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The Redmonds Have a Dinner Guest


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Mature Content: Highly doubt it.

With: The Redmonds: Aurelian, Clara, and Wyatt
Location: Redmond farm
When: August 1876
Time of Day: Mid afternoon

 

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Aurelian pulled up his two horse wagon next to the Wigfall boarding house and applied the brake, probably not really necessary, his horses were so used to this sort of thing they knew to wait. He was dressed for the occasion, wearing a dark suit with a tie and his good hat, he looked the part of a town gentleman rather than dirt farmer he really was. He had trimmed his mustache and what passed for a goatee, his dress shoes were shined.

westrpghusband.png

 

He had debated bringing along some flowers to present Lucinda but Clara felt that might be a bit too much, it's not like he was courting afterall. Just a friendly visit then a home cooked meal. Sometimes Aurelian thought he was more of a romantic than his no nonsense daughter but then she had fallen for a boy and gotten herself...............umm, married. There was a time when Aurelian thought the girl might never even meet a boy she liked...let alone marry one. Granted, in his opinion, the town and local ranches didn't exactly have a wide choice of suitable young men. The stress was on suitable not actual numbers.

 

As he then approached the front door to the place, he mentally rehearsed his greeting to the woman. One did not want to say the wrong thing and she think him an idiot. The next thing was now that he had arrived, did he knock on the door or did he just go right on in - it was a boarding house afterall not a private residence. Hell if he knew, he had never visited a boarding house before. With a last second pause of indecision he decided to knock, there was a convenient door knocker there. He gave it a few raps then cleared his throat and waited.

 

@Bailey

 

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The door opened to Jemima Wigfall, wearing her dowdiest smock and mop cap and her filthiest pinny, clutching a dustpan and brush. "What?!" she started shortly, then saw who it was. "Oh, howdy Mr Redmond." she greeted the handsome widower. 

 

For one brief second the dream that he was calling on her flitted across her yearning heart, but he soon disabused the poor girl of that fantastic notion and she called back: "MRS DEITRICH! MR REDMOND'S HERE FOR YOU!!!" in a voice loud enough to alert both Lucinda, the rest of the inmates of the boarding house, and the neighbours on either side. 

 

"You look nice." she told him while they waited: her voice its usual flat and toneless self, but amour sparkling in her piggy black eyes as she looked him up and down. "Going anywhere special?" she asked, so she could later imagine herself in Lucinda's place.

 

The shout had roused the bored inhabitants of the building. From the front parlour came Hector Wigfall and a couple of curious guests, and Mrs Wigfall from the Kitchen, all crowding into the hallway. "Howdy Mr Redmond!" Hector called past Jemima "How about the price of them turnips?" Mrs Wigfall pushed her daughter out of the way, rather roughly, "Oh, won't you come in for a macaroon while you wait, Mr Redmond" she gushed.  "My, don't you look nice? Are you going anywhere special?" "I asked him that already" complained Jemima, trying to fight her way to the front of the crowd.

 

"Here she comes!" shouted one of the guests as a female clomping was heard on the stairs. But it was just the sweet old lady from room 7, come to see what the noise was about. Well, entertainment was short in Kalispell these days, since the feud had died down.

 

@Bailey

 

[Sorry, couldn't resist!]

 

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Lucinda had meant to be waiting by the door to eliminate a scene like the one that confronted her now, but fiddling with her hair and the collar on her blouse had put her upstairs in front of her mirror when Aurelian knocked.

 

Poor Aurelian. Being ambushed by the Wigfall clan alone was bad enough, but all the other boarders where standing around now. She descended the stairs quickly, brushing past everyone and picking up the last few questions thrown at Aurelian. How nice he looked...he was all dressed up.

 

She tried to hide the excitement that lit up her eyes, and brushed her hands over her favorite wine-colored skirt to brush her nerves into place. Aurelian was no damsel in distress, but he should not have to face such a barrage of questions alone.

 

Reaching for her hat beside the door, she gave Aurelian an apologetic smile and then turned to face Jemima. "Mr. Redmond has kindly agreed to give me a tour of his homestead," she said calmly. Then to Mrs. Wigfall, she said, "We have plans for dinner so I'm afraid we can't linger."

 

She just ignored Hector.

 

Turning to Aurelian, she held out her arm. "Shall we?"

 

 

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The look on Aurelian's face, though he did try to disguise it, showed he was less than pleased to have to now spend time with the whole Wigfall family plus some of their boarders whom he did not even know. Frankly it was none of their damn business.

 

He did reply with a simple "hello" back to Jemima and was surprised when she hollered for Lucinda that he had arrived. How the devil did she even know that? Apparently Lucinda must have told the Wigfalls.

 

"Thank you," he replied to her compliment of how he looked.

 

As to her question about where they were going, that was something she did not need to know so he simply gave no reply. By then the others had flooded up like the circus was in town. Mrs. Wigfall then repeated her daughter's questions .

 

"Perhaps," he answered, leave 'em guessing.

 

Mercifully, there came Lucinda then down the stairs, looking very nice in that dress too. He smiled up at her, ignoring his inquisitors.

 

"Mr. Redmond has kindly agreed to give me a tour of his homestead," she said calmly. Then to Mrs. Wigfall, she said, "We have plans for dinner so I'm afraid we can't linger."

 

"Indeed," Aurelian nodded tersely, his eyes firmly on the woman, paying no mind to the herd.

 

Turning to Aurelian, she held out her arm. "Shall we?"

 

"I do believe we shall," and arm in arm they quickly exited the building.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mrs Wigfall, Hector Wigfall, Jemima Wigfall, the sweet little old lady from Room 7, and the two boarders from the parlour all spilled out onto the street after them, some waving them off with their hands, some waving handkerchiefs, with generic and well meaning shouts of "Goodbye!" "Have a great time!" "Safe travels" and Hector's unmistakable sardonic voice warning cheekily "Don't do anything I wouldn't do!" Even a couple of passers-by stopped to pull out handkerchiefs and join in the waving.

 

As mentioned, entertainment was a commodity hard to come by in Kalispell, in those far off days.

 

"Oh don't they make a lovely couple!" beamed Mrs Wigfall, who had a great blow to her romantic life of late, and felt the resultant void deeply. "You can almost hear the wedding bells."

 

"She's not right for him." replied Jemima flatly, jealousy writ large about her peevish features. 

 

@Bailey @Wayfarer [I guess my work here is done].

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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Lucinda adjusted her hat after Aurelian, being the gentleman that he was, helped her into the wagon. She didn't know how far it was to the Redmond farm, and it wouldn't do to get sunburn on the way there.

 

"Will Clara be joining us today?" she asked, blocking out the noise of her building-mates' good wishes and Hector's unsettling advice. There was a lot of grey area in what he wouldn't do.

 

Her stomach jiggled a little uncertainly, like the filling in a chicken pie right before it got put in the oven. This was the first time she'd been out with a man in a situation like this, and society's expectations were different out here. Back home, she wouldn't have gone out without a chaperone.

 

She laughed at herself and waved at one of the people waving handkerchiefs. Back home, she'd been unmarried. Here, she was a widow. Surely that made her riding out with Aurelian all right. Even if it was all right or not, she was doing it. And she was going to enjoy it.

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Aurelian offered his hand to help her up onto the passenger seat of the wagon, she clambered on easily enough. All the while they seemed to have a send off crowd. Honestly, was life in town that deadly dull to merit this? As he got back on up himself and released the wagon brake, Lucinda had a question for him.

 

"Will Clara be joining us today?"

 

"Yes she is. In fact she is back at the farm right now, no doubt deep in preparing our dinner. I let her alone in a kitchen. I was in the war you know but I'm not a brave enough man to meddle in her cooking," he smiled.

 

Once they cleared the town outskirts he turned to her, "I hope this visit idea of mine is not going to cause you any scandal in town? I know there are some very real busy bodies and gossip mongers in Kalispell." 

 

"I would hate to be the cause of any grief on your part."

 

 

 

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Lucinda sat back against the wagon seat and nodded, pleased that Clara was willing to come out and cook for her visit. "I know very few men who would be brave enough to get between Clara and her cooking!" She laughed and watched the houses pass by as they made their way out of town.

 

Apparently Aurelian had thought this through more than she had, since he had concerns about what ramifications her visit would have back in town. She hummed thoughtfully in her throat and was quiet for a minute. Would it cause a scandal? Back home, it surely would have if she had been an unmarried woman. But what were the societal expectations for widows out here?

 

Finally she said cautiously, "I don't see why it should cause any scandal. We've both been married before, so there's no worries of you ruining my 'reputation.' And neither of our spouses are living, so I think we should be safe from accusations of adultery."

 

Here she smiled a little, in spite of the the pain of thinking of her deceased husband. "So any gossip that gets out should be easily put to rest. Don't you think?" She glanced at Aurelian, lifting one eyebrow as if inviting him to dispute her logic.

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"I don't see why it should cause any scandal. We've both been married before, so there's no worries of you ruining my 'reputation.' And neither of our spouses are living, so I think we should be safe from accusations of adultery."

 

"All good points alright,"  Aurelian nodded.

 

"So any gossip that gets out should be easily put to rest. Don't you think?" She glanced at Aurelian, lifting one eyebrow.

 

He met her glance with a smile, "I'm not sure gossip is logical or can even be put to rest by the truth.  But I like your confidence. As for me, to be honest, I do not care about what people say and I learned that from a wiser person than me. My Katherine."

 

***

The ride was not a long one and soon enough they were approaching the Redmond farm. Nothing fancy, a single story cabin with a large garden in the back, a small barn, a chicken coop, enough fencing for a corral, and of some importance, a well. While none of it was fancy, true enough but all of it was well kept up. They had passed a few fields too and the crops looked hale and hearty with a promise then of a good harvest.

 

"Well, here it is. It's not much but it's mine," he declared with a touch of pride.

 

@Bailey

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Lucinda surveyed the farm as they rode up, her face breaking into a smile. "It's wonderful," she said happily. It was wonderful. This was what Francis had wanted: a place where they could be self-sufficient and have everything they needed.

 

How long had it taken Aurelian and the previous owners to prove everything up like this? Based on what the Dietrich homestead had looked like when she'd abandoned it, making the farm this established must have taken many years of hard work.

 

She started to get down from the wagon, then stopped and folded her hands in her lap. Although he was a farmer, Aurelian was also a gentleman and would help her down if she just waited. Even though she was perfectly capable of getting down by herself, there was nothing wrong with availing herself of Aurelian's help. Nothing wrong at all.

 

She glanced sideways at Aurelian from beneath her hat, a dimple dancing in her smile.

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Lucinda surveyed the farm as they rode up, her face breaking into a smile. "It's wonderful."

 

"Thanks, it's nothing fancy but we've made it our home," Aurelian was quietly content with the way things had turned out here. His first place in Pennsylvania had not gone well but he had learned much since then.

 

After applying the hand brake, Aurelian clambered down then moved around to extend a gentlemanly hand to his dinner guest, she had nicely waited for him to do so.  The two exchanged smiles. Before Aurelian could say anything further though, the front door flung open and out raced Wyatt.

 

"I can take care of the wagon, Pa!" the boy volunteered, it was something he liked doing for it allowed him to drive the wagon even if only for that short distance.  It had only been recently when his father had let take the reins at all so it was yet another stepping stone to the boy eventually becoming a man. At just short of thirteen, he obviously still had quite a ways to go.

 

"Yes, son, but first be a gentleman and say hello to our guest," Aurelian pointed out, "You remember Mrs. Dietrich from church I'm sure." 

 

"Yes, Pa. And hello, ma'am, sure is a beautiful day out ain't....I mean ..isn't it?" the boy straightened up to face the woman, he was a freshly ironed white shirt buttoned up at the collar with with his Sunday church trousers and shined shoes.

 

westrpgson2.jpg

 

@Bailey

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  • 3 weeks later...

Lucinda grinned as Wyatt met them at the wagon. He was quite a bundle of energy. But he was a polite one, thanks to the influence of his father.

 

"Yes, Wyatt, it certainly is a beautiful day." She held out her hand to him. "My, you look about ready to get up and preach a sermon! What's the occasion?"

 

With a sideways glance at Aurelian, she continued, "Surely not my visit?"

 

Lucinda didn't know much about young boys, but even she knew that it was a pain to get them to dress up. If Aurelian had made Wyatt dress in his best clothes, it meant something. It mean Aurelian cared about what she thought. The realization made her cheeks heat.

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"Yes, Wyatt, it certainly is a beautiful day." She held out her hand to him. 

 

The boy pumped it with enthusiasm, like he might with one of his boy classmates.

 

"My, you look about ready to get up and preach a sermon! What's the occasion?"

 

Wyatt's eyes went wide, "A sermon?  Ummm...no. Gosh!" 

 

With a sideways glance at Aurelian, she continued, "Surely not my visit?"

 

Aurelian confirmed it, "It is not often we have a lady as guest at our table."

 

Wyatt nodded, "You mean 'never', Pa." Then he thought of something to add, "Actually I just about had him convinced maybe I didn't need to wear all this and then Clara comes and shows up. So much for that." 

 

Aurelian smiled, "He never wins any argument with Clara."

 

Wyatt looked up at his father, "Neither do you!"   

 

"Good point, son," Aurelian conceded with a shrug.

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Lucinda was slightly taken aback by Wyatt's enthusiastic handshake - and so was her hat, which had slipped down over her forehead a little from the shaking. But the boy was clearly trying to be amiable, so she smiled and adjusted her hat as Aurelian confirmed that her visit was indeed the reason for Wyatt's dressing up.

 

The banter between father and son was so wholesome that it made her ache for what she could never have. But she at least got to be around Aurelian and his close-knit family for the afternoon.

 

"I don't think that anyone could win an argument with Clara," she said, putting her hands on her hips to survey the front of the house. "She's got a sound head on her shoulders and a quick tongue."

 

"And...she's also a good cook. Shall we head inside and see what she's cooking for us?" She looked to Aurelian for confirmation now, have just invited herself into his home. That would have been frowned on back east, but maybe he wouldn't mind.

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"And...she's also a good cook. Shall we head inside and see what she's cooking for us?" Lucinda looked to Aurelian for confirmation.

 

Neither father nor little brother would disagree with the woman's assessment of Clara. Aurelian didn't take any offense whatsoever when the woman suggested they get into the house for the meal.

 

"Yes, a mighty fine idea. That's what you're here for, afterall," Aurelian now ushered Lucinda forward toward the house, Wyatt rushing ahead to open then hold the door.

 

Once all three were inside, the door closed. There wasn't a lot of light in the place but once one's eyes adjusted to the difference from daylight outside, Lucinda could see it was a rather simple home setting, given it was a cabin. There wasn't a lot of room but it was clean and well kept up, giving off a very homey vibe.

 

Clara turned from her activities at the stove and smiled, "Good day, Lucinda. Oh, and I like that dress."

She herself was wearing one of her plain work dresses with a big apron on, her hair in a bun behind her head. Since it was late summer the oven gave off quite a bit of heat and she then wiped her forehead brow of a trickle of perspiration. 

 

Wyatt raced to the table and sat down in one of the four chairs, arranged 2 to a side. Dishes were set, they were nothing fancy, neither was the silverware. The wooden table has a bright red and white checkered tablecloth decorating it.

 

"Have a seat right here then," Aurelian walked her to one chair, pulled it out so she might be seated and then, "If you please."

 

Once she did that, he took the seat immediately next to her. Clara would sit beside her brother then.

 

The smells of the cooking wafted all about but just in case she could not tell, Wyatt spoiled any suspense.

 

"We're havin' roast chicken!" he sounded quite excited about it all.

 

"With stuffin' and gravy too," he just had to add.

 

 

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Lucinda blinked as her eyes adjusted from the bright sunlight. She found a peg near the door to hang her hat on - it was almost like her hat belonged there - and turned to Clara.

 

"Why, thank you, Clara. It is one of my favorites." Ordinarily she would have returned the compliment, but Clara's dress was not fashionable by any means, and was, she guessed, meant to hide the young woman's growing belly. Not that Aurelian didn't know, but the fashions of the day did not flaunt pregnant bellies at all.

 

She let Aurelian guide her to the chair and seated herself, taking in the neatly-set table and then grinning as Wyatt announced the menu. "Fantastic," she said, giving him a nod. "Do you like the stuffing or gravy better?"

 

She wasn't here just to spend time with Aurelian, after all. She needed to get to know Wyatt better, and Clara, too, although working at the diner had brought the two women closer together. Wyatt seemed much more outgoing than his older sister, which would make him easier to talk to.

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Aurelian escorted her to her seat , waited til she sat down then gently pushed the chair in. Wyatt was already announcing the menu to their guest.

 

"Fantastic," she said, giving him a nod. "Do you like the stuffing or gravy better?"

 

Wyatt seemed almost shocked by the question, "Oh you can't have one without the other.  Ma always made both, right Pa?"

 

"That she did, son," Aurelian smiled as he now sat himself.

 

He turned to Lucinda, "Katherine was a fine cook and it rubbed off on Clara. Sadly I, on the other hand, am best when far from the stove."

 

"Like when you almost burnt the house down, Pa?" Wyatt was grinning away.

 

"Now that is an exaggeration," Aurelian begged to differ.

 

"We called it a fire, Father," Clara now chimed in, deadpan though her little brother was giggling.

@Bailey

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"Really?" Lucinda raised an eyebrow at Wyatt's revelation and filed it away in her brain. Aurelian and his son liked both gravy and stuffing, and were used to good cooking, something she was lacking in. Not complete deficient, but certainly not on Clara's level.

 

"Well, I'm partial to gravy, myself," she managed to say before Wyatt began ragging his father about an incident with the stove. She leaned forward, enjoying the banter that even Clara joined in on. A fire? Oh, dear, that didn't sound good. But it sounded funny.

 

"You have to tell me about it now! Now I'm curious." In her eagerness, she reached out and touched Aurelian's arm, but jerked it back quickly once she realized what she'd done. There was no reason for her to be touching him, was there? No. But just that one touch couldn't hurt anything.

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"Really?" Lucinda raised an eyebrow.

 

"Yup!" Wyatt couldn't be more certain.

 

Aurelian now found himself having to recall a rather embarrassing moment in the not too recent past regarding his ...well, discomfort of being in a kitchen. Both children of course remembered every little detail and were quite amused to bring it up in front of company. 

 

"You have to tell me about it now! Now I'm curious." In her eagerness, Lucinda reached out and touched Aurelian's arm, but jerked it back quickly once she realized what she'd done.

 

Needless to say Aurelian noted it without reaction, he didn't mind in the slightest. Katherine used to do that and more all the time during conversations. Sharp eyed Clara noticed it too and filed it away with just a hint of amusement. Wyatt was oblivious.

 

"Is there no one with some regard for a man's dignity in his own castle?" Aurelian declared but he was smiling as he said it. He wasn't one of those pompous men who not admit to any flaw. 

 

"Tell us again, Father," Clara gave him a verbal prod. 

 

"Well, if you must know then and only because you are my guest here..........I was enlisted by a certain insistent brunette  whose first name starts with a C..." Aurelian began.

 

"No idea, go on," Clara said with a straight face.

 

"I am ...I am. Anyhow she requested...no, make that 'ordered' me to put the casserole into the oven at such and such a time and then check it periodically. She was working at the time as a tutor at the Lost Lake ranch and this way supper would be ready when she arrived home. Well, I was busy around the farm and lost track of the time. I really should get one of those pocket watches sometime...."

 

"Frivolous expense," Clara commented. 

 

Aurelian pressed on, "So when I finally remembered I was late in putting the thing in the oven...well, I figured I would just add more wood to the fire, make the oven hotter of course. That should work. Then I was out on the corral fenceline with Wyatt, postholing when Wyatt asked me what we were having to eat that night. That reminded me to go check the oven so...."

 

"That's when we saw the smoke," grinned Wyatt, "coming out of the window."

 

westrpgson2.jpg

 

"Yes, and I was just arriving back home looking forward to a nice proper repast," Clara added. 

 

"Who's telling this story anyhow?" Aurelian looked at his children.

 

"So we rush inside and ....there was smoke ..." he tried to plow on.

 

"Like from a forest fire," chuckled Wyatt.

 

"Nonsense, son," Aurelian frowned.

 

"And of course the casserole looked like a huge lump of charcoal and so much for supper," Clara pointed out.

 

Aurelian nodded and sighed, "OK, I think Lucinda probably had figured out that part already. Anyhow I was then told in no uncertain terms to stay out of the kitchen from there on in."

 

@Bailey

 

 

 

 

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Poor Aurelian. Lucinda already knew the story would be funny from the way Clara and Wyatt were reacting, so she attempted to keep a straight face so as not to make the tale more undignifying for Aurelian than it had to be. She succeeded for the most part and managed to keep her lips from twitching, although her eyes sparkled with suppressed mirth.

 

But at the part where he put more wood in the stove, she couldn't hold back anymore. She clapped her hands to her mouth, but was unable to stifle the laugh that bubbled out. "You thought that would help it cook faster?!"

 

Quickly she quelled the laugh and cleared her throat. "I'm so sorry. Please continue." But she needn't have worried about her interruption, as Aurelian's story had been filled with asides from his children, and they weren't going to let him skip anything.

 

So the whole tale came out, and fortunately nothing was hurt except for the castle and Aurelian's dignity. Swallowing down the rest of her laughter, Lucinda reached out to touch Aurelian's arm again. "Well, I'm so glad that you went back to check on the casserole. Otherwise a fire could have started inside the house."

 

@Wayfarer

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