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    • "I suppose it will dissuade any trouble makers to have more men guarding the interests.  And I'm glad she doesn't want you out in the Winter, you'd fall into a drift and we wouldn't find you until Spring thaw!"   “Tha’d be the idea. ‘cept’in it’s our idea an’ not theirs.” Was his reply. “Cain’t do no buildin’ in the winter, an’ fact is, ol’ man Steelgrave ain’t got wind of it yet. Come the thaw though, things’ll shape up differ’nt. ‘Course now, if he has him eyes an’ ears here, might find out afore the thaw, which I don’t like, since they’d be free ta figger a plan afore we get set. But I need ta parlay with Speed on this afore it goes any further."   Tag @Bongo
    • Ben smiled, "No, what I have can wait.  What is it that you would like to discuss with the town council?"    “Well then, Ben, best you take a seat, the lady has quite a proposition for you.” Speed said.   “Judge,” She began, I do have a proposition I believe will benefit everyone concerned. You know that the railroad had plans to cross the state, but no one knows where. I know where, but not exactly when. Now before the questions begin, perhaps you best have a look at these.” With that she looked to Speed who handed the sheaf of papers over to the Judge.   She gave him a few minutes to look over the papers. “As I had mentioned to Marshal Guyer, Doctor Danforth and I are planning to build a hospital, and later, an orphanage. Both will be privately funded. Then, what we need from the Town Council is the land to build them on. So, in exchange for the work done on the right of way, we would like to select some sites for the Council’s consideration to grant us for that purpose.” She cocked her head and smiled. “No strings attached.” Tag @JulieS
    • "Have you seen the Gulf, then.   “Have. Pa wanted to look at some land on Matagorda Island, so we rode on down fer a look-see. Water as far as the eye kin see, an’ nary a drop ta drink. Fact was it was too far from the mainland fer Pa. I mean runnin’ cattle on a island jest ain’t practical, ‘er so he said.” Barnabas explained. “Couple hundered mile ride.     An’ yes, Texas is hot, mostly too hot, but I guess folks get used to it, like I had ta get used to differ’nt weather in ma travels. Cold was the hardest thing but time spent up on the Comstock in Nevada, got both and well, I liked thet.” He looked at her and slowly smiled. “I’m glad I stayed on too, ain’t never been a bonafide food taster afore, nor a dish washer. An’ I’d’a surely never met you had I left.”   Tag @Bongo  
    • He laughed at the dishes remark. “ Yes Ma’am, glad of thet. Was a good ride, needed ta get a few things worked out, an’ the best place fer thet’s in the saddle, least ways fer this hombre it is.” He paused.   “Would ya step on outside a moment, Em?” He asked.   Pronto openened the door for her, and tied to his saddle horn was was a lead rope to the horse she ridden on that Sunday they shared, with a large red bow in it’s mane, saddled and ready in the fading light. “A mite early, but the feller at the stable said he’d not be gettin’ outta bed come daylight fer me ta fetch it.”   Tag @Bongo  
    • Emeline nodded slowly.  ...anything that’s worth doin’.   That said a lot, and certainly a hospital was 'worth doing', and she knew that few good things came without the prospect of sacrifice.  Besides, Barnabas knew what he was doing, and after all, Andrew had been killed in a stupid mining accident, for nothing...life out here was dangerous, and a man had to stand up for what he believed was right.   "I suppose it will dissuade any trouble makers to have more men guarding the interests.  And I'm glad she doesn't want you out in the Winter, you'd fall into a drift and we wouldn't find you until Spring thaw!"   @Flip

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The girl repeated her name a couple of times, perhaps to secure it in her memory? And then threw in a compliment too.

 

"Oh, that’s a beautiful name!” 

 

"Why thank you," Clara nodded, she was not sure she would go that far but it was nice to get compliments.

 

The conversation moved on to talk about why their parents selected the names they did. Now Clara just happened to mention her mother's sad  death at the hands of the Indians. However she  had had no idea it would affect Arabella so ... dramatically.

 

Arabella drew in her breath in a horrified gasp and managed to somehow scrabble around in the close confines of the tub and then, before you could blink an eye, threw herself bodily at Clara: wet, soapy arms clinging around her neck, and the waif’s pinched little face buried into the older girl’s shoulder. 

 

Clara might have screamed at this sudden predicament she found herself in except that was not in Clara's nature. Instead she froze up and tensed from the unexpected (and unwanted) contact.

 

"Wait. What are...." she started to protest but then the child began to wail almost as if she had lost her own mother or even entire family  herself. Good gracious! This was way too much physical contact not to mention she was getting soaking wet herself!

 

"Arabella... calm down. You are getting me all wet, let go. Please," she practically pleaded, fighting to remain calm.

 

When that neither silenced the child nor loosened her death grip, Clara had enough and broke free with a sudden effort then stood up.

 

"Kindly do not ever do that again," she sternly requested.

 

Just then the door opened and there was her younger brother  wide eyed and excited.

 

"What was all that caterwauling?" then he caught sight of their house guest in all her ... nakedness.

 

"Oh, " he swallowed, "Shit!"

 

westrpgson.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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"Arabella... calm down. You are getting me all wet, let go. Please," she practically pleaded, fighting to remain calm.

 

When that neither silenced the child nor loosened her death grip, Clara had enough and broke free with a sudden effort then stood up.

 

“I’m sorry, Clara-Anne” sobbed the soapy bather “It just makes me so sad think about you bein’ all without your nice Mammy, and fer her to be took away from you so cruel like that.” she sniffed.

 

"Kindly do not ever do that again," she sternly requested.

 

Arabella was still standing up in the bath and she tried to wipe away the tears without getting the soap in her eyes. “I promise I won’t do that again.” she repeated the oath out loud by rote “But one day, if you ever do change your spots and want a hug or a shoulder to cry on, you just go right ahead and use mine.” she offered with a sad little smile.

 

She couldn’t help feeling it: that somewhere, deeply, ever so deeply interred inside that serious and cold 60 year old head on a 15 year old body, there just had to be buried a heart made not of stone, as she might have the world believe, but a heart made of flesh and blood. And that even the deepest buried treasures could be found with love, prayers and perseverance.

 

 Just then the door opened and there was her younger brother  wide eyed and excited.

 "What was all that caterwauling?" then he caught sight of their house guest in all her ... nakedness.

 

Arabella turned, took one look at the boy, and then managed to somehow scream, cover herself with her hands and arms, and dive back into the suddenly tiny-seeming tub all in one go. The haste of her attempt to re-submerge, combined with the slipperiness of the tallow soap made her slide over backwards, her legs popping up and waving at Wyatt for a second while her head went backwards and under the water.

 

A normal sized person would have probably become embarrassingly wedged at that point, but Arabella, displaying the agility of an undine managed to twist round and onto her front and have her head pop up facing Wyattt and her feet sticking out of the water at the back. The attempt at modesty was far from perfect, but we will spare her blushes by not relating the exact flaws in her plan.

 

"Oh, " he swallowed, "Shit!"

 

Arabella’s face was totally covered by a curtain of wet black hair, making her look like some strange seal-like creature, but within seconds a pair of pale hands appeared to part the curtains and reveal an impish, open mouthed face, which blurted out the words of delighted horror “It’s a man, Clara Anne, and he’s been a peekin’ at me while I been all nudie in the bath!!”

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"Just Clara, no one says Clara Anne. I only told you my middle name because you specifically asked," Clara gently pointed out.

 

Arabella meant well though, Clara realized that, "I am not angry. My clothes will dry. And thank you for the condolences. I will readily admit I still miss her very much. But life must go on."

 

And then Wyatt barged in, though in fairness he was no doubt curious about the loud crying. Wyatt had never seen nor heard Clara cry. The inevitable then occurred as he got an eyeful of Arabella in her natural state. Not unreasonably Arabella was less than happy having her privacy invaded, especially after Clara had told her not to worry about such an occurrence.

 

Arabella thrashed about in the tub, sending yet more water all over the floor and onto Clara's shoes, before settling in a position that put most of her with the tub shielding any further unwanted viewing.  As for the girl's wild declaration it was a 'man', that was quite a stretch even with her fevered imagination.

 

"Wyatt, you need to leave. And Arabella, this is just my little brother, Wyatt," Clara combined an order with an introduction.

 

"Don't know what the big deal is but ...." Wyatt kept his focus on Arabella, "I'm glad you ain't gonna go and die on us. What with the ground so hard, we wouldn't be able to bury you til spring so I reckon we'd need to store you in the barn."

 

"Wyatt...you stop talking like that," Clara frowned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Wayfarer (see edit history)
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It seemed a terrible waste to Arabella, not using that middle name when her first one was so short and plain, but she decided to do as she was bidden. ‘Clara’ it would be. But she didn’t have much time to think on that problem, what with Wyatt coming in and all. From her position in the bath looking, she supposed, like a beautiful mermaid in a painting, she surveyed this new addition to the room with approval.

 

"Wyatt, you need to leave. And Arabella, this is just my little brother, Wyatt," Clara combined an order with an introduction.

 

“Why, Clara, you said he was only twelve, he looks much older than that! I’d ‘a thought this young gentleman was more like Eighteen!” she lied flatteringly. Ooh, poor old Jesus was going to have a busy time of it come Sunday, forgiving all of these little trespasses she was building up. But Arabella had the natural talent of a coquette to say the right things when she was a addressing the male of the species, even if she usually put her foot in it with members of her own sex.

 

"Don't know what the big deal is but ...." Wyatt kept his focus on Arabella, "I'm glad you ain't gonna go and die on us. What with the ground so hard, we wouldn't be able to bury you til spring so I reckon we'd need to store you in the barn."

 

"Wyatt...you stop talking like that," Clara frowned.

 

Arabella just closed her eyes and laughed. It was a deliciously deep, bubbly, chuckly, gurgly sort of laugh.

 

“Aw, that’s all right Mister Wyatt, I already been stored in a barn with dead folks once, don’t reckon it would bother me none the second time ‘round.” She then addressed Clara, but kept right on looking at Wyatt from between the drapes of her wet hair. “Say Clara, your brother’s a caution, but you never told me he was so darn cute looking too, why I reckon he’ll make some lucky gal a pretty utilitarian boyfriend some of these days!” she tipped her head a little as she said this to see what reaction this notion brought from the lad.

Edited by Javia (see edit history)

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Once more the child took Clara by surprise, suddenly she was gushing over of all people, Wyatt?

 

"Why, Clara, you said he was only twelve, he looks much older than that! I’d ‘a thought this young gentleman was more like Eighteen!”

 

"I do?" that was news to Wyatt.

 

"Did you perhaps lose a pair of spectacles back in Whitefish?" Clara inquired.

 

Arabella wasn't finished yet with her buttering the boy up.

 

“Aw, that’s all right Mister Wyatt, I already been stored in a barn with dead folks once, don’t reckon it would bother me none the second time ‘round.” She then addressed Clara, but kept right on looking at Wyatt from between the drapes of her wet hair. “Say Clara, your brother’s a caution, but you never told me he was so darn cute looking too, why I reckon he’ll make some lucky gal a pretty utilitarian boyfriend some of these days!”

 

"You were? Really?" Wyatt found that revelation fascinating enough, unsure why she had roomed with the dead.

 

Wyatt grinned at hearing she thought him cute. He hadn't ever heard any girl say that of him. Of course he did recall his mother declaring he was quite handsome but mothers probably have to say that sort of stuff. As for being a ....what? Utili.....whatever she just said, he had no idea what that meant. Hopefully it was a good thing though. But actually the boy in him was more fascinated with her remark about being placed with the dead.

 

"So how badly were you hurt they stuck you with dead folks? I mean you look fine now. Mostly..." Wyatt pressed the issue.

 

"You know Clara almost died once herself. An Injun shot an arrow right into her chest," he loved telling folks that exciting fact.

 

"You should ask her to show it to you? It's quite the scar," Wyatt beamed, gross stuff like that appealed to boys his age.

 

"Wyatt! Did I not tell you to leave the room? And shut the door behind you also. Honestly," Clara glared.

 

 

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"You were? Really?" Wyatt found that revelation fascinating enough, unsure why she had roomed with the dead.

 

“Why sure” Arabella affirmed, for the first time she was having to say out loud what had actually happened to her in the last week or so and sort out what she definitely remembered, and what was probably only feverish dreams. “I definitely remember a house falling down on my head,” she counted the events off on her fingers “Then I was rescued by this gentleman, oh, he was ever so handsome, Clara!” This time she did turn around a little to glance at the older girl, handsome men were articles that only another woman could appreciate. “Then I think I was on some kind of a wagon; and then I woke up with dead folks either side of me. A old lady and a, oh, a very beautiful young girl, all dead and cold like a snow princess.”

 

"So how badly were you hurt they stuck you with dead folks? I mean you look fine now. Mostly..." Wyatt pressed the issue.

 

Arabella frowned and then nodded “Well, that’s a good question, Wyatt. I can’t remember rightly what happened, but I reckon I need to find out and give that joker as stuck me in there a fright back. I know!...” she grinned “... I could dress up like a ghost in a white sheet and pop out at him and say ‘you put me with the dead and now I am a ghost come to haunt you!’” she said this in a high pitched, wobbly sort of ghost voice. But then she frowned again “Aw no, that’s no good, he’ll just say ‘well, if you’re a ghost, you musta been dead when I popped you in there.’ Hm. Oh well, I’ll think up another joke we can play on that scamp, I’m good at thinking up funny jokes, Wy old man.”

 

"You know Clara almost died once herself. An Injun shot an arrow right into her chest," he loved telling folks that exciting fact.

 

Arabella gasped a gasp of delighted horror and twizzed round to behold the spectacle of one who had received such an exciting injury. “What, right in the …” she dropped her voice to a whisper “..bumps?”

 

"You should ask her to show it to you? It's quite the scar," Wyatt beamed, gross stuff like that appealed to boys his age.

 

“Well, I should say so, Wy old man! I got a scar on the bottom of my foot a mile long where I trod on broken glass oncst, but a scar from a Injun arrow, well, that trumps my ace and no mistake!” Arabella conceded.

 

"Wyatt! Did I not tell you to leave the room? And shut the door behind you also. Honestly," Clara glared.

 

“See ya, Wy!” the girl in the bath tub waved.

 

When he’d gone, Arabella twisted round excitedly to face Clara. “Hey, your brother’s cute, I wish he was five years older, did you see the way he was goggling my ’bustle’, by crikey, I hope he ain’t fallen in love with me, cause … well … can I tell you a secret?”

Edited by Javia (see edit history)

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Wyatt listened with interest as the girl talked of a house crashing down upon right on her head! She apparently had a head like a rock because he could see no damage well except for a few scratches. The boy, on occasion, took things a little too literally.  And then she was rescued by a handsome man. He immediately hoped this conversation wasn't going to go all sickeningly romantic and boring.

 

As for this so called handsome fellow, Clara withheld comment on that one. Right about now she didn't have a lot of trust in handsome men.

 

And then the girl seemed to have woke up in a barnful of dead people. Even Clara had to admit that would be quite the shock, the poor child. She now silently vowed to try and be a bit more patient with Arabella given all she had been thru.  Then Wyatt had to go and tell the girl about her being wounded by the Indians.  Well, that got Arabella all excited yet again.

 

“What, right in the …” she dropped her voice to a whisper “..bumps?”

 

Before Clara could answer, Wyatt had to chime in, "She doesn't really have much of those."

 

"Wyatt!" snapped Clara angrily.

 

"So far," he quickly tried to make up for that gaff, a bit too late.

 

Clara now insisted he get out and close the door behind him and Wyatt realized she meant it. Not wanting to be assigned extra chores he obliged, "Alright, I'm goin'."

 

“See ya, Wy!” the girl in the bath tub waved.

 

"Umm, sure," Wyatt still didn't quite know what to make of this rather strange newcomer.

 

Arabella now turned to face Clara.

 

“Hey, your brother’s cute, I wish he was five years older, did you see the way he was goggling my ’bustle’, by crikey, I hope he ain’t fallen in love with me, cause … well … can I tell you a secret?”

 

"He was NOT goggling your anything. And I believe you mean 'ogling'," Clara  corrected her.

 

"And as I know Wyatt, he is more likely to fall in love with a horse as any girl," she dryly pointed out.

 

Only vaguely curious, Clara humored the child, "You may tell me your secret if you wish."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Wayfarer (see edit history)
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"And as I know Wyatt, he is more likely to fall in love with a horse as any girl," she dryly pointed out.

 

“Well, he oughta meet my friend Melissa Cartlidge, she’s a girl as looks like a horse!” blurted out Arabella, perhaps a little unkindly. It was also noteworthy that poor Melissa seemed to have been demoted from her former exalted position of ‘bosom friend’.

 

Only vaguely curious, Clara humored the child, "You may tell me your secret if you wish."

 

“Oh!” the girl in the bath jumped up excitedly, but then frowned and leaned towards Clara seriously “But you gotta swear on the most sacred thing you hold dear that you won’t tell a livin’ soul!”

 

She looked round furtively, to make sure that there were no other people in the small room that she somehow hadn’t noticed before, and then proudly announced “I’m in LOVE!!!” and splashed backward into the tepid water, curling herself into a ball and rocking from side to side chanting “I’m in love, I’m in love, I’m in love!” with a smile on her face. Then she stopped, a thought arresting her motion and, lying in the bath, cast her beady eye upon Clara.

 

“Have you ever been in love, Clara Anne Redmond?” she asked with a suspicious note in her voice, sounding like a cross-examining lawyer at a trial.

Edited by Javia (see edit history)

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"That is rather cruel to say that of the poor girl," Clara gave her opinion after Arabella insulted some apparently ugly girl she knew, "And a friend at that."

 

The topic moved on to Arabella's excitement about wanting to share with her some grand secret. Clara had her doubts it was anything all that pulse pounding but she would go along with it. No doubt it was going to entail another long story.

 

“Oh!” the girl in the bath jumped up excitedly, but then frowned and leaned towards Clara seriously “But you gotta swear on the most sacred thing you hold dear that you won’t tell a livin’ soul!”

 

"I can make no such promise, solemnly swearing should be reserved for nothing but the most serious and solemn matters. Go on, though, I am not a chatterbox about other's lives," Clara gave the best she could.

 

"I'm in love!"

 

And that was it, repeated a few more times for good measure. But that was the gist of it alright. Leave it to Arabella to be so dramatic about it. Clara remained unmoved.

 

“Have you ever been in love, Clara Anne Redmond?”

 

"Of course not, I am but fifteen and have yet to be courted. Assuming I even wish to dabble in such foolishness. I hardly need boys falling all over themselves for me," Clara announced.

 

Part of that was certainly a lie. She had been very taken with Shade and to some she might have even been willing to admit she was madly in love with him. But he betrayed her for that hussy school marm. And even worse did not have the decency to even tell her. She was still angry about it and hurt too. However she was determined to get past it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“Have you ever been in love, Clara Anne Redmond?”

 

"Of course not, I am but fifteen and have yet to be courted. Assuming I even wish to dabble in such foolishness. I hardly need boys falling all over themselves for me," Clara announced.

 

“Oh, you’re missing out, child! I been in love heaps and heaps of times! Oh, an’ it’s a wonderful feeling, especially all the crying over 'em that you get to do.” Arabella sighed. “But they was all just boys, this is the REAL THING!” she said the last two words in such a way that if, for some unimaginable reason, an amanuensis was employed in transcribing her words, he would feel compelled to style them both in block capitals.

 

“Oh, he’s SO handsome, and darlin’ and strong.” She cooed, thinking about the object of her affection. “Are you sure you never been in love?” she returned to the subject again, like it was nagging at her, disrupting her own daydreams of HIM. She looked at Clara critically. Pretty? yep, Serious Looking? Yep, Healthy? Seemed so. A normal healthy girl and never been in love? It seemed inconceivable.

 

“Well, has any young gentleman ever been in love with you?” That was the other side of the game, wasn’t it? “You’re so sweet lookin’, I bet heaps of boys has been head over heels in love with you, Clara. Why, Melissa Cartlidge had scores o’ admirers and she weren’t half as pretty as you.”

 

“Well, if you ever take to fallin’ in love, then you just ask fer advice from ol’ Aunt Arabella, I’m pretty much the biggest expert in all of Virginia about affairs o’ the heart.”

 

Well, enough about Clara, there was more for Arabella to talk about herself.

 

“Well, ain’t ya gonna ask me all about the feller I’m in love with?” The water was getting cold, but the conversation was getting warmer, so she decided to stay in the bath a little longer.

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Arabella now thought that she was missing out on life if indeed she had not yet fallen in love. It seemed the younger girl was quite the veteran at it. The child was certainly full of whims in Clara's opinion and also fond of exaggeration.

 

"So you say," was all Clara would concede to.

 

Now though Arabelle was certain this time it was the real thing. Of course it was, Clara just stood there eying her and letting her ramble on. Wait ... she was back to asking her another question.

 

“Are you sure you never been in love?” she returned to the subject again.

 

"Yes. As in I have not. Not been in love," Clara assured her.  Whatever that had been with Shade, no, it was definitely not 'in love'.

 

"Well, has any young gentleman ever been in love with you? You’re so sweet lookin’, I bet heaps of boys has been head over heels in love with you, Clara. Why, Melissa Cartlidge had scores o’ admirers and she weren’t half as pretty as you.”

 

Clara paused then replied barely audibly, "So you think I am pretty. I look in the mirror and find I am quite plain."

 

"Last festival we had a dance and only one person asked me to dance and that was an older man. No one my age even gave me a second look and I had a dress on I had sewed myself," she recalled, but no, she was not bitter.

 

“Well, ain’t ya gonna ask me all about the feller I’m in love with?”  Arabella practically demanded.

 

Clara's first thought was to simply say  'no' but that would be unkind especially since the girl had complimented her just seconds earlier.

 

"Very well, who are in in love with then?" she sighed.

 

 

 

 

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Clara paused then replied barely audibly, "So you think I am pretty. I look in the mirror and find I am quite plain."

 

“Why, then you been lookin’ in the wrong mirrors, girl! Sure, you’re as pretty as a picture; boys oughta be jumpin’ on you like a dog on a bone!” she was genuinely shocked that the girl, young woman, thought so little of her perfect little face. And she had bumps!

 

"Last festival we had a dance and only one person asked me to dance and that was an older man. No one my age even gave me a second look and I had a dress on I had sewed myself," she recalled, but no, she was not bitter.

 

“OOOOOHHHH!” sighed Arabella with relief. Boy, was this Yankee gal ignorant in the ways of amor.

 

“That’s because you’re TOO pretty, silly. Don’t you know that’s what scares boys off? See, they’re all there admirin’ you and fallin’ in love with you, an’ so forth, but they think, ‘why she’s too pretty fer me, if I go and ask her for a dance she’ll think I’m not good enough for her and turn me down and then I’ll be a laughing stock’, so they never ask you. ‘Cept that old feller, he knew you was too pretty fer him, but probably just thought he might overawe you with bein’ so old an’ all.”

 

She’d got it all worked out.

 

“Now me, I ain’t pretty as you, but I’m pretty enough for ‘em to still like me. I got funny teeth, see:” she put her little fingers in each side of her mouth and pulled her lips apart, displaying her teeth like a snarling dog. They were a bit wonky.

 

“So they thinks, ‘why that Arabella Mudd ain’t so very ugly, but she’s got them funny teeth and she ain’t got no bumps, and that there eye’s a mite lazy, so she can’t be too fussy-like, maybe she’d spark a little with me’ so they takes a chance and asks fer a dance or a kiss, and by crikey, it’s nice to be asked, even if you don’t like ’em!”

 

She took a deep breath.

 

“Next time we go to a dance or a party or a cotillion or a fair or what not, you tell me what feller you like and I’ll fix him up with ya, either that or make sure they play a Paul Jones, so you get to dance with him any old how. Oncest you get him in yer arms, that’s when ya GOT him!” she hissed, bright eyed, like a General describing his plans for an ambush.

 

Phew! Well, enough tactics.

 

“Well, ain’t ya gonna ask me all about the feller I’m in love with?”  Arabella practically demanded.

 

Clara's first thought was to simply say  'no' but that would be unkind especially since the girl had complimented her just seconds earlier.

 

"Very well, who are in in love with then?" she sighed.

 

“Oh Clara, he is just so very, very wonderful, but I don’t even know his name! It’s the gentleman that saved my life when that there house fell on my head. He pulled me out of that snow so romantic-like and then carried me to safety in his big strong arms. He is a little older than me, I'll allow, maybe even…” she winced a little “… thirty?”

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The child was adamant that she, Clara, was definitely pretty. Now that made Clara feel good though she had to take into account the holder of that opinion. It would certainly carry more weight if Arabella were instead an eligible young male.

 

"Kind of you to think so, Arabella, I appreciate it," Clara was sincere.

 

Arabella then gave her theory as to why someone like Clara was not asked to dance on that last occasion. A part of it did have a certain logic to it. Come to think of it, her father once recalled that when he first met his wife, Clara's mother, he had been almost too shy to approach such a beautiful woman. Still, under no circumstances would Clara equate herself to her mother in that category. She had been stunning.

 

The girl moved on to assessing her own self and how despite falling short in some categories she was apparently much more successful with the menfolk. Like Clara could swallow that one! Arabella followed with advice for the next dance.

 

"I have not even decided if I will be going. Seems like a waste of time and I always have so many things to do," Clara shrugged. Like she wanted to stand there like a wall flower while Shade cavorted about the dance floor with that Jezebel school marm?  Hardly!

 

Well the girl wanted her to ask who the child was in love with so to hopefully bring an end to this painfully long discussion, Clara asked.

 

“Oh Clara, he is just so very, very wonderful, but I don’t even know his name! It’s the gentleman that saved my life when that there house fell on my head. He pulled me out of that snow so romantic-like and then carried me to safety in his big strong arms. He is a little older than me, I'll allow, maybe even…” she winced a little “… thirty?”

 

"Wait! You do not even know his name? And he is thirty or thirty years older than you? Goodness!" Clara was aghast.

 

Either was too old. Of course had she paused for some introspection, Shade was a good deal older than her. But that had been different. She was an adult even if most folks did not see it.

 

 

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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Clara’s revelation that she wasn’t sure whether she would go to the next dance gave Arabella’s heart a little flip both ways: it sounded like there was a dance on the cards: that was good! But if Clara didn’t go, then maybe she wouldn’t be able to go. That was bad.

 

She told the other girl what little she knew about the sweetheart of all her dreams, but Clara seemed disappointed at the paucity of firm intelligence on the objective at hand.

 

"Wait! You do not even know his name? And he is thirty or thirty years older than you? Goodness!" Clara was aghast.

 

Arabella closed her eyes and chuckled her gurgly chuckle out loud. “No, no! He ain’t thirty years older than me, silly billy! That’d make him…” there was an embarrassingly long pause before she could work it out “… add the … why, that’d make him Fifty years old or summit!" she couldn't hold back another chuckle. "No, he IS about thirty, well, I dunno, give or take. Let’s say I marries him in two years’ time, lemme think: I’ll be sixteen then, he’ll be thirty two, well, that’s still serviceable.”

 

She wrinkled up her brow and studied on the other issue, that of his utter anonymity.

 

“Now, I don’t know his name, but I reckon I can track that handsome devil down. I got clues: he was with lots of folks, and they all knowed him and did what he said, so I reckon he’s a … oh NO!!!” her excited little face fell, and she opened her mouth wide. “Oh Clara, what if he’s married, or already got a gal?!” she put her hand to her lips in horror. “Oh, Clara, if he’s already wed, why, I…. I’ll just DIE!” she groaned and fell back dramatically swooning into the bath with a splash, then added, more matter-of-factly “Kin I get out now? This here baths gettin’ cold.”

 

To be fair, the December chill, even inside the house, was enough to have rapidly cooled the already tepid bathwater.

Edited by Javia (see edit history)

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“No, no! He ain’t thirty years older than me, silly billy! That’d make him…” there was an embarrassingly long pause before she could work it out “… add the … why, that’d make him Fifty years old or summit!" Arabella chuckled.

 

Clara did not share that amusement for one thing, the child was off on her arithmetic.

 

"You are fourteen and if he would be thirty years older that would be forty-four not fifty," she helpfully corrected. This girl was as bad at numbers as Wyatt, sad really.

 

“Now, I don’t know his name, but I reckon I can track that handsome devil down. I got clues: he was with lots of folks, and they all knowed him and did what he said, so I reckon he’s a … oh NO!!!”

 

"Now what?" Clara braced herself for the next spate of dramatics.

 

Oh Clara, what if he’s married, or already got a gal?!” she put her hand to her lips in horror. “Oh, Clara, if he’s already wed, why, I…. I’ll just DIE!” she groaned and fell back dramatically swooning into the bath with a splash.

 

"Tragic," Clara fairly dripped with sarcasm, "Not the you dying part but if he has a woman in his life. By that age they usually do. Trust me."

 

Arabella then asked, “Kin I get out now? This here baths gettin’ cold.”

 

"Most certainly, you have been in there long enough and spilled enough of it to wet my entire bedroom floor. Stand up then, let me get a towel," Clara informed her.

 

The efficient housekeeper that she was, Clara had one sitting close on a shelf and held it out to the girl.

 

"Here, I trust you can dry yourself off?"  She almost added 'without drama' but that would setting expectations way too high!

 

 

 

 

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"Tragic," Clara fairly dripped with sarcasm, "Not the you dying part but if he has a woman in his life. By that age they usually do. Trust me."

 

“Hmmmmm” Arabella had a think about this. “Ooh! Maybe his wife died, though. Sure, folks die all the time. He married this lady, oooh, a long time ago, and she died and he was sad for a while, and said he’d never forget her, and now he needs a bright new candle to enter his darkened room of mourning and give him hope for the future again.” Suddenly realizing that this description could perhaps be applied to Clara’s Father, whom she had yet to meet, she coughed and rapidly changed the subject.

 

“Kin I get out now? This here baths gettin’ cold.”

 

"Most certainly, you have been in there long enough and spilled enough of it to wet my entire bedroom floor. Stand up then, let me get a towel," Clara informed her.

 

“Oh! I’m sorry!” chanted Arabella formulaically as she got out of the bath and added to the puddles on the floor. She shivered and allowed her teeth to chatter and made a sort of juh-juh-juh-juh noise with her mouth to exaggerate the effect. She liked that feeling.

 

"Here, I trust you can dry yourself off?"  She almost added 'without drama' but that would setting expectations way too high!

 

“Oh, I … I’m real cold, might be best if you rub me some!” she shivered, quickly wrapping the towel around her. Her foot touched something under the bed, and she remembered.

 

“Clara! I forgot. I went pee-pee in the potty. Where should I empty it?” she looked round and met Clara’s brown eyes with her own blue, and then slowly turned her eyes to the water in the bath and then returned them to Clara’s, giving her a cheeky grin. Well, it’d save an extra journey.

 

As she got dry, the stranger under the Redmond roof started to wonder what lay beyond this small room where she had been coaxed from death’s gaping maw, and back into the land of the snug, logwall-bound living. What was the rest of the house like? And the Farm? And the area beyond? And what of the rest of the family? Would she meet some more folks soon?

 

“Clara, what’s your Pappy like? I mean, when I meet him, how should I act? Would he like it best if I was all sad and upset about what’s happened to me, or would he like it best if I was all brave and kinda sad inside but pretending to be all right on the outside; or how about angry that I was in that dead people place or, ooh, I know, how about vivacious? I’m right good at vivacious.”

 

She was like a spinning top, one minute she was up and whizzing round at a hundred miles and hour, the next she collapsed and toppled. Like now, she suddenly teared up, and her head bowed.

 

“Clara” she whimpered, looking up at the slightly taller girl, her lips trembling and her blue eyes starting to well. “I’m sorry what I said before about hoping that feller’s wife had died, cause that’s like what happened to your Pappy. That might have made you sad, and you seem plenty sad already. My Aunt Rosie says I need to think more before I speak, but them words they just sort of bubble up inside me and sorta spurt out before I can stop ‘em, she says I, … I ‘wear my heart on my sleeve’. So, I’m sorry if I … made you sad.” She finished, blinking away the tears and looking about the room confusedly, like she was just looking at it for the first time.

Edited by Javia (see edit history)

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"I myself do not dwell on all the possibles and maybes in life. It is best to concentrate on the here and now and how you might positively affect the future," Clara sagely pointed out. Actually that last part she read somewhere but it did make sense.

 

Sure enough Arabella was now freezing and chattering so much she SAID she was incapable of drying herself, it figured. She wrapped the towel about her emaciated frame.

 

"You are not helpless, child. Especially since you seem to be old enough to have love affairs and like," Clare was not going to turn into a maid servant for this girl.

 

Clara! I forgot. I went pee-pee in the potty. Where should I empty it?” she looked round and met Clara’s brown eyes with her own blue, and then slowly turned her eyes to the water in the bath and then returned them to Clara’s, giving her a cheeky grin.

 

"Not in the bathwater. I intend on using the bathwater so Wyatt can have a bath. We usually share the same bath water, many families do," Clara pointed out then added with a hint of disdain, "I will empty out your pot."

 

The girl started drying herself off then but wanted to keep chatting - unfortunately. This time Arabella was curious about Clara's father and what was he like and how should she act around the man.

 

"He does not like people who are too chatty," Clara answered,  her assessment not really true but it might prove helpful. If she was being optimistic.

 

“Clara” she whimpered, looking up at the slightly taller girl, her lips trembling and her blue eyes starting to well. “I’m sorry what I said before about hoping that feller’s wife had died, cause that’s like what happened to your Pappy. That might have made you sad, and you seem plenty sad already. My Aunt Rosie says I need to think more before I speak, but them words they just sort of bubble up inside me and sorta spurt out before I can stop ‘em, she says I, … I ‘wear my heart on my sleeve’. So, I’m sorry if I … made you sad.”

 

Clara sighed, "You did not make me sad, again you were referring to something in the realm of possibility not facts. I have enough other things in my life to be concerned about.  And for your information I am not sad right now, merely serious. It is how I am"

 

"On the the other hand, your Aunt Rosie has a good point, you might wish to heed it more often," Clara decided to use the ammunition provided.

 

 

 

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Clara put Arabella straight about the vagaries of prognostication and about how far she would go in physically aiding the skinny girl to get dry. But there was still the question of the brimming potty. Arabella’s rather clever idea, she thought, of merely adding to the tepid bath water didn’t seem to go down as well as she expected.

 

"Not in the bathwater. I intend on using the bathwater so Wyatt can have a bath. We usually share the same bath water, many families do," Clara pointed out then added with a hint of disdain, "I will empty out your pot."

 

The Virginian girl decided it was best not to mention that she might have already made a little ‘contribution’ to the bathwater already, but she positively balked at the idea of Clara emptying the china.

 

“Oh no! You can’t do that fer me!” she gasped “I mean, that ain’t rosewater in there, it’s what you might term ‘unpleasantly fragrant in an early mornin’ sort of way!’ You just show me where it goes, and I’ll tote it there: I’m gonna have to start pulling my weight around here!” she declared, secretly hoping that, as her weight was negligible, the tasks might be equally light.

 

As for the fact that Clara and Wyatt shared the same bathwater, she did wonder how the two of them would fit in there together: it’d been a pretty tight fit just for her slight frame but, again, decided to ask about that when Clara might be in a more talkative mood.

 

The girl started drying herself off then but wanted to keep chatting - unfortunately. This time Arabella was curious about Clara's father and what was he like and how should she act around the man.

 

"He does not like people who are too chatty," Clara answered,  her assessment not really true but it might prove helpful. If she was being optimistic.

 

Arabella took this to mean that the older girl thought that she was too chatty, and that brought on a crying fit and a babbling apology. Crying fits and babbling apologies came naturally to Miss Mudd, and always seemed to have a salutary effect on their audience. However, the redoubtable Miss Redmond bunted this pitch with ease.

 

Clara sighed, "You did not make me sad, again you were referring to something in the realm of possibility not facts. I have enough other things in my life to be concerned about.  And for your information I am not sad right now, merely serious. It is how I am"

 

The crying girl stopped crying and looked at the other with a mixture of curiosity and admiration: she was about the funniest little body the southern girl had ever met, but she had an awesome sort of dignity about her that could not fail to impress.

 

"On the other hand, your Aunt Rosie has a good point, you might wish to heed it more often," Clara decided to use the ammunition provided.

 

Arabella, ever wiling to trim her sails to suit the direction of the breeze, wiped the snot from her nose with the back of her wrist and pulled as serious a face as she could muster, and nodded. “Miss Redmond, you are right. I too should emulate you, and try to keep my emotions in check and act with more dignity and restraint.” To her amazement, trying to act more like Clara actually improved her grammar! Then again, she always had been a good mimic, a trait that had landed her in trouble enough in times past.

 

An idea struck her “Say, Clara, when I meet your Pappy, maybe I should try and act all serious and miserable like you, he might like that. Or do you think I should be more charmin’ and divertin’, like I usually am? Hmmm. Oh!!! And what in the Dickens am I gonna wear? Do you still have my clothes? Why, after all them months on the wagon train, and all my a’ventures afterwards, they was just as dirty and full o’ grey-backs as you can’t imagine!”

Edited by Javia (see edit history)

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“Oh no! You can’t do that fer me!” Arabella gasped “I mean, that ain’t rosewater in there, it’s what you might term ‘unpleasantly fragrant in an early mornin’ sort of way!’ You just show me where it goes, and I’ll tote it there: I’m gonna have to start pulling my weight around here!”

 

"No, I will not bandy words with you. I will empty it. The last thing I want is for you to spill it all over the place, remember you are still early in your recovery from that travail in Whitefish," Clara was a person who liked being in charge. Well, maybe not always liked but preferred it to the incompetence she feared in so many others. Arabella inspired zero confidence in her.

 

The conversation moved on then, the emptying could wait. Besides, the child flitted from one drama to another like a bee in a field of flowers.

 

 “Miss Redmond, you are right. I too should emulate you, and try to keep my emotions in check and act with more dignity and restraint.”

 

"Well, it would not hurt to at least give it an honest effort. I have found it to work for me," Clara nodded though she did not mention the downside, a lot of folk did not particularly like her much. So be it.

 

“Say, Clara, when I meet your Pappy, maybe I should try and act all serious and miserable like you, he might like that. Or do you think I should be more charmin’ and divertin’, like I usually am? "

 

Clara glared, "Miserable? I do NOT act miserable. The nerve!"

 

"Hmmm. Oh!!! And what in the Dickens am I gonna wear? Do you still have my clothes? Why, after all them months on the wagon train, and all my a’ventures afterwards, they was just as dirty and full o’ grey-backs as you can’t imagine!”

 

"I will wash them when I do the laundry and also try and patch them where they need it. Just be patient, waiting on you hand and foot is hardly the only task I have to handle around here," Clara was still more than a bit flustered at being told she was  ...  'miserable'. Ignorant child!

 

 

 

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"No, I will not bandy words with you. I will empty it. The last thing I want is for you to spill it all over the place, remember you are still early in your recovery from that travail in Whitefish,"

 

A physical tug of war involving a potty full of pungent piddle could not possibly end well, so Arabella acquiesced, but it did seem an odd thing to insist upon. Also, she hadn’t really traveled that much in Whitefish, just stumbled in on foot, and been carried out flat on her back a few hours later. Still, she kept her peace. Clara seemed to take exception to everything she said.

 

 “Miss Redmond, you are right. I too should emulate you, and try to keep my emotions in check and act with more dignity and restraint.”

 

"Well, it would not hurt to at least give it an honest effort. I have found it to work for me," Clara nodded though she did not mention the downside, a lot of folk did not particularly like her much. So be it.

 

“Say, Clara, when I meet your Pappy, maybe I should try and act all serious and miserable like you, he might like that. Or do you think I should be more charmin’ and divertin’, like I usually am? "

 

Clara glared, "Miserable? I do NOT act miserable. The nerve!"

 

“Of, that’s all right, I know you ain’t actin’” smiled Arabella, she got the impression that Clara really was miserable. Still, with her Mammy dying like that, she didn’t really blame her. What was more confusing, and somewhat guilt inducing, was the fact that the death of her own beloved Father, only a month ago and in the most miserable of circumstances, wasn’t making her as grief-stricken as it rightfully should. Sure, she would burst out crying at the drop of a hat, but she was always like that. Rather than ponder that painful subject, she turned her mind to more practical matters.

 

"Hmmm. Oh!!! And what in the Dickens am I gonna wear? Do you still have my clothes? Why, after all them months on the wagon train, and all my a’ventures afterwards, they was just as dirty and full o’ grey-backs as you can’t imagine!”

 

"I will wash them when I do the laundry and also try and patch them where they need it. Just be patient, waiting on you hand and foot is hardly the only task I have to handle around here," Clara was still more than a bit flustered at being told she was  ...  'miserable'. Ignorant child!

 

“Awwww, I thought I was getting up and dressed now, an’ I could have breakfast with you and ol’ Wyatt and meet your Pappy and all your pets! Do I have to go back to bed?” she pouted. That was no fun, she’d already been to bed, she wanted new sights and new sensations. “Clara, I’m powerful curious to meet your Pappy, what’s he like?”

Edited by Javia (see edit history)

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“Awwww, I thought I was getting up and dressed now, an’ I could have breakfast with you and ol’ Wyatt and meet your Pappy and all your pets! Do I have to go back to bed?” she pouted. That was no fun, she’d already been to bed, she wanted new sights and new sensations. “Clara, I’m powerful curious to meet your Pappy, what’s he like?”

 

"I did not say you had to go back to bed. In fact I think it capital if you do get up, it seems to me you are quite well on your way to complete recovery," Clara assured her.

 

"And as for my father, he is a wonderful man. I could ask for no better father than him," Clara thought that summarized it all.

 

"Get dressed then...in your nightshirt will do for now and then come out and you can meet him. But....Arabella....tamp down the enthusiasm a little, please? Father likes a calm reasoned conversation."

 

 

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"And as for my father, he is a wonderful man. I could ask for no better father than him," Clara thought that summarized it all.

 

“Ain’t they all?” Smiled Arabella, it was somehow comforting that Clara seemed to feel the same high regard for her father that she felt for her own. He wasn’t perfect, she knew that, and his pipe-dreams had, throughout thier lives, led them into a lot of trouble and care, but she loved him with all her heart, buried as he was, out there in some unknown grave on the open prairie.

 

"Get dressed then...in your nightshirt will do for now and then come out and you can meet him. But....Arabella....tamp down the enthusiasm a little, please? Father likes a calm reasoned conversation."

 

“Meet him in my nightie!” Arabella balked “That’s kinda embarrassing!” she squeaked. Odd that she didn’t seem to mind Wyatt seeing her in the altogether in the bath but was particular about meeting a grown man in the thick nightshirt donated by Clara’s brother.

 

“Oh well, beggars can’t be choosers” she shrugged “…and I’ll try an’ make sure he thinks I ain’t enthusiastic about meeting him, if you think that’s best!” she acquiesced.

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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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