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Sagas of the Wild West

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Relief Effort

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"Let me know if ya need anythin'."  Addy said, giving the man a smile, once all was ready, "an' honest, I got no issue with ya comin' in an' sleepin' on th' floor if it gets too cold out here.  Other folks' opinions don't hold nothin' against keepin' ya from freezin' ta death."  She grinned.  "'Sides, ground's too hard ta dig ya a grave.  Might could just hafta leave yer carcass there an' step over it 'till th' Spring thaw!"


Laughing, she nodded.  "G'night, Jay.  We'll get ya a proper breakfast in th' mornin'."  She would be up early and make coffee, but once the horses were seen to, she'd take them all over to the Lickskillet for some of Miz Emeline's good cooking!



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Her joke about the grave was closer to the truth than he would have liked to admit. Yet he laughed at her joke.

"Thanks, too kind of you!"

He did appreciate the offer to come over even though he knew he wouldn't make use of it.

"Good night, sleep tight, you two."

He nodded and gave them one last glance before he drew the blankets up to his chin and tried to be as comfortable as possible. Something was off though, he could tell, and it surely wasn't the lack of food that made him feel bad.

It took a while until he could actually fall asleep despite the pain in his side and the cold surrounding him and creeping into his skin again.


The moon was high in the sky but soon covered by dark clouds that brought more snow, which was falling in thick flakes onto the roof of the bar.

The landscape outside was still, most sounds drowned out by the thick white layer. Here and there the howling of a wolf could be heard in the distance. Nothing too close though. The horses were occassionally moving around but generally it was a quiet night.


Nevertheless Jay woke up well before dawn covered in sweat and shivering from head to toe. He tried to get back to sleep but he felt too bad. With a groan he sat up and searched for a lamp. He was fishing blind in the dark and couldn't find it. "Fuc*in he*l." He cursed frowning in the dark.

His little companion had snuck away and was eyeing him from a beam up top.

Next thing Jay was knocking over the lamp he had been searching for spilling the petroleum onto the barn floor.

Another louder curse followed.


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Addy was a relatively light sleeper, although she was well-accustomed to the usual noises in the barn -- the stamping of hooves, an occasional whinny, little mice feet scurrying away from Buster -- but the first outcry jarred her awake, and for a moment she attributed it to one of Weedy's nightmares, but the boy was resting quietly, and then there was another, louder call from the barn where Jay was.


On her feet in an instant, Addy grabbed her pistol, careful not to step on Weedy, then was out the door, barefoot and in her union suit...one couldn't worry about trifles such as modesty if there was a threat, although she wasn't sure if there was a threat at all, or if there was, if that would be Jay himself or something else.


Opening the door, she peered into the darkness, th' odor of kerosene hitting her nose.  "What in eternal tarnation!?"  It was only because she was so familiar with her surroundings that she was able to stalk toward the stall where Jay had been.


"You set this place on fire an' I swear I'll send ya ta Hades six different way's that'll make Dante cry!"  How dare he repay her kindness by torching the barn, with the animals in it!



(He'd darned better be delirious!)

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Jay was only half awake and aware of what was going on when a female voice cursed at him in the pitch black barn. He wasn't sure whether he was dreaming or awake until the person walked right into him. 

Groaning again he reached for her to push her back. "Nonono....no fire. There's kerosene....."

Couldn't she smell it?

It took him.a moment to even figure out who 'she' was.



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"Derned tootin' Addy," she grumbled, "an' yeah, kerosene, soakin' inta hay in my barn."  Well, the stage company's barn, but close enough!  "Whacha doin', throwin' kerosene all over?" 


But something was off, not quite right in the way he talked, and he was still on the floor.  She relaxed slightly, thinking that maybe the spill hadn't been intentional.


Then Weedy was a the door to her room, candle in hand.  "What's..."


"Put that candle out, NOW!" she shouted, far more harshly than she intended, but, of course, the flame could be lethal.  But it had given her a look at Jay, and he didn't look good.


Engulfed in darkness again, she knelt down and put her pistol on the floor.  "You all right, Jay?"  Warily, she reached to touch him, alarmed to find that he was hot.  "Get up, we're goin' in my room."  She wasn't taking 'no' for an answer.



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He heard her curse at something, possibly him or the broken lamp but he couldn't focus properly for some reasons, nor could he stop himself from breathing so rapidly. Then Addy shouted out loud and got him to look at her in the flickering light of the candle near the door.

His focus was gone as quickly as it had come.

But he could tell she was kneeling down awefully close to him and the smell of kerosene.

"Careful...." He warned her.

Jay didn't have the energy to get up but anything was better than being out here, freezing, shaking and being miserable.

He had a faint idea what was causing all this mystery but right now he was in too much pain to give a damn about not putting Addy in an Improper situation or even care about the half truths.

He fished for her arm for support and force himself to his feet, which caused a long and disgusting groan to escape his throat.


In the light of her room she'd realize what he'd been hiding. While he had looked fairly presentable and had his witts together only 5 hours ago, he had changed into a sick, weak man . Jay was a mess. He had been able to tell something was off but hoped that the meal and a good nights sleep would cure him. No such luck, though.


Now he was slumped down on the corner of her bed with his head in his hands.

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"C'mon, now."  Addy helped support Jay as he struggled to his feet, willing to accept that whatever had happened with the lamp hadn't been intentional, and once he was in the room where she could safely have light she could look him over.


"Weedy, lissen close...I need ya ta go out an' scoop up as much of that hay as ya can, take it out back, put it in a bucket an' pour water over it."  She lit the lamp in the room, then added to the boy, "Ya know what kerosene can do, so be careful...don't need th' barn burnin' around our ears, an' takin' th' town with it."  While she hated putting such responsibility on Weedy, especially at this hour and in the dark, she had no choice, she had to see to Jay, but she was sure the boy was up to the task.


"So, now..."  Frowning, she looked at Jay, then felt his forehead.  Hot...maybe he had the grippe or something, not unexpected, considering what he'd been through.  "'Fess up, how long ya been sick?"



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With his arm curled around him protectively Jay waited for Addy to finish her instructions for Weedy. If he had any say in this, he would not let the boy scoop up kerosened hay while placing a candle nearby to see the mess. But he remained quiet.

For a moment he considered laying down, when suddenly her hand, small and soft, was on his forehead. What a strange feeling. Jay instinctively flinched away but then turned back into her palm and let her feel it.

"Just tonight." He whispered but it had become clear that he needed her help to get through tonight and possibly the next few days. If things went south, he could always overpower her, tie her and Weedy up to make a get away or...he didn't want to go further.

Slowly and with a lot of effort he took off his jacket and then unbuttoned his shirt with unsteady fingers and pushed it back. The skin underneath was pale, so the burnt out wound stood out in stark contrast, even in the dim light of the room.


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"What in th' name'a pink prairie dogs did ya do?"  Addy looked at the wound then at the young man.  "Ya just got that yesterday?  Been longer'n that.  An' don't be tellin' no fibs, I drove ambulance durin' th' War when I was but fifteen, I know a cauterized wound when I see one." 


She stepped closer to get a good look at the wound, perhaps taking liberties, but he was here under her graces, and she wanted him healthy, and the only way to do that was to get a better look.


"It's festerin'," she commented, "'Least th' bleedin' stopped, but it needs a good cleanin' with witch hazel, an' then a poultice of chamomile an' eucalyptus."  She had plenty of experience treating wounds, and this one hadn't gone too far yet



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 "Ya just got that yesterday?  Been longer'n that.  An' don't be tellin' no fibs, I drove ambulance durin' th' War when I was but fifteen, I know a cauterized wound when I see one." 


It had only been two days since the storm, so he wasn't really lying.

"Day before in Whitefish. 

There was a lot of fighting a shooting going on."

That was the best his overheated mind could come up with in order not to completely lie to her.

"I thought this would do." He motioned for the cauterized wound and tried to get a look at it as well. It hadn't improved.


"It's festerin'," she commented, "'Least th' bleedin' stopped, but it needs a good cleanin' with witch hazel, an' then a poultice of chamomile an' eucalyptus." 


"I'm lucky you know what to do...".

How could he be so lucky to be taken in by a woman, who gave him food and had experience with wounds.

Perhaps there was meaning to this. Right now his mind didn't want to follow that thought further as a shiver shook him.


He was feeling awefully hot right now so he let the shirt slip from his shoulders and laid down on her bed hoping that she'd allow it under the circumstances. "May I?"


In the barn he could hear Weedy curse and scoop up the hay.




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