Isabella is on the move. She has collected Birdie* and ridden out from the Mrs Evans’ shanty. “Town tired and confused me,” she said. I think we can all understand perfectly.
It was the custom in these times and in this land to present yourself to any large house in the area and receive room and board for the night. Hotels and taverns are few and far between. On this first night, Isabella discovered that it is a custom not all in the country follow. She has stopped at a ranch near Plum Creek and found “the host was unwilling to receive people in this way…the host looked repellent, but his wife, a very agreeable, lady-like-looking woman, said they could give me a bed on a sofa.”
While there, Isabella met a lady from Laramie, who had been trying the camp cure** but found it unsuccessful. “She had a wagon with beds, tent, tent floor, cooking-stove, and every camp luxury, a light buggy, a man to manage everything, and a most superior ‘hired girl.’” There is no word on what made this hired girl better than average. Still, I find it interesting how much stuff some would travel with — but probably had to when actual places to stay were so sparse.
Isabella spends one night at the ranch and skedaddles. She does not dig the vibe at the Plum Creek Ranch. “I soon found out there was a screw loose in the house, and was glad to leave early the next morning, although it was obvious a storm was coming on.”
* there’s a whole side story here about how the stableman called Birdie a “little demon” who had bucked him off of a bridge. It is not a thing she does with Isabella, mind, because they seem to be perfect for each other. Isabella rides out of town sidesaddle, which is just long enough to make her back hurt, then switches to astride for the rest of the ride. She passed wagons frequently, and found a purse with $500 in it. But reunited it with its owner so all ended well.
** for her TB