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Mature Content: No

With: Clara Redmond, Cody and Nettie Thornton
Location: Lost Lake, water's edge (starts at the ranch house)
When: Early September 1875 (same day as The New Guys thread)
Time of Day: Afternoon

 

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After the Wentworth brothers took their leave, Shade made his way back to the terrace where Clara was with the twins. He walked over and leaned against the terrace railing, looking out over his home's spectacular landscape. It was a legacy worth protecting for the sake of his niece and nephew. Chance had made sure that legacy also included him. Movement down near the lake's edge caught his attention, and he watched as a huge beaver took to the water.


Turning, he said to Clara, "Feel like a hike down to the lake's edge? It might be good for us all to stretch our legs a bit."

 

@Wayfarer

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Clara had quietly left the menfolk to discuss their affairs as was their wont. It was none of her business. A part of her thought she might not have hired that Charlie but, on the other hand, he had been drinking and her father had often pointed out inebriated folk sometimes behaved quite differently than they would of if sober. Clara liked to think she was Christian enough not to carry a grudge.  Even if the reality was she did. She hated Indians for what had happened to her mother. And those two hooligans from the Evergreen spread stealing her clothes and her father's pistol, that still rankled her.

 

Their business settled, Shade approached no doubt to check on the children who were being angels, Clara happily noted. They really were good kids though when Clara was around she kept a tight rein on them and was not one for tolerating nonsense. That said the trio got along fine.

 

"All settled then? You have three new employees?" Clara greeted the man with a smile.

 

"A walk is fine with me. However are you sure you should be up and around that much given your current state of health? I would not wish you to collapse in a heap and then the children and I have to drag you back to the ranch house," she pointed out.

 

Shade chuckled, "I assure you, Miss Redmond, my general health is just fine. I promise not to collapse but will take the walking stick...just in case," his answer was affable and partially teasing. Honestly, he did feel more wobbly than he liked which was why he wanted to get outside and get some exercise. It would not be long before going outside other than to do the most urgent chores would be near impossible. "Nettie, Cody - lets go for a walk." As the twins raced for the door, Shade held his arm out to Clara and winked, "Just in case I need to lean on someone a little bit."

 

Clara frowned, "Shade, I thought we had previously agreed that we should call each other by our Christian names....though I will admit Slade being a Christian name is up for debate."

 

She also took note he had not answered her question about the possible new employees. She could only conclude like most men, he took a dim view of including womenfolk in business discussions.  Well, it was not her ranch so she let it go.

 

On the other hand she was more than happy when he indicated he might well need her support for this walk. With no hesitation she moved closer to him, "Yes, best be prepared for anything my father always says. Do not fret though, I will not let you fall. I am stronger than I look I assure you."

 

Edited by Stormwolfe (see edit history)

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Shade smiled at the girl, "I have no doubt that you are far stronger than you look, Clara." Still, he only leaned a tiny fraction of his weight on her. 


With the threat of the bear gone, the slow amble from the house down the trail to the lake's edge was uneventful. They did not talk much since their time was spent watching where they stepped and keeping an eye on the rambunctious twins.


The trail ended at one of the few places that allowed direct access to the vast crater lake. Chance and Regina had bought and spread massive amounts of sand, forming a small beach. Shade remembered Regina as being fearless when it came to the water. She had been a strong swimmer, loved to sail, and spent quite a bit of time in and around the water. Right now, it was too cold to get in the water. Due to runoff from the mountains, the water was never really warm, but in mid-summer, the temperature in the shallows was comfortable for swimming. 


Once they reached the beach, the twins immediately pulled off their shoes and rolled up the legs of their pants, planning on wading. "Cody, Nettie," Shade warned in a true parental-sounding voice, "do not go further than dabbling your feet at the edge of the beach. I'll fix you up a couple of fishing lines." He had grabbed some twine as they left the house, so now he fished his knife from his pocket. In a few moments, he had found a couple of flexible branches and cut them, tied hooks onto the twine, and handed the fishing poles to the eager twins.


With Cody and Nettie settled, Shade eased himself down to sit on a flat-topped rock not far away. "So, our new hires...what are your thoughts?" Shade could not bring himself to think of Clara as a child. He valued her opinion even if he would not change his mind on hiring the Wentworths.

 

@Wayfarer

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Clara looked out at the calm waters of the lake rather ruefully. She liked to swim, probably almost as much as her part amphibian little brother. But since those two Evergreen hands had come upon her swimming in the lake by her homestead she had been reluctant to try it anymore. It was getting too cool now for swimming anyhow.  Not that a little thing like cold water would put off Wyatt but then he was.....a strange boy.  She watched rather envious as the twins dipped their feet into the water. A proper lady like herself could hardly do such a thing with Shade present.  What would he think of her? And by now it was very important to Clara what this man thought of her.

 

But above all she was still the usual Clara as she grinned at his fishing line antics, "You do know the fish are not going to bite on any line without bait attached to it? Wyatt and I used to fish...when I was a child."

 

Shade took a seat on a flat rock so Clara decided to plop down next to him, to facilitate easy conversation of course. He then brought up his new hires and wanted her opinion! Her eyes lit up alright. So he wanted her counsel?

 

"Well, of course you are the expert when it comes to ranching and hired hands so I would never second guess your decisions," she started, gave the shortest of pauses before continuing.

 

"I like the two older brothers, fine gentlemen, I can only venture their work habits are sound in addition. But since you asked and in the interest of fairness, I must tell you that Charlie, the youngest, and I had a random encounter in town the other day. To put it simply, we did not hit it off....as they say. But to be fair to the young man, he had been drinking, that much was obvious. So I try not to ascribe too much credence to what he said because of the likely influence of the alcohol."

 

She sighed, "Afterall none of us are saints are we? Not that you would ever catch me inebriated." 

 

Shade frowned a bit. The drinking did not bother him. As long as the boy was sober on the job, what he did in his off hours was his own business. What did bother him was the he might have said something untoward to Clara. Although the girl likely did not need a protector, Shade had rather cast himself in that role. "I am sure we wouldn't," he replied to her comment about being caught inebriated, "Did the boy say something to you that he shouldn't have?"

 

"I was looking into the hotel thru it's bay window and he criticized me for being nosy.  I stated I was merely curious. And then he kept after me so we engaged in a fairly heated  exchange of opinions. Of course when it dawned on me he had too much to drink, I let up then. Not much point engaging with such folk," she shrugged.

 

"I do not want you to take any action against him nor even say anything. It is water over the dam as the saying goes. I am not vindictive for that would be unChristian of me," she assured him.

 

Shade studied the girl's face for a moment, looking to see if she was simply trying to not be a cause of contention. Satisfied that she was being straight with him, he nodded, "I won't bring it up. Besides, I think the older brother is a straight shooter and probably has already taken the boy to task over it. If he gets out-of-line, let me know."

 

"Indeed the older brother is quite the gentleman, I like him," Clara nodded.

 

Leaning down, he brushed his hand over the smooth stones at the lake's edge, "Know how to skip rocks?"

 

"I have watched people do it. Seems like a waste of time and effort. What purpose does it serve?" Clara replied, even as a child she had never been much for play.

 

Shade gave her a wide smile and chuckled, "No purpose at all. It's just fun. Here, let me show you how. Who knows? Maybe you'll beat me on number of skips and distance." He selected a suitable stone. "First, you need a good rock. It needs to be smooth and flat, not too thick. Oval is best because it fits into the the space between your thumb and forefinger best."

 

He demonstrated how to hold the stone by taking Clare's hand and placing the cool rock correctly in her fingers. "Now, you want to throw it as parallel to the surface of the water as you can." Shade took the stone from her and demonstrated his technique. The rock skipped along the surface of the water three or four times before sinking out of sight. "Come on, try it. I'll help you."

 

@Wayfarer

 

Edited by Stormwolfe (see edit history)

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Despite her stated disinterest in such childish foolishness, Shade apparently had his heart set on throwing rocks into water. Clara did like that nice smile on his face though as he continued, now wanting to show her how to toss the stones. He reached for a stone, explaining the best ones to use. Clara just watched him, like she was going to search for some particular rock shape. Not likely!

 

Suddenly he took her hand in his and gently placed the stone into it. Clara glanced down then, she felt the strength and the warmth of his larger hand over hers. That and he was so close now, they were right next to each other. She couldn't help but feel a tingle all over as her big eyes looked up to him adoringly.

 

"Parallel....right," was all she could get out. Not that she wouldn't rather talk about something more interesting than rocks.

 

But he removed the stone from her hand so he could then demonstrate a toss and they were no longer touching. Disappointing. He proceeded to make a fine throw of it as it bounced on top of the lake surface a few times before going under. He wanted her to try it now.

 

"Well, could you show me again how to hold it properly, Shade," she made an innocent request, "Oh and I will need another stone."

 

"Of course," Shade answered. It only made sense. Clara was not accustomed to just playing. She had to grow up fast after her mother's death. Everyone needed to play now and again. "Here," he picked up a pretty smooth piece of shimmering white quartz, "no...that one is too pretty to toss in the lake. Why don't you keep it?"

 

Keep it? Why on earth would she want to keep a rock? Was she supposed to put it inside her dress pocket? Then what? Take it home and put it on her shelf? The look on her face mirrored her unexpressed thoughts on the subject.

 

"Ummm, very well," she took it with reluctance then shoved it inside her pocket, unexamined.

 

He scanned the shore at their feet and found another one, "Let's try this one."

 

"To throw, I hope. I fear if you load me down with too many rocks and I accidentally fall in the lake I will drown. Despite the fact I am a very able swimmer - for your information," she replied.

 

"I promise that I will never let anything happen to you if I can prevent it at all. Besides," Shade added with a grin, "I'm also a very good swimmer. Had to be growing up here. So, here, let's try skipping this one together." Shade shifted so that he could guide her throwing arm gently.

 

"That was a joke, Shade. Well, not the part about me being an able swimmer. The drowning part. Father says that I could stand cultivating a sense of humor. So I tried to make a joke," Clara informed me, "You really must think me helpless."

 

However by then he had moved close again and was in the act of gently guiding her throwing arm. Now this was a part she did not mind, not at all. It was almost like they were in each other's arms, like a romantic couple. A part of her wanted to believe it could happen.

 

With his help this time she made her first toss. The stone skipped once then disappeared under the surface.

 

"This would be when father would swear something fierce but I am too much of a lady for such vulgarity," she decided.

Edited by Stormwolfe (see edit history)

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Shade shook his head, "I know you were joking, Clara. And I know you can take care of yourself. You're an amazingly resourceful young woman," he said after they had skipped the rock. Shade returned to sit on the flat boulder. He was healing rapidly, but his leg was still sore and they had quite a hike back up to the house. "Nettie! That's far enough," Shade said sharply as he spotted the little girl inching further out into the water. She looked sheepish at having been caught and returned to wading ankle deep by the shore.

 

"You mind your uncle now," Clara reinforced his admonition with that forceful glare of hers. The twins liked her but they also had learned the girl meant business when it came to behaving.

 

Now, he grinned, "Under normal circumstances and if I were alone here, there would be a prodigious amount of swearin' from me too," Shade assured Clara, smiling as he tried to picture the rather stoic Aurelian Redmond cursing over a failed rock skipping. "By the way, thank your father for me. I appreciate him offering to let you work extra days while I am out of commission. The extra help has been appreciated."

 

"A common failure in menfolk in my experience. The language I mean," Clara just shook her head.

 

"He knows, but I will mention it again. And he approves as do I. After all it means more wages for me and that is a bonus for our whole family."

 

Clara did like working at the ranch, the twins were a delight, and of course this meant she had more time to spend close to Shade but she never forgot the financial end of it. Money was tight for her father and this was added income which she was happy to provide. For Clara, it was always about being the dutiful daughter, especially since the death of her mother.

 

Shade shifted on the rock. He was beginning to feel that bone-deep ache in his leg. The wounds were healing without issue and he was doing light exercise to keep the leg from stiffening up. However, he was not one-hundred percent yet. He looked at Clara, "You've worth your weight in gold," he told her, then grinned and teased, "but don't hold me to that when payday comes."

 

@Wayfarer

 

Edited by Stormwolfe (see edit history)

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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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