Reading fiction from this site has become one of my favorite leisure activities. What I love most is that the majority of authors write as a hobby. Despite their marvelous talent that personally I think would allow them to do so professionally. I may not have talent in writing but completely agree with Williz over the lack of Will/Elizabeth fanfiction. Thus here is my endeavor. This is an OU multi-chapter storyline set in the late 1800s. I am planning a few cannon pieces in between. As this is a past time, I will try to update as frequently as I am able. As always I have no affiliation with Disney or the Pirates franchise. Otherwise, I would have made the curse more clearly defined in AWE. Hope everyone enjoys, reviews are always loved.
The Wild Prairie
Chapter 1: A New Life
The plains and rolling hills were endless. The breeze seemed to comb through the grass as a mother to an unruly child's hair. She questioned if the driver was lost. They had left the train depot days ago with no official road to follow, simply worn tracks in the grass. As the stage coach crested yet another hilltop a small town finally appeared in the distance. Her heart soared, and yet her stomach fell to her feet. This was it, the moment she had been waiting for since obtaining her certificate. Here she would start the rest of her life. Free of the confines of city and the structure of her household. She could finally spread her wings and do as she pleased. No more upper crust society, boring social events, and afternoon tea. She had left that life behind for a life of her own choosing. Now that this anticipated moment was upon her, she found herself torn between delight and utter panic. If she were to be honest with herself the town ahead terrified her down to the soul. It was the unknown. The only thing loved about the society she had left was its familiar rhythm. Everyday was planned with people performing as puppets, and she knew how to play her role well. Life had been served on a silver platter, quite literally, and now her distaste for propriety had brought her here.
As the coach rolled into town, the soft grass was quickly replaced by a cloud of dust from the dirt road. Finally rolling to a stop, she quickly gathered her parasol and bag as the coach driver climbed down and opened the door. She attempted to gather the skirt of her gown, wishing she had choose one of her smaller ruffles, as she accepted his hand and clumsily stumbled from the carriage. Once to the ground, she opened her parasol and looked up to take the first view of her new home. It would seem as if the entire town had come out to greet the stagecoach. Well, perhaps greet was not the correct term. Everyone was gazing at her as if she was standing in the middle of the street nude. Their mouths were agape, and some where even discourteous enough to point. Looking around she saw few woman, except for a pair who were quite scandalously dressed standing in front of the salon. Ignoring her reception, she looked at the driver confidently and asked him kindly to wait for her as she made arrangements.
"Madam in all due respect, you paid me to take you to Big Springs and here we are. Now I'll place your things at that there post office, and be on my way. Lessen you want to go back to the city?" She couldn't hold back the look of astonishment on her face. No one had ever spoken to her in such a manner. Her demeanor quickly changed, and she narrowed her eyes at the man.
"Excuse me sir, but I paid you in full for you to take me to my residence in Big Springs. The building over there is a post office, obviously not my place of residence. You will wait here as asked or you can refund your wages." The man regarded her momentarily, and then proceeded to take her trunks from the coach and carry them over the post office. Dropping them forcefully on the wooden deck he then headed back towards his team.
"Sir, I implore you to wait!" She pleaded, shadowing him as he ascended to his seat. He tilted his hat at her then grabbed the reigns. Barely having enough time to move clear of the wheels, she soon found herself in a cloud of dust watching the last option of escape ride quickly away. While the dust settled, she turned to face the crowd once again. It was obvious she was foreign to these parts; her travel attire alone was a clear luxury in comparison to the garments of the townspeople around her. It was then her salvation appeared before her, quite literally actually. A man dressed simply in black donning a white collar. The man approached her with a warm smile,
"Good day Miss, my name is Reverend James Norrington. How can I be of service to you on this fine day?" She could not contain the faint blush that tinted her cheeks as she politely curtsied to the man,
"Good day Reverend, my name is Miss Elizabeth Swann. I am here in response to your letter requesting my services as the town teacher." His eyes widened with the news, and he stepped back to regard her better. The woman before him was nothing like he had imagined when he received her letter of acceptance. Most women who went onto college were older and did so out of necessity for the additional earnings. The woman standing in front of him could barely be eighteen and certainly did not need the income. Her gown, complete with travel coat and bag, was ivory with black trim. Her long hair was secured up and tucked into a matching hat. Despite the heat of the day, and the layers of material covering her from neck to toes, she appeared cool and collected.
"Reverend Norrington," she interrupted his musing, "if we could please speak inside regarding my position." He smiled with ease and led her towards her belongings,
"I regret to inform you that the school house that we posted in the ad has yet to be built." She stopped abruptly and looked at him,
"But my quarters…."
"You still have living quarters arranged for you as promised." He assured interrupting her, "Widow Turner has agreed to take you in until the school house is built." He continued onto the deck of the post office while Elizabeth lagged behind reflecting over his last statement.
"Widow Turner?" She asked.
"Yes, her husband owns a farmstead about two miles west of here. He passed away from an illness not but a month ago. She is one of the few townspeople who actually live in a cabin and has an extra room for boarding. Other folks live in sod homes and don't have the resources to spare." Elizabeth looked to the west then back to James,
"I expect that work on the school house will begin promptly now that I have arrived, as assured in your ad. When do my duties begin?" James couldn't help but smile, this woman had spirit.
"We will introduce you at the next town meeting in about 2 weeks time. Till then you can get your things situated at Widow Turner's and prepare your lesson plans. There are about fifteen children that attend church, and we'll plan to use the church until the school house is built." Elizabeth nodded and gazed back towards the west.
"How will I get to Mrs. Turner's estate?" He openly laughed at this statement,
"Like I said, her farmstead is 2 miles out so you will eventually be needing a horse. For now I can ask Mr. Gibbs, our town's smith, if you can borrow one." She looked down at her two giant trunks lying on the deck.
"We'll pull these into the post office for now." She watched as James pulled the two heavy cases into the building. He came out and wiped his forehead,
"With the size of those trunks we might be needing two horses."
"Here, if I may please." He gently took her parasol and closed it, laying it next to her trunks in the office. "You will need two hands for this." He politely smiled and offered his arm. She willing accepted as he walked her down the main road of the town. Typically she took a man's arms for the symbolism that she was a lady, but in this case she practically fell upon him trying to navigate the uneven dirt road in her heeled boots. She listened intently as he discussed each building of the small town as they passed.
"This is the general store; the owner's name is Mr. Bob Varner." James commented, "He and his family live above the store. He will allow you to buy on good faith, but be wary of the deals you make." James did not discuss the matter further. "Across here is the salon. You should just probably be wary of the whole building." Elizabeth merely looked away in disgust as one of the woman whistled asking if she needed a job. Soon they came upon a sign reading "Mr. Gibbs: Smith and Livery."
"This is Robert our town smith." James explained, "He also tends to the livery, which is owned by the mercantile Bob Varner." Elizabeth followed James into the small shed. The air was thick with soot, with the temperature being another ten degrees warmer than outside.
"Robert," James called out. Soon a man of stout stature appeared from another room. He was covered in dirt from head to toe, yet when he greeted her his smile was genuine.
"Robert Gibbs meet Miss Elizabeth Swann, the town's new school teacher." James introduced, and the man extended his hand. Elizabeth's small white glove happily met his outstretched hand.
"Pleasure Sir," she exclaimed, "I am in need of a horse."
"Of course dear," the man happily replied, leading the two of them out the back of the room to the corral. Elizabeth had never seen anything more beautiful. There corralled in front of her were around twenty horses. Each painted a different color and all for sale. To be frank with herself, she had never ridden a horse. It had been carriages and buggies all her life. Yet with her new life came new experiences and she was literally chomping at the bit to master this skill. She had always imagined herself riding free on the prairie, the wind blowing through her hair…
"Miss will this horse do?" Mr. Gibbs posed the question to her again, breaking her from the reverie. She looked over to find an older grey mare standing quietly next to him. She looked the horse over, noting how its head lagged and actually appeared to be sleeping at the time. Looking back over the corral she spotted a young honey colored mare with an ebony mane bucking at another younger horse who was hassling it.
"I will take that one Sir." She stated, pointing to her intended horse,
"Now Miss," Mr. Gibbs chuckled, "trust my judgment on this one. First of all, that there is one of Mr. Varner's prize horses. She will run ya about eight dollars. Now this fine horse here is already broke. I will let you borrow it for now and pay me two dollars when you get started in your position." Elizabeth reached for her purse and produced a single ten dollar coin. Handing it to Mr. Gibbs she once again pointed across the corral,
"I will be taking that horse Sir, and you can keep the rest if I can trouble you to hitch a wagon and escort Reverend James and myself out to the Turner Estate." Both men looked at her in awe as she extended her hand in anticipation of closing the deal. Mr. Gibbs closed his hand on the coin and smiled, shaking her hand jovially
"Now you drive a hard bargain Miss Swann." She smiled and took James's arm once again as he led her back to the post office.
An hour later, the sun was setting low in the sky as the wagon slowly made its way out to the Turner farmstead. Elizabeth attempted feebly to wipe the soot from her dress and gloves only to give up after it seemed she was only making the marks worse. Looking up, she was continually awed by the beauty of the plains. The last rays of sun seemed to dance through the grass as heavy gray clouds started to gather on the horizon.
"Better get movin," Mr. Gibbs acknowledged as he loosened the reigns on the horses, Elizabeth's new horse trailing steadily behind the wagon. "Storms brewin and we have to eat supper yet." Elizabeth looked to James, who laughed in reply,
"Widow Turner makes the best stew in the territory Miss Swann, and both of us single men will gladly accept her hospitality when it comes to cooking." She smiled, and looked back to the horizon. Flashes of lighting could be seen in the distant clouds, and the fading sun was nearly enveloped by its fury. As she watched the tempest brew, she could not miss the feeling that something was about to change in her life as well. As if she was experiencing the calm before the storm, and when it finally did hit she better hold on for dear life.