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Not the Man I Want by Sadie Hunter is a completed story. It is five chapters in length and is currently available in its entirety in the Members' Area of Bethany's Woodshed. It is available both as an "HTML" file for online reading, as well as in a downloadable PDF format. It is also available as a file that can be transferred to your Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble Nook, or Apple I Pad, as well as other brand eBook readers. Each completed book that you obtain as a member of Bethany's Woodshed is yours to keep, even if you are no longer a member.

Chapter One

Kentucky, 1750

When the door slammed, Sarah Beth felt tears of hot shame flood her eyes.  What was wrong with her?  Why did she constantly goad and prod Jeremy?  Even more, why did he tolerate her childish behavior?  Constance’s husband would have put her over his knee and paddled her.  He would have scolded Constance and treated her as her childish behavior deserved.  Still, what kept prompting Sarah Beth to torment Jeremy?  And, would she have married him if she had known he was such a doormat?  The honest answer was ‘no’.  In fact, the only reason she married Jeremy was because he was handy and the only single male within ten miles that was close to her in age, other than Matthew, who had already made his preference for Constance known.  Constance’s family farm was closer to Matthew’s family, and that was the only reason he looked at Constance, Sarah Beth told herself yet again.  She simply could not let her best friend get married first, so she schemed and planned, and Jeremy married her a week before Constance married Matthew.  And now she was unhappy and making Jeremy unhappy, too.  What could she do?  Jeremy was not the man she wanted, but she was tied to him for the rest of her life.

Sarah Beth forced herself to get back to her chores.  She had thought she had it bad at home when she had to help her mother with the cooking and caring for the younger children, but now Sarah Beth longed to be in her father’s care.   She spent most of her time alone now that she was Jeremy’s wife, alone and working hard to keep their tiny home neat, and raising food to preserve for the long winter months.  Constance lived too far away to visit very often, and Jeremy would not hear of her going by herself.  Her parents’ farm was closer, but with all the work she had to do, she did not get to go there, either.  Sarah Beth felt sorry for herself.  If Matthew had married her instead of Constance, things would have been different, and Sarah Beth was sure of it.

Sarah Beth suddenly realized that she needed potatoes from the cellar.  She meant to bring them up when she went down earlier, but forgot.  Now she had to go down into the dark space she hated so much.  She grabbed a candle and lit it, and then opened the door to reveal the steps.  Best to get it done and stop the dreading, she scolded herself.  Once she was down there, Sarah Beth wasted no time filling her apron with potatoes for her stew.  She was ready to come back up when she heard footsteps upstairs.  They were not Jeremy’s!  She quickly blew out the candle, leaving herself in the dark.  She quietly moved to a hiding place that Jeremy made for her, and it was the one time he was stern with her.  He said that if he was not here and someone approached the cabin that she did not know, especially Indians, she was to go and use her hiding place.  He assured her that she would be safe there, even if someone came down into the cellar to look around. Jeremy told her to be brave, and he would come to find her when the danger passed, and if that did not happen, she was to go straight to her father.

Sarah Beth was afraid.  The footsteps above were soft, and were moccasins and not boots.  Besides, if Jeremy had taken off his boots and was walking around in his stockings, he would have called out to her.  Someone was coming down into the cellar!  Sarah Beth held her breath, terrified she would be discovered, despite Jeremy’s insistence that she would not be as long as she was quiet and stayed put.  She heard quietly whispered words that she did not understand, and her worst fears were confirmed.  The Iroquois did not like the settlers, and the whites in the area had had problems with them before.

The two Indians did not stay in the dark cellar long.  They looked around, satisfied themselves that no one was down there, and they left, closing the cellar door with a loud bang.  Sarah Beth shuddered.  She really was in the dark now, and she could still hear them upstairs, talking, laughing, and making a mess of her clean house!  Where was Jeremy?  Why didn’t he come and make them go away?  Surely he knew she was afraid and needed him?  Of course, he was such a weakling that he was probably hiding.  If he would not take her to task, he certainly was not about to fight two men!  Jeremy was not the type of man she wanted.  She wanted a husband who put her first, and Jeremy did not, or he would take pains to let her know it.

Suddenly, she heard more footsteps, loud talking and laughter, and just as quickly as they came, the Indians left.  Sarah Beth did not know what to do.  What if she came out of hiding and they came back?  She would do as Jeremy said and wait for him to come and tell her it was safe.  Only, hours passed and Jeremy did not come!  Sarah Beth cried, terrified to come out of hiding, but growing more and more afraid of being alone in the dark.  She had not wanted to think that something bad had happened to Jeremy, but common sense told her he would have come looking for her by now.  Had the Indians killed him?  She didn’t want to think that.  She might not love Jeremy, and wish she had never married him, but she did not wish him dead.

Slowly, quietly, Sarah Beth came out of hiding.  Her body was numb from all the hours she had spent in there, and she knew the numbness would give way to painful needles and pins in her feet and legs and her arms and hands. It did not take long for the unpleasant feeling to start, and Sarah Beth started crying from the pain that overwhelmed her.  Finally, it passed, and she had no reason not to go upstairs and find out what happened.  Perhaps not as much time had passed as she thought and Jeremy was still working in the fields and did not know that she had been in danger?

The small cabin was a mess.  Her precious and few treasures thrown everywhere, the maple syrup she was planning to use in the cookies she was going to bake that afternoon had been poured all over the quilt that she and her Mama and sisters had worked on before she was wed so that she and Jeremy would be warm on the chilly nights.  Their feather mattress had been sliced open and the feathers scattered everywhere.  Sarah Beth started crying, and then she grabbed her shawl and went outside into the darkening sky to look for Jeremy.  He was in the barn, an arrow protruding from his back, and the pitchfork he was using still clutched in his hands.  Jeremy was taken by surprise. 

Resolutely, Sarah Beth grabbed the shovel and went to dig a grave for her husband.  Yes, it was a mistake for them to get married, but it was more her fault than Jeremy’s.  And, if not for Jeremy making sure she had a safe place to hide, and a stroke of luck that she was in the cellar when they came, they would have killed her, too.  She picked a spot in the shade of a large oak tree.  Jeremy liked to sit there when he was not working, and they had eaten there when it was too hot to be inside the cabin.  It would be a good resting spot for him.  Sarah Beth worked hard; she was no stranger to handling a shovel, but it was still hard work to dig a grave.

“Sarah Beth.”  She whirled at the sound of her name and was shocked to see Matthew Cradler standing there.  He had dried blood on his face and shirt from a wound on his head, and he was swaying a bit.  He looked stunned to see her.

“Matthew, you had best sit down and let me help you.”

“Later.  Where is Jeremy?” he asked, sounding more like himself.

“His body is in the barn; the Indians killed him; I have been digging a grave.”

“It is deep enough; I shall bring him here for you.”  Sarah Beth followed after him. “Do you have a blanket to wrap Jeremy in?”

“I shall have to look and see.  They destroyed everything they could,” she whispered.  This time it was Matthew who followed after her.  Her chest was still in the corner.  She had an embroidered table scarf lying over the top of the chest, and several candles on top of the scarf.  The Indians did not bother to move any of that, figuring it was just a table underneath.  Sarah Beth moved everything aside and opened the chest and took out a folded blanket.  “I think this is large enough.”

“It will be fine.”  Matthew took the blanket and wrapped his friend’s body with it, and then he carried Jeremy where he would rest for eternity.  He prayed, and then quickly shoveled the dirt over his friend, grieving for him… and all the others who had died that day.  How Sarah Beth escaped was a complete mystery, but he would hear about that once they were far away from here and he was fairly certain they were safe.  “Is there anything salvageable in the way of food we can take with us, Sarah Beth?  We need to make haste and leave here before they return and discover we buried Jeremy.”

“I can get some food from the cellar.  It was so dark down there that they did not look around enough to find what was stored there.”  She hurried to do what Matthew told her to do, positive he was going to take her to his and Constance’s home, or to her parents’.  She did not care; she just knew she could not stay here any longer.

“That is enough for us to carry,” Matthew called to her.  He had picked up some items upstairs, wondering why the cabin was still standing and not burned to the ground.  He was pretty sure they meant to return soon.  They must have known that a woman lived there, and they figured she would come back later that night or in the morning.  They thought he was dead; Matthew touched the wound on his head, the wound that left him unconscious while they tortured his pretty wife.  He closed his mind from those thoughts.  He needed to get them to safety, and he had to tell Sarah Beth that their families were dead.  They were the only two people to survive the massacre.

“Why are we traveling in this direction?” Sarah Beth questioned.

“You need to hush, Sarah Beth,” he said firmly.  “Sound carries at night.”

She closed her mouth, even though she did not like being told to do so.  They were heading away from their families, and what of Constance?  What brought a wounded Matthew to their place…?  The more she thought about things, the more concerned she became.  It just did not make sense for them to be traveling away from loved ones.  She reached out and grabbed Matthew’s shirt and pulled him to a stop.

“We need to keep moving, Sarah Beth.  The Iroquois will be looking for us come morning, if not sooner.  We need to put some distance between us and them.”

“Matthew…?  Our families…?”  She had to know.

“They are with God, Sarah Beth.  God spared only you and I.  We must keep on going if we want to make it to safety.”

“But, what happened?” she asked.  “Constance…?”  Her lower lip trembled and Matthew knew she was going to cry.  “Everyone is gone but us?”  She needed corroboration.

“I am very sorry, Sarah Beth, but that is true.  I was injured and unconscious; I did not wake in time to be of help to dear Constance.  I arrived at my parents’ too late as well, as I did with your family.  I did not expect to find you living.”

“I was in the cellar and heard them come into the house; I hid in the place that Jeremy made for me when we first married.  He said that no one could ever find me there, and they did not.  I stayed there for hours, waiting for Jeremy to come.  I finally had to come out, and I found him in the barn.  I did not wish for him to die,” she added sadly.

“I am sure you did not,” Matthew replied, and then said, “I know you are grieving, as am I, but we must go forth and not waste another moment.”

“I shall follow you,” she said, knowing he spoke the truth.  It was truly terrible to know that she would never see her mother’s sweet smile ever again, or hear her father’s hearty laugh when he was amused.  And, the little ones… She could not bear to think of her little brothers and sisters… all dead, simply because the Iroquois did not wish to share the land and live in harmony with the settlers.  She uncharitably wished she could go to their homes and do the same to their families!  It would be fair and just… and also very wrong in God’s eyes.

Sarah Beth felt tears fill her eyes and run steadily down her cheeks.  She did nothing to try and stop them, but she did not make a sound as she continued to follow Jeremy at a brisk pace.  She had no idea where he was leading her, and at this point, she did not really care.  She was going through the motions, just as she suspected he was also doing.  She knew that he loved dear, sweet Constance, and so did Sarah Beth.  Constance was like a sister to her, and they confided their secrets to each other.  Constance even knew that Sarah Beth thought she had made a mistake in agreeing to marry Jeremy.  Constance thought that Jeremy was just young, and had yet to grown into the man he would become.  He was closer in years to them, than he was to Matthew.  It was a hope that Sarah Beth had been clinging too, but now she would never know.  Jeremy and Constance were both dead, and she a widow and Matthew a widower.  They were both alone now, too.  It was really too much to bear, and Sarah Beth did her best to offer prayers, but she was badly shaken.

Matthew suddenly stopped so quickly that Sarah Beth ran smack into him!  He steadied her then put his finger to his lips.  He either heard or saw something, and felt it necessary to warn her to silence.  When she prepared to whisper to him, he shook his head no, and gave her arm a shake.  Sarah Beth found herself obeying him, whereas she never would have given Jeremy’s order to remain quiet a second thought if she wanted to speak.  Matthew was very firm.

Matthew was positive he saw and heard someone ahead of them.  He pushed Sarah Beth behind some bushes, and then put his hands on her shoulders to make her hunch down as far as possible and remain hidden.  He motioned that she was to remain where she was, and then he went to check out the possibility that Indians were about.  He had felt a huge responsibility to his wife’s friend the moment he found her digging Jeremy’s grave.  Sarah Beth was doing her best to be brave right now and he was proud of her for that.  He could see traces of tears on her face, and knew that she was grieving for her husband and family, just as he was grieving for his wife and his family.  Constance’s family and Jeremy’s family were gone too.  The Iroquois had planned their attacks for some time, and wiped out their small community of four families and six cabins in all.  It was cruel.

Matthew was as quiet as he could possibly be, but saw nothing.  He thought it too soon for the Iroquois to catch up to them, but that did not mean there was not another group of Indians hunting for game.  He would have to remain alert.  He heard a twig snap behind him, and he whirled around, his fist drawn back, and if not for the fact that Sarah Beth was so tiny, he would have hit her very hard.  As it was, his fist hit air right above her head.  She turned those wide, green eyes on him in shocked surprise.  His hands went to her shoulders and he gave her a single shake.  If not for the fact they had to be quiet, he would take the redhead over his knee and give her a spanking she would never forget!  “We will discuss this matter when we are not in danger.  Be silent and follow me.”

Matthew could not believe that she followed him after he told her to remain hidden!  What was she thinking?  Jeremy was much too lenient with his wife, and in spite of their talks, Jeremy was not convinced that he should take a stick to Sarah Beth’s backside.  He was convinced that she would run home to her parents’ home to live with them once again.  Matthew told him that if Sarah Beth ran home, he should go after her and switch her tail all the way home.  Jeremy chuckled at the thought, but he continued to allow Sarah Beth to do as she pleased, no matter how it upset him.  Matthew was not that lenient, and Sarah Beth was due a good thrashing the moment it was safe enough to give her one.  He owed that to Jeremy.