Where Mary gossips, even if it’s unbecoming…


Catch up with chapter 30…

Start the adventure from the beginning.

“I’m about done with excitement, Captain,” Marshall chuckled humorlessly.

“It’s plenty quiet up here,” Captain Forsyth said.

“Quite sounds so refreshing.” Mary leaned against the side of the basket.

“Oh, don’t lean on that. I’m not convinced you won’t tip over.” The captain fussed at her.

With a defeated sigh, her knees seemed to give way and she sank until she sat on the floor.

“Dear Mary, have you swooned?” He asked, worry creased the part of his brow exposed under his cap and over his bushy eyebrows.

“I’m tired,” she complained. “We haven’t slept properly for days, and I’m hungry.”

“She’s right; we haven’t had much of a proper meal these past few days. The saurans in this area have kept us on our toes. I can’t tell if I’m more hungry or more tired. You’ve done us a solid service giving us a lift in this fine airship. Mary would scold me for asking, and I hate to impose on you further, but you don’t happen to have any food on board do you?”

Captain Forsyth had more than basic provisions. He presented a chest laden with smoked hard sausages, loaves of bread, a variety of cheeses, and dried fruits. There was even a considerable collection of fresh eggs, apples, and oranges.

“One doesn’t want to get scurvy, even in the air, a ship is a ship, and must be stocked accordingly.”

Marshall’s teeth sank into a crisp sweet apple. It was the best thing he had had for days, weeks even. He smiled as Mary ate like a small child with too many choices, and a complete inability to decide where to start.

She took a bite of an apple, bliss and delight crossed her face, and then she tore into a small loaf of bread and moaned with the decadence of flavors as she stuffed bread and cheese into her mouth. She put more food into her mouth, her cheeks puffed up like a chipmunk, eating more before the previous bite was finished.

“You don’t have any wine perchance?” She managed to ask around a mouth full of food.

“Only the finest.” Captain Forsyth had joined them, sitting on the floor of his gondola for a mid-air picnic. With the struggle of aged joints, he got to his feet and left only to return with a bottle.

“I’m sorry to announce that I don’t have enough glasses for us all.” He seemed to hesitate as he opened the bottle, unsure how to proceed.

Marshall reached out and snagged the wine away from the captain. He held the bottle out to Mary with a nod. She took it, wiped off the opening and drank straight from the bottle.

“We have learned to adjust, good captain,” Marshall said when it was his turn to drink.

With a hearty chuckle, Captain Forsyth took the bottle and lifted in in toast. “When in Rome.” He took a drink. “This is turning into quite the bacchanal. Don’t fear Mary, mums the word. No one will hear of this from me.”

Mary reached out and picked up the bottle. She took a drink and wiped her mouth on the back of her hand. “I know I will appreciate that. It wouldn’t do for my grandfather to learn of my behavior, but at the moment I quite accept that I’ve gone quite feral. So long as my dear Janie doesn’t learn of my circumstances, all should be well.”

“It has been some time since I have been in the company of your delightful sister and Charles. Are they well?” Captain Forsyth asked as if this were any normal picnic on a Sunday afternoon in a park.

“She and Charles were doing well when I left. Of course Janie was almost as distraught as I was, being recalled to San Francisco with such short notice. My grandfather has certainly vexed me with this entire situation.”

When Mary’s gaze locked with Marshall’s her eyes went wide and she covered her mouth in shock. She began stammering. “I… I… I shouldn’t speak out of turn, gossip, even about oneself is unbecoming.”

Marshall laughed. “I thought you just declared yourself to be feral.”

“There is wild, and there is unmannered.” Suddenly she was sitting up with improved posture and her lips pursed together.

“I’m sorry I don’t understand. You’ve been recalled to San Francisco? Is your grandfather ill?” Captain Forsyth asked.

“He is very well, just meddling.” Mary closed her mouth as if making it clear she was done speaking.

“The old man went and got her betrothed. He hired me to make sure she got back to California safely. We have run into a few issues along the way.”

“Betrothed? Congratulations my dear. I had thought there was something developing between you and that dreadful Pythagoras. This is good news. I would be distressed to have learned you had settled for him.”

Mary gave the captain a small smile. It was clear she had not further interest in discussing the matter.

She hadn’t mentioned if for a long while. Marshall figured she had resigned herself to her grandfather’s decision. She certainly seemed motivated enough to survive this trek they ended up on, so she hadn’t given up. He had seen that a time or two. Some poor girl with her hopes and dreams shattered, unable to see any reason to continue living. But not Mary, she was fierce.

He hadn’t realized there had been something between her and that pompous jackass Pythagoras. Maybe an arranged marriage was a better solution.

“Where are you headed?” He asked in an attempt to change the conversation away from Mary’s obvious discomfort.

“I want to see the ocean again. I heard the views along the Mexican coast are perfectly lovely. I’m headed to Denver on this leg of my journey.”

“Oh, Denver. That’s where we were headed,” Mary said, sounding a good deal more interested.

“Denver you say,” Marshall drawled.

Mary cut a sharp glance at him. Her eyes demanded more information.

“Denver is west,” Marshall said again.

“Yes, I know,” the captain said.

“But we’re headed east,” Marshall pointed out.

Will Mary and Marshall get turned around? Tune in next time…

©2023 Lulu M. Sylvian