answer to my request. At some point, I had hoped for an exchange of some sort. Something to pass the lonely time. An unbiased opinion of her appearance would be sufficient if no image of her existed.
The questions about second thoughts were very intriguing. After spending the better part of three years staring at my donkey while mining, I expect any woman I meet to be beautiful. Additionally, a young lady arriving here to find me as appealing as my donkey would be given a ticket home if she so desired. Sally sounds like a fine woman. She might not mind taking the train here for a visit if someone in your circle decided to take a man up on his offer.
My Dear Mr. Crandall,
We found your answers vastly entertaining. Thank you for taking the time for the letter. Your cabin sounds delightful in the spring. I would hope you spend any gold you find on making your home more comfortable. If not for your bride’s sake then your own. A man who works as hard as you seem to do deserves a nice place to live when not underground.
The ladies and I all laughed at your suggestion of any woman is more attractive than your donkey. Claudette came up with the idea of having our group photographed for you. All of us agreed you need a reminder of how women look. We had a grand time arranging and sitting for the photographer. I’ve included the photo and wrote our names along the bottom.
Something we discussed was if you chose to write a reply to only one of us, what would we do? My idea is if you’d prefer to only write to Claudette, Rachel, or Liese, is to ask you to address the letter to only her in the next post. All of us will understand if, after seeing our photo, you take a liking to one of us in particular.
After seeing their photo, Richard responded to one lady in particular.
Your group is one any man would be lucky to be an acquaintance of, never mind regularly conversing with. The ladies are quite lovely. Their appearance matches their charming personalities.
I suspect you didn’t count on me to be smitten with you, but there it is. I am. Your letters brighten an existence I didn’t know was dreary. Then, when I saw your slight smile and sparkling eyes, my heart became yours. I couldn’t hope to make you happy out here in the wilderness. Our being pen friends will more than suffice for me. You are a beauty I can worship from afar.
What woman could resist being beautiful to a hardworking man? Abigail’s response.
I feel odd addressing you so informally. I might have told the others a story about not receiving a letter from you this month. Claudette had hoped you might single her out as a bride. She’s far too young and full of romantic notions. I suppose you and I are as well. Otherwise, we’d not be writing each other so warmly. I have to confess being worried about how you might think ill of me when I admit to being glad you’ve written me personally. I felt a little presumptuous in my delight until I reread your letter. Your feelings are very much returned. I adore you even though we’ve yet to meet.
Thank you also for the enclosed photograph of you. I appreciate the time and effort you took away from your work. I also think you’re a fine-looking man. Not at all how I’d expect a miner to appear and much more handsome than my imagination led me to believe. If you were so bold as to include a sketch of yourself with your bride advertisement, I’d suspect your post office would be full of replies. Selfishly, I’m glad you didn’t. I’d prefer to be your only pen friend.
When I think upon your worship from afar, I confess I’d prefer to be flesh and blood instead of a goddess. You’re right, in that our making a life in the wilderness gives me cause for concern. I would like the challenge but am afraid I’d fail miserably. I would prefer to be a worthy wife to you, not a shrinking violet you’d have to constantly protect.
This letter is short only because I’m impatient to send and thus receive your reply.
I’m sure Richard had a chuckle over the long letter Abigail considered short. Now entirely enamored, he responded with this.
Your letter brightens more than my day. I’ve scarcely read the signature before rushing to a reply for you. My preference, too, is that you’re no goddess. You might resemble one in every way, but I prefer you as my partner out here. Civilization is pushing back the wilderness more and more every day. Soon, the west will be as comfortable as your eastern home. I’m sure of it.
I shall only write to you, my darling. My advert has run its course. I won’t renew since I’ve lost my heart to you. As for your failure to live up to being my wife, you’re adorably silly in that regard. Any way you might not think you measure up to being the perfect wife would have to be fiction. I simply can’t imagine a fine eastern lady more suited for my life than you.
Abigail’s response and request.
I do like the idea of helping build a new part of the country. Like you, I wasted no time in writing a response to your latest marvelous letter. My life has many joys, but receiving word from you is the brightest star of all. I feel as if I float on air for days after reading your thoughts. I fear I’m wearing out your prior mailings. Rereading every word in your hand eases my longing for you.
I love my family and friends, and all of my plans revolved around St. Joseph until you singled me out as a pen friend. Now, I imagine a future much closer to the Pacific. My dreams are only, of course, if you’re still interested in a bride. Please reply soon.
Richard’s romantic answer.
My darling fiancée,
Is referring to you as such too much too soon? After your last letter, nothing feels as if I could be too forward. Our hearts beat as one, I’m sure. If you were to come here and marry me, I’d die a happy man.
Forgive me, but I’m writing this brief note from the saloon. I’m only drinking water and want to send this on the next outgoing mail. If I can afford the expense of a speedy delivery by Pony Express, you might receive this before the end of the month.
Why do I not want to waste another second? Because I must ask, please consider traveling here and marrying me. I’ll even go to meet you if it means we’re husband and wife by the end of the day.
Abigail’s response and plans for their future.
Yes, a thousand times. I confess living in the wilderness continues to scare me. Yet, if you’re there, nothing will keep me from being by your side. You are the love of my life and the man I truly want to marry.
My parents are both intrigued and horrified by our courtship by pen. They aren’t in favor of letting their oldest daughter go across the continent to meet, never mind marry a stranger. Instead, my father has enclosed a train ticket for you to come here. Notice that I’ve not sent this by Pony Express. My delay in replying to you is certainly made under duress. Father said he didn’t become successful by paying more than necessary for invitations. He’s too old to understand young love it seems.
Thus, you’ll find some of my pin money enclosed. Please send me a reply via the Express as soon as you read this letter. I need to know when you’ll be here to meet my parents. We’d like to have a small wedding here, unless your family protests. You also must tell me more about your parents, siblings, and friends. I feel as if we know everything and nothing about each other. I won’t be able to sleep a second until you’re here with me.
Tragedy struck, only Abigail doesn’t know. Thus, here is Clay’s letter to her.
Dear Miss Sterling,
It is my most profound regret to inform you of Richard Crandall’s unfortunate accident.
His mine caved in and crushed him. To death, I’m afraid. I am terribly sorry for your loss. Several of his letters were found in his cabin, which I’m personally delivering to you in the next few days.
Since his final resting place was deep in a mineshaft, anything on his person is with him for eternity. I can only assume he’s with his most cherished possessions.
I personally wasn’t close with Mr. Crandall but saw him occasionally at Bartlett’s Dry Goods.
He was a fine man who was well thought of in his part of Sacramento.
I do hope my visit in no way inconveniences you and look forward to delivering Mr. Crandall’s effects.
There you have it! The secret letters between Abigail and Richard. Remember, if you want to read the entire story for yourself, click here for Rider’s Desire.