Idanha Hotel, page 1
May 28th, 1902
MEGAN TABER’S PASSION was baking. At five-ten and barely one-hundred-and-ten pounds, she didn’t look like a typical baker, but around Boise in 1902, she was known as the best there was.
Clearly loving what she did showed in the breads and pastries she created.
She worked at the Idanha Hotel, the fancy new place that had only been open for just over a year. It boasted the best restaurant in the entire state and she was proud to be a part of that. And from what she understood from reviews she saw in major papers, her pastries and cakes and pies had made the hotel restaurant one of the best places to eat in the entire west.
She often worked from sunset to sunrise to have enough breads and cakes and desserts ready for a day in the hotel, but she didn’t mind at all. Baking was her life.
Her entire life, actually.
She was widowed from Jason Taber two months after they had married. Jason had been a good man, treated her right, and she would have done her best to make him a good wife if he had lived.
He wasn’t the love of her life, but marrying him at eighteen got her out of Placerville, a small town in Montana. She had figured he was the best she could ever do.
Two months after they were married and had moved to Boise, he fell from a ladder and hit his head and never woke up. That had been seven years earlier.
She now seldom thought of him, which she felt sad about, actually. He deserved more than being completely forgotten, even by his widow.
But she never planned on marrying again, so keeping his name was about as much respect as she was able to give to him.
She had made her own way, without a husband, and she was proud of that fact.
She had spent the last seven years learning how to bake, how to be the best. She read all the magazines she could get from the East and talked with every elderly woman she could about their recipes, or at least the ones that they would talk about.
She studied baking like scientists studied the stars or nature. She was passionate about it.
To her, baking was not only a science, but an art. Of course, she never said that to anyone.
She had worked at a few other restaurants around town, getting a reputation as the best baker of any kind of bread, pie, or cake there was in all the West.
When the Idanha Hotel was scheduled to open its doors on January 1st, 1901, Chef Pickner had offered her the job, with nice pay and a furnished apartment in the hotel. She had jumped at the chance.
She had had job offers since for hotels and restaurants in San Francisco, but she had always told Pickner when the offer came in that she would stay with him as long as he wanted her.
And in return for that loyalty, he treated her well and demanded that everyone around her respect what she did. She couldn’t ask for more.
So her baking drew in many, many a diner at the Idanha Hotel Restaurant. Her bread seemed to melt with buttery deliciousness in a person’s mouth and her pies and cakes were heavenly in taste.
At least that’s what everyone told her. She just appreciated that her work was enjoyed every day. That was enough for her.
And if it was up to her, the Idanha was where she would remain the rest of her life.
May 28th, 1902
CAROL KOGAN STEPPED out of the back door of the Warm Springs Historical Institute and stretched. The day promised to be a glorious late-spring day, even though the sun was a distance from coming up over the mountains to the east. The sky overhead was clear and a few remaining stars fought to stay against the coming light.
The air had a crisp bite to it and dew covered the grass and the wagon road down to the stable. Beyond the stable, through the cottonwood and large oak trees, she could hear the Boise River in spring runoff, the sound like a constant, soothing background music to the beautiful morning.
She stood and let herself listen to the morning.
The river and a few birds calling out were the only sounds. In 2019, when she was from, standing here she would have also been able to hear the sounds of traffic and other city noises.
She loved her time back in the past.
Since she usually came back alone, she stayed in the Institute in one of the large apartments and just did her studies around Boise. For a young western city, it was enough to give her the medical data she needed in her research on the time and was close enough to numbers of small towns that she could also easily and fairly safely travel to them as well.
She wasn’t really afraid and she could easily take care of herself if forced. At five-ten, she was an expert in martial arts and one of the best shots around with her saddle rifle.
She had spent a lot of time in medical school also learning self-defense.
And then had learned how to shoot far before she had been invited to the Institute to study.
It had only been six months in 2019 time since Duster and Bonnie and the others had invited her to go into the past with them. But since then, she had spent almost two hundred years back in time, and had written six books about the medical world of women in the past.
She had spent almost a hundred of those years with over a dozen trips in the late 1930s. And then another sixty years over six trips studying in the 1950s.
Now she was working on the early 1900s and she liked this time period more than any of the others. This was her third trip back and she planned for many more.
In 1902, women were strong, worked not only in the homes, but around the town and seemed, in many instances, to be the power behind much of what happened. They were in a minority, but most still held their own.
Carol hadn’t gotten to the study of the health and lives of the women in the brothels and red-light districts yet. That would be the next book, after the one she was working on. She still hadn’t figured a way to even approach that research yet. But she would.
She adjusted her riding clothes. Every decade forced women into certain forms of dress and the early 1900s in the west were no exception. And for a lady of substance and means, as women like her were often called, the restrictions were more. She seldom put on a dress, instead remaining when in public in her riding attire of soft leather pants and simple jackets over white blouses.
She also wore a wide-brimmed hat that covered her long blonde hair and light skin from the sun and rain.
As she started down the Institute’s back steps toward the stable, she felt her stomach rumble. She was hungry and her morning routine of a ride into town for a wonderful breakfast at the Idanha Hotel was before her.
There was just something about the bread Megan Taber made that seemed almost addictive. And besides, the occasional glimpse of Megan as well was often worth the ride. Carol hoped to interview her at some point about her life and her amazing skills as a baker.
That was an interview Carol was looking forward to.
May 28th, 1902
THE EARLY MORNING air still had a chill to it, but to Megan, it felt wonderful after being so long around the hot ovens in the kitchen.
After her nights baking were done, she almost always went out onto the rough boards of the sidewalk on the west side of the hotel to just get some fresh air and sometimes enjoy the sunrise hitting the mountains. It helped her clear her mind so she could take a long bath and then sleep with her drapes drawn through much of the day.
This morning she felt a little more lightheaded than usual. She hoped she wasn’t coming down with something.
She leaned against the large stone of the hotel wall and made herself take deep breaths.
Megan knew Miss Kogan usually took her breakfast in the Idanha Restaurant and numbers of times had sent her notes complimenting one of Megan’s breads or desserts.
Megan pushed away from the wall, standing as a lady would stand when meeting another lady on a sidewalk in public.
She had actually never met Miss Kogan, but she knew her by reputation. Single, age of twenty-seven, and a scholar who lived out along Warm Springs in the Historical Institute there.
Megan had never heard what Miss Kogan was studying, but found the fact that a woman could study any form of science to be a fantastic thing.
As Miss Kogan neared, Megan could see her up close.
Megan’s breath caught.
She could feel herself attracted to Miss Kogan. No woman had done that ever before, but Miss Kogan was more beautiful than Megan had heard.
Far, far more beautiful.
Miss Kogan was tall, with long blonde hair tucked under a hat, green eyes, and a smile that seemed to light up her face. If Megan hadn’t already been a little faint, more than likely Miss Kogan’s looks would have caused it.
Megan had never had a reaction like that before to another woman.
It didn’t seem right.
But yet it felt right.
“Mrs. Taber,” Miss Kogan said, bowing slightly. “The honor is all mine.”
Megan knew she still had on her apron and more than likely had flour in her short brown hair. But that was who she was and there was no point in putting on airs.
She bowed slightly as well and somehow managed to get her mouth to speak, even while staring at the beautiful face and green eyes and bright smile. “Miss Kogan, thank you for the compliments you have sent to me. I treasure them.”
“And I treasure the wonderful art you put into your pastries and breads,” Miss Kogan said. “And please, call me Carol.”
“I would be honored,” Megan said, “If you would call me Megan as well.”
Carol’s smile could have lit up the entire street. Megan didn’t want to look away from those fantastic eyes.
“I have traveled a great deal,” Carol said, “and have never seen the likes of what you do. You are why I ride into town every day for breakfast.”
“I am very honored,” Megan said, bowing slightly again and feeling herself blush. She could not believe that Carol also thought of what Megan did as an art. How wonderful was that?
Someone who understood and appreciated.
Megan was going to say something along those lines when the world around her started to spin and she felt a pain in her chest.
A sharp, intense pain, like she had never felt before.
“I seem to feel a little…” Megan said, her voice trailing off.
And then everything went black as Carol looked shocked and stepped toward Megan as she fell.
May 28th, 1902
CAROL HAD BEEN so stunned when Megan suddenly fell forward that she almost didn’t react fast enough. But somehow she managed to catch the thin and very light woman under her arms and ease her to the ground.
Megan’s face was white and she was damp and not breathing at all.
Two men had come around the corner from the hotel and Carol glanced up. “Call Doctor Stevens. Quickly. He is usually at breakfast inside the hotel.”
One man turned and ran while the other came to see what he could do to help.
Carol felt for a pulse.
Christ, was it possible that Megan had just had a heart attack? She looked so young and so healthy.
Carol eased Megan’s head to the sidewalk and then placing both hands on her chest started doing compressions.
“What are you doing?” the man demanded.
“A new technique from the East,” Carol said. “Her heart has stopped and I am trying to make it start again.”
Carol knew that just saying that something was from the East explained most unusual things out West.
She worked until she heard Dr. Stevens come around the corner. Then she stopped and took Megan’s pulse.
Thank God! It was faint and there.
“What happened, Carol?” Dr. Stevens asked as he knelt down beside Megan.
Dr. Stevens looked more like he belonged in a poker room in Denver. He was tall, about forty, and wore gambler’s clothing, including a pocket watch on a chain, and was often seen with a cigar sticking out of his mouth that he never lit. He was known to spend some evenings in the poker games in the basement of the Idanha Hotel and it had been Duster who had first introduced Carol to Dr. Stevens, which had helped.
Carol eased back and cradled Megan’s head to let Dr. Stevens get in closer. “This is Megan Taber, the bakery chef here. She just passed out as I was talking with her. It looks like a heart attack.”
Dr. Stevens nodded, not taking his attention away from Megan.
Carol admired Dr. Stevens and he seemed to give her some respect even though she had never told him she was a medical doctor. Women medical doctors were very, very rare in the west and were usually just looked at with a skeptical eye.
It wasn’t much better back East during this time period.
Carol had spent many hours interviewing Dr. Stevens for her book and they had enjoyed many a lively conversation about women’s health issues of this time.
As Dr. Stevens looked Megan over, Carol saw Megan take a shallow breath.
Relief flooded over Carol. At least Megan was breathing for the moment. Better than she had been a moment before.
Dr. Stevens glanced around at the dozen men and four women who were watching. “Two of you men get a wagon hitched up and some blankets and padding. We need to get this woman to the hospital.”
Carol stroked Megan’s head softly. “It’s going to be all right.”
But Carol honestly didn’t know if it was going to be all right.
A woman of Megan’s age having a heart attack usually meant something else was very, very wrong.
May 28th, 1902
MEGAN AWOKE IN the hospital.
The smell of piss and blood almost gagged her. And her chest hurt as if she had been stepped on by a horse.
No, more like a team of horses.
She had no idea what had happened or why she was here.
A woman with dark black hair and a brown-stained nun’s uniform that had been white at one point was sitting beside Megan, clearly monitoring her.
Megan tried to sit up, but the nun instantly held her from doing so. “You can’t be moving. Your heart will not stand for it.”
“What happened?” Megan asked, her voice dry. The pain in her chest was more than she could imagine. It alternated between a throb and a stabbing pain, like someone was sticking a knife in her.
The nurse gave her a sip of water that felt wonderful.
“About an hour ago you fainted on the sidewalk in front of me,” a woman’s voice said from the other side of Megan’s bed.
She turned to see Carol standing there, smiling while looking worried.
Megan could feel herself blushing. She must be even more of a mess now after fainting. And for some reason that was important to her in front of Carol.
Megan nodded and glanced around. She could tell she was in the fairly new Saint Alphonsus Hospital off of State Street, about seven blocks from the hotel. The Catholic Sisters of the Holy Cross had built the three-story stone building as the first major hospital in Boise. Megan had never expected to see the insides of it as a patient.
At least she had hoped she never would.
“Did you bring me here?” Megan asked Carol after a moment, looking back up into those wonderful green eyes.
“I did,” Carol said, nodding, “along with two of the staff at the Idanha and Dr. Stevens. The staff needed to retu
“Thank you,” Megan said, now feeling even more embarrassed that such a beautiful lady had to have been bothered.
“I hope you don’t mind,” Carol said, “but at the Institute in which I reside out in Warm Springs, there is a major heart doctor from the East who happens to be visiting. I have asked him to take a look at you.”
“I don’t think that will be necessary,” Megan said.
“It is,” the nun said from the other side of the bed. “Your heart is not sounding good, so we want you to have the best care.”
Megan looked at the stern, but clearly concerned Catholic nun, then back at Carol. “Thank you.”
Carol smiled that wonderful smile of hers. “My desire to help is purely selfish, of course. A breakfast without your wonderful bread would not be the same.”
Megan smiled back, but didn’t have the energy to even say thank you again.
A moment later the pain took her back into sleep and back in the blackness.
May 28th, 1902
CAROL MADE THE nuns promise to watch out for Megan and report her progress to Dr. Stevens, then with one last look at the beautiful woman in the bed, Carol mounted up and rode hard for the Institute.
The Historical Institute was a large, three-story Victorian-style mansion on Warm Springs Avenue two miles to the east of Boise. Two other similar mansions were on either side of the main home. All looked like homes of the very rich with large grounds, stables behind them, and stone walls along the wagon trail that was Warm Springs Avenue.
All three buildings had been built by Duster and Bonnie Kendal and other travelers into this timeline. Counting her, there were twenty-nine travelers sanctioned to go back into this time period. She had no idea why they picked her, but she would be forever thankful that Bonnie and Duster and the other Institute members had.
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