Where the traveling arrangements are not to Mary’s liking…
Steam billowed up from the engine. Light filtered into the loading platform, obscuring everything from sight. The heavy loader beasts grunted, and hissed.
Being in close proximity to the animals made Mary nervous. It was bad enough having to travel through the streets of Chicago behind an ostrich, she now had to brace herself, knowing they were near by.
Born and raised in a city, and as a proper young lady she did have riding lessons. The biggest animal she was used to having to deal with were horses. Even if the riding stable had trained for the larger saurans.
She followed the porter down the row of train cars to her carriage.
A large shadow loomed through the steam. Mary jumped, heart pounding, afraid that the impending dark that approached her was one of the saurans.
“Miss Dryer.” The voice that rolled out of the cloud calmed Mary more than she cared to admit.
The tension in her back relaxed, and if it weren’t for her corsets, her posture would have slumped noticeably.
He tipped his hat to her, and she found her composure. How dare this man be so familiar with her. She did not know him, she did not care for his company. It did not matter than a million men this afternoon had already tipped their hats in her direction in a gentlemanly acknowledgment of her presence. What mattered was that this brute was here to make sure she got home to be married off to the highest bidder.
She shuddered and let out a low growl. Her grandfather had ruined everything. Pythagorus could probably bank roll whomever George Dryer had cornered into marrying her sight unseen.
She tipped the porter after Marshall took her carrying case from the other man.
“Come with me.” His voice was a gravely command.
With a harrumph she followed him up and into the train. The man didn’t even have the decency to allow her to mount the steps first.
She walked with as much dignity as she could muster down the narrow passage. They encountered another group headed in the opposite direction. Mary began backing up, they would have to make their way to the juncture of the two cars before the others could pass.
Marshall didn’t budge. She couldn’t see his face, but the face of the porter facing him told Mary all she needed to know. He was glowering and being intimidating. She would have to speak with him privately about his behavior if he were to be in public with her. She would not tolerate boorish caveman like rudeness. If he wanted to be that way, he could excuse himself and go ride one of those beastly saurans.
With much fussing the other party backed up. Mary nodded and gave them a weak smile along with her sincerest apologies. “I am dreadfully sorry. Trains are so small, but still so much more comfortable than traveling by horse cart.” She scurried to catch up with Marshall once passed her embarrassing ordeal.
He ignored her and continued walking. Which Mary noticed with some satisfaction, was difficult for him and his broad shoulders in the narrow space. He had to twist slightly to the side and lead with his right shoulder.
He turned his head back to cast a quick glance at her. “Marshall will do just fine. I’m not one of your fancy gentlemen.”
“Obviously. That is what I daresay we need to speak about.” She stopped following him and stomped her small foot. He wasn’t paying her any attention at all. It was infuriating.
He finally stopped and slowly turned all the way back to look at her. He said nothing. He slid open the door to a passenger compartment. He tossed her bag in, and then held up his hand indicating she should enter next.
She stomped her foot again, and with another indignant huff she stormed passed him and into the compartment.
She wasn’t able to stomp far. The room, if it could be called that was barely larger than a wardrobe where she stored her dresses.
“Where is my state room? What is this?” She demanded.
There were bench seats facing each other, with racks above their heads.
Marshal shouldered his way into the small space.
Mary was astounded to silence that the man had the audacity to enter her room without permission.
She stumbled over her own tongue as he took his hat off and placed in on the rack, before shrugging out of his coat and sitting down.
How dare he!
He looked up at her, completely unaware of the affront he was causing.
She pointed her finger indicating the door. “You should leave sir.”
“Sit down,” he told her.
She stomped her foot. “Not until you explain what is going on here. And then exit my room.”
“What is going on here is I am settling in to take a nap. We have a long ride ahead of us, and the lounge car, and open-air observation cars will not be open until we are underway and out of the city.” He squinted at her like he did not fully comprehend her, something Mary did not find unexpected.
“My room, you should leave.”
“No Miss, not your room.”
“Then I should leave, where is my stateroom?” She was shocked he would have let her enter his cabin, but he had tossed her bag in here so unceremoniously.
“Sit down Miss Dryer. This is our room. There are no staterooms available on this train, and your grandfather did not send me with enough funds to acquire a private Pullman car for your feminine needs.” he kicked his rather long legs out, and propped his boots on the plush seat across from where he slouched. “I was able to get us a private compartment. Don’t worry, once the conductor has checked our tickets, I will not be spending my time in here. I have already lined up a card game that will keep me occupied for the majority of our days on this rolling cart. You will only have to suffer my company for a few hours this afternoon. And then at meals, which I will take with you. The rest of the time. I trust you will be comfortable enough in here.”
Mary slowly lowered herself to the seat. Resigned that she was stuck with the brute, she allowed herself to sit, but she would not do away with the trappings of her outer coat in the presence of this practical stranger.
She cast about the small space, there was not room for her trunks.
“Where are my trunks? My traveling items?”
He shrugged. “Baggage car I would assume.”
“And they’ll be delivered when?”
Marshall Hunt let out a sharp derisive laugh. “How did you manage to get from San Francisco to Chicago?”
She sat up straight and lifted her nose to him. “Not with a man in my chambers, that’s how!”
©2019 Lulu M. Sylvian