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    • "Ain't hardly nothin' to do but hunker down till she blows herself out." The man squatted, "Rance, is the name. Been watchin' you, doin' a fine job. You'll do Wheeler, you'll do. Try and get some rest, might end up bein' a long night. Least you won't be ridin' drag come daylight, there's a plus for ya."   He stood and made his way to his shelter to await the grub that was coming.   @Bongo
    • Meanwhile, in the main house, Reb Culverson was visiting with his old friend Fightin' Joe Hooker, who was the ramrod for the fledgling Montana Territory Stockgrowers Association, Northern District. He was there to convince ranchers to join and support the organization, hoping it would take root.   "And just what good is this here association ya got started?" Reb asked.   "It'll give us a voice in the territorial government, Reb, that's what it'll do. Once that happens we'll be able to git us some sortta range police to protect the herds, and the ranchers." Hooker responded. "Rustlin' might not be the threat it was, but you know as well as me, it can come back."   "You get anywhere with Lost Lake, 'er that cow thief on the Evergreen?" Reb asked.   "Can't say as I have, startin' with the smaller spreads an' workin' my way up to them two. I'm well aware of both spreads, and the men that own 'em."   -------------0------------   They swept down out of the trees whooping and hollering and firing off a couple of shots as they closed on both sides of a big group of cattle, just as they had planned. The  lone night hawk knew he had no chance of stopping the raiders, or of saving the cattle while he watched the chunk of the herd moving toward and then into the trees at a run.  He emptied his Colt at the raiders, the whipped out his Winchester  and levered several shots in the area where they had disappeared.   He could not know that one of his shots had found its mark. A man that had just joined took a slug in his back and toppled from his horse. Toole and the men continued to drive the cattle toward the dry riverbed as planned. It was an acceptable loss.   The sound of the shots, mere pops at the distance to the main house and the bunk house alerted everyone, and men boiled out of the bunk house guns in hand, only to watch the night man shooting after the rustlers.
    • Out on the boardwalk they stopped, "So we managed ta git a deal right off, thet's good, it is. Now all we gotta do is convince ol' Wentworth to free up the money so's ya don't have ta use yers right off." Amos commented, "Seems a fair deal but like you say, minin's not no sure thing."   "John and Mary are good folks. It's not a sure thing, but you saw the vein, went to the floor and it looks rich," Speed responded. "And it looks to be wider where they stopped digging. I can't wait to get it assayed to see what we've really got our hands on."   "And it should assay out pretty good from the looks of it, though I know so little about copper ore." Alice admitted.   "Well, you saw the copper ore, which is clearly distinguishable from the surrounding rock due to its reddish, mottled appearance. And that surrounding rock is granite which is not easy to work, but it can be done, and, if we have hit it, the veins could be as much as a mile long, a mile wide, and a mile deep!" Speed explained with a grin. "With that equipment we'll be able to not only dig deeper, we'll be able to tunnel, and we have the property to do just that."   "Jumpin' Jehoshaphat!" Amos exclaimed. Might oughtta buy up what ground ya can aound 'er, jest ta be certain!"   "First things first, let get on up to the bank." Speed suggested.
    • Justus was more than happy to have a chance to get out of the bulk of the wind, although he knew this was far from over.  And he knew they'd be hacking up dirt for days.     With the picket lines set, he moved over to help put up the shelters for the night, pretty quickly deciding that it was a fool's errand...they were all going to be miserable until this let up.   Squinting, he looked out toward the herd, not able to see but a few in the dust, it looked like they had been swallowed by the big, dirty cloud, and weren't even there.  In fact, he had the eerie sensation that all that was left in the world was this small circle of men and horses.   "Ya need me ta do anythin' else?" he called over the din of the wind.   @Flip
    • Doc Gilcrest walked into the bunck house to see Carson on his feet, dressed. "I may not be able to ride, but I can darn sure walk some. Tired of layin' in that bed."   "I reckon you kin do thet, sure 'nough. No body said ya had ta lie there if'n ya didn't want to. Yer stitched up plenty good. Jest leave thet hog leg where she's hangin' fer now, don't need the weight in thet wound."   "So anybody come sniffin' around?" He asked.   "Not so's you'd notice. There's four men down there keepin' watch, but it don't look like Lost Lake's lost any sleep over their man, that is if'n they even know he's gone." Gilcrest offered.   "He seen that brand an' went ta shootin'!" Carson reflected. "I jest shot straighter. Had no choice in the matter. Fool could'a rode on, but, well, that just ain't what happened. Hell of a mess."   "Oh I dunno. So far nobodies come huntin', the boss ain't upset over it, neither's Granger, so you got nothin' ta worry on 'cept gettin' better."   "I should'a been more careful, but maybe there just wasn't no way to be more careful. Up on the side of that mountain is the purdiest view a man could look at. You can see fer miles, see right where they got them cows of theirs. Now that ain't gonna be no easy matter to get to any of 'em. They're deep on Lost Lake range. Gonna be hard to get at, an' worse to get out. We'll lose some men tryin' this one, that's for sure!'   Gilcrest rubbed his chin. It wasn't like Carson to go on about the prospects of a job.

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Mature Content: Nope.

Author: Arabella Mudd

With: Mike Wentworth & Clara Redmond.
Location: A sanctified spot on the streets of Kalispell.
When: April 1876
Time of Day: Late Morning.

 

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Sometimes God was just a little too slapdash with His bounty: and when everything seemed to be going a little too well, it made a body nervous and turned the mind to the calamities ahead that must inevitably be exacted to pay for the good times. But Arabella wasn’t too concerned about that on this fine Spring morning. She was, in fact, in Seventh Heaven just to be strolling along the boardwalks of Kalispell, shopping basket in hand, at exactly the same time as her self-styled bosom friend, Clara Anne Redmond. This was a rarity, and Arabella drank in every minute of the pleasure.

 

When Arabella had discovered that Clara worked just across the road from the Saloon, in Emeline Blakesley’s pie shop, she had feverishly imagined the two of them playing hooky from work and going on madcap adventures about the town every other afternoon, but it was not to be. Clara was far too sensible and duty-bound for that, and every time Arabella escaped from Cookie and popped her head through the back door of the diner and into the delicious smelling kitchen, she was usually shooed away by the Redmond girl. The only other girl who she could pal around with in town was a tall red haired lass, older but even more noodle-headed than herself, known as ‘Squeaky’ Bridget Monahan; but she was definitely not bosom friend material and barely managed to hold the position of second reserve on Arabella’s friendship bench.

 

It just so happened today that the two girls, Clara and Arabella, were both headed in the direction of the General Store. Arabella had been forced to run along the boardwalk a little to catch up with Clara, who hadn’t seemed to see or hear her, even though she had shouted to her quite loudly from behind.

 

“Howdy Partner!” she panted, catching up with the other girl at last “Thought you’d gone deaf, dumb and blind for a minute, there! You goin’ to the General Store? Me too, look I got my basket with me. Cookie’s all out of Molasses and baking soda and, oh, a whole passel of stuff, I got a list here somewhere or, oh, I did! Oh, there it is! What you buyin’? What’s Miss Em’ cookin’ today? Did you tell her I said she should make bear sign* and everyone would come for miles to buy some of that? ”she asked, full of questions, as per usual.

 

Despite her familiar use of the diminutive, she had never actually met Emeline Blakesley, but from the way Clara shooed Arabella from that kitchen on pain of being caught by the woman, the pot girl assumed that she must be an mean and stern tyrant of an employer.

 

They walked on at a pace with Arabella breathlessly informing Clara about everything under the Sun, when all of a sudden she let out something between a gasp and a shriek and, despite the Redmond girl’s frequent admonitions that Arabella should not try and hold her hand, take her arm, put her arms around her or especially kiss her on the cheeks (which is what French Ladies did, apparently) she skidded to a halt and grabbed onto Clara for dear life with a hoarse cry of “It’s HIM!”

 

 

 

*doughnuts

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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Mike stepped out of the General Store and walked towards the buckboard that was parked out front.  It had been a long winter and he was glad to be back working outside.  They had just finished the spring roundup and it was time to tackle the repairs the ranch needed.  There were fences and line shacks to be repaired but they needed the materials to get it done.  He was in town getting what he could and ordering the rest.  Now, that the snows were melting, the freight wagons were back on schedule.

 

Pulling out his notebook and pencil which had the list of supplies that he had to get, he checked the wagon and ticked off each item that had already been loaded.  Dan Wilson, the general store owner was still finishing off the order.  Sam, who had come into town with him was also in the store talking with a townsman about the upcoming elections.  Seeing that all was well with the load so far, Mike started to head back into the store, trying to remember the name of the man, Sam was talking to.  He had been too pre-occupied with making sure the orders were being taken down, that he had failed to take notice of what his brother had said.  Usually, he paid attention to these things but today he was busier than usual due to the large amount of supplies they to get and the limited time to get it done since the days still short.

 

As he turned to go back in, he heard a loud cry.  Looking around to see where it came from, he was perplexed as the people around him hadn't seemed to notice or if they did, they had ignored it.  Shrugging his shoulders, he was about to give up when he saw Clara approaching the store with some girl clinging to her arm.

 

@Wayfarer @Javia

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Clara was deep in thought as she walked the boardwalk basket in one hand, book in another. It was nothing in particular but rather a jumble of details pertaining to both her job at the diner and her chores at home.  That said, it was her life and she was seldom one to grumble. Suddenly next to her was none other than Arabella.

 

“Howdy Partner!” the girl panted, catching up with the other girl at last “Thought you’d gone deaf, dumb and blind for a minute, there! You goin’ to the General Store? Me too, look I got my basket with me. Cookie’s all out of Molasses and baking soda and, oh, a whole passel of stuff, I got a list here somewhere or, oh, I did! Oh, there it is! What you buyin’? What’s Miss Em’ cookin’ today? Did you tell her I said she should make bear sign* and everyone would come for miles to buy some of that? ”

 

"You are positively chattering away. And asking far too many questions too rapidly," Clara observed dryly.

 

"Good day to you too, Arabella," she then nodded.

 

Just then the girl skidded to a halt and grabbed onto Clara for dear life with a hoarse cry of “It’s HIM!”

 

Clara had no recourse but to pause as she also cast a scan in the general direction the child was facing. Him could mean a number of men - oh and the Morrison lad - as what passed for the main street in this town was alive with folks going about their business.

 

"Who? What is the problem?" now she looked down to the drama queen that was Arabella.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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"You are positively chattering away. And asking far too many questions too rapidly," Clara observed dryly.

 

“Oh, I’m just so tickled t’ see you, Clara Anne Redmond!” she beamed, resisting the urge to take the other girl’s arm. “Well, I’ll just go through all my important questions one by one and keep it orderly like! So, first of all, Good Day to you, Miss Redmond!”

 

"Good day to you too, Arabella," she then nodded.

 

Arabella started to enumerate her other questions and comments on the general state of the nation but just then the girl skidded to a halt and grabbed onto Clara for dear life with a hoarse cry of “It’s HIM!”

 

"Who? What is the problem?" now she looked down to the drama queen that was Arabella.

 

Arabella made a sort of moaning noise and leaned heavily on Clara with a gasp of “Hold me up, my legs has turned to jelly!”

 

Thus stabilized, she pointed surreptitiously at Mike Wentworth. “It’s HIM! The feller as dug me out of that House what fell on my head last Christmas!” she took three long panting breaths, as if she’d just run around the block and then made a further demand of her bosom friend: “Oh Clara! This might be my only chance to talk to him, ever… but I’m too scared: push me t’ward him!”

 

In the end it was more a case of Arabella dragging Clara with her, but either way, the love-sick girl wasn’t going to go into battle alone. When she got in range of the man, she gave what was meant to be a dainty “Oh!” of delighted surprise. Instead it came out as a strangulated bark of horror.

 

As he turned to go back in, he heard a loud cry.  Looking around to see where it came from, he was perplexed as the people around him hadn't seemed to notice or if they did, they had ignored it.  Shrugging his shoulders, he was about to give up when he saw Clara approaching the store with some girl clinging to her arm.

 

Arabella tried again, acting as if she had just noticed the tall, dark, handsome man.

 

“Oh!” she said, jumping a little in fictional surprise and putting on her best Southern Belle airs. “Please pardon my intrusion, kind Sir, I know that we haven’t been formally introduced…” she started, giving what would have been a textbook curtsy, if she hadn’t been entangled in Clara’s arm and her shopping basket.

 

“… but your face is somehow familiar to me. Could it be that you are the heroic gentleman what rescued me from certain death some months past, in that curs-ed town of Whitefish?” she concluded this well-rehearsed speech by tipping her head slightly to one side. She was hoping to render the impression of a cute and curious puppy, but she overdid it a tad and ended up looking more like she’d woken up that morning with a crick in her neck.

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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Mike shifted a little.  He wasn't quite sure what to say.  The disaster at Whitefish was unexpected and there had been a lot people needing help that day.  In fact, those few days were now a bit of blur as he had already forgotten most of it and had moved on to other things.  The young girl was apparently one of those he had rescued, and since he did want to to disappoint or make her upset, he just smiled graciously and tipped his hat, "It was the least I could do in the situation, ma'am. I'm glad to see that you have recovered from your ordeal."

 

Looking over to Clara, he smiled at her, "It's nice to see you again, Miss Clara.  When I heard you had taken a job at the Lick Skillet, I was surprised and I wasn't the only one.  In fact, it was the talk of the bunkhouse for about a week.  Most of the hands thought you were content with teaching the Thornton children.  No-one expected you to leave."

 

@Wayfarer @Javia

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Her rescuer? Well, that explained it, a little. Clara could certainly understand Arabella's feeling of gratitude but not the historionics. Of course she wasn't going to let the child collapse to the ground but suddenly Arabella found new strength and strong legs, not to mention a tight grip as she practically dragged Clara to move up closer to this heroic figure of a man.

 

Wait she knew the man, the foreman of the Lost Lake Ranch, Mike Wentworth, he with the many brothers. The one owned the hotel, she only knew of him. Then there was Sam who was a thorough gentleman and a distinct pleasure to engage in conversation with. But then there was also the youngest of the brothers, Charlie. That young man had it in for her from the very beginning, it seemed he delighted in tormenting her with his nasty provocations. And this despite her attempts to be nice to him.

 

Arabella now put on a surprised act as if they suddenly just happened to almost bump into each other. She first verified it was indeed her noble savior. And the man seemed a bit slow to recognize her but then did acknowledge his role in it.

 

And of course he also knew Clara, "It's nice to see you again, Miss Clara.  When I heard you had taken a job at the Lick Skillet, I was surprised and I wasn't the only one.  In fact, it was the talk of the bunkhouse for about a week.  Most of the hands thought you were content with teaching the Thornton children.  No-one expected you to leave."

 

"How do you do, Mr. Wentworth, nice to see you. You are looking well, it seems the job of foreman agrees with you. And I am sure that frees up Shade for more time to pursue his ... latest infatuation," Clara forced the most insincere smile.  She could not even bring herself to say 'schoolmarm'.

 

"The Thornton children are wonderful, I miss them every day. But I suddenly found myself in a situation where my continued presence was most uncomfortable. I felt it best for all involved if I found new employment and I am very happy at the Lick Skillet."

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"The Thornton children are wonderful, I miss them every day. But I suddenly found myself in a situation where my continued presence was most uncomfortable. I felt it best for all involved if I found new employment and I am very happy at the Lick Skillet."

 

Arabella frowned, this was meant to be her big moment, and yet Clara insisted on making it all about herself. She regretted bringing her along, now. Time to bring the focus of the conversation back to its proper object.

 

“Oh, Mr Wentworth!” she cried out “Fancy you knowing Miss Redmond! Why do you know that it was Clara here who nursed me back to health, after you so very bravely carried me to safety? I’m so glad I ran into you, for I have been sewing a commemorative sampler of the event which I wanted to present to you as a small token of my great esteem and thanks, and yet imagine my embarrassment that I did not even know the name, let alone the location, of my Knight in Shining armour!” she beamed her uneven smile, hoping that the conversation wouldn’t return back to Clara, or the hideous sounding ‘Thornton children’ or Ms Emeline’s silly old pie shop.

 

If they were going to talk about anyone’s place of work it should be hers: after all, there was always some exciting new hairum-scarum activity going on there: bar fights, arguments, bust ups and wild bets and drunken dancing and, well, you just name it! The most exciting thing that happened at the Lick Skillet was Miss Em’s buns not rising, or a customer asking for an extra slice of tart.

 

Then a thought struck her and she grabbed her companion's arm.

 

“Oh Clara, you silly old noodle-head – you forgot to properly introduce me to Mr Wentworth, why his head must be spinning, wondering who exactly I am!” It was important that the man know her name, and it was somewhat infra dig for her to have to say it out loud herself. Clara would formally introduce them, she would hold out her hand, and Mr. Wentworth would gently and lovingly kiss it, while she herself executed the deepest curtsy a Southern Belle ever made!

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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Sampler? Knight in shining armour?  Mike frowned before quickly schooling his features.  He wasn't sure why the girl was going on about wanting to thank him or remember the event.  What he done, he would have done for anybody who was in trouble.  "There's no need to thank me, miss.  I only did what I had to do."

 

The girl then turned to Clara and asked her for an introduction.  Seeing that Clara was starting to get annoyed, or maybe she already was, he couldn't really tell as Clara was always very serious and sensible, he decided to save her the trouble and introduce himself.  It had a been a while since he had formally presented himself to anyone, he simply tipped his hat again and smiled, "Mr. Michael Wentworth, at your service, Miss?"

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Arabella did not give poor Mr. Wentworth time to respond to her explanation as to why she was now working at the diner and had left her employment at the ranch. The child chattered a bit then suddenly expected her to do some sort of formal introduction.

 

Now Clara was all for such traditional niceties most times but she hesitated this time. It was indeed an unusual moment to find her at a loss for words. The reason was simple enough though. She did not recall Arabella's last name!  She had only heard it once during that initial flood of words back at the farm and never had cause to say it aloud.

 

"Well....." she started.

 

The foreman unknowingly came to her aid though, he simply tipped his hat again and smiled, "Mr. Michael Wentworth, at your service, Miss?"

 

 

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"Well....." she started.

 

Clara was turning out to be no use at all in her role as interlocutor in this historic meeting of hearts. Arabella realized that it was her own fault for not briefing the Yankee girl properly in the duties incumbent upon her, should she happen to be present at such an encounter. If the boot was on the other foot, and she and Clara met someone that the Redmond girl was interested in, Arabella would strain every fiber of her being, and every hair on her head, to make sure that the object of her affection was overwhelmed with good reasons to fall in love with the farm girl.

 

The foreman unknowingly came to her aid though, he simply tipped his hat again and smiled, "Mr. Michael Wentworth, at your service, Miss?"

 

Arabella left the safety net of Clara’s arm and stepped forward, right in front of Wentworth, and held out her hand like a dainty swan-neck, palm downward, for him to take and kiss.

 

“I am Arabella Sumpter Mudd, of the Tazewell County Mudds, Old Dominion.” she almost sang it.

 

“Are you by perchance, doing a little shopping, Mr Wentworth?” she asked, looking at his wagon full of supplies from the General Store, although if he wasn’t shopping, then he must certainly be robbing the place! “Oh, how helpful for your wife!” she added with a gay and surreptitiously probing air.

 

At the risk of her bosom friend selfishly taking over the conversation again, and talking endlessly about Thornton children and Pie Shops, and trying to hog all of the beautiful Mr Wentworth’s attention, Arabella turned and invited Clara to “Come and look at all of Mr Wentworth’s wonderful things.”

 

Looking back up at the handsome man, she tried to keep the conversation going with a inane statement along the lines of “Clara and me are shopping too.” Before adding a more personal note: “I hold a position at the Stardust Saloon, and am just picking up a few things for our cook. Have you ever been there, Mr Wentworth? I don’t imagine you make a habit of imbibing strong spirits, but there’s many an innocent chuckle to be had there over a beer and a harmless game of chance, or listening to the piano forte, which I do tinkle upon for the general merriment of the customers, when my duties allow.”

 

She realized that she was talking too much.

 

“Oh, how I do run on Mr Wentworth, you must think me a terrible chatterbox!” she cried, fishing for him to say how she wasn’t.

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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10 hours ago, Arabella Mudd said:

“I am Arabella Sumpter Mudd, of the Tazewell County Mudds, Old Dominion.” she almost sang it.

Mike pretended not to see the hand offered in what he suspected, waiting for him to bestowed a kiss upon it.  Growing up in Washington D.C. society, he knew that a kiss on the hand could be interpreted in a number of ways.  Due to the experiences he had had in the past, he had made up his mind long ago that the only women, whose hands he would be kissed would those he was romantically inclined towards and Miss Mudd was not one of them.  Instead he opted for a half bow, hoping that would satisfy the girl.  "It's nice to finally know your name."

 

10 hours ago, Arabella Mudd said:

“Are you by perchance, doing a little shopping, Mr Wentworth?” she asked, looking at his wagon full of supplies from the General Store, although if he wasn’t shopping, then he must certainly be robbing the place! “Oh, how helpful for your wife!” she added with a gay and surreptitiously probing air.

 

Your wife?  Raising an eyebrow, Mike was about to say something when she suddenly invited Clara to come and inspect the goods he had in the wagon.  Then she was chattering about where she worked and what she did there.  There was some mention about him not drinking spirits, which was sort of true.  He preferred beer but now and then he would have a whiskey when he felt like having something stronger.  Somehow, it was beginning to look like one of those times.  Looking over at Clara, he suspected that if she had been old enough, she probably would have one herself.

 

10 hours ago, Arabella Mudd said:

“Oh, how I do run on Mr Wentworth, you must think me a terrible chatterbox!” she cried, fishing for him to say how she wasn’t.

Part of him wanted to tell her yes but since he was raised to be a gentleman, he shook his head slightly, "No, Miss Mudd, I think you have an unique way of saying things." 

 

In a way it was the truth but since he probably wouldn't be seeing her again any time soon, he thought that her behaviour might be a result of the ordeal she had been through. If her prattling on was a way to deal with what happened then he didn't right in making her upset.  Hopefully, the people at the Stardust would help her out.

 

Knowing that time was running short and that he needed to start heading back to Lost Lake, he smiled graciously, "Well, I hate to cut our time short, Miss Clara and Miss Mudd, but I do have to get the rest of the supplies loaded."

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Clara just stood there as the scene played out, or rather Arabella flooded the poor man by going on and on. She felt badly for Mr. Wentworth, having had to endure this herself back when the girl stayed with them. Oh she was harmless alright and had suffered some very hard times so it was hard not to feel sorry for her but still she was .....well, annoying to say the least. Not that Clara was going to say anything. In fact she decided she needed to break away from this and go on with her business.

 

"I am certain his wagon is quite full, Arabella," Clara did not wish to examine any of the items within, none of her business or interest for that matter.

 

"Oh, how I do run on Mr Wentworth, you must think me a terrible chatterbox!” Arabella cried.

 

The foreman was a true gentleman though, unlike his youngest brother.

 

"No, Miss Mudd, I think you have an unique way of saying things." 

 

Oh Clara so wanted to jump in with a crack but Christian forebearance won over.

 

The man smiled graciously, "Well, I hate to cut our time short, Miss Clara and Miss Mudd, but I do have to get the rest of the supplies loaded." 

 

"Oh yes, I do too, I need to get back to work soon at the diner. Nice talking to you, Mr. Wentworth. Please give my regards to those at the ranch, I do miss them. Most of them," Clara now seized on the opening to make her own strategic retreat.

 

 

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"No, Miss Mudd, I think you have an unique way of saying things."

 

Oh Clara so wanted to jump in with a crack but Christian forebearance won over.

 

Arabella giggled and waved a hand at him “Well, fan my brow, Mr Wentworth, you’re making me blush. ‘Though it has been said I do have a way with words, some have even opined that I could one day become a novelist, after they read some of the stuff what I have wrote.” She informed him.

 

The man smiled graciously, "Well, I hate to cut our time short, Miss Clara and Miss Mudd, but I do have to get the rest of the supplies loaded."

 

“How selfish of us to hold you up, but it has been such a delight! I was only just…” but Clara cut her off. Arabella could understand why she might be in a hurry to move on, if she was late back to the diner with whatever it was she’d been sent out for, that ogress Ms Blakesley, she imagined, would probably whip her, or chide her, at least. Her Mammy Cookie, on the other hand, would just give her a big hug and tell her that she’d been worried about her coming back late.  

 

"Oh yes, I do too, I need to get back to work soon at the diner. Nice talking to you, Mr. Wentworth. Please give my regards to those at the ranch, I do miss them. Most of them," Clara now seized on the opening to make her own strategic retreat.

 

“I, too, must tear myself away, I’m afraid” Arabella sighed, realizing that this first meeting was drawing to a close. “May I just say, thank you once again.” she pushed out her hand more manfully this time, like a gentleman might: surely he could not refuse to take it.

 

She just wanted to touch his hand again, that hand that had lifted her from the grasp of death.

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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"Oh yes, I do too, I need to get back to work soon at the diner. Nice talking to you, Mr. Wentworth. Please give my regards to those at the ranch, I do miss them. Most of them," Clara now seized on the opening to make her own strategic retreat.

 

"And a good day to you Miss Clara,"  Mike answered as he tipped his hat towards her.

 

Turning back to the other girl, Mike saw that she had extended her hand as she thanked him.  Shaking her hand was a more safer option than the one she had presented him earlier, he took and gave it a slight sake before letting it go.

 

He was about to say goodbye, when his brother Sam came out, "Mike, Mr. Wilson's finished putting the last of that order together."

 

"Thanks," he replied, feeling a bit relieved that he could now depart with a more plausible reason.  Smiling, he turned to Arabella, "It's been a pleasure to make your acquaintance and once again I'm glad to see that you have recovered from your ordeal."

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Turning back to the other girl, Mike saw that she had extended her hand as she thanked him.  Shaking her hand was a more safer option than the one she had presented him earlier, he took and gave it a slight shake before letting it go.

 

Arabella grinned like a goon when her hero shook her hand, and she deliberately tried to imprint the feeling of it on her memory, so that she would be able to moon over it later on.

 

He was about to say goodbye, when his brother Sam came out, "Mike, Mr. Wilson's finished putting the last of that order together."

 

"Thanks," he replied, feeling a bit relieved that he could now depart with a more plausible reason.  Smiling, he turned to Arabella, "It's been a pleasure to make your acquaintance and once again I'm glad to see that you have recovered from your ordeal."

 

“Oh, it’s mutual, I’m sure!” she beamed, knocking out one last mini-curtsy, just for good measure. She actually considered standing there and waiting until they’d loaded the last of the goods onto the wagon, just so she could wave him off, but she didn’t want to make it too obvious that she was obsessed with him: that could put a feller off. Instead she walked backwards into the store, grinning at Mike and giving another little wave as she crashed into Granny Miggins who gave a yelp and aimed several words at her that weren’t to be found in Webster's Dictionary.

 

“Why don’t y’watch where you’re going, girl!?” the old lady complained as she exited the place “What’s so gosh darned interestin’ out here to look at anyway?” Then she clocked the two handsome Wentworth men loading the wagon up.

 

“Oh, I seen it! I seen it!” she shouted back to Arabella, who was now inside “No, you ignore me, child, you just carry on walkin’ backward! I was young m’self oncst, you know!” she cackled, shaking her head and muttering as she moved on: something along the lines of  “Why, if I was only fifty years younger myself…he he he.”

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As they were loading the buckboard with the rest of the supplies, Sam noticed that every time Mike went inside, the young girl he had seen early would stand transfixed watching his every move.  Mike seemed not to notice but that was understandable since he was busy making sure the order was correct and safely loaded.

 

After everything had been loaded, Sam got up on to the seat and waited for Mike, who was talking to Mr. Wilson.  He could still see the mysterious girl every know and then look out the window with a look that he could only describe as admiration.  A smile crept on his face as he realised that his older brother had made a conquest.  It was still there when Mike boarded the wagon, "What's so funny," he asked.

 

"Oh nothing," he said looking over to the window, "but I do think you should wave good-bye to your young friend."

 

Mike looked over to the window and then back again to his brother, "She's still there? I suppose I'd better since I did save her life."

 

"Saved her life?"

 

"Yeah, apparently I rescued her from near death in Whitefish.  She thanked me earlier and she's probably still feeling a bit grateful."  Mike turned back to window, smiled, and waved before picking up the reins to start the horses moving.  "I hope that's the end of that."

 

"The end?" Sam frowned before another smile formed on his face, "You know she is a tad young for you."

 

The look Mike gave him, made Sam laugh out loud, "C'mon, how could you not see that she thinks you are her beautiful dreamer."

 

Sam watched the scowl appear on Mike's face and he knew that his brother had noticed.  Also, mentioning his favourite song was a sure way of hitting a nerve.  Deep down, they both knew that it was friendly ribbing but still he could see that Mike wasn't happy about the prospect of having an unwanted admirer.  After a few minutes of silence, he spoke up, "It can't be that bad."

 

Mike shook his head slightly, "I don't know for sure but one thing I do know is that I aim to avoid Miss Arabella Mudd as much as I can until her feelings of gratitude towards me subside."

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