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Sagas of the Wild West

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Starting All Over Again


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Mature Content: No

With: Addy, Caroline
Location:  Swan Lake Stagecoach Station (30 something miles from Kalispell)
When: April 1876
Time of Day: Morning

 

 

 

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  Station master Gus Bell smiled as the front door opened and in walked Addy, his latest driver was now present so it was time for the stage to be on it's way. Now Addy was the lone woman who drove for the stage company but despite that supposed disadvantage, the truth was she was one of the most dependable drivers they had and besides, Gus liked her. Well, after he got past the fact she was female. Though a doubter at first, he judged folks by their deeds not words or appearances.

 

"Mornin' !  You got fine weather, that's fer sure. Not a cloud in the sky," he greeted her with a grin.

 

****

 

Sitting at a long table with benches on both sides were four passengers waiting until their journey could continue. A man, woman, with their two children, a boy and girl neither more than ten or so at first glance at least. All were quite well dressed, they had the look about them of being if not well to do at least of sufficient means. Their eyes went to Addy when she had entered and the adults at least showed a bit of confusion at the words the station master was greeting her with. As if to say  'now who on earth is that?', they obviously had no idea they were looking at their driver for the next stage of their trip, the ride to Kalispell.

 

****

 

Meanwhile as that little scene played out, there was one other passenger waiting for the ride also but she was outside leaning against the corral fence and seemingly just watching the horses. She too was quite well dressed though in a gaudy fashion with a bright red dress as opposed to the passengers inside in their more somber black and brown outfits. She had her hair up in a sort of bun, revealing earrings. No hat, which women were supposed to wear in public. A closer look would also reveal she wore eyeshadow and lipstick, the sort of thing proper ladies did not. That was for East coast actresses or an even coarser sort of certain immoral women gussied themselves up with. Even her fingernails were painted a bright red.

 

As for her age, hard to tell but most likely late teens to early twenties, she was of average height petite build, not to be considered a classic beauty but pretty enough. As she watched the milling horses, she had a small tin flask in one hand and would occasionally take a small sip from it. She seemed to have no escort, she certainly did not match up with the quartet of passengers inside the station.

 

@Bongo

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"Mornin' !  You got fine weather, that's fer sure. Not a cloud in the sky,"

 

"Mornin', Gus."  Addy nodded to the man, grinning as she pulled off her hat and hung it on a peg by the door, then crossed into the room to pour herself a cup of Gus' strong, hot coffee.  "Ride out was nice, mite chilly, though."  She'd ridden in from Kalispell on one of the company horses, and it still been dark when she'd left a few hours earlier, but the sun was out now, and warming up the day.

 

With a glance at the folks at the table, she took a drink of the coffee, then shook her head.  "Lordy, Gus, I swear yer tryin' ta grow hair on my chest!"  Winking at the kids, she laughed, then headed outside.  The looks the adults had given her were familiar, but she didn't care...she had the upper hand...either they accepted her as the driver or sat at the station for two days, waiting for the next coach.

 

"Gimme ten minutes an' we'll be on our way."  She nodded to the passengers then stepped outside again.  The luggage should already be loaded and the horses were hitched, but as the driver she was responsible for the coach, and while she trusted Gus, she was still going to look everything over to make sure it was right.

 

"Mornin'," she greeted the young woman standing on the porch, "we'll be leavin' in a bit, if ya need ta use th' outhouse."  She seemed an odd match to the family inside, and Addy allowed that the trip must have been pretty interesting so far.

 

"I'm Addy Chappel, I'll be yer driver."

 

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Some woman dressed like a man had entered the station house, Caroline definitely noted that unusual sight not that it bothered her. She was about the last person to judge someone either by their looks or clothing. She also saw that the young man had finished with securing the horses at the stage. It shouldn't be long now and they'd be leaving. So she screwed the top tight on her tin flask and shoved it inside a dress pocket then headed back to the building. She was on the porch when the door opened and out stepped that very same woman.

 

"Mornin', we'll be leavin' in a bit, if ya need ta use th' outhouse." 

 

"Already did so, thanks," Caroline nodded. We? Another passenger? So where was their new driver then?

 

"I'm Addy Chappel, I'll be yer driver."

 

That brought a raised eyebrow, but also a big smile as Caroline replied, "You don't say!  The Emden family is not going to be happy."

 

"And I'm Caroline, nice ta meet ya," she quickly added.

 

No sooner had she got that out when the station manager joined them out on the porch and made a point of shutting the door behind him so they had the porch to themselves.

 

"Oh good, both of you, I need to talk with you for a moment," he announced looking very solemn.

 

His gaze was straight on Addy though, "There seems to be a problem which needs settling before the stage can leave, Addy."

 

Caroline sighed, "The answer is NO. I'm not waitin' for the next stage, they can wait for the next one if they don't like it. My money is as good as theirs and I paid for passage."

 

"Calm down, miss. I need to talk to my driver here please," Gus pointed out, "Give her the run down here."

 

@Bongo

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"You don't say!  The Emden family is not going to be happy."

 

Addy shrugged and chuckled.  "They ain't got much choice."  The coach wasn't getting back to Kalispell without her, so if they wanted to get there they were going to have to accept that she was driving.

 

"And I'm Caroline, nice ta meet ya," she quickly added.

 

"Miz Caroline."  Grinning, Addy gave the girl a nod, wondering what it was about her that had impinged on the sensitivities of the Emden family.  She glanced at Gus as he came out.

 

"Oh good, both of you, I need to talk with you for a moment," he announced looking very solemn.

 

"Aw'right."  With the harness checked over, Addy walked closer to the man.

 

"There seems to be a problem which needs settling before the stage can leave, Addy."

 

Caroline sighed, "The answer is NO. I'm not waitin' for the next stage, they can wait for the next one if they don't like it. My money is as good as theirs and I paid for passage."

 

"Calm down, miss. I need to talk to my driver here please," Gus pointed out, "Give her the run down here."

 

Ah, so there was something going on between the passengers, and Addy hoped it wasn't as dramatic as it sounded.  Nothing like passengers who didn't get along, not that she cared if they argued amongst themselves, but they tended to harp on her, too, and she could do without that!

 

"Whacha need, Gus?"  Hopefully, it was going to be something easy.  "Ya comin' ta tell me th' Missus sent somm'a her fruit tarts along?"

 

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"Whacha need, Gus? Ya comin' ta tell me th' Missus sent somm'a her fruit tarts along?"

 

"Wish I was and nope, sorry, she hasn't made any recently. I shall endeavor to point that out to her tonight too, prod her along some," Gus smiled but then had to get down to business again.

 

"It seems the couple inside are very unhappy with the presence of this young woman sharing the passengers cabin with them. They complained that she is a bad influence on their children. And they demand that she stay behind and wait for the next coach to come thru."

 

Caroline snorted, "I'm not waiting for any next coach, paid for this same as them."

 

Gus put up his hand up as if to stay 'hang on' then continued with Addy.

 

"It is within company policy to deny a seat to customers who cause trouble but I do not think this rises to that category. So the lady here is within her rights to refuse to wait for another coach. I wonder, Addy, if she might sit up with you then?"

 

 

@Bongo

 

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While she would have been just as inclined to leave the family to wait, but she reckoned they'd learn soon enough that if they were going to get by out here they'd have to get used to oddities.  And Gus' proposition seemed like a good one, so she grinned.

 

"If th' lady is inclined, I'd be more'n happy ta let her ride with me."  While, yes, it was allowed by the company, it wasn't something that was often done, and so a great privilege, even if Miss Caroline didn't know that.  "I'll give her th' coach gun, an' she can fend off any banditos, since I don't got a shotgun rider this run!"

 

Of course, she was teasing, this close to Kalispell was a fairly safe leg of the trip, but wouldn't it give the Emden clan an eyeful!

 

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It took Caroline all of her self-control, not one of her strengths truth be told, to just stand there quietly while the pair of stage employees discussed this unfortunate situation. At least the station manager seemed reasonably sympathetic to her side of the story and also offered a possible solution of sorts. She then looked to the driver, a woman driver at that. Certainly that should tilt the score in her favor then?

 

"If th' lady is inclined, I'd be more'n happy ta let her ride with me." 

 

Caroline shrugged, "Well as damn bouncy as it was inside that contraption, it couldn't be any worse on top I suppose. Sure I'll do it."

 

  "I'll give her th' coach gun, an' she can fend off any banditos, since I don't got a shotgun rider this run!"

 

The young woman blinked then smiled, "Actually I have fired a gun or two in my day. I even  have a gun on me. One of them little derringers."

 

She then nodded, "Fine but if I end up having to shoot it out with bandits, I sure am gonna demand I get paid for it like any other stage employee."

 

Gus chuckled, "Don't worry, this is a safe stretch right up to Kalispell. You should have a quiet ride of it."

 

He then glanced at Addy, "I reckon I should tell those folks in there it's time to be leaving. Expect a few sour looks, Addy."

 

He opened the door and went back in, leaving the two women standing there on the porch then.

 

@Bongo

 

 

 

 

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"Thanks fer th' warnin'," Addy chuckled, "I'll try not ta stick my tongue out at them!"

 

Then she looked back at Caroline and nodded.  "We do got some civilization out in these parts, but it's always good ta have some sorta protection."  One thing that truly riled her was women that weren't taught to defend themselves, or worse, them that were told that they should submit and not fight back.  It was good that Caroline seemed prepared in that way, she'd do fine in Kalispell.

 

"Go ahead an' climb on up there," Addy told her, then waited by the door, smiling sweetly and nodding to the family as they got in.  Once the door was secured, she clamored up to the box and sat beside Caroline, then gathered the ribbons between her fingers.

 

"Nice day ta be up top," she commented, "an' you'll get a better view of th' scenery.  If ya get cold, there's a blanket under th' seat.  Them front two lead horses are Hermia an' Helena , an' th' wheelers are Lysander and Demetrius."  She snapped the lines and the coach started moving forward.

 

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"We do got some civilization out in these parts, but it's always good ta have some sorta protection." 

 

"Alrighty then but I should point out if I kill me a stage robber that will bring my grand total to............one," Caroline quipped.

 

"Go ahead an' climb on up there," Addy told her.

 

"Fine," there was no hesitation in the young woman as she clambered on up and seated herself then awaited the rest of the passengers who were now emerging from the station.

 

Mr. Emden spotted that awful jezebel right off, sitting on top of the stage. Well, he had asked she not be allowed to accompany them at all but at least he and his family would not have to sit inside with her. He still had a sour look on his face but his wife tightened her grip on his arm as a signal to get his attention.

 

Both adults were definitely stunned to see that woman in man's clothing holding the stage door and smiling at them. My goodness, she wasn't the....?  They hesitated.

 

Gus called out from the porch, "Addy there is your driver til you reach Kalispell. She is an excellent driver and a valued employee. Have a good trip!"

 

The Emdens were for once at a loss for words as they one by one filed up and into the coach, the woman in particular casting a stern glare at Addy then putting up her nose and disappearing into the vehicle. The children actually were nonplussed about the whole situation.

 

Caroline only smirked at the little procession, holding her tongue but not without difficulty. The driver then joined her up in the seat and reached for the leads.

 

"Nice day ta be up top," Addy commented, "an' you'll get a better view of th' scenery.  If ya get cold, there's a blanket under th' seat.  Them front two lead horses are Hermia an' Helena , an' th' wheelers are Lysander and Demetrius."  She snapped the lines and the coach started moving forward.

 

"Ummm, sure whatever you say. They look like they should do the job," Caroline nodded as she eyed the horses. Being a city girl all her life, she wasn't much for horses. Never owned one and only rode one once. She fell off that time.

 

As the coach headed onto the dirt trail of a road, the jostling started once more, Caroline would be glad when this damn journey was over. For a lot of reasons but chiefly because her butt was sore.

 

"So Addy, can I be nosey and ask how you came to be a stage driver? That's gotta be a tale worth telling and I'm more than ready to hear it," Caroline glanced over to the woman.

 

@Bongo

 

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"Don't mind'ja bein' nosy, just don't wanna put ya ta sleep!"  Addy chuckled, relaxing in the seat as they turned on to the main road, the horses moving at a fast walk.  "Was born in Tennessee...place called 'Pigeon Forge', 'though I don't know as anyone ever forged any pigeons there!"  She gave out a bright laugh before continuing.  "Ma died when I was but a tyke, an' Pa did th' best he could fer a girl-child...well, an' I had seven older brothers, too, worked with mules an' horses an' wagons an' whatnot, took to it natural."

 

For a moment, she looked around them, then down at the horses to make sure all was right then glanced at Caroline.  "I was drivin' deliveries around town when I was twelve or so, an' when th' war was goin' I started drivin' freight an' ambulance...like that a darned site better'n sewin' an' cookin' an' whatnot.  Come out here 'cause it's a right pretty place an' still not too civilized.  What 'bout you?  Just passin' through or plannin' ta stay a time?"

 

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