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    • It was long, tedious work, even though, for the most part, it was just plodding along with the cows, making sure they all stayed together and went the right way they were supposed to.  Even after the wind picked up, there were only a few mavericks who tried to wander off on their own, but the drag riders managed to coax them back to the herd.   As the day progressed, Annie became less jiggy, and Justus could tell she was getting tired.  "It's all right, Miz Annie."  He patted the horse's neck, then tightened the bandanna that was keeping his hat from blowing away.   "Ya think this is just a dry wind?" Justus called to Loredo, "or somethin' more movin' in?"  There wasn't the smell of rain in the air yet, nor clouds, but he knew that the weather could change quickly.  "Will they try ta settle in camp early?"  It seemed to him that if there was 'weather' moving in, it was better to have the cattle settled than moving, but what did he know? He just hoped it didn't impact supper!   @Flip
    • "Wonderful!"  Jonah almost clapped, for this had been going on for so long, that he really expected that this would be some sort of new setback, and Leah certainly didn't need any more complications.  "I'm sure it's going to be a huge relief when they finally break ground.  It's going to be rewarding to watch it take shape, and for you to know you are responsible for it."   He hoped, for her sake more than anything, that the weather cooperated, and that the progress was swift and without complications.    "You'll be overseeing the project?"  He couldn't imagine that she'd step back now, and not assure that every detail was right.   @Flip
    • "Boss, we found us a herd ripe for the pluckin'. Maybe we oughtta move on it afore they change where they're grazin' 'em, an make it more difficult." Toole suggested. "We can take close to a hunderd head easy enough, they move 'em, thet might not be the way of it."   "'Scuse me men, but Toole here is on to something, and cattle is our other business. We've customers waiting up north." Case said, not happy at being interrupted, yet realizing that what he said was true. It was why they were there, and it was what the did. "So go on and make yourselves to home while I get this job situated."   "Oh sure thing, Case, an thanks for the offer. We appreciate it, 'mon boys." Shannon said, and with that they walked outside to find the other building Case was talking about.   "Alright Toole what did you have in mind?" Case asked.   "The place is just at the foothills where they have their cattle. Now any buildin's 'er maybe a mile, mile'n a half away. What we saw was just maybe four riders wit the cattle, may not hav'ta kill any of 'em. We just filter down through the trees and then rush 'em. Maybe eight 'er ten of us, circle the heard an' push 'em back the way we come which was the long way around , and shore they'll be tracks alomst all the way to the dry river bed, maybe  whot, two mile from the tree line. Hard ground to river bed, but they won't catch us, not seein's they're out numbered."   Case gave it some thought, but Toole had been plotting how they would steal a herd for quite a while, and he knew what he was doing. Besides, no County Sheriff, no problem!   "Pick your men, Toole and get it done." Case said, knowing if they got a hundred head, that would be enough to drive north, once the brands were altered.
    • Having a second thought, to bolster the findings he sent for Fairchild before he could leave for New Orleans, and in the vicinity of Elinor Steelgrave, that could be done at another time after this meeting with Elias himself.   It was like hedging his bet on the situation. He wanted Elias to meet the man who could explain what was in the file in detail, much better than he himself.  might be able to. Nothing like being prepared. Elias could be unpredictable when upset, if a man like Fairchild explaining what he had found could manage to keep Steelgrave manage-ably clam then the expense was worth it to all concerned.   He had to congratulate himself on the idea. It just might work!
    • List in hand, they made their way back to town and to the Anderson's Mercantile where they laid out their list of needs. John and Mary Agnes looked over the list and began adding prices, plus shipping where it was warranted.   "So, you're in the mining business Marshal?" John asked.   "We are." Alice replied with a wide proud smile on her face. Speed just looked at her.   "Amos here found a property to good to pass up, so I bought it myself." Speed said, "Actually two properties, the other on is off to the west, but this one is just north of the Evergreen Ranch a couple of miles."   "Ah that would be the Henshaw mine. Sad about his wife passing on so suddenly. Life can be hard out here, it was just too hard for Martha Henshaw, though she tried as hard as anyone could." Mary Agnes said. "Most all of what you have here we have in stock. Most all of this was on Henshaw's list as well, he just quit before he paid for it. I believe we can give you a good price on the machinery out back. Right John?"   "Yes we can, The fact is Speed I'll let you have it at our cost, plus the shipping expenses, of course. Be good to free up that room back there. Let me see here at my cost, yes, well, it looks to be just under three thousand dollars, without the things we have in stock that wasn't Henshaw's."   Fair enough John, and we appreciate it. Now, if you'll let me get up to the bank, we want to use their money until we get started, and then we'll settle up."   "Makes sense to me, it's what we did. Hated those monthly payments, but it worked for us." John agreed.   "We'll be back." Speed promised.

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With: Warbow, Clara Lutz
Location: Lickskillet Diner, Kalispell, Montana
When: September 1876
Time of Day: Mid-Afternoon

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It was early afternoon when Shade Thornton and his traveling companion reined their horses in and dismounted. They were at the northern end of Flathead Lake having detoured from the trail to rest the horses and allow them to drink. The iron of the horses’ shoes rang on the narrow pebble beach as the animals eagerly lowered their heads for a drink from the clear glacial lake. Shade swung his leg over the saddle and dropped lightly to the ground. They were only a few miles from Kalispell, but it was too good an opportunity to miss for having a good stretch of the legs after the long journey. He pretended to be focused on filling his canteen, yet he kept a surreptitious eye on the other man as he climbed somewhat more slowly down off the back of his big grullo appaloosa stallion.

 

“Your wound still bothering you,” Shade stated as he passed the canteen over to his friend.

 

“It does not. The only thing that bothers me is being an old man that has spent too long riding,” the man responded, his voice held a faint accent denoting his background. The tone was low, somewhat soft, but overall, it was a very pleasant voice.

 

Amongst the whites, the man was known as Warbow although the government insisted on a first and last name. To comply with the demand, he had taken the name of John, the first name of his foster brother and Shade’s late father. Warbow was Diné or Navajo as the Anglos named his people. By blood, he was the son of Shade’s paternal grandmother’s sister. He had been a fixture off and on in Shade’s life having spent a great deal of time at Lost Lake Ranch, the Thornton family home. There were also the summers that Shade and his older brother had spent in the San Francisco Peaks area with their grandmother’s clan.

 

Shade gave a snort of amusement replied in Navajo, “You are many things, Uncle, but old isn’t one of ‘em.”

 

To his point of view, Shade only spoke the truth. Warbow was just under medium height, slender as a reed, but carried the physique of a man over half his age. Several days previously, he had been shot in a would-be robbery. It had been a deep, grazing wound along his ribs, yet the man had not let it slow them down. Despite the injury and the weariness brought on by the long journey, Warbow’s presence was as powerful as ever. He exuded strength and calm, products of following the Navajo Way.

 

Warbow drank from the canteen, then dribbled a few drops of water on the ground, thanking the land for the gift of water.

 

They remounted their horses and returned to the trail. Shade was anxious to be home. He had left some months before when word had reached him from a mutual friend that Warbow was in serious trouble. He and a small band of his warriors had been accused of rape and murder. If no one intervened, all were likely to hang. Shade had not hesitated. Within an hour of receiving the information, he had been on the road for Antelope Springs in the Arizona territory where Warbow had been jailed. It had taken a great deal of investigating, digging into the rather murky facts of the case, and calling in favors with some of the army officers that Shade was still friendly with, but in the end, they had cleared Warbow and the three other men arrested with him. It turned out that it was a small raiding party of Utes that had committed the atrocities. When faced with the real culprits, the one witness that had survived, recanted her accusation against Warbow with sincere apologies. She was devastated to have let prejudice nearly cause the deaths of innocent men.

 

Entering the outskirts of Kalispell, Shade and Warbow slowed their horses from a brisk trot to a shuffling jog. Shade led the way toward the White Rose Inn and Café, having decided a hot meal would make the ride to the ranch much more enjoyable. He was dismayed to see that the White Rose was no longer open for business. He sighed, “Guess we hope we make it to the ranch before dinner,” Shade said. He backed his big bay away from the hitching post and set heels to its flanks.

 

They had reached the edge of town where the road ran on west or could be taken north toward the Canadian border. Warbow reached out to lay a slender, strong hand on the reins of the bay, “What about there?” He pointed toward a small farmhouse with a sign hanging in front of it that informed the world that it was the home of a place called the Lickskillet Diner. Shade nodded and grinned as his stomach gave a fierce growl. He no longer cared what the place served if it was hot, and he didn’t have to cook it. They dismounted and tied their horses to the hitching post. Both men brushed the trail dust off their clothes as best as they could.

 

The delicate sound of a bell chiming heralded their arrival as they opened the door and stepped inside.

 

@Wayfarer

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A family of four had just exited the diner not five minutes earlier and for the moment, the place was berift of customers. Clara had cleaned the table putting the dishes in the sink in the kitchen and ran a wet rag over the table. Now she was gobbling down a slice of one of her own pies, something she did not normally do but she had reminded herself she was eating for two now. As she swallowed down a mouthful the front door bell tinkled with that oh so familiar sound indicating someone else had entered the place. Back to work it was.

 

Clara left the kitchen to see who that might be and there were two men. She stopped midstep as she recognized one of them. Shade Thornton? Of course it was him! It had been a long time since she had last saw much less conversed with the man. And not just her, the whole town had wondered what had happened to the owner of the Lost Lake Ranch these past months.

 

As she composed herself from that shock, she could not help but note the other man was .........an Indian. There had not been any Indian on the Lost Lake Ranch prior, at least when she used to tutor and care for Shade's nephew and niece. Clara knew full well that there were many restaurants or, for that matter, other businesses which did not serve or sell to Indians.

 

Now she might have never seen this particular Indian before but instantly the horrible memories of that day came flooding back to the young woman. The day that Indian warrior had shot her right in the chest with an arrow, then when her mother turned back to help, proceeded to fire another two arrows into the brave woman as she put her body between Clara and the savage.

 

It was only by the grace of the Lord Almighty that she survived, even the doctor had told her father he didn't expect for her to make it. But her beloved mother died and no matter the truth of it, Clara could never quite get over blaming that death on herself. Her mother might have saved herself but she had turned back for her, to protect her.

 

Blinking her eyes, Clara forced herself to stop thinking of that tragic event and snap back into the present reality.  Shade was back, he was in the diner, and she had a job to do. Wait on a customer....errr, customers. Tempted as she might be, she already knew she could not tell the Indian she would not wait on him. It wasn't the Christian thing to do.

 

Now looking as calm and cool as she could, the young woman approached the table where the two men had just sat down. Of course Shade was seeing her too. It wasn't the Clara of his memories though. She no longer wore the long pigtails of childhood, her hair was now up in a bun to keep it out of the way while she worked. She was a bit taller and if the man focused hard enough he might even detect she was indeed pregnant .

 

"Good day Shade. It is quite a surprise to see you again. You look well," she greeted him with her customer service smile. 

 

@Stormwolfe

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Shade blinked and stared at the young woman speaking to him. He blinked again and a smile began forming in his deep blue eyes, "Clara Redmond...You...I...I mean I didn't recognize you, girl! It's only been six months, what happened?" It was true. Although Clara had always been mature for her age, she still had an element of the little girl in her. Six months had wrought major changes in her. She seemed more comfortable in her own skin, all grown-up, and maybe...just maybe...even happy.

 

"What happpened? You mean while you disappeared? I have continued to live my life which has indeed proven quite eventful.  In fact, I am now married," she showed her hand with the plain metal ring on the correct finger, "in case you did not notice."

 

"Oh and I am quite well, thank you for asking," that last part dripped with sarcasm.  That was the same old Clara alright.

 

More-Clara.jpg

 

"Married!" Shade shook his head, flabbergasted, "Congratulations. I do miss having a pigtail to tug though," Shade told her with a wink. 

 

Clara ignored the wink, "I do not recall you ever trying such a thing and if you did, I must not have been within reach of my father's Dragoon Colt."

 

He motioned to the man with him, "Clara, this is my uncle, John Warbow. Uncle, this is a dear friend of mine even if she doesn't sound like it, Clara used to be Redmond, not sure of the last name now."  

 

Uncle? Why that could not be his uncle could it? Though confused Clara tried not to show it.

 

John Warbow inclined his head respectfully, "It is indeed a pleasure to meet a friend of Shade's," he greeted the young woman in his quiet, pleasant voice. Warbow noted that she likely deserved congratulations for the child she carried as well, but neither she nor Shade had mentioned that and he was aware that speaking of such things could be touchy with the bilagáana . 

 

"Mr. Warbow....I am sorry if I am not supposed to call you Mister. To be honest, I have never engaged in a conversation with an Indian. The Indian who shot me was obviously not in the mood for a reasoned discussion,"  Clara could be both polite and blunt in the same breath. 

 

And she was also at work too so, "Welcome to the Lick Skillet."

 

"I understand the use of honorifics. However, most people simply call me Warbow. My Navajo given name is Gaagii. It means Raven in the language of my people," Warbow replied. He lowered his voice slightly, but held the young woman's eyes, "I am sincerely grieved that an Indian harmed you and yours in any way. As a friend of my nephew, I will defend you should the need ever arise."

 

Shade simply waited. He had not forgotten what had happened to Clara and her family, the death of her mother and her feelings of guilt over it. However, he also knew how powerfully empathetic Warbow could be. He was a firm believer in the Navajo Way. He could fight and he would defend himself and others if the need arose, but John Warbow wholeheartedly believed in peace despite his negative encounters with whites over the years.

 

The man was well spoken, Clara had to admit and certainly sounded sincere too. She also knew that it was not fair to blame an entire group for the actions of a single member. But the emotions, the terrible memories of the incident and pain she suffered both physically and mentally, still held it's grip on her despite any logic.

 

"Well ...thank you for that....." she almost said 'Warbow' but that name only conjured up fresh visions of that Indian with his bow firing at her then her mother, no she could not say it.

 

"But it is a bit late. I have fully recovered from my wound however my mother did not survive hers."  Another pause as she struggled with her emotions. 

 

"I apologize for even bringing up the topic, this is a diner. Would you gentlemen care to order something to eat?"

 

There was a blackboard up on the side wall, chalked up with the available choices and also a glass shelf with a number of pies on display.

 

She did want to talk more with Shade and his unusual relative but duty won out. She was here to run the place until Emeline returned and she owed the woman her best effort each and every day.

 

Shade smiled at Clara, "It's okay, Clara. I'd like the stew and cornbread please," he said and glanced over at Warbow, "he'll have the same."

 

She did not even bother to write that on her notepad, easy enough order, "Very well, Shade, I shall be back with your orders forthwith."

 

Before she turned to go, Shade reached out and gently touched her shoulder, "I'm real happy that you're one of the first faces I've seen since being back. We need to catch up. Don't guess you could join us after you get your food? I just can't believe you're married!" 

 

"Well, you had better believe it," Clara made that clear then paused for a few seconds to consider his request to join them. She was working afterall and Clara always took her duties most seriously, he should remember that much.

 

"I suppose I could sit ...............for a while....unless more customers come in of course. I cannot shirk my responsibilities," she nodded then in agreement.

 

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With that she went to dish up two heaping bowls of stew and some slices of cornbread. And a butter dish too of course.

 

Shade and Warbow had not spoken while waiting for their meal. Both men were weary from the long journey and simply enjoyed a companionable silence. When Clara returned with their food, each man gave thanks for the meal in their own way. Shade smiled at Clara and indicated the food, "Thank you. We're grateful for the food and the company," Warbow respectfully nodded his agreement, but remained silent.

 

@Wayfarer

 

 

 

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"You are welcome, the both of you," Clara nodded then slid onto a chair at the table.

 

"So.....I take it that you are now back to stay? From where ever you journeyed?  I hope things went well. You do not have to tell me anything about it of course. It is none of my business," Clara started the conversation, she had never been shy about such things. She also was, in truth, powerful curious about it all.

 

"I know I don't have to tell you anything," Shade replied easily, "but I don't have a problem with it." 

 

"Very well then," Clara folded her hands and waited to hear.

 

He nodded toward Warbow, "My uncle and three men of his clan stood charged with murder and rape. An army friend contacted me and I went to help clear their names. It took awhile, but we finally found the real culprits who were not Navajo, but Ute. The sole survivor of the attack was able to positively identify them. We were fortunate that the army was not buying that anyone from the Navajo nation would have done such a thing."

 

Clara nodded toward Warbow, "I am glad it worked out for the best."

 

Shade buttered a slice of cornbread and grinned at Clara, "Your turn...I'm away for a few months and you're all grown up, married, and holding down a job." His tone was a mix of gentle teasing and true respect for his young friend.

 

"Well, I already had held down a job before this one, you should recall. Tutoring your niece and nephew. I hope they are well by the way," Clara pointed out, a stickler for accuracy.

 

"As for being all grown up, I believe I was quite comfortable in an adult role for some time already. With my mother's death, I had to do all the cooking, laundry, mending, and helping bring up my little brother. Father is a fine farmer but managing a household..." she left that last part unsaid but the intent was obvious.  

 

"Now, as far as marriage, I will be the first to admit it all happened quite unexpectedly and indeed rapidly too. At the barn dance, Miss Mudd introduced me to a young man of my age, Jacob Lutz.  He asked me to dance and took me for a stroll too. He was a gentleman and very kind. I was taken by him immediately. " 

 

"To be honest I always wondered if I would ever even be married. What with my plain looks, my humble background, and yes I have always realized it...my rather dour demeanor.  And I will not even bother to mention a few of my encounters with some of the local young men. To put it simply, they were horrifying. "

 

"But Jacob was different. We saw each other more of course after that first dance and it did not take long at all for me to realize he loved me for me. So when he proposed, I did not hesitate to say 'yes'. "

 

"Father was, needless to say, stunned by it all but Jacob and I won him over. My father is a good man and he loves me, he could see how badly I wanted this. He also liked Jacob, who was born and lived on a farm also."

 

"Now I know there are people in town who say it was all too rushed and we are too young to be married. But Jacob and I...we do not care what those folks think. It is our lives and we will live it as we think best."

 

Then she paused at long last, it had been a long soliloquy  and by the end the tone of her voice was rather emotional. 

 

"Oh, and lest you wonder, we were married in a church ceremony," she added.

 

"Seriously? A real church?" Shade said, a teasing note evident in his deep voice that still held some of the Texas drawl he had picked up after living there for a number of years. 

 

"Yes.....seriously," Clara frowned.

 

 

"Honestly, I'd have expected nothing less.  Congratulations to both you and your new husband. I'll definitely have to look him up soon." 

 

"Actually he often comes by to stop in during the day if he can. He works for the telegraph office as a rider," Clara pointed out.

 

Shade picked up his cup of coffee and sipped at it while Warbow carefully stacked his soiled dishes and utensils for easy carrying. He had dined in various restaurants while living and teaching in California, but the food had not compared to this. He wondered if he would be out of line to mention it? He took a drink of his water and decided to try. 

 

"Oh do not bother, I will get those dishes," Clara offered, it was her job afterall.

 

"Mrs. Lutz, I have dined in many establishments while living in California. None of them offered food as good as this or as pleasant an atmosphere," the Navajo offered a gentle smile with his compliment. 

 

"How kind of you to say that. Thank you. Most all of the recipes are Mrs. Pike's but I do my best to do them justice," Clara nodded.

 

Just then the front bell tinkled the arrival of another possible customer. No, even better!  Her husband!

 

"Oh gentlemen, there he is ," this time Clara was actually beaming as she waved him over, "Jacob."

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The latest message delivery for Western Union hadn't been too far away, Olney, and Jacob and Bucephalus felt relatively fresh when they got back to town. His horse stabled up and nothing doing at the telegraph office, Jacob Lutz had headed home. Home. Funny that that was now the little diner where only half a year ago he was just a visitor, another customer, and a nervous one at that: spending his money on food and drink he didn't even really need, just to get a glimpse of... her. Clara Redmond. And now she was his wife and they had a baby on the way and he had to pinch himself each and every day to make sure it wasn't a dream!

 

He usually went through the back way but could see through the front windows that Clara was sitting deep in conversations with a couple of customers: he knew that chatty customers were a bit of a bane when trying to run the place on her own (he had pleaded with her to take on help, but she had always sensibly replied that would cut into the savings they were making toward the little one coming: and as he refused to take on a less dangerous job for exactly the same reasons, he could hardly argue) so he went in the front door, thinking he could offer to help out, although he really just wanted to flop on his... their... bed. 

 

Who the heck was she talking to anyway? Couple of... oh. As soon as he recognised Thornton, his hackles rose and the hairs on the back of his neck stood on end. 

 

"Oh gentlemen, there he is ," this time Clara was actually beaming as she waved him over, "Jacob."

 

Jake plastered a smile on his face and approached. Normally he wouldn't embarrass Clara with outward shows of affection in her workplace, that was not really socially exceptional, but knowing what he knew of Clara's history with that... that... feller, he decided to make an exception, embracing her and kissing her on the cheek. 

 

"Hello, Mrs Lutz." he said simply as he looked into her eyes and completely ignored Shade and Warbow. Well, he didn't know them to speak to, did he?  

 

The old Clara had never enjoyed touch and even the demure kiss on her cheek would have been scandalous to her not all that long ago. But now, she was quite pleased. Truth was she wanted to show off her wonderful young husband to these two....well, mostly to Shade since his Indian uncle did not know much if anything about the past between Shade and her.

 

"Hello Jacob. I am delighted you showed up. I want to introduce you to these two gentlemen. Rather obviously this is my husband, Jacob Lutz. And Jacob, this is Shade Thornton of the Lost Lake Ranch and his uncle,  John Warbow," Clara got right to the introductions  even as she now stood and put her left arm around Jacob's waist.

 

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When Mrs. Lutz rose to her feet, Shade had stood also as was the custom. Taking his cue from the younger man, Warbow also stood. The arrival of the young man was heralded by the jingling of the bell over the diner's door, giving both men time to get his measure. For his part, Warbow saw a nice-looking young man around Shade's height brown hair and alert, intelligent blue eyes. Warbow noted the man's slight bristling as his eyes landed on his nephew, but he did understand why. To the best of his knowledge the two younger men did not know each other.

 

Then the newcomer embraced Mrs. Lutz, kissed her cheek and the situation became clear. Even as she introduced them to the young man, Warbow deduced that he was the husband.

 

Shade offered his hand with a cool smile while his dark blue eyes measured Jacob Lutz. His deep, almost gravelly voice was pleasant as he spoke, "Pleasure to meet the man that stole Clara's heart." The age difference had stopped Shade from developing romantic feelings for the young woman, but he was incredibly fond and protective of her. She was someone he respected for speaking her mind and always being forthright with him. She was his friend and he was not willing to let her marital status change that.

 

Warbow nodded gravely, but waited to offer his hand in the Anglo way in case Mr. Lutz was not inclined to be friendly toward a Redskin.

 

@Javia @Wayfarer

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"Hello Jacob. I am delighted you showed up. I want to introduce you to these two gentlemen. Rather obviously this is my husband, Jacob Lutz."

 

Jake was a little confused by this grand introduction but smiled readily enough at the two fellers, one of whom he was vaguely aware hailed from one of the ranches that bordered the Miggins farm.

 

And Jacob, this is Shade Thornton of the Lost Lake Ranch and his uncle, John Warbow," Clara got right to the introductions  even as she now stood and put her left arm around Jacob's waist.

 

At the sound of Shade's name, Jake's smile froze on his face somewhat. 

 

Shade offered his hand with a cool smile while his dark blue eyes measured Jacob Lutz. His deep, almost gravelly voice was pleasant as he spoke, "Pleasure to meet the man that stole Clara's heart."

 

There wasn't much you could say to that, was there? Jacob satisfied himself with a tight smile and a nod of his head as he accepted the manly grip, with a terse "Mr Thornton". It was a double-edged thing: on the one hand he resented the man's terrible taste in, as he had heard it, dumping Clara for some school marm; at the same time he was suspicious of an old connection sniffing around his wife.

 

Shade might not have recognised that description of events, but to the young husband of a very pretty wife, such jealous illogic came quite naturally.

 

Ironically, Jacob Lutz was much happier shaking the Indian's hand than his nephew's, actually proffering his own first and waxing more loquacious "Pleased to meet you, Mr Warbow. Hope my Grandma's wire isn't causing your cattle too much trouble."

 

The Miggins place had been one of the first of the homesteaders to put up barbed wire to stop the free ranging cattle from trampling their crops. It was a civil enough question.

 

@Wayfarer @Stormwolfe

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"Pleasure to meet the man that stole Clara's heart," declared Shade.

 

Clara did not like that saying much, stealing implied taking something that did not belong to oneself.

 

"He did not steal anything, it was freely given to him by me," Clara pointed out.

 

Jacob though seemed a bit more outgoing about shaking the Indian's hand than Shade's actually proffering his own first and waxing more loquacious "Pleased to meet you, Mr Warbow. Hope my Grandma's wire isn't causing your cattle too much trouble."

 

"My father refuses to use barbwire....well, it is expensive also but he does not wish to anger either of the two large ranches surrounding his farm," Clara chimed in.

 

@Stormwolfe  @Javia

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On 9/13/2022 at 3:41 PM, Jacob Lutz said:

Ironically, Jacob Lutz was much happier shaking the Indian's hand than his nephew's, actually proffering his own first and waxing more loquacious "Pleased to meet you, Mr Warbow. Hope my Grandma's wire isn't causing your cattle too much trouble."

 

The Miggins place had been one of the first of the homesteaders to put up barbed wire to stop the free ranging cattle from trampling their crops. It was a civil enough question.

 

Shade relaxed a bit as Lutz greeted Warbow in a very friendly fashion although he referenced something that was confusing. Perhaps he assumed that the Indian was from one of the local tribes. Shade glanced at Warbow, deciding to let him handle the greeting in his own way.

For his part, Warbow was trying to think of how to disabuse the young man of the notion that he knew who the Miggins were without giving offense. How would an Anglo handle this. "I am afraid that I do not know your grandmother's fencing is disturbing the cattle. I have only just arrived here." Hopefully, the boy would understand and not be hurt or embarrassed. 

 

On 9/15/2022 at 12:04 AM, Clara Redmond Lutz said:

"Pleasure to meet the man that stole Clara's heart," declared Shade.

 

Clara did not like that saying much, stealing implied taking something that did not belong to oneself.

 

"He did not steal anything, it was freely given to him by me," Clara pointed out.

 

Jacob though seemed a bit more outgoing about shaking the Indian's hand than Shade's actually proffering his own first and waxing more loquacious "Pleased to meet you, Mr Warbow. Hope my Grandma's wire isn't causing your cattle too much trouble."

 

"My father refuses to use barbwire....well, it is expensive also but he does not wish to anger either of the two large ranches surrounding his farm," Clara chimed in.

 

Shade simply grinned at Clara's correction regarding Lutz having stolen her heart. Regarding the comment about the wire, he shrugged slightly, "Wire is an ongoing fight on the open range and probably will be for awhile," he replied, his eyes going from Clara to Lutz, including them both in his comment. "We rarely graze our cattle on the flat."

 

The flat was a large expanse of Thornton land that directly bordered the Redmond homestead. Lost Lake and a few other places used it when gathering cattle for a multi-ranch drive to the yards in Missoula. That would all change if the railroad succeeded in getting a line run to Kalispell. It would mean the town could set up their own stockyards. It was another innovation the area could use.

 

"Listen, if you both have the time, I could stand getting caught up on the local goings-on," Shade said, "I'd happily buy us all a coffee if you can spare the time to catch me up on things?"

 

@Wayfarer  @Javia

Edited by Stormwolfe (see edit history)
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"Listen, if you both have the time, I could stand getting caught up on the local goings-on," Shade said, "I'd happily buy us all a coffee if you can spare the time to catch me up on things?"

 

Clara might not be particularly busy with customers right now, but Jacob, vocally reticent at the best of times, was not in the mood to sit down and chat with a fellow he viewed with a slightly green glint of jealousy in his eyes. Luckily, sort of, he was saved from this event by a new arrival through the door: and one who was looking specifically for one of the seated men. 

 

"There he is!"

 

It was the figure of perhaps a little old widow lady, diminutive, dressed from head to foot in funereal black, black dress, black poke bonnet, black shawl. Only her basket was an incongruous straw color. But on closer inspection, her face, though pale and pinched, was young -  that of a girl of about sixteen Summers: her eyes bright and blue and her hair, what could be seen of it within the recesses of her bonnet, was as raven black as her garb. 

 

She marched straight over to where John Warbow sat, shoving her basket into Jacob's arms as she passed, but otherwise ignoring everybody else but the Navajo hatáli. 

 

The girl held up her palm of her hand in greeting. "How!" she said firmly and then punched a thumb at her own chest "Me Arabella, me Injun name 'Walks In Snow'. Many moons ago, me have dream. Me meet old squaw in dream: she say 'when raven land in back yard of Walks In Snow, Walks in Snow get married by Injun medicine man. This morning, me see Raven! Well, it mighta been a big sparrer but I reckon it was a raven..." she forgot for a moment to speak in 'injun talk' with her own made-up sign language so the redskin could understand.

 

Jacob was horrified, thinking that Arabella's talk was a joke at the red man's expense, but there was a intense look in her eyes that convinced him that, despite her ignorant way of expressing herself, she was completely serious in what she was saying. He also knew that the people of the indigenous tribes took the prognostications of dreams very seriously. He found himself dragging his eyes from the pale face of Arabella Mudd to the bronzed, noble features of John Warbow.

 

 @Stormwolfe @Wayfarer

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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"Well, I suppose I can attempt it," Clara was willing to be of what help she could in response to Shade's request. He must really be eager as he certainly would find out a lot more at his ranch about this sort of thing. 

 

But that's when none other than Arabella, now garbed like she had just been to a funeral service, entered and simply butted right into the conversation. So like the girl. As she started to speak............good lord!  She wasn't really talking like THAT to this Indian?

 

more-Clara03.gif

 

@Stormwolfe  @Javia

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John Warbow could tell from the expressions on Mr. and Mrs. Lutz's faces that the new arrival had disturbed them in some manner. In fact, Shade looked very bemused as well. Logically, considering how the child spoke to him, they were afraid he would take offense. However, Warbow had learned long ago not to equate everything an Anglo said or did with being purposely insulting or offensive. Most people had no idea how to interact with those not of their kind. In fact, in his years of observing the bilagáana, they often had issues communicating with one another, let alone people of an entirely different culture.

He rose to his feet and faced the girl, bowing his head gravely in greeting, his voice and tone were gentle and respectful as he responded to her, "Yá’át’ééh. Shí éí, Walks in Snow, yinishyé Gaagii Kinyaa’áanii," Warbow paused and translated himself rather than look to Shade to do it. Chances of the young woman being fluent in Navajo was slim. "Hello, Walks in Snow, I am called Gaagii Kinyaa’áanii, Raven of the Towerhing House People. My bilagáana names are Gaagii Wintersong and John Warbow."

 

Here Warbow paused for a moment, "I am a hatáli  of the Diné, a singer of the Navajo. I am afraid, however, that it is not legal for me to officiate a wedding...regretfully. However, should you marry, I would be happy to offer the blessings of the Diné on your House so that you and your family may walk in beauty."

 

@Javia @Wayfarer

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As the red man rose, towering high above the diminutive girl, she looked up in awe but with no sign of fear. After the warning about what would happen to her friend Caroline had come true, Arabella had learned to trust the ancient wrinkled medicine woman who sometimes appeared in her dreams. 

 

"Yá’át’ééh. Shí éí, Walks in Snow, yinishyé Gaagii Kinyaa’áanii," Warbow paused and translated himself rather than look to Shade to do it. Chances of the young woman being fluent in Navajo was slim. "Hello, Walks in Snow, I am called Gaagii Kinyaa’áanii, Raven of the Towerhing House People. My bilagáana names are Gaagii Wintersong and John Warbow."

 

"Ohhh, that's real injun talk!" she gasped "And you're called Raven of the Towering House People? Raven, just like I was told I'd meet." she looked wistful for a moment, this man was so different, so alien, yet somehow she felt right at home with him, more so than with some of the white folk she knew. 

 

"Bi-la-gaa-na. Is that like white folks? Does that mean I can't call you Mr Raven?" she asked, perhaps a little disappointed if that was the case. He could call her Walks in Snow any old time he liked!

 

"So how about... what I asked?" she probed. She would normally never talk about this in front of Clara and Jacob, let alone the complete stranger Mr Thornton, but she only had eyes for the big Navajo who, standing as erect, proud and immovable as a totem pole she offered her supplication before. 

 

"In the eyes of the white man, the Bi-la-gaa-na..." she tried to say it in his beautiful language "... my love and I cannot marry. I hoped that you... that you..." she trailed off. The words of the old lady in the dreams were clear at the time, even though they weren't in English, but now... It didn't matter, John Warbow seemed to read her mind.

 

Here Warbow paused for a moment, "I am a hatáli  of the Diné, a singer of the Navajo. I am afraid, however, that it is not legal for me to officiate a wedding...regretfully. However, should you marry, I would be happy to offer the blessings of the Diné on your House so that you and your family may walk in beauty."

 

Arabella looked sad and shrugged. "Oh. Well, my family's all up and died, I only got Miriam. That's why I want us to be more kinda prop'ly joined up, y'know?" she told the big man frankly while Jacob, aware of his friend Arabella's sexuality but thinking it something that she should keep closeted well under her little black bonnet, coughed loudly and exclaimed: 

 

"Say Reb, maybe this is something you and Mister Warbow should discuss by yourselves another time.  Er... how's the funeral business going? I hear people are dying to use your services!" he quipped, trying to distract her from her current topic of conversation.

 

@Wayfarer @Stormwolfe

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Clara was relieved that this John Warbow had not taken offense by Arabella and her strange ways and even stranger babble. Arabella was not an Indian, Walks in Snow indeed ....more like Walks Deep in Horse Manure. Obviously, she was not about to voice all this though, just stood there listening to the two of them talk.

 

What was Arabella going on about anyway? Being married? Clara had not heard of any boy she was even interested in.  In fact....yes, the girl herself now mentioned that Jewish girl, Miriam. Clara tried not to think about that whole possible ...relationship. But frankly it was none of her business. Still, this whole conversation now should not be carrying on in public and even worse, in the diner. She wanted to interrupt but .....

 

"Say Reb, maybe this is something you and Mister Warbow should discuss by yourselves another time.  Er... how's the funeral business going? I hear people are dying to use your services!" her husband Jacob now quipped. 

 

Clara glared at Jacob, "That is not funny, dear. Though you are correct about the first part."

 

Then she looked back to the others, "Arabella, Mr. Thornton had asked a question before you barged into the conversation. Perhaps you should conduct your business here with John Warbow later..........elsewhere?" 

 

More-Clara.jpg

 

@Stormwolfe @Javia

 

 

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