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Night Whispers


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Rating: PG-14
Content: N/A

Mature Content: No, surely not! (Well, maybe...)

Author: Arabella Sumter Mudd, Miss, Spinster of this Parish.

With: Caroline Mundee
Location: Caroline's Room, Star Dust Saloon.
When: 3 August 1876, the night of Horace Potee's Downfall.
Time of Day: 1am in the Morning

 

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Arabella's big, bony feet were ideal for creeping along the creaking floorboards of the Stardust Saloon's upper level, and she knew just the right way to pull and twist on Caroline's door knob to get it to open quietly. Had it been locked: a precaution she herself had taken ever since Fortner had taken over, if truth be known, she would have had to have resorted to the hair pin. The blonde probably didn't know she was even there until the springs creaked as she got into bed with her.

 

"Wake up, I need to talk to you." she whispered urgently. "I need to talk to you about tonight."

 

Caroline didn't like her sneaking into bed with her, and since Brendan had been on the scene it hadn't been an option anyway, but tonight was about more than just comfort, she needed a serious pow-wow.

 

"Listen, I seen what happened tonight, I seen how that rat Fortner made you help him cheat Mr Potee out of his farm, and well, this time it was you what was forced to do a rotten thing, and next time it might be me.  Well, I been thinking... I been thinking for a awful long time Cara', and I got a plan, see? I just need to run it by you and see what you think of it and then we can go to sleep, yeah?"

 

"... or have a cuddle. Just like old times." she couldn't help adding. 

 

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Caroline started to come to with the movement of the matress but the voice which followed did the rest. It was Arabella, she had climbed right into bed as she did so often. In this heat Caroline only had one thin sheet over her but was otherwise naked.

 

"Wake up, I need to talk to you." the girl whispered urgently. "I need to talk to you about tonight."

 

"I'm awake, hon.............now," Caroline softly replied turning under the sheet to face Ara.

 

"Listen, I seen what happened tonight, I seen how that rat Fortner made you help him cheat Mr Potee out of his farm, and well, this time it was you what was forced to do a rotten thing, and next time it might be me.  Well, I been thinking... I been thinking for a awful long time Cara', and I got a plan, see? I just need to run it by you and see what you think of it and then we can go to sleep, yeah?"

 

Well, that much was a relief, Caroline had been half worrying the girl would be furious with her for her part in it. At least she understood how it  had been.  Maybe she really was growing up finally.  Part of that maturity was knowing the world wasn't black and white but a whole shit load of gray!

 

"Oh yeah, well, I'm listenin' hon," Caroline softly smiled.

 

"... or have a cuddle. Just like old times."

 

"Nope, I was drunk that time, I'm not now though a part of me wishes I was after what went down," Caroline sighed, "Besides you have yer little Jew girl and, don't get me wrong, I'm glad you do. I want you to be happy."

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"Wake up, I need to talk to you." the girl whispered urgently. "I need to talk to you about tonight."

 

She gave the other girl a poke in the side "Oooh, you're all nudie! Anyway, wake up." Arabella, of course, was dressed for bed in about ten layers of nightgowns and the same black wooly, over darned stockings she'd been wearing all day.

 

"I'm awake, hon.............now," Caroline softly replied turning under the sheet to face Ara.

 

The Clinch Mountain girl told her partner what she was here for.

 

"Oh yeah, well, I'm listenin' hon," Caroline softly smiled.

 

"... or have a cuddle. Just like old times."

 

"Nope, I was drunk that time, I'm not now though a part of me wishes I was after what went down," Caroline sighed, "Besides you have yer little Jew girl and, don't get me wrong, I'm glad you do. I want you to be happy."

 

"Well, I ain't happy at the moment workin' here, that's for sure, and I reckon we need some insurance in case things get worse. Who knows what that varmint's going to get us caught up in next with his dirty tricks and his spilled coffee and his pencil thin moustache. Anyway, what I'm saying is: we need a tow hole in the outside world." She meant toe-hold, presumably. 

 

"So... you still awake?... so, I'm gonna quit tomorrow. I'll come back and work nights pumpin' the piana for ya, but I'm gonna work fer Mr Jolly in the days and live with Bridget. Oh also, Mr McGregor wants me to give piana lesson to his daughter, Dear Little Ruth. Also, we'll teach Frances your whole load of songs you sing, just in case she needs to cover again, like when I had brain fever that time, remember?" She had been explaining this while absent-mindedly stroking Caroline's fine strands of golden hair. 

 

"Anyway, this way, if we need to quit, we'll have somewhere to go and something to live on, so we can afford to stand up to Fortner if'n he starts, you know, pushin' our buttons!" She illustrated this idea by pushing a couple of Caroline's buttons. It was pretty clever of her to find them in the dark. 

 

"Whatdya think?" she asked "If we say Ms Devereau had already agreed with it before she went, do you think Ralph would tell him the truth?"

 

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Seemed like Arabella was full of schemes this night. Caroline would hear her out, not like she had much choice at the moment.

 

"Well, I ain't happy at the moment workin' here, that's for sure, and I reckon we need some insurance in case things get worse. Who knows what that varmint's going to get us caught up in next with his dirty tricks and his spilled coffee and his pencil thin moustache. Anyway, what I'm saying is: we need a tow hole in the outside world."

 

Caroline wasn't really following, though she couldn't help but agree with much of it. Neither of them liked what had gone on with Poteet. She let the girl continue.

 

"So, you still awake?"

 

"Course I am, I'm just listenin' to you right now," Caroline frowned.

 

"so, I'm gonna quit tomorrow. I'll come back and work nights pumpin' the piana for ya, but I'm gonna work fer Mr Jolly in the days and live with Bridget. Oh also, Mr McGregor wants me to give piana lesson to his daughter, Dear Little Ruth. Also, we'll teach Frances your whole load of songs you sing, just in case she needs to cover again, like when I had brain fever that time, remember?"

 

"How can I ever forget? Wait was that the first time or the second?" Caroline was being sarcastic there.

 

"I don't know...what if Fortner won't let you come back on yer own terms? Live with Bridget? You serious?" Caroline wasn't sure she liked this plan. Ara wasn't done yet though.

 

"Anyway, this way, if we need to quit, we'll have somewhere to go and something to live on, so we can afford to stand up to Fortner if'n he starts, you know, pushin' our buttons!"  

 

Arabella, being Arabella, then poked the saloon girl's tits which drew a quick slap, "Told ya, we ain't doin' that sort of thing no more."

 

"Whatdya think?" she asked "If we say Ms Devereau had already agreed with it before she went, do you think Ralph would tell him the truth?"

 

"I don't know, hon. I'm not quite sure what Ralph thinks about our new boss. But we can be sure, Ralph is one of us. I trust him. I think though you better be careful how you tell this to Fortner. Besides, you might be walkin' out on a raise in pay. He told me that today. It's a bribe of course. He seems ta think I'm the kinda woman to take bribes. I don't think he understands me," Caroline now shared her views.

 

 

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Arabella filled Caroline in on her cunning plan. "...Also, we'll teach Frances your whole load of songs you sing, just in case she needs to cover again, like when I had brain fever that time, remember?"

 

"How can I ever forget? Wait was that the first time or the second?" Caroline was being sarcastic there.

 

"Fifth." replied Arabella, squarely. "I used to get it sometimes when I was a young'un. My Mama said I was just puttin' it on to get out o' chores. Mind yer, she said that about our neighbor when he fell in his threshin' machine, steppin' too near the horse-power, and got all mangled to death. Lord, they coulda buried that boy in four different counties he was so pulled to bits. An my Mama she just says 'oh that Wills boy'd do 'bout anything to get out of work!'" Arabella chuckled "Oh, she was a funny 'un, my Mama. You remind me of her. She was very beautiful, like a angel, with lovely golden hair, even when she was dying she looked just so pretty. Pity I inherited the Mudd looks."

 

She was going off tangent, but a sleep-interrupted Caroline brought it back on track. 

 

"I don't know...what if Fortner won't let you come back on yer own terms? Live with Bridget? You serious?" Caroline wasn't sure she liked this plan. Ara wasn't done yet though.

 

"Oh, well, we'll just tell him it's a fait accompli, that's like a 'done deal', Mr Pettigrew taugh me that. You noticed how refined I done become since I been hangin' around with that old boy?" Arabella rabbited on. "Anyway, this way, if we need to quit, we'll have somewhere to go and something to live on, so we can afford to stand up to Fortner if'n he starts, you know, pushin' our buttons!"  

 

Arabella, being Arabella, then poked the saloon girl's tits which drew a quick slap, "Told ya, we ain't doin' that sort of thing no more."

 

Arabella pouted in the dark, forgetting Caroline couldn't see her. 

 

"Whatdya think?" she asked "If we say Ms Devereau had already agreed with it before she went, do you think Ralph would tell him the truth?"

 

"I don't know, hon. I'm not quite sure what Ralph thinks about our new boss."

 

"Who knows what Ralph thinks about anything?" wondered Ara out loud "He's a 'nigma. Don't you think he's kinda mysterious? When I watch him standin' there polishin' the glasses, I always think he looks like he's ponderin' the mysteries of the Universe, or reminiscing about some long lost love affair. In fact, he's probably just thinkin' 'Mmmm, that's a nice clean glass!'" She actually stopped talking for a second and then said "Y'know Cara, if I was a girl, I'd probably fall in love with Mr. Ralph Flandy. But as things stand, he's more like my sorta stand-in Pappy."

 

"But we can be sure, Ralph is one of us. I trust him. I think though you better be careful how you tell this to Fortner. Besides, you might be walkin' out on a raise in pay. He told me that today. It's a bribe of course. He seems ta think I'm the kinda woman to take bribes. I don't think he understands me," Caroline now shared her views.

 

"Well, I guess he just judges others by his own yardstick. That varmint'd sell his own Grandmother up the Swannee for a dime. Forty shekels, Cara, Forty shekels!! 'For the love of money is the root of all of evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.' First book of Timothy, Chapter six, verse one." Arabella always got a bit biblical if she was allowed to stay up too late. 

 

But then her gadfly mind flitted back to a previous topic as she yawned and snuggled up to her friend as if settling down for the night.

 

"Did you ever consider falling in love with Mr Flandry?"

 

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Five brain fevers? That girl was just plain crazy. Or a liar because those bouts of fever always seemed to quite conveniently coincide when she had done something getting people (OK, most Caroline) angry with her.  But the saloon girl was not going to bring that up, she didn't want to argue.

 

Ralph now came up amongst all this scheming and planning. The two ladies actually agreed on their assessment the man was quite the mystery.  He had always been tight lipped, not much of a conversationalist at all except with the most mundane exchanges with customers buying drinks from him at the bar. He wasn't mean though - least not to the women working the saloon. And you could just simply count on him to come to one's rescue with a surly or drunken customer and woe be to that poor jasper. He had even surprised though when he did not go with Matilda when she sold the joint and headed for California. She had never thought the two had been romantic though but certainly good partners in the running of the saloon. Still Caroline was definitely happy when he chose to stay.

 

Eh, the girl was quoting Bible verses...at least Caroline was pretty sure they were, not like she read the thing. Ara could make up pretty much anything on the fly and she wouldn't know.

 

"Did you ever consider falling in love with Mr Flandry?" Ara suddenly asked out of the blue.

 

"Where'd that come from? No, I never did. We work together, we've become friends. Besides you know I don't fall in love with anybody anyhow. Fallin'in love and bein' a saloon girl are a bad mix. I've never wanted to get married and certainly not be a mother, I'd be shit at it," Caroline answered. Not that she physically could ever have a baby but she wasn't admitting that secret to of all people Arabella. Might as well put it in the town paper.

 

 

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"Did you ever consider falling in love with Mr Flandry?" Ara suddenly asked out of the blue.

 

"Where'd that come from? No, I never did. We work together, we've become friends. Besides you know I don't fall in love with anybody anyhow."

 

"Well you don't know what you're missin'!" Arabella chided. "Oh, Cara, it's the most wonderful, awful feelin' in the world! I wish I could fall in love with lots of folks but, course, y'gotta be true to one. Maybe I should become one o' them Mormons, then I could fall in love with hundreds of different people. Course, they'd all have to just be in love with me." she considered. 

 

"Fallin'in love and bein' a saloon girl are a bad mix. I've never wanted to get married and certainly not be a mother, I'd be shit at it," Caroline answered. Not that she physically could ever have a baby but she wasn't admitting that secret to of all people Arabella. Might as well put it in the town paper.

 

"Aw, you'd make a good Mammy. You'd be [yawn] good at singin' the baby to sleep. Might have to change the words of some o' your songs, o' course. And you couldn't stay in bed all day. But ... well, I'd like you to be my Mammy. And.... and" she yawned widely again and started talking nonsense (even for her) always a sign she was about to nod off "... the cuckoo, it's a pretty bird.... flies..." and she was gone, her head resting on Caroline's naked breast and snoring her head off.

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