Friday, March 17, 2017

Disrupted: Day 15

Word Total: 90,002

Year to Date: 300,043

Summary of Events:
Ezra had supper with his children, Mrs. Harder, and Gwendolen. Gwendolen got up early the next morning to make breakfast for Ezra and his children and ended up having a lengthy discussion with Ezra. After their discussion, Ezra contemplated whether he should allow Gwendolen to maintain the role she'd assumed or not, and got into a discussion with his eldest son about it . . .

Excerpt of the Day:
"Jeremiah shifted his jaw and looked up at him. "You always say there's never enough hours in the day to get everything done. If she's doing all the cooking won't that give you more hours to do things?"
Ezra ruffled his son's hair before tipping Jeremiah's head up so he could look him in the eye.
"You aren't stupid," he said. "But you forgot something."
Jeremiah looked uncertain.
"I'm injured," Ezra said. "I can't do all the work that I want to do with more time until I'm better."
"Does she have to go away when you're better?" Jeremiah asked.
"I don't know," Ezra replied.
"Can she stay Pa?" Jeremiah asked. "She's trying to help, and she's nice."
"You already said that," Ezra said.
"It's still true," Jeremiah said.
Ezra gave his son a wry smile before moving out of the doorway and turning toward his bedroom.
"And she sewed you up so you'd be okay," Jeremiah said. "And she wanted Sarah to be happy too."
Ezra nodded, then sighed. The thing was, a lot of what Jeremiah was citing was sort of what had happened with Hannah. He hadn't planned on getting married a second time, and based on the end result, he shouldn't have bothered.
If he allowed this, then goodness knew there was the risk of him becoming so endeared to Miss Devereux that he married again. But she'd already said she was fleeing an apparent murderer, and yet if they were to get married she'd be no more likely to survive, with how marriage had gone for him so far, that was.
"She's kind of like Sarah's Ma," Jeremiah said. "Except she's quieter."
"And that's what I hate," Ezra said.
"But you liked Sarah's Ma," Jeremiah said.
"Yes, I know," Ezra said, turning around. "But now where's Sarah's Ma?"
"Under the tree, out front of the house," Jeremiah said.
"Exactly," Ezra said.
"You think that Miss Gwendolen's going to die if you marry her?" Jeremiah asked.
"Your Ma's dead, Sarah's Ma's dead, for crying out loud, my Ma's dead," Ezra replied.
"But you don't have to marry her," Jeremiah said.
"I don't," Ezra agreed. "But, if she's going to be spending the better part of her day with you three, and interacting with me, that's how I even fell in love with Sarah's Ma, therefore, it stands to reason that if entered into the same sort of arrangement with another woman the same end might well come."
"Do you think she wants to marry you?" Jeremiah asked.
"No, she's told me as much," Ezra replied. "She thinks I'm too old."
"You're not old Pa," Jeremiah said.
"In relation to her, as a husband, I would be," Ezra replied. "Although Sarah's Ma would only be for years older than her right now."
"But if you don't want to marry her, and she doesn't want to marry you, why are you worried?" Jeremiah asked.
"Because things can change," Ezra replied. "I didn't have designs of marriage when I met Sarah's Ma.""

Next post is April 1.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Disrupted: Day 14

Word Count: 84,015

Summary of Events:
Gwendolen was sweeping dust off the ceiling when she saw a horse approach and discovered it was carrying a wounded Ezra. Ezra, despite the pain, gave orders to his sons and Gwendolen because he was sure they would've stood around gawking otherwise. Gwendolen reluctantly stitched up Ezra's wounds and then had to explain everything to Mrs. Harder when she arrived. Ezra woke up when the doctor showed up to examine him and was helped inside to rest. Gwendolen was going to make supper when Mr. Lloyd arrived to find out what had happened to Ezra, so she showed him in . . .

Excerpt of the Day:
"They hit you MacAskill?" Mr. Lloyd asked.
"Yeah," Mr. MacAskill replied. "I figured I was useless, so I asked Lachlan to take me home. I swear that horse should've died."
"I don't know what you'd think if I said it would've been better to lose him than others," Mr. Lloyd said.
"It wouldn't have been easy," Mr. MacAskill said. "But it probably would've been better. We must've lost all of them back there though."
Gwendolen left the room, mainly to get Mr. Lloyd a chair, but also in part to avoid hearing about the deaths, although being as there was no door between the rooms she could still hear.
"Henry got hit pretty bad but he's pulling through, he'll have less of an ear now though," Mr. Lloyd said. "Martin's gone, Aaron's worse off than Henry, we're not sure if he'll make it; David got hit in the back, but he's still alive, he just can't walk; Judson and Albert are both pretty bad, but hanging on like Henry; Arthur and Abner were both hit probably something like yourself, and Abel's gone."
"Jonah and Wayne?" Mr. MacAskill asked as Gwendolen brought the chair in.
"Wayne got grazed in three places, Jonah was unscathed," Mr. Lloyd replied. "Oh, thank you."
Gwendolen nodded silently.
"You too?" Mr. MacAskill asked.
"I got grazed in a couple places, but nothing too serious," Mr. Lloyd replied.
"The horses?" Mr. MacAskill asked.
"A couple grazes, but other than that nothing," Mr. Lloyd replied. "The rustlers were aiming for us, shooting to kill."
"The cattle?" Mr. MacAskill asked.
"They're in bad shape," Mr. Lloyd replied. "Jerome's going to keep them with the horses and see what comes of it, give them a little oats and whatnot."
Mr. MacAskill nodded. "The rustlers?"
"Sheriff Davey must've heard the shooting," Mr. Lloyd replied. "He brought out a big posse and they rounded up and executed the rustlers right there."
"No trial?" Mr. MacAskill asked.
"Apparently not," Mr. Lloyd replied. "Their bodies are going to be buried somewhere that isn't the town cemetery, but they're going to be buried after Martin and Abel — and Aaron, if he doesn't make it."
"On one hand you've got to be glad they weren't married," Mr. MacAskill said quietly.
"Yeah," Mr. Lloyd said, looking down at his hands.
"But they were good men," Mr. MacAskill said.
"And then David," Mr. Lloyd said. "It's almost kind of worse with him. He lives, but he can't walk or work anymore."
"Yeah," Mr. MacAskill agreed.
"Sounds like he's got a sister in Butte, though," Mr. Lloyd said. "He wanted someone to write or send her a telegram or something, but we told him we'd wait until morning to make sure everyone was alright and those sorts of things."
Mr. MacAskill nodded. "Jerome's going to have to get some extra help, though."
"Well, he's got Joel, Hamilton, Junior, Titus, and Adam, on top of myself, Wayne, and Jonah," Mr. Lloyd replied."

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Disrupted: Day 13

Word Count: 78,007

Summary of Events:
Ezra heard a tree branch break while waiting for his fellow hands to wake up and followed its sound to find one of the missing cattle before waking the hands to see if they could find some more. Gwendolen and the boys were cleaning the house when the boys broke a box that contained, among other papers, Ezra's wife's death certificate. Ezra and the hands continued to search for cattle and eventually recovered all the adults, proving that all of the calves had died; but one cow hadn't wanted to leave her dead calf, and her bellowing after it roused the rustlers . . .

Excerpt of the Day:
"Ezra had never ridden so fast in his life, in fact, not even Tobias' temper had put the sort of ice-cold fear in his soul that he knew at this moment.
Usually criminals and danger didn't frighten him, but here he was, riding his horse as fast as it could run, desperately fleeing death itself, carried in the hands of a dozen crooks behind him.
He saw images flashing through his mind of Sarah, Jeremiah, and Jonathan, their fear and uncertainty as he'd left them — Sarah's weeping filled his ears.
Then other images came to mind, Ma, Hannah, Agatha, even Pa came to mind. Ezra shook his head to get the images to leave. He didn't want to see any of them, he didn't want to think of that.
They had to make it, they had to get out of this, and if nothing else they had to get close enough to White Pine for help to come and save them. They weren't likely to make it without help, they were, after all, outnumbered.
A cry of agony sounded close to Ezra and he shut his eyes tightly, which only brought to mind that horrible day. Opening his eyes at the sound of water splashing, he startled when realising Lachlan was running on the edge of the river, preparing to pass Wayne's horse.
The sight of Lachlan approaching to pass him seemed to cause Wayne's horse to pick up speed, preventing Lachlan from passing him as swiftly as Ezra had expected.
Ezra considered doing like a jockey and whipping Lachlan's hindquarters, but he knew Lachlan was already going as fast as he could, he couldn't give any more, he was probably just as frightened as Ezra was at the sound of the gunfire.
He was tempted to look over his shoulder, but he didn't dare. He was sure his fellow hands were wounded, if their horses weren't carrying their dead bodies and still running at a wild panic due to the gunfire and the horses chasing after them.
Suddenly Ezra felt a white-hot pain tear through his side. He dallied his reins around the saddle horn so they wouldn't trip Lachlan and grabbed hold of his side. It was warm and moist.
Looking down, a wave of ill nausea swept over him. Blood soaked his vest and was already seeping through his fingers. He'd been shot.
"Take me home Lachlan," he whispered.
His house was closer than White Pine, and hopefully there would be someone there who could help him, or Lachlan would carry him to the Lloyd place. He would get help sooner if he were to go there.
On top of that he'd see his children again. He grimaced at the thought, though, he didn't want Sarah to see him like this. She was sensitive enough as it was, to see her father with a bloody hole in his side was not something she needed to see.
But he couldn't do anything about it. If this was the end, if he was going to die, he wanted to see his children one last time."

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Disrupted: Day 12

Word Count: 72,020

Summary of Events:
Ezra was ahead of the others, waiting for them to catch up, when his gelding exchanged whinnies with another horse whom he felt might be one of the rustlers' horses. Gwendolen found herself forced to sleep in Ezra's bed because there was no other available bed of the right size in the house when it came time to put everyone to bed. Ezra and his employer's son had a lengthy conversation about the aging foreman and how he shouldn't have come along with them. Gwendolen woke up the next morning and started making breakfast while the children slept . . .

Excerpt of the Day:
"She turned at the sound of feet and found Jeremiah and Jonathan standing in the doorway.
"Good morning," she said.
"Good morning," Jeremiah replied, before giving Jonathan a hard elbow.
"Ow!" Jonathan exclaimed.
"Say good morning," Jeremiah said.
"Good morning," Jonathan mumbled.
"What are you two up to?" Gwendolen asked.
"I don't know," Jeremiah replied.
"You should probably go and feed Lucy and Silver," Gwendolen said.
Jeremiah nodded and the two started off with no soft steps, even in dressing themselves to go out, much less moving the bar away from the door. Gwendolen listened for a wail from Sarah, but heard nothing. Sarah was probably used to it, though.
She moved the bacon around and made space to put a couple of eggs into the pan, making sure to break the yolks as Mrs. Harder had told her to, so as to make sure the yolks cooked — otherwise the children wouldn't eat the eggs.
"Papa," Gwendolen startled and turned to see Sarah in the doorway.
"He's not back yet," Gwendolen replied.
Sarah looked up sadly, her jaw quivering.
"Come," Gwendolen said, kneeling down.
Sarah walked over to her and Gwendolen took her into her arms gently.
"I'm sure he'll be home soon," Gwendolen said. "Surely they've caught the bad guys by now."
"Papa chasing bad guys?" Sarah asked.
"Yes," Gwendolen replied. "They took cattle that weren't theirs."
"Oh," Sarah said. "Why?"
"Because they thought it was better than doing honest work to get money," Gwendolen replied.
"I want Papa," Sarah said.
"Yes, I know," Gwendolen said.
"Bad guys take Papa way," Sarah said.
"Oh, I'm sure a big strong man like your Papa wouldn't have that happen," Gwendolen said. "He surely beat them all up and is bringing them back to be in jail where they belong."
"Papa give bad guys spanking?" Sarah asked.
"Maybe," Gwendolen replied, not really sure what to make of the mental image.
"Papa come back now?" Sarah asked.
"I should think soon anyways," Gwendolen replied.
"Me go see?" Sarah asked.
"I don't know that you'll be able to see him yet, but it doesn't hurt to look," Gwendolen said, putting Sarah down.
She watched as Sarah ran over to the window that looked north. If Gwendolen recalled correctly, aside from the boys' bedroom window, the window Sarah was looking out of was the only northward-facing window in the house.
Gwendolen flipped over the eggs and used a thick pad to protect her hands as she moved the pan off the heat like Mrs. Harder had showed her, as well as moving the water off the heat.
"I no see Papa," Sarah said.
"Well, maybe he's having breakfast with the other men," Gwendolen said.
The boys' thunderous footsteps on the veranda cut off any hope of a cross-kitchen conversation with Sarah, so Gwendolen went to the cupboard and fetched out the dishes, which she laid out on the table, as well as preparing the supplies for her tea."

Monday, March 13, 2017

Disrupted: Day 11

Word Count: 66,013

Summary of Events:
Gwendolen and Mrs. Lloyd talked about the rustlers and their potential motivations. Ezra was frustrated that his fellow ranch hands seemed to have a lack of urgency about rustlers. Gwendolen was woken up by Sarah crying, having had a nightmare about Ezra being killed, and took her to bed with her. Ezra was woken up for his night-watch shift and ended up killing a bear and discovering another dead calf. Gwendolen helped Mrs. Lloyd in the kitchen before taking Sarah up to her room to talk with her privately . . .

Excerpt of the Day:
""You need to eat Sarah," Gwendolen whispered. "Otherwise your Papa will be sad because you're getting sick Sara. He doesn't want you to be sick, he wants you to run to him when he comes back, but if you don't eat you won't be able to run to him."
"I want Papa," Sarah sobbed.
Gwendolen blinked at the tears in her eyes, but they didn't go away. Sarah seemed completely fixated on the fact that her father wasn't present. She didn't seem to hear anything else.
Closing her arms around Sarah again, Gwendolen let the tears slide down her own cheeks. She had to do something, she had to get Sarah to eat. Even though Sarah didn't seem to be in that poor of shape, she felt a deep-seeded fear that the next morning Sarah wouldn't wake up or something.
She released Sarah and looked at her again. "You have to eat if you want to see your Papa again."
Sarah didn't seem to acknowledge her.
"If you don't eat then you'll get sick and you won't be able to see your Papa again," Gwendolen whispered.
"I want Papa," Sarah whimpered.
"Do you want to go home?" Gwendolen asked.
Sarah nodded.
"Alright," Gwendolen said. "Let's go home then."
She collected Sarah into her arms and headed back downstairs. Passing by Mrs. Harder and Mrs. Lloyd, she went outside, where the boys looked at her before hurrying after her.
"Is Sarah okay?" Jeremiah asked, looking fearful.
"She wants to go home," Gwendolen replied. "And I think you two should come along as well."
"But Pa's not home," Jeremiah said.
"I'll stay with you," Gwendolen replied, setting Sarah down in the wagon.
Jeremiah looked uncertain, but then turned and disappeared into the barn. After a few moments he returned with Mrs. Harder's horse and Gwendolen helped him harness the horse up before he skillfully managed to hitch the horse to the traces.
"What are you doing?" Gwendolen turned to see Mrs. Harder and Mrs. Lloyd both looking at her with confusion.
"Sarah wants to go home," Gwendolen replied.
"But, well, I'll go get your things," Mrs. Lloyd said.
Mrs. Harder walked over and climbed onto the wagon while Jeremiah reappeared with Lucy, whom he tied to the back of the wagon. Gwendolen mounted up next to Mrs. Harder and Jonathan climbed aboard.
A few moments later Mrs. Lloyd appeared with the clothes and collected Ezekiel into her arms. Mrs. Harder manoeuvred the wagon around so it was facing south and then leaned over, beckoning to Mrs. Lloyd, whom she said something to quietly before starting her horse off.
Gwendolen looked over her shoulder at Sarah, who was sitting between her brothers, both of whom were looking at her worriedly. Gwendolen felt the same uncertainty as they showed on their faces. Hopefully this would work and Sarah would be alright, if it didn't work . . . she shook her head viciously, she refused to entertain the thought."

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Disrupted: Day 10

Word Count: 60,035

Summary of Events:
Gwendolen was holding Sarah and watching the boys when she had to try and break up an argument they had over their horse, only to get insulted by the younger boy. Ezra listened as his employer announced to the men that they would be doing a cougar watch due to the cougar he and Judson had heard earlier in the day. Gwendolen was copying out lessons for the boys to do when the younger one  came and apologised to her, which she appreciated. Ezra and the hands found where the cattle had stayed for a night and when Lachlan wouldn't go toward some trees Ezra decided to go toward them on his own . . .

Excerpt of the Day:
"Almost at the trees a foul scent filled Ezra's nostrils. Not the scent of a cougar — Ezra didn't know what that was — but the scent of death, and death that had been there for awhile.
Ezra crept closer still and scanned close to the ground. He then paused and looked up at the trees; cougars often hung their kills from trees.
He saw nothing either way, but still the oppressive scent of death filled his nostrils and made him almost ill.
Stepping into the trees, Ezra looked up and behind himself especially. He saw nothing lurking in the trees. He almost wished he had a dog with him.
Diligently Ezra scanned around; up in the trees, down on the ground, looking for a carcass or a cougar — or both, which, honestly, would be even better — but he saw nothing.
He thought he heard a feline growl and looked around slowly. No green feline eyes, no slim tail hanging down, or anything else remotely cougar-like caught his eye as he scanned.
Continuing on, Ezra found the smell of death getting even more overwhelming as he kept walking, scanning the ground in front of him, as well as the trees all around, until, finally, he found the source of the putrid smell.
Ezra swore under his breath, not that he was surprised; after all, if they were driving the cattle faster than the cattle could take the calves hardly had time to drink, so this was only natural.
The calf carcass — mainly due to the fact that it was still too cold yet for flies — wasn't really broken down, except for the rather obvious signs that some carnivore had taken a few bites out of it.
But it couldn't be a cougar, as cougars usually carried their carcasses into the trees, and this carcass was on the ground. More likely, then, it was a wolf. Ezra looked around the carcass for tracks.
The spruce needles that littered the ground only showed disturbances, but not exact shapes as to what had caused the disturbance. But the he spied a snow patch, littered with needles.
A boot print, heading south. Ezra looked back at the carcass, did that mean it'd been dragged here by rustlers?
Why here? Ezra shifted his jaw, maybe to hide it from them. He rolled his eyes, as if their trail wasn't blatantly obvious.
But did that mean there was possibly a campsite nearby? Maybe they could get an idea of the numbers.
Creeping through the trees silently, Ezra kept up his vigilant scanning up and down, looking for cougars and campfire marks.
Thankfully he found the campfire marks without finding a cougar. Here he found horse droppings as well, and flattened places where the men had slept.
Using the toe of his boot, Ezra indicated the corners of the bedrolls until he'd circumnavigated where the campfire had been. Counting the rough rectangles, Ezra shook his head. Nearly a dozen men were involved in this."

Friday, March 10, 2017

Disrupted: Day 9

Word Count: 54,033

Summary of Events:
Ezra and his fellow hands learned there were thirty head of cattle missing, and not all of them were steers — which were the most valuable. Gwendolen had taken over consoling Sarah while Mrs. Lloyd made supper, and Mrs. Harder arrived wanting to know where Gwendolen was. Ezra sat around the fire with his fellow hands in silence for a bit before finally going to bed and hoping that Sarah had settled down. Gwendolen — who'd stayed overnight at the Lloyds' to help — got up and talked with Mrs. Lloyd a little bit about her family before going and tending to Sarah when she woke up crying. Ezra and the hands were riding through a somewhat wide open grassy area, following the trail of the rustled cattle . . .

Excerpt of the Day:
"Ezra asked Lachlan to trot ahead, as there was a bit of a bend in the trees that could well be obstructing a good view.
Before Ezra could catch the subtle change Lachlan was at a much smoother canter, and he could tell a gallop was coming on.
Sitting deeply in the saddle, Ezra glanced over his shoulder and saw Judson cantering up after them. Ezra sighed. One could take a racehorse out of the track, but they couldn't take the track out of a racehorse.
Slowly Ezra increased the pressure on the reins, but Lachlan tossed his head and Ezra could tell Lachlan had the bit in his teeth as he accelerated into a gallop.
Ezra felt the jerk of the string around his throat that held his hat onto his head and somewhat grudgingly leaned over Lachlan's withers as he flew down the open grass.
As he leaned forward, Ezra slowly reached up Lachlan's neck along the right rein until his arm was as far forward as he could reach, which was nearly at Lachlan's mouth. Closing his hand over the rein, Ezra then sat back, deep in his saddle, and pulled the rein, bringing Lachlan's head around and forcing him to circle, which dropped his speed dramatically.
Once he finally got Lachlan to a stop Ezra reset his hat on his head and turned Lachlan to face the way they'd come as Judson galloped up to him.
"What was that for?" Judson asked.
"You can't take the track out of a racehorse," Ezra replied.
"Oh, he thought we were racing him," Judson said, chuckling.
Ezra nodded before circling Lachlan to bring him down gently and keep him from cramping up. He felt a slight hop and swore under his breath.
"That's why I don't want you to gallop," he muttered. "Your leg can't take it."
He rode Lachlan over to the snow that still remained where the sun never fully lit on the grass and dismounted. He filled a kerchief with snow and tied it around Lachlan's leg while Lachlan reached down and ate some snow.
Ezra startled at the sound of a shriek. It sounded like a woman uttering a bloodcurdling scream, but he knew better than that. Turning, he saw Judson had his rifle out of his scabbard and waiting.
Lachlan's ears were pricked to the southeast, which Ezra presumed was where the cougar was hiding, but being as he wasn't panicking Ezra presumed the cougar was far enough away not to be a threat.
But it didn't bring him any ease, the cattle — including six young calves — were ahead of them. In all likelihood that was what the cougar was following, waiting for a moment to pounce and devour some delectable beef."

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Disrupted: Day 8

Word Count: 48,033

Summary of Events:
Ezra, seeing the mare he'd gotten for his boys misbehaving, did some work with her and decided that more was yet in order to get her to realise who was in charge. Gwendolen thought about what she ought to do for work and became convinced giving Ezra one more try was in order. Ezra and his children were just finishing breakfast when Gwendolen arrived; he argued with her for a bit before one of his fellow hands interrupted them with news that some of the cattle had been rustled, with Gwendolen offering the wagon for use . . .

Excerpt of the Day:
"Taking a deep breath, he relaxed his shoulders before pulling the right rein and starting the horse off. A shrill whinny from the little mare watching them through the fence reminded him of her.
With a sigh, Ezra reset the brake and passed her the reins before going and getting the mare. She'd need to go down to the yard and stay there with the other horses so she got taken care of.
He tied her beside Lachlan, but as far away as he could before climbing aboard again and starting off. He pushed the fine dark bay harnessed to the wagon to go at a canter and they were at the Lloyd's in short order.
Mrs. Lloyd was waiting for them, and looked more than a little surprised when she saw the wagon pulling in.
Ezra lifted Jonathan down and took Sarah into his arms before heading around the wagon to the other side, where he found Jeremiah untying the mare.
"What are you doing?" Ezra asked.
"Can't she stay here with us?" Jeremiah asked.
"You can't work with her alone," Ezra replied.
"William can help us," Jeremiah said. "You taught him."
Ezra looked up at Mrs. Lloyd. "Just wait a minute."
He walked over to Mrs. Lloyd.
"The boys want to keep their horse here," Ezra said. "She needs groundwork."
"Oh, I'm sure William would love to help them, it'll be fine, after all, we've got plenty of grass to go around," Mrs. Lloyd said.
"Where do you want her?" Ezra asked.
"The pen beside the barn will be fine," Mrs. Lloyd replied.
"Put her in the pen beside the barn!" Ezra called to Jeremiah before going to pass Sarah to Mrs. Lloyd.
"No!" Sarah cried, her arm fastening tight about Ezra's neck.
"I need to go Sarah," Ezra said softly. "I'll be back soon, okay?"
"No Papa," she whimpered.
Ezra sighed and held her close. "I need to go."
He startled at an embrace about his waist and looked down to see Jonathan. He rubbed Jonathan's shoulder and Jonathan let go. Jeremiah then appeared and the same exchange was done.
Ezra then pried Sarah's arm's off his neck, kissed her forehead gently, and passed her to Mrs. Lloyd.
"Papa!" Sarah wailed.
Ezra felt torn. He didn't want to leave, but he had to leave, after all, rustled cattle was a serious thing, and it wasn't something that could be predicted. He turned away from Sarah, grimacing at the sound of her cries.
Untying Lachlan from the wagon, Ezra putt his foot in the stirrup and grabbed the pommel and cantle.
Emotion suddenly seized hold of him and he paused a moment, pinching his tongue against the gum ridge behind his upper teeth with his lower, while working to steady his breathing and restrain his tears.
Once he'd gotten himself under control he swung into the saddle and looked at Sarah, who was resisting Mrs. Lloyd's efforts to console her, then turned Lachlan and slapped his long reins against Lachlan's hindquarters, setting his gelding off at a full gallop toward the ranch yard."

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Disrupted: Day 7

Word Count: 42,015

Summary of Events:
Gwendolen attended church with Mrs. Harder and learned that the schoolteacher wasn't in need of an assistant until September, to her disappointment. Ezra was upset to have Gwendolen call on him again and sent her away. Gwendolen helped Mrs. Harder bake cookies and discussed Ezra's obstinacy. Ezra ended up talking to the hand's wife who minded his children, and learned Gwendolen wanted to get paid for her work. Gwendolen, with Mrs. Harder this time, went to see Ezra, but found that he wasn't home, so they went to the home of the woman who minded Ezra's children . . .

Excerpt of the Day:
""What brings you here?" Hannah asked.
"We'd come to call on Mr. MacAskill, but he wasn't home," Mrs. Harder replied.
"Oh," Hannah said, her face falling.
"Is something wrong?" Mrs. Harder asked.
"Well, I talked to him and he didn't sound to be terribly swayed," Hannah said. "I don't think he'll accept the offer."
"I thought I'd come along to see if he wouldn't listen to me," Mrs. Harder said.
"I doubt he would," Hannah said. "He's nothing if not obstinate."
"As we've found," Mrs. Harder said, following Hannah onto the veranda.
"Besides, he's gone and bought a horse for the boys so that they can have riding lessons, which Jerome is going to give to them while Abigail minds Sarah," Hannah said.
"Oh," Mrs. Harder said.
"They're there now, actually," Hannah said.
"So you only have Ezekiel," Mrs. Harder said.
"I do," Hannah replied, looking at the boy in her lap, who smiled proudly at the mention of his name. "And now that we don't have the MacAskill children I've actually got nothing to do. I might have to ask him for them back."
Mrs. Harder sighed. "Well then I guess we'll have to look into something else."
"Like what?" Hannah asked.
"I haven't the faintest idea," Mrs. Harder replied. "Walter's already turned down her offer of help in the school because Anna Dobry is helping him, as she would like to become a teacher herself."
"And you don't have much skill in anything rather practical, do you?" Hannah asked, looking at Gwendolen.
"No," Gwendolen whispered.
"If you learned how to do laundry you might be a help at the ranch, actually," Hannah said. "With all those bachelors there Selma, Abigail, and Florence have all they can do to keep everyone in clean clothes. I try to help on occasion, but I've got a lot of laundry too with six children."
"And Abigail has seven of her own too," Mrs. Harder said. "And doesn't she usually do laundry for Joel and Hamilton too?"
"Yes," Hannah replied. "The bachelors do try to do their own laundry, but none of them are good enough at it to keep Selma from fits, so she's finally forbidden them to do their laundry, but not counting her own children, nor the Dobry boys, there's seven men to wash clothes for that get filthy beyond imagination. Mary helps too, but she's said that if there's any household chore she hates, it's laundry, and she has time enough trying to keep Dwight's clothes clean."
"I don't know that I'd like to do laundry," Gwendolen said.
"If you work for Ezra you'd have to do their laundry," Hannah said.
Gwendolen shifted her jaw, that didn't sound pleasant to her at all. She felt like doing someone else's laundry was inappropriate. She most certainly wouldn't want someone else washing her clothes."

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Disrupted: Day 6

Word Count: 36,025

Summary of Events:
Gwendolen enjoyed breakfast with Mrs. Harder before learning that there was a widower who lived out of town and didn't send his children to school; she intended to visit him right away, but Mrs. Harder wanted to teach her how to drive first. Ezra accompanied his boss and one of his boss' grandsons to the place they usually got their horses from and ended up picking up a short and rather cantankerous mare for his boys. Gwendolen, now knowledgable in how to drive, headed out to visit the widower, who startled her by already waiting for her when she turned around after having parked the horse . . .

Excerpt of the Day:
"Tall, lean, and with a face set of stone, he stared at her. His head was covered by rather thick, dark hair that curled softly; his blue eyes were fixed on her with a piercing sharpness; his jaw, which was decently bearded, was set.
Compared to the veranda around him, he was rather tall, with relatively broad shoulders and his arms, clad in whitish shirtsleeves, were crossed over his chest. His chest was additionally covered in a dark grey vest, while blue trousers covered his long legs.
The most fearsome thing of all, though, was the leather piece that came down from his belt and had an extra strap around his leg. Affixed to the piece was a pocket, in which sat a gun.
Gwendolen, after surveying his full height, looked back up at his face, which glared at her with all the cold of the day she'd arrived, making her wish she'd brought her coat despite the mildness of the day.
Her resolve faltered in the face of his imposing figure, but she managed to summon up some more courage and took a couple steps away from the wagon toward where he stood.
She glanced down at the gun on his leg, then back up at his face. "Mr. MacAskill, I presume?"
"A correct presumption," he replied, in a low, tense, voice that suggested brooding rage. For what?
"I," Gwendolen began, halting as she glanced down at the gun again before looking up. "I've come . . . on the account of your children."
"Then leave," he replied flatly, his gaze getting even colder, if that was possible.
"But I've heard–"
"It's all lies," he interrupted firmly. "Leave."
"Your children need an education," Gwendolen said quickly.
"They are receiving one," he replied, almost snappishly.
"But it's inadequate," Gwendolen protested.
"Only in the mind of your eastern-bred ilk," he replied.
Gwendolen didn't know what to say, so she exhaled indignantly.
"You have ten seconds to leave, or I fill the back of your wagon with buckshot," he said.
"It's not my wagon," Gwendolen said. "And I should hope you wouldn't plan to fill me with buckshot."
"I am not dishonourable," he said. "But I don't care whose wagon that is, you have ten seconds to leave before it's filled with buckshot."
"I am not leaving!" Gwendolen protested.
"Yes you are," he said, bringing his legs in from their wide stance and turning toward the door.
"Excuse me!" Gwendolen snapped, stamping her foot.
Mr. MacAskill stopped and turned around to look at her with an arched eyebrow, as if he were amused.
"You haven't heard anything of what I'm trying to say!" Gwendolen protested. "You haven't heard anything of my proposal!"
"I've heard enough of it to hate it," Mr. MacAskill replied. "And to think that it is high time for you to be leaving.""

Monday, March 06, 2017

Disrupted: Day 5

Word Count: 30,036

Summary of Events:
Ezra monitored a cow while she calved before getting into an argument with the foreman, who'd wanted him to monitor a different cow and would not be convinced that two cows had calved at the same time. Gwendolen arrived at White Pine and shortly met Mrs. Harder, who took her in and told her the rather unfortunate history of the town, as well as refusing Gwendolen's insistence at paying her. After another long day of work Ezra put his children to bed and went to relax in front of the fire, but soon got to thinking about what would need to get done . . .

Excerpt of the Day:
"Once they got back from getting the colts it would be branding time and then there would be work for several days before finally he set to work on training the colts.
If he recalled correctly Wayne's second son, Thaddeus, would be joining them on their trek to pick a colt for his own that he was to work with Thaddeus on training, much like he'd done with Clay's second, William, the year before.
Next year it would be Joshua, Clay's third, and then in two years it would be Jeremiah, Jonathan three years later, Wayne's youngest son Darius the year after that, and then about three years until Ezekiel, Clay's youngest, was old enough.
Barring any other marriages, much less Dwight and Mary having sons, that was all the boys who'd yet to learn how to ride, much less train their own horses. He'd have to find some time somewhere to work with teaching Jeremiah how to ride, though, as Jerome was already teaching Darius, and he was six.
But Lachlan was too tall for either Jeremiah or Jonathan, and it didn't pay for Ezra to own another horse — Jerome kept enough to give him spares for the railhead drive — and even if he did, he was too tall to make buying a short horse worthwhile.
Thankfully Jeremiah and Jonathan already showed that they were going to have his height, as Jeremiah was nearly as tall as Joshua, and Joshua was two years his senior, while Jonathan was almost as tall as Christina, who was the same age as Jeremiah, until September, anyways, as she had a birthday early in the year.
Still, it would take them time to get to the height to be able to ride Lachlan properly enough to get lessons.
Ezra turned at the sound of little feet on the stairs and turned to see Sarah standing at the foot of the stairs.
"What is it?" he asked.
"I code," Sarah replied.
"Come here," Ezra sighed.
She crossed the floor rather quickly and crawled up onto his lap. He made sure she sat to face his right and kissed the top of her head once she was comfortable on his lap.
He looked over at Silver, curled up in her small crate, which seemed to be fast getting too small for her already. He might have to see what he could do to make something bigger.
Leaning back in his chair, Ezra sighed. One day off a week wasn't near enough time to tend to all that needed to be done. If it weren't for the fact that spring was on it's way ever more with each passing day he would be even more despairing.
Although spring didn't get him a shorter horse, it would get him more days off, a privilege he, Clay, and Dwight were afforded because they owned their own homes off of the ranch land, and they didn't really need all that much time in the wintertime."

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Disrupted: Day 4

Word Count: 24,010

Summary of Events:
Ezra and his fellow hands were having lunch when the foreman ordered him to go help a calving cow, an order one of the ranch owner's sons took offence to due to such a task always seeming to be given to Ezra, but Ezra obeyed regardless. Gwendolen got off the train at Cheyenne to stretch her legs and saw that the newspapers had reports on her disappearance, prompting her to book a seat on a stagecoach, instead of continuing on the train. Ezra went and met with the ranch owner who explained why the foreman seemed to have a prejudice against Ezra and why he had no plans to fire either man. Gwendolen got off of the stage at Butte — the end of its run — and decided to explore the town before deciding what to do for the night; while doing so she spied a newsstand . . .

Excerpt of the Day:
"Striding across the street, she went over to the newsstand and found that, once again, it was the front page headline: Michigan Millionaire's Daughter Missing.
As she read the article she found that it gave her name, but no description, along with saying that she was last seen at the Pontiac train station throughout the day on Friday, and it was determined that she'd taken a train.
Once again it also stated that her father had put out a thousand dollar reward for her safe return to Pontiac, along with also saying that Ambrose had put out a reward of two thousand five hundred dollars for her safe return, and preferably by June.
Three thousand five hundred dollars total for her return. But she didn't want to go back. She couldn't go back. She'd been safe this far out west, and had yet to meet any unsavoury individuals.
But she couldn't stay here either. Even though the newspaper didn't give a description of her. She had to keep going. Somewhere, anywhere.
Quickly she made her way back to the stage depot.
"Are you here to pick up your trunk Miss?" the man who'd moved it before asked.
"No," Gwendolen replied. "I was wondering when the next stage leaves town."
"Eight o'clock tomorrow morning," he replied. "It's the border run."
"There's none leaving yet today," Gwendolen said.
"No Miss," he replied.
Gwendolen sighed. She could at least stand to spend the night.
"What hotel would you recommend?" she asked.
"I'd recommend the Montainview," he replied. "My family runs it, actually."
"It's clean and secure?" Gwendolen asked.
"Yes Miss," he replied. "My Ma's stickler for keeping things clean, and we've never had a robbery or a fire yet. I'll take you there."
Gwendolen nodded as he rose and picked up her trunk. Like the young Ricky had done in Cheyenne, he carried it on his back until they arrived at a rather small and simple structure, but one that looked well-kept and generally presentable.
He opened the door for her and she stepped into a small, but clean, presentable, and homely room where a young woman sat behind a desk. She smiled.
"You're a good thing for business Clovis," she said.
"I try to be," he replied.
"Good afternoon Miss," she said, smiling at Gwendolen kindly. "What sort of room would you like? North, south, east, west, first, second, or third floor?"
"Whatever you have available," Gwendolen replied. "And I'll just be staying overnight."
"Would you like to have dinner and breakfast included?" she asked.
"Yes please," Gwendolen replied.
"Because Clovis brought you we'll give you a deal too," she said, before naming the price.
Gwendolen opened her purse and laid out the money, although she noticed to her discomfort that she didn't have much money left. She wouldn't likely be able to get much further, and she was glad she was only going to be staying overnight."

Friday, March 03, 2017

Disrupted: Day 3

Word Count: 18,042

Summary of Events:
Gwendolen met with a maid, as well as the maid's sisters and cousins and laid out her plan to use them as decoys in her escape. Ezra, fed up with the argument between his sons over the name of the wolf pup, named it himself. Gwendolen had the maid's brothers to put bricks in the decoy trunks to make them not seem empty while she went and emptied and closed her bank account. Ezra helped restrain a cow while her calf was being checked over and then had to do a high speed rope removal because the cow wouldn't stay still. Gwendolen arrived at the train station, purchased a ticket to Chicago, and got onto the train . . .

Excerpt of the Day:
"It didn't take long for the whistle to cry out, warning passengers that departure was shortly to come. The conductor then gave his call and the train whistled again before a great amount of steam was let off and there was the jerk of the train starting into motion.
Exhilaration shot through Gwendolen and she couldn't help but smile. She felt like relief was washing over her like the smoke and steam slid almost effortlessly into the distance from the great engine that was taking her, and many more besides, to Chicago, the first stop on her escape.
Despite her exhilaration, however, there was a twist of fear that turned her insides all directions. She was going alone, unescorted, to a wild and rather savage place full of natives who still would attack trains and wagons, as well as other men who ran about, unrestrained by the law, which really hadn't taken much of a foothold in the west.
She didn't possess any sort of a weapon for her own defence, which might be something that would actually be useful, really, and she felt badly that she hadn't sought one out before leaving.
As much as she was relieved that she was getting away from a marriage that could well take her life before her life ought to be taken, she could well be heading toward the same thing yet.
There were some civilised cities in the west, though, such as Sacramento and some of the other ones in California, and probably a lot of the communities along the railroad were more civilised than some of the frontier outposts were likely to be.
Not that she really intended to go to anything along the lines of a frontier outpost anyways. What would she do there?
In fact, what would she do in the west? She only knew that she wanted to go west, but she'd never really thought about what she'd like to do once she got there, or what she could even do when she got there.
She didn't really possess that terribly many practical skills. She knew how to sew and embroider, but she knew nothing of cookery. She might be able to teach in a school, except she had never really had anything to do with young children, having been the youngest daughter, and having only Wilford younger than her.
Additionally, her associations with children had only come as a child; as she'd gotten older she'd come to spend more time with adults, as children weren't allowed in attendance at parties. Would she be able to command enough authority to make the children manageable?
Working in sewing would probably be the best option, although it did seem below her; but really, was there anything she could do out west that wasn't below her? Not that she could think of."

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Disrupted: Day 2

Word Count: 12,042

Summary of Events:
After having dinner at the home of the fellow hand whose wife cared for his children, Ezra and his family headed home where his younger son discovered a shivering wolf pup Ezra only agreed to take in because they found its mother's carcass. Ambrose came to visit Gwendolen and despite her discomfort she talked with him, although their conversation wasn't the most agreeable and, eventually Ambrose bit her while kissing her neck, leading to her elbowing him and then him almost choking her . . .

Excerpt of the Day:
"Desperately Gwendolen loosed her dress and corset and took deep, gulping breaths until she'd recovered enough to go over to the door and lock it. As added assurance against someone getting in she then dragged a chair over and lodged it under the doorknob.
She then sat down on her bed. She'd have to summon one of the maids in to help her refasten her corset, but she wasn't going to do so until she'd been assured and guaranteed that Ambrose had left.
There was no way he could be anything but a murderer. He'd tried to choke her! And then there was what he'd said while doing so.
He'd said she was his, that she had to obey him, and that he had a right to do whatever he willed. But they weren't married, so none of those things were true, until June, that was.
Or maybe not.
If that was how he was going to treat her, did she really want to marry him? If he was going to threaten to — and goodness knew, eventually — murder her, was it really worth doing this?
Yes, she was bound to obey her parents, but did that mean she should obey them when they were putting her into danger? She most certainly didn't think so.
But then what could she do? She couldn't just end the engagement, they'd hold her to it whether she wanted them to or not; besides, he'd likely kill her or try to kill her if she went and told everyone the reason why was because he was a murderer.
There was only really one thing for it, best she could tell. She had to leave. Not just her home, not just Pontiac, but all of Michigan. And she couldn't just go to Wisconsin or Indiana or Illinois, or any other nearby place.
She couldn't even go to Albany — where Margaret lived with her husband Hector — her best option was to go west, as that would give her the most space and the most hidden places where there were lots of new people and strangers.
And it would be easy to get there, now that there was rail connection most of the way, and then from there she could take a carriage of some kind to some sort of a good and secluded place where no one would recognise her, and where she wouldn't likely easily be found.
Yet there was still a quandary: surely someone at the train station might know her or recognise her. All manner of people used the train station, and being as they were mostly rich and influential people who were friends of each other and they would recognise her and be able to tell everyone that she went on the train to . . . Chicago, probably, and then from there she wasn't sure where it would go."

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Disrupted: Day 1

Word Count: 6,018

Summary of Events: 
Gwendolen was attending a party at her fiancé's home; after a dance she went for a walk outside and came in a different door, which led to her encountering a maid who told her that her fiancé had murdered his first wife. Ezra got up, had breakfast with his children, and headed off to work, dropping his children off at childcare on the way. Gwendolen's mother questioned her about her departure from the party and took her along to go ask her fiancé about things, during which Gwendolen began to panic, prompting her mother and fiancé to summon a doctor.

Excerpt of the Day:
""Come," Ambrose said, putting a hand onto her back gently and guiding her out of the room.
Gwendolen felt utterly powerless to resist him and instead obediently followed his guiding up the stairs and into a bedchamber that happened to be at the end of a long hallway.
"Here," Ambrose said. "Lie down."
His hold on her back tightened and his aid seemed rather rough and callous. His face was taut set and grim.
Once she was laid down he sat down beside her, legs crossed, back straight, his countenance frighteningly severe.
Gwendolen could feel her heart pounding. She was sure she smelled death. She was sure she was in the room which had belonged to Ambrose's first wife. She could see Ambrose rising to strike her.
A hand clamped over her mouth severely.
"Be quiet!" Ambrose snapped, his gaze livid.
Gwendolen struggled at the tightness of his hand over her mouth. She grabbed her hands around his arm and tried to pull it off, but Ambrose wouldn't release his hold no matter how hard she struggled against him.
She heard footsteps advancing down the hall. Ambrose released her mouth, took a deep breath, and sat down calmly, as if nothing had happened.
Gripping the sides of the bed, Gwendolen gasped desperately, trying to draw enough air into her lungs so as to catch her breath. She barely saw her mother walk in behind the doctor.
"If you'll excuse us Mr. Arnold," the doctor said. "I think it would be wise to lessen her distress by loosening her corset."
The doctor turned toward her dress, but Ambrose made no move to leave. He looked like he was almost eager.
Pausing, the doctor looked up. "Mr. Arnold."
Ambrose startled, nodded, and hurried out of the room, closing the door behind him.
Gwendolen felt her bodice loosen and then, much more blessedly, her corset. Taking advantage of the freedom, she gulped in deep breaths of air that caused her entire torso to rise and fall heavily.
The doctor felt her over gently.
"What is it?" her mother asked anxiously.
"I'm not certain yet Mrs. Devereux," the doctor said. "But so far it seems merely fright."
"But she was screaming in agony," her mother said.
"It could've been fright," the doctor said, keeping his gaze on Gwendolen as he probed.
"Of what?" her mother asked.
Gwendolen closed her eyes and continued taking deep breaths. She was sick with fright. She wanted nothing more than to be out of this room. This room in which the man who was — unfortunately — her fiancé had committed a more heinous act than she would ever have imagined.
But who would believe her? It wasn't likely that the maid's word would be believed, and who said she would even hold to her own story? It would be Gwendolen's word alone against everyone else. She was sure no one would be able to conclusively prove that Ambrose had done it, and his staff would be loathe to confess if such was the case."