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Old 07-05-2014, 07:28 PM   #1
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A Victorian in the wild west. (Closed for raiguy)

Eighteen year old Amanda Bingham stood on the deck of the ship and watched as the coastline of England, the land she had known all her life, begin to slip from her view. She had thought she would be glad to see the back of it, but she was not. For back on the land, were her father and two younger sisters.

Her mother had passed away two years earlier, and her ‘replacement’ was a mean, conniving woman who held sway over the household. Trying to earn some pocket money, Amanda had paced the streets of London peddling pies for a baker, and when her step-mother wanted to move and use her as a servant, Amanda felt the need to escape the ever increasing clutches of the mean woman, so when she saw an notice asking for ladies willing to become wives for successful men in America, Amanda took a gamble and signed on for the voyage to Boston, then off to places unknown, to meet a stranger and become his wife.

Her emotions were in turmoil, and her whole being yearned to slip from the ship and return to her father and sisters, and stand up for her rights against the witch that her stepmother had become. But as Amanda watched the English shoreline fade into the morning mist, she knew that option was impossible.

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Old 07-05-2014, 09:18 PM   #2
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James Martin stood up in his saddle, watching as his ranch hands drove the cattle down to the lower pasture. It had been a hard winter, and calving season was about to start. The pastures were greening up, and he knew that the 500 head of cattle he had would increase quite a bit. Winters out in California tended to be more mild, so his herd was able to stay pretty healthy throughout the winter, as well as remain a decent size, at least compared to what his family had seen in Montana.

After his parents died, he had moved on, knowing that the ranch was to be sold. His parents wanted a better life, and knew that ranching wasn't something he and his two sisters would want to do. Unfortunately, after his sisters got married and left him most of the money from the ranch, James realized he only really knew how to run a ranch and raise cattle. After hearing about nice parcels of land out west, he had staked a claim of around 2000 acres for a surprisingly cheap price, and then bought 200 head of cattle. That had been nearly 4 years ago, when he had just turned 20.

He had gotten lucky with cattle, as he watched the herd start to graze in the lower pasture, but in other areas, he hadn't been so lucky. Still, he guessed, he was doing alright. He had 8 full time ranch hands, all good strong men who were loyal to him, and his herd was growing, whether it was through his astute purchase of breeding stock, or calving cycles. The only thing that seemed to be missing was a woman to share that with, but he knew that ranching could be hard on a wife, as he had seen when his daddy got injured those couple times.

He sighed, before turning and guiding his horse back to the main herd, trying to see which heifers were closest to give birth.
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Old 07-08-2014, 07:10 PM   #3
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“There you are!”

It was Emma who interrupted Amanda’s thoughts. Reluctantly she turned from the rail to attempt a smile for her newfound friend.

“Are you still watching jolly ol’ England?” asked Emma, teasing in her voice.

Amanda shook her head. "There is nothing to see now, but fog,” she replied and had a hard time trying to disguise the tremor in her voice.

“Come. We are having a party, well, a celebration really. We have all gathered in a small room down below.”

Amanda felt that she would rather stay where she was, the salty sea air wind flecking her cheeks and tugging at her hair, but reluctantly she followed Emma.

There was much commotion when the ship finally docked at Boston, and as her feet touched the firm dock, Amanda nearly lost her balance. Emma, close behind, giggled.

All twenty-five of the future brides were placed into carriages and taken through the streets to a large hotel, and Amanda felt that she would soon be able to ‘belong’ in Boston, but the very next day all the ladies were called to a drawing room where a certain Mr Jenkins presided.

“Ladies, you are about finish the last leg of your trip…together. You will head out west…to one point or another. From here to Chicago you will all share a train. There you will be met by a gentleman by the name Mr Keith Price. He will give you your final tickets, and the name of the man who will be your husband to be. From Chicago on, you will be fanning out and heading in different directions…though still westward.

“I do wish each of you great happiness, in your new land…and your new unions.”

Jenkins then bowed and gave them one final grin, before turning on his heels and leaving.

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Old 07-11-2014, 03:53 PM   #4
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"Boss, we got about 100 head of cattle that are probably ready to be sold off, now that calving is over," Red, the ranch foreman, said to James, as he moved over next to the ranch owner to watch the herd graze.

James had been thinking the same thing, and was wondering when he was going to head down to Marshall to offload those that were ready, and pick up more breeding stock. While most ranchers went to the bigger cities like San Francisco, James found that he had better luck in Marshall, especially with prices for shipping cattle if need be.

"We can get started tomorrow and drive the cattle to Marshall, and then pick up breeding stock to drive back. We could use more breeding stock, and maybe see if we can find more staff for the house, like a cook, among other things," James said, pulling the cigar from his mouth, and inhaling deeply. He only ever smoked a cigar after calving season, and right before the start of the cattle drive.

"I'll let the boys know," Red said. James just nodded, before kicking his horse and setting off at a canter to round of the other ranch hands.

James just nodded, before watching everything. He knew that he could potentially buy about 300 head of cattle, all good breeding stock, as well as plenty of other supplies for the house and the ranch hands. He hoped he could also find a cook as well, as the current one had died during the winter with a bad cough.

He tossed the cigar before turning his horse and heading back to the house, knowing that it would be a long drive to get to Marshall.
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Old 07-13-2014, 02:07 PM   #5
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The train ride was long and stuffily hot. Amanda had thought the boat trip had been difficult – but at least then they had enjoyed the crispness of the ocean winds. Not given the luxury of berths, they were crammed together in seats with hard straight-backs and no place to put their tired heads. The long nights were spent in restless shifting to try and find some way to relax tired bodies.

At last they reached Chicago. Amanda may have been interested in studying the city had she not been so totally exhausted.

The man called Price was on the platform when they arrived. As they stepped off the train, he rounded the women up and hustled them to a side room, much like herding cattle, and grinned at the group nervously as he called out names so he could give each lady her new ticket along with a piece of paper that contained information of her husband-to-be.

At last Amanda’s name was called. She stood up and walked numbly past the man and accepted her ticket and paper. She looked at the ticket. Her destination was Marshall. Her future husband, Donald Philpot owned a successful mercantile store.

Once on the next train, Amanda found out that out of the original twenty-five women only six, including her and Emma, were on this particular train.
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Old 07-13-2014, 03:57 PM   #6
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James ran his hand over the stubble that was forming due to the prolonged drive. The ranch hands were doing a good job, and they hadn't run into rustlers yet, but he was worried nonetheless. Things always seemed to go wrong on these drives, and usually it was when the cattle was being driven to market.

"How are things currently," he asked Red, running his hand over the Winchester model 94 in the scabbard on his saddle, and the brand new M1911 on his hip. It had just come out a few months ago, and he decided to try it out. He had a Schofield revolver among his saddle pack, but wanted to try the new gun out.

"Cattle are moving along at a good rate. We should hit Marshall in about 2 days. So far, no rustlers, no lost cattle, no issues. I don't think we'll see any problems this close to Marshall," Red said, scratching his head after removing his hat. He thought for a moment, before adding, "You thought about the stock you want to get?"

James nodded. He wanted some Holstein cattle, as well as some Aberdeen, or Angus, cattle. He had seen that they got better beef prices, and he knew that that would help with his pricing as well, getting better lines in his herd.

"Lets just get this group in before we worry about that though," he told Red, before looking out over the herd and moving around to help drive them a little faster.
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Old 07-16-2014, 09:09 AM   #7
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Though still not given a berth, the six women were so weary that Amanda felt they could have slept almost anywhere.

She was right. The others fell asleep as soon they had boarded the train. With that in mind, she rolled up her shawl against the coolness of the window, laid her head against it, and fell asleep.

She was stiff when she awoke in the morning, but at least she felt somewhat better.

“And how long are we to be on this train?” she asked Emma.

“I’m not sure. Someone said three days.”

Amanda winced.

When they reached Sheep’s Meadows, one of the other four ladies was separated from them and sent in another direction on a stagecoach. Amanda could sense the girl’s panic.

“She heard a rumor that brothels occasionally use the system to lure unsuspecting women to a town by getting a man to order a bride. Then once there, she’s informed ‘that an unforeseen situation has occurred’, and before she knows it, she’s a prostitute,” said Emma.

Amanda felt nervous. What if she suffered that fate? She had no funds to return to London. Her only hope was that the so-called rumor, was just that; a rumor.

Later, two of the other ladies were sent off in another direction. Amanda wondered how far they would travel before they were separated again. Fortunately Amanda, Emma, and the third girl, Rose stayed together and as the train pulled into Marshall, they all looked at their sheet of paper one last time, before getting off the train.

Two men met them. “I’m David Smyth. Which one of you is Rose Corsairs?” one of them asked.

“I am,” replied Rose.

Then pointing to the other man, Smyth said, “I’m pleased to say that this gentleman is your future husband, Jake Donavan.”

It didn’t take long for Jake and Rose to take their leave, but Amanda and Emma wanted to know why their future husbands weren’t there.

Smyth looked at them. “I’m afraid that an unforeseen situation has occurred…for both of you.”
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Old 07-16-2014, 12:31 PM   #8
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James sighed as the cattle were brought into the corral. There hadn't been any rustlers or other issues, which had made the ranch hands happy, as well as James. Once the cattle were all accounted for, he went over to the vendors, before starting to haggle prices. It took a little longer than he liked, but he ended up getting a better deal for the cattle, and after walking out with the money, went to pay his ranch hands.

"Well Red, time to go buy the stock that we need," he said to his foreman, before walking down the rows of corrals. He knew it would take several days, but he was willing to wait.

"Well, here are the Holstein cattle," Red said, before turning to his boss to see what he thought.

"Lets go talk and figure out prices," James said, before making his way into the office by the corral.

It took two days for him to haggle prices, before he could move onto the next breed. He heard the train whistle blowing, and deciding he could use a break, he started walking towards the train station to see if anything new had been brought in, or if he could find a cook.
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Old 07-16-2014, 05:26 PM   #9
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“Oh, no,” Amanda said. It couldn’t be really happening. She and Emma were about to be forced into prostitution.

“I’m ‘afraid so,” Smyth said. “There was a fire at the mercantile store, and the owner and his friend were killed. I’m so sorry.”

Emma, who looked calm and collective, responded first. “So I presume you are referring to our husbands-to-be.”

The man just nodded.

“Then pray, tell. How are we going to survive in this town, with hardly any money to our names?” asked Amanda, trying to come to terms with the situation.

“Not to worry,” Smyth said. “I’ve made arrangements for the both of you to be put up at the hotel, at our cost, while we find new husbands for you both. I have got in touch with a Mr. Stuart who owns a photography business, who needs someone to pose for him. So you ladies can decide between yourselves who it will be. The position is only for two days, but it will give one of you some cash to spend, or save.”

The two girls looked at each other.

“You can have it, Amanda. I still have some cash to my name. Not much though,” Emma said. Then she looked at the man. “What do you have for me?”

“The only other option I can think of at the moment would be at…” Smyth stopped; hesitant to continue.

“The brothel?” asked Emma.

The man lowered his head slightly. “I’m afraid so. But you are under no obligation to work there, for obvious reasons. I'm sure I can find something else for you.”

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Old 07-17-2014, 02:37 PM   #10
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After seeing nothing being brought off the train, James made his way back to the livestock area, before groaning. He knew J.P. Armstead, and he was a cutthroat to bargain with. He would overprice his own cattle, and then underprice the competition. James knew that this would take quite some time for him to acquire the second breed he wanted.

True to his predictions, James was in his second day of bargaining for the cattle. He needed about 200 head of Angus cattle, but the price that Armstead was trying to get was ridiculous. James had wired a friend who dealt with cattle sales, and knew what the normal price should be. He sighed, before standing up.

"Armstead, we both know you're overpricing your cattle by a good deal. Now, I'm going to go for a walk before I decide to find a better rancher to buy cattle from. Even if I have to travel 200 miles for it, I will," he said, standing and pushing his chair in.

J.P. Armstead grimaced at that. Unfortunately for him, James Martin was the only man wealthy enough to buy cattle from his stock for even remotely close to actual price. He just nodded, before James started heading for the saloon. He needed a cup of coffee, and the boys hadn't had any left over after driving the cattle into Marshall.

He quickly lost himself in his thoughts as he walked, trying to figure out the best breeding combinations that would provide the most quality beef from grazing cattle. He knew what his friend recommended, but he wasn't sure how long it would take. He knew he had time on his side, as he was still young, but he wanted to get this right so he could start growing the herd.

He also hoped that things back at the house were going well. He knew that he had left more than enough able bodied men to handle the rest of the herd, as well as the other chores around the ranch, and keep it safe, but it still always worried him to leave his home for more than a few days. He also knew that he needed to find another cook, as well as someone who might know medicine, both for humans and animals.
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Old 07-17-2014, 08:12 PM   #11
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Both girls had a peaceful sleep that night. Amanda felt relieved that Emma hadn’t taken up Smyth’s option to become a prostitute.

The next day Amanda began her job, albeit for only two days as a model for Stuart. The outfits she wore were well beyond anything she could afford, but in this case she was being paid to wear them.

On the way back to the hotel, she saw Emma talking to another lady. She stopped on the boardwalk, and to her horror she heard a passing male voice say, “Looks like Duchess has found another one to work for her.” Duchess! Amanda had heard that the owner of the brothel was a woman called Duchess. Then she watched as Duchess led Emma away.

Sleep came hard for Amanda that night. Emma had moved out of the hotel. Now Amanda was alone. How she concentrated on posing for Stuart was nothing short of a miracle, but she pulled it off, and was handsomely paid for her work.

That late afternoon, Amanda sat a table in the hotel’s lobby, trying to think of what other jobs she could search the town for. Anything but Duchess!

“You look down on your luck, honey.” It was Emma, attired in fancy clothing. Her eyes were bright as she looked Amanda over. “You’ve got nothing to worry about, Amanda. Duchess has a room for you.” Then Emma glanced around at the men passing through the lobby. “You could be in business in an hour.” She leaned closer. “Your cut is forty percent. You’ll get room, board, clothes, plus whatever you want. Duchess will take care of you.”

Emma leaned further forward. “What do you say, Amanda?”

Amanda looked up at Emma and smiled bitterly. There wasn’t going to be a husband. She hadn’t seen Smyth for two days. All her hopes and prospects were gone. She had no choice, but to nod.

Emma grabbed her arm. “Right now, honey. Let’s get you settled in."

Shuddering, Amanda stood. Her heart beat slower and slower as she was led through the hotel doors. As they exited she saw Duchess waiting for them on the other side of the street. No! This is wrong, thought Amanda. There had to be someone else who had a job for her. She slapped Emma in the face, which forced Emma to release her grip on Amanda.

Seizing the opportunity Amanda raced as fast as she could down the boardwalk. Once in a while, she looked behind her to see Emma and Duchess chasing after her. It was during such an episode that she collided with something, with such force that she fell backwards only to land rump first on the boardwalk with legs spread apart.

She looked up and saw a man. If he worked for Duchess, she was in trouble, big trouble!
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Old 07-21-2014, 03:32 PM   #12
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James had been walking the street, trying to figure out what he was going to do about the positions open on his ranch. He needed a cook still, having found someone who knew about animals and humans. He had also lucked out, as the man was a little older than he was, but seemed to have extensive knowledge about cattle, including the new breeds he was getting.

As James was walking the street, he wasn't fully paying attention to where he was going. He felt a bump, then looked down, before seeing a beautiful young lady in front of him. He immediately leaned down and helped her up, before smiling slightly at her.

"Are you okay there, young lady?" he asked, taking his hat off as he talked to her. He could tell that she was a beautiful young lady, but couldn't rightly tell her age, or what she was doing. Without really thinking about it, he took her arm in his, before walking with her, knowing that this town could hold trouble for a young lady by herself.

"My name is James Martin. I'm a cattle rancher, and am here selling cattle and buying new breeds for my herd. What brings you here?" he asked, before looking over his shoulder, seeing Duchess. He had never liked that woman, especially all the advances she made towards him. He quickly maneuvered away from her, before settling in a mercantile.

"I know that this may be presumptuous, but are you a good cook? I need to fill the position of a cook on my ranch, and if you are able to cook, I would be very willing to hire you," he said softly, quickly gathering the supplies he would need for the journey back, as well as the supplies the ranch needed, before paying and having it sent over to where his ranch hands and wagons were.

He stood next to the woman and waited for her answer, hopeful that she knew how to cook, and would be willing to cook for him.
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