[Likely an excerpt from an idea for a novel, I found this in my drafts – incomplete – and liked the tone of the main character. A good dragoon is hard to find.]
Marion Morrow was displeased that the train only ran to Bantry because she didn’t like riding in buses. It wasn’t entirely the people, although she was happiest when she was the only person about; her stomach didn’t agree with rough engines. It had been proven to her late in life, as she was already well past forty before even the smallest motors began to litter the streets. As she followed the porter up the platform, she fished around in her purse for coins to give him, all the while turning over options in her mind.
“It does seem a shame,” she said aloud, although not to the porter necessarily, “as I’m only another twenty odd miles to my destination.”
If he heard her, he didn’t indicate it by slowing step or a turn of the head.
The comment had not been for his benefit, she thought again, yet she repeated it once more, slightly louder.
As they were coming to the door into the modest Bantry station, he paused and turned to face her. He had heavy eyelids that gave him a look of boredom or superiority. She had often worn that expression in life. Straightening her spine, she donned it now.
“Is there someone I could hire to drive me to Pendlebrook?”
He shook his head. “No hacks in this town, ma’am. If you took the train back down to Burlington, you could find drivers there. They got everything there in Burlington.”
Behind the charcoal glass of her round spectacles, she rolled her eyes heavenward. “I have a hard time believing there isn’t a soul in this town clever enough to put an old woman beside himself on his wagon and drive her up to Pendlebrook. The day is fair. It’s early yet, so the drive back would only half be in the dark.”
He shrugged and turned to open the door into the station.
At the ticket window, she asked the same question a moment later.
It was a thin woman staring back at her there, with copper hair scoured into a bun at the back of her head. Her own spectacles caught the light, making it impossible to read her eyes as she confirmed what the porter had said. Marion Morrow was leaning in to argue, possibly to deliver a treatise on the national social illness of do-nothingness, when there was a discreet cough at her rear. Assuming it was a person impatient with the queue, she turned with a frown.
The very elder man who smiled back at her, immaculately dressed in light colors and fine fabrics, startled her out of her ire for a moment. He took advantage of the moment to fill the silence.
“I am driving toward Pendlebrook, madam. I’d be happy to bring you along with me, if you’d care for the kindness.”
Marion quickly agreed, although with an awkward lack of the proper words. As the porter and the old man lead her from the station office, she glanced back to see if the copper-haired woman in the ticket window was watching them. The woman was staring back intently, holding a sandwich up in front of her mouth. The early afternoon light was still frosting her lenses, whiting her eyes.
In the lot outside the station, she was mildly irked to see that the good samaritan would be conveying her to Pendlebrook in a motor car, although she took some comfort in noticing it was as fine as the clothes he wore. Who was the old man, she wondered, and she decided he was a monied eccentric. She didn’t care much for the peculiar, especially when fancy was given opportunity for wild expression by means of wealth. It was her opinion that outlandishness was par for the course among the poor, possibly a byproduct of degradation, but that among people with means, it was unseemly.