Five Facts about the Widow Hargis by Vicki L. Nelson

Word Count 530

1. Eulalia Agnes Hansen was born in St. Joseph, Missouri, shortly after the turn of the Nineteenth Century.  She was the seventh and last child of Judge Zebulon Hansen and wife, Dorothea. Eulalia, or ‘Lia’ as she preferred being called, was spoiled by both parents and siblings alike.   It had been a difficult birth and Dorothea could have no more children after Eulalia.  Lia Hansen was the Belle of St. Joe, with long auburn curls and big blue eyes.  Trouble was, she knew it and so did all the eligible males in and around St. Joe.

2. Lia was bored with life in St. Joe and craved excitement.  When she was fifteen years old, she eloped with a man she barely knew.  Daniel Corby promised her the life she would never find in St. Joe.  They eloped to St. Louis and hopped the steamboat Enterprise to New Orleans. Dan and Lia both got jobs in a gambling hall in the French Quarter.  It was wild, exciting, and everything Lia ever dreamed about.

3. Shortly after turning sixteen, Lia found herself in ‘the family way’ and her gambling hall days days were over.  She gave birth to a boy they named Matthew Zebulon after both grandfathers.  Motherhood didn’t come naturally to Lia.  She thought Mattie red, wrinkled, and rather ugly.  The infant was demanding, always needing something or other from her.  She began to resent both baby and husband.

4.  After little Mattie turned one, Lia took a good look at her life.  She had grown to love her child, that is, as much as Lia could love anyone other than herself.  She divorced Dan and took the baby back to St. Joe.  Lia knew that neither she nor Dan were fit to parent Mattie.  She left little Mattie to be raised by her childless sister, Louise and her husband.  She was never to see her boy again and he would know no other mother except Louise.   Lia, once again, left St. Joe and never looked back. Through the years, she would continue to get news of Mattie. Lia kept every letter sent to her, tied up with a blue silk ribbon, stored away in a memory chest.

5. Lia drifted with the wind, finally ending up in Sacramento.  She married Benjamin Hargis
and moved to the small town of Spanish Wells.  Lia soon found out that her new husband was a shiftless alcoholic who beat her frequently.  She never talked about it, but everyone in town whispered behind her back. When Ben died in his bed, no one mourned his passing and blamed it on booze and a weak heart. Only his widow knew he’d been helped along the way by a pillow over his face. Lia had wisely purchased a life insurance policy early in the marriage, so Ben’s death left her comfortable.  Lia took back her given name, Eulalia, and bought a dry goods store, becoming Spanish Well’s paragon of propriety and moral principles.  No one knew about her checkered past, and no one ever would.  Clutching the Good Book to her breast, she called on the good Lord to let her take her secret to the grave.

-The End-
written 2014/ posted 2022


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