“Are you sure you want to go, Dody?” Sue asked.
“Yes, I am very sure. I want to get away where I can think. Charles has been pressing me to set our wedding date. With Mom on one side pushing and Charles and his mother on the other, I feel like I am being rushed too much. I am hoping a change of scenery will help. Your pictures gave me the perfect excuse for not going home just yet.” Dody, a tall, slender young woman with raven hair and a fair complexion, smiled at Sue as she packed her bag for a four day trip to Reno, Nevada. Dody, whose real name was Barbara Lansing, and Sue Taylor, were teachers at Harristown, a private school for girls. Dody taught music, while Sue was the art teacher. They were still new at the school, only in their second semester there. Both were twenty two years old, fresh out of college and thrilled to be working for such a good school, but work was hard and it was good to have a break every so often. With the onset of the spring holiday they were enjoying the idea of a long four days away from school. Sue, always the artist, had planned to take some of her pictures to a showing in Reno, Nevada, but an urgent call informing her of her mother’s illness changed all that. Dody, hearing of her friend’s problems, and wanting to postpone her own trip home for as long as possible, offered to take the pictures to Reno for her. It took some persuading, but they finally agreed she would go.
“There, that is all,” said Dody, snapping her suitcase shut. “Now we can go down to your room for the pictures and I can be off.”
“Okay, let’s go,” said Sue, with a sigh, as she slid from the bed where she had been sitting. “At least you don’t have to worry about frames. The pictures will be framed at the gallery. That makes transporting them a lot easier. There are usually some really nice people at the show. A lot of them come year after year, so they know each other. I hope you will find some new friends. Have a good time, but just be careful, okay?”
“I will be alright,” Dody said. She put an arm around Sue as they walked down the hall to Sue’s room. “I know I haven’t traveled around the way you have, but I will be very careful, and I will be back in four days to tell you all of your paintings have been sold and you are a big success,” soothed Dody.
“Alright, I will try not to worry,” agreed Sue. “One of your troubles is you’re too pretty. You will draw men like flies.”
“Don’t worry,” Dody laughed, as they took the pictures and started out of the building. “I have always been pretty good at swatting flies.” Sue laughed with her, but she still seemed a little worried. “Look, it will take me a day to get there on the train,” Dody said, trying to placate Sue’s fears. I will spend a day showing your pictures, and I will have a day to myself before I have to take the train for home. So what can happen in a day? I am just going to do some sightseeing. I will be perfectly alright. Now, you run along home and see about your mother. I hope she is doing better.”
“You are right. I guess I am just a worrier. I have reservations at the Carolton hotel, so you can use them. I do not see any reason to change the name. Just sign in with my name and you will be fine.”
“If you’re sure,” laughed Dody. “It might be fun to live under an alias for a few days. I will try not to disgrace your name.”
“I’m not worried about that. Bye, you have a good time.” Sue and Dody exchanged a brief hug before going to their separate cars. They waved as they pulled away to start their trips. Sue left to go home and Dody headed for the train depot to catch the train for Reno.
Dody drove to the train depot and parked her car. After locking her car, she took her suitcase and the valise of pictures over to the ticket window. She bought a round trip ticket, then showed the porter her seat number and turned her luggage over to him. There were still about twenty minutes before the train left, so she went to find a couple of magazines to read on the trip. Finding two that looked promising, she purchased them and made her way back to the train to find her seat. Her luggage was already stored in the overhead storage. She tipped the porter and thanked him for his help, and then she sat down and leaned back in her seat, closing her eyes and thinking about her life. She let the magazines go unnoticed on her lap. The train started to move, and she did not open her eyes to look out at the passing scenery.
She thought about the plantation that had belonged to her family for four generations. It had been run by her brother David since the death of their father. David was now twenty eight. He lived in their large old family home with his wife, Sandra, and their two year old daughter, Karen. Her mother lived there, too. Also a resident of the farm was Dody’s fourteen year old brother, Rod. She really missed them all, especially Rod, when she was away teaching at school, but she felt she needed to be away from them for a while. It could get smothering at home. She was not cut out to be a farmer. She was a teacher. Being in the classroom and passing knowledge to the girls in her class was very satisfying. She had made some good friends, such as Sue, at the school. Going on this trip was a grand adventure. It was great for her to be on her own for a while.
The plantation to the left of them was owned by the Marlow family. Charles Marlow was twenty two. He and Dody grew up together and their mothers had been hoping they would marry someday. Charles was helping his father run their plantation and it was expected for Dody to move into their home after the marriage.
Although Charles had never proposed to Dody, everyone seemed to think the matter was all settled. Dody felt what she had to say was being ignored. Everyone went on their own merry way and made plans and expected Dody to just fall in line. There was never any mention made of a house being built for them. She would be expected to be under Mrs. Marlow’s thumb all through her married life. That was not acceptable, as far as she was concerned. Her mother just did not understand her objections. She thought Mrs. Marlow was a lovely person, but she had blinkers on when it came to something she did not want to see.
“Mom wants the marriage because she is afraid I will marry and go far away where I will hardly ever see the family,” she thought to herself. “His mother wants it because she is afraid that Charles will bring home some strange girl who she cannot get along with, who will want to remodel the home that she loves so much. Charles has been pushed so much I am not sure if he loves me or just thinks he does because it has been assumed for so long. I am not sure of my feelings, either. I like Charles a lot. We have fun together, but I am not sure I love him. Oh, how can I be sure when there is so much pressure from both sides? I cannot let myself be pushed into a marriage just to make our mothers happy. Nobody picked their husbands for them. Why can’t they leave us alone to find out what we really want, instead of pushing all of the time? I am going to tell them I do not want to get married for at least another year. That will give me a little more time to come up with a solution without hurting anyone’s feelings, at least.” With this resolution, she opened her eyes. Taking up one of her magazines, she began to look through it.
There were many male stares directed at this lovely young woman, but since she really did not think she was all that pretty, she did not notice the attention. She browsed through the magazines with rapt attention. Some of the articles were very interesting. She turned the page and saw a male model pictured, recognizing him instantly. He was popular among the girls at her school. She studied the picture for a long minute and shook her head. She just did not see what all of the fuss was about. She saw a lot of males better looking than he was. There was no accounting for taste. The girls seemed to follow the crowd. If one of them started to rave about a certain man, the next thing you know, they are all drooling over him. Dody and Sue really enjoyed listening to the way the girls carried on about different guys. It was an education in itself to listen to the things that were said. Dody knew she had never been as uninhibited as some of the girls in her class. When the two classes were together at recreation time it seemed as if they tried to outdo each other with outrageous claims. They all had a good time, though, and Dody looked forward to her classes each day. She was glad she had decided to put off thinking about getting married. She really was not ready to give up her job yet.
Dody thought about Sue. She hoped Sue’s mother was alright. Even though she was really glad of the chance to make this trip, she did not wish any bad luck on Sue. She would have to say a special prayer for Sue’s mother tonight.
Dody looked into the bag she had with her, grateful that Sue suggested she bring a few snacks along so she would not get hungry. She said you could never depend on getting enough food on a long trip and it was better to be prepared than to be hungry. Dody decided she would nibble on some peanuts, although she did not want to eat too many, afraid the salt would make her thirsty. She only had a couple of bottles of juice and did not want to drink them yet. As Dody ate her peanuts, she idly glanced out of the window at the passing scenery. It was hard to really see a whole lot because the train was moving so fast, but she could see a lot of fields, some hills, and houses dotted through the landscape. When the train came to a town, it slowed to a stop to allow people to get on or off as the case may be. There was a lot of bustling movement until they all settled down and the train was on its way again. Dody settled back and watched everything. She did not want to miss a moment of this adventure. It was all very exciting. She would have to remember all the goings on. The girls and Sue were going to have a lot of questions for her when she returned to school. She smiled as she thought of all of the stories she would have to tell. It would be better than the stories that circulated after one of her girls made a trip to New York with her aunt, last year. The girl’s aunt kept such a close eye on her that she had complained she almost wished she stayed at home. Dody sighed. She would never be wishing she stayed home. She was too excited she was able to make the trip. She was really looking forward to what was to come.
Two pairs of the male eyes watching Dody were seated a couple of seats away from her on the other side of the isle. They belonged to Greg Dorchester and his friend, Ronald Harding. They were also on their way to Reno for the art exhibit. Ron was a talented artist and had made the trip to Reno for the art exhibit many times.
“I’m glad you decided to come with me,” Ron remarked, breaking into Greg’s thoughts.
“Yes,” Greg replied. “I’m glad, too. It will probably be a while before I get another chance for a few days off. After I help to get Dad, Mom and Marcie settled in at the new estate, I will have to see what I can do about getting my law practice going.” Greg sighed. He could hardly take his eyes off of Dody. He kept watching her as she seemed to be absorbed in her magazine.
“Didn’t you apply at the firm of Drake, Drake, and Collins?” Ron asked.
“Yes, I did. I have a pretty good chance of getting in with them. I have an appointment for two weeks from today. So, we will see. I would like to get on with them, so I will be close enough to run home on weekends. I was afraid Mom would be lonesome living here, but it seems there is an old schoolmate of hers living on the estate next to ours. They have been really excited about being in each other’s' company since they realized they were neighbors two days ago. That is one reason I decided to go with you. I only seemed to get in their way. I think they were glad to get me out of there.”
“Well, I’m glad you decided to come with me. I will try to show you a good time,” Ron remarked, smiling.
“Say, Ron, do you know who that girl is over there?” Greg asked. He was pointing towards Dody. “She is the pretty one with the black hair and dressed in blue, who is absorbed in her magazine.”