Sarah Returns Home:A Carbons Creek Frontier Story
Sandy decided to stay at the school for the deaf and look it over for a while, but I had to be getting back to Carbons Creek. I had left John, the typesetter, in charge and trusted he would do a good job with the newspaper, but it wasn’t fair to him to have him do the extra work for too long. However, I did send him stories about what we were doing so he had plenty of copy. I stopped at the telegraph office before boarding the train and let him know I was on my way and Sandy was staying behind for a while.
On impulse I had stopped at a gunsmiths and bought a small, ladylike pistol that I could slip into my pocket. Truthfully, I probably didn’t look too ladylike with the second hand men’s clothes I had acquired along with the slouch hat. They were comfortable for traveling though.
The train was making pretty good time and I managed to catch up on some reading. I bought a local paper and a couple of magazines before I got on the train. When it got too dark to read I leaned back and slept. Until we came to an abrupt halt, that is.
I stopped a conductor and asked what happened.
“Somethin’ broke in the boiler Miss.” Despite the clothes, I guess I still looked like a girl.
“How long will we be delayed?’
“Don’t knows for sure, but a messenger will have to go to the next station for help and I don’ know if we’s got anybody to spare.”
“Bout two mile.”
“They’s got to send another engine here, an’ a mechanic.”
Well, I didn’t cotton to sitting around for hours. I told him that I had a horse in the baggage car and I’d volunteer to go since it was in the direction I was heading. He hesitated, probably thinking it wasn’t a job for a woman. Finally he brought me to the engineer and introduced me and my offer. The engineer looked doubtful but wrote out a note and signed it. I stuffed it in my pocket along with the pistol nestled there.
When I got to the rail station, they promised to send a crew right out. I told them that I intended to go on my way by horseback. I left them my address in case I was due any refund on my ticket. The ticket clerk was kind enough to give me directions to Carbons Creek and drew a crude map. That went in with the pistol as well. From the station I followed what I suspect was an Indian Trail through a wooded area.
I rode along with some other travelers now and then. I don’t think when I lived in Chicago I would ever have imagined a trip like this, especially alone. Now I found something exhilarating about it. Eventually, we came out where there was prairie land and some scattered farms. My riding companions split off one way and I went the other.
Lady like pistol
After a few miles I came to a small town and decided to get a meal and buy some supplies for the trail. First though, I spotted a newspaper office and stopped in to pay a courtesy visit. It was one of those really small town weeklies that were pretty much put out by one man, with occasional help from family. The publisher was an elderly gentleman that rather reminded me of my Uncle Jake. He looked gentle and friendly but once I talked with him, I knew he was tough deep down. He was having some troubles with threats because of editorials he wrote about whom he suspected of some crimes in the area. It was lunchtime for him so we went over to the cafe together. “Who’s your friend, Jim?”
“This is Sarah. She publishes the paper in Carbons Creek. Just passing through and stopped to visit.” I took off my hat. My hair got somewhat sun bleached when I didn’t wear it. So far the effect wasn’t bad but I figured enough was enough. The waitress looked at me dubiously. Not too many women publishing newspapers out here, I guess. The food was good, even if the waitress wasn’t overly friendly. I’d left my horse and gear at the newspaper so I walked back with Jim.
When we got to the paper, three men came out of the shadows with guns on us. Although Jim was unarmed he jumped at them and brought two of them down. So taken by surprise were they their weapons fell loose and hit the boardwalk with a bit of a thump. The third man pointed his gun at Jim, but I pulled the new lady like pistol from my pocket and said. “My advice is to drop that or I’ll drop you. He looked at me in sort of a daze, and then he looked at the little gun in my hand. “The gun might be small but it can make a pretty fair sized hole,” I said.
We marched the men over to the sheriff’s office where Jim filed charges. Jim figured they were gunmen hired by the interests that he was writing editorials about. He said he would let me know how it all turned out. I invited him to drop by the Carbons Creek Sentinel if he were ever down that way. We both added the other to the list for the newspaper exchange.
I really enjoyed the trip and adventure of it but I was glad to get back home and dig into the news again. John said that some things happened while I was gone, but he can tell about that himself.
© 2011 Don A. Hoglund