Calamity (Martha Jane Canary) is acknowledged by the author not to be the historical character of that name. As presented in the books, she is a young woman in her late teens or early twenties who fled a convent school to join a freight-driving crew led by Dobe Killem. Initially she made herself useful by stepping in for their drunken cook, but soon learned how to manage a team of heavy horses, fight with a whip, and shoot competently with either a .36-calibre Navy Colt or a Winchester carbine (both chosen to suit her smaller, less muscular frame). She has several adventures of her own in addition to intermittently associating with the Floating Outfit. While enjoying an on-off physical relationship with Mark Counter, it is mutually understood that they are only what a later century would call "Friends with benefits", and she enjoys other male company routinely, including on one occasion the Ysabel Kid (in White Stallion, Red Mare).