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  1. Brendan, unaware of the bashing his actions and reputation were getting downstairs, was listening to the footsteps approaching the door. He tilted his head to one side to hear Bridget’s breathing. Steady and slow. She was asleep. He eased himself out of the bed and padded to the door in his sock feet, then slipped outside to face Caroline. It was Caroline. “Hey. Gimme a minute.” He peered at her face in the shadows of the landing and pushed open the next door. It might have been Crabbe’s room, or Fa’s. Whoever it had belonged to, it was empty now. Fumbling around until he found the lamp by the bed, he turned up the wick and faced Caroline as light sprang up in the room. “What’d you hear?” His arms hung by his side as if in defeat. Even though he didn’t know what the marshal and doctor were saying about him, he knew the marshal wasn’t pleased, and he knew Granny Miggins was on the warpath. It stood to reason that Caroline had heard something from one of them. He’d thought she of all people would be on his side. She’d told him he shouldn’t marry Bridget, and had even volunteered to help take care of her in the event of Crabbe’s death. It was one of the reasons he’d said no to Crabbe. But as he looked at Caroline now, there was something foreboding in her face. What had she heard? What was she thinking?
  2. Bridget’s words startled Brendan, making his heart do a little somersault. She loved him. He smiled in spite of the turmoil in his mind, and in spite of the fact that there was a dead body downstairs and a cantankerous old lady ruining his reputation outside. Bridget loved him. Leaning forward, he kissed her softly. “I love you too, Bridget.” He pulled the covers down and eased himself into the bed beside her, then put one arm around her and pulled her gently down beside him. ”Let’s go to sleep, huh? Everything’ll be better in the morning.” As he closed his eyes, he heard a woman’s voice from downstairs. Not Granny Miggin’s strident tone, but one that could be equally as strident if the speaker wanted. Caroline. Brendan cursed silently and buried his face in Bridget’s shoulder. He didn’t want to face Caroline right now.
  3. Brendan's eyes widened as Bridget mentioned him marrying her, and then mentioned Caroline. He was in this whole mess because he wouldn't marry Bridget, and everyone hearing that he'd been "comforting" Caroline wouldn't help matters anyway. He could feel the disapproval radiating off of the marshal, and looked up sullenly. It wasn't his fault that Crabbe's heart had decided to give out on the day he slept with Bridget. But maybe it was a blessing in disguise, somehow. At any rate, he wasn't in trouble with the law; just in disfavor with the marshal. The last bit about Granny Miggins surprised him, but after he thought about it a minute he wasn't surprised anymore. It was too much to expect a gossipy old biddy like her to leave when the marshal told her to. Once Speed left, the only person left was Charlie, and although his disapproval was not as evident as Speed's had been, Brendan felt it more keenly. Charlie was about the same age as him, and for someone his age to consider himself so morally superior was annoying. So he bristled when the young deputy suggested that he take Bridget away, even though it was a perfectly sensible suggestion. "I know," he snapped, rising from the chair and scooping Bridget into his arms. As he strode to the stairs carrying Bridget bridal-style, his brows furrowed in thought. He really should take her away from here. Even the saloon, just for the night, would be better than this. But it was late and he was tired, so he trudged up the stairs back into Bridget's bedroom and set her gently on the bed, kneeling in front of her. "There. That wasn't so bad, was it?" he said softly. "Now it's time to go to sleep, and I'll be right here when you wake up."
  4. Aurelian had a point about all farms being similar. Lucinda knew that his farm wouldn't be grand. It was a farm, not a ranch, after all. But his farm was a farm, not a homestead. A homestead was only the beginning of a farm, and Francis had left her all alone on a homestead. "Of course you miss her," Lucinda said sympathetically. "She's your daughter." Not that she knew what it felt like to have a daughter, or a child past infancy. But she knew how easy it was to get attached to children, even those that weren't her own. Aurelian luckily had a solution to her problem, and a quick one at that. It almost made her wonder if he'd been thinking about asking her this for a while. "Well, you make it sound so easy. So...yes," she said with a smile. Then, remembering that she was technically at work, she grabbed Aurelian's empty pie plate and headed back for the kitchen, beckoning to him. "Don't feel like you have to rush off. But don't forget Wyatt's pie when you do leave."
  5. Brendan frowned at the change in Speed's demeanor. He couldn't quite put his finger on what had changed or why. But his words were short and brusque, not reassuring the way they'd been with Bridget. And the only reason for the change was what Bridget had told the marshal. He shifted Bridget in his lap and looked up at Speed, still frowning. "What happened next?" His tone became slightly belligerent. "I already told you what happened next. He grabbed at his heart an' the gun went off. I thought he'd shot me at first. Then he hit the table and fell. Bridget ran over to him, grabbed the gun, and gave it to me when I went to comfort her." That was simplifying things a bit, but it was the facts. Bridget might be able to confirm them, or she might not. He was tired of people being suspicious of him and really just wanted to climb back into bed with Bridget and go to sleep.
  6. Lucinda stared at the table, absorbing Aurelian's sympathy. She knew everyone out here dealt with loss in one way or another, but Aurelian's loss seemed so similar to hers. It made the loneliness seem less lonely. She was surprised by Aurelian's proposed outing to the farm and stared at him open-mouthed for a moment. Then, slowly recovering her sense of propriety and ability to talk, she nodded. "When I left the homestead, I never wanted to see another farm again. But your farm...it sounds different than the one I left. So...yes, Aurelian, I would be happy to go out to the farm with you." She smiled at the last bit of Aurelian's invitation. "I would be happy to cook a meal while I am out at the farm, but I'm sure it would be a better meal if Clara cooked it." Some of the sparkle had come back into her eyes at the prospect of going out to the farm. But then she realized there was a problem. "I don't own a horse. How would I get out to the farm?" She knew very well how she could get out to the farm - ask someone from town going out that way to take her - but if Aurelian offered to fetch her she wouldn't refuse him.
  7. Brendan held Bridget close as they approached the body, letting her know he was there for her with his physical presence. The marshal's voice was calming and reassuring, and Bridget seemed to understand he was there to help. He watched with crossed arms as Bridget struggled to process Speed's words, and let out his breath when she finally began to talk. "Lorenzo angry... angry with Brendan. 'Cause...we...we loved... in bed... we loved..." Well, there went what he'd been trying to keep a secret. It would have had to come out sometime. Brendan darted a glance at Speed. At Bridget's appealing glance, he moved closer and lifted her out of the chair momentarily, before sliding into the seat and pulling her sideways into his lap like he would hold one of his younger siblings. With his arm wrapped protectively around her, he glanced up at Speed before focusing his attention on Bridget's red hair. "He'd asked if I would marry her...before...and he pulled the gun on me when I said I couldn't."
  8. Brendan nodded once at Speed and headed for the stairs. He took his time so as not to make loud clomping noises on the stairs that might startle Bridget. As he stepped into the bedroom, he heard the little whimper Bridget made. It twisted up his insides and he brushed past Charlie, whispering, "Let me." He approached the bed quietly and cleared his throat. "Bridget, it's me." He knelt down and put his hand gently where her head would be. Keeping his voice soft and calm, he continued, "I need you to do somethin' for me. Marshal Guyer's here, and he wants to ask you some questions about me." He waited a minute, stroking Bridget's head underneath the covers. "If I carry you downstairs, can you talk to him?" There was a lot riding on the way Bridget reacted. Brendan knew what most people didn't: the redhead wasn't stupid, she just had a hard time talking. She should be able to understand everything Speed asked her, but would she be able to respond? And then the even bigger question: could he convince her to come out from under the covers and go back downstairs?
  9. Lucinda's eyes widened. Clara was pregnant? Newly married Clara? She wondered if Jacob knew. The shock on her face was evident as she stared at Aurelian. Luckily, she didn't have to respond since Aurelian continued. It's going to complicate their lives alright. I know that well, having been a father three times," he added, then figured he should explain, "We did lose a child at birth sadly." Lucinda looked down at the table, her shock dissolving into sadness, both for Aurelian and for herself at the reminder of her own dead children. "I was pregnant three times." She stopped and swallowed away the grief, not planning on saying anything else unless Aurelian asked her. The conversation moved on to Clara's pies. Lucinda was impressed that Clara had won prizes for her pies. She smiled at Aurelian's fatherly bragging. "I didn't know that. She doesn't seem like the type to boast about her own accomplishments, though. And...to be fair...we only met today." She sobered at the mention of Clara's mother. "Why, yes, that makes sense. Emeline strikes me as a very motherly type. I think she's the reason I wanted to stay, even if I didn't realize it at the time."
  10. Brendan’s eyes widened as he watched Speed mimic the deceased Crabbe’s actions. That was exactly what he’d done, thinking back on it. ”Yeah,” he said slowly. “Just like that.” A heart attack. It all seemed so simple. But it didn’t help matters that Crabbe had still shot himself, and that the only witness to the event was Bridget. Brendan shrugged. “I know she would, but I dunno if she can.” He drew in a deep breath, beginning to relax a little. Now that the immediate danger of being lynched had been averted, he could think about what to do next. But it seemed Speed wasn’t quite done, asking if he wanted to add anything to his story. Brendan hesitated. Up until now he’d left out why Crabbe was pointing a gun at him. The marshal was probably wondering why. Would he keep asking questions until Brendan spilled the beans? Brendan decided to risk silence and shook his head, his lips tightening. “Nuh-uh,” he said brusquely. With a glance at the stairs, he ventured, “I’ll go help Charlie with Bridget if need be.”
  11. Fortunately for Brendan, the Marshal was not as quick to jump to conclusions as Granny Miggins, and was going to give Brendan a chance to explain what had happened. With a last angry wounded look at Granny Miggins and ignoring her dig about him making up a tale, Brendan went ahead of Speed into the house. As Charlie appeared at the top of the stairs, Brendan frowned at Speed. "She's fine. A little shook up, probably. But she ain't hurt." He led the way to the table where the whiskey bottle and glasses still sat. They'd been undisturbed by Crabbe's fall on the table. The normalcy of the scene contrasted with the bloody body on the floor. The only thing out of place was the little derringer on the edge of the table where Brendan had left it. "There." Brendan pointed, taking a few hesitant steps toward Crabbe. "I don't know what happened. He was pointin' the gun at me, then all of a sudden...he wasn't. He kinda grabbed at himself and fell - hit his face." By this time he was level with the table, and patted it with the palm of his hand to illustrate. "And there was a shot," he finished. "Don't know if that was what did for him or not."
  12. At Speed's words, Brendan jerked his head around to look back at the house. It was good he hadn't gone out the back door, then. He waited for Bridget to appear with Charlie, but all he heard was a quick thumping of Bridget's leg on the floor that faded. What was she doing? He frowned as he lowered his hands and looked back at Speed, nodding sheepishly. He did have a habit of ending up with dead people. But it wasn't really funny at the moment, and it certainly wasn't funny when Granny Miggins let loose. "That's true! He murdered that poor boy Billy, it's all around the town, and now he's plugged Crabbe! Look at all that blood! Don't let him put his hands down Marshall - desperate character like that'll have a secret weapon someplace!" Brendan's head came up. "I did not murder Billy, and I sure as hell didn't murder Crabbe!" The only secret weapon he had was his eyes, which were glaring hurt daggers at the old woman. Billy's death was still painful, and to accuse Brendan of it was doubly painful. And now she wanted to get up a lynch mob? Brendan swallowed, hoping the Marshal would have more sense than to listen to Granny Miggins. And, praise be, he did. Brendan clenched his fists, took a deep breath, and answered Speed's questions." "Bridget saw what happened. She was right there in the room with us." He paused and flexed the fingers on one hand. "Fa left earlier today, to go to New York. That's what he told Arabella and me." He felt a sudden rush of relief at the fact that part of his story could be backed up by Arabella (although if he'd thought about it a little more, the relief might have vanished since Arabella had the tendency to embellish things).
  13. "Well, Clara seems happy," Lucinda ventured. "I hope her life with Jacob is easy." She looked down at her hand which still clasped Aurelian's, and finally let go, grinning at Wyatt's philosophy about marriage and girls. "Enjoy him hating girls while you can," she said with a laugh. "Soon he'll be like Hector, following me around like I've bewitched him!" At first she'd tried to be polite to Hector, but living with Jemima and Mrs. Wigfall had soon shown her a better way to deal with the young man. She let his sister or his mother take care of Hector, and just kept to her room when she wasn't eating. "But never mind about Hector," she continued. "How was Clara's pie? Up to her usual standards?" She looked down at the empty plate. He had sure cleaned the plate up, so it must have been good. @Wayfarer
  14. Brendan tensed further as Speed’s voice came from outside. From the front. His eyes darted to the back of the funeral parlor, and he debated fleeing; even pressing the gun back into Bridget’s hand before he fled. But that thought was a fleeting one, and he set the gun down on the table. It made a small thunk that sounded as loud as his heartbeat felt. He’d already faced up to Crabbe and things had turned out all right. Sort of. How much worse could it get? He tiptoed to the door and called, “Charlie Fa ain’t here! It’s Brendan Connolly. I’m comin’ out.” He opened the door slowly and stepped out with his hands raised. “Crabbe’s in there…but he’s dead.” Let them make of that what they would. “Bridget’s here too. She didn’t do nothin’.” He glanced back at the funeral parlor and called softly, “Bridget. Come out here.” There was nothing to do now but wait for the inevitable questions. He kept his hands raised, peering out into the dark. @Javia @JulieS @Flip
  15. Brendan felt some relief flood through him as the stock of the pistol, warm from Bridget and Crabbe’s grip, landed in his palm. It was reassuring. The gun wasn’t where Bridget could hurt herself or someone else with it. But poor Bridget, stammering to get that one word out, was hurting and confused. Brendan exhaled slowly. “He don’t need a doctor, Bridget,” he said softly. “He’s…dead.” In the silence, he could hear some noise from the street. Someone outside. He cocked his head and listened, heart suddenly thudding. This would not look good to anyone who happened to be in the street. @Javia @Flip @JulieS

About Sagas

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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