Other Characters by this Player
There's nothing here yet
Present: The Barn Dance Bunch
Brendan wasn't used to being led around by the arm, but he went along with it and let Arabella drag him over to where Clara and a few other people were standing. He didn't want to apologize with all those people standing around.
But fortunately, the woman Clara seemed to work with found a task for Arabella and the deputy didn't seem like he much cared what was said. He was more taken with Clara's employer. Bridget was still staring at him and nibbling on a cookie, though, and that was a little unnerving. Maybe he should apologize to her, too, while he was at it?
He cleared his throat and wished he had a hat to twist around in his hands. "Miss Redmond...I uh...I wanna apologize for the way things started between us. It...wern't my fault, but I wouldn't've wanted it to start that way. I didn't know we was on your pa's property, and if I had known, I wouldn't've ridden over."
He realized the palms of his hands were sweating and rubbed them nervously on the legs of his pants. If Bridget would just stop watching him, he wouldn't be so nervous. Maybe she would go off with Arabella and the nice lady who seemed to understand he didn't want a bunch of people standing around watching him.
"And I didn't mean for any of the rest of the stuff to happen. You know, the...the shootin'. That wasn't my fault, either. Like I done told you before, I was set up. It was near my first day on the job and I didn't know better."
He glanced at the deputy, painfully conscious of the tin star and the knowledge that there might be questions after mentioning shooting.
@Wayfarer ; any of the rest of the BDB who wants to respond
Present: Brendan, Arabella
“I’m sorry. I know I get a little carried away, sometimes. I should … I shouldn’t go interferin’ in other folks business and tellin’ ‘em what to do. It’s just … since my Papa died, I guess I just feel like I need to be part of things, I’m… I’m real sorry.”
Oh, Lordy, now she was crying! Brendan looked around, hoping desperately no one would notice. He had to get her to stop crying before someone thought he was being mean to her - or worse, being too forward with her.
"Arabella...Arabella...hey..." He used the voice he used for spooked horses, speaking softly and high in his throat. He even ventured to reach out and touch her arm gently. But then, all of a sudden, Arabella wasn't crying anymore. She was laughing!
"See… it’s easy to pretend your sorry without really meanin’ it!” she laughed. It ain’t even lying: that’s called ‘acting’!”
Brendan withdrew his hand, startled. He had never seen anyone switch emotions so quickly. Well, maybe a few saloon girls, but not a gal as young as Arabella. His frustration surfaced again. He should have just asked Clara for a dance and not bothered with introductions.
Arabella apparently knew the correct way to say rudeness, and thought herself above him for knowing it.
“Huh! ‘Rude things like that’! Why you mean Rudifications. Why, you’re pretty chuckleheaded for a Southerner. Listen, bein’ rude’s all right, you just have to say it so it don’t sound rude, that’s called rudifications. Like sayin’ ‘Pardon my intrusion, Mam!’ or ‘It’s so rude of me to interrupt. But I just gotta tell you about this…’ See? You tell ‘em you’re bein’ rude, and that makes it sound polite! Easy-peasy!”
He had to admit, Arabella had a point. But he really, really, really didn't want to apologize to Clara. He tugged on his suspenders and gnawed on his lower lip. "Ohhhh...all right," he said finally, giving her a defeated look. "I'll go apologize to her if you'll put in a good word for me so I can get her for a dance or two."
Present: Arabella and Brendan
Arabella had gone too far with that suggestion. There was nothing for him to apologize for! But before he could tell her that, the gregarious girl was talking at him again. Yes, he liked girls. Yes, Clara looked nice. Real nice.
"Of course I like girls!" he sputtered, but she was off again about as fast as a train. Or more like a stampede.
He wasn't sure that getting past Clara's prickliness was worth it. Arabella seemed to think it was, but Arabella had probably never been on the wrong end of that prickliness - or on the wrong end of Clara's Colt Dragoon.
He couldn't help but grin at her imitation of him - or any man - apologizing. But the words she was saying sounded like a sissy, and he didn't want to sound like a sissy. He could just imagine the ragging the hands would give him if they found out.
With his hands on his hips, he waited for her to be finished talking. But there seemed to be no end to the words! Finally he decided he had to shut Arabella up just for a minute so he could think.
His loss of patience happily coincided with Arabella's offer to back him up, so he ignored it.
"Look here, Arabella - " Hopefully she wasn't as much of a stickler about using "Miss Last Name" as Clara was, since the girl had neglected to tell him her last name in the deluge of words that was coming out of her. "It wasn't my fault so I ain't goin' to apologize. There's nothin' for me to apologize for!"
"'Sides, she's talkin' with someone. I can't interrupt her, now can I? That'd be rude and I bet that gal hates rude..." He had to pause because he couldn't think of the right form of the word. Rudity? Ruditation? Rudeness? Couldn't be rudeness.
"...rude things like that," he finished lamely.
"Hey don’t call her that! You wouldn’t like it if we made fun of your bow legs, now would you?"
Ignoring Clara's question about what he had done about being set up - nothing, really, besides expressing his displeasure to Billy and Greer - Brendan looked askance at his knees. He didn't have bow legs, did he? Someone would have told him before now. But it was enough to make him pause. Bridget's red hair was actually quite pretty, although as young as she was, she shouldn't have had it twisted up so ridiculously. He wondered how much she'd minded his comment about her hair.
An amused grin spread across his face as he let Arabella lead him by the arm away from Clara and Bridget. Towards the beer tent. Well, that was a step in the right direction, in his opinion. Maybe if Miss Redmond got a little spirits in her sometime she'd be more fun to be around. But Arabella didn't let him go to the beer tent just yet.
"Well, what the Dickens was all that about? You two looked fit to start a range war back there, even before this shindig’s begun. Tell me what happened between you two."
He glanced back at Clara and gave her a grin - not an especially nice one, but not a mean one either - before looking down at Arabella, speaking in an almost sing-song voice like he would when he was talking to his siblings.
"Nothin' much. Couple of the hands took a shot at her when we was talkin' back in the summer and she hasn't forgotten."
Brendan had to try very hard not to laugh at Arabella. She had a big personality to match those big lungs, but she was still a little girl. Maybe not much younger than Clara, but Clara's new getup made the differences between them very stark.
How could someone not be constructed for polkas? That didn't make sense - mainly because constructed was a big word. The redheaded girl seemed nice enough, if a bit mousy.
"His name is Brendan. I honestly cannot remember his last name if he even gave it to me. And I should warn you, Arabella, that if you do dance with him to be careful. He might be setting you for one of his fellow Evergreen hands to shoot you. Like he tried with me. And ladies, Brendan here works for the Steelgraves who are trying to steal my father's farm by any means possible."
Brendan shifted his weight under Clara's scathing stare. He stuck his thumbs in his suspenders and met Clara's eyes, setting his mouth stubbornly. "Brendan Connolly. And I didn't set you up. The hands set me up."
He decided to let everything else Clara had said slide and turned to Arabella, shrugging as if to shake off Clara's opinion of him.
"Still wanna dance with me after hearin' that? I'll take a polka with you and a slow dance with Miss Ginger there, if she's 'con-struct-ed' for it."
Brendan had figured out a way to finagle his name onto the list of hands from the Evergreen spread who got to go to the dance. He'd promised the foreman that he would listen in to the men's talk about the price of beef and such and make discreet inquiries so that the Steelgraves could adjust their prices accordingly to either undercut the other ranchers or raise prices to make more of a profit.
Not that he was good at discreet inquiries, but the foreman didn't need to know that.
He had used a little bit of grease to slick his hair back and had hung his plaid shirt out in the sun for a while. Now it smelled like grass, sunshine, and horses.
He was just coming into the barn with a few of the other Evergreen hands when he heard a screech so loud and shrill it sounded like a panther. Everyone looked for the source of the scream, including him. It happened to be three girls standing off near the refreshment table. One of them was completely overdressed for a barn dance, one of them was maybe slightly underdressed, and one of them...
He approached the three girls and recognized Clara Redmond. She looked quite different; much more grown-up than when he had seen her before. But it had been several months.
"Evenin', Miss Redmond," he said, tilting his head to the side a bit. "Are you gonna introduce me to these other ladies? One of 'em has quite the pair of lungs, and I don't think it's you."
"Well, it don't seem like you missed much. She's a tiny thing."
Brendan tried to console Billy. Even if Clara had come out of the water that day, he doubted that Billy or Greer would have thought her body worth it. She was just on the cusp of womanhood, but not quite there yet. Or at least she hadn't been back in August.
"Tell you what. I think I've got myself a surefire way to get on that list. While I'm at the dance - " He flashed a grin, confident he would end up going. "-I'll see if I can't wrangle up the names of a few gals so next time we're both in town we'll have somethin' to do."
"Shake on it?" He got down from his bunk again and held out his hand.
It wasn't as though he was asking anything from Billy in return, but you never knew how doing a fella a favor would come back around to you.
"Well..." Brendan narrowed his eyes and tried to remember back to the summer when he had first met Clara. "I don't rightly remember what we talked about...she did want to shoot me at first.
"Thanks to someone who didn't tell me about the feelin's Clara had for Evergreen hands and someone who told me her family was squattin' on Evergreen land." He hopped back up onto his bed, looking down at Billy with a hint of a smile. He now saw the humor in Billy and Greer's joke, even though it hadn't been funny at the time.
"She sure didn't like you an' Greer any. I think it helped my case a little bit since I tried to keep her from gettin' shot. But she's a mighty odd filly and I doubt she'll dance with me. So, any other gals I should be keepin' an eye out for?"
He pointed at Billy suddenly, lowering his eyebrows in mock sternness.
"An' don't say Miss Steelgrave. I ain't dumb enough to go after her...probably."
He'd been warned by the hands pretty quickly that Leah Steelgrave was off limits to him - if he wanted to keep his job and his health.
The men were already heading out of the bunkhouse to pester the foreman. Brendan glanced at them and them back at Billy, who was doubtful of his chances of going to the dance.
"You are a lazybones." He grinned and elbowed Billy in the ribs. It was easy to be lazy in the winter, but what he had seen of Billy before the snows came let him say that with complete confidence.
"And a'course I want to go. Who wouldn't? But as for gals, only one I know is the Redmond girl and I doubt she'd wanna dance with me."
If he ended up going and Clara was there, he'd probably ask her just to get her dander up. The thought made him grin more.
Brendan put the finishing touches on the mane of the small wooden horse he was carving. He knew it was going to be a long winter, but he didn't realize just how long. He'd taken up carving to pass the time that he and the rest of the hands spent cooped up in the bunkhouse. The first of his carvings had ended up as food for the fire, but as the months progressed, he had gotten better at it.
There was a commotion as the two hands who had been chosen to make the first trip into town came back into the bunkhouse, stamping sludge off their boots. They were grinning like Cheshire cats and obviously knew something that everyone else didn't.
Brendan tucked the horse under his pillow and slid down from the bed to join the rest of the hands in pestering the newcomers for information. Soon, it came out. There was going to be a dance in town. The room exploded as the men started speculating about the dance, mostly about who would go.
Somehow he found Billy in all the ruckus. Even though he was still a little sore about the joke the younger hand had played on him last year, they were still close enough to the same age that they had formed a sort of friendship. At least Brendan liked to think so.
"How are we gonna figure out who goes and who stays?"
There was bound to be conflict about the event. They were all going stir-crazy, and Brendan knew each man would want to go as badly as he did.