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    • “Hotel’s over there!” she pointed in the general direction of the Belle-St. Regis before folding her arms and frowning .    "I know, I can read signs, child," Caroline smirked.   Child?! Hmph!   “You can read?” asked Arabella, sounding surprised. But the woman dodged the potgirl with all the skill of a Yale football player, and  had moved toward Mr Flandry at the bar.   Arabella gave a hard stare at all of the fellers staring at this up-town fancy girl, some of them looked like they’d about twist their own heads off, the way they were craning their necks around. Arabella waved her hands at them, teacher like, to indicate that they should get back to their drinks and cards, and followed after the interloper.   "Excuse me, mister but is the owner of this fine establishment present? I am eager to tell her the good news," she smiled confidently.   Ralph paused then replied, "She is upstairs. Good news you say, miss?"    "Oh indeed, I can't wait to meet her. Her search for an entertainer is over. I'm here! " Caroline announced.    Ralph had to break into a bit of a smile himself at this bubbly and bold young woman, "You don't say? And you would be....?"    "I am Caroline....Caroline Mundee, and if I wasn't so modest I would add 'simply the finest saloon singer west of the Mississippi.' And if you don't believe me, you will once you hear me sing."   There wasn’t much room between Caroline and the bar, but Arabella managed to somehow sidle into it and get between the hussy and poor innocent Ralph, who, not seeming to have much to do with women, in her opinion, might be taken in by this painted lady.   “Not today, thank you!” she announced brightly. “We already have an entertainer, and that’s called me!” she told Caroline, jerking a thumb at her flat chest. “Singin’, Dancin’, Piannerin’ Cartwheels and telling funny jokes. And also, I’m an orphan, so the management don’t have to pay me one red cent!” she explained. "You look kinda pricy!"   “But don’t give up.” she continued, in mock helpful tones “There’s a town called Whitefish, just down the road, I hear the saloon there is looking for some…” she looked the curvaceous bimbo up and down “… ‘ singers'.”   Then she turned and shook a warning head vigorously at Mr. Flandry, as if to say Don’t be tempted by the pleasures of the flesh my son, even if there is a good deal of it on show!   But he wasn’t even looking at Arabella, he was staring at the demi-monde, polishing the same glass, with a stupid silly grin on his bearded face the like of which she’d never seen before. Maybe this entertainer did hypnotism, too, she thought; that’d explain it.  
    • "No judgin' our stories," Addy commented, "we all got our different experiences, an' reckon livin' in a saloon was...eclectic...lots'a interestin' characters, I reckon, give ya a chance ta learn different ideas."  She shrugged, chuckling.  "Most folks just hunker down in their house, go ta th' same church with th' same people, see th' same folks in town, then when they step out, it's a surprise ta them."    So many people, in her experience, never ventured more than a few miles beyond their home, not sought out experiences or people outside of their small circle.  But even if Miz Caroline hadn't been much past her saloon, the people coming and going likely provided a good array of experiences.    "I'd not be able ta sleep with all th' noise, though," she added, "one thing listenin' ta horses munchin' an' stompin' now an' then, but shoutin' an' chairs movin' an' boots stompin'...that'd keep me awake all night!"   @Wayfarer
    • [Clara and Jacob, under the Moon]   "Roughing It? I will remember that if ever I should spot it someplace," Clara declared. Then at his mention of her employer she had an idea.    Jacob shrugged. “Well, we might have very different tastes, but I don’t think you know if you’ll like something unless you try it one time.” He was presumably talking about literature.   "Say, I will ask her if she would mind if you borrow a few of her books, that is if you interested. I am quite confident she would not refuse, she is most generous that way. Just make sure you are responsible enough to return them once you have finished them."   The rustic lad shook his head almost dolefully. “No need to worry there, I do hate to borrow anything.” He revealed. “Be it as small as a tack, it sort of weighs heavy on my soul until it’s returned to its rightful owner. It’s like old adage: ‘Never a lender nor borrower be’. I’ll never be a debtor if I can help it, that’s one good thing.” The very idea of being in debt seemed to revolt his very soul. “New books to read are the one exception, that’s the one forbidden fruit that I’m tempted enough to borrow.”   His early listing of activities sounded very much like some typical boy, Wyatt would approve of any of them. Well, until he got to the part about being enthralled by staring up into the stars.  And he expressed it quite elegantly too.   "Well said, Jacob," she sincerely complimented him.    He shook his head a little in surprise at the compliment. When you talked about something as beautiful as the night sky, or the majestic scenery of Northern Montana, or a girl like Clara Redmond, well, it was hard not to wax poetical.   "So, Jacob Lutz, a poet? You are quite the unique young fellow I must say. Although it does seem rather a waste of time and effort if you simply destroy them rather than share with a reader. Perhaps they are quite good, people might just enjoy them?"   He frowned a little at that idea. “I doubt that. And I certainly wouldn't enjoy anyone reading them. It’d be like …” he searched for a suitable embarrassing simile “… being stripped naked and paraded down Main Street!” He smiled at that. “No, I think the hogs enjoy them more than any potential reader of the things, anyway.”   "Well, we do not have hogs although Father has expressed an interest someday in purchasing a few. And no, I have never attempted to write poetry. I do not think I would be very good at it anyhow. Although...."she paused then continued, "I would someday like to read at least one of yours. Perhaps you might wrote a poem about me? I would be honored of course."   “What makes you think that I haven’t already?” he grinned sheepishly, before adding “I didn’t feed those ones to the hogs. I can assure you. Mind you, though, they’re pretty well hid!”   He quickly moved on from the subject, feeling a little exposed.   “And how about you, Clara?  I know that you like to read, too. But, well, if you had a whole day off of work, how would you spend it?” he asked by way of enquiry about her pastimes.   @Wayfarer
    • Caroline took in the place, noting the long bar with a not to be scoffed at selection of bottled liquors displayed on the shelves behind it then the dozen or so tables scattered about.  Ahh yes, and even more crucial at least regarding her future employment, there was a piano in the far corner and a small stage too. Perfect! She liked it already.   Now there were a few customers within. At one table two old men were playing cards, half drained beer glasses keeping them company as they studied their cards. Another man, a cowpoke, leaned up against the bar, conversing with a bearded bartender. Could that be Mr.....Mr...Flandry, yes she was pretty sure that was the name. As for the woman owner, no woman was currently in sight.   Not quite true, there was a girl now eying her, she had paused in scrubbing the floor. At least the business tried to keep their place cleaner than some joints she had been in.  The young missie did not look pleased for some reason.   “Hotel’s over there!” she pointed in the general direction of the Belle-St. Regis before folding her arms and frowning .   "I know, I can read signs, child," Caroline smirked.   She then turned to address the bartender who by then was aware of her presence as apparently were all the men in the place. She was used to be gawked it, didn't bother her none.   "Excuse me, mister but is the owner of this fine establishment present? I am eager to tell her the good news," she smiled confidently.     Ralph paused then replied, "She is upstairs. Good news you say, miss?"   "Oh indeed, I can't wait to meet her. Her search for an entertainer is over. I'm here! " Caroline announced.   Ralph had to break into a bit of a smile himself at this bubbly and bold young woman, "You don't say? And you would be....?"   "I am Caroline....Caroline Mundee, and if I wasn't so modest I would add 'simply the finest saloon singer west of the Mississippi.' And if you don't believe me, you will once you hear me sing."  
    • [Clara and Jacob, under the Moon]   The boy certainly seemed quite sincere and enthusiastic about books and reading. Clara was impressed. It also proved something. City folk sometimes seemed to think farm people were ignorant rustics and she never liked that attitude.   "Roughing It? I will remember that if ever I should spot it someplace," Clara declared. Then at his mention of her employer she had an idea.   "Say, I will ask her if she would mind if you borrow a few of her books, that is if you interested. I am quite confident she would not refuse, she is most generous that way. Just make sure you are responsible enough to return them once you have finished them."   Clara of course had been diligent and punctual about a quick turnaround when she borrowed volumes from the kindly woman.   She then inquired about the sort of things he did for what bits of leisure time he might have between farm work, fun activities as it were. Yes, even she had occasions where she indulged in a bit of fun. Life did not have to be all work.   His early listing of activities sounded very much like some typical boy, Wyatt would approve of any of them. Well, until he got to the part about being enthralled by staring up into the stars.  And he expressed it quite elegantly too.   "Well said, Jacob," she sincerely complimented him.   But then he added a revelation she would never have guessed. Poetry. He wrote poetry?! At first it sounded hard to believe but on second thought what with all his love of books and his suprisingly impressive way of speaking, it did make sense.   "So, Jacob Lutz, a poet? You are quite the unique young fellow I must say. Although it does seem rather a waste of time and effort if you simply destroy them rather than share with a reader. Perhaps they are quite good, people might just enjoy them?"   The reality was, in fact she had declared such to Miss Emeline when they discussed books and yes, poetry, that she personally did not like poetry. It seemed foolish and held no interest for her. Still, she was not about to admit that to Jacob. In this particular case just MAYBE, she might peruse his work and approve.  Now her own favorite pastime, though granted she seldom got to do it, now seemed much more mundane. She liked to swim in the small lake just off their farm property. Nothing was more refreshing after a stretch of hard labor on a hot summer day.   "Well, we do not have hogs although Father has expressed an interest someday in purchasing a few. And no, I have never attempted to write poetry. I do not think I would be very good at it anyhow. Although...."she paused then continued, "I would someday like to read at least one of yours. Perhaps you might wrote a poem about me? I would be honored of course."        

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[Bridget, Benjamin, and Arabella]

 

Benjamin glanced at the new speaker, "Oh, are you her sister?"  

 

They certainly did not look like sisters but then that did not play out in many families. But he was still curious about poor Bridget's family, one that lived in a home with coffins.

 

“Ha!” laughed Arabella and literally slapped her thigh. Seriously, who does that?!

 

"Come on Cap, be a sport – there’s a feller here I’m all besotted over, and I wanna make him jealous. Seein’ me being thrown around the hall by a big ol’ handsome brute like you ought to do the trick!” the girl reasoned. If this wasn’t enough of an enticement, she informed him that “An’ ‘sides, I’m well known to be the best dancer in all unoccupied Virginia, ain’t I Bridg’?”

 

"Well, does this so called 'feller' have a strong temper for I would not like to be a participant in some sort of disturbance?" he cautioned but with a smile, "Jealousy can be a strong emotion you know, miss."

 

“Huh, you should worry?! Look at them muscles!” she squeaked, reaching up and patting Barlow on his biceps “I wouldn’t wanna be the Injun as has come up against you in fight, no sirree! Nah, it’s fine, he hates me; no, scratch that he don’t even know I exist; well, he does know I exist, but he probably thinks I’m too young fer him, even though I’m nearly sixteen!” the underdeveloped girl, who had just celebrated her 15th birthday, reasoned it out loud.

 

“If you dance with me, he’ll look over and say, ‘who’s that old feller dancing with my Arabella’ … that’s my name, by the way, Arabella Sumpter Mudd, at your service an’ pleased to meet you, an’ don’t worry about that Sumpter bit, and the fact that I hail from the Old Dominion, because I’m all fer the Union, have been fer five years, since my Mama went on.” She had gone off on a bit of a tangent, but it was no matter as what she had been going to say, about her plan to make Mike Wentworth fall madly in love with her, had been a load of unintelligible rubbish anyway.

 

“So, I’m all yours, Cap!” she finished, holding out her arms.

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[Clara and Jacob]

 

"I’ll try and put a damper on the compliments” he laughed “But when a feller’s dancing with the prettiest and most admirable woman in the room, it’s hard not to let a couple of them slip out, at least.”

 

Clara probably would have laughed at his relentless attempt to please except laughing was not something which came easily to the young lady.

 

He shrugged a little, “Well now, everyone I know speaks so highly of  your manners and your accomplishments, and if I ever met anybody who didn’t, well, I wouldn’t want to know them anyway!”

 

"Goodness, they do?" Such was news to her, though Clara had to wonder who he knew that also knew her.

 

She decided to make a request, "Say, when the dance is finished would you like to talk? Nothing special just a nice conversation?"

 

"That’d be wonderful! If you can bear to talk to a feller that doesn’t know much about anything except raising crops and hunting.” He accepted with self-depreciating alacrity. “The only thing I know about besides that is the bible and a little astronomy.”

 

"Well, I am a farm girl myself, we can talk crops and other farm topics," she jumped at one of those topics they had in common it seemed. Alright, and the Bible. But Clara well knew various denominations had various bibles which produced various interpretations and so forth. Best not go down that well.

 

"You can tell me about astronomy. I know what it is but that is the extent of it," she honestly admitted.

 

“Did you notice the way the Moon is outside this evening?” the boy asked.

 

"No I have not. I had to show up early to help my employer set up the bakery table and the moon had not been up then. Perhaps you can enlighten me?" Clara was more than willing to hear him out.

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The old lady was really something else. Jay had literally never met a woman, who was this fearless, ruthless and admirable, as stupid as that might sound. She had really figured out a lot of facts that the authorities had missed. No one had suspected any connection of all this to him yet. And here she was. This old woman.

 

She even put her gun down and put herself at Jays mercy. But, as said, she had him figured out perfectly. Jay was no killer and she was counting on him not pulling the trigger.

Pushing the door close with his left boot, he also lowered his gun a little and huffed.

"You've got some nerve, woman!"

Of course he was desperate. Now would be a perfect time to finally work up the guts and shoot someone. She was old anyway. Maybe noone would miss her and Jay could go on living a pleasant life with Addy. There was only one  problem. He wouldn't ba able to look her in the face anymore if he killed that old lady in cold blood and put her under the floor boards.

"I never killed anyone in cold blood and I will not start today. I didn't even shoot back at you, when you put a bullet in my skin. You should be ashamed. You're the only one, who commited a crime. I barely took some food. And I didn't set fire to anything. Nor did I shoot anyone in a bank."

 

Then she threated him with the sheriff, so Jay got uncomfortably close to her, looking down on her.

"What do you want from me, if you didn't already alert the sheriff?"

 

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[Arabella, Benjamin]

 

"Huh, you should worry?! Look at them muscles!” she squeaked, reaching up and patting Barlow on his biceps “I wouldn’t wanna be the Injun as has come up against you in fight, no sirree! Nah, it’s fine, he hates me; no, scratch that he don’t even know I exist; well, he does know I exist, but he probably thinks I’m too young fer him, even though I’m nearly sixteen!”

 

"Well, I try not to brawl with anybody, most especially Indians. So you're sixteen?" Benjamin was a bit skeptical about that last part but then he wasn't either all that familiar with teenage girls or children of any age for that matter.

 

But the girl jabbered right on, " If you dance with me, he’ll look over and say, ‘who’s that old feller dancing with my Arabella’ … that’s my name, by the way, Arabella Sumpter Mudd, at your service an’ pleased to meet you, an’ don’t worry about that Sumpter bit, and the fact that I hail from the Old Dominion, because I’m all fer the Union, have been fer five years, since my Mama went on.”

 

Old fella. Well, that was blunt of her and a bit offensive too but he had to remind himself this was still a child.

 

"I see....good to know. I'm sure our Union is stronger for your support too," he waxed sarcastically.

 

"So, I’m all yours, Cap!” she finished, holding out her arms.

 

Bracing himself for he may possibly be getting himself into he decided she was - in the end - a harmless young thing and it would be just ONE dance.

 

"Very well then, I think I can force this old carcass of mine thru one more dance before retiring to my rocking chair for the evening," he nodded then took her out onto the dance floor where the music was already playing and people had begun to dance. It was a simple enough matter for them to blend right in.

 

 

 

 

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 [Clara and Jacob]

 

"Goodness, they do?" Such was news to her, though Clara had to wonder who he knew that also knew her.

 

Jacob nodded, Arabella especially came to mind. “The Reb never talks about anything else: ‘Clara says this’, and ‘Clara does that’. Why I’m surprised she hasn’t asked you for a dance herself.” He smiled at the thought. Sure, girls did sometimes have to dance together, but only if there was a dearth of men.

 

Funny.  When he'd told his sister all about ... well, all about Clara, the girl in the pie shop who never seemed to notice him, and Arabella, the girl at the saloon who always wanted to tease him, she had said 'Sounds like your chatterbox friend has a little crush on the pie shop girl, sometimes girls that age develop those on older girls." Well, that had made him laugh and laugh, he'd never heard of such a ridiculous notion in all of his born days. 

 

And when he'd repeated it to Arabella herself, while delivering farm produce to the Saloon kitchen, she'd turned as red as a beet and chased him around the kitchen with a broom, which had made him laugh all the more. Boy, girls sure were strange, lovely critters. 

 

She decided to make a request, "Say, when the dance is finished would you like to talk? Nothing special just a nice conversation?"

 

Somehow, the conversation turned to a subject that Jacob was more than passing interested in: heavenly bodies.

 

“Did you notice the way the Moon is outside this evening?” the boy asked.

 

"No I have not. I had to show up early to help my employer set up the bakery table and the moon had not been up then. Perhaps you can enlighten me?" Clara was more than willing to hear him out.

 

“Oh, well, I can show you, if you like, that’s even more enlightening! It’s what’s called ‘The Old Moon in the New Moon’s Arms’.” he offered, trying to look and sound like an old sage who wanted to instruct a promising scholar, rather than a young man who just wanted to get a beautiful girl out and under the Moon.

 

In case that sounded like too alarming an offer to the upright young lady, he added an unappetizing rider: “Of course, we could take The Rebel along with us, if you think that a chaperone would be in order.” He said, pulling a face that he hoped would convey all the verisimilitude of his being passionately concerned about her good name. He was concerned, of course, but other, quite natural, passions were perhaps more to the fore.

 

@Wayfarer

 

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[Arabella, Benjamin]

 

"Well, I try not to brawl with anybody, most especially Indians. So you're sixteen?" Benjamin was a bit skeptical about that last part but then he wasn't either all that familiar with teenage girls or children of any age for that matter.

 

“Sure! I’m just a late developer.” Arabella assured him. True, she was growing fast, now she was getting regular meals – she had the marks on the doorframe in the saloon kitchen to prove it. Unfortunately, she wasn’t filling out at the same rate, and was getting more like a bean pole than a woman everyday. She fretted about it, but Cookie just laughed and said “Child, when you’re big and old and fat like me, you’ll give your eye teeth to be like a beanpole agin!”

 

But the girl jabbered right on, " If you dance with me, he’ll look over and say, ‘who’s that old feller dancing with my Arabella’ … that’s my name, by the way, Arabella Sumpter Mudd, at your service an’ pleased to meet you, an’ don’t worry about that Sumpter bit, and the fact that I hail from the Old Dominion, because I’m all fer the Union, have been fer five years, since my Mama went on.”

“I see....good to know. I'm sure our Union is stronger for your support too," he waxed sarcastically.

 

“Oh that’s all right, soldier, I always was fer the Union, see: my Daddy was a Abolitionist and worked on the railroad, but my Mama was red hot Sessesh, and seein’ as it was her as gave out the clipped ears in our house, you can be sure I kept the stars ‘n’ bars flying until she was dead and gone and ‘sleepin’ neath the willow’ as the poet will have it.” she advised him.

 

"So, I’m all yours, Cap!” she finished, holding out her arms.

 

"Very well then, I think I can force this old carcass of mine thru one more dance before retiring to my rocking chair for the evening," he nodded.

 

“That’s the spirit, pops!” she grinned, looping her arm through his and having to half walk and half skip to keep up with them as they took their places. To her delight, the caller called out a fast tempoed square dance that involved lots of spinning around and dozy does.

 

“Oh yippee, a fast un!” squealed Arabella, clapping her hands. “Now, I like it rough, so don’t hold back on throwing me all about the place, Cap’n … say, what’s yer name Mister, who’m I havin’ the pleasure with?!” she asked frowning. Here she was being dragged onto the dance-floor by this dashingly handsome Officer, and they hadn’t been properly introduced!

 

@Wayfarer

 

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[Jack 'n' Nellie]

 

"You've got some nerve, woman!"

 

“That’s right, I have!” she agreed. “Question is, have you?” she challenged him.

 

"I never killed anyone in cold blood and I will not start today. I didn't even shoot back at you, when you put a bullet in my skin. You should be ashamed. You're the only one, who committed a crime. I barely took some food. And I didn't set fire to anything. Nor did I shoot anyone in a bank."

 

“Oooh, just an innocent ‘babe in the woods’ eh?” she said in mock sympathy “Well, I’m sure an honest judge and jury would find you not guilty, but that don’t play out round these parts. Soon as folks round here found out you was ‘spected of havin’ a hand in all o’ them crimes, a lynch mob’d have you out of that jail and hanging from a sour apple tree, kickin’ a jig in the air, before you could say ‘Jack Robinson’. Yep, real fond of ‘necktie parties’, folks in these parts!” she threatened, painting a lurid picture of the Englishman’s fate if she informed on him.

 

Then she threatened him with the sheriff, so Jay got uncomfortably close to her, looking down on her.

 

"What do you want from me, if you didn't already alert the sheriff?"

 

“Well, now that’s more like it. I’m a reasonable woman. I’m prepared to forget I ever saw you that night in Whitefish, if you can give me what I want.” She said, looking knowingly at him over her spectacles.

 

“There’s something you can give me that I need, if you get my drift. It’s a service a widow woman like m’self would normally have got from her husband, you understand.” The petite grandmotherly figure confided, looking him up and down in an appraising manner.

 

“Oh, I’ll pay you fer it, don’t worry about that. But I gotta warn you, if folks find out what we been up to, they might not be too understandin’!” Nellie said “The pair of us might get lynched!”

 

@Jack

Edited by Javia (see edit history)

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If he had been thinking that the old lady was 'different', she just very undermined it with her statement. She would let him go and tell no one who he was, if he did what she was asking. The very odd part about it was what she was asking of Jay.

Husbandly services. Even at her first words his imagination ran wild but he told him that THAT couldn't be it. But then she said that the 'pair' of them would get lynched because folks around here would not understand.

 

He suddenly felt hot and cold at the same time and, if he had had a look in the mirror, was sure his reflection would be beet red.

"You are not suggesting that." He huffed, eyes wide open. It didn't escape his attention how she was giving him the once over with those lustrous old eyes, that had been deprived of the sight of a younger man for many years.

 

"I'm not sure you'd survive it, if I went to bed with you."

He flat out said, when he had wrapped his mind around the idea. But if that was what he had to do to save himself from swinging from the apple tree, so be it.

 

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Brendan and Charlie

 

So this thing the Lost Lake hands were cashing in on had to do with fighting? Brendan was intrigued, watching silently as one of the other hands alerted them to a ruckus - but not necessarily a fight. The news of this ruckus made Charlie happy, but Marty didn't let him celebrate prematurely.

 

After the other three hands had left, Charlie turned to Brendan. "While we wait I'd like to hear this long story of yours about Clara.  I get the feeling it wasn't a pleasant experience."

 

Brendan sighed. Well, it had to come out. "It weren't. Wasn't. It was pretty near my first day, and I was ridin' the property lines with..." He stopped and debated mentioning Billy and Greer, then decided it would be better at the moment to let sleeping dogs lie. "...with two of the hands, an' we came to the Redmond farm. Bil - uh...the hands told me the Redmonds were squatters."

 

If he had to tell the story, he might as will give it some flair. He leaned forward and lowered his voice dramatically. "Now me bein' new to the area and to the ranch, I didn't know 'bout the Redmonds actually ownin' the farm...an' I didn't know that Clara was...what'd you say...prickly? The hands told me she was 'right friendly,' and so nat'rully I rode down to say howdy."

 

He sipped his beer and gave Charlie a chance to react or ask questions to what he had told him so far. After all, that was what good storytellers did.

 

@JulieS

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[Clara and Jacob]

 

“The Reb never talks about anything else: ‘Clara says this’, and ‘Clara does that’. Why I’m surprised she hasn’t asked you for a dance herself.” He smiled 

 

"Oh my goodness, well I highly doubt she has any desire to do that though," Clara was truly surprised by that revelation.

 

But enough about Arabella, Clara changed the subject to wondering if he might be interested in simply chatting after the dance. And he was quite willing to do just that.  He then asked about whether she noticed the condition of the moon on this very evening and she explained she had no chance to even see it yet.

 

 

“Oh, well, I can show you, if you like, that’s even more enlightening! It’s what’s called ‘The Old Moon in the New Moon’s Arms’.”

 

In case that sounded like too alarming an offer to the upright young lady, he added an unappetizing rider: “Of course, we could take The Rebel along with us, if you think that a chaperone would be in order.”

 

"Good gracious, if we took Arabella along neither of us would get a word in edgewise. No thank you, Jacob. She means well but ...well you know her so you know what I  mean," Clara made her opinion clear.

 

"I trust you to be the perfect gentleman and besides, we will be just outside still right in town, my father will understand," Clara buttressed her argument.

 

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[The Odd Couple]

 

"You are not suggesting that." He huffed, eyes wide open. It didn't escape his attention how she was giving him the once over with those lustrous old eyes, that had been deprived of the sight of a younger man for many years.

 

Granny Miggins seemed a little surprised at Jay’s reticence, forgetting that she hadn’t really explained what she wanted him to do.

 

“Sure, what’s wrong with you? Nothing to get fidgety about. Normally I’d make use of my hired hands, but the only one I got at the moment is kinda old and past it, and I can hardly ask my Grandson to do it, he’s too young and inexperienced! I reckon you’d be all right though, just a matter of shoving a pole in a hole, after all.” She assured him.

 

"I'm not sure you'd survive it, if I went to bed with you."

 

“How DARE YOU!” Mrs Miggins exploded, shooting up form her chair “I never heard of such a disgusting suggestion in my entire life!” holding her hand to her heart.

 

“Go to bed with you?! And me nearly seventy!” (she was seventy nine, but who was counting?) “I’m outraged! You Britishers are sex mad! Last time one of you limeys tried to get jiggy with me, back in ’15, I shot him with a musket, so don’t try any of them tricks on me Mister Jay Ryker!!”

 

She had forgotten that, actually, she had already shot Jay.

 

“Go to bed indeed! What I want you to do is put up a bunch o’ this new fangled ‘barbed wire’ fencin’ fer me. Got a bunch of the stuff sent up from Helena and my Jacob can’t put it up on his own. I reckoned with your know-how, and the fact you owe me a little favor, you might help me out. Didn’t figure you’d be trying to get your hand up m’skirts at the same time, though!” she explained, still standing in a judgmental pose with crossed arms.

 

Despite her feigned outrage, she was secretly enormously flattered that Jay had, in her mind, tried to seduce her. He had gone from zero to hero in her estimation, not that she would let him know that, of course.

 

@Jack

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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[Clara and Jacob]

 

"Good gracious, if we took Arabella along neither of us would get a word in edgewise. No thank you, Jacob. She means well but ...well you know her so you know what I mean," Clara made her opinion clear.

 

Jacob nodded, he knew that only too well from his visits to the saloon (purely on business visits to the back door, of course, he was teetotal).

 

“To be honest, I never knew a body have so much to say about so little, bless her.” It was true that she was an annoying chatterbox sometimes, and not much to look at, but she was the nearest thing he had to a friend outside of his sisters, what with living on a remote homestead on the outskirts of the ranch-lands.

 

"I trust you to be the perfect gentleman and besides, we will be just outside still right in town, my father will understand," Clara buttressed her argument.

 

Jacob couldn’t help but imagine being the father of such a beautiful and poised girl: and how protective he would be of her and suspicious of any gangly pimpled youth with slikum on his hair and a undersize Sunday suit on, that came a-sniffing round his daughter. In that position, he certainly wouldn’t ‘understand’.

 

“Oh, do you think we should ask him?” asked Jacob innocently, letting Clara be the one to say no, … hopefully.

Edited by Javia (see edit history)

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[Arabella and Benjamin]

 

"Very well then, I think I can force this old carcass of mine thru one more dance before retiring to my rocking chair for the evening," Benjamin nodded.

 

“That’s the spirit, pops!” she grinned, looping her arm through his and having to half walk and half skip to keep up with them as they took their places. To her delight, the caller called out a fast tempoed square dance that involved lots of spinning around and dozy does.

 

Actually Benjamin did not mind, he had done enough lively dancing in his younger years and none of his dance partners had found him wanting.

 

“Oh yippee, a fast un!” squealed Arabella, clapping her hands. “Now, I like it rough, so don’t hold back on throwing me all about the place, Cap’n … say, what’s yer name Mister, who’m I havin’ the pleasure with?!”

 

Benjamin blinked, "You might not want to use that 'I like it rough' line with menfolk, just a word of kindly advice."

 

"Yes, my fault.  My name is Benjamin. Benjamin Barlow," he decided to forego the military rank, she already knew that anyhow. Besides he was not on duty.

 

Of course one drawback to such fast dances such as these it did make conversation much more difficult than a gentle swaying waltz. That might just be a blessing though what with this missy.

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[Clara and Jacob]

 

"To be honest, I never knew a body have so much to say about so little, bless her.”

 

Clara gave a look, a pleased look, "Well said, Jacob! You summed it up perfectly. I do like her but in small doses, I believe she has had a hard life and she means well."

 

The boy's idea to take her outside and check out this view of the moon seemed to still founder on Jacob's worry about her father might react.

 

"I trust you to be the perfect gentleman and besides, we will be just outside still right in town, my father will understand," Clara buttressed her argument.

 

“Oh, do you think we should ask him?” asked Jacob.

 

"No, I do not," Clara gave a quick survey about the barn then added, "I do not even see him right now. Probably having a beer and discussing the spring planting with a few of the other farmers. Now my father is not a drinker but on occasion does enjoy a bit of imbibing. He is entitled for he is a hard worker and a fine family man."

 

She had wanted to emphasize she and her father did have a good relationship, she was not one of those defiant willful teenagers. But to be honest the pair had never even discussed the topic of chaperones. Perhaps because she had never been out with a boy previously?  Whatever.

 

"Besides....what with all this dancing and the crowd of people I must admit I am feeling a bit ....heated. I would truly appreciate a few moments outside to cool off with some fresh air," Clara was not above making something up on the spur of the moment if it aided her cause long as there was no harm done.

 

clara-all-dressed-up.gif

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16 hours ago, Nellie Miggins said:

“Sure, what’s wrong with you? Nothing to get fidgety about. Normally I’d make use of my hired hands, but the only one I got at the moment is kinda old and past it, and I can hardly ask my Grandson to do it, he’s too young and inexperienced! I reckon you’d be all right though, just a matter of shoving a pole in a hole, after all.” She assured him.

Jay was starting to squirm under the mental pictures of the old woman sleeping with hired hands or her grandson. Who was she?

And then the innuendo about a pole in the hole. Jay already picture himself in a bed with the old woman, both naked and the whole pole in the whole things. It made him feel slightly sick. Would he be able to do that to avoid prison? He had to.

 

Until she suddenly cursed him out for thinking such foolish things and telling him that this was all about some fence.

"A fence? You mean, no sleeping with you?" He let out a breath, he didn't know he'd been holding. "Oh...a fence. I guess, I could do that."

The greatest relief washed over him because he would much rather work for a week and tear his hands open than bed the old lady, who knew his real name for some reason.

" But no other demands, right. I'll do the fence for you and you'll keep your mouth shut. ...How do you know my name?"

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Charlie and Brendan

 

Charlie shook his head and  laughed. "Well, those two hands you were with knew what they were doing.  The one thing you can't do where Miss Clara Redmond is concerned is to make assumptions.  They're libel to get you into some very hot water."

 

He took another sip of his beer before going on, "Now don't get me wrong when Clara is in a good mode, she's about the prettiest girl you're likely to meet. But that ain't often.  Take tonight for instance, she's all dressed up like a fine lady but underneath she's still the same ole Clara.  One wrong word and you're done."

 

Once again he took a sip of beer, "I like Clara in a way but she can be unpredictable as well.  Here she was all fine and dandy looking after the Thornton kids and then one day she just ups and leaves without so much as word of good-bye.  The two kids spent most of the winter asking and wondering why she left.  Thankfully, Miss Sarah was there to take over their schooling but still there were times you could see that they missed her."

 

Finishing off the beer, he sighed, "I guess it would take a lifetime to figure out Clara and that's too long.  What isn't long is the line at the bar.  Care for another?"

 

@Bailey

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[Clara and Jacob]

 

 “Oh, do you think we should ask him?” asked Jacob.

 

"No, I do not," Clara gave a quick survey about the barn then added, "I do not even see him right now. Probably having a beer and discussing the spring planting with a few of the other farmers. Now my father is not a drinker but on occasion does enjoy a bit of imbibing. He is entitled for he is a hard worker and a fine family man."

 

Actually, Jacob would have quite liked to have joined in that conversation: it was his contention that it was still far too wet to plow, and a careful choice of crops would be needed to produce an optimum yield in the present weather. But the choice between that and walking out with a girl of Clara’s beauty, no contest.

 

“There’s no need to explain” he assured her “I’m sure Mr. Redmond is a model of sobriety, and there’s nothing wrong with a social drink. I don’t happen to touch the stuff because I just don’t like the taste.” He said. He wanted her to know that he wasn’t the drunk and disorderly type. One swig of Granny’s homebrewed ‘Chill Tonic’ when he was nine had given him the cure in that direction.

 

"Besides....what with all this dancing and the crowd of people I must admit I am feeling a bit ....heated.”

 

She did look pretty hot, that was for sure. “Maybe a walk outside to view the firmament and then a stop at the drink tent for a lemonade on the way back might be nice.” He suggested, trying to make the jaunt sound as harmless as possible.

 

“I would truly appreciate a few moments outside to cool off with some fresh air," Clara was not above making something up on the spur of the moment if it aided her cause long as there was no harm done.

 

He managed to affect a pleased look which stopped short of jumping in the air, shouting ‘wooohooo!’ and springing cartwheels all around the place.

 

This was it, they were going on a stroll in the moonlight! Plain old Jacob ‘Hayseed’ Lutz and the radiant Miss Clara Redmond. It was sublime and ridiculous all at the same time and he couldn't help being scared that he would wake up any second and it would all just be a dream. 

 

“Clara, can I ask you something?” he said seriously. “I’m a little inexperienced with ladies and don’t want to overstep any bounds. Should I take your arm? Or is that too forward?”

 

@Wayfarer

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"A fence? You mean, no sleeping with you?" He let out a breath, he didn't know he'd been holding. "Oh...a fence. I guess, I could do that."

 

“Sure, it’s a fence I need; not some filthy minded hanky-panky!” Mrs Miggins declared. “Kissin’ an’ Cuddlin’ ain’t gonna keep them no good cattle off my crops now is it?!”

 

"But no other demands, right. I'll do the fence for you and you'll keep your mouth shut. ...”

 

“Deal!” answered the Grandmotherly looking figure, thrusting out her right hand, and these were the days when a gripping flesh like that meant more than a bunch of scribbled words on paper contract. “And now, Mr. Jay Ryker, we’ll drink on it!” she added, pulling a bottle of her own home brewed licker out of her apron pocket. She pulled the stopper out with her still-strong teeth an spat it on the floor before taking a long glug and shoving the bottle in Jay’s direction.

 

“How do you know my name?"

 

“Ohhh, I got a special way of finding stuff like that out…” she whispered conspiratorially, before shouting out loud “It’s called ASKING FOLK!”

 

“Now listen” she said seriously “What I said before about this bein’ dangerous, I wasn’t kidding about that. Ranchers don’t like barbed wire, they might try and stop us puttin’ it up, you savvy? And my farm borders on the outskirts of Lost Lake and Evergreen, just like the Redmond place, so I got double trouble if they want to kick up a ruckus over it. So you need to bring yer shootin’ irons with you when you come, see.”

 

@Jack

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[Arabella and Benjamin]

 

“Oh yippee, a fast un!” squealed Arabella, clapping her hands. “Now, I like it rough, so don’t hold back on throwing me all about the place, Cap’n … say, what’s yer name Mister, who’m I havin’ the pleasure with?!”

 

Benjamin blinked, "You might not want to use that 'I like it rough' line with menfolk, just a word of kindly advice."

 

“Why not?” frowned Arabella. Maybe he meant that they might think she wanted a fight, she wondered, but he didn’t stop to explain, moving swiftly on to the introduction.

 

"Yes, my fault.  My name is Benjamin. Benjamin Barlow," he decided to forego the military rank, she already knew that anyhow. Besides he was not on duty.

 

“Oooh, ‘Captain Benjamin Barlow’! Don’t that sound fine?!” she cooed, her voice going all gooey and her face becoming a picture of glassy-eyed rapture. “So, when you get married, the lucky lady’s going to be a-callin’ herself ‘Mrs. Captain Benjamin Barlow’! Oooh, that sure does sound mighty fine!” she melted. She pulled herself out of her rapture as the dance was about to start, but she couldn’t help glancing between Captain Benjamin Barlow, Army Hero, and Mike Wentworth, ranch person, who was standing over yonder ignoring her, and doing a sort of mental comparison. Hmmm. Mr. Wentworth had saved her life, but he couldn't keep cashing in on that forever!

 

Of course one drawback to such fast dances such as these it did make conversation much more difficult than a gentle swaying waltz, however, Arabella, more than made up for it with the ear-splitting whoops, screams and yelps of delight as the Captain did his duty manfully and threw her around the dance floor like a rag doll.

 

Once the exciting and energetic dance was done, all too quickly in the Virginian girl’s opinion, she fair staggered off the floor, her hair in disarray and her face flushed, leaning on the good Captain’s arm for support, and causing a look of disapproval from fossilized members of the Townswoman’s Guide as she loudly panted “Crikey Cap, you sure know how to satisfy a gal! That was the roughest seein’-to I ever got at a Saturday night dance!”

 

@Wayfarer

 

 

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Her hand was there before he could question anything that was going on and Jay found himself reaching for it and shaking it firmly. Perhaps it was the relief of not having to sleep with her or the relief, that one day, if all went well, he might actually be sleeping with the right kind of woman. And he already had a good idea, who that might be.

 

The liquor from her pocket was another surprise, but a welcome one. Reaching for it he nodded towards her. "Thank you." Took a good long swig to calm himself down a little. The home made stuff burnt down his throat like fire and made him cough a little. "Holy smokes, that tastes like...wonderful."

He had another smaller sip. No need to anger the woman, who had him by the balls now.

 

He made a mental note of the information about the land because he would have to do some research on that.

"I always bring my gun...but as you know. Use it too seldom, unlike you." That little jab was necessary.

Then he briefly listed his shirt to show her the scar that her bullet had left. "You got me."

Maybe a little bad conscience would help his case.

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[Clara & Jacob]

 

“Maybe a walk outside to view the firmament and then a stop at the drink tent for a lemonade on the way back might be nice.” He suggested.

 

Yes, lemonade was a good idea, Clara realized .

 

“I would truly appreciate a few moments outside to cool off with some fresh air," Clara replied.

 

“Clara, can I ask you something?” he said seriously. “I’m a little inexperienced with ladies and don’t want to overstep any bounds. Should I take your arm? Or is that too forward?”

 

And Clara was more than a little inexperienced with boys so she had to think on a few seconds before answering.

 

"Well....perhaps you should not in here...in public. We have just met afterall. But once we are outside I would not mind it," she believed she had come up in a good middle of the road solution.

 

And with that the pair finished the last of the waltz, nodded to each other and exchanged 'thank yous' before then making their way out the wide barn doors into the cool evening air. Though outwardly calm, Clara's heart was pounding in excitement even nervousness.  This farm boy was so much nicer to get along with than those cowpokes. He was literally a breath of fresh air.

 

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[Arabella and Benjamin]

 

"Oooh, ‘Captain Benjamin Barlow’! Don’t that sound fine?!” she cooed.

 

"The name I was given at birth, the rank I've earned," he commented rather bemused by this child. She must wear out her folks.

 

“So, when you get married, the lucky lady’s going to be a-callin’ herself ‘Mrs. Captain Benjamin Barlow’! Oooh, that sure does sound mighty fine!”

 

"I doubt she would use the rank in that but no matter as I have no real plans to get married. As many a bachelor career officer would tell you we are married to the army. I do not think I am cut out for civilian life, I like it right where I am," he informed her calmly.

 

The dance was fast paced and short because of it. Not every dancer had the stamina for a long performance. The girl plainly enjoyed herself though as she clung to him while they vacated the dance floor. That drew a few stares from some folk but Benjamin willfully ignored them. Frankly he did not care what they thought, he knew he was doing nothing wrong and the girl, well it was simply youthful excitement on her part.

 

"Crikey Cap, you sure know how to satisfy a gal! That was the roughest seein’-to I ever got at a Saturday night dance!”

 

Again her choice of words...lord above. Her folks would probably horrified to hear that. But it was not his place to give her lessons in proper conversation.

 

"Well...on that note then, I thank you for the dance, young lady, and I need to take my leave. I intend on parching my thirst with a drink at the beer tent. Good evening," he smiled then gave a nod of the head sort of bow.

 

 

 

 

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[Jay & Granny Miggins]

 

The liquor from her pocket was another surprise, but a welcome one. Reaching for it he nodded towards her. "Thank you." Took a good long swig to calm himself down a little. The home made stuff burnt down his throat like fire and made him cough a little. "Holy smokes, that tastes like...wonderful."

 

Granny always liked to be complimented on her homebrewed firewater. “Keep the bottle!” she offered. Suddenly Jay was pressing all her right buttons.

 

"I always bring my gun...but as you know. Use it too seldom, unlike you." That little jab was necessary.

 

“I shoot first and ask questions later, that’s the way round these parts if you don’t wanna get shot yerself. And I don’t fire no warning shots, neither!” she lectured.

 

Then he briefly listed his shirt to show her the scar that her bullet had left. "You got me."

 

His body was pale but finely formed, his abdominal muscles highlighted in relief in the lamplight. The elderly lady took off her glasses and gave them a rub on her apron before replacing them for to get a real good look at Jay’s masculine form. Then she remembered that she was meant to be looking at the wound. “Hmm, not bad. You’d ha’ been a goner if’n I’d had my shootin’ spectacles on.” She told him.

 

As he pulled his shirt back down, she looked him up and down appraisingly.

 

“You’d better have another swig of that moonshine.” She advised him. “Get some Dutch courage before you go back to that dance and make it up with that little girl you’re sweet on. You should get some sparkin’ in there while she’s still wearin’ proper wimmin’s clothes!” she declared, presumably talking about Addy.

 

@Jack

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It did not go unnoticed that granny was checking more than the wound, she had inflicted, which once again raised the question of her real intentions. Who knew whether the fence was really the end of her demands.

 

Jay was relaxing a bit when she even offered him to keep the bottle. This was definetly different from the idea he had half an hour ago, when he thought, he would have to leave Addy and Weedy and the whole new life behind, that he had started to built. Desperation had changed to something better. He just wasn't sure what it was yet.

 

Jay took another swig and placed the bottle on a small wooden table. She had even suggested that he'd go back to the woman, he was sweet on. Maybe she wasn't all that terrible after all.

 

"Thank you, mam....what do I call you?"

 

Before he left he had to tell her one more thing, though. "I swear you're not making a mistake by keeping my secret hidden. I'm not a bad person, I just ran with foul company. But since I arrived here I've not done anything bad."

 

 

Edited by Jack (see edit history)
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[Arabella and Benjamin]

 

"The name I was given at birth, the rank I've earned," he commented rather bemused by this child. She must wear out her folks.

 

Arabella was open-mouthed at the awesomeness of this statement.

 

“So, when you get married, the lucky lady’s going to be a-callin’ herself ‘Mrs. Captain Benjamin Barlow’! Oooh, that sure does sound mighty fine!”

 

"I doubt she would use the rank in that but no matter as I have no real plans to get married. As many a bachelor career officer would tell you we are married to the army. I do not think I am cut out for civilian life, I like it right where I am," he informed her calmly.

 

Bachelor huh? Good.

 

“Oh, I wouldn’t ever try and make you leave the army if I married ya, I’d be that proud to be married to a officer: ‘How dya do? I’m Mrs Captain Bejamin Barlow, U.S. Cavalry.’ Gee Cap, I think you should get married, maybe to a nice Southern girl, y'know, healing the divide.”

She had another argument up her sleeve, too.

 

“I think takin’ a Mrs Barlow would be good for your career, too: I mean, all them big Army Generals is married, ain’t they? Like General Useless Grant, and General George Armstong Custard, and General Terry…, er, I don’t know his second name, but I’m pretty sure he’s married, too.”

 

After the dance, the good Captain tried to say his goodbyes, but he hadn’t reckoned with the Clinch Mountain barnacle.

 

"Well...on that note then, I thank you for the dance, young lady, and I need to take my leave. I intend on parching my thirst with a drink at the beer tent. Good evening," he smiled then gave a nod of the head sort of bow.

 

“Oh, that’s good, I’m a headin’ that way m’self!” she beamed happily, taking his arm and hanging on like a limpet: the kind of limpet that other limpets criticise for being ‘too clingy’.

 

“I work at the saloon so I know all them folks in the beer tent, like Mr Flandry, he’s the barman and he’s got a beard like you, and Mammy Cookie, she’s a big fat black lady and I love her and she used to be a slave but she ‘scaped on the railroad, and I’m allowed to go behind the bar, well it’s more like a table really, but it’s like the bar tonight and I could get you your beer so you don’t have to get in line, because I reckon that’s beneath your station, what with you bein’ a war hero and all.” She chattered away breathlessly as they walked.

 

Messalina saw them coming and shook her head: she figured the officer was probably a vet of war between the states, not to mention forays against the savage Indians, but had probably never had to weather a barrage like the one he was being subjected to now.

 

Arabella introduced him excitedly.

 

“Cookie! Cookie! Permit me to introduce Captain Benjamin Barlow” she yelped, then struck a dramatic pose. “The name he was given at birth, the rank he hath earned!”

 

“Beer Cap’n?” asked the cook “Or do you feel in need a something stronger?!”

 

@Wayfarer

Edited by Javia (see edit history)

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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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