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    • "Ain't hardly nothin' to do but hunker down till she blows herself out." The man squatted, "Rance, is the name. Been watchin' you, doin' a fine job. You'll do Wheeler, you'll do. Try and get some rest, might end up bein' a long night. Least you won't be ridin' drag come daylight, there's a plus for ya."   He stood and made his way to his shelter to await the grub that was coming.   @Bongo
    • Meanwhile, in the main house, Reb Culverson was visiting with his old friend Fightin' Joe Hooker, who was the ramrod for the fledgling Montana Territory Stockgrowers Association, Northern District. He was there to convince ranchers to join and support the organization, hoping it would take root.   "And just what good is this here association ya got started?" Reb asked.   "It'll give us a voice in the territorial government, Reb, that's what it'll do. Once that happens we'll be able to git us some sortta range police to protect the herds, and the ranchers." Hooker responded. "Rustlin' might not be the threat it was, but you know as well as me, it can come back."   "You get anywhere with Lost Lake, 'er that cow thief on the Evergreen?" Reb asked.   "Can't say as I have, startin' with the smaller spreads an' workin' my way up to them two. I'm well aware of both spreads, and the men that own 'em."   -------------0------------   They swept down out of the trees whooping and hollering and firing off a couple of shots as they closed on both sides of a big group of cattle, just as they had planned. The  lone night hawk knew he had no chance of stopping the raiders, or of saving the cattle while he watched the chunk of the herd moving toward and then into the trees at a run.  He emptied his Colt at the raiders, the whipped out his Winchester  and levered several shots in the area where they had disappeared.   He could not know that one of his shots had found its mark. A man that had just joined took a slug in his back and toppled from his horse. Toole and the men continued to drive the cattle toward the dry riverbed as planned. It was an acceptable loss.   The sound of the shots, mere pops at the distance to the main house and the bunk house alerted everyone, and men boiled out of the bunk house guns in hand, only to watch the night man shooting after the rustlers.
    • Out on the boardwalk they stopped, "So we managed ta git a deal right off, thet's good, it is. Now all we gotta do is convince ol' Wentworth to free up the money so's ya don't have ta use yers right off." Amos commented, "Seems a fair deal but like you say, minin's not no sure thing."   "John and Mary are good folks. It's not a sure thing, but you saw the vein, went to the floor and it looks rich," Speed responded. "And it looks to be wider where they stopped digging. I can't wait to get it assayed to see what we've really got our hands on."   "And it should assay out pretty good from the looks of it, though I know so little about copper ore." Alice admitted.   "Well, you saw the copper ore, which is clearly distinguishable from the surrounding rock due to its reddish, mottled appearance. And that surrounding rock is granite which is not easy to work, but it can be done, and, if we have hit it, the veins could be as much as a mile long, a mile wide, and a mile deep!" Speed explained with a grin. "With that equipment we'll be able to not only dig deeper, we'll be able to tunnel, and we have the property to do just that."   "Jumpin' Jehoshaphat!" Amos exclaimed. Might oughtta buy up what ground ya can aound 'er, jest ta be certain!"   "First things first, let get on up to the bank." Speed suggested.
    • Justus was more than happy to have a chance to get out of the bulk of the wind, although he knew this was far from over.  And he knew they'd be hacking up dirt for days.     With the picket lines set, he moved over to help put up the shelters for the night, pretty quickly deciding that it was a fool's errand...they were all going to be miserable until this let up.   Squinting, he looked out toward the herd, not able to see but a few in the dust, it looked like they had been swallowed by the big, dirty cloud, and weren't even there.  In fact, he had the eerie sensation that all that was left in the world was this small circle of men and horses.   "Ya need me ta do anythin' else?" he called over the din of the wind.   @Flip
    • Doc Gilcrest walked into the bunck house to see Carson on his feet, dressed. "I may not be able to ride, but I can darn sure walk some. Tired of layin' in that bed."   "I reckon you kin do thet, sure 'nough. No body said ya had ta lie there if'n ya didn't want to. Yer stitched up plenty good. Jest leave thet hog leg where she's hangin' fer now, don't need the weight in thet wound."   "So anybody come sniffin' around?" He asked.   "Not so's you'd notice. There's four men down there keepin' watch, but it don't look like Lost Lake's lost any sleep over their man, that is if'n they even know he's gone." Gilcrest offered.   "He seen that brand an' went ta shootin'!" Carson reflected. "I jest shot straighter. Had no choice in the matter. Fool could'a rode on, but, well, that just ain't what happened. Hell of a mess."   "Oh I dunno. So far nobodies come huntin', the boss ain't upset over it, neither's Granger, so you got nothin' ta worry on 'cept gettin' better."   "I should'a been more careful, but maybe there just wasn't no way to be more careful. Up on the side of that mountain is the purdiest view a man could look at. You can see fer miles, see right where they got them cows of theirs. Now that ain't gonna be no easy matter to get to any of 'em. They're deep on Lost Lake range. Gonna be hard to get at, an' worse to get out. We'll lose some men tryin' this one, that's for sure!'   Gilcrest rubbed his chin. It wasn't like Carson to go on about the prospects of a job.

Feast With Abandon


Jonah Danforth
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Mature Content: No

With: Leah Steelegrave, Jonah Danforth
Location: Hotel Dining Room
When: September/ 1875
Time of Day: Evening

 

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Tugging nervously at the edge of his brocade vest, although he was walking with a swagger as he approached the hotel.  Of course, the nerves had little to do with the coming engagement, and more to do with the fact that his 'Sunday' suit was rather outdated, and not as swank as he would have preferred, to impress a lovely lady.  But then, he could blame altruism and not poor life choices, and that might actually help him, since, as the contentious physician, he sacrificed his own needs for his patients.

 

Quickly removing his hat, he raked his fingers through his hair, replaced the hat, then stepped into the lobby, looking around for the lovely Leah.

 

@Flip

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Quickly removing his hat, he raked his fingers through his hair, replaced the hat, then stepped into the lobby, looking around for the lovely Leah.

 

Having completed her business with her two escorts she stepped out of the alcove once they had left. A Pinkerton may or may not present problems for her family, but there was no reason to keep her father in the dark about this development.

She instantly saw Doctor Danforth and that made her smile, a quality gentleman in Kalispell, just another reason to prefer it over Whitefish. She glided over to him and said, “I hope I’ve not kept you waiting, I so abhor being late. So nice to see you again Doctor.”

 

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"No, of course not."  Jonah smiled as he removed his hat and gave her a slight bow.  "Good evening, you look lovely."  As if she could look any other way, even if she was in rags...and even those wouldn't hide the way she moved with such grace -- it was born into her.

 

"So," he offered his arm, "is there a place you prefer?  I'm rather new to town and have only frequented the more...home-style establishments, and a chop house is hardly appropriate accommodations for a lady."  He wouldn't deign to drag her into a saloon for a meal!  No, she was candlelight and wine.  "Whatever is your pleasure."

 

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 "No, of course not."  Jonah smiled as he removed his hat and gave her a slight bow.  "Good evening, you look lovely."  As if she could look any other way, even if she was in rags...and even those wouldn't hide the way she moved with such grace -- it was born into her.


“Why thank you, Doctor. Compliments are always welcomed and appreciated.” Leah responded joyously. She had been feeling much different all afternoon after her supposed interview with Phinias McVay, as if a weight had been lifted, but not enough of it, at least, it hadn’t all been lifted yet.


"So," he offered his arm, "is there a place you prefer?  I'm rather new to town and have only frequented the more...home-style establishments, and a chop house is hardly appropriate accommodations for a lady."  He wouldn't deign to drag her into a saloon for a meal!  No, she was candlelight and wine.  "Whatever is your pleasure."


Accepting the offer of his arm she looked up and said; “The dining room here is very good, but also, quite expensive compared and the last thing I would want is to create a financial hardship over a meal, unless, of course, you were to accept my offer of being my guest.” The suggestion in and of itself was hardly like the Leah Steelgrave every one believed they knew, yet it was sincere, as she understood that he may not be in a position to afford an extravagant evening. “Please, it would be my pleasure, and I do owe you for your time today.” She smiled.

 

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Not that he didn't appreciate her offer, but Jonah was about to decline when Leah insisted, leaving him with a bit of a dilemma.  While the 'gentlemanly' thing to do was buy supper, it wasn't gentlemanly to refuse a lady's request, and since that was the choice that served him best, it was the one he opted for.  "I'll concede, Miss Steelegrave," he answered, "but only if you will allow me to pay back the kindness once I'm a little more established in town."  He grinned.  "Of course, I can offer chickens, eggs, any sort of preserves and even a 'real fine breeding sow'!"

 

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1646524572_1leahsteelgrave.jpg.ba1c69f5c72ea4cd13ccf06033a083e1.jpg"My, that's quite a treasure trove, I am flattered, sir." She responded. "Shall we get a table and continue this discussion of personal and professional riches?" There was a new gaiety emanating from her, it was in her voice, and also in her eyes.

 

"I must be frank with you Jonah, may I call you Jonah? You see I was relieved of a burden today and I must confess, I am thrilled by it, so please, don't think me unbalanced as I'm sure it will pass far too quickly, not that I want it to."

 

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"Ah, well, far be it from me to ruin a good mood!"  Jonah offered his arm to escort her to the restaurant.  "I'd be happy for you to call me 'Jonah', so long as I can call you 'Leah'.  And I'm more than willing to bore you to tears with tales of all the odd assortment of payments I receive."  He shrugged and laughed.  "They give what they can, and it is a help, but I'm just becoming accustomed to it.  In St. Louis, everything was in cash."  He laughed again.  "I don't even know that any of my patients even had livestock to give!"

 

At the table, he held the chair for her, then settled across from her, dazzled by how lovely she looked in the candlelight.

 

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“I would much prefer you to call me Leah. Miss Steelgrave sounds so formal with us in an informal setting.” She said.

 

“Kalispel is most certainly not like the bigger towns and big cities where the people are working and being paid, but from what I am told, the area is growing and soon well, with mineral discoveries, increased cattle trade, the city life might not be all that far off.” She added. “I know, it’s speculation, but still, it is exciting.”

 

She smiled, it was pleasant being with a gentleman and enjoying an evening away from life on the Evergreen. A note of hope crept in that this sort of thing might continue.

 

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"It really would be something to be in on the groundwork of a new town," Jonah observed, but then he amended, "well, at least the groundwork of the actual growth and maturity.  With the train, I imagine Kalispell will expand quickly, and it will be up to the citizens whether we become St. Louis or Dodge."  The former was rather refined, at least by Western standards, and the latter was wild and untamed.  "I'd prefer good schools and an opera house over more saloons any day!"  He laughed.

 

Not that he particularly cared, rowdy meant business, but it also meant a good deal of headaches and crime.  No, he preferred the finer things in a town, including pretty ladies!

 

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"It really would be something to be in on the groundwork of a new town," Jonah observed, but then he amended, "well, at least the groundwork of the actual growth and maturity.  With the train, I imagine Kalispell will expand quickly, and it will be up to the citizens whether we become St. Louis or Dodge."  The former was rather refined, at least by Western standards, and the latter was wild and untamed.  "I'd prefer good schools and an opera house over more saloons any day!"  He laughed.

 

Leah laughed with him and added, “Yes, the railroad, sort of an if and when proposition at this time, but I imagine there’s a real chance it could come through here. You did hear the rumor about the Army sending in troops didn’t you? Now that will make the Indians stop and consider what they’re up to.” Yes, the railroad, which she was personally, deeply invested in.

 

 The Army, now that may present a problem for her father and his various ‘enterprises’ as well as her brother Case, but time would tell about both the railroad and the Army. For the moment it was candlelight and wine with a real gentleman. ‘One thing at a time.’ She thought.

 

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"The Army can certainly be a plus," Jonah observed, "and it will make the territory safer, that will attract more families, and," he smiled at her, "families mean ladies who insist on some sort of order."

 

Not that untamed didn't have its advantages...a man could be anonymous and easily disappear if he had a mind, and folks tended to not be as particular in what they got, so long as it worked.

 

"I'd think the Army and railroad would follow each other, so it would certainly be in our favor to try to attract one."  He laughed.  "Well, I'm just glad that I'm not the mayor, who has to sell Kalispell to either.  And I'm not familiar enough with Whitefish to know which has the better terrain and such." 

 

Of course, a pretty face with a brain to back it, such as Miss Steelgrave had, could make a difference, if she had a mind to advocate one way or the other.

 

@Flip

 

 

 

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"The Army can certainly be a plus," Jonah observed, "and it will make the territory safer, that will attract more families, and," he smiled at her, "families mean ladies who insist on some sort of order."

 

“The Army can mean a lot of things, both good and bad, but yes, primarily They would make the country a lot safer, and , as you say, draw in more families, though we’ve not had much in the way of Indian trouble of late.” More people to take up the land, but perhaps, she thought, it might be time to slip from under the family wing, and invest.


"I'd think the Army and railroad would follow each other, so it would certainly be in our favor to try to attract one."  He laughed.  "Well, I'm just glad that I'm not the mayor, who has to sell Kalispell to either.  And I'm not familiar enough with Whitefish to know which has the better terrain and such."

 

“Then you have heard more than the current rumors of the railroad coming through here?” She asked, as her family had heard nothing solidified as yet, and father had his feelers out to his contacts in the territorial capitol of Bannack. As a territory, Montana had a legislature where Elias Steelgrave had considerable influence. “How exciting for the territory and the petition for statehood. The railroad would send a clear message to Washington.”

 

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"There was certainly talk about a rail line that would run north of the Central-Pacific, and I've heard talk of Minneapolis to Butte, but of course the steamboat operators are against it."  Inter-territory transportation of goods was a huge industry with the growing expansion of the West, and there was good money to be made.  "Of course, trains are faster and can carry far more cargo, but terrain is definitely a consideration in laying track.  Still, it would be a good gamble if you knew who would win the battle and could invest well."

 

There were so many contingents vying for contracts, it was difficult to know who might be awarded a government contract, and even then, the route was unpredictable as well.  But if he was more of a gambling man, he might consider casting his lot with the best bet...if he had a lot to cast!

 

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 "There was certainly talk about a rail line that would run north of the Central-Pacific, and I've heard talk of Minneapolis to Butte, but of course the steamboat operators are against it. Of course, trains are faster and can carry far more cargo, but terrain is definitely a consideration in laying track.  Still, it would be a good gamble if you knew who would win the battle and could invest well."

 

“As my father would say Jonah, talk is cheap. Though, you are right, yet it may not be which will prevail, but which route they will take.” She responded. “The land Jonah, that’s where the value lies initially, the land. Then stock in the victor which will be cheap at the outset.” She raised her glass with a smile.  “To risk.”

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Smiling, Jonah touched glasses with her, then took a drink.  "Risk, yes, a gamble, but the land only holds value if it is the chosen land...so there is intuition involved as well, and a little influence doesn't hurt anything."

 

He chuckled.  "Of course, at the moment I don't have anything to gamble...can't buy land with chickens and marmalade!"  Then he shrugged and took another sip of the wine.  "Can't say as I'd be into speculating in land anyway."

 

He paused as the waitress came for their order, and chose chicken in a cream sauce, along with potatoes and some soup.  "Have to leave room for dessert, right?"  He laughed.

 

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Smiling, Jonah touched glasses with her, then took a drink.  "Risk, yes, a gamble, but the land only holds value if it is the chosen land...so there is intuition involved as well, and a little influence doesn't hurt anything."

 
“It depends if you scout the possible and buy up what there is but, that would be doing it well ahead of the railroads surveys.” She said smiling. She was her fathers daughter after all, and she had the wherewithal to get it done. “Besides Jonah, surveyors are actually relatively inexpensive.”     

He chuckled.  "Of course, at the moment I don't have anything to gamble...can't buy land with chickens and marmalade!"  Then he shrugged and took another sip of the wine.  "Can't say as I'd be into speculating in land anyway."


“It is a beginning, Jonah, a very good beginning. People here trust you.”             


He paused as the waitress came for their order, and chose chicken in a cream sauce, along with potatoes and some soup.  "Have to leave room for dessert, right?"  He laughed.


Once the waitress has their food order and was gone, she continued. “But that won’t always be true, Jonah.” She disagreed. “I’m sure you must see a hospital on the horizon, and who better to run it than Kalispel’s own? It won’t always be chickens and marmalade.”

 

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"A hospital?"  Jonah raised an eyebrow as he looked at the pretty young woman.  "Ah, still speculation.  Certainly a hospital will follow the train, so that is the first step, and Whitefish has their share of doctors."  And so much of it came down to politics, something he really had little interest in, and that he wished he didn't need have any interest in.  Unfortunately, the topic touched almost everyone, moreso professionals such as himself.

 

"I have heard talk of an orphanage opening in town...a proper one, so a hospital would would be a great asset."  Not that he wanted to put the effort into running a hospital himself, it took far too much time and energy than he was willing to commit, but then, real payment would be nice so he could save and maybe get out of this back-water.

 

"I suppose it wouldn't help to solicit investors, organization takes time and it wouldn't hurt to have the foundation in place."  He chuckled.  "I suppose it will help that I have a business partnership with the woman who runs the newspaper."

 

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"A hospital?"  Jonah raised an eyebrow as he looked at the pretty young woman.  "Ah, still speculation.  Certainly a hospital will follow the train, so that is the first step, and Whitefish has their share of doctors."  And so much of it came down to politics, something he really had little interest in, and that he wished he didn't need have any interest in.  Unfortunately, the topic touched almost everyone, moreso professionals such as himself.


“Speculation or not, Jonah, a hospital is needed. I can tell you about the doctors in Whitefish. There is just one, Rance Farmington, a drunkard, and a discredit to his profession. But he tends to bullet wounds without question and is on my family’s payroll." She smiled at the revelation, “Thaddeus Burke and Edwin Rawlins pulled their shingles months ago and have left the country.”
 

"I have heard talk of an orphanage opening in town...a proper one, so a hospital would would be a great asset."  Not that he wanted to put the effort into running a hospital himself, it took far too much time and energy than he was willing to commit, but then, real payment would be nice so he could save and maybe get out of this back-water.


“Yes. I’ve kept myself informed about the possibility of the orphanage and I can assure you it is more than a possibility whose time as most certainly come.” Leah responded.  

 

"I suppose it wouldn't help to solicit investors, organization takes time and it wouldn't hurt to have the foundation in place."  He chuckled.  "I suppose it will help that I have a business partnership with the woman who runs the newspaper."


“Woman? I was under the impression that Mister Phinias McVay ran the paper, I was unaware that there was a woman involved.” A plan was forming as they talked, a two fold plan.

 

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"She's an attorney as well, and she helps with the expenses, so it's helpful for me."  He took a sip of wine, then frowned.  "So, the orphanage is in the works?  Good.  I've seen the orphan trains a couple times, and it's horrific."

 

He really wasn't a sentimental man, but seeing the confused and terrified looks the children had, and worse, hearing their wails when siblings were separated tore at his heart, and if there was something he could do to help prevent that, he'd gladly contribute.

 

"Are there many orphans, then?   I imagine the mines take their toll."  Not to mention the elements...Winter here was not for the faint of heart, so he'd heard, and he wasn't looking forward to it.

 

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“Woman? I was under the impression that Mister Phinias McVay ran the paper, I was unaware that there was a woman involved.” A plan was forming as they talked, a two fold plan.

 

 "She's an attorney as well, and she helps with the expenses, so it's helpful for me."  He took a sip of wine, then frowned.  "So, the orphanage is in the works?  Good.  I've seen the orphan trains a couple times, and it's horrific."

 

"Orphans? From what I've heard, far to many> She paused, "Expenses?” Leah asked softly. “I mean, I realize there’s expenses in any business, but the medical profession, well, medicines alone must be, well yes, expenses. Always a concern with any business venture.” She had an odd twinge regarding not just the statement that the trains were horrific, but the look on the doctors face at it’s mention. “Then, I would like to meet your benefactor and perhaps we, together, might push this orphanage forward a bit faster and lay the groundwork for the hospital.”

 

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"Miss Mercer helps with the property payments, and she has some experience with orphans," he explained, "although those youngsters are with family now."  How had he gotten to talking orphans and charity, Jonah wondered, with such a lovely companion?  Well, no matter, they had a common interest, and and it was something that would actually benefit the town.  "Addy, the stage driver, she has a lad she helps out.  I think there is plenty of interest.  So, what did you have in mind?  Certainly, expediting both ventures would be desirable..."

 

He thought for a moment, then added, "And perhaps if we have even the groundwork for a hospital here it would be an advantage when the railroads make their decision?" 

 

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1646524572_1leahsteelgrave.jpg.ba1c69f5c72ea4cd13ccf06033a083e1.jpg"Well, your Miss Mercer sounds like just the partner we would need in this venture, depending, of course, on her willingness to be involved." Leah paused, conflicting feelings taking hold. "I do realize that my name is not one good things would be associated with, however, I like this particular idea of building both the orphanage and the hospital here in Kalispell. We all know both will benefit this community, and those for miles around."

 

She looked at him a long moment. "A business venture to  improve our community, one where my family has inflicted so much harm and ill feelings."

 

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"Of course, a fine way to make restitution."  Jonah nodded, although he wasn't particularly sure if she meant the Steelgraves or perhaps some rival in a veiled insult?  No matter, it would benefit both the town and the participants, so it would be worth pursuing. 

 

He smiled and nodded to the waitress as the food was placed in front of them, then glanced at Leah.  "You know, the residence I use has several rooms, it's certainly large enough for the beginnings of your orphanage."  After all, there were several rooms upstairs that they could modify.  "I don't believe Miss Mercer would mind, but," he added with a grin, "Of course, we'd have to hire someone to take care of them and cook and whatnot.  I'm far to busy to give that the attention it deserves!"  More like, he wasn't about to run herd on undisciplined harridans!

 

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“Yes, restitution, I’d not thought of it in those terms.” She said with a smile as the waitress arrived with their dinners after which Jonah’s offer of his residence was made. It caught her by surprise and her fork stopped in mid-air.

 

“How very kind of you Jonah, but what if we took another tack, one less taxing on you.” She began, her thoughts racing, formulating a plan. “Perhaps those rooms might be used as the early foundation for the hospital while details for both projects are worked out?” She took the bite that had been suspended in air.

 

Swallowing she added, “It would be easier on you to begin with, and, what if we were able to make some arrangement with say, the White Rose to provide meals for the patients at a reasonable cost until we locate a proper house keeper?”

 

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"Yes, that's an idea," Jonah agreed, "I would do better with unconscious patients than rambunctious children!"  He laughed, then took a bite of chicken, savoring the smooth blend of flavors, a far more sophisticated combination than he'd gotten accustomed to since moving here.  "At any rate," he added, "I'd still need to find a nurse, and honestly, as far as housekeeping goes, there would be...unpleasantries..."  Blood, vomit, excrement, things better not discussed over a meal!  But then he laughed.  "Well, I suppose you'd have the same issues with children!"

 

This was more than he'd ever intended to get into, but it really would be worth the fuss for the benefits.  "As you say, it would certainly ease the burden to have meals prepared, so long as they understood that patients might have specific dietary needs."  Depending on medical conditions, meals could be complicated, although not necessarily elaborate.

 

In any event, there was a great deal of planning if this was what the lady really wanted.

 

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