Other Characters by this Player
There's nothing here yet
The effect that Caroline had on James wasn’t exactly a positive one given how nervous she made him. The fact that he’d been caught in Arabella’s room sans trousers while they were being mended did not make the rather reserved young man comfortable in her presence. A fact that had nothing to do with her physical appearance.
When her hand tightened on his arm, James glanced down at her, shifting slightly before laying his free hand atop hers in an effort to offer comfort. He assumed that she was feeling uncomfortable in the saloon. Heavens knows he did.
Of all the women he’d met since his arrival Frances was the one he was most comfortable with. Arabella and Caroline were most definitely not his type.
James was here to escort her, to be her eyes, and to use his legal knowledge to ensure that everything was on the up and up. He had not finished his studies, but he was intelligent and had learned more than enough to support her in this endeavor.
The throaty voice calling out an owed sum that increased even as she spoke had James stiffening on behalf of the young woman at his side. He was about to reply that she needed to produce the signed I.O.U. when Caroline spoke up, cutting the would-be debtor off at the knees so to speak.
The kindness that Caroline showed Frances made him smile in gratitude for the brash young barmaid. He wasn’t comfortable around her still, but he thought higher of her now than he had just a few minutes ago. All because of the kindness she’d shown the young lady on his arm. “Thank you Miss Caroline.” he said, before turning to look down at Francis, his smile warming. “Shall we be off then?” he asked her, trying not to reveal just how eager he was to leave the saloon behind them.
Taking care to avoid splinters was hardly dithering so when she called his name again, James kept moving, though he didn’t hurry for good reason. “Be right there.” He called back smothering the urge to sigh.
“Quite all right.” He said, then gave a little bow in response to her quick curtsy. “Shall we be off then?” The sooner they arrived the sooner this evening’s outing would be done so he could go home again.
James swallowed since he wasn’t exactly nervous, but he was more than a little apprehensive since he really hadn't wanted to attend Mr. Pettigrew’s little gathering in the first place. “Are you planning to play the piano this evening?” James asked politely when she patted his arm with the hand resting in the crook of his elbow.
James bit back a yelp as the shop girl, or so he assumed practically dragged them both through the door. “Warn us?” He looked up as if he could see through the room’s ceiling to those above. He choked when Arabella said that he just looked like a cissy, then managed a brief comment in response to both of the young women, “None taken.”
James admittedly didn’t really want to be here, but bolting would be ungentlemanly so he was stuck. When Jemima began herding them, he moved between Jemima and Arabella so that she was protected. As they reached the top of the stair, James drew Arabella to the side so Jemima could wiggle past and announce them.
James let Arabella precede him, his gaze sweeping over the trio in Pettigrew’s quarters above his shop. The man he hadn’t met before hardly seemed the sort he should worry about so he relaxed a little, waiting to be introduced properly.
“Hardly fitting for a gentleman to keep a lady waiting.” He replied, giving a little bow, then grimaced at his own idiocrasy since she couldn’t see him. “Right as rain. Thank you for asking.” He was speaking formulaically as well, but hoped that he didn’t sound too stiff.
“Glad to hear it, Miss Francis.” James said sincerely, catching her extended hand in his own. He stepped closer, tucking her hand in the crook of his elbow, putting her on the side away from the road as he guided her along the street in the direction of their destination.
Truthfully, James wasn’t considered that great a catch either. An Englishman who was barely scraping by, in a town of rough around the edges Americans with skills that he lacked, necessary ones for life on the frontier. When he touched her hand, James was struck by the difference in the sizes between his hand and hers. Not that his was stronger, since he didn’t work with his hands.
James didn’t think about the fact that the door would swing that way, and barely managed to keep it from hitting the young lady he was escorting into the saloon. He was apologizing under his breath for his mistake when it dawned on him that the sound in the room had dropped into utter silence. He looked around, wondering if he’d made some huge faux pas by bringing Frances into an establishment such as this.
He did his best to hide his relief as the conversations resumed, albeit at a lower volume than before. He looked for the man he’d seen before when Arabella had dragged him into the saloon the day he’d saved her life. “Good morning Miss Caroline.” James said, relieved by the arrival of a familiar face. “Not to worry.” He waved his free hand dismissing the fact that she’d forgotten his surname. “Actually no….” James replied, gesturing to the woman on his arm. “I’m merely here to help Miss Frances….. Err…. settle her late brother’s…. Um…. affairs.”
Not that he would’ve admitted it there was a part of James that really hoped something, anything would come up to cancel the dinner at the old man’s home. But as the rapping at his own door proved he was not to be so lucky. Good manners had required that he be ready, even if not exactly willing. Dressed in his second-best outfit, James had been sitting on the stool beside his bed in the loft of the little house he’d rented.
Hearing her voice James laid down the book he’d been reading, making his way to the ladder and climbing down with care, for the wood wasn’t exactly the smoothest a fact he’d learned the hard way. He knew he needed to do something about that, but what he really didn’t know, short of wrapping each rung in fabric thick enough to prevent being jabbed.
As Arabella yelled louder, James winced but didn’t dare hurry because of the risk of splinters from the ladder. “I’ll be there in a moment.” He called back, raising his voice a little, not that he came close to matching her volume. He didn’t know she was peeking at him through the cracks and the keyhole but had he known, he’d have been shocked. That was not the behavior of the proper young ladies from his home country.
Another wince, this time equal parts for the volume of her yells and the fact that she once again called him by something else other than his name. Crossing the main floor, James opened the door. "Good afternoon Miss Arabella. As I said before my name is James.” He offered her one of his bashful smiles, hoping this time she could retain the fact that his name was not Jimmy. "We'd best hurry. Wouldn't want to be late." James was too embarrassed to look and see if any of his neighbors were watching after the way she's been yelling so loudly. He offered her his arm and started down the road toward the main part of the tiny town.
James had done everything he could to help Frances during her time of grief, though from what he’d overheard about her brother perhaps she was better off without the man, not that he would ever say such a thing to her. It was not the way a gentleman behaved, and wasn’t his place, especially since he hadn’t even known the man. He had not attended the funeral, feeling it to be too forward, even though he’d been doing what he could to support the young lady in her time of grief.
His hands in his trouser pockets against the chill of the morning breeze, James hurried down the road, doing his best to avoid stepping in any of the horse droppings that were in his way. His shoes were not new, but they were still serviceable so he wanted to keep them as nice as he could for as long as possible. He did look up having assured himself that the road between them was clear, so he had time to take in the change in her appearance. The glasses allowed more of her face to be seen, but they did little to mask the fact that her eyes behaved rather oddly. Fortunately, he had time to compose himself before he drew within range for easy conversation with the lady in question. James was rather shy, especially around women.
“Good morning to you Miss Grimes.” James said, returning her smile as he closed the distance between them, with his long strides. “I am doing well, as I hope you are…. again.” he said, his voice pitching slightly higher as he remembered her recent bout of illness. Why was it that he always felt the fool when it came to his interactions with the fairer sex? When he was closer, he reached out a hand, touching her elbow so he could guide her to the saloon.
“Thanks…?” James struggled to keep his voice from breaking when he responded to the older man’s quip about his avoidance of hurting Arabella’s feelings regarding how she spoke.
A bead of sweat ran down James’s temple as he forced himself not to look over at Arabella for fear of giving away more than he intended. “No sir.” He managed to choke out, with a twist of his lips that was closer to a grimace than a smile.
Because he had been trying to edge away, James froze when Mr. Pettigrew turned his attention from the young girl back to him, inwardly groaning to himself, though he managed a smile that certainly appeared to be genuine.
Unable to argue that point James merely cleared his throat before stating quietly, “Which is why I was studying to be a solicitor sir, rather than a barrister. I’m well aware of my….. Shortcomings.” He said with as much dignity as he could manage.
James wanted to refuse, but given the current state of his finances, he was hardly in a position to turn down a free meal. His efforts to cook for himself were proving to be a dismal failure. In fact, he’d narrowly avoided burning himself rather badly on more than one occasion.
James would’ve protested but for the fact that Mr. Pettigrew mentioned being a lonely old man. The breath left his lung on a long slow exhale as he forced a smile. “I’d be delighted.”
“Have a good day sir.” James told the Marshal with a little nod of his head as the older man made his farewells and departed, leaving he and Frances alone in the office.
James hadn’t encountered another blind person before so he had no idea what type of things they needed to function in a sighted world, so when the idea of folding the money occurred to him he’d been eager to share it. In the hopes of making life a little easier for the young lady before him.
Because he was by nature a kind-hearted man, it would be likely that he would come up with ideas in the hopes of making her life easier. But hopefully not enough to be a nuisance to Frances. Her assessment of him while less than flattering for James really wasn’t that far off the mark. James did in many ways resemble an over-eager puppy, with his gangly limbs and his desire to please.
“The saloon?” James echoed a little hesitantly since his experience with the saloon in town hadn’t been the greatest. “If that’s where you need to go then that's where we will go.” He thought he could keep her safe, if only because he had no intention of taking her there in the evening when the place would be busier. “I think the morning would be best.” He suggested, trying to hide his worry.
James flushed once again when Arabella looked him over, trying to figure out what Pettigrew had said regarding him.
Since he’d done the gentlemanly thing and tried to help her, James’ life had gone all topsy-turvy. While he assumed they would see each other around town during his stay, he wasn’t exactly thrilled when Pettigrew told her that she should spend as much time with him as was possible.
“He said grammar, not grandmother.” James told her with a faint smile though her misunderstanding really only served to prove what the older man had just told her regarding the way that she spoke, though he thought that Pettigrew had been rather harsh in his statement to the young girl. One thing James suspected about Arabella was that she hadn’t had much in the way of formal education.
“Er… well….” James stammered for a moment, then cleared his throat, uncomfortably then straightened his shoulders, since he while he hadn’t known Arabella very long he rather enjoyed the younger girl’s company, even if he had to puzzle out what she was saying half the time.
He offered an apologetic smile, speaking as gently as he could. “I’ve yet to hear you speak an unkind word to anyone Miss Mudd.” He told her, “But I do admit that I have had quite some difficulty understanding the way Americans speak.” He looked over at Mr. Pettigrew, including him in that group since the southern drawl wasn’t always that easy for him to understand. He cast a longing look at the door to the saloon, praying for some kind of distraction so he could make his escape. "I really should be going." he said, a trifle faintly.
James had been a member of what Pettigrew called the landed gentry, but these days he hardly knew what to call himself now what his brother had cut him off after the death of their father just last year. So much had changed for him in a relatively short period of time. He tried to smile at the older man, but it came out more as a grimace despite his best efforts. “You’re not entirely wrong good sir.” James told him, his tone somber, “The estate passed to my elder brother.” He left it at that, not wanting to share his personal affairs with a stranger.
It took James a moment to shift gears mentally when Arabella started speaking excitedly about math terms since he and Pettigrew had been discussing something else entirely. “That’s right.” he agreed when he could get a word in. “Both of you.” he told them with a shy smile for them both.
James smiled back, forgetting again that she could not see it. Truthfully he would be hard pressed to stop himself from doing such things even in her presence but for those who had sight, they would struggle to imagine how she lived as well as she did without it. It was as ingrained in him as it was for her doing without. Because he’d been raised at all-male boarding schools, the young British man had very limited experience with the fairer sex, this was simply a fact, one that James had no trouble acknowledging.
When she joked with the Marshall regarding being weighed down with metal coins, James chuckled at her jest, stopping suddenly as something occurred to him. “I say!” He exclaimed, then rushed on, “Have you ever given thought to folding each kind of bill in a different way so that you can tell which is which?” He caught his breath then, waiting to see what she or the Marshall thought of his latest idea. If she needed his assistance in the folding, he'd be happy to help her.
As she suspected, James was oblivious to the fact that she was gently flirting with him, taking everything at face value, his inexperience with the fairer sex once again rearing it’s head. He caught something of the heat that colored her cheeks, and the errant thought passed through his mind that she might be falling ill. Not uncommon so soon after the passing of a loved one.