An Improper Derailment: Chapter 13

Where Mary learns when to hold ‘em, and when to fold ‘em…
cards
Catch up with Chapter 12…

Start the series from the beginning…

The bed rocked something fierce. Mary pushed up to see whatever was happening. Chicago didn’t have earthquakes. Or did it?

“Whoa now little lady, you don’t want to—”

Several things happened in quick succession. Mary realized she was on a train. She attempted to sit up, only to bump her head on the ceiling of her birth. Startled, she jumped and rolled out of the pull-down bed, and landed in Marshall Hunt’s arms.

“—fall.”

She stared up into the blue eyes she had dreamed about. The blue eyes that meant she was safe. The blue eyes that meant she was on a train, in an open car, and other people could see the inappropriate actions of this brute of a man.

She smiled and let out a nervous giggle. This man who caught her.

He lowered her to the floor, bracing her against his body with one arm, while he braced the other against the bunk. The train rocked fiercely.

“Did the storm wake you?” Marshall asked in lowered tones.

With a few vision clearing blinks, Mary realized the car was dimly lit. Other passengers rested in pull-down births, similar to the one she had so suddenly exited, or they slept with their heads flung back, and mouths open.

“I’m sorry, did I disturb your rest?” She knew she should push away from him. She shouldn’t allow herself to be held so close to him this way.

To her disappointment, Marshall eased her away and onto the rear-facing couch.

“Not at all. You were restless, so I was already up and checking on you. Are you feeling much better?”

Mary pressed her fingers to her face, wanting to grind her fists into her sleep-filled eyes, but knowing that was not lady-like. Taking quick stock of her predicament, she discovered that she no longer wore her overcoat, hat, or shoes. But the rest of her wardrobe was in place, if not wrinkled.

“Yes, I think I’m better. No. I know I’m better.” She reached forward for his hand and gave it a quick squeeze. She no longer cared about polite displays of affection. He saved her. “You saved me.”

“I was in the right place at the right time to catch you. You wouldn’t have fallen far,”

“That’s not what I meant. I have never been so concerned for my person as those painfully long moments between being pulled onto the train and seeing you once more.”

Marshall chuckled, “It was all of three minutes tops.”

“No, it was infinite and ever-expanding. In that time I saw my entire life destroyed. My future was bleak and meaningless. I realized my past has been frivolous and superficial. I wouldn’t know how to survive on my own.”

“Mary…” Marshall cut in.

She leaned forward again, pressing her fingers to his mouth. “You say it was moments, but to me, it was a vast and expansive as the Pacific Ocean. Time stopped and I came face to face with an ugly reality. I am not cut out for this life of adventure. My quiet life has not prepared me for anything. I don’t even know how to play cards.” Mary sat back with a sniffle and clapped her hand across her own mouth. How could she even utter such words? A lady of polite society would never play more than a game of bridge with like-minded ladies. But Mary didn’t even know that. Cards were a sign of gambling and wantonness. At least in her grandfather’s house, they were.

Marshall eased back against the cushions of his own couch with a smirk and a glint in his eyes. “I guess we’d better take advantage of this time together and teach you how to play cards.”

Read the next installment, coming in October…

©2020 Lulu M Sylvian

An Improper Derailment: Chapter 12

Where Mary forgoes decorum in her relief…

Crying woman is holding onto the derailment locomotive.

Catch up with Chapter 11…

Start the series from the beginning…

With a cry Mary dropped the hat she clutched tight to her bosom. She flung herself at the man who lounged so carelessly on the couch the conductor had indicated as hers.

She pressed her face into his chest and clutched hand fulls of the rough fabric of his clothing. The sobs she could barely contain on the interminable walk from boarding to here escaped on a hard gasp for air.

She drowned in fear and relief. Unable to manage unfamiliar emotions. Emotions she had never experienced in her over-protected life.

A comforting pressure anchored her in place as she cried. She was safe. She was saved, and that’s all she knew. The horrors of abandonment flickered through her mind like a racing zoetrope, only to be replaced with one still calm image. The image of Marshall Hunt. But not the image of him lounging and smirking, or of him glowering at her as he was want to do. But the image that was carved into her mind was of him smiling down at her, blue eyes twinkling with mirth.

Everything bad she could imagine, and she could imagine quite a few perils, was stopped in their tracks by the smiling face of Marshall Hunt.

Mary’s crying subsided to a stream of constant sniffs and quavery lip. The tears continued to flow, but she no longer sobbed. She slowly came to the realization of her predicament. The firm comfort she felt belonged to the strong arms that held her securely in place against Marshall’s chest.
Her breathing quavered as she assessed her situation. She was safe, but the car was open, and the other passengers could see. She knew in their politeness they would pretend not to notice. She also knew that pretense was a thin veneer of a façade that hid judgmental glares, gossip, and two-faced false friendships. She knew this well because she and Janey had been like that. Sweet as pie at face value, and shallow and undependable when it came right down to it.

If she stayed wrapped in Marshall’s embrace, she would be protected from the oblique glances and sneers hidden behind the masks of propriety. He would stare the false niceties down, and his glare would silence any busy-body gossip. For once in her life, she understood what it felt like to be truly protected, and not merely hidden behind a barrier of money and manners.
She held still. Not loosening her grip on him in any form. She should move, but she didn’t want to. If she let go she would have to return to the world of prying eyes and arranged marriages.

“You all right there Mary?” His voice was softer and soothing than she ever imagined it could be.

A soft kerchief fluttered in front of her nose. She braved releasing the grip of one hand to snatch at the fabric and wipe at her face with it. With as much decorum as she could muster she blew her nose.

The chest under her face rocked with a soft chuckle and the arms around her adjusted and shifted her position.

Oh dear lord. How long had she been sitting on him? Did it matter? Would he allow her to sit here for the rest of the journey? Here she could pretend there was no one else on board the train. Here she could let the motion of the train and the warmth of Marshall’s body lull her to sleep.

Within second of thinking about sleep, Mary’s soft hiccuping snores reached Marshall’s ears.

He shifted again, getting the small woman in his embrace into a more comfortable position as it looked as if she would be here in his arms for a might bit longer than he had ever expected.

After he managed to get her successfully onboard, he knew there was no way he could catch up. He slowed ever so slightly allowing the locomotive to move ahead. With ease, he caught the railing between the next set of cars and swung himself on board.

Surprised not to see Mary with her little nose wrinkled in disdain waiting for him in their seats, he made himself comfortable in the way that would boil her tea kettle the most. But she didn’t stare at him like some lowly cockroach. No, she was ashen pale, and clutched his Stetson as if it were the only thing keeping her alive. He didn’t question his good luck when she landed on him with the force of a broken heart and fear. He knew the sound of those sobs entirely too well.

She was safe. He would protect her.

A clap of thunder rumbled through his chest, and he realized a week in her presence would never be enough, but it was all he had. He wasn’t going to put her down while she slept. Not when he knew it was probably the only time in his life she would allow him to hold her.

 

Tune in at the end of August for the next installment…
©2020 Lulu M Sylvian

An Improper Derailment: Chapter 11

Where Mary has to face she may be alone for the first time in her life…

old train station

catch up with chapter 10

start from the beginning

Steam filled Mary’s view. Marshall Hunt was gone.

She didn’t remember crying out, she barely remembered clutching at the thing that hurled toward her from the blinding white.

A conductor held her arm and she realized she had been reaching out, trying to get off the train. She couldn’t be here, not without her escort, as gruff and inappropriate as he was.

Words were murmured behind her, and hands grasped her upper arms preventing her from slipping into a faint. Someone propelled her down a row of open couches.

One step in front of another. How was she to do this? She didn’t even have her ticket. That man had all of her documents, all of her money. What was she to do?

She tried to turn and make her way back to the front of the car, back to the little platform where she had entered the car. Maybe he was there, maybe he had caught the train.
“Miss, please.” The conductor turned her around and continued her in a forward motion.

“But…” Mary couldn’t form words; she didn’t know what to say. Her guardian, her travel companion, her deliverer was gone. How was she to prove her ticket?

Her brain froze on the thought, no matter how she tried to work her way around it, they were going to put her off the train at the next stop.
What was the next stop? They would leave her in the middle of the wild west, bandit country, restless natives, whore houses! Oh her reputation would never recover.

“I need…” She tried to turn again, only to be directed through the car with a firm grasp on her arms.

Other passengers looked at her with expressions of horror and pity. A young woman traveling alone, how completely untoward. She tried to swallow and compose herself.

“I… I’m fine,” she stammered out.

She was not fine. Her knees buckled and threatened to leave her on the floor, but the resourceful conductor caught her in a timely fashion.
The conductor guided Mary through the car, out the other end, and into another car. More faces judged Mary as she clutched the thing in her hands. What was it? She looked down and realized she crushed Marshall’s unfashionable Stetson to her breast in her despair and grief. She barely had the wherewithal not to break down in tears.

“Almost there Miss,” the conductor said as he led her between rows of couches.

“But I have a private sleeper,” she whined, trying her best not to wail out her terror at being alone, and being parked in such a public space as this. No. She was certain, there had to be a mistake.

“This is the sleeper car Miss. There are no private compartments unless you have an entire train car, which you don’t.”

Everything was wrong. Marshall was gone. She had no ticket. This car was wide open. There were no private births. Her trunks were away in some baggage car. And she was… alone.

“Here you are Miss.”

Mary had to blink to clear her vision. No privacy at all, and the unmitigated uncoothness of boots resting on her couch!

“I know you don’t care much for me Mary, but you don’t have to take it out on my hat. Hand it over before you crush all shape out of it.”

©2020 Lulu M Sylvian

Tune in June 30th for the next installment!

An Improper Derailment: Chapter 10

Where Marshall touches Mary in a manner that she considers inappropriate…

steam engine

catch up with chapter 9

start from the beginning

Mary ignored Mr. Hunt as he loomed over her. She was writing to Janey, he would have to wait.

“Are you done?’’ His voice was a menacing rumble.

It blended with the cries of the saurians and tumbled in her gut as something to fear.

She would not be afraid of this man or his uncouth gruff ways. She looked up at him through her lashes, her mouth set in a firm and resolved pucker.

She would show him.

With deliberately slow motions she folded her letter and placed it in the envelope. She had to lick and seal the envelope next. Terrified of getting a paper cut on her tongue, Mary steeled her resolve, and squinted at Mr. Marshall Hunt. Her disdain of the man overpowered her revolution of the taste of the gummed envelope—which typically left her making terrible faces.

“Gimme that.” He snatched the sealed letter from her.

“You will post that immediately!” Outrage colored her cheeks as she thrust to her feet. Her diminutive stature barely put her at eye level with his chest, even in her modest and appropriately sized heeled boots.

How dare the man.

She noticed his own anger was barely contained in his heaving chest.

He let out a long exacerbated breath. “Miss Mary, we must leave.”

She stood glaring at him.

The train whistle blew, and she jumped letting out a startled scream.

Saurians joined her in their cacophonous complaint at the piercing noise.

He grabbed her upper arm. “Now, woman, or we’ll miss the damned train.”

Mary didn’t have time to protest as Mr. Hunt rushed her along. He thrust the letter, now slightly crumpled, she couldn’t help but notice, and a passing porter. And practically carried her by her arm to the closest open carriage door.

“That letter must reach my sister in Chicago. She must learn of my unfortunate situation. You will post it immediately please.” She tried to let the porter know to post the letter immediately.

“Mr. Hunt, I would appreciate you not using language of such a nature in my presence. Will you unhand me, I am capable of walking by myself. My grandfather will hear of your boorish behavior. I cannot believe you are subjugating me to such atrocious behaviors. Mr. Hunt, are you even listening to me?”

“I’m trying real hard not too at the moment.”

There was a loud roar, not from the saurians pulling loaded carts of luggage on the other platforms, or pushing empty train cars on to other tracks in the train yard, no this roar was from the train as the wheels ground against steel and the train began rolling.

“Mr. Hunt, I believe the train is leaving and we are not aboard.”

His only reply was a grunt.

With a squeal, Mary found her feet completely off the ground. Mr. Hunt’s hands were on her waist and pushing against her skirts at her derriere.

She gasped as that firm hand was definitely on her bottom— albeit there were several layers of skirt separating their flesh, but how dare he— and pushing her up and into the moving train. She windmilled her arms wildly attempting to grab hold of anything to stabilize her rapid ascent into the train.

A coachman grabbed her by the wrist and unceremoniously hauled her into the train. Flummoxed and jangling with nerves she looked nervously to the coachman. She was on board the train without a chaperone. She hadn’t thought her situation could get any worse, and yet, it had. How could she, a woman, travel to San Francisco alone? She had no access to funds, her belongings were in the baggage car. This was the most dreadful thing that could have happened.

Why hadn’t that man, Marshall Hunt said something about the train imminent departure?

She stood shaking as she watched the departing station through clouds of billowing steam.

Tune-in April 28th for the next installment.
©2020 Lulu M Sylvian

An Improper Derailment Chapter 9

Chapter 9

Where Mary writes to Janey…

writing-1209121_640

Catch up with Chapter 8

or start from the beginning

My Dearest Janey,

What was Grandfather thinking? Sending the brute to escort me back to San Francisco?

My honor and reputation would have been better served had he demanded I travel alone.

The accommodations are atrocious. I was promised a private stateroom, and that man expects me to share what little space I have been afforded with him. And it’s hardly even a room!

I guess I should be more grateful I am not traveling in the public cars, but still.

The train has stopped in Council Bluffs to add extra cars, or something. Marshall Hunt said my accommodations should improve. I don’t know what he means, he isn’t particularly forthcoming.

I was left to my own devices to seek out a meal.

Janey, this will just not do. I am distraught and beside myself.
I wish Grandfather had left well enough alone. I feel certain I had been days away from a proper proposal from Pythagoras.

Oh, the suffering I am forced to endure. I had to purchase this small letter kit along with the postage. All of my belongings are packed away in my travel trunks. And in the baggage car! I don’t even have my belongings with me. It’s so uncivilized.

The only consolation I have is thank goodness for the speed of steam engines. I will be able to safely call San Francisco my home again within the week, and then I can put all of this unpleasantness behind me.

Why couldn’t Grandfather have found me a more suitable travel companion and guardian?

Janey his behavior is scandalous, and I couldn’t be more mortified. Good fortune has it that there is no one of means traveling on this train, and I do at least have a private, well away from the view of others, means of travel.

I must post this immediately. Mr. Hunt is threatening to have the train leave me behind if I do not “get a move on” post haste. The way he speaks to me.
I will write as soon as I possibly can.

Pray for me.

Your loving sister.

Mary.

 

Read the next installment February 25th.

An Improper Derailment Chapter 8

Chapter 8

Where Mary lands in Marshall’s lap…

bored-lookingout-train-window

Catch up with Chapter 7

or start from the beginning

Mary’s glorious trip from San Francisco had been an adventure of wonder.

Grandfather had escorted her out himself, and he had spared no expense, renting a private Pullman car, and hiring a traveling companion and a maid.
Mary had spent many pleasant hours in companionable silence reading together with her companion, a widow named Mrs. Vaughn.
Mrs. Vaughn had spent too many years supporting her husband, a forty-niner, who chased his dream of gold. And she had chased her dream of finding a good husband when she had signed on as a mail order bride. Apparently neither Mrs. Vaughn nor her husband found their hearts’ desire.

Now that she was widowed, Mrs. Vaughn was returning to her family in New York. She was pleased to have found a situation that would allow her to travel in good company as far as Chicago, where she was more than certain she wold be able to find another situation as travel companion, or nanny to a family going to New York.

Mary hadn’t been terribly nosey, and Mrs. Vaughn hadn’t shared too much of her life’s story. They would sit and watch the scenery together, with the occasional conversation. Otherwise it was quiet companionship, and the rare moment of hand gripping when the train scaled the side of a mountain and rocked ever so terrifyingly side to side. It was a miracle they did not fall off the tracks.

The private car had afford them privacy, and Mary had a small private bunk with access to her belongings. In the evenings they would dine in the comfort of their car, and once even they made their way up the narrow aisles of the passenger cars to dine in the formal lounge car.

Grandfather had spent the majority of his trip forward in the lounge, conversing with other gentleman.

In no time they had arrived in Chicago, and in glorious splendor Charles and Janey had swept Mary into their realm of influential friends and introduced her to society.

Mrs. Vaughn stayed on for a few days, and as suspected, she found another situation without any problems. Mary gave her a congenial handshake in farewell. The maid, Mary assumed she had been absorbed in to Janey’s household. She hadn’t bothered to pay attention in her excitement.

Grandfather made sure Mary was situated. And she thought he understood that she was interested in accepting a proposal here, and staying here. She especially thought so when he had said, “be sure to find someone to take care of you dear. That big house back home will seem empty without your company.”

He had returned to San Francisco after several weeks, and several business meetings that were none of Mary’s never mind.

This wasn’t fair. None of it was fair.

If Grandfather was going to call her home in such an embarrassing fashion, he could have at least made her traveling arrangements to be more comfortable. Well, at least he hadn’t expected her to sit in a public car.
She grew uncomfortable sitting so precisely in her coat and traveling hat.

Marshal Hunt had made himself comfortable enough. He had fallen asleep before the train left the station, and now he slept.

Mary cast about the small space. Maybe she could relax a bit. Nothing as informal as sleeping in this man’s presence, but…

She stood up and shrugged out of her coat. The task involved contortionist skills on her behalf. Mary was not used to dressing, or undressing on her own. She froze, a chill of pure horror grabbed her spine. How was she supposed to sleep tonight? She had no garments to change into? Did that man expect her to actually sleep in his company with no chaperone?

“You had better sit down before you fall over.” His dark voice startled her, and Mary fell back across his legs.

Realization that she was splayed across Marshall Hunt’s lap had Mary scrambling to find her feet.

Large hands wrapped around her waist. Her breath caught in her throat.

“Hold up, you’re all tangled, and you’ll just fall over again.”

With ease and dexterity Mary lacked, Marshall finished removing her coat and laid it out on the seat beside him, over his coat. Mary refused to look at the intimate way their garments rested together.

She started to squirm again, wanting out of this compromising position. His hand snaked around to the front of her midsection and pulled her firm against his chest.

She felt him remove her hatpin, and then her hat followed her coat onto the seat.

“There, that better?” he released his hold of her and helped her to a standing position.

Mary stood distraught in the center of the cabin. She smoothed her hands down her front serval times.

“Mr. Hunt, that was—”

“You’re welcome,” he drawled.

She sat with an indignant huff, and her hand holding her neck. How was she to survive the indelicacies of these traveling arrangements?

“That’s not what I was going to say. Mr. Hunt my reputation is at stake. You must never mention such familiarity with me to anyone.”

“I wouldn’t dream of it.”

An Improper Derailment Chapter 7

Chapter 7
Where the traveling arrangements are not to Mary’s liking…

steam engine

Catch up with Chapter 6!
or start from the beginning here

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.

“Mr. Hunt.”

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.

“Mr. Hunt.”

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!

“Mr. Hunt!”

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

An Improper Derailment Chapter 6

ostrich-502124_1280

Chapter 6
Where Mary departs her sister’s home.

Get up to date with Chapter 5
or start the serial from the beginning here.

Mary pulled on her gloves. Her hat was already pinned in place. With every single one of Janey’s tears, another steel rod metaphorically lashed to Mary’s spine. It was going to hurt if she stood up any straighter.

“I’ll never see you again,” Janey wailed.

Mary cooly looked at her sister. She wanted nothing more than to dissolve and collapse to the floor holding her sister and dearest confidant close. But the way Janey chose to carry on was beginning to grind on Mary’s last nerve. Besides, she refused to arrive at the station and have that dreadful Marshall Hunt catch any hint of evidence that she had been crying.

She was distraught enough as it was, yet somehow bettering that man gave her strength.

“You said that at your wedding in San Francisco before Charles whisked you back here to the bosom of his family. And look, I came for such a wonderfully prolonged visit. Once we have children we shall see each other again. We are family dear sister. And by rail, it really isn’t that taxing or difficult of a journey. No more covered wagons.” She was surprised she hadn’t completed her tidy little speech with a ‘tsk, tsk now.’

“You will write to me every day.” Janey pleaded.

“I will document every step of my journey. Dear Janey, you really must stop crying. You will get me started and then where will we be? You know I cannot possibly go out in public with pink-rimmed eyes and sniffling nose.”

She turned her attention to Charles. The man positively had the same good-humored cast about his visage as if they were discussing shares in the Superior Holdings Company or a tea war in China. She would never share her innermost thoughts, but she did sincerely believe that Charles was more than just a hint dim-witted.

“Thank you for hosting me, Charles. And for making such lovely introductions to your friends. Please pass my regards on to Mr. Peterson. I regret the way we left things. It had rather been a taxing afternoon. I rather hope my situation does not, how would he say it? Put a wrench in the works for your friendship.”

After all Pythagorus Peterson had been about to make a proposal, Mary was certain of it. And had that dreaded telegraph from her interfering old grandfather not shown up, she would have been in a position to accept and marry into one of the wealthiest families in Chicago. In the United States even.

Oh, she hoped Grandfather knew what he had tossed a wrench into. She was sure to give him an earful the second she debarked from the rattley, smelly train she was confined to for the next several days.

“I dare say it had been. I’m sure Py will understand fully. There are some decisions a man shouldn’t delay in making.” Charles positively chuckled.

“Are you sure we can’t accompany you to the station?” Janey sniffed.

“There’s no time dear sister. Besides, you would feel positively awful if someone should see you making a fuss.” The sisters had been raised never to be seen making a fuss. They were allowed to wallow all they wanted, but never where they might be seen by anyone of social ranking. It was bad enough Janey was carrying on where the help could see.

Mary turned and nodded her head ever so slightly to Henrietta the maid, and Barclay the butler. “Thank you for your help during my stay.” While not expected, Mary found it to be quite rude to not thank the help occasionally.

“It’s been a pleasure miss. Safe travels,” Henrietta said. That last comment may have been a little too familiar. Maybe thanking the help didn’t need to happen. Mary scrunched up her face as she contemplated this new concept.

“Your bags have been sent on to the station. Everything has been arranged for your arrival,” the butler said. That was more like it. A proper interaction.

“Looks like your carriage has arrived,” Charles announced.

Another earth-shattering wail escaped from Janey’s lips. The poor dear would have to spend the rest of the day in her chambers recovering. Mary felt moisture form at the corner of her eye. Her sister really was taking this all to heart so extremely.

“I do hate goodbyes.” She wrapped her fragile willed sister in a firm embrace and squeezed. She didn’t want to go either. Chicago was so much more exciting than home. And Janey was here.

She broke off the hug and dabbed at her eyes.

“Well then.” She nodded at Barclay indicating he could open the door.
She stepped onto the porch and hid her disappointment behind a grimace.
It was not a closed carriage as she had requested. Rather an open aired, handsome cab. She openly sneered at the beast before wiping all emotion from her face. She detested ostriches. They left fluffs of feather dander everywhere, and they squawked. Horses were quiet with their huffs and calm whinnies.

The lashings of her spine tightened, and Mary found herself standing even more upright. Well, this was it then. Her last moments in Chicago behind a giant turkey. So be it, no one would see her complain, no matter how much her insides boiled.

 

©2019 Lulu M Sylvian

Ready for more? See how Mary fairs when she arrives at the train station in Chapter 7.

An Improper Derailment Chapter 5

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Chapter 5… In which Mary would rather travel without a proper companion in Marshal Hunt’s company than be in the same parlor with Pythagorus a moment longer.

Marshall Hunt took over the entire chamber. Mary couldn’t take her eyes from him. He not only physically filled the space, but his presence also sucked the oxygen out of the room. Mary found it difficult to breathe.

Charles and Pythagorus kept taunting him with stupid questions. They were all stupid questions.

Mary worried her hands together.

How could her grandfather have sent such a man to escort her back to San Francisco? Didn’t that old man understand just how inappropriate all of this was?

“Mr. Hunt,” she finally brought herself to ask the one question that she could not fathom.

“How exactly did my grandfather come to have you in his employment?”

He turned and leveled his gaze on her. She sucked in her breath as those blue eyes looked over her. Her entire body thrummed with the power he emitted. And she was to be in his company for a full week.

This was unconscionable, how dare her grandfather not hire a proper escort like a matronly widow?

“Miss, Mr. Dryer hired me while I stood in his parlor. Our fairs are paid for, and we have separate staterooms. My job is to make sure you get from place A to place B. You will be safe.”

“I think we must object to this,” Janey finally contributed something to Mary’s situation. Unfortunately, she wasn’t effectively helping Mary.

“I could go with. Another person to ensure of Miss Mary’s security.”

Mary cut a hard glare across the room at Pythagorus. Marshall Hunt made her nervous, but Pythagorus now turned her stomach. And to think that even before lunch this afternoon she was considering him as a potential suitor.

“That’s a brilliant idea. Charles, you go,” Janey said. “Mr. Hunt, your services won’t be required as my husband will escort my sister back to San Francisco.”

Charles coughed uncomfortably. “Janey dearest, I would have to rearrange my appointments.”

“Janey,” Mary said in a scolding tone.

None of this was appropriate: her grandfather contracting with a rough man such as this one that stood before her, Charles choking on his own breath trying to get out of traveling as a guardian, and Pythagorus twirling his mustaches in the corner like some melodrama villain.

“Mr. Hunt, would you object if I found a respectable traveling companion to accompany me on the journey? I doubt you will find my conversation to be passing of interest.”

The tall man nodded, and his eyes flashed an unreasonable blue. “Miss if that would serve your needs to ensure the safety of your person, by all means, secure yourself a traveling companion. But mind you, she needs to be responsible for her own actions. I am not some babysitter of the weaker sex. I am a transporter, and you are a package I have been paid quite well to ensure the safe delivery of.”

Mary grasped her hand on her throat in shock. The crassness of this man discussing payment in company such as this.

“Mary,” Mr. Peterson artfully slid his hand into her free one, and lifted it to his lips.

His heavily waxed mustache tickled the back of her hand, and she unexpectedly let out a giggle. She flushed, not in delight of his touch, but in shame that she displayed such a lack of control.

“Allow me to be the one to deliver you back to San Francisco, and safely to the bosom of your grandfather. Together we can experience this vast country.”

Her gut instinct was to snatch her hand away. Pythagorus was not interested in experiencing anything but what was under her skirts. There was no way she wanted that man anywhere near her while confined on a train.

Slowly, and with a coy smile, she removed her hand from his.

“While I do appreciate your offer, Mr. Peterson, I will decline. Just as it is inappropriate for a young lady of my status to travel unaccompanied with a complete stranger as my escort, I believe it would be beyond scandalous for my escort to be a friend such as yourself. You have business here to attend to. No, I will secure myself a proper lady’s companion, and trust that Mr. Hunt is only concerned with my well being, as a package he is to deliver.”

Pythagorus began huffing and making objecting sounds.

Marshall Hunt cleared his throat.

Mary felt trapped between a snake and a hard place.

“How soon do we leave?”

©2019 Lulu M. Sylvian

need to catch up? Read Chapter Four here!

Ready for more? Read  Chapter 6!

Merry Christmas

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Merry Christmas for those that celebrate. Happy Tuesday to the rest of you!

On the first day of Christmas Natalie met Chris. Follow them as they find love during the Twelve Date of Christmas
http://lmsylvian.com/the-twelve-dates-of-christmas-christmas-day/