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    • "I plan to start nothing where women are concerned until I meet one that I like and one that acts her age," he replied in a slightly miffed tone.   “Well, let’s just hope the two of ‘em never meet!” chuckled Arabella, nudging Bridget, who laughed, despite not really getting the joke.   “Anyhow, I always act my age – nearly Sixteen!” declared the driver of the buggy. Indeed, in a mere 354 days, she would reach that august age.   “Back home in the Old Dominion, I’d ‘a’ probably been wed by now!” she added.   Despite her ironing board figure and girlish ways, ever since it had happened a few months ago, she had considered herself a young woman, rather than a mere girl.   "Besides, I thought we were on a trip so that Miss Monahan could attend mass and not some sort of confessional."   “Oh, don’t you know nuthin’?!” she tsked “Confessional’s exactly what we’re goin’ up there for. She’s gotta confess all her terrible sins to the priest feller before she's allowed to go to Mass and eat the flesh and drink the blood of Jesus.” Without Bridget seeing, she caught Charlie’s eye and, screwing up her face, gave a dismissive shake of her head, to show that she thought the whole thing was a bunch of nonsense, theologically speaking. Miss Arabella Sumpter Mudd was no friend to the foolish notion of transubstantiation.    “Course, I’m a Methodist m’self. Say, what’s your denomination, Charlie? You know that there priest is going to have a whole bunch of religious questions to ask you, don’t you?” she asked in a serious tone of voice.   @JulieS  
    • After hitching their horses, Mike and the rest of the Lost Lake hands surveyed their surroundings.  The crowd was starting to build up and a couple of the hands headed over towards the tent where the beer was being served.  A few of them headed over to where the food was.  Some of them went inside leaving only Mike, Charlie and Marty to decide what to do.   After a minute or two, Marty tapped Mike on the arm and pointed towards the barn entrance.  "Over there boss, a couple of the Evergreen crew.  Remember them from that fight last year at the fair."   Even though it happened before he had arrived in Kalispell, Mike had heard what had happened last summer.  He also knew the story behind the so-called feud between Evergreen and Lost Lake.  "Okay, just make sure you and the others stay clear of them."   "Oh, I plan to...otherwise all bets will be off and I intend to win this time," Marty replied before heading off to warn his friends.   Mike turned to Charlie, "Speaking of bets.  What time did you put down?"   Charlie, who was distracted by something over where the food was being served, quickly turned his attention back to his brother, "Nine thirty."   Mike smiled, "Isn't that a bit a optimistic?"   Shaking his head, Charlie answered, "From what I hear it isn't.  Besides Sam put down nine forty-five."   "I suppose you could be right but I'm hoping you're not.  Wouldn't mind winning that pot myself."  Taking one last good look at what was going on, Mike straightened his jacket, "I think I'll head inside and try my luck there. I'll see you later."   He patted Charlie on the back before walking towards the barn.
    • Brendan shifted his weight under Clara's scathing stare. He stuck his thumbs in his suspenders and met Clara's eyes, setting his mouth stubbornly. "Brendan Connolly.”   That name sounded Irish, like Bridget’s. Oh, well, he couldn’t help that, Arabella supposed. Maybe he was a Catholic and could take her and Bridget to the Catholic mission tomorrow. She was going to ask him, but for once she couldn’t get a word in edgeways.   “And I didn't set you up. The hands set me up."   “Sure, the hands set him up!” Arabella agreed, not having a clue what this was all about, but trying to pour oil on troubled waters. Considering that she was her ‘bosom friend’ Clara never actually did  tell her much about her life.   "Still wanna dance with me after hearin' that? I'll take a polka with you and a slow dance with Miss Ginger there, if she's 'con-struct-ed' for it."   “Hey don’t call her that!” Arabella corrected the man, for these were the days when having red hair was considered ugly in a woman. “You wouldn’t like it if we made fun of your bow legs, now would you?” He didn’t really have bow legs, unlike most cowboys, but he wouldn’t know that. Unlike women, men didn’t spend a lot of time examining their own bodies, looking for imperfections. “I mean, they ain’t too bad, but you still couldn’t stop a pig in an alley.”   Arabella caught Bridget’s eye and nodded toward Clara, as if to say, to the elective mute, ‘have a word with her’, while she grabbed hold of Brendan’s arm and dragged him away from the scene of conflict.   “Step over here a second, Mr. Cowboy Connelly, and I’ll show you where we got the beer tent set up” she offered brightly, and as soon as they were a few steps away, hissed “Well, what the Dickens was all that about? You two looked fit to start a range war back there, even before this shindig’s begun. Tell me what happened between you two.” she asked with frown on her youthful features.   Meanwhile, Bridget’s contribution to all this was to rustle up to the incandescently furious looking Clara, bustle to bustle, and whisper in her ear “Is that man bad?”
    • Harem?  While it was true he couldn't remember some parts of last night, he was pretty sure that there wasn't a lot of kissing involved.  Maybe the two girls were having a joke at his expense but he couldn't be one hundred percent sure.   "I plan to start nothing where women are concerned until I meet one that I like and one that acts her age," he replied in a slightly miffed tone.  "Besides, I thought we were on a trip so that Miss Monahan could attend mass and not some sort of confessional."   @Javia
    • "They'd hafta find us first," she grumbled, surprised but not that he knew what she was going to say.  "I'll give yer way a chance, an' I reckon if anyone could untangle this, it'd be Miz Mercer.  Ought we ta find her now, get this started?"  Then she'd have to find Weedy and finally talk to him, although she suspected he suspected, how could he not, what with his mother gone so long this time?   "Not lookin' forward ta talkin' ta Weedy, but best get that done before he hears from someone else."  Wouldn't take long for word to spread, and even though there might not be any malicious intent, someone might ask him questions that would be awkward, especially if he hadn't been told.   @Flip
Adelaide Chappel

Tidings of Comfort

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With a bit of hesitation he climbed onto the back of her horse. The saddle was very tight for both of them but if he sat further back he'd hurt the horses back with his weight.

Sitting this close to Addy and feeling her body (even covered in many layers of clothing was getting Jays imagination very active.

He had to concentrate not to let it show.

"Yeah. .sounds good." He replied to both questions because his mind was elsewhere. "Won't people in town wonder why we're sitting this close if they see us. One might come riding out here...I don't want to ruin your reputation."

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Addy laughed, although she appreciated that he was worried about her virtue.  "I don't give no mind ta what people think 'bout me," she declared, starting back for town.  "Ain't none'a their business."   Then she shrugged.  "'Sides, anyone with a mind'd see yer horse ain't got no room fer ya."

 

She glanced over her shoulder at him.  "I truly appreciate yer helpin' with this.  Don't know where his mama got to this time, but it ain't fair he should suffer his holiday because of her."  She took off her hat to gather up some stray hairs that had escaped her pony tail, then put it back on.  "Christmas was always a good time."

 

@Jack

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It was truly refreshing to meet a woman. Who did not care about her reputation. Jay could have almost guessed that. Perhaps he was still too used to the ladies of England, whom he grew up with.

"I like your attitude."

He commented behind her as some of her hair got blown into his face. He brushed it away with his left and helped her tug it under her hat.

 

When she talked about the boy and Christmas, the bank robber smiled to himself.

"It's also my first Christmas in the circle of a family....I guess you could say that. Right now we're almost like a little family."

Obviously he got a bit carried away by the spirit of Christmas as sitting this close to a womam he admired.

Carefully he snuk his arm around her waist to hold on to her...just like anyone on the back of a horse would, while he geld the reigns of his own horse in his other hand. 

 

It felt awefully good and put a grin on his usually serious features.

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"Yeah, I reckon we could say we're a family," Addy agreed.  She already considered Weedy to be family, be it little brother or old son, and for the most part they acted that way with each other, and Jay had fit in from the start.  Of course, he'd been pretty much unconscious that first day and weak and sleep the next few, but she'd grow accustomed to having him around, and didn't mind his presence at all.

 

"I'm hopin' th' boy's mother'll come around, she usually does, since she knows that at Christmas an' his birthday she'll get some food an' a little money."  She shook her head.  "Don't think she ever did have intention of becomin' a mother, but that don't give her cause ta shirk her duty."  Still, the lad deserved someone to take care of him, and Addy enjoyed it.

 

"Be even better havin' you here, a man he can talk to, an' not just a strange lady that don't know nothin' 'bout bein' a lady, but ain't no man."

 

@Jack

 

 

 

 

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Jay was pleased to hear that he was welcome to stay and actually probably even a good influence. Well, Addy didn't know who he really was. Otherwise she wouldn't think so. Despite all his wrong doings, Jay still believed that he was at least a 'half-good' man. One that had broken the law too many times and was probably an aweful role model. When it came to Addy and Weedy he was on his best behavior and probably a decent companion.

"Thank you. Your words honor me. I mean. I'm not the greatest influence by any means but I am a man and I'm trying."

He was probably better than the boys real family.

"I gotta say. What you're doing for this boy is more than I've ever seen anyone do for a total stranger. Same goes for me. You just took me in, gave me food and cared for my wound. You're incredible Addy!"

He got carried away and if she had allowed it, he would have gladly kissed her. Now he only hugged her tight from behind and asked. "May I give you a kiss on the cheek?"

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Addy had already explained her stance on the thing, although Jay wasn't the first person she'd run into who found it odd, or flat-out felt differently, and she did have to allow as how folks had their reasons for feeling the way they did.  But when he asked if he could kiss her...

 

She laughed and felt his forehead with the back of her hand, then shrugged.  "No fever, so ya ain't delirious!"  She was grinning, but there was a definite red tinge to the cheeks he was requesting to kiss, and it was a very unsettling, yet thrilling sensation, which, in itself was unsettling!

 

"Sure, ya may."  Only just, she wasn't sure how, exactly, one went about that, and since he was the one requesting the kiss, she just looked up at him with a goofy grin.

 

@Jack

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At first she was cracking a joke and Jay thought she'd leave it at that. All sorts of lines about fever ran through his head.

'No...you cured my fever.' or 'You make me feel feverish.' They were all tacky and inappropriate so he swallowed them, when Addy suddenly agreed to the kiss.

She even turned her head enough for him to lean forward.

It had been a while and he had never kissed a girl on a horse, that was walking, so he carefully moved closer until his lips brushed up against her cheek. His beard tickled her soft skin. But he let his lips linger there for a moment and soaked in her presence.

Briefly he closed his eyes but as soon as he opened them again, Jay pulled back.

It was a bit strange.

Jay had kissed a few girls before...in much dirtier ways, sucking long and hard on their lips, tongue sliding into their mouth.

But this one felt real.

He cleared his throat and smiled to himself.

 

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She was joshing, sort of, at first, but then Addy saw the look in his eyes, and it gave her a little chill just as his lips brushed on her cheek.  It was a small gesture, simple, almost chaste, but it carried far more impact than if he'd caught her lips full-on.  She smiled, shifting and leaning her head against his shoulder, finding that she was having feelings that she'd never really had to deal with before, and finding that she didn't want to fight them, nor question them.

 

"That was right nice, Jay.  Good Christmas tradition!"  Maybe she wanted him to do it again, maybe she thought that would be really nice!

 

@Jack

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He wished that kiss could last. But at least she was leaning her head against his shoulder in a familiar gesture, which warmed his heart.

"Good.." He mumbled with a smile and he gave her another brief one on top of her head.

"Merry Christmas.'

Secretly he wished it could be more than just a Christmas tradition. 

He liked and respected Addy and the kiss made him get butterflies in his stomach, that he hadn't experienced like this in ages.

 

Together they rode home where they onloaded the tree and deer.

First Jay helped her set up the tree so she could decorate it and then hung the deer up.

 

The whole time he had a silly grin on his face and couldn't stop casting glances at her.

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The ride back was comfortable and companionable, the kiss lingering, but idle chatter, mostly on her part, dominated the ride and helped her to settle her unfamiliar feelings.  Once back at the barn, she set about decorating the tree with strings of cranberry and popcorn, pine cones, leaves, feathers, and a few ornaments made from colorful paper.

 

In the mean time, the fire was going in the stove, where potatoes were roasting, and soon the venison would be frying.

 

Outside, where Jay was preparing the deer carcass, he was approached by an older man, bundled in a bulky coat, who handed him a telegram.  "This is for Miss Addy, can you see she gets it?"

 

@Jack

 

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Naturally a stranger approaching him startled Jay at first but soon he noticed that the old man didn't want anything from him but had a telegram for Addy, so he nodded and promised. "Yes, I will, sir."

 

He watched the man leave and wiped his hands on his pants to have a brief look at the telegram but decided against reading it. After all it wasn't for him. So he shoved it in his pocket to give to Addy once he was done.

Silently he wondered what was written, though. Was it about him or for Weedy...maybe from his mother?

 

Jay started cutting open the deer skin to get to some of the meat without having to wait for the whole animal to be ready to be prepared. He made sure not to damage the skin too much so it could still be used.

 

Then he finished his job by placing and old metal bucket under the deer. With a large slice of meat, which he had cleaned off with snow, he walked back to the barn room.

He knocked the snow off his boots and then made his way to her room. Inside it was nice and warm.

"There you go."

He handed her the meat and then washed his hands in a bowl before he pulled the telegram out.

"That arrived for you...I didn't read it."

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The fire was burning hot in the pot-bellied stove, and Arnie already had potatoes tucked around the edges, cooking.  She had talked to Emeline at the cafe earlier and learned some tips on cooking the venison, so she had an idea on what to do, and a borrowed cast-iron pan, that she now put chunks of the meat into.

 

"Rest'a that can go out in th' snow 'til we need it," she commented, then nodded to the telegram.  "Reckon if ya can read, yer better off'n me.  I can read a bit, but not so good, so if ya don't mind..."

 

While he read, she would salt and pepper the meat before putting it in the stove.

 

(Telegram:

Miss Adelaide Chappel, Millegan Stage Co. Kalispell, Mt

 

Miss Chappel,

 Regarding Porter James, it has come to our attention that you sometimes care for the boy.  If you know his whereabouts, please contact local authorities regarding his disposition following the tragic death of his mother, Mrs. Chloe Porter, in Whitefish, Mt this week past.)

 

 

 

 

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Jay wasn't keen on reading her personal message but since she'd asked him, he took the note back and sat down on a chair. He took his hand knit hat off because inside it was nice and warm, then his gloves.

 

He studied the writing for a moment before he started reading out loud.

"Miss Chappel,

 Regarding Porter James, it has come to our attention that you sometimes care for the boy."

At first Jay didn't know who Porter was but then put two and two together.

 "If you know his whereabouts, please contact local authorities regarding his disposition following the tragic death of his mother, Mrs. Chloe Porter, in Whitefish, Mt this week past."

He had slowed down as a deep frown spread on his features.

"Oh no..." The bandit looked up at her feeling a little helpless and also bad for Weedy...what a terrible message just before Christmas.

"Just before Christmas...you can't tell him that now."

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At first, Addy was a little confounded when Weedy's proper name was used, but then, as Jay finished, she felt the color drain from her face, and she sat heavily on the cot.

 

"Says what?  Ya sure?"  Of course, Jay wouldn't have any reason to lie about such a thing, and it explained why no one had heard from the woman for some time.

 

"Christmas," she murmured to herself.  Why, of all days, Christmas, but then Jay spoke up.

 

"Just before Christmas...you can't tell him that now."

 

"Uh....right..."  Numb, she looked up at him, glad that he was here, that she wasn't alone, even if it was just moral support.  Standing, she took the telegram, then nodded.  "Yer right, no need ta ruin his Christmas."

 

She looked up at Jay, on the verge of tears, but then muttered, "Is it sinful of me ta be glad it's finally done?  Now he won't need ta wonder where she is no more, nor why she isn't home."  She couldn't deny that it would actually be easier on the lad not to fret over where the woman was, and it wasn't as if the rest of his life was going to change much, if any...Addy and others in town had been looking after his welfare for a couple of years now.

 

@Jack

 

 

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Addy looked heartbroken and sad when she processed what it all meant for Weedy. She looked like she was about to cry, which made Jay want to hug her. She was usually so strong but she had a big heart and loved the boy.

"I don't know. I'm surely no saint and don't know much. You shouldn't ask me." Of course that wasn't the answer she wanted to hear.

In an instinct Jay stepped forward and hugged her tight.

'I think whatever you think or do is fine. You're such a great lady."

For a monent he held her, then stepped back.

"Let's have Christmas and in a few days we tell him together. Will you let him stay here?"

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For a moment, Addy let down her guard, accepting the comfort and support that Jay offered, and finding encouragement in his words.  Finally pushing back, she smiled sadly and nodded. 

 

"Yeah, yeah, he'll stay here, a'course."  She wasn't exactly sure what the law might have to say about that, but she'd fight tooth and nail for him.  "Yer right, we'll wait."  She shoved the paper into her pocket, nodding.  "No sense ruining Christmas for him, an' that'll give me time ta talk ta some folks before I go to th' marshal...if I have other folks in town aggreein' ta help look after him when I'm gone."

 

There was Dr. Danfort, Emeline over at the Lickskillet, Miz Mercer...the lad would be well seen after.

 

"Ya can't tell no one we found out taday, since I really should talk ta th' marshal taday...an' I ain't gonna do that."

 

@Jack

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"The letter was adressed to you, Adelaide. I shouldn't even know about this and as far as I know, this is not my home. I'm just a guest. Why would anyone even assume I knew."

That this was not his home sounded a little weird and somewhat harsh in his own ears, which made him wonder why. Did he wish this was his home? Play family with Addy and the kid like he was? It wasn't so bad actually.

"I'm sorry, that might have sounded harsh because you and the boy are almost like a family to me. I've only been here for a short time but you two are very dear to me. It's just...."

How could he possibly tell her why this could never work, even though he secretly wished it could? If he told her the truth about who he was, she'd despise him.

So he resorted to the bare minimum. "When I'm well again, I'll have to look for a different place, maybe one I can call my own. This here is too small and I've been using your hospitality for too long. I know you don't mind, Addy....but I'm growing fond of you."

He averted his gaze even though he assumed the kiss might have given it away.

 

His eyes narrowed as he saw a figure approaching from the small dirt road, that lead to her home. It looked a lot like Weedy.

"He's coming...wonder where he's been."

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"When I'm well again, I'll have to look for a different place, maybe one I can call my own. This here is too small and I've been using your hospitality for too long. I know you don't mind, Addy....but I'm growing fond of you."

 

"Yer welcome as long as ya need," Addy assured him, although she understood that he wanted to be on his own, to be making his own way, and...

 

Did he say he was growing fond of her?  And did that mean more than just the comfortable pattern they seemed to have settled into, the three of them?  But then, there was that toe-curling kiss...

 

Before she could ponder further, or comment, Weedy's arrival saved her!

 

"He's coming...wonder where he's been."

 

"I talked with Dr. Danforth earlier, asked him if he'd have th' boy go over there fer a time, give him somethin' ta do."  Addy had no idea what  the doctor had had the boy doing, but it had given her and Jay time to get the tree, decorate it and get everything set up, and she reckoned as they'd done a good job at that.

 

Of course, there was the paper stuffed in her pocket, but that could wait, forever, if she had her way, although she wouldn't let Weedy think that his mother had just walked out on him.   But today was supposed to be fun, and details could wait.

 

"Did you say yer havin' some fondness..?"

 

But that was interrupted as Weedy burst in the door, excitedly displaying a handful of peppermint sticks.  "Look what Dr. Danforth gave me!"  Then he stopped and looked around at the small, decorated tree that had a few small presents wrapped in colorful paper.  "It looks like Christmas!  And it smells good, too!" he declared.  "This is going to be the best Christmas ever!"

 

@Jack

 

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The fondness.... Jay had hoped that she would understand right away what he meant. After the kiss they shared it should be easy. But either she didn't want to see it or wasn't used to the attention.

How could Jay explain, that he would have to stop something, that was so good, enriching and beautiful as a woman and man growing truly fond of each other. It was much more than some married folks could dream of, yet it was impossible.

What if the law ever found him and figured out what he did. He'd have to run or hang, which would both be terrible for Addy.

Feverishly he searched for ways to undo his past but it just was not possible. Jay had never killed anyone out of cold blood. Only shot back to defend himself. Then again...he had been the one stealing. In England you might go to prison for that, out here, they'll kill you.

His face had grown stoney as he was thinking about it but he snapped out of it when Weedy saw the tree and his eyes grew big.

One had to smile about that.

"T'was Miss Addys idea. She really likes you so she wanted you to have a beautiful Christmas."

He gave Addy a knowing look. Jay would not speak about the letter.

"We'll also have some good food. I shot..we shot a deer."

That was his cue to go outside and work on it some more. It would give him time to think, too.

 

Later on he came back inside and brought in potatoes and pickled carrots, that had been stored.

"There you go. I know how to prepare them if you let me. It's an English recipe, if you have spices."

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"He shot th' deer," Addy corrected with a grin, "we'll have a fine Christmas Eve feast!"

 

She watched as jay went outside, looking after him for a moment until Weedy interrupted her.

 

"Miz Addy, are you gettin' sweet on Mister Jay?"  The boy grinned widely, partly teasing, but Addy's cheeks turned bright red as she shook her head.

 

"Mind yer manners, Weed, or Ol' St. Nicholas is libel ta pass ya by tonight."  She laughed, glancing at Jay as he came back in, her cheeks still burning.

 

"Yeah, there's spices in th' cabinet there, a few, anyway."  There were basics, nothing too exotic, just enough to disguise her cooking mistakes! 

 

"I got some cider warmin'.  Me an' Weedy'll get th' table set."

 

Funny, how there could be so much joy and so much misgiving all at once...

 

@Jack

 

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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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