Early April, 1878
“Ma’am? Sorry to awaken you, ma’am.” A tap on her shoulder startled Lark from her reverie. “Do you have your ticket? I’ll punch it and let you get right back to your dreaming.”
The elderly conductor smiled at her while she dug in her reticule. “Take your time, Miss. You traveling alone?”
Lark nodded and handed the man the necessary slip of paper. “I’m on my way to Kansas to visit my sister and her husband.”
He took her ticket, then frowned. “Miss, where did you say you were going?”
“Kansas…Cedar Bluff, Kansas.”
“You’re sure it’s Kansas?”
Lark’s heart thumped. How many times had she answered such a question when the students and staff at the Academy learned of her destination. Professor Lucas had been particularly adamant about her leaving. Why would you leave all I am prepared to give you, to live in such a wild and dirty place? Why indeed. But here she was, and even the conductor was questioning her choice. Wasn’t it marked on her ticket?
“Yes, I’m very certain. Is there a problem?” Of course there’s a problem, Lark. You’re going where you don’t want to go, to do what you have no idea how to do, and you made a deliberate effort to ditch the one person who might be able to help you now.
The man knelt by the side of her seat. “I’m sorry. I don’t know how it happened, but I’m afraid you boarded the wrong train. This one is headed to Omaha.”