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Sagas of the Wild West

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Tidings of Comfort

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Addy walked alongside him, keeping an eye on the tracks that were easily followed.  "Yep, if we find that deer, we'll have our hands full."  They could work that out, they could use her horse as a pack animal and she could ride behind Jay, or, if the deer wasn't too big, she could carry that in front of her on Arabesque.


"Ain't much at huntin' myself, leastways not since I was a girl.  Done plenty back home, but that was a ways ago."  It had been a long time since she'd been in a situation where she needed to actually hunt for herself, but it had been a long time since she'd had venison.  Of course, if they actually did get the thing, there was the matter of skinning it and dressing it, then cooking it...


"Ya ever skin one?  I can do that, but cookin'..."  Well, they could build a big fire out back and use that.  She laughed.  "Well, we'll have plenty'a hay drenched in kerosene ta get a fire goin'!"  Of course, it was drowned in water now.


She gave him a playful nudge as they started onto the ice.  "Figure as how it's been cold enough long enough ta freeze this hard, but there's always a risk."  Honestly, she had no desire to take a freezing bath!




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Abby wasn't a girl to shy away from anything it seemed. She'd cross a frozen lake with a stranger and then skin a deer. What a wonderful, fearless woman, Jay mused to himself.

"Yeah, I've skinned deer...I used to travel a lot, had to fend for myself under the stars." It sounded much more romantic than the harsh reality of it.

Jay would skin another animal, though. Unlike many Englishmen he wasn't afraid to get his hands dirty. "I can do it if we catch one."


"Well, we'll have plenty'a hay drenched in kerosene ta get a fire goin'!" 


"Yeah, funny..." He shook his head with a smile. "Wasn't like I did that on purpose."


Suddenly her hand was on his shoulder to nudge him. Addy wasn't a very touchy feely person, neither was Jay. The only time they'd touched in the past days was when he was feverish and one time when she handed him a crate.

Many touches would go unnoticed but this one made his head perk up.

Jay didn't say anything though. Instead he followed her lead across the lake. Every now and then the ice made a loud, long cracking sound and he froze in his tracks but then continued quicker as they crossed the middle.

"We should have gone around it.....I can't swim."

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Ice cracked, especially under the weight of people tramping over it, but this was getting to be too frequent, and Addy stopped.  "Don't like th' way th' ice sounds," she declared, "an' even if we get that deer, we'll hafta carry it back."  She shrugged.  "Don't know as th'  risk is worth th' benefit.  Would rather Weedy had his tree an' not us half-drowned in bed sick with fever."


They most assuredly would not starve, she could get them stew or steaks from one of the saloons in town, and she had some treats from Miz Emeline.  "'Sides, we need ta get back in time ta get th' tree decorated before Weedy's back."  After all, that was supposed to be a surprise for the boy.



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Just when they hurried off the ice with careful steps, Jay spotted the animal.Standing nearby in the bushes looking at them like they were some wonderous animal as well.

He pointed at the deer as he reached for her arm and held her back whispering. "He's right there."

Obviously she had changed her mind about hunting it but this was too easy and would save her a fortune.

So Jay gave her a serious nod and then slowly advanced far enough that he could take aim. What a surreal situation, that he was out in the open...on the side of a lake while the deer was watching them from the bushes.

The animal did not move though when Jay lifted his gun. It would almost be a miracle if he hit him with a Colt but not impossible.

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When he alerted her to the presence of the deer, Addy smiled and nodded.  It was happy luck that they had actually spotted the creature, and so close, and there was no reason not to at least take a try.  Staying where she was so she didn't alarm the deer, she stood still, letting Jay do what he needed to.  It was a long shot, to fell a deer with a handgun, but nothing was impossible, and he had offered to clean it.


Wouldn't hurt to give it  a try!



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Jay saw her nod and took that as the 'go ahead'. So he closed one eye, steadied his hand with the other and exhaled. A loud bang tore the air when he pulled the trigger and echoed across the lake twice as loud.

The deer jump and ran.

"Damn." Jay made a face and dropped his gun to the side when he suddenly saw that the deer was limping and then falling to the ground.

The man started towards him, now running the last distance across the frozen lake.

"I think I hit him." He hollered. "Come, Addy!"

Beneath his feet the ice cracked again so he evaded the sound to the left where he stayed closer to the banks.


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Addy stood quietly as he took his shot, then grinned as the deer fell.  "Good shootin'!"  She slapped him on the arm then trotted after him, mindful to stay a few paces behind him in case the ice gave, so they wouldn't both go through. 


The deer was struggling to get up, but she could tell that it was injured enough that it wasn't going anywhere, and they just needed to finish the job...and she'd leave that to Jay, since it was his kill.


As they got close, she noticed a mountain lion coming from their left, looking for an easy meal.  "Gonna chase him off," she declared, pulling her pistol and sending a shot at the big cat, her intention to make it think twice and run off.  If it persisted, then she would shoot it, but she hoped it didn't come to that.



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The friendly slap on the arm was all the touch he'd get from her but it was something...a friendly gesture, interaction. Not as much as Jay was hoping for but it put a smile on his face nevertheless.


Abby chased a mountain lion away, who almost made Jay jump because he hadn't seen him and could have easily become his prey. "Thank you!" He said visibly startled.

Then he stepped closer to the deer whom he had shot in the hind quarters. The animal tried to get up a few times but only left blood all around him in the snow.

Jay looked at Abby to see whether she wanted to kill the animal. When she didn't he aimed his gun at the animals head and shot it.

There was no use in letting it suffer any longer.

"That'll make good meals for us for a long time. We can have some for Christmas and dry some of the meat."

Of course the deer would be a lot of work.

"Help me?"

He crouched down to reach for its legs and put it across his own shoulders. The animals was still small, probably aslo malnurished because of the long winter but the weight was enough to make Jay, who wasn't completely healed, stop and wonder whether he could actually carry it all the way back.

His gaze wandered back along the lake to the clearing where the horses were waiting as he wondered whether he could make it that far.

"Let's go. He's heavy."

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It would involve work, but Jay was right that the deer would provide food for a good time, and jerky would keep in the warmer weather and make for good trail food.  "We can cut some steaks off him fer supper, set th' rest'a th' carcass in th' snow, it's cold enough, it'll keep 'till we can get to it."


If it was Summer, they'd have to process the meat quickly, lest it go bad in the heat, but there was the luxury of the weather right now.


"I'll go fetch th' horses.  Don't go nowhere."  She gave him a grin, then ran as best she could through the snow, to where the horses were.  Swinging up on Arabesque, she grabbed Jay's mount's reins and trotted back to him.


"So, reckon we can get a tree close on ta here, then load up th' horses," she suggested, "do ya want ta split th' load, or ya want ta put it all on one horse an' ride back double?"








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Jay patiently waited by the edge of the frozen lake. He found a fallen tree and cleaned off the snow to sit down. The snow was glistening on the surface in endless amounts of snow crystals.

For a moment there were no sounds but her footsteps far away.


Jay enjoyed this moment of solitude. He hadn't been alone in ages. First he was always with the gang, no those men had been replaced by the admittely much prettier Addy and her little friend.


When she returned he was very tempted to ride back double. Was that appropriate? Probably not...but perhaps necessary.

"What do you think is better?" He would have loved to sit that close to her rather than a dead deer but she had to make that call.


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