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Not to Worry


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Bad enough that Miss Arabella was Miss Arabella, but to be an apologetic Miss Arabella sent a bit of a chill through Weedy.  Maybe he could think of a way to fall out of the loft onto a pitchfork or something?

 

"She doesn't have to apologize," he muttered hopefully, "she's just being a girl, right?"  Jemima would know what that meant, she'd be a girl once.

 

They were met by soft nickering when they entered the barn...Arabesque was hungry!

 

"There's only Duke, Mike and Arabesque now, they're Miz Addy's own horses," he explained.  "There's a bin over there with grain in it, you can give them each a bucket full and they'll love you forever!"

 

He surely wasn't going to let her climb into the loft to get the hay, he'd do that himself, he was used to it.  And as intimidating as Addy's team of huge Belgium horses were, they were known as 'gentle giants' for a good reason.  As for Arabesque, the little sorrel mare was just happy for food!

 

"Miz Jemima, do you really think Miz Addy is all right?  Oh, and Miz Caroline, too."

 

@Javia

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"She doesn't have to apologize," he muttered hopefully, "she's just being a girl, right?"  Jemima would know what that meant, she'd be a girl once.

 

"Hey, don't tar us all with the same brush!" countered Jemima, then felt a little bad and added "She's not all bad, I suppose. You know what, Porter? This time last year I didn't have a single friend in Kalispell, even though I've lived here all my life. She's the first person ever to... well, to be nice to me that way. It's nice to have friends. You're pals with Wyatt Redmond, aren't you? I see you knocking around together."

 

They were met by soft nickering when they entered the barn...Arabesque was hungry!

 

"There's only Duke, Mike and Arabesque now, they're Miz Addy's own horses," he explained.  "There's a bin over there with grain in it, you can give them each a bucket full and they'll love you forever!"

 

"OK boss!" Jemima said, cheerfully enough (well, cheerful for her: she always looked kinda glum, somehow).

 

"Miz Jemima, do you really think Miz Addy is all right?  Oh, and Miz Caroline, too."

 

"Course they are. According to what that army feller told Hector, they should be back home all safe and sound tomorrow: and we're going to look pretty silly when we tell them we stayed up all night worrying about them!" she said. She carried on putting the feed in the buckets while she said all this: she couldn't look into his innocent trusting eyes while she was lying to him.

 

The 'Army feller' had actually told her brother that things looked bad: a patrol had gone out, but it was more of a 'forlorn hope' than anything, and the most the Cavalry could really achieve was to reek revenge on behalf of the almost certainly dead white women captives and those the redskins had killed earlier that day.

 

When the inevitable grim news came through tomorrow, she would be there for Porter, and for Arabella. 

 

She looked at the horses. "So, which one's which?" she asked, changing the subject.

 

@Bongo

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"I guess so." Weedy shrugged, dropping flakes of hay through holes in the loft floor above the stalls, then scrambling back down the ladder.  He was glad for the change of topic, but he was going to stay worried.

 

"This is Duke," he went over to one of the stalls, peering in at the huge horse there, "he's strong and steady, he likes carrots.  This one..." he moved to the next stall, "is Mike.  He likes sugar cubes and lemon-drops." 

 

At the moment, the horses were busy munching on their supper, so they were paying little mind to their company, but in the morning, Weedy could get them out to brush them.

 

"And, this is Arabesque."  The boy climbed onto the gate to the mare's stall, hanging over it to lean in.  "She's Miz Addy's saddle horse, but she lets me ride her."  He looked back at Jemima.  "I'm going to get my own horse!  Fast and strong...I might name him Ace.  Or maybe Fred."

 

@Javia

 

 

 

 

 

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"This is Duke," he went over to one of the stalls, peering in at the huge horse there, "he's strong and steady, he likes carrots.  This one..." he moved to the next stall, "is Mike.  He likes sugar cubes and lemon-drops." 

 

Jemima nodded; she immediately warmed more to Mike than Duke, mainly because she preferred lemon drops to carrots! Hector always used to point out to their mother that he had finished up all his carrots and that Jemima had left half of hers, and she would be ordered to finish the odious things. Duke could have her share in future. 

 

Getting annoyed at her twin had become second nature over nineteen years, and at her bossy mother and always absent father: but she looked over now at Weedy and considered: he hadn't got any family in the world right now; since the fly-by-night Mr Ryker had high-tailed it and now Addy had gone missing. Her usually slow-beating and leaden heart throbbed a little faster and harder for the poor lad. 

 

"And, this is Arabesque."  The boy climbed onto the gate to the mare's stall, hanging over it to lean in.  "She's Miz Addy's saddle horse, but she lets me ride her."  He looked back at Jemima.  "I'm going to get my own horse!  Fast and strong...I might name him Ace.  Or maybe Fred."

 

She smiled her small little smile. Funny, helping look after Weedy in these unfortunate circumstances, she'd probably smiled more tonight than in the last five years. "I like Fred." she said. 'Ace' sounded a little bit show-off-y. 

 

"I had a pet woodlouse called Fred, once, but my brother squashed him" she said morosely. "When I find the right feller and get married and get a house of my own, I'm going to have as many woodlice as I like!" she told the boy, as she carried over the heavy buckets of grain like they were full of feathers. 

 

@Bongo

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"A woodlouse?"  Nose wrinkled up, Weedy looked up at the young woman.  "You mean, like a rolly-poly bug?"  What kind of pet was that?  But then, who was he to judge, he'd never given the creatures more attention beyond making them curl up so he could flit them across the floor!

 

"So...was he trained?  Could he do tricks?"  The curiosity was genuine, he'd never tried to train a bug, so maybe it was possible?  "I'm sorry your brother squished him...that wasn't  nice at all!"

 

While there were times he wanted a big brother, more often than not, it seemed better not to have one, and certainly when it came to squishing pet bugs, it was better to be an only child!

 

"Here!"  Digging in his pocket, he pulled out some lint-y lemon drop pieces and held some out to Jemima, then fed a bit to Arabesque.

 

@Javia

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"A woodlouse?"  Nose wrinkled up, Weedy looked up at the young woman.  "You mean, like a rolly-poly bug?"  What kind of pet was that?  But then, who was he to judge, he'd never given the creatures more attention beyond making them curl up so he could flit them across the floor!

 

"Yeah, a rolly-poly. Pillbug. but when I told the Professor about him, Fred that is, he said the proper name was a woodlouse or armadillida. I thought it sounded more dignified." she said. This rather gave the impression that Fred had been her pet a few weeks ago rather than as a little girl.

 

"So...was he trained?  Could he do tricks?"  The curiosity was genuine, he'd never tried to train a bug, so maybe it was possible?

 

"Well, not really" she replied "But he was a very loyal friend."

 

 "I'm sorry your brother squished him...that wasn't  nice at all!"

 

"He sorta gets jealous of me." Jemima explained. "Funny that, we fight and argue all the time; but I reckon if some feller started trying to court me, Heck'd probably go and knock that feller's block off. Squish him like he did Fred." Jemima mused. She'd had similar feelings about Miriam Kaufmann, when she'd found out about her Brother's sordid little tête-à-tête with her pretty work colleague. 

 

"Here!"  Digging in his pocket, he pulled out some lint-y lemon drop pieces and held some out to Jemima, then fed a bit to Arabesque.

 

"Thanks" she said, popping one into her mouth. "Oh, you mean for the horses." she realised as he fed one to Miss Addy's saddle horse.

 

@Bongo

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"You can have one, too," Weedy said with a shrug, taking the opportunity to nibble on a piece himself, not minding the bit of lint that was stuck to it, that was easy enough to spit out! 

 

"Why don't your brother want anyone to court you?" Weedy asked, scrambling down from the fence.  "I'm not ever going to court a girl, and I'm never getting married!" he declared, then gave up his big secret.  "Me and a friend...I and a friend are going to go to San Francisco and maybe be pirates!" 

 

He'd invite Miz Jemima, but he'd have to ask Wyatt first.  As for being a pirate, it didn't dawn in his little-kid brain that a pirate was just an outlaw with a ship!  Well, and a cool flag!

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"Why don't your brother want anyone to court you?" Weedy asked, scrambling down from the fence. 

 

Jemima just shook her head, wondering about the feelings she'd felt when she found out about Hector and Miriam. Maybe it was just the realisation that they were growing up and would, inevitably, soon separate. Love him or hate him, Jemima had lived cheek by jowl with Hector since even before they were born: even if they had spent that nine months in the womb feuding and fighting and throwing tiny fists into each other's foetal faces. 

 

"It's just a 'twin thing'" was the best she could answer "At least you won't have that problem when you start sparking with the young ladies!" she told him, slightly teasing.

 

"I'm not ever going to court a girl, and I'm never getting married!" he declared, then gave up his big secret.  "Me and a friend...I and a friend are going to go to San Francisco and maybe be pirates!" 

 

Jemima guessed he meant Wyatt Redmond. "That's the best idea I ever heard." she nodded, apparently quite seriously. 

 

"Ask your friend if I can come, too. But listen, let's not get one of those old-style wooden pirate ships, let's get a new-fangled, steam-driven ironclad, that way we can defeat any other ship on the high seas. And you and Redbeard Redmond can keep all the treasure, but if we capture a warship with a handsome young Captain, I'm gonna have him for my personal cabin boy; and if he don't do exactly what I tell him to do, I'm going to have him keel-hauled!" the frowsy looking girl panted, an intense fire gleaming in her black piggy little eyes.

 

He'd invite Miz Jemima, but he'd have to ask Wyatt first.  As for being a pirate, it didn't dawn in his little-kid brain that a pirate was just an outlaw with a ship!  Well, and a cool flag!

 

"Don't tell Arabella" Jemima warned "Or she'll want to play pirates and we'll have to spend all night tying her to the mast and making her walk the plank and tickling her feet to make her reveal where the buried treasure is." 

 

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Weedy rolled his eyes at the mention of Arabella.  "She'd never stop talking!  Besides, we don't want girls, they're unlucky."  Of course, Jemima fell into the category that Addy did, sure, she was a girl, but she wasn't a girl.

 

"I can ask Wyatt if you can come...er....my friend if you can come.  It might be all right.  But for the ship..."  Maybe she hadn't listened in history class?  "Um...the USS Tecumseh..."  That one was sunk by a mine or something, so he figured as long as they stayed away from mines and torpedoes!

 

"If we can find one, that would be a good idea, I guess.  I wonder if there are any in San Francisco?"  Most of that aspect of the War had been fought in the east, and he wasn't sure if any had made it this far here.  "Or maybe we can figure out how to make one?"

 

He shrugged, pondering the matter.  "We want to capture merchant ships, to get their cargo, right?  Things from all over the world, then we can go to Tortuga and have a feast!"

 

@Javia

 

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Weedy rolled his eyes at the mention of Arabella.  "She'd never stop talking!  Besides, we don't want girls, they're unlucky."  Of course, Jemima fell into the category that Addy did, sure, she was a girl, but she wasn't a girl.

 

"Yep!" Jemima agreed "And besides, there's only room for one Pirate Queen on the oceans. It'll be handy having Captain Cut-throat James and Redbeard Redmond on hand though, you can take over any warships we capture; we'll just loot and sink the other prizes. We'll have an entire fleet pretty soon. Then the three of us can have a cutlass duel to see who becomes Grand Admiral of the pirate fleet." she said as Fred lazily ate the hay she was feeding him.

 

"I can ask Wyatt if you can come...er....my friend if you can come.  It might be all right.  But for the ship..."  Maybe she hadn't listened in history class?  "Um...the USS Tecumseh..."  That one was sunk by a mine or something, so he figured as long as they stayed away from mines and torpedoes!

 

This made Jemima frown, as she couldn't swim. "They probably weren't keeping look out properly. Any man I find asleep in the crow's nest, he'll be tied up and stripped and then I'll personally flog the skin off his back with my cat-o-nine tails!" she cooed excitedly "And if he's still alive at the end of it, I'll go to his cabin and personally rub the salt into his wounds." 

 

She shook her head and brought herself back to reality.

 

"Anyway, ironclads are the way to go for today's pirate on the move."

 

"If we can find one, that would be a good idea, I guess.  I wonder if there are any in San Francisco?"  Most of that aspect of the War had been fought in the east, and he wasn't sure if any had made it this far here.  "Or maybe we can figure out how to make one?"

 

"That'd take too long." Jemima replied "If there isn't one there, we'll take over the Navy telegraph office and force the operator to send a signal to the nearest ship 'come quickly - pirates in san Francisco' then when it arrives, we'll take her in a midnight raid. And we'll line up all of those sailors in their nice uniforms and say, either walk the plank, you scurvy dogs, or swear loyalty to The Three Terrors of the Caribbean!" 

 

He shrugged, pondering the matter.  "We want to capture merchant ships, to get their cargo, right?  Things from all over the world, then we can go to Tortuga and have a feast!"

 

Jemima frowned, that reminded her: "Have you had any supper yet?" she asked. That remiss of her. If the whole pirate thing didn't work out, she really just wanted to be a good wife and mother to some nice man: no use if she forgot to feed the family. 

 

@Bongo

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