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Confession is good for the soul


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Mature Content: Let's hope not!

With: Charlie Wentworth, Bridget Monahan, Father Ignatius, Arabella Mudd
Location: Kalispell and then St. Francis by the Lake
When: Sunday, 23rd April 1876
Time of Day: Morning

 

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A girl who owned three beautiful china-faced fancy dolls, and who called each of them ‘Dolly’, was unlikely to have a very inspired name for her pet donkey.

 

“Ya can’t just call her Donkey!” Arabella yelped as she ran the brush through the beautifully calm animal’s mane. “How about we call her … Arabella! No … Bridget! Clara? Matilda-Mary-Lou! Hmmm.” Naming a Donkey wasn’t as easy as you might think.

 

“Janella!” she suddenly exclaimed. Turned out naming a donkey was as easy as you might think.

 

They had the donkey and the donkey was all hitched up to the sweet little trap (by Arabella and the little Chinese man, Mr. Fa, of course – Bridget was as useless as a chocolate teapot when it came down to such practicalities) and in the sweet little trap sat Mr. Crabbe’s ward, even more overdressed, if such a thing was possible, than usual.

 

Arabella, in her workaday smock and pinny and a bonnet that had seen better days, stood back and surveyed the scene. “Old Crabby don’t spare any expense on you, do he, Bridgy?” she asked. Bridget shook her head. Bridget always agreed with anything Arabella said.

 

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“Well, it’s all for nothing if he don’t show up.” The younger girl shrugged. No way they’d risk the trip to the Catholic mission alone, what with the Indian tribes showing so much unrest of late, not to mention the additional risk of road agents.

 

Arabella was about to take the brush to Janella again, when there was a sound of hoof beats and Mr. Charles Wentworth Junior appeared. Arabella yelped with delight and jumped up and down: the trip was on! Bridget clapped and grinned from ear to ear, and Janella joined in with a welcoming Ee-orr.

 

Considering the way he’d looked the last time she had seen him, at the dance the night before, it was a miracle that he was here now. The young man must have either been gloriously sick once they’d carried him home, or he was possessed of the most miraculous powers of recuperation.

 

“Howdy, Pardner!” she cheered. She called all cowboys 'Pardner'. Unless they were from Texas, of course. “You look pretty spruce … considerin’!”

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Charlie tipped his hat, "Morning, ladies."

 

Arabella's remark about him looking spruce, reminded him of how he had gotten into this fix.  He couldn't remember everything that happened last night but one thing he did was that he had given his word that he would escort the two young ladies to the Catholic mission, a few miles out of town.  Even if he had forgotten about saying yes to this trip, his father and Mike had reminded him that morning.  Both of them had been there when he had made the promise, so there was no getting out of it.

 

Hopefully, the trip to and from the mission would only take a few hours, which would still give him time to make it back to Lost Lake before it got dark.  However, Mike told him that it would be okay if he didn't.  Mike had also seemed a bit relieved that he was going and not him.

 

Looking at the two girls, he smiled, "Well, I guess we better get going now if you plan on making it in time for the mid-morning service."

 

@Javia

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Looking at the two girls, he smiled, "Well, I guess we better get going now if you plan on making it in time for the mid-morning service."

 

“Guess we had.” agreed Arabella lifted her ponderous lace-up boots and clambered into the little buggy, which had barely room for the two of them and a picnic lunch in the back. Bridget had wanted to bring one of her dolls along, but Arabella had persuaded her that there wasn’t enough room in the trap, which feeble excuse the older girl had gormlessly accepted.

 

For a second the two girls both looked at Charlie with the strangest of looks on their faces, grinning madly, and then Arabella cracked her little whip and yelled “Gee up, Janella” and the donkey, miraculously recognizing the name she had just been christened with, dutifully trotted forward and past the mounted man.

 

“Do keep up Mr. Wentworth!” Arabella cheekily commanded as Bridget leaned over and whispered something in her driver’s ear.

“Oh, yes…” Arabella said, having to turn and look up a little at the handsome young man trotting beside them as they assayed the dusty Main Street of Kalispell on that splendid and sunny Sunday morning.

 

“My friend wants to know if you’ve decided yet. I mean, after all your gallantries at the dance last night, which of all the ladies you kissed you liked the best. Or are you planning to start sort of hareeem, after the Mormon fashion?”

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Harem?  While it was true he couldn't remember some parts of last night, he was pretty sure that there wasn't a lot of kissing involved.  Maybe the two girls were having a joke at his expense but he couldn't be one hundred percent sure.

 

"I plan to start nothing where women are concerned until I meet one that I like and one that acts her age," he replied in a slightly miffed tone.  "Besides, I thought we were on a trip so that Miss Monahan could attend mass and not some sort of confessional."

 

@Javia

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"I plan to start nothing where women are concerned until I meet one that I like and one that acts her age," he replied in a slightly miffed tone.

 

“Well, let’s just hope the two of ‘em never meet!” chuckled Arabella, nudging Bridget, who laughed, despite not really getting the joke.

 

“Anyhow, I always act my age – nearly Sixteen!” declared the driver of the buggy. Indeed, in a mere 354 days, she would reach that august age.

 

“Back home in the Old Dominion, I’d ‘a’ probably been wed by now!” she added.

 

Despite her ironing board figure and girlish ways, ever since it had happened a few months ago, she had considered herself a young woman, rather than a mere girl.

 

"Besides, I thought we were on a trip so that Miss Monahan could attend mass and not some sort of confessional."

 

“Oh, don’t you know nuthin’?!” she tsked “Confessional’s exactly what we’re goin’ up there for. She’s gotta confess all her terrible sins to the priest feller before she's allowed to go to Mass and eat the flesh and drink the blood of Jesus.” Without Bridget seeing, she caught Charlie’s eye and, screwing up her face, gave a dismissive shake of her head, to show that she thought the whole thing was a bunch of nonsense, theologically speaking. Miss Arabella Sumpter Mudd was no friend to the foolish notion of transubstantiation. 

 

“Course, I’m a Methodist m’self. Say, what’s your denomination, Charlie? You know that there priest is going to have a whole bunch of religious questions to ask you, don’t you?” she asked in a serious tone of voice.

 

@JulieS

 

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"Presbyterian.  However, living and working at Lost Lake only allows time for church when I have a Saturday night off.  Most of us hands stay overnight in town and head back Sunday.  So those of us who go to church go then," Charlie replied in an nonchalant tone.  His mood was not improving as he was starting to remember some of what he had forgotten about the night before.

 

He turned to face to look at her as they continued on their way,  "As for you being married by now, that might be the way the do things in the South but if you were living in Washington, you and another young lady of your acquaintance, wouldn't even be out of the school room."

 

@Javia

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"Presbyterian.”

 

Arabella shrugged. “Well, that ain’t too bad, I suppose. At least you ain’t a Baptist...” she dropped her voice to what was still a rather loud whisper “… or a Catholic!” she shuddered, nodding her head to the oblivious Bridget sitting on the buggy seat right next to her.

 

“However, living and working at Lost Lake only allows time for church when I have a Saturday night off.  Most of us hands stay overnight in town and head back Sunday.  So those of us who go to church go then,"

 

 “Well, I don’t remember ever seein’ you there” said Arabella. “Mind ya, I’m always stuck at the front playing the harmonium. You know that harmonium that plays along with the hymns? That’s me! Pretty good, too, ain’t I?” she asked rhetorically. “I used to do the collection plate, too, but Pastor Evans took me off of that, he said I was bein’ too disrespectful to the rich folks, tellin’ ‘em to divviy up more’n a few cents when they could afford a dollar.”

 

He turned to face to look at her as they continued on their way,  "As for you being married by now, that might be the way the do things in the South but if you were living in Washington, you and another young lady of your acquaintance, wouldn't even be out of the school room."

 

“Pooh! There ain’t nuthin’ no snooty School Marm’ can teach me! Why, I was the cleverest girl on Clinch Mountain when I was back in Virginia.” She announced, showcasing her excellent grasp of English grammar and diction. “And Bridget here’s practically unteachable.” She added, pretending to assume that Charlie was referring to the ginger girl when he mentioned ‘another young lady of your acquaintance’.

 

Bridget peeped round the side of Arabella and looking up at Charlie, nodded in agreement with this statement.

 

“Anyway, here’s a question fer you, Mr. Cleverclogs. I’m puzzled: how come last night, when you was trying to dance with all the ladies and kissin’ and smoochin’ and displayin’ your unbridled gallantries all over the place… how come I never did see you tryin’ it on with our friend Clara Redmond? Because, lawdy larkins, after me and Bridget, she was about the prettiest girl at that dance!”

 

She asked this question with an air of sweet innocence as she cracked her little whip near the burro’s ears, being careful not to actually touch or harm the sweet creature’s furry skin.

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Charlie pulled his horse to halt, which in turn made Arabella stop the cart, "Look here, I've had enough of you insinuating that I was trying to dance and kiss every lady I saw last night."

 

He couldn't remember everything that happened last night but there was one thing he was sure of.  "If it was as you say, then my father and brothers would have keel hauled me out of there faster than you could blink your eye. A joke is a joke, but this has gone on for long enough."

 

Taking a deep breath to help calm himself down a little, he glared at the two girls, "I promised to take you both to the mission and I will  but I can easily change my mind and head back to town. So, do we go on or do we turn around now?"

 

@Javia

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Charlie pulled his horse to halt, which in turn made Arabella stop the cart, "Look here, I've had enough of you insinuating that I was trying to dance and kiss every lady I saw last night."

 

Arabella gasped with indignation.

 

“Insinuatin’?! Insinuatin’?!” she cried, feighning indignation “Why Charles Wentworth Junior, you kissed me and Bridget and lots of other ladies last night, and I ain’t talkin’ about a peck on the cheek. Why, it was positively intrusive, wasn’t it Bridget?” The Ginger girl nodded.

 

He couldn't remember everything that happened last night but there was one thing he was sure of.  "If it was as you say, then my father and brother would have keel hauled me out of there faster than you could blink your eye. A joke is a joke, but this has gone on for long enough."

 

Arabella gasped even louder this time.

 

“Oh! Are you calling us liars? Two innocent young ladies. You kissed us all right, and we ain’t misrememberin’ ‘cause when you kiss a girl a girl, Charlie, she stays kissed, believe me! Poor old Clara don’t know what she missed out on!” she added, almost wetting herself trying to hold in the laughter, but still managing to present a serious mien.

 

Taking a deep breath to help calm himself down a little, he glared at the two girls, "I promised to take you both to the mission and I will  but I can easily change my mind and head back to town. So, do we go on or do we turn around now?"

 

“Oh? All right. We’ll just go on without you.” The driver of the buggy replied with light nonchalance “And when the Injuns or the Robbers get us, and they find our poor corpses, stripped naked and tortured to death and scalped, they’ll say ‘well it weren’t Charlie Wentworth’s fault he deserted ‘em, they was teasin’ him and he felt upset’” she predicted and cracked her little whip so that the trap started forward again.

 

She'd called his bluff; but if he, in turn, called her bluff and left them, she planned to go on for a couple of minutes, then head back: she was terrified of Indians and, despite all the clippings she kept about the ‘romantic’ highwayman, Tom Love, Road Agents, too.

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As he slowly moved his horse back towards town in the hopes that Arabella would show a lick of sense and call for him to come back, he began to calm down.  Last night  had started off well but it had ended up with him being drunk and getting a lecture from Mike and his father.  Thankfully, Matt had something else, or rather someone else, to occupy him or he would have gotten it from him to.

 

He hadn't meant to drink so much but a few incidents during the night and the need to vent had lead him to the beer tent, where he found some other fellows who were willing to listen.  In fact, some of were there drowning their own sorrows and so they all spent the remainder of the evening consoling each other.  It was probably sometime during that drinking session, he had promised to take Arabella and Bridget to the mission.

 

Now, here was starting to regret his hasty decision to turn and go back to town.  If he left the two girls out here alone and something happened to them, he would feel guilty.  Having lead an almost sheltered life in Washington society and then at college, he never really learned how to deal with those in the outside world.  Drinking was a social activity but he was finding out that it was something that got him into trouble a lot.  The time was coming or maybe it had already come to grow up and take responsibility for his own life.  Giving up drinking was something he knew he had to do.  Alcohol affected him in ways it didn't affect other people and it was time to give it up.  Sure, he would teased for it but it would be a lot better than dealing with something he would regret later on.

 

Stopping, his horse, Charlie turned in the saddle to see where the girls were.  He could see that Arabella was still going towards the mission.  A look of frustration appeared on his face as he reined his horse and turned around.  Part of growing up was dealing with the consequences and this was one of them.  He would have to take charge and let Arabella know where she she stood.

 

@Javia

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