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Lorenzo Crabbe

The Scouting Mission

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Mature Content: No.

Author: Lorenzo Crabbe

With: Ralph Flandry, Bridget Monahan plus anyone else who might be there.
Location: Bar Room.
When: Early April 1876
Time of Day: Early evening.

 

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The bespectacled be-suited ‘dude’ with the low crowned billycock hat entered the saloon through its swinging doors with the waif like, aubern-haired beauty on his arm, and both of them looked about the place with no little interest. Her gaze was one of wonder at the beauty of the place with its fancy mirrors and the attempt by some local dabber to render neo-classical paintings on the plasterwork in several places. These showed nymphs and goddesses whose modesty was tastefully saved by a luckily blown cloak or cloud in just the right places. Crabbe’s interest was more practical, and he immediately decided that his ‘Hurdy Gurdy House’ would go one better – he’d have Greek goddesses too, but their saddle blankets would have been blown away totally by a strong Nor’Easter some time previous to them posing for the artist.

 

The man sauntered up to the bar and hefted a foot onto the brass rail that was placed there for that very purpose. He grinned, real friendly like, at the bearded barman.

 

“Hello friend! A glass of sarsaparilla for the little lady, a drop o’ the good stuff for me, and one for yourself!”

 

When the drinks were set up, he handed the glass containing the soft drink to the girl and told her “You go sit down at that there table, honey, I’m talking to the man.” The woman managed to juggle the parasol, clutch purse, a large (and somewhat disturbing looking) porcelain faced doll, and now the drink, and she walked slowly and carefully over to the table. She put the objects down on its surface first, before she eased herself into the chair with as much care as a saddle-sore cowpuncher might.

 

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Once she was safely ensconced, the man with the thick glasses turned around again and spoke to the barman. “Nice place y’got here!” he smiled, looking around the area above the bar where the big mirror reflected the glory of the whole place. “You the owner?”

Edited by Javia (see edit history)

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Ralph watched the couple enter, he was used to so many folks coming and going  that he had no particular interest in them. The man went right to the bar, he had the look about him  of an eastern seaboard greenhorn but Ralph knew looks could be deceiving.

 

“Hello friend! A glass of sarsaparilla for the little lady, a drop o’ the good stuff for me, and one for yourself!”

 

"Howdy. Coming right up then," Ralph then took advantage of the opening and reached down for his most expensive bottle of whiskey, pouring two shot glasses. His would be set aside though for now. He had long shifts and never was one to make the mistake of getting drunk on the job.

 

Ralph watched the woman struggle to juggle her armful and seat herself without mishap. There was some sort of affliction or injury, that much was apparent. Though hardly regarded as a gentleman by many, Ralph thought this stranger should have had the manners to help her out yet he did not. Ralph said nothing of course, the man was a paying customer.

 

“Nice place y’got here!” the man smiled, looking around the area above the bar where the big mirror reflected the glory of the whole place. “You the owner?”

 

"We think so," Ralph nodded then took on the second question, "It's a partnership of sorts. The official owner is Matilda Devereau."

 

Now he had a question, "Why?"

 

 

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“Nice place y’got here!” the man smiled, looking around the area above the bar where the big mirror reflected the glory of the whole place. “You the owner?”

 

"We think so," Ralph nodded then took on the second question, "It's a partnership of sorts. The official owner is Matilda Devereau."

 

The stranger nodded his comprehension. “Lady owner, huh? Interesting, interesting!”

 

 Now he had a question, "Why?"

 

“Well, y’ see, it’s like this: I’m just in from Ogallala, used to run a little hurdy gurdy house there, and I’m fixin’ to do something similar here.” He took a sip of the whiskey and smacked his lips appreciatively.

 

“See, it’s a maxim o’ mine to always try and get on nice and peaceable with my neighbors. I wanna make sure that I’m not doing anything that's gonna tread on your toes, so to speak. I mean, what do you run here? Dancing? Faro bank? Shows? Not that you can have too much of either, really, in my experience.”

 

He turned around to make sure Bridget hadn’t wandered off, but she was busy being talked at by a scrawny-looking black haired girl who’d suddenly and silently popped up from nowhere.

 

“Now this looks like somethin’ of a blue-nosed town to me” Lorenzo further informed the barman “But give it a couple o’ weeks and there’s going to be a flood of wild and wooly would-be miners swarming through here from north of the border heading for Deadwood and the Black Hills generally. Then they’ll all be swarming back at some point later, the most of them, once they realize that that particular section is all either claimed up or washed out!”

Edited by Javia (see edit history)

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“Well, y’ see, it’s like this: I’m just in from Ogallala, used to run a little hurdy gurdy house there, and I’m fixin’ to do something similar here.” the man then took a sip of the whiskey and smacked his lips appreciatively.

 

"That'll be a dollar five cents," Ralph pointed out, the whiskey was expensive at fifty cents a shot but that man wanted the 'good stuff'.

 

"See, it’s a maxim o’ mine to always try and get on nice and peaceable with my neighbors. I wanna make sure that I’m not doing anything that's gonna tread on your toes, so to speak. I mean, what do you run here? Dancing? Faro bank? Shows? Not that you can have too much of either, really, in my experience.”

 

Regardless of how the jasper worded it, Ralph saw this new business as nothing other than competition, Matilda would be less than happy about this news.

 

"We don't have a regular piano player but we do have some singing and dancing on occasion.  Some of the tables got card games goin' on a regular basis. We got a rouelette on order," Ralph informed the man.

 

The newcomer went on then about his take on the town and how it was going to be flooded soon eough  with a wave of prospectors.

 

"Could well be,," Ralph shrugged, "So where you moving inta?"

 

 

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

 

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"That'll be a dollar five cents," Ralph pointed out, the whiskey was expensive at fifty cents a shot but that man wanted the 'good stuff'.

 

Unfazed by the steep price, Lorenzo fished a standard shield nickel out of his pocket but the silver dollar he flipped with his thumbnail, so the barman could hear the distinctive ring of sound currency. He caught it and rapped it on the bar, before placing it down.

 

“Probably don’t see many of them round these parts.” he said “I won’t be offended if you bite it!” he chuckled. Indeed, the coin, bearing a seated Liberty atop the 1870 legend, was one of a rare stamp produced in San Francisco a few years before. Charlie Fa seemed to have an endless supply of them, though where he actually kept them was a mystery to his partner.

 

It was money well spent as the barman filled him in on the spacious saloon’s activities. They seemed somewhat meager for so large a joint.

 

"We don't have a regular piano player but we do have some singing and dancing on occasion.  Some of the tables got card games goin' on a regular basis. We got a roulette on order," Ralph informed the man.

 

Crabbe produced a tablet notebook from his inside pocket and a stubby pencil and carefully crossed through a word on there “No Roulette wheel.” He said methodically. “Hmmm, might run a wheel o’ fortune though. Sell little paddles with numbers at the door, then build up to a big spin, that sort o’ thing.” He ruminated out loud. “Feller I work with is pretty handy with a saw, he could knock that up in no time at all.”

 

The newcomer went on then about his take on the town and how it was going to be flooded soon enough with a wave of prospectors.

 

"Could well be,," Ralph shrugged, "So where you moving inta?"

 

“Oh, empty store down the road apiece, think maybe it used to be a funeral parlor judging by what we found in there. Certainly a good deal of lumber, which we been putting to good use.” He ruminated “Say, if this town’s short of an undertaker, that might be worth a go! Lot of money in that.”

 

He looked around the saloon, and at the sight of the one or two patrons dotted about, couldn’t help adding “… If I can work out who’s dead and who’s alive around here.” After the excitements of Ogallala, this settlement seemed like a pretty “dead ‘n’ alive hole.”

 

Suddenly, behind him, the piano burst into sound, almost waking some of the patrons. Arabella was showing off to Bridget with a chorus of ‘O! Susannah!” Lorenzo turned and grinned at Ralph.

 

“That your pianna pounder? I could use a girl like that! She your daughter?”

 

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Edited by Javia (see edit history)

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“Probably don’t see many of them round these parts.” the man said “I won’t be offended if you bite it!” he chuckled.

 

"Already had lunch," Ralph dryly responded as he scooped up the coin, he had seen a few as a matter of fact.

 

"The town has an undertaker, the man was quite busy when Whitefish up and died in winter," he informed the fellow.

 

Crabbe quipped, "If I can work out who’s dead and who’s alive around here.”

 

"Might not look like it now but we do damn good business. Most men are at work now, we get our crowds in the evenin'," Ralph wasn't sure he liked the man's snide attitude.

 

Just then the piano struck up a tune, it was Arabella of course. 

 

“That your pianna pounder? I could use a girl like that! She your daughter?”  the man asked.

 

"We have a gent who comes in some evenin's. But she's pretty good alright. No, she ain't my daughter, she's an orphan girl from Whitefish. Matilda took her in and agreed to be responsible for the child," Ralph explained.

 

 

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"Already had lunch," Ralph dryly responded as he scooped up the coin, he had seen a few as a matter of fact.

 

“Oh! Ha ha!” Crabbe laughed, gushingly, “Very swift, Sir, very swift.”

 

"The town has an undertaker, the man was quite busy when Whitefish up and died in winter," he informed the fellow.

 

“Lucky bastard” grumped Lorenzo, what a windfall for the lucky man! “Still, I could always open up a rival outfit: cheaper coffins, quicker services, that sort of thing…”

 

Crabbe quipped, "If I can work out who’s dead and who’s alive around here.”

 

"Might not look like it now but we do damn good business. Most men are at work now, we get our crowds in the evenin'," Ralph wasn't sure he liked the man's snide attitude.

 

“Oh sure, sure!” the stranger nodded, not sounding entirely convinced. He looked around the place again. “No whores, then?” he asked, matter-of-factly.

 

 Just then the piano struck up a tune, it was Arabella of course. 

 

“That your pianna pounder? I could use a girl like that!”

 

"We have a gent who comes in some evenin's. But she's pretty good alright.

 

“She’s more ‘n all right!” Crabbe commented, taking an interest in the girl. “She your daughter?”  the man asked.

 

“No, she ain't my daughter, she's an orphan girl from Whitefish. Matilda took her in and agreed to be responsible for the child," Ralph explained.

 

“Oh, don’t talk to me about waifs ‘n’ strays!” Lorenzo shook his head, and jerked a dismissive thumb at the red haired lass, who was still sitting there, watching Arabella’s antics with child-like pleasure. “I tossed that one a nickel in Ogallala and she’s been following me around ever since. She ain’t no use t’ me, though.” He added ruefully.

 

Crabbe looked from Arabella to Bridget and back again, finally twisting back around to Ralph with a thoughtful look on his face.

 

“Say … I don’t suppose you’d consider swappin’?”  he asked seriously.

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Just then who should come sashaying in than the owner of the saloon, Matilda Devereau, in a fine recent Eastern seaboard dress of jet blue. She had appeared from a back room off to the side of the bar. Both hands held liquor bottles which she then set upon the hardwood top.

 

"What's this? Swapping for what?" she had heard the last line only and her curiousity was piqued. The gentleman was obviously some sort of businessman.

 

Ralph immediately answered, "This here jasper wants to ...acquire Arabella."

 

Matilda's eye flared, "What?"

 

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Ralph immediately answered, "This here jasper wants to ...acquire Arabella."

 

Matilda's eye flared, "What?"

 

Crabbe gave a nervous laugh and removed his hat. “Ah ha ha ha, a mere jest dear lady , a mere jest. Lorenzo Crabbe, theatrical entrepreneur, at your service.”

 

It was clear from her reaction that the idea was not a welcome one. “And you must be the owner of this wonderful emporium, Ms Devereau. Your barman here’s been singing your praises, but he never mentioned that you were a beauty as well as a talented businesswoman.” said the slick visitor with a smarmy smile, using that form of mashing commonly known as ‘laying it on with a trowel.”

 

“Appears that we have both taken on the heavy mantle of caring for a poor waif and stray, cast adrift in this cruel world and lost in the shuffle of life.” he intoned, gesturing with pious concern to the two young women.

 

The pair were a contrast in some ways, not only in their hair color, and the fact that Arabella was dressed in a simple work smock and toted a mop bucket, whereas Bridget was ‘done up like a dog’s dinner’ and carried a fancy and rather useless looking parasol; but, in all fairness, they both looked healthy and happy.

 

Bridget was now sitting with her mouth gaping in amazement, as Arabella took her doll and with some skill was making it look like the doll was singing the tune that she had just been playing on the ramshackle piano.

 

“Sings and does ventriloquism, too!” salivated Lorenzo, clearly distracted from Matilda’s ample charms by the moneymaking possibilities of the showbizzy teenager “Don’t ‘spose you’d consider hiring her out for few hours every night? Top rates, o’course!”

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Crabbe gave a nervous laugh and removed his hat. “Ah ha ha ha, a mere jest dear lady , a mere jest. Lorenzo Crabbe, theatrical entrepreneur, at your service.”

 

Matilda eyed him, there was no theatre in Kalispell and she also had never seen this man before in her life, he was no local was her guess.

 

“And you must be the owner of this wonderful emporium, Ms Devereau. Your barman here’s been singing your praises, but he never mentioned that you were a beauty as well as a talented businesswoman.”

 

"Well, I am the owner ....yes. Ralph doesn't sing, the world is thankful for that," Matilda responded dryly.

 

“Appears that we have both taken on the heavy mantle of caring for a poor waif and stray, cast adrift in this cruel world and lost in the shuffle of life.”

 

"I am the child's guardian, yes," Matilda knew this sort of spiel, she had heard most every trick in her line of work. But she was still a bit confused at what he was going on about. Ralph could sense  it.

 

“Sings and does ventriloquism, too!  Don’t ‘spose you’d consider hiring her out for few hours every night? Top rates, o’course!”

 

"The man is going to give us some competition, drinks, wimmen, music, askin' about whether we got whores here," Ralph now chimed in.

 

"Ah, so that's it," Matilda flashed a terse smile with an edge to it. "Sizing up your opposition huh? And trying to recruit right out from under me?"

 

"Well, Arabella is not for sale or rent. Now you get out of here right now before I lose my temper. You don't want to see me do that, I can assure you," she snapped.

 

 

 

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"Well, I am the owner ....yes. Ralph doesn't sing, the world is thankful for that," Matilda responded dryly.

 

“He he he, that’s … funny.” Grinned Lorenzo. He didn’t sound convinced at the end though, she didn’t look like she was joking. Oh oh, like a lot of women, seems this one didn’t have an actual factual sense of humor, just a patch of sandpaper sarcasm that passed for one. He tried the pious approach, though it seemed out of place for a saloon.

 

“Appears that we have both taken on the heavy mantle of caring for a poor waif and stray, cast adrift in this cruel world and lost in the shuffle of life.”

 

"I am the child's guardian, yes," Matilda knew this sort of spiel, she had heard most every trick in her line of work. But she was still a bit confused at what he was going on about. Ralph could sense  it.

 

“Sings and does ventriloquism, too!  Don’t ‘spose you’d consider hiring her out for few hours every night? Top rates, o’course!”

 

And why not? They were probably using her as slave labor anyway, that’s the reason most folks took orphans on. Wash the pots, clean the floor, peel the spuds: all for a total cost of nothing, except their bed and board. They'd earn even more off her this way.

 

"The man is going to give us some competition, drinks, wimmen, music, askin' about whether we got whores here," Ralph now chimed in.

 

“Course I asked if there was whores here!” said Lorenzo, looking affronted “I’d hardly want to bring my ward, an innocent young lady, into a house of ill repute!” That was pretty slick, even for him: he gave himself a mental pat on the back. And as for that big beardy feller: why, he was just a tattle-tale and a sneak!

 

"Ah, so that's it," Matilda flashed a terse smile with an edge to it. "Sizing up your opposition huh? And trying to recruit right out from under me?"

 

“Whoaaa Nellie!” recoiled Crabbe, stepping back a pace from the feisty firebrand. Boy, if she was a looker under normal circumstances, she was fantastically attractive when her dander was up. “Sizing up…!? Why I was just trying to give your little girl here her first start on the glittering road to fame and riches, I don’t see how …”

 

“Well, Arabella is not for sale or rent. Now you get out of here right now before I lose my temper. You don't want to see me do that, I can assure you," she snapped.

 

“You sure?” frowned Lorenzo. If the flashes of incandescence he’d witnessed so far were anything to go by… He finished his drink. “Well, if this is the way you treat all of your paying customers, I don’t think I got too much to worry about.” he concluded, and turned to where Bridget and Arabella were now whispering and giggling together.

 

“Come on, Honey, we gotta go now!” he called.

 

Arabella awwww-ed sadly and gave Bridget back her dolly, as the ginger girl tried to drink up her sarsaparilla rather than waste it.

 

Lorenzo looked down at the black-haired girl, reached in his pocket and flipped her a nickel … no! She caught it and realized with a gasp that it was a whole dollar.

 

“That was real pretty piano playing and singing, Miss. You come and see me when you’re sixteen, I’ll give you a job doing that.” He advised her and raised his hat to her, as Bridget joined him at her side, smiling innocently at Ralph and Matilda.

Edited by Javia (see edit history)

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"Course I asked if there was whores here!” now the man acted affronted “I’d hardly want to bring my ward, an innocent young lady, into a house of ill repute!”

 

Quick thinking or not, Matilda was having none of it, of course he would say such a thing.

 

"You asked because you were interested in getting your hands on this innocent young lady. Bet she would bring a good price, fresh n' all," Matilda sneered.

 

Actually she herself had worked with hookers back in Chicago in her husband's place and yes, money was there to be made but other times they were more trouble than they were worth. So far she had felt no need for them in Kalispell, the business was doing quite well. But even if she would have had whores, there was no way on God's green earth she would subject Arabella, very much a child, to that life.

 

Now the man was played the 'indignant' card as he finished his drink. “Well, if this is the way you treat all of your paying customers, I don’t think I got too much to worry about."

 

"My paying customers don't go asking for young girls, now I said 'git'!" snarled the fiery saloon owner.

 

“Come on, Honey, we gotta go now!” the man was now retreating. Just in time. Ralph was readying to make his move.

 

Still the jasper paused to talk to Arabella and even toss her a whole damn silver dollar! The nerve...

 

“That was real pretty piano playing and singing, Miss. You come and see me when you’re sixteen, I’ll give you a job doing that.” He advised her and raised his hat to her, as Bridget joined him at her side, smiling innocently at Ralph and Matilda.

 

Matilda wasn't quite done yet either then leaving him with one final warning.

 

"Mister, if I see you or find out you been even attempting to talk to this young girl, I will shoot you. I mean it, we'll see who's bluffing."

 

"And if she misses, I won't," Ralph added his bit to their parting of ways.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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"You asked because you were interested in getting your hands on this innocent young lady. Bet she would bring a good price, fresh n' all," Matilda sneered.

 

“Well, to be honest with, ya, Mam, in some quarters? … er, Yes. But honest injun…” he said holding up the palms of his hands “I just need a pianna player right now!” Arabella did have that girl-like, innocent look about her that appealed, not just to men of ‘certain tastes’ but also those who had contracted syphilis. It was a wide held misconception that sexual intercourse with a virgin would cure a man of that pernicious disease, and underage girls were the obvious target to serve in this capacity. Of course, the ‘cure’ didn’t work, it just infected the unfortunate girl who, lost in a world of prostitution, then went on to infect future customers. It was a vicious circle that wasn’t about to end anytime soon.

 

Now the man was played the 'indignant' card as he finished his drink. “Well, if this is the way you treat all of your paying customers, I don’t think I got too much to worry about."

 

"My paying customers don't go asking for young girls, now I said 'git'!" snarled the fiery saloon owner.

 

The slicker and the waif made ready to depart, but not without first giving Arabella a taste of the riches that might await in the burgeoning rival establishment.

 

Matilda wasn't quite done yet either then leaving him with one final warning.

 

"Mister, if I see you or find out you been even attempting to talk to this young girl, I will shoot you. I mean it, we'll see who's bluffing."

 

Bridget wondered why they were walking backwards out of a place (again!), but managed the maneuver adroitly enough, even with her false leg.

 

"And if she misses, I won't," Ralph added his bit to their parting of ways.

 

Crabbe dragged his eyes away from the fiery Ms. Devereau just long enough to glance at Ralph and utter a depreciating laugh of “Oh, sorry, I’d forgotten about you.”

 

Now they were at the swing doors and Crabbe raised his hat once again.

 

“Well, nice meetin’ you folks, maybe see you at Church on Sunday? Do drop in at my place if you ever get kinda…” he made a show of glancing around the Saloon “… bored here.” Then, with the ginger haired girl smiling and innocently waving bye-bye, they were gone through the doors.

 

Of the three saloon personnel left standing there, the ever-loyal and high-minded Arabella was the first to pipe up.

 

“Did you see that? A WHOLE SILVER DOLLAR!!!” she exclaimed, holding up the shiny coin.

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Judging by that smirk on his face and his insolent words, he probably did not believe what she had said about Arabella and the risk he would be taking but Matilda meant it. She had seen young girls becoming hookers and it almost always turned out badly for them in the end.  Arabella got on her nerves on occasion (alright so quite often) but she was still a child and Matilda took her responsibility seriously.

 

She and Ralph glared as the man left the saloon then with that simpleton young miss of his. Well, you can't save 'em all. That's when Arabella spoke up, quite enthralled with her monetary reward.

 

“Did you see that? A WHOLE SILVER DOLLAR!!!” she exclaimed, holding up the shiny coin.

 

"Yes I did. Just consider yourself lucky I'm lettin' you keep it. But you heard what I said to the man. He better stay away from you. And you - do not go looking for him or talking to him either. I mean that. You might think right now he's a nice man but I got far more experience than you with his kind. He's dangerous. Do not trust him," Matilda launched into an impromptu lecture.

 

 

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“Did you see that? A WHOLE SILVER DOLLAR!!!” she exclaimed, holding up the shiny coin.

 

"Yes I did. Just consider yourself lucky I'm lettin' you keep it.”

 

It hadn’t occurred to Arabella that she wouldn’t be able to keep it, and Ms Devereau’s words made her snatch the coin to her heart.

 

“But you heard what I said to the man. He better stay away from you. And you - do not go looking for him or talking to him either. I mean that. You might think right now he's a nice man but I got far more experience than you with his kind. He's dangerous. Do not trust him,"

 

“Huh?!” the girl gawped and craned her neck to see if she could espy this alleged monster through the window, as he and the girl walked away from the saloon, but they must’ve gone the other way. She frowned “Why that feller didn’t look like he could see to cross the road! ‘n’ what’s dangerous about wanting me to play the pianna fer him?” she genuinely wondered.

 

She shrugged.

 

“Oh well, I kin play with Bridget though, can’t I? She’s heaps of fun, did you see that big dolly she had? Guess what, that dolly didn’t even have a name, she just called it ‘dolly’ I said we should call her Lindy-May, or maybe Mary-Sue, but I think she looked more like a Lindy-May, What’d you think Mr Flandry? Anyhow, she was nice and, guess what…” Arabella looked furtively over at the rocking chair at the far end of the saloon that nobody ever seemed to want to sit in, and sidled up to the bar and whispered to Ralph “She can see the Old Lady … all the time!”

Edited by Javia (see edit history)

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"If you did not follow the conversation he and I just had then you obviously are too young to understand but I am serious about this. You will not have anything to do with him," Matilda certainly would have grasped the gist of this easily when she was that age. And she had no doubt Arabella heard every word exchanged - she was always listening in on conversations. Human nature really.

 

Oh well, I kin play with Bridget though, can’t I? She’s heaps of fun, did you see that big dolly she had? Guess what, that dolly didn’t even have a name, she just called it ‘dolly’ I said we should call her Lindy-May, or maybe Mary-Sue, but I think she looked more like a Lindy-May, What’d you think Mr Flandry? Anyhow, she was nice and, guess what…”

 

"I didn't think," Flandry went back to his business behind the bar.

 

The girl now approached the bar.

 

“She can see the Old Lady … all the time!”

 

Ralph barely nodded, "Good fer her."

 

Matilda now had an idea and announced it, "Arabella, what if I can manage to arrange for you to play the piano at the spring dance?"

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The girl now approached the bar.

“She can see the Old Lady … all the time!”

Ralph barely nodded, "Good fer her."

 

Arabella narrowed her eyes. Unlike Mammy Cookie, Mr Flandry didn't believe about the Old Lady who haunted the rocking chair, or any in any of the other ghost related stories she told him. Well, one day, he'd see her, and Arabella imagined him running screaming out of the saloon doors , his hair (and beard!) standing on end: while she stood there, looking on with a look of smug satisfaction, arms folded probably, and maybe shaking her head a little.

 

She loved Mr. Flandry, but she sure did like imagining that.  

 

Matilda now had an idea and announced it, "Arabella, what if I can manage to arrange for you to play the piano at the spring dance?"

 

Arabella's mouth gaped open a this offer. 

 

"Oh Ms Devereau, that is the most TERRIBLE idea you ever did have!!! I wanna be dancin' with boys, not be playin' the pianna all night. Mr Leslie can play the painna at the dance. Oooh, oooh, I just had an idea, though. Why don't you let me play the pianna here on Wednesdays. Mr Leslie ain't in on a Wednesday, and about five or six, me and Mr Flandry are always just standing around twiddlin' our thumbs and reminicin' about the late unpleasantness and countin' the glasses while folks just walk past the window. I could play some jolly tunes and entice folks in!" she beamed, loving her own idea.

Edited by Javia (see edit history)

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"Oh Ms Devereau, that is the most TERRIBLE idea you ever did have!!! I wanna be dancin' with boys, not be playin' the pianna all night. Mr Leslie can play the painna at the dance. Oooh, oooh, I just had an idea, though. Why don't you let me play the pianna here on Wednesdays. Mr Leslie ain't in on a Wednesday, and about five or six, me and Mr Flandry are always just standing around twiddlin' our thumbs and reminicin' about the late unpleasantness and countin' the glasses while folks just walk past the window. I could play some jolly tunes and entice folks in!" 

 

Matilda blinked in surprise at the girl's strident rejection of what she had thought might be a most welcome proposal. Figures, the girl hated it.  Ralph rolled his eyes as she went on about it. Matilda heard her out though. She knew Arabella considered her too stern but in all honesty she felt how she caring for the child was fair. It wasn't easy that was for certain.

 

"Very well then, no piano playing at the dance. You and this passel of boys you expect can dance your shoes off. I want you to have a good time, child," Matilda did a quick verbal retreat.

 

"As for your idea, I will think on it. However, listen to me right now, the answer will no doubt depend on your deportment at this dance, young lady. You get yourself into any sort of trouble or do something to disrupt or embarrass and I will take note," she now informed the young miss.

 

 

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"Very well then, no piano playing at the dance. You and this passel of boys you expect can dance your shoes off. I want you to have a good time, child," Matilda did a quick verbal retreat.

 

“Oh, there’s gonna be plenty of boys there all right!” she beamed “Not like that stupid old ‘event’ what that Mr Wentworth put on the other day! Why he’s got a nerve – he was the only feller there: reckon he was just fixin’ himself up a hareeeem! Anyhow, this dance’ll be the best thing ever, I only wish they was doin’ dance cards, like they do in old Vienna! Say, how old is Vienna anyway? Well, anyway, they should have dance cards, but I’m just gonna make my own the next day and write down the names of all the fellers I danced with on it, and by crikey, Missis D. that’s gonna have to be one plum great big card to fit ‘em all on.”

 

As she stopped her jawin’ for a second to draw in breath, Matilda seized her chance and got a word in edgeways.

 

"As for your idea, I will think on it. However, listen to me right now, the answer will no doubt depend on your deportment at this dance, young lady. You get yourself into any sort of trouble or do something to disrupt or embarrass and I will take note," she now informed the young miss.

 

“Oh, my deportment’s going to be the best thing ever, Mrs Deverereau, just you wait and see. I’m gonna be deporting all over the place, and no man’ll be safe. Why, Cookie said that she’d even hold the stall so I can have a dance with Mr. Flandry there, ain’t that kindly of her? How ‘bout you Ms Devereau, are you goin’ to be deportin’ at this here shindig, or is that sort of caper kinda passed you by now?” she asked with no small measure of curiosity.

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So now Arabella was going on and on about dance cards. Oh, Matilda was familiar enough with those things but she highly doubted they would be used for this barn dance. Lot of bother really, in her opinion, just dance with who you wished to without all the writing. But she let the child prattle on, if it made her happy no harm done.

 

Matilda was able to fit in, just barely, her warning about how she expected Arabella would behave herself at this affair. For all the good it might do.

 

"Oh, my deportment’s going to be the best thing ever, Mrs Deverereau, just you wait and see. I’m gonna be deporting all over the place, and no man’ll be safe. Why, Cookie said that she’d even hold the stall so I can have a dance with Mr. Flandry there, ain’t that kindly of her? How ‘bout you Ms Devereau, are you goin’ to be deportin’ at this here shindig, or is that sort of caper kinda passed you by now?”  

 

Ralph sighed on hearing his name mentioned and the reason why. He wasn't much of a dancer but he had a soft spot for the girl and would no doubt agree to it, reluctantly.

 

"Deportment means behaving yourself, Arabella, not dancing. I always behave myself and no, dancing has not passed me by.  I expect to be dancing - in fact, I expect the commanding officer of that army at the fort will be asking me for a dance or two," Matilda said rather proudly.

 

 

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"Deportment means behaving yourself, Arabella, not dancing.

 

"Oh, I knew that." lied Arabella.

 

"I always behave myself and no, dancing has not passed me by.  I expect to be dancing - in fact, I expect the commanding officer of that army at the fort will be asking me for a dance or two," Matilda said rather proudly.

 

“The COLONEL?!!” Arabella gasped. She looked wide eyed and open mouthed at Ralph and then back at her diminutive boss. She had never quite understood why Mr Flandry and Ms Matilda weren’t together. Not married, necessarily, she knew vaguely that Matilda had had an unhappy previous marriage that had ended badly (very badly for her husband) so she wasn’t surprised they weren’t hitched. But they were both attractive, alone, in the same building all the time… At first she had assumed that they were illicit lovers and listened carefully every night for a tell-tale creak on the hallway floorboards outside their rooms. But no. Nothing. She had finally accepted that there was no romance between them.

 

EXCEPT!... what if the sight of Ms Devereau waltzing in the arms of the gallant Colonel raised some hidden spark of jealousy or desire in Mr Flandry’s inert and wasted heart? Oh, that would be just bonny!

 

“Oh the Colonel is so handsome and dashing, that’s wonderful! I am so jealous. I seen him one time at the telegraph office and he was just the most attractive looking man and had such beautiful golden blond hair and flashing blue eyes and such a grand military bearing.” she cooed, ostensibly at Matilda, but reciting this litany of praise mainly for Ralph’s benefit.

 

“Won’t Missis D. look wonderful being held in the Colonel’s big strong arms, Mr. Flandry?” she asked pointedly.

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"Yes, the very same colonel. I met him at the fort when I went there to extend an invitation to some of the officers to attend the dance. We chatted and he said he would ask me for a dance or two," Matilda filled the girl in with the basics.

 

“Won’t Missis D. look wonderful being held in the Colonel’s big strong arms, Mr. Flandry?” Arabella asked pointedly.

 

"I'm sure she will. But then I never seen her look out of sorts. Tildy knows how to carry herself," Ralph answered the girl but the last part was addressed more to his longtime partner. No, they never did succumb to any sort of romance, from the beginning til now it was all about the business. They both preferred it that way.

 

"Thank you, Ralph, I knew I hired you for your sharp eyesight," Matilda quipped then turned to the girl.

 

"And you, we all have jobs to do, you should go about your duties I believe>"

 

ooc: Good place to wrap it up?

 

 

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OOC: I was going to have the Mexican Bandits come in on their horses at this point and shoot up the place, but OK, it's a wrap. 

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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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