An Improper Derailment: Chapter 18

Where Mary learns that a lady needs more than manners and social graces to survive.
camp fire for ID 18
Catch up with Chapter 17…

Start the series from the beginning…

The fire danced into the sky.

Marshal crouched on the far side of the fire from Mary as he did something more substantial than just poke at it. With his attention on the flames and the meal he tended, Mary let her eyes rest on his form.

She had watched Janey’s husband poke at a fire a time or two, it never did anything, and he always had to call in the parlor-maid to deal with it. The flames seemed to have spread out under Marshall’s knowledgeable ministrations.
He sat back on his heels. He was a big man, built for action. Yet he had put up with her impertinent attitude much longer than Mary would have. His focus was on the flames, and then on the gutted rabbit speared on a spit.

She admired how deftly he checked and turned the meat with long practically graceful fingers. Had he been born into a family of means they most certainly would have had him musically trained. He would have played the piano most beautifully.


He would be a lovely singer with the tones of his voice. She particularity found herself enjoying the way her name sounded when he said it.


Oh, Marshall was saying her name. “What?”

“Shh,” he lifted his finger to his lips. “Your humming was getting louder.”

“I wasn’t…” She hadn’t been humming. Had she?

He pointed behind her.

Several yards away, Kim let out a rumbling sound that Mary had learned was a content noise that beasts of her ilk made. After several days of travel and camping Mary, while still wary of the beast, grew accustomed to the dusty earth and grass smell.

Hanska slept peacefully tucked up next to his sauran. He worked tirelessly, hunting, and keeping Kim under control. He deserved his well-earned rest, especially after bringing in such a feast for their dinner. Not only had he snared a nice big hare, but he found a tree full of plumbs.

“Don’t eat all of these tonight, save some for our breakfast,” he said when he had displayed the bounty.

“Can’t we just go pick more?” Mary had asked.

She realized it had been a stupid question by the expression on Hanska’s face. He had probably walked for miles before he had found the fruit.

“Right,” she said chagrinned.

Both men had kept her safe, fed her, and were making sure she would get to her destination. And all she managed to do was sit around admiring their skills and fortitude. She couldn’t even claim to be halfway attractive at this point. She needed a bath. She tentatively touched her hair, probably permanently tied into a knot on the top of her head. She flinched and began rubbing at her nose, not certain if she cleared away the smudge of soot she was certain was there, or if she was making it worse. She wasn’t even decorative.

Marshall crooked his fingers at her, beckoning her to his side of the fire.

She crawled over the rock she had perched upon and sat in the dirt next to him.

“What’s with the frown? One second you were happy and humming, the next you looked like you want to cry.”

At the sound of his words, Mary did want to cry. She looked at him for a long moment, composing her words.

“I’ve come to the realization that I am completely useless. Without a society to be out in, I have nothing of value. If anything the past few days have helped me to realize society is tenuous at best. How quickly we went from social order to chaos and survival when those bandits attacked the train. And here I am, the woman in this small party, and I have no skills.”

“I was just thinking about how well you’ve been putting up with all of this. And now you go and impress me.”

He wiped a handkerchief across his brow. Smearing more dirt into the sweat on his brow. Mary plucked the square of fabric from his hands and reaching up, wiped his brow clean.

Her breathing stopped and her pulse raced as realization of her actions crashed into her as she placed the handkerchief back into Marshall’s large hand.

His thumb folded over the back of her had, holding it in place. She couldn’t take her eyes from their hands.

With a clearing of his throat, Marshall let go of her. “What do you mean you have no skills?”

“Well, I don’t know how to hunt or fish. I’m sure I could pick fruit or berries, but I have actually never done so. I certainly don’t know how to start or tend a fire. Or cook. I am useless. I have no skills. I can’t even ride a horse.”

“Oh, that can’t be Mary. I’m sure you were raised with the more refined skills that a lady needs to possess. I’d wager you play the piano quite well, and that your needlework is as delicate as the eyelash on a hummingbird.”

Mary didn’t think she had heard anything so poetic in all of her days. She had to blink a moment to clear her thoughts.

“My needlework is atrocious. I’m always stabbing myself and bleeding on the floss, ruining everything. And I’m embarrassed to admit, that while I do enjoy listening to fine musicians I never developed an ear or talent for creating music myself. I cannot play.”

“Not even the piano? Shame, even I can coax a recognizable tune from a piano.”

“I’m sure you can. After all your fingers are so long and skill full. My hands are small with stumps of fingers.” Mary had her hands up, fingers splayed before she realized in her prattling she admitted to noticing Marshall’s long fine fingers. She stared at the backs of her own hands and prayed that he had not noticed her indelicate speech.

He spread his own hands, palms up, and placed them against Mary’s.

“I’d agree your hands are mighty small. But I think I’d use the term delicate before I ever considered stumpy.”

Mary panicked at the touch. She pulled her hands back quickly instead of enjoying his touch as she wanted so desperately to do.

“I think I’d rather have capable hands over delicate ones.”

Marshall didn’t seem affronted by her sudden movement. He lifted the long stick he had tended to the fire with before and handed it to Mary.

“How about we start now,” he said.

“Start what?”

“Turning those delicate hands of yours into capable ones. Have you ever tended a fire?”

“Oh no, that’s not appropriate. That’s what the help is for.”

“Sounds like you’re saying you don’t want this?”

“Sorry,” she gulped. “I was merely attempting to coney my utter lack of knowledge on the subject. I’ve seen the maid poke at a fire and it seems to come back to life. And I’ve seen my dear sister’s husband to the same to no avail. It all simply looks like poking.”

Marshall chuckled. “In a way it is. But you want to poke with purpose. You see fire needs oxygen to burn. It’s like us, it needs air to live. But too much and it goes out.”

As he spoke he directed Mary’s hand to fat stick in the fire. Together they poked and lifted exposing the burning wood.

“What you want to do is find the places the fire is being smothered by ash, and lift it back into the air. Shift things around a bit so that air can get in.”

As they poked, the fire jumped higher. Startled Mary fell back with a small exclamation of surprise.

“There, you got it. Now get back up here.” Marshall held the stick out to Mary.

Showing her how to balance on her feet, so she could scurry away from the flames if need be.

“Don’t stoke the flames too high, we want to roast this hare, not burn it.” Marshall released his guiding hold on the stick and eased back while Mary continued to identify areas that were in need of air.

The work was hot, and smoke got in her face. The feeling of accomplishment was almost as giddy as the feeling she got when she looked over her shoulder to see Marshall grinning at her.

Will Mary dispose of her learned manners and adapt to the ways of living off the land? Find out in the next installment… 

©2021 Lulu M Sylvian

An Improper Derailment: Chapter 17

A properly mannered Mary makes a new friend.


Catch up with Chapter 16…

Start the series from the beginning…

Mary woke to the comforting sensation of gentle rocking.

Fresh clean air, heavy with the scent of dried grass filled her senses. She was cradled in firm, contoured familiarity. A memory from being a child, held by her mother; but her mother was gone, taken before the blush of youth and beauty had left her cheeks. She nestled in against the… pillows? Too firm for pillows, too perfect to be a couch. She paid the mystery no never-mind and let herself sink back into the nothing of sleep.

A bellowing whine jolted Mary awake. The smell, the rocking, the noise. A sauran! She screamed and tried to scramble out of the cocoon of cozy she had created on the couch. She intended on screaming a second time as she realized she had been sleeping in Marshall Hunt’s arms.

Suddenly she found herself short of breath. The audacity, the arrogance, the complete and total lack of social decorum! What would Janey say? How would her grandfather react? Surely the impropriety would send him to an early grave.

“Hey, hey, you’re safe,” he said with a gentle smile.

How dare he smile at her like that!

“Calm your woman, Hunt. She’s scaring my tric.”

Mary swiveled her head to look at the man who spoke. Behind Marshall stood a painted Native man, from one of the plains tribes, a…

She gulped. She would not resort to the scare tactics of sensationalist journalism. She would form her own opinions. Besides, Marshall seemed perfectly at ease. He was ridiculously relaxed considering their perilous predicament.

“I think she’s more afraid of me than the tric,” he said with a wry chuckle. “Mary, Miss Dyer,” Marshall’s tone was commanding. “You are perfectly safe. There are no bandits; this beast has no interest in eating you. And if you insist on continuing to thrash about, I may accidentally let go, and drop you.”

Mary’s eyes went wide at the threat, all while her insides felt like molten honey, all hot and gooey from the tone of his voice.

“I… I… I’m not a personal fanatic when it comes to large animals. I can barely tolerate horses.” She managed to squeak out. She trembled in her attempt to hold still while allowing Marshall’s arm to drape around her middle like some safety strap.

She cast her gaze back to the Native man behind Marshall. “I apologize for scaring your triceratops, sir.”

“My name’s Hanska.” The man nodded. “And the tric, her name is Kim.”

“Kim?” Mary blinked in surprise. “I was expecting something more…”

She bit her tongue before she could say something offensive. She was uncertain how to ask things without sounding foolish, or worse rude. She may have grown up in the company of a certain class of people, people who frequently let their manners slip when dealing with anyone different from themselves. She did not doubt that Pythagoras would be such a flagrant snob. And to think she had been thrilled when he was courting her.

Mary believed that everyone deserved manners, no matter where they came from.

Hanska laughed. “Something more native?”

Mary felt the blush of embarrassment burn her cheeks. “I’m sorry, I did not mean to offend. But I always considered Kim to be…” she paused searching for the least offensive, least ignorant way to phrase her question. “I wasn’t aware that Kim was also a native name,” she ended up blurting out.

Marshall gently chuckled around her. His shifting motion reminded her of her predicament.

“Her name is Kimimela, Kim for short,” Hanska explained.

“Kimimela,” Mary repeated, mostly to feel the way the name rolled off her tongue in a delightful tripping of sound.

The triceratops made a huffing, almost purring sound as if she recognized her name being bandied about.

“It’s a beautiful name,” she said.

“She’s a beautiful sauran,” Marshall added.

“I don’t know if I’d go so far as to say that,” Mary admitted.

The beast made her nervous. Unfortunately, she wasn’t exactly certain which beast she meant at the moment. Marshall or the triceratops.

What’s in store for Mary? How will she get to San Francisco now?
Find out in the next installment… 

©2021 Lulu M Sylvian

An Improper Derailment: Chapter 15

Where Mary doesn’t expect to disembark the train in quite that fashion…


Catch up with Chapter 14…

Start the series from the beginning…

The train car continued to rock, each new motion now with an accompanying rumble and crash.

Mary struggled into her coat as Marshall pushed her down the aisle to the front of the car.

“Hurry before they hit—”

The entire car quaked and tilted at an extreme angle before crashing back down. The impact drove Mary to her hands and knees.

Before she had time to gasp in a shocked breath Marshall had a firm hand under her arm and hauled her back to her feet.


“What was that?”

“Bandits. They’re going to derail us if the engineer doesn’t stop. Damn it!” Marshall pulled Mary up short before they reached the door that would open between cars. “Get ready to jump. When I say go, you go. Do not hesitate. Understand?”

“But Marshall?”

“Do. You. Understand?” he asked again with clipped barks of words.

Mary sucked in a resolved breath, clenched her jaw and nodded. Her focus was through the window and out on the platform she knew Marshall expected her to leap across.

In a split second, the door crashed open, the train car rocked off a set of wheels, Marsha pushed and yelled, “Jump, Now!”

Mary didn’t hesitate. She bolted through the door and jumped straight into the car opposite.

She skidded and fell among a clutter of downed packages and screaming passengers.

She was up and running the second she felt Marshall behind her. His touch lifting her to her feet and propelling her forward.

This car didn’t rock with as much force, she could tell they were farther away from whatever force these bandits were using to batter the train to a stop.

At the end of the second train car Marshall stopped Mary. He turned her so she faced him.

His grip tightened on her upper arms. “This next time we jump together.”

Mary could barely comprehend his words. Jump together. Did he mean holding hands? She nodded as the car jostled with violence that suggested the engineer was not going to stop and the bandits would have to knock the train off the rails if they really wanted to rob it.

Marshall let go of her arms and leaned over. He hiked up her skirts and handed her a handful of fabric.

“Mr. Hunt!”

“Seriously woman, now is not the time. You can berate me after I get you off this cursed train.”

With that he lifted her up as if she were a bundle, positioning her legs around his waist.

“Lock your ankles together and hold on tight,” he directed.

He tucked her head close down to his chest as she tried to turn and watch where he was headed.

“Hold tight. I’ve got you. But I need you to hold on with everything you have.”

Mary clenched Marshal as close as she could. His movements felt strong and forceful under her hold. He ran. The breath caught in her throat, and her heart stopped as Marshall launched them into the air. For a moment, she felt like she was flying. She wanted to see what the world looked like from flight, but fear kept her head down, eyes closed, and face buried into Marshall’s chest.


Find out how they get off the train… in March…

©2020,2021 Lulu M Sylvian

An Improper Derailment: Chapter 14

Where Mary discovers just how bad the situation really is…
Untitled design
Catch up with Chapter 13…

Start the series from the beginning…

With a delighted giggle Mary spread out her cards. Ace, King, Queen, and a pair of nines, all hearts.

Marshall nodded, that irresistible half-grin across his face.

“Looks like you won again,” he said as he slid a penny across the table to Mary’s side. She had a collection of pennies gathered near her elbow, a testament to her winning streak.

“This game is easy. I don’t know why Grandfather objected so strenuously to it.”

“Maybe he didn’t win with the same ease.” He folded his cards, and reached for the stack of cards.

Mary’s hand shot out and grabbed his wrist, stopping his motion.

“What did you have? How badly did I beat you?”

“You thoroughly whipped me.” He continued to pull the cards together.

Mary tugged against his wrist, unrelenting in her desire to see how wide of a spread she won by.

One of Marshall’s cards slipped. She snatched it.

A ten of spades. A decent card to have, but it wouldn’t do him any good if the rest were mix-matched suits and low numbers.

Mary grabbed at his cards again.

He yanked his arm away from her, and held his cards high out of her reach.

With and huff and a determined set to her chin Mary stood up and leaned far over the table, struggling to get to the cards in his outstretched hand.

“Why won’t you let me see the cards?” she asked with a frustrated grunt.

“Why do you need to see them so badly?”

Mary sat with a thump. She crossed her arms and pushed her lower lip out in a curled pout.

“A little bird’s gonna come in here and sit on that lip,” he said with a wink.

His wink flustered her. She sucked her lip back into her mouth and anchored it in place with a bite.

“Damn, if you’re gonna look at me with your eyes all big like that.” Marshall sighed heavily and slid the cards, face down across the table.

Mary squirmed in delight, she had won another battle against the intimidating Marshall Hunt. She grabbed at the cards.

The train rocked with more aggressive force than when it had been buffeted by gale winds of the night before. The passenger compartment went silent. Another hard rock, and several passengers gasped in fear.

“Never mind the cards,” Marshall yelled. “Get your coat.”

“What? But…” Mary looked at the cards in her hands. Spades a royal flush. “You let me win,” she said in a small voice.

Her heavy coat hit her in the face. She looked up at Marshall, his Stetson already rammed down onto his head.

“Put your coat on woman, we’ve got to get out of here before this train comes off its rails!”

Find out how they get off the train… in January

©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 to the next installment…
©2020 Lulu M Sylvian

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.

Click here to keep reading the next installment.
©2020 Lulu M Sylvian

An Improper Derailment Chapter 9

Chapter 9

Where Mary writes to Janey…


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.



Keep reading with the next installment
©2020 Lulu M. Sylvian


An Improper Derailment Chapter 6


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


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


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