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Mature Content: Definitely!  Lots of violence, also gore.

With: Addy, Caroline and a bunch of NPCs
Location: Somewhere between Kalispell and Helena
When: Month  Aug.29, 1876
Time of Day: Mid day

 

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Caroline hadn't been on a stagecoach since her arrival many months ago not that she missed it. These contraptions gave a bone jarring bumpy ride, the only good thing about it had been that was when she first met Addy Chappell. That woman worked as a driver for the Millegan Stage company and she was pretty certain Addy still did. They had gotten along well that time but since had sorta lost touch. Not surprising really as both of them lived very different lives.  Well just maybe Addy would driving this trip. Caroline was on the way to Helena.

 

As she stood by the stage office boardwalk, she held a smallish carpet bag. It was going to be a short stay in Helena, she was to attend a funeral of an old friend. They had worked in a Helena saloon for a time before a major fire wrecked the building. Caroline had left soon after and lucked out to find a job quickly in Kalispell thanks to a tip from another friend who lived there. She had always figured she would never go back to Helena but this here was different.

 

****

Rebecca Honeycutt was sitting on a bench not far from Caroline, both ignoring the other as they did not know each other.  Next to her sat her boy, her only child, Byron. The name had been chosen by her husband, the boy himself hated it and much preferred being called Buck or Bucky. A doting mother, she humored him. Byron...errr, Bucky was a good son. Unlike his father who was not with the two. For he had abandoned Rebecca in the pursuit of fortune. Finding gold in Montana had been the death knell of their marriage, he was off to prospect and strike it rich. But he had also made it quite clear to her even if he struck it rich he would not be coming back. 

 

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****

 

Ross Hampton was still inside the stage office, he was helping himself to one of the double barreled shotguns on a rack behind the counter. He had already secured a box of shells. Ross was a Millegan employee, mostly he rode shotgun if the stage might be carrying something deemed valuable enough to warrant it. Other times he drove stage or filled in at times for caring for the horses in the stable. Today though it was obviously 'shotgun'.  What with all the Indian troubles this summer....my god, the damn redskins wiped out Custer even, the company decided all stages needed an armed guard on board. While it made sense and also made the passengers maybe feel a bit safer, Ross knew better. Hell, if a war party of those devils attacked the stage, he wasn't going to make a hell of a lot of difference. Least he had confidence in the driver's ability to do her part. Addy knew her stuff, she had earned his respect over the years.

 

Soon as she came walking in that back door, it would be time to get a moving. The passengers waiting out front, they had three - no menfolk - had already paid for their tickets. Helena here they come!

 

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@Bongo

 

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It was shaping up to be a warm day, but at least there were no signs of rain, and for that, Addy was grateful.  Not only did rain make the roads slippery and miserable, but mud got splattered over horses and coach, making clean-up lengthy and tedious.  And Addy hated being soggy!

 

As she strode into the office, she nodded to Ross, grinning.  "Mornin'.  Good ta have ya aboard."  While she wasn't particularly paranoid about attacks, it never hurt to have someone else on the box with her, if for nothing more than to have someone to chat with.  "Lemme check th' hitch, then we'll be off.  Reckon ya can get th' gear loaded."

 

Even though she trusted the men who hitched the team, it was ultimately her responsibility, so she made a point of going over everything before they headed out.

 

Stepping into the morning sunshine, she glanced at the woman and boy on the bench, giving them a nod and tip of her hat.  "We'll be off in just a spell, ma'am.  If ya need ta use th' outhouse, now's a good time."  Once they were on the road, she'd see if the lad wanted to ride up top with her and Ross for a spell...he reminded her of Weedy, and she knew boys liked sitting behind the driver.

 

Then she noticed Caroline and broke into a grin. "You goin' on this trip, too?  Givin' up on Kalispell so soon?  How ya been?"

 

@Wayfarer

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Glancing up from her seat, Mrs. Honeycutt saw the driver. She had first been surprised to hear the stage lines had a woman driver but while she did not understand why any lady would even desire such a job, it was none of her affair.

 

  "We'll be off in just a spell, ma'am.  If ya need ta use th' outhouse, now's a good time."

 

"Oh no, that's quite alright. We are already prepared to leave, thank you," Mrs. Honeycutt smiled back.

Bucky just squirmed a little in his seat on the bench, he was very excited for the adventure of a stage coach ride! Plus no school.

 

Then Addy noticed Caroline and broke into a grin. "You goin' on this trip, too?  Givin' up on Kalispell so soon?  How ya been?"

 

"Howdy! Good ta see you again, hon" Caroline beamed, "No, I love it here. But I'm heading to Helena to attend the funeral of an old friend."

 

"I been good, Star Dust is a good place to work, good people, and you might have heard ? I am regarded as the best singer in the place."

 

She let that sink in only for a brief instant then added, "Also their only singer but...hey!"

 

"So how you been? How's that boy of yers?"

 

@Bongo

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"Glad ta hear yer stayin'."  Nodding, Addy grinned as she started to run her fingers quickly over the harness, feeling for imperfections and checking that the buckles were secure.  "Weedy's doin' real good, boy's too smart for you own good!"  Laughing, she added, "I'm learnin' ta read, though, an' Perfesser Brown, who lives right behind us keeps th' boy busy with all manner'a science an' whatnot." 

 

Straightening, she grinned.  "An' my brother come out ta visit, brought his boy...good ta have family around.  Sorry ta hear ya lost a friend, though.  That's rough."

 

She glanced over as Ross started tossing luggage into the boot.  "Leastways'll be a nice ride."

 

@Wayfarer

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"Glad to hear about the boy," Caroline smiled, "And good for you too, learnin' ta read I mean. I sure was glad my Ma taught me that time. Never been in a schoolhouse in my life."

 

So she had a brother then too, now Caroline never had siblings but it was plain Addy was quite pleased to reacquaint with him. As for her deceased friend....

 

"Oh we sort drifted apart. But I was sad to hear about her sudden death so thought I would go pay my respects," Caroline explained.

 

Caroline did have to take issue with Addy's opinion on the upcoming ride.

 

"Nice ride? Not if it's like every other stagecoach ride I been on. It's bumpy and cramped and my ass hurts by the end of one," Caroline begged to differ, but with a grin.

 

At that point though the shotgun guard was loading luggage onto the stage, it was time to get going. Rebecca Honeycutt motioned for Byron to get up and the pair proceeded to enter the passenger compartment. Caroline let them pick their seats then clambered on in herself.

 

"Later hon, try to miss at least a few of the bumps in the road."

 

Ross now joined Addy up top, shoving the now loaded shotgun into it's topside sheath.  He turned to Addy, "Least the passenger load is nice and light. So you know that saloon whore, do ya?  I heard the joint got a new owner, some out of towner jasper."

 

@Bongo

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"Nice ride? Not if it's like every other stagecoach ride I been on. It's bumpy and cramped and my ass hurts by the end of one," Caroline begged to differ, but with a grin.

 

"Once ya gotta enough hours on th' seat, yer ass goes plumb numb, don't feel a thing!"  Addy laughed.

 

"Later hon, try to miss at least a few of the bumps in the road."

 

"We'll find 'em all!"  Checking that the door was secure, she climbed onto the box beside Ross, then gathered the lines.

 

"Least the passenger load is nice and light. So you know that saloon whore, do ya?  I heard the joint got a new owner, some out of towner jasper."

 

"She's a singer," Addy declared, snapping the lines, causing the four horses to lurch forward into their harness.  "An' yep, I heard somethin' 'bout th' owner, but I ain't had cause ta go over there much since me an' Weedy  got a place'a our own.  I'm tryin' ta be more diligent, but that takes a derned site more work'n I thought it would!  What about you?   What's good in yer life?  'Sides me, a'course!"

 

@Wayfarer

 

 

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"Yeah, never raised me any kids myself. I think I told ya, I was married once when I was a young man but she up and died on me. Got some fever and went quick like. I reckoned it was an omen I was never meant to be hitched," Ross explained.

 

Addy asked about his current situation, in that jokey way of hers. Ross liked that she didn't seem to take things too seriously. He liked easy going folk.

 

"Not much, the usual. I been working on fixin' my leaky roof on my place. Figure I better do it now before winter sets in."

 

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The stage soon cleared Kalispell and headed on down the winding road that would eventually lead to Helena. It was scenic territory  what with mountains and plenty of woods. The dirt road sufficed during good weather but could be a might tricky in the rain or early snows. Midwinter the passes were usually completely closed down by huge snowfalls made worse by drifts.

 

 

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"It surely is beautiful this time'a year," Addy observed, "makes th' rest worth while.  Well, not really, could well do without th' mud an' slush, an' cold an' wet, but ya know that!"  Heck, Ross had been doing this longer than she'd been alive, he'd seen the worst the job could offer, yet he still appreciated the beauty around them.

 

"Got th' swing station comin' up in an hour or so, be good ta see ol' Swede again.  Been a time, since he broke his leg, an' I don't got nothin' bad ta say 'bout that Ray, but he's just...kinda sour, ya know?  Don't got Swede's sense'a humor."

 

The station master at the swing stations was responsible for hitching a fresh team of horses, and having them waiting to switch out with the old team.  It didn't usually take but a few minutes, and it gave the passengers a chance to stretch their legs and use the outhouse.  Most of the stations had hot coffee and tea as well, and depending on the time of day, some form of meal...and, on occasion, the station master would have treats.

 

An accident in early Winter had laid up Swede, but he was reportedly going to be back on the job today, and Addy was looking forward to his coffee!

 

"I'll ask th' missus if she'll let her boy ride up with us fer a spell when we leave, might give him a bit of a thrill."

 

@Wayfarer

 

 

 

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"I knew Ray since he was knee high to a grasshopper - he was a gloomy kid even then. And he ain't gotten any better. But yep, Swede is a good ol' horse," Ross opined.

 

"Well, he ain't an actual horse lucky fer him, if he was they'd have shot him," he then laughed at his own joke.

 

Ross knew company policy frowned on passengers riding up top but it happened with a fair amount of regularity so he said nothing about Addy's comment about the lad. Besides, if a stage crashed the boy would be no more safe in the stage passenger compartment than up on top. He himself had only been in more accident in his years with the stage and there had been just one fatality that time - this woman broke her neck. But then she had been ninety-three, might have had something to do with it.

 

***

 

Pulling into the station, things continued to go smoothly. Sure enough, Swede was there and took the teasing Ross gave him with good natured toleration. He also informed Addy there was a warm pot on the stove of his famous coffee.

 

Caroline alighted just to stretch her legs, she did pull out a small flask from within her clothing and took a quick swig of its contents. Ralph had kindly let her fill it with some of the expensive stuff so it went down nice n' smooth.

 

The mother and son also got out, the boy racing to use the outhouse. She simply waited for his return. Neither woman said a word to each other. They had already chatted for just a bit on the trip but when the topic came up as to what Caroline did for a living, Rebecca was then reluctant to engage further. Mostly because she did not want Byron to hear anything ...well which might make him curious or ask questions. Saloons were not proper topics for a young lad. But the women had remained quite civil.

 

Caroline understood her reluctance really, she had been treated far worse so many times, that this was not really offensive. The boy was very well behaved and she could see the bond was close. She liked that. She herself had been close to her mother.

@Bongo

 

 

 

 

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It was good to get down to stretch, and Addy was happy when the feeling returned to her backside!  After quickly checking the harness on the new team, she went into the station to grab some coffee, opting to stand while she was savoring it...there was going to be plenty of sitting!

 

They were there perhaps fifteen minutes before everyone was loaded up and they were on the road again.  The day was beautiful, warm with a nice breeze, and they were making good time, and even the questions from little Byron, sitting between Addy and Ross (if his mom said okay), weren't too annoying.  Maybe Addy could inspire the lad to drive stage when he got older!

 

@Wayfarer

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