After a Time

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 afteratime_lg Laurie Salzler
________________________________________
Bink Books

216 pp. ● 5×8
$12.95 (pb) ● $7.95 (eb)
ISBN 978-1-943837-62-5 (pb)
● 978-1-943837-63-2 (eb)

JUVENILE FICTION / Historical / United States / 19th Century
JUVENILE FICTION / Westerns
JUVENILE FICTION / Girls & Women

publication date: December 2016

About the Book

In the late 1800’s, Mayme Watson boards a train bound for Eagle Rock, Idaho. What she finds there is the start of a new life. Disillusioned by her parents and completely alone, she finds a place to stay and a job to support herself. When Mayme discovers that most of the girls in town are just biding their time until they can marry, her heart calls for a change. She embarks on an adventure to overcome her feelings of failure. And what a change that is. She disguises herself as a boy and manages to hire on as a Post Rider for the United States Postal Service.

Follow along with Mayme on her often dangerous journeys as she discovers that waiting for the future is not an option.

This book is for young and old and all those who dreamed of living back in the days of the Wild West.


Excerpt

Chapter 1

“You stay put, Mayme.”

Father grasped her upper arm roughly, dragged her toward a bench and forced her to sit down. As usual, it was easier to give in than to resist, so she plopped down like a ragdoll.

He let go, gave her a look that reiterated his order to stay and marched toward the ticket office. The suitcase lay at her feet where he’d carelessly dropped it. It held her meager belongings and she possessively slid it closer. Right now it was all she had.

She sniffed and yanked the bunched up dress from under her butt. God, I wish I were wearing my trousers instead of this damned thing. She silently patted herself on the back for sneaking them into her suitcase at the last minute without Mother seeing. At least she was wearing sensible shoes.

She absently ran her hand over the bench. The wood was planed smooth like glass. Every growth ring of the unfortunate tree could be seen clearly. I wonder how many bottoms it took to sand this down. She chewed her cheek to keep from laughing out loud at her secret joke.

She knew if she didn’t find humor in such things, she’d go stark raving mad. To this day she couldn’t believe how far her parent’s entire charade had gone. As near as she could figure, they had cooked up a story to get rid of her once and for all. And here she was.

The big steam engine huffed twice in quick succession. A white cloud of mist engulfed her and everything around her disappeared briefly. It settled on her woolen coat and the bench. Her dark braids were jeweled with tiny drops.

A long coal box sat alongside the train. O.S.L. was painted in white on the end. It matched the letters on the train she was to board as well as the sign they’d passed on the way into the station. She assumed it stood for Oregon Short Line.

Heavy footsteps approached her from behind. “Here’s your ticket.” Father gruffly shoved it into her hand. “They’ll tell you when to board. Somebody will meet you in Idaho to pick you up.” He turned to walk away from her.

“But where in Idaho?”

“You’ll get off when the train stops.”

“Father, please.”

He paused for a moment and without so much as a glance her way, he said over his shoulder, “You’d been warned by the school master to change your behavior. You chose to ignore him and now you have to live with the consequences. You will not be a disgrace to our family any longer.”

Despite her attempt to fight the prickling behind her eyes, tears welled as she watched him walk away. She’d been discarded like trash. She dropped her chin to her chest and vowed not to let anybody see her cry. Nor would she run after him. It was quite clear what her parents thought of her. Which apparently wasn’t much. She swiped the tears from her eyes and took a deep breath.

A flicker of white tickled her peripheral vision. Curious, she leaned over and discovered an open book lying halfway under the bench. The chilly breeze crinkled and slapped the pages against one another, playing haphazardly with them as she picked it up. It was well read. Or maybe very abused. She turned it over and looked at the cover. The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe. The book described the life of a shipwrecked man who had lived alone on an exotic island for many years. She compared the similarities of where Robinson Crusoe had found himself and where she was headed. Both unknown.

Whhhhhooooeeeooooooheeeooohh

She clutched her chest and jumped in fright. She never dreamed a train whistle could rattle her insides like that.

“All aboard!”

She took a quick look around. People were moving toward the various cars. She stood up on her tiptoes but there was no sign of her father. He hadn’t changed his mind. She wadded up the ticket in her hand and took hold of the suitcase handle. She summoned her courage and walked toward the small crowd.

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