“Yes, Miz Wilma is a woman.” I hoped the name would quiet him. He seemed suspicious that I had no friend and was going for some other purpose.
“An unmarried woman traveling alone.”
“She is a widow.”
“She is much older than you?”
“I should say. Perhaps as old as my grandmother.” The thought stopped me. Miz Wilma and my grandmother were near the same age, about sixty, but Miz Wilma was strong whereas my grandmother spent her days in a dark room, grieving for her past with no outlook for the future.
“And traveling about the frontier alone?”
“You keep saying that as though she shouldn’t be allowed to do so.”
Another bump jostled us both. He reached for a handhold on his side.
“It’s not that I don’t think she should be allowed, only that it must be dangerous for a woman her age to be traveling alone.”
“She’s been doing it for years. She does not limit her good works to settlers but helps anyone or anything that needs it.” I couldn’t help smiling. “She even saved a skunk once. He was a companion in her wagon for a while.”
I laughed, remembering Stinky. “Sometimes a skunk is the only weapon needed to get rid of obnoxious people.”
“Are you a suffragette, Miss Pierce?”
“I am. How observant of you to notice. What led you to think so?”
“Your rather abrupt manner with me and a general thorniness when what a woman may be allowed to do is brought up in casual conversation.”
“Then, Mr. Sims, you must surely realize that I have no interest in talking with a man who believes women should get permission to lead their daily lives in any way they choose.”
“When one has such a closed mind, Miss Pierce, she may fail to meet many people who might become friends.”
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