Snow Ride Home

December 14, 1896
Sarah Waters

It will be a long trip home. The train ride is long enough, but with Union Station burned to the ground, it is two days ride to the temporary platform. Mr. Carrington is arranging to take the majority of girls by wagon, leaving Monday morning. Unfortunately for me, if I do not board the train by tomorrow night, I will not make it home in time for Christmas.

The cold facts left me only a single option; I have to ride Jasper out on my own. I packed a sack with most of my possessions, leaving little behind and causing the eyebrows of Emma and Victoria to be raised. They clearly hoped I would not be coming back and I suspect they started a rumor. It matters little enough to me, so I have chosen to ignore it and them.

An hour before sunrise I woke and raised myself from bed. Quietly I grabbed my sack and slipped out of the room and down into the stables. Jasper was wide awake and more than ready to go. As I began to saddle him, I heard a noise behind me and turned. Anna walked in holding a tightly rolled sack of her own.

“What are you doing here?” I asked.

“I’m going with you.” She replied.

“You would be safer to wait and go with Mr. Carrington tomorrow.” I said.

“I’m not leaving Poseidon here and Mr. Carrington won’t let me ride him beside the wagon, so I might as well ride with you. Besides, it’ll be safer if we ride together.” She said.

“I can take care of myself.”

“So can I.”

Our eyes locked for a moment and I knew she was not going to back down anymore than I would.

"Okay.” I said.

Anna smiled at me, shaking her head.

“You know most of them don’t think you’ll be coming back.” She said.

“Is that what you think?”

“It doesn’t matter what I think.”

“Maybe it matters to me.”

“You’ll be back.”

I nodded in agreement to her smile. We led our rides to the door and opened it. Outside another horse and a man I recognized all too well was waiting; Jonathon Goulding.

“Good morning.” He said.

I glanced at Anna who looked particularly sheepish right at that moment.

“What are you doing here?” I asked.

He did not answer straight away so I climbed on Jasper and prodded him toward the gates into Providence. Anna and Mr. Goulding quickly followed and soon we were riding three wide on the campus street.

“It’s good to see college life has not changed you.” Mr. Goulding said.

“What is that supposed to mean?” I asked.

“You are still the rudest girl I have ever met.”

Anna sputtered, but otherwise kept her thoughts to herself.

“And yet, you keep coming back for more.” I said.

“If you would rather I leave, I know my way home.”

“Stay or go as you please. I hear it’s a free country.”

“Then I shall stay with you if nothing more than to ease my own conscience.”

“Are you feeling guilty for something, Mr. Goulding?”

I glanced at the burnt remains of the train station as we approached it. Mr. Goulding followed my gaze with quizzical eyes.

“Should I be?” He asked.

I considered things for a moment and wondered if the note which once seemed such damning evidence against him was a diversion from the truth.

“Can I trust you?” I asked.

“Of course.” He replied.

“Try and keep up. It’s a long ride and my train leaves at 9PM tomorrow night.” I said.

We exited the campus onto the streets of Providence and paused with what remained of Union Station to our right. The sun was starting to come up and the light sparkled on the open fields of snow beyond. The road was clear for a short ways ahead, but soon we would be making our own road through the snow and ice.

“Shall I lead the way?” Mr. Goulding asked.

Anna and I shared a smile and then kicked off to a gallop, leaving a trail of icy dust for Mr. Goulding to follow.

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