An Improper Derailment Chapter 8

Chapter 8

Where Mary lands in Marshall’s lap…

bored-lookingout-train-window

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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

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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