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Robert Cullen

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About Robert Cullen

  1. Looking at You, Looking at Me

    That morning Robert couldn't help but wonder if the young lady from town would actually show up. He doubted it. It might be a bit far out for a fancy young miss as herself to wander out that far from town. Besides her station was way above his, her parents might have found out she even talked to him and forbade her from ever seeing him again. Or she just wouldn't actually have the nerve to really want to learn how to swim. That had no doubt been all just talk. She was more about books and reading and education, probably thinking she would be doing her good deed if she taught some poor ignorant bumpkin. No, it was foolish to think she would show though a part of him hoped she would. Well, it wasn't like he could spend the whole day sitting around waiting. He had the usual activities to do. He was what they called a prospector, he searched for gold. His particular method was panning for it in local creeks, rivers, and such. It was a long laborious process hard on the knees and full of frustration. A person needed to have the patience of a saint and a sense of optimism. Well, he did try to possess both of those at least. Not that it mattered, in the end it would be a simple stroke of luck or not which decided if he found anything. So it was that early afternoon found Robert on the edge of the river, not all that far from his cabin, crouched down on the bank dunking his heavy metal pan into the muck of the shore bottom then sifting it carefully with riverwater and his fingers, examining the pebbles for anything which might shine of gold. As usual he wasn't having any luck. But while it might not involve gold, his luck was about to change... Cecilia had fought with herself, going back and forth with her decision to meet Robert for a swimming lesson. She realized later what exactly it would entail. She didn't have one of those new swimsuits and had the slightest clue where she would even find one on this side of the country. Her only other option was to wear her skivvies or go nude. Not wanting to go back on her word, she determined she would simply follow Robert's lead. As he was not too keen on letting her teach him anything, she thought to repay him with some homemade goodies. She received curious glances from her family as she produced huckleberry biscuits, beignets, coffee cake, and fried apples. She left a portion of each for her family to enjoy and wrapped the rest up for Robert. She buried a second set of bloomers and a blouse beneath the goodies and covered her basket with a cloth. With her parents distracted with her eldest brother, Sissy slipped quietly through the kitchen door and headed for Robert's home. The journey was torturous for with each step she took and thought about turning around headed back home. The anxiety swarmed in her stomach like angry hummingbirds, but she kept moving. It wasn't long before she could see Robert's cabin through the thicket. The young woman was just about to step up to his front door when she noticed a figure a little ways away kneeling beside the river. It took her only a few more paces before she determined it was him. "Mr. Cullen!" she called, waving hello, as she hastened to meet him. Robert's head spun about at the sound of that most familiar voice, it was the rich town girl. She actually had shown up! Had he been the wagering type, he would bet against it and lost. Panning was instantly forgotten as he stood up then and smiled as she closed on him, carrying a basket. More food? Or God forbid, some books? Certainly she wasn't going to really go in the water for swimming lessons....was she? He suddenly wasn't so sure either way. The girl was a puzzle, but a pleasant one. "Well, you found my place then, lassie. Quite the walk tis it not?" he grinned. "It was worth it," she replied, her face reflecting a grin all her own. "Oh...and call me Robert or Bobby or anything but Mr. Cullen," he once more requested. "Forgive me, Robert." she corrected herself. "Better," he approved. "Since you refused to let me educate you, I've decided to feed you instead," she chuckled, offering him a peek in the basket. "You don't say?" he looked down into the basket. Lot of food in there alright, most impressive. She had gone thru a lot of work for him. "I would have been here earlier, but I got carried away bakin' all mornin'." She looked a bit sheepish as she showed him what she'd brought for him, "Coffee cake, fried apples, huckleberry biscuits, and beignets. I hope you enjoy all of it." He had no idea what ben..whatever was but it all looked just fine. He'd have no problems feasting on any or all of it. Truth was he didn't eat enough with this kind of existence, most things tasted good. While she wasn't attempting to fatten him up, she did want to be sure he was well fed. It was easier for her to get away with baked goods than full on meals. "If there is somethin' you don't like or would prefer, I'd be happy to make you a batch of somethin' else." "No, this is fine, lassie. Fine.....so can I call you by your first name then too?" he wanted to be sure she had no objections but he was pretty confident she would not. "You may. Cecilia is fine. Sissy May is also fine," she answered. She cared little if he referred to her by her given name. After all, he had asked her to use his. Anything was better than 'lassie'! "Sissy? Doesn't that mean something bad? Like yer a baby or something?" Robert wondered aloud but added, "Cecilia is a fine name you know." Her eyes wandered to the water's edge and she wondered if she might drag out the pleasantries a bit longer. "I see you've already been playing in the water today." she teased, noting his clothing. "I'll have you know, young missy, that is not playin' you be seein' me doin'...that is me hard at work pannin' fer gold," he asserted not really offended at all, more amused. "Well, did I arrive at a bad time? Should I come back later when you're not busy workin'?" she frowned, hoping she wasn't a bother to him. "Oh no, nice thing 'bout this job is I be me own boss and I ask off anytime I want," he grinned, "I'd much rather spend time with you than with that godawful tin plate." Nonchalantly he tossed it aside and it landed with a clatter on the rocks near the creek. @Cecilia Atwood
  2. Underneath the Pines

    "Tell me about yourself, Mr. Cullen?" she asked, offering him another treat. "Don't mind if I do," the young man accepted without hesitation. "First off, miss...I'd be fine if you just call me Robert or Bobby, not used to anyone callin' me mister and besides makes me sound so...old," he requested then ate a bite before continuing. "Not from around here but then you knew that much....born in Ireland but me da and ma moved then to this country...New York. We were poor in Ireland, we were poor in the new world too," he smiled though it certainly wasn't a happy statement. The girl silently nodded, understanding he was from a land she could barely imagine. She paused her nibbling, listening intently, even setting down her small piece of cake. "I be sparin' ye all the grief of the rest 'cept my brother and me came on out to the frontier to make our fortune. He died though..." this time there was no smile, just a look of resignation, it served no use to mourn. "On my own since then and pannin' fer gold in these hills...hopin' there really is something like 'luck of the Irish', I sure haven't seen it none," he was back to his usual happy go lucky self. The pretty smile Sissy had been wearing quickly faded into a somber gaze. Her heart ached for him. How could someone so young have endured so many tragedies? "Oh, Robert! How tragic!" she bemoaned, reaching out to him. She placed her hand on his and gave him a gentle squeeze. "I reckon you must be quite resourceful to have survived such adversities." He glanced down at her hand and where she had placed it, surprised but it was certainly a pleasant one. "I do what I have to, no other way for it, ya know," he gave a little shrug. "Yes, but, it's not fair, is it?" She frowned at him. She held him still as if it might somehow make his life better. Though, it was only after another long moment that she realized she still touched him. Trying not to blush, she took back her hand and wrapped up the empty cloth and placed it back in the basket. Sissy passed him another honey cake as if he might be half starved, "Here, sugar, have another!" "Thankye....I don't want to eat all of yours though. But I will make this the last one," he took it and took a bite. "I bake something new nearly every day. You're more than welcome to all of my sweets." she teased. All of them huh? Robert couldn't help but glance at her as his eyes mentally wandered up and down her feminine frame. Was she even aware her words could be taken quite differently by some men? Not him though...no, he wasn't even thinking about such things. Nope, just a friendly conversation was all. He needed to say something to get his mind off such thoughts! As he chewed, he now asked her, "So how 'bout you be tellin' me about yerself then, seems only fair don' it?" It was the question she always dreaded. She always told the truth, yet twisted the story differently each time. Getting kicked out of school was not her proudest day. He surely was curious. "I grew up in the South. I was just a child when war broke out. I reckon it was best that way. Anyhow, Pa wanted a new life for us and moved us up here. There's five of us kids. But my younger siblings are back east attending boardin' school." It was definitely the truth, just a few stories left out. "South huh? Well, me da ...he fought in the war...in the Union army. He joined one of the New York Zouaves....those lads wore some real fancy uniforms - not just blue but bright red too...only time in his life he ever got to wear something fancy, da said," Robert smiled. Cecilia nodded and added "My Pa didn't fight. He refused to leave my Ma and the rest of us kids behind." She left out the fact that she was sure money had something to do with it. "So you finished yer schoolin' then? Did you like it?" he pursued the discussion, eager to learn more about this gal. "Not exactly," she started, chewing her lower lip for a brief moment. "I was feelin' homesick. And it was decided I could probably obtain useful skills by comin' to Kalispell." Half of that was true, but still, she omitted the fact that she was expelled. She worried what people, Robert in particular, would think if they knew what had transpired to beget her expulsion. Robert blinked, "Oh? This little place? So then....what useful skills did ye learn then, girl?" He doubted this small town had anything of value to teach a well to do young miss. Cecilia smirked at him, "Well, you just ate some of it." She always had an affinity for cooking and baking, but there wasn't time for that in school. "Oh, and ye couldn't learn that in a big city?" He still didn't get it, but it was true she did not have baking skills if the rest of her recipes tasted as good as this one. "I'm to learn how to ride a horse too one of these days," she added. Not that she looked forward to such task. If Sissy learned anything, it was how to be more independent and resourceful than she could be in Virginia. "Well, well, that could prove quite useful out here on the frontier then," he nodded approval, "I have learned just enough to stay on Abercrombie here but then he don't gallop about like some fool horse." "Then you'll have to let me bring you some goodies so I can put these skills to better use," she grinned. He smiled, "That'd be most generous of you, but I don' imagine yer folks approvin' of you visitin' the likes a me." "What makes you say that?" she frowned, shifting in her seat, "And what makes you think I'd listen if they forbid me?" She couldn't help the smirk that formed. Robert didn't know her well enough yet, but he would soon learn that Sissy had a mind of her own. "Just a guess is all," the young man gave a bit of shrug, "I've been known to be wrong in me life though." She eyed Abercrombie. He was lovely to look at and perhaps to even pet, but she wasn't sure about riding him or any other steed for that matter. "It's a wonder that these beasts are so mild-mannered," she sighed, bringing her attention back to Robert. "Oh, they aren't....not always. Stubborn as a mule is not just a sayin' ye know? When they get in a foul mood, they can make a lotta noise and kick ye if ye ain't careful," he warned her. She laughed at that and shook her head, "Well, I just mean that they don't actively attack us. I don't know about Abercrombie though..." Perhaps if she gave him a taste for sugar cubes, he would less likely be stubborn? Robert huffed, "He won't attack ye none, trust me." Sissy chuckled and shook her head, "I was only teasing!" "I never did ask, but where were you headed this afternoon?" "Home....I got me a small cabin a few miles outta town, nothin' fancy but it's gotta roof and is close ta water," he answered her. "Well, then you ought to tell me what you fancy, and I'll bring it over," she grinned. Her mind was already churning thoughts of what she might tempt him with. Robert could actually fancy a lot of things....well including the young lady, but he wasn't about to be bold enough to say that. He settled for a quick, "Really?" Sissy blushed, realizing the impression she might be making. Her enthusiasm was something she always had difficulty quelling. "Forgive me, Robert. I don't mean to be so forward. It's just not every day I meet someone as affable, let alone handsome, as you." She cast her gaze downward and bit her lower lip, feeling silly for opening her pie hole. "Don't know what affable means but handsome...now that is certainly kind of ye, lass. And there is nothin' needed to forgive. I must be honest and admit yer not like anyone I've ever met...but in a good way you see," he hastened to make her feel better. She bit back another apology as she explained, "It just means to be friendly and likable." "I suppose I should take pride in that," she smiled. Cecilia didn't mind being unusual for it didn't do her any good to be just another cookie cutter, young woman. Not that she had that in her. "Speakin' of forward...well, I happen ta think you are quite the pretty one yerself. I imagine the boys line up ta dance with you at those rich folk parties," he declared. She glanced sideways at him and shook her head incredulously, "I'm a pushover. I add everyone to my dance card." She gave him a bit of a shrug, knowing full well she was too polite to ever turn anyone down. "No favorites then huh?" he shrugged, it did not surprise him actually, she seemed very nice and accepting...well, she accepted him didn't she? And he was way below her station. As her parents would realize even if she did not. Cecilia giggled, "Well sure, some are better dancers than others. I'm not fond of getting my toes smashed." "Maybe if you ever get that bath I'll let you take me to a social," Sissy giggled. He sniffed one of his armpits for a second then shrugged, "I don't know...it's hot work, and I sweat then. Not everyone has their own bathtub I'll have ya know. Like I said though...I bathe...in the river." "I hope you have a bar of soap at least!" she teased, pretending to wave away his stink. "Oh!" she exclaimed, it just dawning on her, "Do you know how to swim? I've never been in water deeper than my bathtub." Robert blinked, interesting.
  3. A Chance Encounter

    Originally published on Sat Dec 23rd, 2017 @ 12:28am Robert didn't spend a lot of time in town, not because he didn't like the place but because he lived a few miles outside of the community and that was also where he spent most of his daylight hours panning for gold. Just once he had gotten a small amount of the precious stuff sifted from a creek bottom, but that gave him only enough money once he exchanged it to tide over his personal expenses for a few weeks. No, the idea was to strike it rich so there was nothing he could do but keep searching. On this day though, he had stopped in at the General Store to buy some more beans and salt pork. He had eyed the coffee but decided it was too expensive when he could drink water for free. Someday though. On his way back to where his mule, Abercrombie, was hitched up the young Irishman paused for a brief second to peek into the local saloon. It was so tempting to take what few coins he had left and buy himself a drink....just one drink. His father had drank himself to death, in the end, so liquor was not unknown to him naturally enough, and on occasion, he did imbibe, but fortunately, he was not an alcoholic and really didn't wish to go down that downward spiraling road. "Hey, get outta the way or go on in, make up yer damn mind," came a harsh voice behind him. Robert turned to see a man probably a good five-six years older than he wearing one of those blacksmith aprons with rolled-up shirt sleeves showing thick arms. He was dirty and sweating no doubt from engaging in some blacksmithing just prior to heading for this place. The man had a scraggly red beard, shorn red hair, hard eyes, and a few missing teeth in that big mouth of his. He was obviously in a bad mood. "Beggin' me pardon," Robert excused himself in that Irish accent of his, granted he had lived most of his life in the states but around his family they'd still were greatly influenced by the parents who had spent a large part of their lives in the home country, Ireland. The young drifter stepped aside, having decided he would not take a drink this day, mostly decided by this surly fellow's attitude. The man glared at him though instead of walking into the saloon. "Oh lordy, have we got us yet another damn Irish in town? Whole country is overrun with you sorts," he snarled. Robert had no idea why exactly all the hostility but on the other hand he had run into such before throughout his travels. Some folks seemed to have it in for the Irish in particular amongst all the immigrants. Maybe because there were so many of them? "I don' be livin' in town, but if I did, there would be no law agin' it, would there?" Robert was shorter and lighter than this fellow, but that didn't mean he was afraid of the man. The redhead took that as a challenge, maybe it was too, "Don't you go jawing to me, you little bastard or I'll take you and stuff your Irish carcass in that there barrel." He pointed a meaty finger to some empty barrel in the nearby alley then instantly followed that up with a one-handed push into Robert's chest. "Tell me.....you take after the animals you work with, do ya? You sure do remind me of a jackass," Robert stood his ground but tensed for what he was quite certain would be the hothead's reaction. Sure enough, it was on now, neither were about to back down. "Step in that alley, Papist, and I will learn you a hard lesson in manners," the smith snapped. "If you be insistin' then, let's do it," Robert flashed a defiant smirk then the two of them left the front of the saloon to end up facing each other in the alley. The blacksmith threw off his apron and readied himself, "I'm gonna enjoy this." Robert assumed a fighting stance, fists up in front of his face, "Is this a fight or a conversation...mate?" For the moment neither of them noticed they had attracted an audience of one in the alleyway entrance. Cecilia walked through the market, basket in hand. The manager of the general store had promised her the delivery of more spices today, and she didn't want to miss out. They had long since run out of cinnamon and nutmeg in their larder, and the sugar was dwindling as well. She had promised her Pa an applesauce cake to go with supper, and she wasn't about to disappoint her daddy. The footpath boards echoed beneath her heeled boots as she followed the course toward the general store. She slowed her pace as she came upon the saloon, desperate to get a look inside. However, the sound of a scuffle nearby drew her attention instead. Quietly, Sissy peeked around the corner into the alleyway. Her eyes widened, and a gasp escaped her as she viewed the scene. "That ain't a fair fight!" she cried out before she could stop herself. She clapped her gloved hand over her mouth to stifle any further outbursts. The burly, tawny-haired man looked as if he might clobber the other once and that would be the end of him. She doubted either would pay her any mind as they both made ready to tear the other apart. There was a startled female voice then, both mens' eyes swiveled to the alleyway entrance, and there was a well dressed young lady with a gloved hand over her mouth, no doubt shocked at this sight of conflict. Robert couldn't help but smile at her, even at this instant sighting he could see she was around his age and quite fetching to gaze upon too. "Don' worry yerself none, miss, I'll be tryin' ta go easy on 'im," he declared. That quip cost him though as the blacksmith's assistant took advantage of his opponent's distraction to land the first punch, a solid jab right to Robert's face. The young Irishman recoiled back and could already feel the blood coming from his nose. Seeking to press his advantage the other bigger man began throwing more punches. A few Robert blocked, especially an attempted haymaker to his face but a couple others hit him with brute force in the ribs and shoulders. Robert knew it was time to stop taking it and start dishing it out. Of course, Cecilia was going to worry! The brute was going to maul the Irishman, and she couldn't do a thing to stop it. She shouted for the man to watch himself, but it was too late. The burly man landed a punch. "Stop it! Both of you!" she cried, stepping into the alleyway. Her hands had balled into fists so tight that she cracked the woven handle of her basket. Sissy stomped her foot indignantly as the men, the brutish one especially, refused to listen. It was with great frustration that she did the unthinkable. She chucked her basket straight at the large man's face and hit him square in the nose. "Wha?" the blacksmith's assistant wasn't hurt by the wicker basket, but it did serve a purpose as it was just enough distraction to give Robert the opening he was looking for and he did not miss his golden opportunity either. First, he lashed out with a hard jab into the man's face then followed up with a step forward and planted a completely unexpected knee right between his opponent's legs. Stunned and in pain, the man dropped to his knees his hands going down, way too late, to protect his aching groin. Robert wasn't quite finished yet though. Given his fighting experience, you keep on your opponent til it's clear cut he's down, and it's finished. He aimed a roundhouse right and connected with the fellow right in the side of his face. The man crumpled into the alley, down and out. The fight was over just like that. Rubbing his knuckles from that punch, Robert paused to assess his opponent's condition, the guy was still breathing, thank the Lord. It was time to clear on out of the alley, but first, there was the young woman to address as he turned to face her. "Sorry, miss...you hadda see that. Jus' wanna say I dinna start it is all," he wanted her to know, as he now wiped his still bleeding nostrils with the sleeve of his shirt, the blood had spattered over the front of his shirt too. But the nose didn't feel broken, so he figured he got off lucky. "Nice throw," he added with a grin.

About Sagas of the Wild West

Sagas of the Wild West is a roleplaying game set in the American Wild West. It is based on the classic television and movie westerns of the 1950s, 1960s, and early 1970s. The stories evolve around the women and men in a fictional version of Kalispell, Montana.

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