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Some Things are Never Easy


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Sarah had just taken her seat at the back when Leah was introduced.  The buggy ride from Lost Lake had a lot longer than she had expected.  For safety reasons, she had two hands accompany her and they were now probably over at the saloon enjoying themselves, which was more than she could say for herself.  Having already met some of the ladies who were seated at the front, she wasn't exactly in a rush to socialise with them.   The only reason she had come was to get more information about this project and to relay it back to the others at the ranch.  There was another reason that she wanted to come today but that would have to wait for later.

 

As she listened to Leah, she felt sorry in a way for the battle she was facing.  Knowing the full story of what went on between her family and the Steelgraves, Sarah was in two minds about the subject.  Part of her wanted to support her family and part of didn't want to make any judgements without getting to know the story from the other side, which would be difficult under the circumstances.

 

At the end of the speech, Sarah could see Leah waiting for a response.  There was one question that she felt needed to be asked.  Ventures like this back in San Francisco usually had some sort of board or committee running them and she was yet to hear anything about this.  All she knew was that Leah and the two doctors were the principle project stakeholders.

 

Not knowing how her question would be taken, Sarah took a deep breath and stood up.  "Excuse me Miss Steelgrave, you said the Steelgrave name would not be any part of this project.  Am I right in assuming that you will be handing over all control to an elected board or committee and stepping aside if your plan is approved by the town council?"

 

@Flip

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"Right fine idea, I say."

 

Arabella nodded in agreement with Addy. She was very taken with the young woman who had given the speech, and sighed a little. If only girls were allowed to fall in love and marry other women, she’d have picked the beautiful, intelligent and poised Miss Steelgrave. She felt a little dizzy and lightheaded: must be the heat in here, she reasoned, and took another sip of cooling punch.

 

The old crone at her side however, fidgeted and grumbled all the way through the short talk, and looked about to say something when another lady stood up. She had come in at the last minute and looked a little to well turned out and well to do to really be a part of the motley Front Row bunch.

 

Not knowing how her question would be taken, Sarah took a deep breath and stood up.  "Excuse me Miss Steelgrave, you said the Steelgrave name would not be any part of this project.  Am I right in assuming that you will be handing over all control to an elected board or committee and stepping aside if your plan is approved by the town council?"

 

Nellie Miggins, feeling gazumped, jumped to her feet, too, and hollered “Yeah, what she said! Mrs Carlton-Thornton-Whatever. And also, who’s payin’ fer the upkeep of this here hospital shebang? The poor taxpayer? Or is one of them deals where you pay through the nose and poor folks can’t afford it? A hospital for the rich folks! The Steelgraves and Carlton-Thornton-Whatevers of the world! Answer me that Miss Leah Fancypants Steelgrave!”

 

At this, an enraged Arabella jumped up and heard herself yelling at Granny Miggins. “You sit down and shut up you nasty old witch! Miss Steelgrave’s beautiful and clever and she knows what’s best for this town! What I want to know is, where did she buy that beautiful frock, it just suits her to a tee!” she gushed, turning an admiring gaze onto the slim young woman.

 

At this altercation others started to stand up and shout questions too, and yet others told them to sit down and shut up. The secretary of the meeting banged the gavel on the table, shouting “Order ladies order!” but then the chairwoman cried “Hey you! That’s MY gavel, give it here!” and there was an undignified tussle at the top table for possession of the little wooden hammer.

 

Somehow order was restored, leaving Leah to answer the now slightly confusing mess of questions about the running of the Hospital Board, arrangements for initial and on-going finance of the project, and, er, where did she buy that beautiful dress from.

 

@Flip

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First there was agreement from Addy Chapple, "Right fine idea, I say." Leah nodded with a smile.

 

Not knowing how her question would be taken, Sarah took a deep breath and stood up.  "Excuse me Miss Steelgrave, you said the Steelgrave name would not be any part of this project.  Am I right in assuming that you will be handing over all control to an elected board or committee and stepping aside if your plan is approved by the town council?"

 

But before she could respond, Nellie Miggens in her ridiculous attire, jumped to her feet, too, and hollered “Yeah, what she said! Mrs Carlton-Thornton-Whatever. And also, who’s payin’ fer the upkeep of this here hospital shebang? The poor taxpayer? Or is one of them deals where you pay through the nose and poor folks can’t afford it? A hospital for the rich folks! The Steelgraves and Carlton-Thornton-Whatevers of the world! Answer me that Miss Leah Fancypants Steelgrave!”

 

But before a somewhat stunned Leah Steelgrave could respond, Arabella Mudd was on her feet yelling at Granny Miggins. “You sit down and shut up you nasty old witch! Miss Steelgrave’s beautiful and clever and she knows what’s best for this town!” Whatever else she was saying was lost in a barrage of questions from some of the other ladies present, if they were even lady-like at this point. She started to speak when the secretary of the meeting banged the gavel on the table, shouting “Order ladies order!” but then the chairwoman cried “Hey you! That’s MY gavel, give it here!” and there was an undignified tussle at the top table for possession of the little wooden hammer.  

 

Leah stood the model of composure, now waiting on order, and determined to wait as long as it took for that to happen. Within minutes of the gavel banging, and the ensuring tussle over it’s ownership rights, the room fell quiet.

 

“Yes Ma’am, to answer your questions, there is already plans for such a committee, however, we are still waiting on the Town Council to find time to convene on this matter, which seems to be of little importance to them.” She responded pleasantly.

 

“At the present time there are no plans for any of us to step aside as a concession to the Town Council, or anyone for that matter. You’ll forgive me madam, what I said was, that the Steelgrave name will not be any part of this project. Doctor’s Danforth, Boone and I, plan to see this project through to completion.”

 

“There are adequate grant funds already held in trust in Helena. Those funds will see the construction of the building, as well as the equipment that will be required and, is gathering interest as it has since the winter. What remains will be used to maintain the building and it’s equipment over the next several years.  But of course, with the continual delay from the Town Council on this simple matter, they are delaying the project unnecessarily, as for the taxation question, at some point I would think that yes, if it is publicly owned, then the public would need to support the hospital.” Her eyes narrowed. "At the moment it is privately owned, and will remain so for the foreseeable future." Looking up from his pad, Phinn smiled.


“The indigent will be cared for, regardless of their ability to pay.”  Then, "Miss Mudd, I do not pretend to know what is best for anything, much less this town.
@JulieS@Bongo@Javia

 

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Oh, no, no, no!

 

Addy was not the sort particularly to meddle, but there were times when lines were crossed, and since no one else seemed to be doing anything about it, Addy took it upon herself.  Besides, the girl was sitting right beside her.

 

Grasping Arabella firmly by the wrist, Addy stood and started for the aisle, glancing at Leah.  "Miz Steelgrave, ladies..."  She gave a nod as she towed the hapless girl out of the room, through the lobby and out the back door, where she finally released her.

 

"Now you lissen here, Missy, an' lissen good!"  Oh, Addy was riled.  "It don't matter who ya are, nor how ya think on anyone, ya treat yer elders with respect, even if ya don't agree with them!"

 

And chances were good that the child was merely a guest, she was far too young to be a member, and that made her infringement all the worse!

 

"Yer invited here ta give yer recitin' of yer poem, but that don't give ya right ta say nothin' ta th' members, much th' less tell Miz Miggins ta shut up.  She has her opinions an' ideas, an' their proper ones, an' bringin' up Miz Leah's attire has no place...she's tryin' ta do a good thing fer this town, an' you go an' embarrass her, gettin' folks ta think about her pretty dress an' not what's important!"

 

So many words for the simple jeru to be spewing!  "If ya plan on gettin' anywhere in this here town, nor with th' folks, yer gonna hafta learn ta rein in yer tongue an' know when ta hold it altogether!  Now, missy, we best get back so ya can get ta yer recitin'.  An' no snifflin', ya brung this on yerself!  Hold yer head high an' do a right good job with that poem...'bout a man fightin' a monkey."

 

Certainly, Addy considered, she would be remiss to miss that!

 

@Javia

(Did a bit of god-modding, I can edit if you'd like)

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Grasping Arabella firmly by the wrist, Addy stood and started for the aisle, glancing at Leah.  "Miz Steelgrave, ladies..."  She gave a nod as she towed the hapless girl out of the room, through the lobby and out the back door, where she finally released her. 

 

Arabella gave a scream of alarm as the strong grip of Addy seized her skinny wrist, and another as she started to drag her out, much to the delight of Granny Miggins who shouted after them “Yeah, take her out and give her a good spankin’! Better still, do it here in front of everybody!”

 

As the two of them passed Phinias McVey, Arabella held out a hand and yelled “Mr McVey, put in your… ouch! … newspaper about how Miss Steelgrave’s supporters was forcibly ejaculated from the room!” Outside, Addy let her go, and Arabella rubbed her wrist sullenly.

 

"Now you lissen here, Missy, an' lissen good!"  Oh, Addy was riled.  "It don't matter who ya are, nor how ya think on anyone, ya treat yer elders with respect, even if ya don't agree with them!" 

 

“Ow, you’re not the boss of me and you hurt my wrist, an I’m gonna tell on you!” she yelped back, flinching occasionally, wary that the wagoneer might grab her again. “An’ everybody says Granny Miggins is a nasty old witch, not just me!”

 

"Yer invited here ta give yer recitin' of yer poem, but that don't give ya right ta say nothin' ta th' members, much th' less tell Miz Miggins ta shut up.  She has her opinions an' ideas, an' their proper ones, an' bringin' up Miz Leah's attire has no place...she's tryin' ta do a good thing fer this town, an' you go an' embarrass her, gettin' folks ta think about her pretty dress an' not what's important!"

 

“Well, she does have nice dresses, and that is important for a lady … just cause you like wearin’ men’s clothes. I thought she looked pretty and why shouldn’t I say so?!” Arabella was starting to sob with anger and shame at the way she’d ben dragged out of there, much to the amusement of all the onlookers.

 

"If ya plan on gettin' anywhere in this here town, nor with th' folks, yer gonna hafta learn ta rein in yer tongue an' know when ta hold it altogether!  Now, missy, we best get back so ya can get ta yer recitin'.  An' no snifflin', ya brung this on yerself!  Hold yer head high an' do a right good job with that poem...'bout a man fightin' a monkey."

 

“Oh! I don’t care about that stupid old poem anymore!" Arabella screamed "I ain’t going back in there after you made a fool of me!” cried Arabella, literally stamping her foot on the ground, big tears virtually squirting out of her eyes now. “I’m goin’ back to the saloon, an’ I’m gonna tell ‘em all about how you hurted me an’ broke my wrist and … and … everything!” she bawled and dodging out of the way of any attempt to arrest her motion, darted back through the hotel and out onto the street.

 

Meanwhile, the delighted Nellie Miggins had noticed the forlorn, painfully spelled out poem, sitting on Arabella’s vacated seat, and with much glee carefully torn it up into little scraps of paper. “He, he, he, that little saloon slut won’t be needing that anymore, I reckon.” She cackled to herself.

 

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"Weren't me that made a fool of ya," Addy muttered as she watched the child stomp away.  She certainly hadn't intended to ruin the girl's recital, but then, that was also on Arabella...Addy had encouraged her to go back and do her act, but she'd stormed off instead...and she was going to have to learn to take on some responsibilities one day.  In the mean time, of course Addy wasn't worried about the threats...they were just frustrated rants.

 

Sighing, Addy shook her head and went back to the meeting, this time taking a seat at the back of the room.

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Matt was at the reception desk when he saw Addy hauling Arabella outside.  He had heard all of the hullabaloo coming from the room where the ladies were having their meeting but it had died down as quickly as it had started.  Deciding that there was no need to go in but a need to be around just in case, he watched Addy and Arabella out on the front porch of the hotel.

 

After a few minutes, Arabella came huffing back in and Addy not following long after.  Addy seemed to be the more calmer of the two.  With all that had just transpired, maybe it was best to watch proceedings after all.

 

Standing at the entrance of the room he acknowledged the others standing there before scanning the room.  He could see that Addy had taken a seat in the back not too far from Sarah, who had arrived late.  A smile formed on his face as he watched her briefly and then he continued on his appraisal of the room.  Leah was at the front answering questions, and doing the best she could despite the circumstances of a partially hostile crowd.

 

@Flip @Javia @Bongo

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“Ladies! Ladies please!” Leah shouted. “I would expect this from the bar room crowd, but not the ladies of Kalispell. Do you even know what you’re haranguing one another about? Is it someone’s idea that a hospital is as bad a thing as the cribs on the back streets of this town?” He eyes were ablaze. “I came her today to share a dream with you, a dream that is nearly a reality!


“The men worry that taxes will be necessary for this structure when nothing could be further from the truth. The men worry that a hospital will need to be subsidized by their profits, again ladies, fallacy! In time when the demands n the hospital will be much greater, because the population will be much larger, then, there may be cause for the concern of the profit minded.”


“I have with me a rendering of what the hospital will look like. Only a drawing but a vision of what will stand in this town, IF, if it is built. If you and your families have it available for your use when you need it. And let me tell you this, the right of ways for the coming railroad, are you aware of how those would have been paid for? By the railroad, yes, and who would have gained? Why whoever owned the land required.”


“Do the men of this town understand what having the only hospital in this part of Montana will mean to the community of Kalispell, or, are they worried their names will not appear as those who created it, whenever they decide to do it? Now, please ladies, have a look and feel free to ask more questions, should you have any.”

image.jpeg.9364ebae22cef489f33d9950ba988dee.jpeg

@Bongo@JulieS@Javia@Any

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[Sorry, this turned into a novella - scroll to the bottom for the short version!]

 

“I have with me a rendering of what the hospital will look like. Only a drawing but a vision of what will stand in this town, IF, if it is built. If you and your families have it available for your use when you need it. And let me tell you this, the right of ways for the coming railroad, are you aware of how those would have been paid for? By the railroad, yes, and who would have gained? Why whoever owned the land required.”

 

Things were getting tumultuous again. Some did ask try and ask reasonable questions, but were drowned out the more numerous raucous element, like Nellie Miggins, who were just seizing upon anything the slim young brunette said they could bend to conjure up anti Steelgrave, or more pertinently, anti-Leah sentiment.

 

“Did ya hear that? Comparing us to Saloon Folk, like that piece of Southern white-trash that Adelaide Chappell just had to drag out of here?!” Miggins yelled. At other times she pretended to completely misunderstand what the philanthropist had said or proposed, even making out that she had said the opposite.

 

 “Do the men of this town understand what having the only hospital in this part of Montana will mean to the community of Kalispell, or, are they worried their names will not appear as those who created it, whenever they decide to do it? Now, please ladies, have a look and feel free to ask more questions, should you have any.”

 

“Our menfolk don’t want to see their name on this tax-draining hospital!” screeched the harpy Miggins, “We’re all just sick of seeing and hearing the Steelgrave name! ‘Sides, everyone knows that Hospitals are centers of filth and disease! You want a LEPER COLONY in the middle of town?!” she challenged them.

 

Had she been born a man, she would have made a great politician.

 

However, amongst this tumult, a conscience was awakening that through lack of opportunity of use, had lain dormant for seventeen years – waiting, like the caterpillar in its chrysalis, to emerge in all its butterfly beauty. As the torn-up paper scraps of Arabella’s poem fell onto the floor, one wafted onto a dainty boot tip in the row behind, a girl stooped in her seat and picked it up. On the paper there appeared some badly, painfully transcribed pencilled letters that made out but one single, surviving word.

 

Miss Orr rose from the second row of the Extraordinary Meeting of the Kalispell Ladies’ Society of the 27th April 1876, and walked … no … Miss Orr never walked, she glided to the front of the room where Miss Leah Steelgrave stood imploring the bacchanalian mob of finely attired, but savage minded women.

 

She turned, scared but resolute, and faced the mob at Leah's side.

 

“I am sad…” she faltered, but glancing at the brave Miss Steelgrave, and feeding from her strength, tried again louder. “I AM SAD!!!!” she yelled, which seemed to at least gain her some attention, but for how long?

 

“I am sad to have come here, not yet eighteen years of age, to learn how ladies of breeding and intelligence comport themselves in the furtherance of charity, the improvement of our community, and the ideals of Christianity!” she bellowed at them.

 

“Instead…” she snatched up the empty glass of punch and took a sniff, pulling a disgusted face “… I find drunkenness! Hate! And Party!” by which she meant, of course, local politicking. The drunkenness part got a few of the women examining their own half empty glasses.

 

“I find the voice of hopeful, optimistic youth silenced!” she declared in heartfelt tones, holding up the tattered scrap of Arabella’s poem. “And the spiteful wrath of disappointed and hate-filled old age holding sway!” She looked at Granny Miggins at this juncture, and a few eyes turned to Addy Chappell in the corner, half expecting her to drag this brat out as well.

 

“Will none of you ladies, whom I know to be good and Christian souls, at least show me an example. An example of forbearance to old enemies in pursuit of charity and succour to the poor, sick and suffering, just as He did who was sent to save us all?” her big blue eyes were filling with glittering tears now. “Will not you come and at least examine Miss Leah’s plans? Will not you, Mrs Wigfall, who have already helped so many? Will not you Miss Jennings? Will not … this fair stranger, with intelligence and kindness in her eyes?”

 

This last was addressed to Sarah Thornton-Carlton, whom she did not know, but who had earlier asked an erudite and fair question.

 

@JulieS@Flip@Bongo@Any

 

Short Version: Anaesthesia Orr makes an impassioned speech encouraging everyone to at least look at Leah's plans.

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It took a lot of willpower on Sarah's part not to frown or roll her eyes at the young lady who was now standing up in front.  She had seen a lot of women like her back in San Francisco who put on indignant airs and it was something that didn't impress her.  While it was the true, that the young lady had a point, as far as Sarah was concerned there was no need to be so dramatic or be put out about what had just occurred.

 

The issue of Leah Steelgrave running a project to build a hospital and orphanage was a contentious one and there was always going to be the possibility of some sort of conflict but she hadn't expected it to be from her own innocent question.  If Leah Steelgrave was insisting that her family name wasn't going to be associated with the project then it was logical that she would have to step aside to make it more plausible and more importantly for others to believe that she was not her father's daughter.

 

“Will none of you ladies, whom I know to be good and Christian souls, at least show me an example. An example of forbearance to old enemies in pursuit of charity and succour to the poor, sick and suffering, just as He did who was sent to save us all?” her big blue eyes were filling with glittering tears now. “Will not you come and at least examine Miss Leah’s plans? Will not you, Mrs Wigfall, who have already helped so many? Will not you Miss Jennings? Will not … this fair stranger, with intelligence and kindness in her eyes?”

 

Directing her attention back to the young lady who was now addressing her, she took a deep breath, "Yes, I agree with your summation that Miss Steelgrave's plans should be looked at in great detail before a decision is made.  I am sure the town council is doing just that and I hope we all have the good sense to know that those men will endeavour to make sure that they have all the information they need to do so.  Hence my question, which unfortunately now seems to have become an opportunity for certain ladies who are currently in the audience to disrupt this meeting."

 

@Javia @Flip

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