“Sir, you don’t understand! They’re going to find me and drag me back to Albuquerque.”
“Miss Dalton, I’m a combat veteran—from the war in Korea. ... And I assure you: No one will drag you away ... not while you’re under my protection, which you are—as of now. So come and eat breakfast.”
“Can we at least hide the car first and cover it so it can’t be seen from the road?”
“Get behind the wheel. I’ll push. We’ll park it on the other side of my army truck and I’ll cover it with a tarp. ... Then come and eat. I’m starving for my trout. And if you want, I’ll scramble you some eggs and make some toast. If you like potatoes, I’ll fry some. And I have orange juice. I myself will just have trout—nothing else to spoil the taste of the trout.”
Reluctantly Beth complied ... not having a choice. They parked and covered the roadster. Then Silas carefully laid out the trout in his heavy cast-iron frying-skillet and set the pan on the grill over the coals.
“Like I said, after you’ve had your fill of trout, I’ll make whatever else you want,” he told the young lady. “You look famished. ... So you’re a runaway bride. I bet that makes for an interesting story.”
“Mr. Maclean is forty-five years old!” Beth exclaimed in anger. “I just graduated from high school and only had my eighteenth birthday last week. He has two daughters who are married with kids and older than me. He’s rich—part of the Maclean banker family. His land by Boys Ranch has lots of gas and oil. He’s a millionaire and so he thinks he can buy anything—including me!”
“I’m twenty-six,” Silas replied. “Is that too old for you?” “That’s okay. But you look older.”
“War does that to a person,” Silas replied with a pained
look. “Some of the things I saw make me feel ten years older than I am.”
“Marry me!” Beth suddenly and unexpectedly blurted out. “If I’m already married when they find me, they’ll have to let me go.”
“There’s a retired Methodist minister and his wife in the next campsite and he could marry us right away,” Silas said with a laugh. “But it wouldn’t be right. I’m ready to get married and settle down. I just got out of the army a month ago—after eight years and one war. ... I’m still in the reserves. But I take marriage seriously. And I think you do too—or else you wouldn’t be a runaway bride.
“Miss Dalton, finish your breakfast and get some rest. Then when you’re rested, we’ll go talk to him—to Pastor Jim Henderson—and see what he thinks about your proposal of marriage. After more than forty years of being a minister, he’s a wise man. And we’ll also talk to Mary, his wife—she’s wise too ... and understanding, especially when it comes to young folks who are in a big hurry to get married.”
“Sir, you’re making fun of me,” Beth complained.
“Yes, I am. Dressed the way you are and looking the way you look—and the dumb things that come out of your mouth: Marry me!—it’s hard not to make fun of you.”