1884 ON THE WAY TO DEADWOOD SOUTH DAKOTA
Keeping to his part of the bargain, Marshal Bullock escorts Melvina Massey to Deadwood. They board a train heading west and the Marshal decides on where to board the stagecoach for the rest of the trip. A coach to Deadwood takes three days to make the 300-mile trip. Bullock and his deputy arrived on horseback but agree to make the ride back in the morning with Melvina.
The train ride is uneventful; but, the stagecoach is another story. Melvina notices the ‘Rules of the coach’ posted in the depot.
‘Rules of the coach’:
‘1 - Forbidden topics of discussion are stagecoach robberies and Indian uprisings;
2 - Gents guilty of unchivalrous behavior toward women passengers will be put off the stage. It is a long walk back. A word to the wise is enough;
3 - And do not snore loud while sleeping or use your fellow passenger’s shoulder for a pillow. He or she may not understand
and friction may result.’ These were actual rules which Melvina thought to be obvious.
The coach is comfortable and only three other passengers ride to Deadwood. Bullock ignores them and their idle chatter, however, he inquires why Melvina desires to meet Al.
“What do you know of Mr. Swearengen Melvina?” he asks.
“My business is my own Marshal Bullock,” she says drawing another question and concern from the Marshal.
“Ma am I mean not to intrude on any business you believe you have with the aforementioned pig, but I will offer advice on dealing with the devil,” he says.
“Marshal, how do you suspect that a man such as him has prospered so well in Deadwood?” she asks.
“I suppose when surrounded by dirt you have to get dirty. But even in such filth, honor exists,” he says with conviction.
“Marshal there is no honor in an immoral act,” she says and the other two passengers turn away.
“Yet here we are on our way to meet the devil so you can take notes,” his words strike a nerve, and Melvina engages him on his own terms.
“Marshal, I live in a town where folks pray on Sunday but sin Monday thru Saturday, and find great comfort within their own hypocrisy. The world is full of those who peddle temporary hope and pleasure. To survive in such a contradiction I need power, and I believe this man has tapped into such a reservoir,” she says and eases back in her seat.
“What makes you believe that he will share or embolden to enlighten you of his ways and methods. Isn’t that cutting against the grain so to speak,” he says seeing that Melvina has taken the discussion up a notch.
“What do you understand of powerful men Marshal? They love to brag and boast of their accomplishments and conquests. Do you know why they share the essence of their success? I can tell you of a task; because I have done a task. But, that does not mean you can replicate my success,” she says. And this time there can be no doubt, Melvina Massey understands how to manage power. So she searches for answers on how to gain and cultivate it.
“My God woman, I believe you know what you’re heading into. Regardless of that epiphany, I will not leave your side while you engage that rat bastard, and you will stay as a guest in my home. We have meager accommodations but I think they will suit you fine.”
Melvina smiles and thanks her companion and their focus turns to children and his travels. The two discover that they are similar. Both are runaways. A runaway’s perception of life, is seen through a different prism.
The sun sets on their 2nd day of travel and as the stagecoach pulls into a rest depot, Bullock and Melvina stretch their legs before the final 120 miles. The Marshal lights a cigar and Melvina notices a ‘look’ to him. She is accustomed to this look. It shows both interest and fear. She is curious, so she asks “Something on your mind Marshal?”
“I’ve been pondering over the last two days, why a woman of your splendor and intelligence is -.” She interrupts him.
“A whore,” she says. The Marshal stands frozen for a minute and then responds.
“Yes, why no man has sought your hand in matrimony is perplexing Madame Massey,” he says.
“You are wrong, sir. Men sought to save me from temptation. Because a woman without a man is a lost soul, wayward in her ways,” she says. Her tone edging on spiteful.
“Didn’t mean it as an affront to your current condition Melvina. I see you are doing well, peddling flesh, but you are capable of much more,” he says and she can read the sincerity and compassion in his eyes.
“I appreciate your candor, sincerity, and compassion Marshal. However, I am a realist. There are no occupations for us. They waste our intelligence and ingenuity on menial tasks of labor, and the jobs there are demands the constant supervision of a man to ensure that we do it right each time. No sir, I am done with men deciding my future, it is time for me to take it on my own,” she says.
“Hahaha and in that rebuttal, you provide the irony. You seek the help of a man,” he says with a smirk.
“No, I seek a man who understands the nature of power. What I do with that information is my issue, Marshal,” she says and walks back to the coach. In 10 hours, they will arrive and that is when the show will begin.
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