After checking into the hotel, Elsie and I wandered through the town. It seemed as if we had seen everything in less than an hour. The next day we set about finding work. I found a job at the store and Elsie started working at a cafe. I found I enjoyed meeting and helping people.
I saw less and less of Elsie over the next few days. She had started coming in later and later. I did not want to say anything, for she had done so much for me, but finally I felt I could not avoid the conversation any longer.
"Elsie, you know I wouldn't say anything, but people are saying some really bad things about you."
"So, why is that a problem?"
"Elsie, they say you are seeing Albert Carson, and he is a married man."
"Ruth, I am glad you have brought that up. Yes, I am seeing Albert and I need for you to move out of this room."
"What are you talking about. You can't afford the room on your own, and I can't afford one by my self either."
"I don't have to worry about affording anything. It is time you went out on your own and let me live my life without having to worry about you. Please be gone by the time I get back."
I was stunned. Here we had made all these plans together and now she just told me to leave. I gathered my few things while walking around in a daze. Then I became angry and as I left the room and passed the front desk I informed the clerk I was leaving.
"Do you want your money back, the room was paid a week in advance.?"
"No, Elsie is staying."
"Then I am afraid I won't be able to give you anything back."
Now that I had left, I just stood there holding my bag and staring at the street. Finally I started moving and went to the store. Mr. Jensen looked at my bags and then at my face.
"So, you finally made the smart move and left. I didn't want to say anything, but if you had stayed there your reputation would have taken a turn for the worse."
"Yes, but I don't have much saved and now where shall I stay?"
"Matilda has an extra room in her place. Why don't you ask if you could rent it for awhile?"
I thought it over and decided that Matilda's might not be a bad idea. She was the school teacher and the school might like having a bit of extra money coming in.
After checking with the school board it was decided I could rent the room. It was a good move on my part. Soon Matilda and I had worked out the doing of things. I also started teaching music to the students one afternoon a week. That made my time pass very quickly.
I would see Elsie riding or walking with her 'friend' Albert, but she always avoided looking at me, let alone speaking. I guess she felt since she was spending time with one of the mine owners she had no time for common people. Still I missed her.
For myself, I had met Oscar. He was a gentle and funny man. He worked in one of the mines. On Sundays we would go for rides to explore the area. I found I not only loved the town, but the whole area. The mountains no longer oppressed me and the sky was so lovely. So my life went, until the Sunday Oscar did not show up as we had planned.
I waited for four hours, but he did not show up. I finally went to his shack. He was not there, but I noticed signs of a struggle. The next thing I knew I was being grabbed from behind and dragged off. I tried screaming, but the hand covering my mouth cut off any sound.
"Stop struggling, it will do you no good," the voice said.