"She’s almost as much in love with Clara as I am.” He smiled goofily at Clara.
"That is silly," Clara scoffed.
“Being in love with you could never be silly” countered Jacob in saccharine tones while staring dreamy eyed at Clara. Granny made a noise like she was trying not to suddenly throw up.
Now that it was all out in the open, Jacob felt a lot less worried, somehow: what he’d been dreading had happened and, well, here they all were, still alive and unharmed, except for a few minor fork wounds. Granny was a tyrant, it was true, but at least she was doing something to put things right, something he knew he should be capable of but… he just lacked the experience and certainty and drive of the mad old woman.
Look at her, even now she was pushing on relentlessly with her interrogation of Clara, she was a strong determined woman. Just like Clara. Oh God! Did Clara remind him of Granny?! He shook his head and tried not to think of that one!
“Now come on, Clara, I know now that you’re too good and honest a girl to make a good liar … who’d ya tell?!”
Finally Clara relented and went with the truth, "Just Emeline....Mrs. Blakesley at the LickSkillet. I work for her and she is just wonderful. Like the mother I no longer have."
“Good!” nodded Granny. “I mean good you told me, not good you told her!” She shook her head. “Ohh, I can see why you told Emeline Blakesley, same reason this beanpole went and told his wet blanket of a sister: thought he’d get a sympathetic hearing. Hmm, well I know Emeline Blakesley, oooh, she’ll have been kindness itself, probably gave you a hug and told you everything’d be all right and stuffed a slice of pie inside you. Am I right, or am I right? Problem is, she’s well meanin’ and well meanin’ folks is dangerous to tell any secrets to!”
She rubbed her chin thoughtfully.
“Wouldn’t be surprised if she’s telling your Papa all about the thing right this very minute.”
“Well of course you’re keepin’ the baby, you damned idiot!” she pointed at Clara’s midriff “That child’s a Miggins!! And we look after our own!!!
"That child will also be a Redmond too and I am the mother so I will make the decisions.....with Jacob of course," Clara wanted Granny Miggins to know that.
“Well, o’ course you’ll both make them decisions together” agreed Granny “And I’m about to tell you what them decisions’ll be! Now come on, stop shilly-shallying’ who we got to deal with.”
Jacob shrugged ”I reckon Arabella’s worked it out.” He guessed, not knowing if Clara had any more intelligence on that front than he did.
“Ara… oh, that dreadful girl with the harmonium! D’ya reckon she’d tell anyone? She seems like a blabber-mouth to me!” Granny asked. Then Jacob said the oddest thing.
“Nah, she’s loyal. She’s almost as much in love with Clara as I am.” He smiled goofily at Clara, not even thinking about what he’d just revealed about the pot girl.
“Oh, one of those, eh?” Granny shook her head “Hmmm, them types often do get religion pretty bad. And here was me thinkin’ she was sniffin’ around that old fossil Evans. All right, well she might come in useful when we need to get a pastor over here to conduct the ceremony. Not Evans though, maybe that new one. He looks like he’d do anything for money or booze. Anyone else you told?”
Jacob shook his head genuinely. Granny looked at Clara over her glasses. “Well child, you told anyone else?” her blue eyes might be old and rheumy, but her gaze was as steely and direct as it had ever been, and she also reminded Clara of something. “Now come on, Clara, I know now that you’re too good and honest a girl to make a good liar … who’d ya tell?!”
"And who are you to demand that I swear on my mother's soul to satiate your curiosity? You may order around everyone else here but I am not part of your family. I do not have to do anything of the sort," Clara stood her ground.
“HA! Well, that answers THAT question!” said the old battleaxe, with an air of finality. As far as she was concerned, Clara’s refusal to swear was an admission of guilt. “And I reckon from now on in, child, we’re part of the same family whether we like it or not!” she added, nodding toward Clara’s belly.
As if to add weight to Granny’s interpretation of the Redmond girl’s refusal to fess up, Leonora’s voice could now be heard wailing and moaning in the other room, where she had evidently come out of her swoon.
“Oh, Clara with child! How could you Jacob?! After all my warnings! Oh, What will Aurelian say?!”
Granny crossed her arms, her sympathetic smile was now tinged with a note of triumph. She suddenly hollered out. “Jacob, get on in here! Granny needs to talk to you!”
It seemed Jacob couldn’t get out of Lee’s blabber-mouthed company quickly enough, even Granny’s fork-stabs were preferable to that. He caught Clara’s eyes as he came sheepishly back into the kitchen, and shook his head. “I’m sorry, I told Lee ‘cause I thought she could help.” He explained quietly, letting the cat out of the bag for sure now.
The old woman actually cackled now.
“What? That wet Nellie?!” she almost choked with mirth “She’s worse than useless! In fact, we’re going to have to lock her in her room before this ‘uns Pap comes back here, or she’ll tell him fer sure!” she predicted. “I presume he DON’T know!? Good. Well let’s keep it that way for now.”
She rubbed her somewhat bristly chin, and looked at Clara with a more serious mien.
“Now, we ain’t got time fer all o’ this false modesty, Missy, we got a wedding to arrange. Now, how far gone are you? You got the morning sickness yet? And most importantly, who the Dickens knows about this thing?!”
“We’re keepin’ the baby Granny!” Jacob blurted suddenly.
She looked like she was about to reach for the fork again.
“Well of course you’re keepin’ the baby, you damned idiot!” she pointed at Clara’s midriff “That child’s a Miggins!! And we look after our own!!!” Jacob knew better than correct her about the little one being destined to be a Lutz, best keep the formidable old bat on side.
"C’mere child.” She beckoned Clara “We need to talk. Now, who knows about this outside of the circle?”
"Miss Lutz is mistaken. I have no idea where she even got the idea that I am pregnant. She was fine then she fainted and when she wakes up, she accuses me of being pregnant? " Clara defended herself.
They were alone. Nellie looked at Clara thoughtfully, and then her face – so used to scolding or scowling or laughing mockingly at the hypocrites of Kalispell and those she just plain didn’t like – that old wrinkled face did something it hadn’t done in a long, long while, years maybe: it broke into a small, tight, but sympathetic smile.
“All right, all right, now there, there. I'm sure it's all just a big misunderstandin’. But just, well Clara, just to put old Granny Miggins’ mind at rest completely here, would you swear to me on your poor dead Mother’s soul that you ain’t pregnant?”
She tipped her head, again looking with sympathy at the girl, regretting that she had to put her through this: but time was of the essence: she had a wedding to arrange.
Clara couldn't believe it would come to this? However her instant concern was Jacob's physical safety. She stood her ground and glared at Granny.
"Hold up! You put that down or I will knock you on your keester!"
“Oh, you will, will you?!” she shouted, looking at Jacob cowering behind Clara and Leonora spark out on the floor “Well, I’m glad SOMEONE round here’s got some backbone!”
A big negro fellow she had never seen before, then stepped into the house.
“Howdy folks, so what’s happenin’ all up in here today?!” he smiled genially,
“I’ll tell you what’s happenin’! She’s fainted, She’s pregnant, and he…” she pointed an accusatory fork in Jacob’s direction and seemed lost for words for a second “… he writes poetry!!!”
“Howdy Miss, I’m Ned!” he beamed in Clara’s direction, apparently unfazed by the latest doings of the ramshackle family he’d been virtually adopted into. “We’d better get Miss Lee onto the sofa.” He suggested practically. “Come on give me a hand here, Jake.” He directed the boy. Get him out of the way of that vicious looking fork, too. Saying that, Granny was discarding the weapon now, and the two men of the household got on with lifting Leonora and carrying her through to the other room.
The old woman looked at Clara. She remembered another girl like her: different looking, blonde, blue eyes, a little slighter, and in the dress of another era: 1814, the Empire style was still in then, or a rough frontier approximation of it: high waistlines, just under the breast, then a long line down to the hem, not much use to hide a rapidly growing belly.
“C’mere child.” She beckoned Clara “We need to talk. Now, who knows about this outside of the circle?” By which she presumably meant the Miggins family circle.
"My father has seen womens' ankles," Clara calmly pointed out.
“Has he, by Gum?” replied Granny “Well, he’d better not try and see mine!”
"He was after all married.”
“Hmm!” Granny grumped “Not much fun fer a feller to look at his wife’s ankles!”
Granny was busy barking at Jacob. Despite her usual irreverent manner, she did look a bit worried about Leonora, as if maybe this was a worse case of the fainting fits than usual.
"Goodness, so this happens a lot?" Clara was shocked. Something serious must be wrong with Jacob's sister?
“She’s got a weak heart” explained Jacob, bending down and trying to get the cap of the smelling salts in their tiny little bottle.
“More like a weak mind!” countered Mrs Miggins as the septuagenarian went to the back door that led to the outside. She cracked it open and shouted.
“Ned! Ned! Get in here and carry Miss Lee into the parlor. ‘Nother one of her fits!”
Jacob finally got the cap off and wafted the bottle under the recumbent Leonora’s nose; she immediately started to cough and splutter and come out of her unconscious state. Like a sleeper who wakes with a vague foreboding that something is terribly, terribly wrong, she half opened her eyes, looking up at the people above her, trying to remember what awful news she had just received.
Her eyes cast about, past the concerned looking Jacob, then Granny at the back door, and then … Clara. She gave an audible gasp and then started to babble incoherently “Clara! Clara! With child! No! No!” and started to swoon away again.
“No, Granny.. I … “ Jacob’s words were cut off as the old lady slapped him sturdily across the ear and looking for a carving knife, but finding only a fork to hand on the draining board, picked it up and started to jab at the terrified teen with it.
“You dirty, no good son of a bitch! I told you I’d slice ‘em off with a rusty butter knife if you got any girls in trouble!!!” she yelled furiously, pursuing Jacob, who retreated in disorder and tried to hide behind Clara.
Just then a middle aged black man appeared at the back door to be greeted by the sight of a strange girl standing in the kitchen, Miss Leonora lying on the floor with her feet on a chair, and Granny trying to kill Jacob with a fork.
“Howdy folks, so what’s happenin’ all up in here today?!” he smiled genially, it was just another typical scene in the Miggins household as far as he could tell.
"What?" Clara was not surprisingly startled by this sudden development.
“Oh shit, not again!” grumbled Nellie, getting out of her rocking chair. “Clara, come with me! Jacob, you fetch the smelling salts!”
Clara stood immediately then hurried into the kitchen right behind Granny Miggins.
Nellie had taken a cushion from her rocker in with her and, as Jacob rushed past the other way, she thrust this into Clara’s hands as they looked down at the prone figure of Leonora on the kitchen floor. There were carrots everywhere. “All right Clara, you put this under her head, I can’t get down there with these legs. I’ll fetch over the chair.”
From the sitting room, Jacob was shouting “I can’t find ‘em! Where are they?!” Granny yelled back the age old reply to such questions “They’re where you left ‘em, o' course!”
Granny half carried, half dragged the chair across the floor with a loud scraping noise and set it up near Leonora’s feet. She nodded approval at Clara’s efforts with the cushion. “Good. Now, on the count of three, we’re going to lift her feet onto the chair. That’ll bring her round. All right, Clara?” Granny was watching Clara carefully, as if all of this was some kind of aptitude test she had set up to gauge the girl’s mettle, although Leonora clearly really was in a dead faint.
“Here we go…” there was an almost audible cracking of bones as Granny bent down and got hold of Lee’s ankles from her side. “… one, two, three, hup!”
At that point Jacob re-appeared, smelling salts in hand, staring at Leonora, in her strange position, like a ghost. Granny was actually chuckling now “He, he! Good job your pappy didn’t come in to visit, Clara, she’d ‘a been mortified if he’d seen her like this, flashin’ her ankles! He, he, he.” But catching sight of Jacob, her smile faded: “What you lookin’ so squirrel about, boy?! Ain’t like she don’t do this at least twice a week!”
“So” she finally said “How long you and our Jacob been seein’ each other?”
"We met at the barn dance. He asked me for a dance. We hit it off immediately. Jacob is a wonderful young man," Clara answered.
“Mmmm” the old lady ruminated on this.
“I remember that dance. Couple o’ months ago now, isn’t it?” she asked rhetorically, she knew damn well how long ago it was.
“Hmm, two months” she said, examining Clara over her glasses “I reckon you’ve put a little weight on since then. Good, can’t be doin’ with these scrawny girls with no meat on their bones. Hmmm, nice healthy glow about you, child.” She smiled knowingly to herself. “And you two are courting, steady, are you?” This time it was a real question.
Suddenly there was an anguished feminine scream from the kitchen and Jacob burst through the door.
“Granny, it’s Lee, she’s fainted!!” he cried.
“Oh shit, not again!” grumbled Nellie, getting out of her rocking chair. “Clara, come with me! Jacob, you fetch the smelling salts!” she ordered, like General Sherman directing his men.
Then out of the clear blue she suddenly asserted, "And lest anyone bring it up, I will not, I absolutely will not give up this baby. It cannot be an option. This is our child, no one can take it away from us."
It was something which had been lurking in her fears.
Jacob went wide eyes, he hadn’t even thought of that as something that might happen.
“Oh God, no! We’d… run away first!” he said urgently. “Do you really think that’s something they might try and do to us?” he gasped, alarmed.
Just then, the door from the kitchen burst open and Jacob leaped up in fright, letting go of Clara’s hand like it was made of red-hot iron. It was Granny. She jerked a thumb toward the kitchen. “Go help your sister!” she ordered Jacob, who looked worried: like somehow this was the ‘grown ups’ plan to snatch their baby going into immediate operation! He shot Clara what he hoped was a comforting smile. “I’ll be right back!” he said, walking backward toward the kitchen door.
Once he was gone, Granny sat back down in her rocking chair and rocked herself back and forth with nonchalant ease while drinking in the prim looking but certainly feisty Miss Clara Redmond.
“So” she finally said “How long you and our Jacob been seein’ each other?”
“We’re in luck, Grandma’s in a good mood today.” He assured her, slightly let down that she hadn’t given him even the briefest of embraces, but also understanding that she must be feeling a little on edge visiting their somewhat unusual family set up. Sometimes he felt nervous coming back here himself!
Clara frowned, "I would hate to see her bad moods."
“You and me both!” he joked, nervously as they went in and Granny ordered Clara to sit while Leonora enquired after Mr Redmond.
Clara winced just slightly but only addressed his sister, "Yes he did, ma'am. And he wanted me to tell you that he did not escort me all the way to the door because he had important matters to attend to....at the bank. You know how early those banks close."
“They’re NEVER open when you want ‘em!” exclaimed Mrs Miggins “And as soon as they DO bother to open, they go and get themselves ROBBED! Your Pa put money in that bank … um…”
She frowned, and for one horrible moment both Jacob and Lee paled, thinking Granny might call Clara ‘Joanna’ by mistake, the name of his last girlfriend.
“… Clara? Well, he’s a braver man than me and that’s saying something!” she finished. “Oh well” the old harridan glanced over at Leonora derisively “Looks like you put your best frock on for nothing!”.
“Oh Grandma, you know I wear this old thing all the time.” Replied the Lutz girl, her cheeks blazing bright red again. For someone with a weak heart, she sure managed to pump that blood up to her face at the slightest intimation of her interest in Clara’s father.
Granny next turned her attention to Jacob, still standing in the room by the door. The chair Clara was occupying was more of a small settee, and the Matriarch of the household now looked at the lad and pointed to it. “What you standin’ around like a bean pole for? Go and sit next to the poor girl. She’s come all this way here to see ya!”
Jacob perched gingerly next to Clara, feeling bizarrely ill at ease.
Lee, feeling the awkwardness of the ensuing silence tried to make conversation, smiling at Clara and saying “Oh Clara, I have been telling your Father all about my plans to start up again the local Farmers’ Union!”
Granny Miggins muttered something under her breath that sounded very much like “The poor bastard.”
Sagas of the WIld West is a roleplaying game set in a fictionalized version of the town of Kalispell in Montana territory. Our stories begin in 1875 and are set against the backdrop of actual historical events.Sagas was inspired by the classic television and movie westerns. Our focus is on writing, storytelling and character development.
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