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Posted (edited)

Mature Content: No

With: Matt Wentworth, Open Thread
Location: Belle St. Regis
When: Sept. 10, 1875
Time of Day: Mid-Morning

 

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Hannah stepped out of the courthouse into the bright sunshine of mid-morning. She had chosen the door that directly accessed the street rather than make her way through the municipal building itself. Since Ian Blevins had confessed to the beating and killing his wife for no reason other than the fact that he was a brute, the proceedings had been short. Hannah had not even had to testify. She had not been prepared for the man's sudden plea of guilty since he had maintained his innocence right up to the moment he was escorted from the jail to the courthouse. Judge Oliver Wendell had sentenced the man to hard labor in the Montana Territorial Prison for the rest of his life. It had been satisfying to see the Judge was just as disgusted by the man's actions as she was. Hannah hoped this would allow poor Molly Blevins to rest in peace. More importantly, Hannah hoped their three young children would come out of it none the worse for living with such violence. They had already been adopted by a kindly couple with a small far just outside of town. They had not been in the courtroom.

 

annie7.jpgNervously, Hannah raised a hand to touch her small, dainty hat to make sure the pins were still secure. It would be terribly embarrassing if the wind caused it to fly off her head. She then smoothed her gray skirts and briefly admired the touch of cream colored lace at her cuffs. Thanks to the many changes occurring in Kalispell and in her life, Hannah had taken to wearing dresses part of the time, especially when representing the Kalispell Town Marshal's Office in the courtroom. With her father, former Town Marshal, Scott Cory, considering running for mayor, she needed to also represent him to the people of Kalispell. While on active duty, Hannah still wore trousers and a practical shirt and vest. Having to break up brawls at the saloon was not a time to worry about getting ones skirts soiled or torn. However, when  manning the office and doing routine administrative chores, she had taken to wearing a practical split riding skirt, low heeled boots and a decent blouse. Even with all of that, she was still nervous and self-conscious when clad in a gown and heels, even if they were low ones.

 

Hannah had the rest of the day off. It was her reward for tracking Blevins down and seeing the case through to trial. She had investigated it thoroughly. Even had he not made an eleventh-hour confession, Hannah had handed the prosecutor with an airtight case. Honestly, she enjoyed the investigation, gathering of evidence, and interviewing witnesses more than than anything in her job. Anyone could break up a barroom brawl. Not many people could investigate a crime and get to the facts. It was surprising how much people would say to a genteel young woman that sipped tea and led conversations along paths that got to the facts of the matter at hand. She could still break up fights and handle a gun as well as most men. Hannah was just finding that she enjoyed learning another aspect of law enforcement.

 

There were a few people on the street. Hannah nodded at an acquaintance or two and smiled as they realized who she was and stared with wide eyes. She was not sure if their reaction was positive or negative, just that it was a reaction and it felt good! Her steps had led her to the other side of the town square and toward the imposing edifice of the Belle-St. Regis Hotel. She had been inside a time or two to roust a drunk guest out that was disturbing other clientele. For several long moments, she stood and stared at the entrance, considering her options. The dining room would be open for lunch. It might be questionable for a young unmarried woman to dine alone but Hannah felt she had earned the right to a pleasant and somewhat leisurely lunch. 

 

Hannah took a deep breath, pushed the doors open, and stepped inside...

 

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Edited by Stormwolfe (see edit history)

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The morning had been a busy one with people leaving on the morning stage and those who had just arrived.  Matt had just sent Simpson down to get some things from the general store.  Some of the guests were very particular in what they wanted and as long as they paid for it, he didn't mind answering their requests.

 

Looking at the clock on the far wall, he noted that it was nearing lunch.  It also reminded him that his brothers hadn't shown up yet.  As soon as Simpson got back, he could go and have some lunch.  Friday afternoon was usually a bit quiet, so there would be time to sit down on the front verandah and wait for their arrival.

 

He was about to check the ledger to see how many rooms were currently occupied when he caught sight of the woman who had just entered.  As he watched her come in, he realised that there was something familiar about her.  Then it dawned on him.

 

Smiling, he made his way from the front desk, "Miss Cory, it's a pleasure to see you again."

 

@Stormwolfe

 

 

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It took a few moments for Hannah to register the fact that someone had spoken to her. She was not accustomed to being the "Miss" in any conversation. Hannah offered the man a smile while she nervously smoothed her skirt with one hand while the other hand clutched tightly to the strings of her purse.


"Good day, Mr. Wentworth," Hannah responded, finally meeting his eyes. "A pleasure to see you also. It is such a lovely day, I thought I'd treat myself to lunch."

 

@JulieS

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Matt looked over towards the dining area and back to Hannah, "Lunch will be served shortly, so you will have to time to peruse the menu and make your choice.  I wholeheartedly recommend the roast beef.  The gravy is a secret recipe that the chef says he got from his French grandmother in New Orleans,"  Matt leaned over towards Hannah, "Whether or not that is true, is something we are still trying to work out considering he has an Irish accent."

 

Taking a moment to admire Hannah, he wondered why she didn't dress this way more often.  It made sense not to do so while she was on duty but why she hadn't at other times was a bit of a mystery to him.  She reminded him of something he had heard or read about one hiding their light under a cover.  The covering of a deputy was certainly hiding the woman she obviously was.  Maybe he could find out why over lunch.

 

Matt offered Hannah his arm, "Since I was thinking of having lunch as well, I would be more than honoured if you would join me or at least allow me the opportunity to escort you to your table."

 

@Stormwolfe

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Hannah was startled again. It was simply the unexpected invitation to lunch that made her blink slightly. The only man, other than her father, that had asked to have lunch with her was Ezra Hale's eldest son, Nick. In those instances it had been because he was in town, did not want to spend money at the cafe, and knew she almost always made time to prepare lunch for her father. Hannah's instincts were to to politely decline, give some suitable excuse and go to the White Rose Cafe for her meal.

 

Her tongue seemed to have other plans and Hannah heard herself saying, "I would be happy for the company, Mr. Wentworth. Thank you." Still confused by her answer, Hannah took Matt's extended arm. Oh God! Now what? She was going to have to make polite conversation. Where was a fast horse when you needed one?

 

@JulieS

 

 

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Matt escorted Hannah to one of the tables near the front windows.  One of the windows was partially covered by a large pot containing a plant he had found out was called Cheyenne Mock Orange.  It was something the previous owner had placed here in his efforts to make some sort of an impression.  Even though the plant had already passed the blooming stage for the year, Matt acknowledged that the greenery did add a little bit to the room.  After the winter, he was going to re-decorate the hotel and the plant's fate would be decided then.

 

Smiling, he glanced down at Hannah, "I do hope that this is to your liking.  If not we can sit somewhere else.  It's a bit early, so you can still choose another table."

 

@Stormwolfe

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"This is fine, Mr. Wentworth. I like the light coming in."

 

Hannah looked out the window at the street beyond. Unconsciously, she sighed. So far, the new marshal had not indicated that her job was in jeopardy, but what if Guyer decided Kalispell did not need a woman deputy marshal? What would she do? Hannah knew that her father would make sure she did not starve and if he won the mayoral election, he would be paid a bit more than he'd made as the town marshal. The thing was that Hannah was used to supporting herself. She did not want to have to depend on her father or anyone else. Besides, due to her chosen line of work, her marriage prospects were quite low, probably non-existent.

 

Turning her eyes back to Matt, she gestured at the table, "I believe you recommended the roast beef?"

 

@JulieS

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"I believe I did, " Matt replied.

 

He helped Hannah to be seated before waving to one of the waiters.  After whispering some orders to him, the waiter nodded and smiled at Hannah before leaving.

 

Quickly checking the restaurant and pleased to see that the lunch time crowd was now starting to arrive, Matt sat down in the chair opposite her.  It had been a while since he had such a beautiful companion to dine with it and he was planning to make the most of it while he could.

 

"I've ordered some Amontillado Sherry to have with our meal.  If you prefer something else, I can easily change it."

 

@Stormwolfe

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"Thank you again, the sherry would be lovely. If I could get a glass of water as well?" Hannah was not a big drinker although she did like the occasional glass of sherry or wine with a meal. Now that they were seated, she was beginning to think her impulsive acceptance of Matt's lunch invitation was something of a mistake. Another of her short-falls was the ability to make random conversation. What to say next? What would a small-town woman who worked in man's job talk about with a polished, handsome, man-of-the-world like Matt Wentworth. 

 

"The hotel's business seems to be improving over what it was before you took over. The previous owner made it clear that he and his family did not care for the likes of the Kalispell locals." Hannah wondered how that line of conversation was going to play. It was the simple truth. In fact, she was had no idea why the Belle had been built. Kalispell had not been an incorporated town for very long. There were a few wealthy families in the area and the population was growing steadily. Still, it was surprising to find a five-star hotel in a backwater like Kalispell.

 

@JulieS

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Matt waved to one of the waiters and requested the glass of water for Hannah.  As they waited, he answered her.  "Yes, the hotel is doing well.  I plan to make some improvements in the Spring but until then what we do have here is in good condition."

 

The waiter returned with glass of water and placed it front of Hannah.  He remarked that the meal would be served shortly and then left.

 

Matt smiled, "I agree that the previous owner wasn't enamoured with Kalispell.  He was very eager to sell the hotel and now after inspecting the place, I think I came away with a bargain."  He didn't really want to mention that one of the reasons, the previous owner wanted to get rid of the hotel was that he didn't want to sell it to Elias Steelgrave.  Even though she was deputy, he didn't think it was necessary to involve Miss Cory.  Knowing things about the Steelgraves was likely to get one into trouble or killed and he didn't want that to happen to her.

 

Seeing that she was a little uncomfortable, Matt lowered his voice a little, "I would like to take this opportunity to compliment you on your appearance.  It's not often I get to dine with a lady as lovely and charming as yourself."

 

@Stormwolfe

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Hannah's cat-like eyes widened slightly and she felt herself blush slightly. She could only hope that it was a delicate pink flush to her cheeks, adding the appropriate amount of color and not a full-on raging red flame of embarrassment. Hannah also found herself regretting that Sister Mary Elizabeth had not taught etiquette. How exactly did a sophisticated woman respond in these situations? How should she?

 

"Thank you, Mr. Wentworth, y-you are very kind," Hannah finally managed to say with only a slight tremor in her voice. But, she had to admit, it was true. Matt Wentworth had been very kind and also a perfect gentleman.

 

@JulieS

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"Kindness has nothing to do with it. I'm not one for giving out platitudes. If I think a woman is beautiful, I will tell her. " He raised his glass in a toast, "And you Miss Cory are indeed beautiful.  It's a shame that you have to hide it."

 

After taking a sip of sherry, Matt turned around and saw that the waiter was bringing their meals.  Smiling, he returned his gaze to Hannah, "It looks like O'Malley has gone to special lengths today.  Maybe it's time I stopped calling him a cook and start calling him a chef."

 

As he waited for the waiter to place the meals on the table, Matt wondered what the next step would be.  Hannah Cory was indeed lovely, and he wouldn't mind getting to know her better.  However, there was the problem of why he was truly here.  He didn't want to lead Hannah on when there was the possibility of him leaving when his mission for the service was over.  With his brothers arriving that decision would now be complicated even further. Did he really want to start something he wouldn't be able to see through all the way?

 

When the waiter had left them, Matt encouraged Hannah to be the one to take the first bite.  "Let me know if you like it or not.  As the owner of this establishment, I'm always eager to hear what people think about what we do here."

 

@Stormwolfe

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"Kindness has nothing to do with it. I'm not one for giving out platitudes. If I think a woman is beautiful, I will tell her. And you Miss Cory are indeed beautiful.  It's a shame that you have to hide it."

 

Those words played over and over in Hannah's mind as she followed Matt's request to be the first one to taste their meal. She cut a small piece of the roast beef, dipped in the thick gravy, and took a bite. Her eyes flashed up to Matt's in surprise, "I am going to have to be careful not to attack this roast beef as if it were my last meal. Please give my compliments to your cook. It's amazing."

 

Hannah paused after a couple of bites and looked at Matt again, "You may call me Hannah. And," she gestured at her clothing, "I don't have to hide in man's clothing. My father has never mandated it. It is just more practical for dealing with the town's miscreants. In fact, I'm not sure the new marshal will keep me on. I'm the first to admit that it's an odd job for a woman. I just seemed to grow into it. Started with filing wanted posters and keeping the office side of things neat and up-to-date. Then, as deputies came and went, I began filling that slot as needed."

 

Shrugging, Hannah offered Matt a genuinely lovely smile, "Now, I find I like making my own way. Although...." her eyes strayed to a young family that was dining across the room and she sighed, deeming it inappropriate to finish the sentence.

 

@JulieS

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7 hours ago, Hannah Cory said:

Those words played over and over in Hannah's mind as she followed Matt's request to be the first one to taste their meal. She cut a small piece of the roast beef, dipped in the thick gravy, and took a bite. Her eyes flashed up to Matt's in surprise, "I am going to have to be careful not to attack this roast beef as if it were my last meal. Please give my compliments to your cook. It's amazing."

"I'll make sure to tell the cook.  He will be pleased to hear that his efforts weren't in vain."

 

7 hours ago, Hannah Cory said:

Hannah paused after a couple of bites and looked at Matt again, "You may call me Hannah. And," she gestured at her clothing, "I don't have to hide in man's clothing. My father has never mandated it. It is just more practical for dealing with the town's miscreants. In fact, I'm not sure the new marshal will keep me on. I'm the first to admit that it's an odd job for a woman. I just seemed to grow into it. Started with filing wanted posters and keeping the office side of things neat and up-to-date. Then, as deputies came and went, I began filling that slot as needed."

 

Shrugging, Hannah offered Matt a genuinely lovely smile, "Now, I find I like making my own way. Although...." her eyes strayed to a young family that was dining across the room and she sighed, deeming it inappropriate to finish the sentence.

 

Not missing Hannah's glance at the family, Mike smiled reassuringly.  Hannah was like any other woman in that she too longed for a family of her own.  Whether or not, he was the man was something he didn't want to think about at the moment.  For now, he would enjoy a pleasant meal with a beautiful woman.  Instead, he opted to ask her about her future plans.  "If Marshal Guyer does decide to let you go, have you thought about other employment?  I only ask this because if you need any help I will be only too happy to oblige.  In fact, after the winter and when I've had more time to learn about the hotel, I may be..."

 

He put his hand up in order to stop Hannah from replying, "Before I say what I was going to say, I have been thinking about this for a while, so it's not because I feel sorry for you.  Far from it.  I think you are not only beautiful but intelligent as well.  You have to be in order to do a job such as Deputy Marshal.  The job I have in mind is as assistant manager but this only a possibility.  I haven't quite decided whether or not to hire someone yet.  All I ask is that if and when the time comes that you would at least think about it. "

 

@Stormwolfe

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Hannah was sure that her astonishment was mirrored on her face. Far from feeling insulted, she was simply amazed that someone could see her doing work outside that of law enforcement. Helping to manage the Belle-St. Regis would be quite a task and quite intimidating. Hannah did not doubt that she could do it though. That was one thing her father had taught her and encouraged in his daughter, self-confidence and self-worth. The only time she doubted the latter was when it came to her seeming lack of appeal to the opposite sex. Today had made her dwell on that aspect of her life a bit more than she usually did. Hannah put it down to the charming company and focused attention of the handsome Matt Wentworth.

 

Now, she uttered a low laugh and waved one hand at their surroundings, "The closest I've come to managing anything is when I handle the administrative side of the Marshal's Office. There would be a learning curve should it come to pass. Honestly, Mr. Wentworth, as much as I appreciate the potential offer - if Marshal Guyer decides he is not happy with a female deputy - I will probably seek employment somewhere in the law enforcement field elsewhere even if it means finally leaving Montana."

 

@JulieS

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"Well, the offer will stand just in case you change your mind.  It would be shame to see you move away."  Matt didn't want to tell her that even though Kalispell may have been accepting of a woman deputy, there were many towns and places that wouldn't.  Most women were expected to work in stores, banks or as teachers until they married.  A single woman in her late twenties looking for work as a deputy would be seen as improper.  At least here, she had her father to protect her but out there she would be all alone.

 

Deciding not to dwell on the subject any further, Matt turned his attention to his meal.  Throughout the course of the meal, he made light conversion with Hannah.  She had a lot of interesting things to say and from it he learned more about her and about the town.

 

After the meal, was finished, the waiter came and poured two cups of coffee.  He then collected the dishes before heading back to the kitchen.  Matt smiled, "Dessert will be out shortly.  I hope you like custard pies."

 

@Stormwolfe

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Hannah grinned at Matt's question, "I love custard pies. I can't make one to save my life though." She dipped her head to inhale the intoxicating fragrance of the coffee. Hannah could feel her eyes wanting to glaze over in appreciation. Once she had completely indulged herself with a small sip of the heavenly brew, she turned her attention back to Matt.

 

"With a meal shared and a tentative job offer in the wings, I feel we must be friends, Mr. Wentworth," Hannah tapped the table with a long finger. Her hands were scrupulously clean as were her slightly long, well-kept nails. She did not forsake all femininity for her job. "Perhaps, I can return the favor in some way? Give you a tour of the surrounding area, introduce you to folks that will bring good business to the hotel?"

 

@JulieS

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9 hours ago, Hannah Cory said:

"Perhaps, I can return the favor in some way? Give you a tour of the surrounding area, introduce you to folks that will bring good business to the hotel?"

Knowing that this was a golden opportunity to meet people and maybe learn something, he was smiled, "Since I haven't had the time to visit people and I must confess I am still trying to find out who I need to know...and since you have asked, I accept your offer.  It would be a pleasure having you introduce me to those I need to know.  Just name the day and time."

 

The waiter returned with the custard pies and Matt took a few bites of his before going on.  "I have to say that this is the most enjoyable luncheon I've had since coming here.  I commend you on being such a wonderful dining companion."

 

@Stormwolfe

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"I have to agree. This is one of the most enjoyable meals I've shared with anyone," Hannah agreed and returned the compliment. "I am off again on Sunday since I switch over to night duty on Monday. It's a tradition around here for people to go a-visitin' after church or Mass. Maybe we could make it to a couple of the ranches or some of the local business owners then?"

 

@JulieS

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"Sunday will be fine. I look forward to it."  His brothers would be in town by then but they were old enough to look after themselves and besides this would be a good opportunity to get the lay of the land.

 

After taking another sip of coffee and having a quick look around the dining area where he noted that today's lunch crowd seemed to be enjoying themselves, Matt turned his attention back to Hannah, "Now, Miss Cory what do you have planned for the rest of the day?"

 

@Stormwolfe

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The entire experience had been surprisingly pleasant. The only man she had interacted with on a personal level was Ezra Hale's eldest son, Nick. She had enjoyed his company but not his wandering eye. It seemed that Nick thought of her more as a pal than a woman to be courted. The one and only time she had been in love had been in her teens...with Shade Thornton. He had left her waiting by the river on the night they were supposed to elope. Although she was starting to feel the womanly urge to have a home and family, Hannah was somewhat jaded on her prospects.

 

The chance encounter with Matt Wentworth had proved fortuitous. He was a handsome and charming companion. Hannah also felt they might become friends. She had no illusions about anything else ever happening between them. 

 

Hannah smiled and indicated her dress, "I am thinking about changing, gathering my rod and reel and doing a little fishing. It would be nice to have fresh fried trout for dinner tonight. I want to make the most of my day off." She almost asked him about his plans, but stopped herself. He was a wealthy business owner. No doubt, he needed to return to work as soon as they were finished with lunch.

 

@JulieS

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8 hours ago, Hannah Cory said:

Hannah smiled and indicated her dress, "I am thinking about changing, gathering my rod and reel and doing a little fishing. It would be nice to have fresh fried trout for dinner tonight. I want to make the most of my day off."

"I wish I could join you, but I am expecting my brothers to arrive here at any time now."  Matt half-smiled, "Although, I would like to take you up on your invite another day.  It's been a while since I have some time off."

 

He paused before going on, "I haven't seen my brothers in a long time and once they have settled in, I'll introduce you to them...unless they do it themselves which wouldn't surprise me one bit.  Us Wentworth men are aware of when a beautiful lady is about and you Hannah, are certainly one."

 

Leaning over the table, Matt took Hannah's hand and kissed it.  "Thank you being such a wonderful dining companion."

 

@Stormwolfe

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Hannah listened intently to what Matt was saying about his brothers. She liked his sense of family that he seemed to genuinely want to see and spend time with brothers instead of treating it as an onerous duty. She did not have siblings and had often wished she had had a sister to help her negotiate the pitfalls of being a woman. "I understand," Hannah said in response to Matt's telling her about his brothers. "Perhaps some other time..."


She was getting used to his compliments but could not decide if Matt was serious or it was part of his charm. Hannah knew she was not ugly, yet when comparing herself to some of the women she saw around town or in the odd lady's magazine, she could see she was not a ravishing beauty either.  Perhaps it was the dress she was wearing. Most folks around town were used to seeing her in men's garb as her father called it. Not that he objected to it when she was working.


However, Hannah was a bit nonplussed when Matt reached for her hand and kissed it. That certainly sent sensations through her that she was not used to feeling. She managed a charming smile, "Why, Matt! You are going to make some of the town's ladies jealous," Hannah tapped his hand with her free one. "Thank you for the lovely compliments and for asking me to lunch. I can't say when I have enjoyed a meal or the company more." Hannah kept her voice slightly playful while keeping her words sincere. She put the feelings that she stirred in her down to a schoolgirl's crush brought about by receiving unexpected attention from such a handsome and debonair man.

 

@JulieS

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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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