Prayers for Sale
“Silver Heels worked in a dance hall thirty miles over the mountain in Buckskin Joe. She had the face of an angel, and she wore silver slippers to show off her feet, which were as tiny as a Chinaman’s wife’s. That’s why the miners called her by the name of Silver Heels. Some of these girls that worked in the saloons and dance halls were hard boiled as rocks, but Silver Heels was just a little bit whorish, not enough to hurt.”
Silver Heels had worked in Buckskin Joe a year or two when the small pox came, and the men began dying like fish in mine runoff, Hennie continued. The girls left town so they wouldn’t catch it, but Silver Heels stayed to nurse the miners. She cooked for them and washed their faces with cold creek water when they were out of their minds with fever, and she wrote letters to their folks back home after the boys died, claiming she was a minister’s wife, and saying they’d died in the bosom of the Lord.
“…Silver Heels herself caught the pox, and the boys feared for her life, but she came out of it. Her pretty face was gone, however, all poxed up and ruined. So she left out. No one knew where she went. A few years later, a woman wearing a heavy veil showed up at the burial ground to put flowers on the graves of the miners who’d died in the epidemic. You couldn’t say for sure who she was, because her face was concealed, but the Buckskin miners knew. They said she was Silver Heels, and they named a mountain for that hooker,” Hennie finished.
It has been awhile since I’ve read a Sandra Dallas book – however I always enjoy her writing. Prayers for Sale is certainly an interesting read (especially since I recognize so many of the Colorado sites mentioned in the book).
Posted on July 19, 2009, in Books and tagged books, Buckskin Joe, Colorado, dredging for gold, fiction, miners, Prayers for Sale, regional fiction, Sandra Dallas, Silver Heels, smallpox. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.