Caty's Craftsman - Chapter 1
Updated: Dec 24, 2022
Caty's Craftsman (A Starry Night Novella) by Karen Baney
Near Prescott, Arizona Territory
September 21, 1886
“Caty, wake up.” I groaned and rolled over. “Come on.” Two pairs of hands shook me. “Let’s go,” Penny said as she tugged me until I sat up. “Come. On.” Dory whined. “Fine. I’m up.” “Here.” Penny thrust my coat toward me. “Put this on.” After I wiped the sleepy sand from my eyes, I donned my coat and boots as my sisters dragged me out of the house toward the lake. It had been years since the three of us went to the dock to gaze at the stars. My twentieth birthday was a good time to resurrect the stargazing tradition. “Watch your step,” Dory warned as she held up the lantern. I carefully stepped onto the dock and walked to the other end before I sat down. Penny sat next to me, and Dory sat on her other side. Then the three of us laid on our backs and snuggled close to keep warm while we looked up at the stars. Slowly, I let out a long breath as I drank in the beauty of a million stars twinkling overhead. So peaceful. “Turn down the lantern,” Penny said. Dory giggled as she extinguished it. “It’s been too long.” “I know,” Penny said. “I miss this. One day, we won’t be able to do this anymore.” A twinge of sadness washed over me. At seventeen, Penny had already turned the heads of several boys at church. Her light blue eyes and wild brown curly hair enhanced her natural beauty. She might marry before me, if it wasn’t for her singular focus on one particular boy. “Caty, what is your dream? Has it changed?” Dory asked. At fourteen, marriage still seemed like a distant dream for my youngest sister. Though her figure started filling out her dresses. In another year or two, she’d be considered a fine catch. With the dawn of my twentieth birthday, I doubted God would grant me the desires of my heart. I had only one. “To marry a craftsman,” I whispered the words. I knew it was an odd request, but it was my heart’s truest desire. “Still?” Penny asked. “What do you mean by craftsman?” Dory asked. “A man with some talent. Woodworking or something like that. He makes beautiful things out of ordinary things.” “Kinda like Papa does when he whittles figurines?” Dory asked. “Only on a larger scale.” Soon enough, I’d have to abandon my dream if it didn’t come true. Perhaps my dream was unattainable. Or perhaps I wasn’t pretty enough to gain any man’s attention. Twenty inched closer to spinsterhood. Some might already consider me that. “What about you, Penny?” I asked. She laughed. “To marry Nathan Cahill, silly. It’s my one and only goal in life.” As I figured, her answer remained unchanged. For years, she said the same thing. Always our cousin Nathan. Not that he was related by blood. His mother’s first husband had been Mama’s oldest brother. After he passed, she married another man, Nathan’s father. So even though we grew up calling him cousin, only his older brother and sister actually were. “Has he noticed you yet?” Dory asked. Penny let out a long breath. “We’re best friends. But no. He has not noticed me romantically. We still have time.” A smile stretched across my lips. So true. “And you, Dory?” Penny asked. “I think I want to marry a man just like Papa. Handsome. Gifted with horses.” Her dream made the most sense. Our Papa, Adam Larson, earned the respect of every man he met. His reputation for breeding and training horses stretched far across the territory. He loved our Mama deeply, even after more than twenty years of marriage. That was the kind of love I longed for. Deep. Abiding. “You couldn’t pick a better kind of man to dream about,” I said. “I want a godly man,” she added. “Don’t we all?” Penny asked. “I certainly do,” I replied. Our words faded as we each gazed at the stars overhead. I prayed, thanking God for His masterpiece of the beautiful night sky. Please, Lord, let me fall in love soon. If the man you have for me isn’t a craftsman, I’ll let that dream go. I yearn for a godly man who will love me. Penny’s breathing slowed, and a snore escaped her lips. I nudged her, annoyed she fell asleep before we brought our outing to a close. “Dory, will you pray?” I asked. “Lord, we ask, if it is Your Will, bring a craftsman for Caty. Let Nathan Cahill fall madly in love with Penny. When I am older, bring a man like Papa for me.” “Amen,” Penny and I whispered. We sat up before we hurried back to our warm beds. This year. Maybe it would be my year.