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Clara Redmond

Since We Can't Avoid Each Other.....

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Posted (edited)

Mature Content: No

With: Clara  and Charlie
Location: Lost Lake Ranch
When: September, Wednesday (week of the monthly social that coming Saturday)
Time of Day: Getting close to noon.

 

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Clara was feeling pretty good about the morning lessons with the twins. They both liked writing letters and listening to books being read more than practicing their numbers but on this day Clara had decided to concentrate on those. The trick was not to spend too much time on anything per session as they only were five year olds so full school days would be nonsense and overwhelming. Clara was above all things a realist.  But she had promised (alright maybe it was bribing but it was an effective tactic she was not above utilizing.) if they tried real hard she would reward them with a fun afternoon activity. Of course it had worked.

 

The twins were eating lunch at the moment, in the ranch house kitchen and chattering away with the cook while they did so. Clara decided to take advantage of her temporary free time by grabbing a water bucket and filling it up at the well located on the ranch. That water source was closer actually to the bunk house for the hands than the main building but even then it was but a fifty yard jaunt at best. She had toted water buckets far further all the time back at the family farm.

 

As she was closing in on the well, bucket in one hand, her attention was  drawn to the sound of rhythmic chopping coming from the direction of the barn. There was a ranch hand busy making firewood no doubt for the bunkhouse. A second glance and that hand was familiar alright. It was Charlie.

 

Yes that Charlie. The one who was so mean to her in front of the hotel in town. The one who was drunk at the time of their verbal confrontation. And the one who had such a nice brother who had intervened  back then. She had met Charlie again when the brothers (there were Lord knew how many of them) had shown up for a job interview. Their oldest had even secured the ranch foreman position. Shade had confided in her too that the man was a very competent foreman.

 

On a sudden whim the girl made a turn and headed toward the woodpile as Charlie hefted the axe up and down splitting chunks of a large oak tree which had recently fallen during a storm. She had to grudgingly admit Charlie was quite a good looking sort, pity he had such ill manners. But Clara had been willing to give him the benefit of a doubt, given whiskey or rather too much whiskey had been involved.  After all her father always said some men couldn't handle their liquor and Charlie wasn't even a man yet, least in her opinion.

 

As soon as he paused in his exertions to look her way, she stopped at easy speaking distance from him.

 

"Hello Charlie, how are you on this fine day?" she would give it a try to be ..... nice.

 

Actually it was hardly fine if you counted the weather. The clouds were building up, completely hiding the fall sun, and there was that feel in the air of imminent rain.

 

@JulieS

Edited by Wayfarer (see edit history)

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47 minutes ago, Clara Redmond said:

"Hello Charlie, how are you on this fine day?" she would give it a try to be ..... nice.

The fact that Clara was talking to him after his behaviour towards the last two times he had seen her, took him by surprise, which hopefully had shown on his face.  He took his kerchief to wipe the sweat off his face, before addressing.  "Ma'am"

 

For an awkward minute or two, he thought about what he was going to say.  He knew he would have to apologise because if he didn't and it got back to either one of his brothers, there would be hell to pay.  Even though there was nothing wrong with Clara, there was something about her that rankled him.  It didn't know what it was exactly but there was something.

 

His brothers had advised him that whenever he was addressing her, he had to be polite and determined not to make the same mistake twice, he smiled.  "First up, Miss Redmond, I would like to say that I am sorry for anything that I have said or done to offend you.  I will try my best in the future to mind my manners."

 

@Wayfarer

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Posted (edited)

She obviously took him by surprise, coming up to him like that, Clara could tell by the look in his eyes. But it wasn't anger, thankfully. Not that the girl ever lacked for confidence but it did make her feel a bit more at ease instead of intrusive. His reply was even more positive. Polite, apologetic too.

 

"First up, Miss Redmond, I would like to say that I am sorry for anything that I have said or done to offend you.  I will try my best in the future to mind my manners."

 

"Apology accepted. I am certainly not without my moments when I say or do something I later regret, none of us are perfect. And in your defense, you were under the influence that day and such things can affect even a person who is normally an upstanding gentleman," Clara replied.

 

"You may call me Clara by the way. Miss Redmond sounds so formal," she smiled for once.

 

@JulieS

Edited by Wayfarer (see edit history)

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"Alright, Clara it is."  Charlie replied.  He felt a bit relieved that she didn't hold his past behaviour against him.   His drinking problem was something he was going to have to learn to control and he probably had a long way to go.  With time it would be alright and beside he had his brothers to help him out.

 

Picking up some logs and putting them into the barrow so that he could cart them up to the main house, Charlie was at a bit of a loss in what to say next.  Maybe talking about the weather would be a safe topic.  "Nice to see the sun out again today.  The rain last week really made a mess of things.  It took ages for the wood to dry out enough to chop it.  I suppose the rain isn't too much of a problem for you."

 

@Wayfarer

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"Good! Notice I addressed you by your Christian name," Clara pointed out, pleased he was willing to be on a first name basis now with her.

 

His chopping finished he now started piling the newly made firewood into the wheel barrow and there was a moment of awkward silence by the two. Just as Clara was about to break that quiet, Charlie did have something to say. About the weather, safe enough except the weather where? Certainly not the same weather she was seeing with her own eyes. It was gloomy and the dark clouds had already hid the sun even as they moved in the direction of the ranch. She thought it was due to rain fairly soon, it just felt like it.

 

"The sun?" Clara dramatically looked into the sky in all directions to emphasize her bemusement, "Really? You might want to consider looking into the purchase of some spectacles, Charlie. Either that or you are truly quite the optimist."

 

She said it with a smile though lest he think she was criticizing him. Now as to his very last line, she had something to remark on that too.

 

"No, the rain is a bother for me too. I live on my father's farm after all. Too much rain can affect the garden, the crops. Brings a lot of mud into the house and I have to clean it up. Clothing gets dirty faster and I have to do the laundry.  I also milk Betsy, our cow. And need dry wood for the stove as I do all of the cooking. Thankfully my father chops the firewood. Naturally, that is a man's job, given your superior strength and all."

 

She wanted to say something nice then so added, "You are a good wood chopper I see. You did a fine job of it."

 

@JulieS

 

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14 hours ago, Clara Redmond said:

"The sun?" Clara dramatically looked into the sky in all directions to emphasize her bemusement, "Really? You might want to consider looking into the purchase of some spectacles, Charlie. Either that or you are truly quite the optimist."

Charlie smiled.  He had to admit that she had him there.  "I think I'm more of the optimist type.  If I'm not then I should be."

 

14 hours ago, Clara Redmond said:

"You are a good wood chopper I see. You did a fine job of it."

"Thanks.  It's good exercise and help builds up my strength which according to my brother Mike, I will be needing if I intend to be a decent ranch hand.  Roping and branding is hard work and you need to be in good shape to do it."

 

He loaded a few more logs into the wheelbarrow to give himself some time to think of something else to say.  He remembered what she said earlier.  "I suppose you will have plenty of time to keep things clean at home considering what happened the other day."

 

@Wayfarer

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"Father says that I should work on cultivating a bit more optimism myself, I remain unconvinced," Clara shrugged.

 

She complimented him on his competence with the wood chopping chore and he explained how it would help build up his strength for some of his more pertinent cow poke duties. That made sense.

 

"Well, you appear quite strong to me, Charlie," she wanted him to know. Not to mention he was handsome, though of course that would avail him nothing when it came to ranch hand chores.

 

  "I suppose you will have plenty of time to keep things clean at home considering what happened the other day."

 

Clara stopped to think for a few seconds on that cryptic remark of his.

 

"I beg your pardon. What exactly happened the other day?" she honestly had no idea what he meant by that.

 

@JulieS

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Charlie frowned.  He wasn't sure if she was just pretending not to know or that she actually didn't know.  "Umm...well...umm...what I meant to say is that when a school teacher comes to visit she usually wants to talk about the schooling of your kids.  Based on my experience, it happens a lot."

 

He picked up a couple of more logs and loaded them onto the wheelbarrow.  Feeling that he should say something comforting, he looked her, "But, then I could be wrong and it was just a social call.  Although I don't think it was unless..."

 

The look on Clara's face, made him realise that the more he talked the more deeper the hole he was digging.  It was best that he just get back to concentrating on his work, which he did.

 

@Wayfarer

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"Oh, her," Clara got it now.

 

Yes, the school marm had come visiting the ranch. She knew about that. Thus far she had not yet met the woman personally. Her little brother, Wyatt, was going to school now, however reluctantly. Clara doubted Wyatt would ever be much of a student. He wasn't stupid, he just had no interest in that kind of thing. He was a boy, he wanted to do things, be outside, and books were boring. As for herself, well, she was NOT going to be attending some children's school, she was too old for it and besides she probably knew as much if not more than that school marm.

 

"Well, Charlie, I think I should point out that the twins are only five years old. They are too young for any formal schooling. I cannot imagine them sitting in a schoolhouse all day. So no, I am not going to lose my job for a couple years yet I would imagine. Shade .....err. Mr. Thorton is very pleased with my work with the twins," Clara asserted calmly.

 

@JulieS

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The wheelbarrow was now full but instead of heading up to the house, Charlie debated with himself whether or not he should tell her what he had seen.  Personally, he liked to be aware of what was going on and he didn't like surprises that much.  Maybe, if she was aware then she could be prepared just in case.

 

Taking a deep breath, he replied, "Well, it's good that you knew she had come visitin'.  It's nice to know that Mr. Thornton is honest with his workers in that way."

 

Wiping his hands on his pants to get the sweat and dirt off them before he gripped the barrow's handles, he looked at Clara, "I reckon I don't how to put this so I am going to just say it.  I was on my way to the house when I saw them leaving and I overheard Mr. Thornton saying something to the teacher about picking her up for the dance on Saturday night."

 

@Wayfarer

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Posted (edited)

Truthfully Shade had not actually told her about the school marm but Clara was at the ranch three days a week so word got around with the help and even Nettie chattered something about a teacher being there but hoped she could keep learning stuff from Clara. That made young Miss Redmond feel good. Clara hadn't thought much about the visit really, maybe the school marm was visiting a lot of the ranches and farms outside of town canvassing the locality to see if potential students were about.

 

But Charlie wasn't done yet, instead he seemed eager to tell her something else. He had apparently overheard Mr. Thornton talking to the teacher about ..... picking her up for the dance on Saturday?????????  Alright, that was news!

 

Clara tried to look impassive but her eyes probably gave it away, that was upsetting news indeed. Shade had never even mentioned the dance to her but Clara had figured that he was still too early into his recovery to attend anyhow so she also had never broached the topic.

 

"Oh? He did? I mean yes....I believe you. I just ..." she paused, for one of the very few times in her life at a loss for words.

 

"Why did you feel it necessary to tell me this, Charlie?" she suddenly asked. Was he trying to upset her? And why would he do that after she had forgiven him for their first encounter at the hotel.

 

@JulieS

 

 

 

Edited by Wayfarer (see edit history)

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Charlie was beginning to feel a bit uncomfortable and he shifted uneasily.  "All I wanted to do was help.  I figured that if things were to change...and I'm not saying they will, it would concern you and you could at least start thinking of something else to do just in case."

 

He brushed his hand through his hair, "Maybe, it's not what I thought it was.  Maybe, he's just being nice.  After all, the teacher is new in town and since he's an important fellow around here, well you know...maybe he's just making her feel welcome."

 

Not sure if he was making things right or not, Charlie smiled apologetically, "I'm sorry, if I have upset you in any way.  I just thought you should know."

 

@Wayfarer

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Something else to do? What did he mean by that? And if this was helping her, he had a strange concept of helpful. Clara had to take into account he might well be sincere and used her self control not to snap at him. Plus, the reality was it was Shade she was shocked by.  Was the man even going to tell her about taking this school marm as his date for the dance? It seemed he did not even think enough of her to be informed of such a thing?

 

Now Charlie started to back track on his statement, apparently feeling like he needed to defend his new employer. And, truth be told, if Clara was in her usual logical state of mind, she would no doubt have conceded his points as possibilities. But the young lady was not in a mood for it at the moment.

Glancing up at Charlie he was smiling at her.

 

"I'm sorry if I have upset you in any way. I just thought you should know."

 

Clara frowned, "You have not. I am fine, thank you."   It was an unconvincing lie.

 

"You have your work to do and so do I. Good day, Charlie, hope you do not get rained on," she spoke calmly enough then spun about and headed back toward the well, determined not to start crying, that would be a most childish thing to do.

 

@JulieS

Edited by Wayfarer (see edit history)

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Charlie stood and watched Clara head back to the well.  The way she was walking, seemed a bit off.  Her remark about feeling fine didn't ring true either.  Finding out that you could be losing your job would make anybody a bit upset.  Maybe he was wrong in telling her about what he had heard.

 

For most of his life, he had only been exposed to a limited number of people.  He wished his brothers had been around a lot more while he was growing up and he could have learnt how to deal with those outside his circle from them instead of their father.  Father, had only allowed him to socialise with the families of the boys he went to school with.  Even when he went to college, he had been more interested in escaping its confines than improving his social skills.

 

Now that he was living and working with people from vastly different backgrounds than his, he was beginning to realise that he had a lot to learn.  Every time he talked to Clara, he seemed to make a mess of it.  If he didn't start learning to be more tactful in his conversations, there would be a lot more trouble ahead.

 

Picking up the handles of the wheelbarrow, he started pushing it towards the main house.  Learning to be more tactful meant that he was going to need help from his brothers and that he would have to tell them about this latest run-in with Clara.  In a way, he dreaded having to tell them but if he was ever going to make friends, it was something he needed to.

 

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