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    • "We'll have to get on over to the dinning room them. Afraid it's liable to be a bit more like Kalispell than Frisco." He said. "But it'll be good food, just not what we've been used too. Will be up on the hill, for sure.  I was told this is the best hotel because it was a ways out across the river from town, and it was solid built."   "The wealth on the hill is such that all most everything around it is growing at a fast pace. You'll really see that when we visit the Capitol, Carson City. Supposedly discovered by Kit Carson and General John Freemont on their way to Sacramento in. At least Freemont named the river after him back in '43 or '44. Nothin' was there then."   "All that made me hungry too, let's go eat an then take us a walk across the river, or along it, which ever you want." @Bongo
    • That did not take long. Cookie rang the triangle and shouted his best but in the end he sent the kid to roust all but the closest to him. Rance joined young Wheeler in the line, a bit out of the wind, but mostly in it for the moment. It seemed calmer up by the wagon.   "That had ta be bad back there. The wind drivin' the dust an' the smell, but should this wind let up you'll be on flank, left flank, then right, then back to the drag. It'll be me, Dallas, an' Dixie. eatin' dust tomorrow. But at least we got hot grub, won't always be that'a way out here though, every trip is different."   And they moved up steadily. @Bongo
    • "Nothing to discuss? I am surprised, Jonah. Why, if we have time for breakfast, there will be much to discuss regarding the hospital as well as the start of the orphanage. Hopefully that the railroad will be completed, or close to it by then." She smiled brightly. "Things will be different by then."   "My hope is that we get through all of this without my fathers interference causing delays, or real problems with the builders. You know we could get well into October before the snow flies, but I'm not counting on that. The winter will stop construction until the thaw." She stated, but the smile was still there, "But it will be well underway!" @Bongo
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    • "It's good to know you'll have the best working on the project, you've come this far, you don't need to risk the quality with less than the best working on it."  Even though he had no doubt that the crew would be excellent, it was reassuring to know that the man hand picked for the job would actually be on site overseeing it.  That way, too, he'd be there if Leah needed to discuss anything with him, and Jonah had a good feeling that was going to happen!   He grinned and took a sip of coffee.  "Just think, this time next year it will all be over!  We'll have a fine hospital with the best equipment...and nothing to discuss over breakfast!"   @Flip  

Invitation Extended


Matilda Devereau
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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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It seemed the man was taken a bit aback by her bold offer, Matilda had that effect on menfolk sometimes. It worked though, as she figured it would.

 

"Well, I would be honored if you would give me the privilege of a dance. Consider yourself asked right this minute, Miss Devereau."

 

"Consider it done then. I would put you down on my dance card but never used one of those," she smiled coyly, "But I have an excellent memory."

 

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?"

 

"Well.....nothing right now, nothing I can think of," she suddenly stood up, "I have done what I came here to do. And I met you also. I would call this 'mission accomplished' in your military parlance."

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MacKenzie was on his feet before he even realized she had stood herself...his reflexes bringing his manners to the fore without thought. He rounded the desk and moved to the door and opened it, standing beside the doorway as she swept around to stop before him. "Well, Miss Devereau, I would like to thank you for the invitation and the visit. Both are very welcome surprises and a lovely change of pace in our typical days here."

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He hurried to open the door for her which brought another smile to her face, "Such a gentleman, colonel."

 

"Well, Miss Devereau, I would like to thank you for the invitation and the visit. Both are very welcome surprises and a lovely change of pace in our typical days here."

 

"You're quite welcome, I'm delighted you find the upcoming event to your liking. Glad I could be that change of pace," she replied.

 

"Til the dance then. I bet you will cut quite the dashing figure in your full dress uniform, colonel. Good day!"

 

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MacKenzie shrugged a bit and nodded. "I hope enough for you, Madame..." He then watched her walk out of his office and then out of the building. His reverie continued for a few more moments before he blinked. His eyes widened a bit before he looked at his aide at the desk in the outer office. "Lieutenant! Officers Call in twenty minutes...!" The colonel then took a few steps back toward his desk before stopping and making a half turn back toward the door. "Who handles laundry here on the post?" MacKenzie realized his dress uniform had been packed into his trunk for...well, probably years...he would need to get it cleaned up so he was presentable for this dance...same for any of the other officers and NCO's who would be coming with him.

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MacKenzie shrugged a bit and nodded. "I hope enough for you, Madame..." He then watched her walk out of his office and then out of the building. His reverie continued for a few more moments before he blinked. His eyes widened a bit before he looked at his aide at the desk in the outer office. "Lieutenant! Officers Call in twenty minutes...!"

 

The sound of Lieutenant Greene fairly jumping to his feet could heard. “Yes Sir, Colonel Sir! Officer’s call in twenty minutes, Sir!” The darn fool of a tenderfoot was probably saluting out there right now, even though he was out of sight.

 

MacKenzie winced at all the bracing and crashing to attention going on in the outer office. He spun and strode back out of his office and over to his aide's desk. "Lieutenant, You seem like a...Good God, at ease, man, at ease..." MacKenzie watched as the young officer managed to unlock to Parade Rest at least. MacKenzie shook his head and took a breath.

 

"You seem like a good officer and your performance has been good so far, but you need to learn to relax before you have an apoplexy before you are 25..." The colonel waved a hand in front of the man's face as he kept staring at the wall. "Greene!...Relax!...take that ramrod out of your behind and store it with your rifle."

 

The colonel then took a few steps back toward his desk before stopping and making a half turn back toward the door. "Who handles laundry here on the post?" MacKenzie realized his dress uniform had been packed into his trunk for...well, probably years...he would need to get it cleaned up so he was presentable for this dance...same for any of the other officers and NCO's who would be coming with him.

 

Greene’s angelic head appeared around the door “Fat Fanny Sir!" he yelped "Er, begging your pardon Sir, er, that’s what the men call Miss Flusher, Sir, the Sutler’s daughter. She’s been washing their shirts for a while now, Sir.” There was no real need to elucidate, she was the only Fanny on the post, and the innocent Greene was probably the only feller in the U.S. Army who didn’t know that “washing a soldier’s shirt” was a euphemism for something a lot less sanitary than it sounded.

 

MacKenzie sighed and started to explain to the lieutenant, but then decided that for the sake of his own education he should learn about that detail on his own.

 

"Permission to ask a question, Sir?" he then stammered, a little red-faced "But who was that beautiful lady I just showed out?" Gosh, she had been pretty!

 

MacKenzie heard the lieutenant's question and hesitated a moment, then having decided to have a bit of fun he walked back out to lean on the edge of the young officer's desk.

 

"That, Lieutenant, was Matilda Devereau...proprietor of the Stardust Saloon in town. She was here to extend an invitation to a select group of men from the fort as a way of welcoming us to the area..." He enjoyed the way the young officer's face brightened at his answer. "And no, she is not married, Lieutenant. It turns out she shot and killed her husband..." MacKenzie nodded sagely at the suddenly wide eyes he saw. "...Oh yes, out here in the West, it's not uncommon for a woman to shoot her spouse or significant other if they do or say something they find offensive. It's perfectly legal and a much more efficient way for men and women to get along out here on the frontier..." MacKenzie straightened and started back to his office but paused at the doorway. "You should probably keep that in mind when you are at the dance..." MacKenzie raised a finger like a pistol and his thumb dropped as it was pointed at Greene before the colonel continued on into his office. "...don't forget Officer's Call!"

 

 

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"Lieutenant, You seem like a...Good God, at ease, man, at ease..." MacKenzie watched as the young officer managed to unlock to Parade Rest at least. MacKenzie shook his head and took a breath.

 

“Yes sir, sorry Sir.” Gulped the rookie officer.

 

"You seem like a good officer and your performance has been good so far, but you need to learn to relax before you have an apoplexy before you are 25..." The colonel waved a hand in front of the man's face as he kept staring at the wall. "Greene!...Relax!...take that ramrod out of your behind and store it with your rifle."

 

Jonah blinked and looked at the Colonel in the face for the first time. “Sorry Sir, it’s just … that’s how they drilled us at West Point, it’s kinda … hard to un-learn it!”

 

As good as his word, when he heard the Colonel wondering out loud about the source of his clean and pressed shirts, he dived over to the door and unconventionally offered the information. He hoped that this maneuver was ‘relaxed’ enough for the Fort’s commander. Then he even went one further. He was really on a roll with the whole relaxed thing: he asked MacKenzie about the wonderful Angel who had just descended from Heaven to visit them in their humble, wooden, oversized toy fort.

 

"That, Lieutenant, was Matilda Devereau...proprietor of the Stardust Saloon in town. She was here to extend an invitation to a select group of men from the fort as a way of welcoming us to the area..." He enjoyed the way the young officer's face brightened at his answer.

 

Matilda Devereau!” Jonah sighed, saying the name out loud both to make sure he remembered it and, well, just for the gosh-darn pleasure of saying it. “Sir, I don’t suppose if you happen know whether…”

 

"And no, she is not married, Lieutenant. It turns out she shot and killed her husband..." MacKenzie nodded sagely at the suddenly wide eyes he saw. "...Oh yes, out here in the West, it's not uncommon for a woman to shoot her spouse or significant other if they do or say something they find offensive.”

 

“What!? Really Sir?” queried the unbelieving aide.

 

“It's perfectly legal and a much more efficient way for men and women to get along out here on the frontier..." MacKenzie straightened and started back to his office but paused at the doorway. "You should probably keep that in mind when you are at the dance..." MacKenzie raised a finger like a pistol and his thumb dropped as it was pointed at Greene before the colonel continued on into his office. "...don't forget Officer's Call!"

 

“No Sir, Officer’s call, Sir!” he repeated in text book drill order, then remembering the injunction to relax more, and at the thrilling knowledge that he would be going to the dance, couldn’t help adding, with the dreamy eyed blindness of youth. “Colonel, Sir? It’s my opinion that some women might actually be worth getting shot for.

 

Then he saluted, and got out: quick.

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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