Just an Ordinary Day – Part 2

Here is the second part of my Genre Stretch story.  It’s still not finished, but I’ll keep at it.

**

Michael looked up as the stage coach rolled into town.  The coachman hopped down to open the door for his passengers.  The first person to step down from the coach was a woman.  Michael could tell by her dark hair and high cheekbones that she was from the native people of the land.  She was dressed in a gown of the latest Zeimian fashion, however.

As soon as the coachman helped her down, she turned back to watch as two young people stepped out of the coach.  Both had long hair, but Michael could tell that the taller of the pair was actually a young man.  He hopped down on his own and bounced over to catch the woman’s hand.  The smaller of the pair let the coachman help her down.

Michael moved to his feet as the coachman held out his hand for a fourth passenger.  The man wore darkened glasses.  He stumbled as he stepped down to the ground and the young man left the woman’s side to catch his free hand.

“I’ll help them with their bags, Ike,” Michael said, as he stepped over to the coach.  As the coachman nodded his thanks, Michael turned to the woman.  “Michael Leonard, the sheriff,” he said, tipping his hat.  “The Judge said to be expecting you.”

“Madeline Schneider,” the woman said.  She waved towards the young people and said, “This is Gretchen, our daughter, and Johannes, our son.”

“Dr. Gilbert Schneider,” the man said, setting a hand on Johannes’s shoulder.  “It’s a little… bright.  Isn’t it?”

“Not more than usual,” Michael said, his tone conversational.  He caught the bags as Ike tossed them down to him.  As Johannes bounced forward to take a couple of the bags, he said, “How are you kids finding things in the Territories?”

“Slow,” Gretchen said, her tone irritable.

Her father gave a nervous chuckle.  “The stagecoach ride was a bit unexpected,” he said, shrugging.  “We don’t use them anymore in Allemande.”

Michael shrugged.  “The roads here are too rough for the vehicles you’re used to.  It’s tough enough for the stagecoaches to make it,” he said.

“I think it’s wonderful,” Johannes said.  He gave Michael a sunny smile.  “Papa said we could maybe go horseback-riding?”

“I think a little tour of the countryside could be arranged,” Michael said, nodding.  “Once you’re all settled in the hotel, perhaps.”

“That should be fine,” Madeline said, nodding.  She smiled gently and glanced at her husband.  “It would give them something to keep them occupied while you set up your equipment.”

“If you wouldn’t mind,” Dr. Schneider said, tilting his head slightly.  “We wouldn’t like to trouble you at all.”

“It’s no trouble,” Michael assured him.

“This one’s heavy,” Ike said, as he lifted the last bag off the rooftop.

Dr. Schneider gasped and looked sharply at the coachman.  “That’s my microscope,” he said.  “Please, be careful with it.  Maddie, could you?”

Nodding, Madeline stepped forward as the coachman handed it down to her.  She took the case with both hands.  “That’s everything,” she said, as she shifted her grip to the handles of the bag.  “Thank you kindly.”

“You’re most welcome, ma’am,” the coachman said.  Then, he tipped his hat and got settled back in his seat.  As the family moved onto the boardwalk, he flicked the reins of his horses and the coach rumbled out of town.

“Greta,” Dr. Schneider said, holding out one hand.  “Can I have your arm, please?”

“Yes, Papa,” the young woman said.  She sighed and stepped over to him.  As he took her arm, she said, “Why do I need to lead you, Papa?”

“It’s too bright for me to see out here,” he said, his voice soft.  “Once we’re inside, I won’t need your help anymore.”

Michael helped them carry their bags inside the hotel.  Then, he tipped his hat at the couple.  “Do you kids want that ride now?” he asked, looking from Gretchen to Johannes.

Johannes bit his lip and looked at his sister.  Once she had nodded, he grinned and said, “Yes, please.”

“Thank you, Sheriff Leonard,” Gretchen added.

“You’re welcome,” he said.  After Madeline had told them both to behave and keep their hats on their heads, he led the way back to the porch.  As he was stepping outside, Sam and Alexander were just returning.  “Perfect timing,” he called.

The men exchanged a glance and Sam swung down from his saddle, throwing his reins around the post in front of the hotel.  He could tell that Alexander was resisting the urge to roll his eyes or sigh.  “Was there something you wanted, Mr. Leonard?” he asked, arching an eyebrow.

“These kids are Dr. Schneider’s young’uns,” he said.  “Gretchen and Johannes.  I promised them a tour of the countryside.”

“We’ll take them down to the livery,” Sam said, nodding.  “I’m sure Tiny’s got a couple gentle horses he can lend them.”

Nodding, Alexander slid down from his saddle as well.  Michael noticed that he was holding something close to his chest.  “She fell asleep on the road,” Alexander explained.  He frowned for a moment and then took the reins with his free hand.

“Is that a kitty?” Gretchen said, her eyes widening.  It was the first time that Michael had seen her look anything other than bored or annoyed.  She looked up at Alexander and said, “Could I hold her?”

Alexander smiled and then nodded.  “Both arms,” he said, as Gretchen folded her arms, as if she were getting ready to take a baby, he settled the sleeping cat over them.  “Her name is Mischief,” he said.

“She’s so soft,” Gretchen said.  Then, she fell into step behind the men and her brother, cradling the little cat close to her chest.

Michael shook his head slightly.  Then, he turned away and headed back to the sheriff’s office.  He needed to let the judge know that the Schneiders had arrived safely.  Then, he had other paperwork he needed to see about getting finished.

 

In the livery, Johannes was entranced by the horses.  He could barely contain himself as Sam instructed him how to get up into the saddle and then guide the horse along the road.  “Most of it is in your legs and knees,” he said.  “The reins are just to tell her to stop or to keep her head up, so she doesn’t start to grazing.”

“Yes, sir,” Johannes said, nodding.  He watched as his sister climbed up onto one of the other gentle mares in the livery.  Then, Alexander returned to his own saddle.  “Does she always sleep in your lap when you ride?”

“No,” Alexander said, smiling.  “Sometimes, she rides on my back, with her paws over my shoulder.”  He shrugged and then smoothed a hand through her fur.  “Cats sleep much more than people do, though.  So, she sleeps quite a bit.”

“I want a kitty,” Gretchen said, her voice soft.  “I’d brush her and feed her and she could have a little bed of her own, beside mine.”

Nodding, Alexander said, “I wanted a cat very badly when I was about your age.”  He smiled faintly at Sam.  “You can imagine my mother’s reaction to such a request.”

Chuckling softly, Sam nodded.  “What’s she think of Missy?” he asked.

“You let that little beast share your bed?” Alexander said, pitching his voice higher in an imitation of his mother.

Johannes chuckled and shook his head.  Glancing at his sister, he said, “That little bed next to yours would be for the cat for two minutes, then your kitty would be wanting to snuggle up to you.”

“I’d let her too,” Gretchen said, nodding.

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