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    • Clara dismissed the other girl's arguments with a simple, "I enjoy working here. And I am being paid for it."   Then the child mentioned somebody named Bridget whom Clara did not recognize.   Her employer now made her appearance, Clara smiled right back. It was amazing really and doubtful Clara even realized it but she actually was doing more smiling as they grew accustomed to each other. The young lady loved her time spent with Emeline.   "Some girl who was dancing with Arabella. How one could break their leg doing such a simple thing is beyond me..." Clara left it at that but shrugged.   Emeline did not know Arabella so it seemed appropriate for a quick introduction.   "Oh this is Arabella Mudd, she stayed with this for a short time after the Whitefish tragedy. And this is Mrs. Emeline Blakesley."  Frankie was already known to both parties now.
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Matilda Devereau

Invitation Extended

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Mature Content: No

Author: Matilda Devereau

With: Col. MacKenzie
Location: Fort Somers
When: April 15, 1876
Time of Day: Just past noon.

 

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This was a first for Matilda to be setting foot within an army fort, not that she was nervous about it. This was all about business, in this case not her own but the town's. As first time member of the Spring Dance committee, she had convinced the other committee members to reach out to the local military garrison, a goodwill gesture. After all it was these very men who protected the town and local farms and ranches from the Indians.

 

So it was that Matilda, clad in a fancy freshly shipped in from the East maroon dress, waltzed confidently into the office of the fort commandant after being ushered in by an orderly. Men were men, whether they had uniforms on or not, and one thing Matilda was comfortable around it was menfolk. They were the livelihood of her business.

 

"Good day, general, hope I'm not interrupting anything....like planning an invasion of Canada or something," she flashed a mix between a smirk and a grin.

 

Time to find it if this one had a sense of humor or not.

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Mackenzie was already coming to his feet as the orderly waved the visitor into his office. "I have no desire to claim acres of moose and pasture in the name of the United States..." Mackenzie said as he took her offered hand and bent his head over it before releasing it. That whole gallant kiss thing was lost on MacKenzie. Wellington knew how to greet a lady but he in no way considered himself a swain. "...besides in the wisdom of the War Office I would then be forced to watch over all that new land with the same inadequate number of men I have to watch the territory I have now." The officer tugged out one of the two chairs before his desk for his visitor to have a seat before he moved back around to settle behind his desk. "And it's Colonel MacKenzie, not General, although I appreciate the compliment..." Mackenzie rested his elbows on his desk as he leaned forward a bit. "So what can I do for you, Mrs. or Miss...?"

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The man's response was measured but delighted the woman as he showed himself to be amenable to light hearted banter and was not just some military martinet. He proved to be a gentleman too, presenting her with a seat before then taking one of his own.

 

"Ahh, so Canada is safe then, I am relieved," she quipped as she sat down facing him.

 

"Oh excuse me, Colonel, I am not familiar with the complexities of military ranks," she acknowledged her mistake first off then introduced herself.

 

"Name's Matilda Devereau, I own the saloon in town, the Stardust. I was once a Mrs. but my husband is dead. I shot him," she stated calmly enough, "All quite legal I assure you."

 

"And this isn't a social call I'm afraid but a business one. I've come with an invitation to present if you would hear me out."

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MacKenzie could not help but stare for just a moment as he heard Miss Devereau's matter of fact explanation of her status. One part of his brain was trying to get his attention as he realized he was not quite gaping at his visitor. MacKenzie gave himself a mental shake and hoped the gesture was not external as well.

 

"Well, I am always willing to listen to the local civilians when they come to my post with business to discuss. What invitation are you bringing my men and I...?"

 

What sort of town is this?...MacKenzie thought to himself as he answered the saloon owner. If a seemingly upright woman like Miss Devereau did this, what other secrets might the rest of the town hold?...MacKenzie figured he might need to rethink this leave thing with the garrison...can't afford to lose men by just sending them to town...the colonel realized Matilda had resumed speaking...

 

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Permission granted, Matilda began her spiel.

 

"Well, colonel, sadly it is not really as much for your men as for you and your officers. Kalispell is holding a spring dance, it's held in a barn just outside of town. There will be food and drinks of course in addition to music and dancing. I told the committee this would be a great opportunity to reach out to our gallant military and break the ice as it were. Get to mingle and know each other a bit. "

 

"But there is no way we can take in a whole garrison of soldiery, your fine fellows would pack the barn simply by themselves. I hope you understand?"

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Mackenzie leaned back a bit, his hands sliding out to each side on his desk and a smile broke across his features.

 

"Madame, I cannot tell you how happy your invitation makes me..." MacKenzie spread his arms to indicate the entirety of the fort surrounding them. "...usually in most of the commands I have been in, we are treated like a camp full of convicts or barbarians. Oh, when there are Indians raiding or bandits, what have you, we are very popular, but any other time it's "pay up front" or "stop loitering in our streets." MacKenzie then crossed his arms before him on his desk.

 

"I totally understand your concerns and I would be unable to authorize leave for more than a handful of my men at any one time, so you and the town have nothing to worry about there." MacKenzie rubbed his chin with one hand as he looked thoughtful. "Let's see...I can leave the married officers to man the post. That would be simple enough, and I would like to invite some of our more senior NCO's...oh, apologies...my older sergeants, whom I believe I can trust to behave in polite company..." The colonel did some counting in his head then looked back at Matilda. "Would a dozen men be too large a party?"

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The man was very pleased with the invitation, Matilda noted with satisfaction.

 

"I can assure I have never felt that way about our gallant men in blue.  Nor do I expect any trouble between the community and you soldier boys. We want this to be good time for all in attendance," she assured the man.

 

"Who you choose in the end is of course your call, Colonel. I do not intend to tell you how to run your army any more than I would like being told how to run my business. And I think a dozen is quite fair number.  Thank you for being so understanding," Matilda smiled graciously.

 

"One of the advantages of being a widow is I can dance with whoever I please. I hope you might give it some consideration to ask me for a dance, colonel," she was nothing if not bold, it came with her business.

 

 

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MacKenzie blinked in surprise at the woman's statement. He could feel the creeping heat climbing up from his collar and he also knew there wasn't a damn thing he could do about it.

 

"Well, I would be honored if you would give me the privilege of a dance. Consider yourself asked right this minute, Miss Devereau." He returned her gaze steadily for several heartbeats then he coughed lightly and looked around. "Ahem...So...what else can I do for you, Madame?"

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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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