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    • "Where would we put it?"  Emeline grinned as she started to sit beside him, but just at that moment the train's brakes engaged for the first time, sending her sprawling across Barnabas' lap.   "Goodness!"  She started laughing as she looked up at him.  "I'm afraid my husband isn't going to like this!" she giggled.  "He's very jealous, you know, so you'd best kiss me while you can!"   @Flip
    • It was long, tedious work, even though, for the most part, it was just plodding along with the cows, making sure they all stayed together and went the right way they were supposed to.  Even after the wind picked up, there were only a few mavericks who tried to wander off on their own, but the drag riders managed to coax them back to the herd.   As the day progressed, Annie became less jiggy, and Justus could tell she was getting tired.  "It's all right, Miz Annie."  He patted the horse's neck, then tightened the bandanna that was keeping his hat from blowing away.   "Ya think this is just a dry wind?" Justus called to Loredo, "or somethin' more movin' in?"  There wasn't the smell of rain in the air yet, nor clouds, but he knew that the weather could change quickly.  "Will they try ta settle in camp early?"  It seemed to him that if there was 'weather' moving in, it was better to have the cattle settled than moving, but what did he know? He just hoped it didn't impact supper!   @Flip
    • "Wonderful!"  Jonah almost clapped, for this had been going on for so long, that he really expected that this would be some sort of new setback, and Leah certainly didn't need any more complications.  "I'm sure it's going to be a huge relief when they finally break ground.  It's going to be rewarding to watch it take shape, and for you to know you are responsible for it."   He hoped, for her sake more than anything, that the weather cooperated, and that the progress was swift and without complications.    "You'll be overseeing the project?"  He couldn't imagine that she'd step back now, and not assure that every detail was right.   @Flip
    • "Boss, we found us a herd ripe for the pluckin'. Maybe we oughtta move on it afore they change where they're grazin' 'em, an make it more difficult." Toole suggested. "We can take close to a hunderd head easy enough, they move 'em, thet might not be the way of it."   "'Scuse me men, but Toole here is on to something, and cattle is our other business. We've customers waiting up north." Case said, not happy at being interrupted, yet realizing that what he said was true. It was why they were there, and it was what the did. "So go on and make yourselves to home while I get this job situated."   "Oh sure thing, Case, an thanks for the offer. We appreciate it, 'mon boys." Shannon said, and with that they walked outside to find the other building Case was talking about.   "Alright Toole what did you have in mind?" Case asked.   "The place is just at the foothills where they have their cattle. Now any buildin's 'er maybe a mile, mile'n a half away. What we saw was just maybe four riders wit the cattle, may not hav'ta kill any of 'em. We just filter down through the trees and then rush 'em. Maybe eight 'er ten of us, circle the heard an' push 'em back the way we come which was the long way around , and shore they'll be tracks alomst all the way to the dry river bed, maybe  whot, two mile from the tree line. Hard ground to river bed, but they won't catch us, not seein's they're out numbered."   Case gave it some thought, but Toole had been plotting how they would steal a herd for quite a while, and he knew what he was doing. Besides, no County Sheriff, no problem!   "Pick your men, Toole and get it done." Case said, knowing if they got a hundred head, that would be enough to drive north, once the brands were altered.
    • Having a second thought, to bolster the findings he sent for Fairchild before he could leave for New Orleans, and in the vicinity of Elinor Steelgrave, that could be done at another time after this meeting with Elias himself.   It was like hedging his bet on the situation. He wanted Elias to meet the man who could explain what was in the file in detail, much better than he himself.  might be able to. Nothing like being prepared. Elias could be unpredictable when upset, if a man like Fairchild explaining what he had found could manage to keep Steelgrave manage-ably clam then the expense was worth it to all concerned.   He had to congratulate himself on the idea. It just might work!

Life Goes On


Emeline Pike
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Mature Content: No

With: Emeline, Barnabas
Location: Lickskillet Cafe
When: Late December / 1875
Time of Day: Morning

 

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It hardly seemed like any time had passed at all from the time Emeline had dropped into bed the night before and when she had to get up and start her day at the cafe. 

 

But things were different this morning.  First off, sleeping arrangements were mixed up -- Martha and her husband Otto had slept her bed, so she had nestled on a pallet on the floor...and her cat had abandoned her to sleep downstairs with Barnabas, who had stayed on the floor of the cafe, using blankets as a bed, since it had been nearly midnight when they had finally gotten the folks from Whitefish settled in.

 

And food today would be simple and free.  While the 'charity' would cut into her homesteading fund, there were so many refugees now, and townsfolk who had gotten home as late as they had, and giving them all a day or two of relief from cooking was an easy way to support the community.

 

She dressed quickly, and as quietly as she could so as not to disturb the elderly couple, then padded down the stairs, wearing slippers so that she didn't wake Barnabas as she set about breakfast, starting with strong black coffee!

 

@Flip

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The aroma of the the coffee wafted through the diner drawing Pronto slowly from his sleep. The cat stirred then looked at the man, rose, stretched and yawned, then padded off to the kitchen with meow announcing her  presence.

 

Pike sat up, also with a yawn, but no meow. He put on his hat, pulled on his boots, slipped into his vest. he pulled out his watch, checked that it was running, and wound it for the cycle. "Mornin' Em. Thanks for the loan of the floor. Could use some softer boards though."

 

He got to his feet, turning he caught her in the glow of the lantern light and stared for a long moment. "Coffee smells right pleasant."

 

Tag @Bongo

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"Mornin' Em. Thanks for the loan of the floor. Could use some softer boards though."

 

"Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to wake you."  Emeline smiled as started straining out the grounds from the coffee.  "And I'll look into those softer floors when I get a chance."  Laughing, she added, "The ones upstairs aren't much better."

 

"Coffee smells right pleasant."

 

"I'll have you test it for me."  Grinning, she finished straining out the grounds, then tossed a pinch of salt into the pot to cut any bitterness.  "Here you go."  She poured mugs for Barnabas and herself, taking a sip and nodding approval.  "I'll be making pretty basic things today, I expect we'll be getting a lot of folks today, and I don't intend to charge."

 

As she spoke, she was getting out bowls and utensils.  "I could use some help, if you don't mind putting on an apron."  For a few weeks, he had been helping with the dishes and cleaning up the place, and she found that his presence was comfortable and welcome.  Any awkwardness had long since fallen away, and they worked around each other easily.  She liked having him here...and she didn't like when he had to leave.

 

"I can put you to work stirring the pancake batter, or...oh, I need some firewood to get the stove stoked."  She laughed and shook her head.  "And I'm willing to bribe you with a pie of your choice later today."

 

@Flip

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 "I'll have you test it for me."  Grinning, she finished straining out the grounds, then tossed a pinch of salt into the pot to cut any bitterness.  "Here you go."  She poured mugs for Barnabas and herself, taking a sip and nodding approval.  "I'll be making pretty basic things today, I expect we'll be getting a lot of folks today, and I don't intend to charge."


Pronto took the mug as she talked, a sound he enjoyed. Tasting the hot brew he smiled. “You do make the best coffee ever, Em. Just the best, and I ain’t meaning ta sound like I’m funnin’ ya, No Ma’am. But I’m partial to yer coffee.” His eyes narrowed at her willingness to cook and serve for free. She couldn’t afford that. But it warmed his heart that she would do it.


As she spoke, she was getting out bowls and utensils.  "I could use some help, if you don't mind putting on an apron."  For a few weeks, he had been helping with the dishes and cleaning up the place, and she found that his presence was comfortable and welcome.  Any awkwardness had long since fallen away, and they worked around each other easily.  She liked having him here...and she didn't like when he had to leave.

 
“Now jest let me get ma boots on an’ finish this here cuppa coffee afore she get’s cold.” With that he slammed his foot in the first boot then repeated the motion, stamping booth feet. Thar, now I’ll have this coffee put away right quick an git to them chores for ya.”


"I can put you to work stirring the pancake batter, or...oh, I need some firewood to get the stove stoked."  She laughed and shook her head.  "And I'm willing to bribe you with a pie of your choice later today."

 

“Here, don’t let nobody steal ma cup, I’ll be wantin’ more.” He stated. “Woman, ain’t no bribin’ the willin’.” He added with a wide grin. “‘Sides, ain’t likely ta be any of yer pie left come closin’ time, no how.” And out the back door he went to the wood pile, pulling the canvas away enough to get and arm load, then back inside before he froze.

 

“Okay, that oughtta do ya, I’ll be hangin’ up these guns an’ such you jest point me to the stirrin.’”

 

Tag @Bongo

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"Thank you."  Giving him a warm smile, Emeline allowed as how she really did enjoy having his company, and how having someone else around made the place so much nicer. 

 

"You did all right making pies," she commented, "so it's about time you learn to make flap-jacks.  The batter is mixed up here," she indicated a large bowl, "and the griddle is hot.  Pour in some of the batter," she demonstrated, making six pancakes of uniform size, "once they start to bubble all over, you flip them."

 

Her smile widened.  "Between you and Clara, I'm planning to manipulate you two into doing all the work for me here!"  She laughed.

 

@Flip

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"You did all right making pies," she commented, "so it's about time you learn to make flap-jacks.  The batter is mixed up here," she indicated a large bowl, "and the griddle is hot.  Pour in some of the batter," she demonstrated, making six pancakes of uniform size, "once they start to bubble all over, you flip them."


“Done a passel o’ flapjacks in my time, I have. Purdy common fare.” He said as he watched over the pancakes. “Now doin’ well with the pies, that’s a good thing. Ain’t no cookie on the any spread about to let anybody near his pie makein’
 

Her smile widened.  "Between you and Clara, I'm planning to manipulate you two into doing all the work for me here!"  She laughed.

 

“Zat so? Meanin’ I’ll be moved from free dish wrangler to paid pie maker? That whot yer sayin?” His grin broadened. “How you ever gonna make a profit like thet?”

 

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"Who said anything about paying you?"  Emeline gave him a playful nudge then set about beating the eggs.  "What with you eating me out of house and home...or cafe, just a better way to earn your keep!"

 

She was kidding, of course, he did far more than she asked, and didn't take advantage of her offers of food, and anything he did have was more than paid back with his help and presence.  "When they're done, you can pile them on a plate, then sit them on the stove and cover them with a cloth...that will keep them warm."

 

Cooking for a few was one thing, but on this scale was quite different, and it had taken her time to learn some tricks.  "What else can you make?" she asked, grinning, "so I know what to recruit you for...like I said, less work for me if I can put you and Clara to more work!"

 

She laughed, then refilled his coffee and took a sip of her own.

 

@Flip

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"Who said anything about paying you?"  Emeline gave him a playful nudge then set about beating the eggs.  "What with you eating me out of house and home...or cafe, just a better way to earn your keep!"


“I reckon so, I’d say it’s purdy much a keep worth keepin’.” He said dryly. “Had ta do thet more’n once in this life.
 

She was kidding, of course, he did far more than she asked, and didn't take advantage of her offers of food, and anything he did have was more than paid back with his help and presence.  "When they're done, you can pile them on a plate, then sit them on the stove and cover them with a cloth...that will keep them warm."

 
“Know’d thet trick from the trail.” Pike stated with a note of pride in his voice. “Early days we made a few drives up from the Ranch. Nothin’ ta brag on, jest some cows, Pa, an’ ma brother Samuel an’ Silas Learned ever’ job they was on the trail from ‘hoodlum’ to point man."


Cooking for a few was one thing, but on this scale was quite different, and it had taken her time to learn some tricks.  "What else can you make?" she asked, grinning, "so I know what to recruit you for...like I said, less work for me if I can put you and Clara to more work!"


“Had a ‘Cousie’, a cook I mean, teach me ta make a mean Son of a Gun stew. Mostly trail food. Not nothing like what you put out. So now ya know a bit more ‘bout me then ya did. Things I kin get done when I set ma mind to it.  ‘Er was then “if” I set ma mind to it.”
 

She laughed, then refilled his coffee and took a sip of her own.

 

He began the process of scooping the finished flapjacks onto a plate and covering, then repeating the process.

 

Tag @Bongo

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"It seems you set your mind to it quite often around here, and I truly do appreciate it."  Emeline smiled, realizing that for all the time they'd been together, she really didn't know much about his 'before' life.  "So, a drover, huh?  That's a pretty unforgiving job, I hear.  And cows are fairly stupid creatures?"  She laughed.  "I guess that doesn't matter so long as they cook up well!"

 

Setting aside the eggs for now, she started laying out strips of bacon in a large skillet that was on a different part of the stove.  "Brothers?  I had two, one died very young from croup and the other was killed in the War."  She smiled a little sadly, but there was a fondness in her tone.  "Daniel had grand plans to travel the World, see all the ancient wonders, although I really don't know how he planned to finance his adventures."

 

@Flip

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"So, a drover, huh?  That's a pretty unforgiving job, I hear.  And cows are fairly stupid creatures?"  She laughed.  "I guess that doesn't matter so long as they cook up well!"


"Were’nt like the drives of today, no ma’am. Maybe we’d drive a hundered head, but usually closer to fifty ‘er so. How I got to learn an' do all them ridin’ jobs,” He said smoothly and with a hint of humility. “The work was the same, jest not like twelve riders and three thousand head. Well, freightin’, that shorely had it’s moments too, same storms, injuns, an' banditos. Times after the war weren't all that good down Texas way. Rangerin’, now that was some differen’t. I mean, it was fairly dangerous most of the time. "

 

Setting aside the eggs for now, she started laying out strips of bacon in a large skillet that was on a different part of the stove.  "Brothers?  I had two, one died very young from croup and the other was killed in the War."  She smiled a little sadly, but there was a fondness in her tone.  "Daniel had grand plans to travel the World, see all the ancient wonders, although I really don't know how he planned to finance his adventures."


“Not sure what happened to mine, nor my Sister, Maryanne Marie. When I got home after the surrender, found it burnt to the ground. In town no pone knowned anything not even who done it. Co’manch or Commancheros. Hoped one day ta find out what happened, whar they was, but so far, nothin’.”

 

Tag @Bongo

 

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"Oh, goodness, I can't even begin to imagine not knowing."  It was bad enough to lose a loved one, but to not know what had happened, where they were or even if they were still alive must be hell.  And while she knew he would never give up searching for them, there was only so much that could be done, and especially since he had moved on from Texas.

 

"I didn't know you were with the Rangers...what brought you so far north?"  Emeline glanced at him, turning the bacon, then pouring them more coffee.

 

@Flip

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“I done all the lookin; I could, used the Rangers to try and catch up with ‘em, but, they moved on ‘er were kilt one way ‘er another. Hard country, Texas.” He steered clear of speaking about his time in Nevada, though he knew, should this relationship move farther forward he would be bound to tell her. It was not that he did not trust her, far from it, but it could be said that with knowledge of his Virginia City ties, that he was trying to buy her, or so he thought.

 
"I didn't know you were with the Rangers...what brought you so far north?"  Emeline glanced at him, turning the bacon, then pouring them more coffee.


“I was, fer a time. There was a job that needed doin’, an’ a number of us that had been with the Eighth Texas, as well as them that was with other Texas outfits signed on to get it done. But after a bit I just thought to see some country to the west. I had a friend from the war years ta visit north-west a’ here. Had heard of this town, so I thought I’d have a look-see.”

 

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"Well, I'm glad you decided to stay."  Grinning, she laid the crisp bacon on a towel to soak up the grease, then started a second batch.  "You're the best dishwasher I've ever had!"  Then she laughed.  "The only dishwasher I've ever had, so I guess there's nothing to compare to."

 

Chuckling, she held a piece of bacon up by his mouth.  "And a good food taster!  There will be biscuits in a few minutes, I can't let the help starve!"

 

Then she shrugged and took a piece of the bacon for herself.  "I've never been to Texas....I've never been south of the Platte.  But I do think I prefer the mountains to open prairies.  I can only look at grassland for so long.  And Texas is hot, isn't it?  Not that I'd mind a nice warm day, what with all the snow we've been having recently."

 

With the bacon done, she drained some of the grease, then added in the eggs.  Breakfast for the masses was coming along nicely.  "Have you seen the Gulf, then?"  Another of those places that was hard to believe existed.

 

@Flip

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"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

 

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"I can imagine cattle wouldn't do too well on an island," Emeline commented, as if she actually knew anything about that, "Well, except maybe the swimming kind."  She grinned, but then her cheeks took on a bright tint at his last comment.

 

"Even more reason to love the mountains."  Looking over at him, she smiled, then shrugged.  "Funny how life paths lead to where we need to be, even if we don't know it along the way."  As much as she loved Andrew, since his death, her choices had brought her to this place at this time, and she couldn't imagine anything better.  "I'm so happy I didn't decide to go back to Illinois.  It would have been the easy thing to do, but I'd never have my own cafe, and really be able to help people...nor to meet you."

 

The tint in her cheeks brightened a bit, and she turned to take biscuits out of the oven to hide her silly grin.

 

@Flip

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He laughed. “Matagorda has all sorts of critters runnin’ about, so addin’ a herd to the place wouldn’t be no problem a tall. Nor siree. It was jest that ferry ride, pa couldn’t abide. And, it was a fair piece to any town.” Pronto stated with a chuckle. 'swimming kind,' he'd never heard of such a thing, though there might be some.

 

He listened to how she talked about how folks paths in life arrange for them to meet. He was glad of that. Meeting her was one of those things that was destined. “Glad you didn’t go back either. I ain’t never be to Illinois, nor had I any reason to go there. I’da shorely missed out on yer cooking an’ yer comp’ny.”

 

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"I considered going back at first," she commented, "but I had neither the energy nor the funds, and by the time I did, I had no desire to go home.  It's so pretty and wild here, and there's more freedom...back home everyone knows about you...or they think they do."

 

She shrugged and glanced at him and added, "I'd miss your company, too.  I've come to enjoy being with you."  A smile spread across her face, but she quickly turned to take the biscuits out of the oven.  But it was true, they could be quiet together, no awkwardness in silence, and he knew how to help her when she needed it.  In fact, now she couldn't imagine him not being around.

 

The front bell tinkled, announcing the first of the customers, and she sighed.  "Here we go.  Do you want to finish the eggs and I can wait the tables?"  She didn't mind either, but wasn't sure how much he enjoyed working with the customers.

 

@Flip

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Barnabas smiled "I got the cookin', you take care of the folks comin' in." He said as he rose and started for the kitchen. If it was going to be as busy as they both thought it would be, she would have little time to do both things, while he could handle both cooking and washing dishes during the lulls that would naturally occur.

 

He was grateful the place was small,  any bigger, and the two of them would be hard pressed to keep up. He didn't mind taking on the cooking, it was not something he had not done before, and it saved Emeline from having to hire a cook, or a waitress, though come spring this might change.

 

Tag @Bongo or end?

 

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"Thank you, I truly do appreciate it."  She gave him a quick kiss on the cheek then grabbed the pot of coffee and headed for the dining room.  It was likely to be hectic this morning, after all the chaos yesterday in Whitefish, and all the refugees who needed a bit of relief before working on starting over, but she didn't mind, she believed that helping others came back to you at some point.  But she wasn't doing this for any reward, she was doing it because it was the right thing to do, and she was glad for Barnabas' help.

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It was easy to see that it would be a busy morning if not the whole day, but folks needed to eat, and Em has risen to the occasion, helping her was both the thing to do, and a labor of love.

 

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