Today I thought I’d share a glimpse of the novella Janet Syas Nitsick wrote called “She Came by Train”. This is the second story in Bride by Arrangement that will be available next month. I wrote the first story in Bride by Arrangement called “The Purchased Bride”.
A quick description of She Came by Train:
She came by train to a desolate land. With mixed feelings, Opal Preston steps onto the platform to meet her employer, Alexander Boyer. She accepts his hand and climbs into his wagon to begin her role as the governess to his two children. As she executes her duties, she wonders how she’ll cope without the finery she left behind.
Soon two men are vying for her affections. Alex can’t imagine his life without her and looks for a way to convince her to stay in Nebraska. But a preacher from Virginia is also smitten with her and offers to take her back home. She came by train, but only her heart can determine if she’ll return the same way.
Charles City, Virginia
The train chugged toward the station. Smoke bellowed from the engine’s stack. Standing outside underneath the roof of the brick-and-mortar depot, Opal gulped as she watched it approach. She rubbed her hands on her white and green, ruffled skirt.
Her father turned to her. “Are you sure you want to do this?”
“Papa, this is for the best. You know that. Your business is suffering and Winifred is old enough to take care of the boys.” She shifted her head away to dab at a trickling tear with her fingertip.
“But, it’s so far.”
She faced him and forced a smile. “Yes,” she replied, her voice soft. “It’s going to be rough. But not having me here will help you, and I’ll be safe.”
“His credentials are impeccable according to the telegraph messages.”
The train pulled into the station, its wheels squeaking as it made its stop.
She swallowed the lump in her throat. Her hands shook. She tightened her grip on her drawstring purse. Puffs of the engine’s smoke blew into her eyes. She reached into her purse, pulled out a lace handkerchief and wiped her eyes before replacing the cloth.
“Your train departs in about 15 minutes. Let’s get your trunk loaded.” He waved his hand and motioned to one of the baggage handlers to come over. A gray-headed man raced to them. “Would you put this on the train for us? The baggage tag is on it, and my daughter has the matching one.”
Opal clasped the drawstrings and pulled the purse open to grasp the brass metal inside.
Pa laughed. “You’re always checking and rechecking things. That’s why I’m surprised you’re willing to take on this adventure.”
Her skirt brushed against her ankles, and she rocked back and forth. “It is amazing, isn’t it? But this leaves you with one less mouth to feed, and it’s time I found my way.” She paused. “I-I can’t stay with you forever and no man has asked to court.”
Her father took her arm. “That’s not true. There’s plenty interested in a pretty girl like you. You’re just picky.”
Opal sighed. “Yes, I guess I am. I want a man’s man not some wimpy old-plantation owner who never worked a day in his life.”
“You, amaze me, Opal. You really do. I never thought you had that much mischief in your soul.”
“No, Pa, it’s not that. It’s just I want to see if there’s something else out there, and this
position will give me that.” She adjusted her feather hat.
“All aboard!” the conductor shouted from a distance.
Pa stroked her hand before he tightened his grip. “You write. If things don’t work out you come back to us, Winifred and the boys wanted to see you off.” His voice broke.
“I know but it’s better this way. We said our good-byes last night.”
He led her to the train and searched for the conductor. He spied him speeding to the car. They were the first ones in line.
The conductor smiled.
For a moment, Pa rubbed his hands on his pants. “My daughter here is taking this train to Lincoln, Nebraska.” He caressed her arm as he spoke. “Keep her safe. She has no escort to watch over her. She is taking a governess position and only Alexander Boyer is allowed to meet her when she reaches her destination.”