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

living-room-581073_640

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

12

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/

An Improper Derailment: Chapter 4

vintage-1041631_640
Chapter four, where Mary falls…

Mary held a kerchief over her mouth, to protect her delicate sensibilities from the spewing smoke of Mr Peterson’s vile contraption.

Charles and Pythagorus were having a mighty fine time, and that was fine by Mary. The more time they spent oohing and ahhing over the noisy machine the less time Pythagorus Peterson spent vying for her attention.

And to think, she had been hoping for a proposal from the man. He had turned into a positively repugnant human being. And she had thought she had known the man.

He had insulted her at every turn, making insinuations and undesired advances. She pursed her mouth and set her brow, at least she had found out how distasteful of a human he was now. She would never have been able to put up with his misdeed if they had gotten married

Janey sat, not saying a word, but she patted Mary’s hand in sympathy. Of course, Mary figured her sister assumed she was upset over the loss of opportunity at a future connection with the Peterson family, instead of what was really upsetting Mary. Py insulted Mary and no one, not Charles, not Janey, had defended her honor.

She claimed to feel faint to avoid their post-luncheon stroll. However, now she felt trapped on the riding platform.

Py’s carriage crawled along at a dreadful pace. He claimed they were traveling at a brisk ten miles an hour. Mary questioned the validity of his claim, as she watched horses, and people of foot outpace them.

They crawled around the corner, and finally made it to the street with Janey’s house.

Mary’s heart lurched, or maybe that was her ride.

A dark figure lurked in the shadows on the porch. Dark full-length duster, dark hat, dark. Mary’s breath hitched, or maybe that was the ride lurching again.

With a cough and a spit they stopped.

The dark figure descended the stairs.

Charles puffed up his chest and jumped from the platform. His attempt at an aggression display brought a smile to Mary’s lips. Charles was so pitiful.

With a sigh Janey declared, “He is so manly.”

Mary stifled a choke. “He is.” She didn’t mean Charles.

Charles puffed, while the other man loomed. He was a giant of a man, not only tall but broad through the shoulder. His face was hidden by the brim of his hat, but Mary could make out the line of a strong square jaw.

Charles returned to their ride and reached up pulling the step stool down.

Janey reached forward and stepped delicately down with the assistance of her husband.

Mary felt a chill slither up her spine. She turned and faced Pythagorus. In full view of everyone on the street, and those who cared to look out their window, Pythagorus pulled Mary against his chest.

With a gasp, she shoved hard against him before e could open his mouth and insult her yet again.

The action propelled Mary out of his arms and to the edge of the platform.

Her heel slipped. She teetered for what felt an eternity. In slow motion, Mary slid backward. She hung in space, the clouds adorable little animals of puff in a perfectly blue sky.

A scream split the silence.

She fell forever, knowing that this was the death of her. She held her breath waiting for the hard impact as she crashed to the pavement.

The hard crack of her death didn’t come. She fell softly and was lifted, her vision heading back up into the sky.

Suddenly she was upright and held firmly against a wall of leather. Slowly she slid down, aware that on the other side of that leather was a man.

“You all right Ma’am?”

The rumble of voice had a soft drawl to it.

Mary looked up into the bluest eyes she had ever seen. The face of her rescuer was rugged, yet majestic, strong yet beautiful.
Breathlessly she answered, “I believe you have saved my life.”

“My pleasure Mary.”

Her name rolled from his lips like thunder and shook her to her toes. A sensation she had only ever experienced during a spring storm full of lightning. His arms still held her close to his body.

She didn’t fight to escape, she didn’t want to.

“You know me? I’m sorry I don’t know your name.”

“Hunt, Marshall Hunt. George Dryer hired me to escort you to San Francisco.”

©2018 Lulu M Sylvian

Come back next month when Mary learns who exactly  Marshall Hunt is

Catch up with chapter 3 where Pythangorus shows off

Read the next chapter where Mary is torn between propriety and running away

An Improper Derailment: Chapter 3

Chapter three, where Pythagorus is inappropriate…

engine-1297412_1280

“Oh,” Mary paused as she stepped onto the porch.

Immediately in front of the house, making an infernal rattling noise, and coughing up smoke, a carriage, but no horses rumbled noisily in the road.

Charles climbed up onto the device with the joy of a child.

“Pythagorus, this is astounding!” he called out, loudly so he could be heard about the din.

Py smiled and swaggered to stand next to the contraption.

“Isn’t it just? I’ve the only one in Chicago. I swear the future is steam powered. My uncle already made his fortune thanks to the steam engine. I’m going to make mine with the rail-less passenger compartment.”

“I do believe Charles has found another scheme to invest our income in dear sister,” Janey confided to Mary as the two women stood on the walk gaping in wonderment at the machine.

The wheels, six of them, varied in size from small baby pram sized ones in the front to standard horse carriage ones in the middle to extra tall high wheeler sized ones in the back. Between the largest wheels, an oak barrel bound with shiny copper perched, with what appeared to be a wood-burning kitchen stove attached at the back.

Charles reached down and positively pulled Janey up into the riding compartment, which was barely more than a platform with benches. It was a good thing the weather today was lovely. Mary didn’t think riding this rail-less monstrosity looked to be particularly comfortable. She grimaced at the thought of being hauled up as if she were live stock or having to sit upon it in the rain.. Her face twisted into what she expected to be a most unpleasant continence.

Her sister was married and didn’t need to behave with propriety, but Mary was betrothed to whom she could only assume was a man of position. She needed a means of ascending to the riding platform with decorum. She turned back to look up at Janey’s house. As expected a good portion of the household staff were inappropriately gawping at Pythagorus’s toy.

“Would one of you fetch me a step stool?” she asked the gathering crowd of staff members. A disheveled young boy disappeared in a flash.

“Mary, Mary, Mary why not allow me to raise you to lofty heights in my arms?” Pythagorus lowered his lids to give Mary a positively indecent leer.

Had the subtext of his meaning missed her ears, his expression did not.

“Mr. Peterson you go too far!” Mary reached up and slapped him smartly across the cheek.

“Mary, how dare you?” Janey cried out.

Py chuckled and rubbed a gloved hand over the smarting cheek.

Mary thought she heard him mutter, “Clearly I haven’t gone far enough.”

She shot him a withering glare.

Py gave her a charming grin and made a sweeping gesture at his rail-less metal beast. “I simple meant it is of no consequence for me to lift you aboard. I humbly beg your pardon for my play of words.”

“Miss.” The small scullery lad held up a step stool, presenting his discovery to Mary and Pythagorus Peterson.

“Well done me boy, well done. If this isn’t just the very thing, we’ll take it with us so that when we arrive at our lunch the ladies may descend without difficulty.” Pythagorus swept the stool away from the lad and ruffled the boy’s hair.

He placed the step in the road and held out his hand so that Mary could step up and step again, reaching the platform without incident. Py tossed the stool up before leaping to join his party.

“Hold on my compatriots, we are going to be heading off at the daring speed of almost fifteen miles an hour.”

“I say Py how did you manage to calculate that?” Charles asked. He held onto on the side rails, and leaned forward, not unlike a daring passenger standing at the bow of a ship as it crashed into the oncoming waves.

Janey pulled at his sleeve. “Come back from there it’s dangerous Charles.”

“You know Nate Phillips?” Pythagorus called from the rear of his contraption.

“Nate Nate the one we hate?”

“The very one!”

“Good friend of mine went to boarding school together. Horsey type these days.”

“Precisely, I put the old girl to her paces up against one of his trotters. We took one of his known runners and she was able to match speed.” Py boasted.

“Couldn’t you just as easily timed a measured distance?” Mary asked. Setting up a horse race with this carriage thing seemed like so much fluff and nonsense.

“Where is the fun in that?” Pythagorus turned his attention to some dials and nobs. “Hold on, off we go!”

And with a mighty lurch and a bellow of smoke, the rail-less passenger compartment rolled its way slowly northbound toward their dining destination.

 

©2018 Lulu M Sylvian

 

Join us next month when Mary asks, “Who is that man?”

Catch up from the beginning with Chapter 1

Need a refresher on last month and why did Mary change her gown?

Ready for the next chapter?

An Improper Derailment: Chapter 2

Chapter two, in which we learn that Grandfather has ruined everything…

gentleman-155849_1280

Mary stood and clasped her hands together. “Have Henrietta prepare my puce gown. Janey, you win. I shall be the one to change, green is now too festive for me to wear. Charles, would you be so kind as to write Mr. Peterson and cancel our luncheon? It is no longer appropriate for me to accept his invitation.”

“Good God girl, what has transpired for such drastic actions?” Charles blustered about the sitting room.

“Maybe we could still accompany Mr. Peterson, and explain to Grandfather?” Janey pleaded. At least she understood the predicament their grandfather had put Mary in.

Mary bit her knuckles and faced out the front window. “How can I?” She faced her sister and brother-in-law in the room so quickly her skirts twisted, and twirled one direction and then back in the opposite direction. Mary grabbed a fist of the acidic green skirts to keep the fabric from further movement.

“Janey, show him.” Mary nodded at the crumpled telegraph her sister now held.

Janey held up her hand with the paper to her husband. “Oh, Charles it is simply horrid.”

Charles took the paper. His eyes scanned over the message more than once. “I guess congratulations are in order,” he chuckled with egotistic mirth.

“Oh Charles, how could you?” Janey collapsed against the arm of the couch.

Mary swept from the room and climbed the stairs to her chambers.

Grandfather had secured and accepted a proposal for marriage from a wealthy man in San Francisco. She didn’t even know the man’s name. All Grandfather’s missive said was that she needed to return to San Francisco immediately, a husband has been located for her.

A husband.

Husband.

She shivered. He was probably one of Grandfather’s cronies, old and fat, and slobbery. He wouldn’t have mustaches as handsome as the young Mr. Peterson.

Mary stood numbly as Henrietta changed the festive green dress for the more simple day dress with a smaller, understated bustle.

She descended back to the main floor of the house only to stop in her tracks. She had distinctly remembered requesting that Charles cancel with Mr. Peterson. There had been plenty of time to jot down a note and have it sent out in the post. But here was Mr. Peterson handing over his walking stick and hat.

“Miss Mary, you look well.” His smile was hidden under his waxed and style mustache.

Mary gathered her senses about her and extended her hand in greeting as she continued down the stairs. She had not intended on making an entrance, and yet, here she was, making an entrance.

“Mr. Peterson, I’m caught off guard. Did not Charles send you a note explaining our situation in this morning’s post?”

Pythagorus Peterson pulled Mary into his sphere of space and tucked her hand into the crook of his arm. He stepped toward the parlor.

He held up a folded, yet still sealed, envelope. “This came just as I was stepping out to attend you here. I must confess I have yet to read it. Since I have traveled all the way here why don’t you tell me what this says? Whatever the news I would much rather hear it from your delightful lips.”

A sob escaped Mary’s throat. She turned to hide her face against his arm. “Mr. Peterson you are too bold. You make presumptions.” She pulled away and ran to hide behind the sitting couch, unaware that she posed in the sunlight framed but the front drapes.

Janey stood and reached for Mr. Peterson. “Oh, we have had distressing news, Mr. Peterson. We have only now been made aware that Mary had been betrothed and must return to San Francisco.”

“You see it would be inappropriate for me to dine with you this afternoon,” Mary cried into her handkerchief.

“Nonsense, we are old friends, and we are allowed to dine together. I will hear none of this. Charles would you, your lovely wife, and her delightful sister, please join me for lunch today? The arrangements have all been made, and I am starving. And my dear Mary, now that we have been downgraded to merely friends I insist you call me Py.” He smiled brightly at them all.

Mary blinked tears from her eyes, he was charm itself. She would miss his company once she returned to the bay area.

“Janey you are too lovely in my favorite color not to insist that Charles bring you out this lovely day.” Pythagorus extended his hand to her and pulled her to her feet. He wrapped Janey’s hand around his arm and patted it.

“I expect you to tell me everything you know about Mary’s fiancé, do fill me in.” He guided Janey from the room.

Mary stared at Charles with wide eyes. It looked as if they were headed to lunch at the Palmer House after all, and she was wearing puce.

 

@2018 Lulu M Sylvian

Catch up on last month’s installment, find out why Mary is wearing Puce.

Next month will Py get his cake and eat it too?

An Improper Derailment: Chapter 1

Chapter one, where Mary receives bad news…

vintage-1229006_1920

Mary sat, perfectly poised. The crumpled telegram in her fist, and the white knuckles rimmed with red, strained skin were the only clues to her anger.

If the message had been delivered an hour earlier she would have taken to her bed, at least for a few days, maybe longer. But she had already endured the ritual torture of being laced in and dressed. Besides, if she took to her bed now she would miss lunch with Mr. Peterson, a cousin to the Washington Porter. Mr. Chicago fruit himself. Her grandfather should be pleased she was making such prudent and profitable connections.

Janey at least was thrilled that Mr. Peterson began calling on her younger sister. They had a constant delivery of fresh fruits, thanks to the Porter family connection. She told Mary this at every turn.

“Was Mr. Peterson to be expected today? Do you think he will bring us some oranges? Would it be rude of me to ask if he could get us grapes? They ship wine don’t they?”

She always asked Mary with a mischievous wistful air, but she never once spoke of fruit or wine to Mr. Peterson directly.

Mary breathed through her nose slowly. She had to calm her nerves or she would do herself a grievance. This corset was laced a bit too tightly. That was for the benefit of her lunch companion. He had stated he was taking them to the Palmer House, and then a stroll afterward.

Janey and her husband Charles would accompany them to lunch. And then the chaperones would ever so discreetly walk a distance behind them during their stroll so they could discuss matters privately.

Mary anticipated a declaration of some form this afternoon. A request to speak to her grandfather, maybe even an actual proposal, after all, Mr. Peterson was a bit daring when it came to the rules of proper society. He had already insisted that Mary refer to him by his nickname Py. She couldn’t even bring herself to call him by his given name of Pythagoras.

But this telegram changed everything.

“Mary I do believe—” Janey stopped abruptly as she swept into the parlor. “Well, this won’t do. We both can’t wear green.” She coughed delicately into a handkerchief. “You need to go put on that lavender dress.”

Mary did not suppress the glare she gave her sister. If anyone should change it was Janey. She looked dreadful in green. Almost as if she too took on a verdigris pallor emphasized by her color choice.

Charles languidly strolled in after his wife. “I say, that telegraph was inconveniently early.”

Mary wanted to scoff at his complaint as if he were the one to open the door and shoo the poor boy away. At the time Charles was barely awake and in a dressing gown.

“What telegraph?” All thoughts of almost matching dresses gone from Janey’s head in a blink.

The longer Mary stayed in Chicago, the longer she realized how well matched those two were. Selfish to the core. Charles may be self-centered, but he was ridiculously wealthy, and that’s why grandfather allowed Mary to visit for so long.

Grandfather was a forty-niner, and he struck gold. But everything for him became about hitting the next vein of wealth. Mary knew he was living off the remaining dust of his fortune, and he expected his granddaughters to keep him elevated in the financial ranks.

The easiest and only way for this to happen was for them to marry wealthy. Mary was ahead of the game. A match with the Porter family, even a cousin of the Porter family should make the man happy. But he was an interfering bastard.

Mary felt her eye widen and her cheeks flush with the rude thought.

With as deep of a breath as she could manage, she handed the crumpled paper over to her sister.

Janey stumbled as her knees weakened.

Charles led his wife to the settee next to Mary.

Janey gave Mary a look of pained pity.

“I guess lunch is canceled then?”

 

@2018 Lulu M Sylvian

Find out what the telegraph says next month…