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Sagas of the Wild West

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Relief Effort


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"Go ahead. Eat the pie, kid. Just save me a small bite to try."

 

Weedy looked eagerly to Addy who just grinned and nodded, watching as the boy carefully split the pie into three almost-equal portions, then started gobbling up the treat.  No harm sometimes in indulging, and Addy grabbed a plate to join him.  The food was food, but the pie was heaven!

 

"I have to say this again. Thank you kindly, mam. I'm not taking your  generosity for granted."

 

"Just th' Christian thing ta do."  Addy shrugged, looking at him with a smile.  "See a body needs help, ya help."  It was the way she was raised, and the way she lived, not to say she wouldn't lay a man out if he deserved it!

 

"You're letting a stranger come to your place. That's not very safe. But don't worry. I'll do you no harm."

 

"Not much ta be done if ya don't want ta reject them that need help fer th' few who are evil."  She shrugged, glancing at Weedy, knowing this was another opportunity to impart Addy-wisdom without being obvious.  "Gotta brace for th' few bad ones, but can't turn away them that's in need.  Don't think I could live that way."

 

She'd surely seen her amount of evil in her time, so she wasn't ignorant of reality, she just wasn't going to let it taint her way.

 

@Jack

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"Right." Jay heard her words and could only think one thing: He was one of them. He was one of those bad guys now that she should be bracing herself for. It hadn't always been that way. But he had taken a wrong turn and made many poor choices. 

"Good cake." He tried to get the talk away from this touchy subject.

The pie was sweet and delicious. A real treat. He could see  the joy in Weedys eyes.

"What about your family. They don't need you around or what?"

Even if his family was not the best they still were in charge of him.

Jay reached for the bread and shifted a little. He was still sitting on the bed assuming it was Weedys.

Then he nodded at Addy before he have the kitten a tiny bit of dried meat. "That little thing probably drinks milk. But her ma wasn't around in the barn. I stayed there for a while. No other cat."

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"What about your family. They don't need you around or what?"

 

Stopping mid-bite, Weedy looked at the man, then to Addy...he had touched a sore spot.  "Mama needs me when she's home," he explained, a hint of pride and a hint of sadness in his tone.  He loved his mama, but she was usually really drunk and sometimes mean, and more often than not she stayed the night somewhere...in fact, she'd been gone over a week this time.

 

"Weedy's pa disappeared when he was just a little guy," Addy put in so the boy didn't have to explain.  "Speculation is that he run afoul'a Indians."  Or, more likely, packed up and left, never looking back.  No one really knew.

 

Then he nodded at Addy before he have the kitten a tiny bit of dried meat. "That little thing probably drinks milk. But her ma wasn't around in the barn. I stayed there for a while. No other cat."

 

"Cow's milk ain't good fer cats," Addy explained, "I know where we can get some goat's milk come mornin'."  She grinned as Buster jumped up onto the bed and started sniffing the kitten, then, after he had checked it out, he started licking it.  "Looks like they've made friends!"

 

Grinning, she dropped a piece of the dried meat into hot water and after a moment she pulled it out and mushed it between her fingers then handed that to Jay.  "Try that.  Buster's gonna mooch, but don't let him have it all."

 

Likely, the kitten was so hungry it would eat readily.

 

@Jack

 

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Unfortunately Jay asked the wrong question in Weedys presence. He'd enquire further when the boy wasn't around but he could tell it was a touchy subject.

He didn't say anymore, nor did he apologize but swallowed his bite instead.

 

Instead he took the piece of meat from Addy. She had hands, that were used to work but they were still cleaner and nicer than his.

 

The cat eagerly took the bite from Jay but she had a hard time chewing it.

Jay gently caressed her head and yawned. He was still cold and worn out despite the fire and food.

It had been a rough few days.

Outside the sun had set a while ago.

"Where do you sleep, Weedy?"

He asked him wondering whether they'd have to share the bed.

 

He briefly looked at Addy in the lights of the candles. The dancing shine gave her skin a soft warm glow. Jay needed to avert his gaze in order not to make her uncomfortable.

 

 

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"Miz Addy has a pallet she keeps under the bed," the boy explained, quickly back to himself...he'd been asked about his folks more than once, and had learned not to dwell on it. 

 

"I'll use th' pallet tanight," Addy commented, dropping some bits of the dried meat on the floor for Buster, who eagerly started eating, "you gents can use th' bed."  Sleeping on the ground was nothing unusual, and a pallet would be almost as comfortable as the bed.  "I'm so exhausted anyway, I could sleep on rocks!"

 

That said, she shucked out of her boots, then grabbed a piece of pie.  Even with the stove, the room was still on the cool side, so it wouldn't be a problem to sleep in her union suit, and there were plenty of blankets.

 

"Ya ready fer yer pie, Jay?"

 

@Jack

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Jay listened to her generous offer. He had assumed she had a house to sleep in unaware that the barn room was her home. Now he felt embarassed to say the least. If he hadn't been so weak, he would have ridden into town to find a place there but he could not let the lady sleep on a pallet.

"Oh no, no, Addy." He shook his head. Jay might have a been a criminal, but at least one with manors.

"You mustn't sleep on the pallet. I will not take your bed away from you. Under no circumstances. I'd rather sleep out there with the horses than in your bed. In fact, I might just do that. "

After all he didn't want people to start talking.

"I don't even think sharing a room would be appropriate, not even with the little chaperone here."

 

The topic was settled in his mind.

"I'll try that pie now. It smells delicious." He looked at Weedy daring him not to say anything against what he had stated. The boy probably had no idea why Jay didn't want to sleep in Addys bed or room for that matter.

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"Ya don't gotta," Addy insisted, but she could tell that he would be uncomfortable, so she didn't argue with him.  "We'll drag that pallet out there an' fluff it up in some hay."  That would give him some good insulation, along with a pile of blankets.  At any rate, it would be better than where he'd been sleeping in Whitefish.

 

As she munched the last of her pie, she added, "Sorry I ain't got a dog fer ya, that'd keep ya good an' warm, but ya got yer kitten, an' Buster'll likely join ya." 

 

Going to the bed, she dragged out the pallet, along with several blankets that had seen better days but were clean.  "Don't got an extra pillow."  She shrugged, but then Weedy offered his.

 

"There's mine, I don't mind if Mister Jay wants to use it." 

 

@Jack

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If Jay didn't have a hole in his skin he'd probably have helped but this way he held on to the kitten and carried the blankets.

"That's very kind of you. Maybe I csn put some hot coal in that metal bucket out there." He suggsted because the winter was very cold.

When his make shift bed was made he nodded. "That looks just fine."

He took the pillow from Weedy and smile. "You're a good lad. I think we'll become friends."

That of course depended on how ling he'd be allowed to stick around.

"What are your plans? Do you want me to move on tomorrow or do you have any use for an extra set of hands?"

Jay wasn't sure whether he wasn't offering too much because he felt rather weak.

He sat down on the palett and groaned a little.

 

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"Don't mind a bucket'a coal so long as it's tied off ta somethin', just so's it don't accidentally get kicked over in th' night."  After all, a barn was just a big tinder box, and fire wasn't their friend.  "I got a couple'a big rocks we can set in th' fire ta warm, an' we can put those down by yer feet."  Starting the night with warm toes would go a long way to a good night's sleep!

 

"Can always use a hand around here."  Addy shrugged.  "Got plenty ta do, cleanin' stalls an' all.  Not as much work with th' wagons an' stage, but this time'a year I use th' time fer sprucin' up, polishin' harness an' whatnot."

 

It wasn't as if it would be a horrible hardship for her to let the man stick around until he could get settled, especially with what he'd been through.  And it wouldn't hurt for Weedy to have a good male influence around.

 

@Jack

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The idea with the hot rocks sounded great because the barn would surely get cold during the night. "Thank you kindly, Addy."

And her words about letting him stay and work here for a bit didn't sound so bad either. "I appreciate the offer. You don't need to pay me anything. I'm just happy for a roof over my head during these cold days."

He went back to the comfortable room to get his few belongings. The barn was cold, so he put his warm jacket back on and wrapped the scarf she had given him around his neck.

Jay knew very well that staying in the warmth of the room would make things a lot easier on him and probably make his chances of sleep and possibly healing better. But he did not want to put the first person, who showed him so much care, into a bad spot.

So he offered her a smile with his bundle in his hands and then found his make shift bed in the barn.

 

While the stones were heating up, Jay quickly went outside to take a piss. Briefly he lifted his shirt to check his wound but despite the moon shining through a few gaps in the clouds he couldn't see much but he could feel the warmth radiating from his skin. A handful of snow brought momentary relief.

 

Then he returned to the barn to find the small kitten rolled up on the blanket.

"Oh, right, are you hogging my bed?" He lifted her up and then made himself comfortable and put the small animal under his blanket.

Already the cold air in the barn made him wish, he wasn't such a 'gentleman'.

 

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