“Michael!” Mary squealed.
“How’s my sweet sister? You look…like you’ve been on a horse for a day.”
“Not all of us took to the city life, brother. It looks like business is treating you well.”
“He’s had a brilliant teacher,” Daniel said as he stepped into the parlor. “Speaking of teachers, are you one, officially?”
“Maybe we should talk about that later,” Mary said shyly.
“Mary will be a teacher here in the city, Daniel,” Mary Ellen said.
“Mary Ellen Sweeney, when my brother died, I promised I would look after his family, and that most certainly includes making certain his daughter lives the life that makes her happy. Whether she chooses to teach in a one-room school house or enjoy a life of leisure eating bonbons on a chaise, I couldn’t care less as long as she is safe and chooses to do so. Is that clear?”
Mother smiled. “Of course, Daniel.”
“So, will the children of Antelope be learning from the newest teacher in the state?” Daniel asked.
“Unless someone else graduated and came home within the last week,” Mary smiled. “I’ve accepted the position.”
“I had every confidence,” Uncle Dan wrapped her in the hug her father would have. “Congratulations, dear girl.”
“Thank you,” Mary couldn’t hold in a smile any longer. “I was told you endorsed my application.”
“You are my niece, and you are my charge. Never forget that I’d do anything to help you, always.”
“I would never think otherwise, and thank you.” Mary turned more toward Mother. “I’m going to go get cleaned up before dinner.”