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

Love in Bloom


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Mature Content: No.

Author: Javia, Wayfarer, any

With: Arabella, Billy, Saloon Folk?.
Location: Stardust Saloon.
When: Saturday, 6th May1876
Time of Day: Early Evening.

 

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Because she checked every day, of course, she never detected any change, any tiny difference, any single improvement. But anyone who had observed that skinny, stunted, half-frozen little girl wander into the doomed town of Whitefish five months ago would hardly recognise the young woman who stood hopefully in front of Ms. Deverau’s full length mirror this evening. Arabella was growing up and, although she still spent a good deal of her day inhabiting the realms of phantasy, certain hard facts of life were coming very much to the fore.

 

Item. Her best bosom friend had a beau, and she didn’t!

 

That just wouldn’t do. That just wouldn’t do at all.

 

She looked herself over again, turning sideways. Well, all right, she wasn’t as ‘flat as an ironin’ board’ anymore, but it was hardly the ‘rolling hills of Montana’ either. And those teeth. She shoved a finger in either side of her mouth and grimaced. Did they look a mite less wonky or was she fooling herself? She pulled some faces. Demure, Angry, Sad, Pretty, Ugly, … Pretty Ugly! Hmm. She wasn’t as pretty as Clara Redmond or Anaesthesia Orr, but still - neither was she as plain as Joanna Coltrane or Jemima Wigfall.

 

Then she thought about her disappointing crushes, none of them had proven fruitful. It never occurred to her that she always chose older men, much older men, completely unobtainable men! Mr Wentworth, Captain Barlow, Mr Flandry (blush). Did she deliberately moon over men she could never have, was she scared to show an interest in boys more her own age … in case they actually (gulp) responded?

 

She shook out her ‘black as midnight!’ hair (yep, that special nit shampoo had done its work) and smoothed down her frowsy old smock, it was time to go downstairs and, along with Ralph, Caroline, and Cookie, keep the Saturday night crowd happy…

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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Arabella had spent a good deal of the week doing what she could for poor old Mr Greer in the jail. She had snuck what food and drink she could out from under Cookie’s nose and taken it over to him. At first he had been abusive and told her to get lost, but by the end of the week he had become less abusive and demanded to know why she was late with his grub. She had written a new version of John Brown which started “Mr Greer’s body lies a-moulderin’ in the jail” but for some reason Caroline was reluctant to include it in her act. She had sought legal advice from Dutton Peabody who, bribed with a free shot, had slobbered something about “arrant miscarriage of justice” before collapsing in a heap for his afternoon nap sprawled over the table nearest the bar.

 

Her main idea, of raising a petition for Mr Greer’s release, had met with incredulity and, after she’d asked a million billion times, downright refusal from the Saloon management, so she was having to proceed with caution this busy Saturday evening. The first thing she needed was more information about the ‘man behind the legend’ and luckily Billy, who had been released pretty quickly after being arrested, was in tonight: he was looking very strange without the jovial bulk of Mr Greer next to him at the bar. She didn’t want to ask him what she needed to know with Mr Flandry listening it, so she decided to lay an ambush for him outside, Quantrill style.

 

It was between Caroline’s singing sets that she saw him go off to the outhouse to answer the call of nature. Arabella, flushed and hot with waitressing and pot-cleaning work, made the excuse of taking some glasses back to the kitchen and then lay in wait in the dark shadows under the stairs that led up to the second floor of the building at the back. As Billy returned from doing his necessary business, she hissed out a call.

 

“Psssst! Bill! Over here!!! … No! Here!!!” she waved a hand at him in the shadows to get him to approach and once he was near enough, gabbed him and tugged him closer to her under the staircase.

 

“C’m’ere! Closer” she hissed hoarsely. “Listen Bill. I gotta ask you something, I been desperately wantin’ to ask you all week, ever since I saw you get hauled off to jail...” she smelt of two of Billy’s favourite things, Beer and Whiskey, or at least her apron did. The rest of her smelt of a pungent mix of a stolen dab of Caroline’s perfume, girl sweat, and the odd chemical aroma of the nit-shampoo. She looked deep into Billy’s cute face, into his amazingly clear light blue eyes that sparkled, even in this secluded, shadowy place, and spake forth those words which she had been wanting to utter for days now:

 

“… what’s Mr Greer’s first name, has he ever been married and what’s his favourite flower?”

 

@Wayfarer

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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It had actually been somewhat of a relief to go into town without the overweight albatross that was Greer hanging around his neck. They had been paired up purely by luck when the two of them had joined the Evergreen ranch at the same time but they had not known each other previously. For some reason, once the ranch foreman found out how ornery (yes and stupid) Greer was he then began partnering up the two of them for a lot of ranch duties like watching the herd and so on. The good natured Billy had seemed to be able to handle the man. It was a strange partnership but to say they were good friends, not hardly.

 

One other ranchhand  made the mistake one day of hinting Greer was using young Billy for certain ...well rather sordid things and when Greer found out, he thrashed the man but good. No one else ever said anything then. Billy, on the other hand, obviously liked to think of himself as a ladies man though his success with women had been pretty well absent since his arrival in the territory, leastwise that anyone knew of.

 

The story was he apparently stole the clothes off of the back of that Redmond farm girl and there had even been a now famous brawl over it at the last fall festival. Another young lady had slapped his face on the boardwalk once. Billy told all who would listen it was an honest mixup, she hadn't understood what he meant but he didn't reveal the details.

 

So this evening he was sitting at a table playing a friendly game of cards (for low stakes) and enjoying a few beers, oh and ogling the pretty blonde entertainer the place had, he approved of the upgrade from previous entertainment. Well until he had to make a visit to the outdoor privy, he folded his current hand and headed on out.

 

Upon exiting the plan was to head right back in but he didn't quite make it.

 

“Psssst! Bill! Over here!!! … No! Here!!!” 

 

Some female but who? And no one called him Bill, leastwise who knew him. But he ambled over only to literally get pulled into the shadows!

 

“C’m’ere! Closer” she hissed hoarsely.

 

"Im plenty close," now he recognized her, that skinny little scrub girl who also played piano, what the hell did she want?

 

“Listen Bill. I gotta ask you something, I been desperately wantin’ to ask you all week, ever since I saw you get hauled off to jail...”

 

"That weren't my fault..." he started to explain.

 

“… what’s Mr Greer’s first name, has he ever been married and what’s his favourite flower?”

 

"Huh? If yer so damn interested in that ....man, then you ask him. I got important business to do I'll have you know," he turned to leave. 

 

billyforsaga1.jpg

 

 

 

 

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“C’m’ere! Closer” she hissed hoarsely.

 

"Im plenty close," now he recognized her, that skinny little scrub girl who also played piano, what the hell did she want?

 

“What’s wrong with you? I don’t smell, y’know!” she declared, turning her head to sniff herself “Well, not that bad anyhow.”

 

“Listen Bill. I gotta ask you something, I been desperately wantin’ to ask you all week, ever since I saw you get hauled off to jail...”

 

"That weren't my fault..." he started to explain.

 

“Oh, I know that!” She assured him. “You was just standin’ there watchin’ while your friend got thumped up by them fellers who was holdin’ a gun on him, with no one to stick up for him. Anyhow..”

 

“… what’s Mr Greer’s first name, has he ever been married and what’s his favourite flower?”

"Huh? If yer so damn interested in that ....man, then you ask him. I got important business to do I'll have you know," he turned to leave.

 

“Hey, I thought you was his friend! I’m just trying to invent up a petition for him, see, to be let out of jail. It’s an ‘arrogant-miss carriage of justice’ and, hey hold up…”

 

She ran after him and sort of skidded in front of him, holding up her hands imploringly.

 

“Hold up, hold up… I need to ask you something else!” she yelped. “Are you courtin’ anybody?!”

 

“See, I got this friend…” she explained “… she’s reeeal pretty, much prettier than me, don’t worry on that score; reeeeal nicely dressed, not like me in these old rags; an’ she don’t talk too much, again not like people say I go and on and on like a chatterbox; an she’s got this real knack of makin’ anyone who do talk to her feel all kinda clever and oooh, real intelligent. And guess what? The lucky feller as marries this rare flame hair beauty, why it’s gonna cost him half as much in the price of shoes as any other wife!”

 

She couldn’t have painted a more flattering picture of Bridget, in her mind.

 

“Anyhow… she’s lookin’ fer a feller and I thought you’d do. You’re handsome and good lookin’, good at playin’ jokes, urm, got your own horse. Pretty nicely set up young feller, all round. When would you like to meet her?” she asked like it was a done deal.

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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"I don't smell ya know!" the girl protested.

 

"I ain't sniffing, " Billy snapped back. Indeed after a long day's work at the ranch, Billy was quite certain he smelled a whole lot worse but then you got used to it.

 

The conversation went downhill from there. Why in the devil would this little tart want to know all that about Greer? This little idiot didn't know it but any female would get about as far with Greer as they would with a bear.  He didn't cooperate of course. It meant nothing to him, Billy decided. This young gal was just plain strange.

 

“Hey, I thought you was his friend! I’m just trying to invent up a petition for him, see, to be let out of jail. It’s an ‘arrogant-miss carriage of justice’ and, hey hold up…”

 

"I told ya, I'm busy. I got plans and they don't include being bothered by a child," Billy dismissed her again.

 

She ran after him and sort of skidded in front of him, holding up her hands imploringly.

 

“Hold up, hold up… I need to ask you something else!” she yelped. “Are you courtin’ anybody?!”

 

"What?" now Billy was really confused, the skinny gal didn't seem drunk but she was talking like it.

 

“See, I got this friend…” she explained “… she’s reeeal pretty, much prettier than me, don’t worry on that score; reeeeal nicely dressed, not like me in these old rags; an’ she don’t talk too much, again not like people say I go and on and on like a chatterbox; an she’s got this real knack of makin’ anyone who do talk to her feel all kinda clever and oooh, real intelligent. And guess what? The lucky feller as marries this rare flame hair beauty, why it’s gonna cost him half as much in the price of shoes as any other wife!”

 

"Marry her? You askin' me if I wanna marry someone I don't even know their name? On yer say so?" Billy snorted in derision.

 

“Anyhow… she’s lookin’ fer a feller and I thought you’d do. You’re handsome and good lookin’, good at playin’ jokes, urm, got your own horse. Pretty nicely set up young feller, all round. When would you like to meet her?”  she wasn't giving up.

 

But Billy could be just as stubborn, "If this friend of yers is such a fine catch how come some jasper hasn't already grabbed her. What with there bein' more men than women here in the territory."

 

And just before he was about to continue walking away, he had to add, "And yeah, I'm handsome. Most ladies think so. But I ain't stupid and I ain't gullible. That friend of yers must really be desperate if she is letting you round her up a husband."

 

Hmmmm, she wouldn't follow him into the bathhouse? Yeah that was it!

 

"Besides I wanna go take a bath if they're still open and while I still have a dime to my name," he had been losing what little money he had at cards back in the saloon.

 

billyforsaga1.jpg

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But Billy could be just as stubborn, "If this friend of yers is such a fine catch how come some jasper hasn't already grabbed her. What with there bein' more men than women here in the territory."

 

“Well, that’s just it!” she said poking him in the chest, prevaricating while she desperately thought of a reason, apart from the the fact that her friend was a half-wit with a wooden leg. “She’s TOO beautiful! Fellers is too scared to ask her for the favor of her company, none of ‘em feels, urm, adequate, that’s the word.”

 

And just before he was about to continue walking away, he had to add, "And yeah, I'm handsome. Most ladies think so. But I ain't stupid and I ain't gullible. That friend of yers must really be desperate if she is letting you round her up a husband."

 

“Well, yeah, she is. She’s nineteen now, getting to be an old maid, and what with bein’ too attractive for men to dare to ask her out, she’s scared she’ll miss the boat; she’ll just be left there to sit, all alone, on that big pile of money she’s goin’ to inherit when her rich old uncle dies.” Phew, Arabella was really laying the whoppers on thick now, she’d have a whole lot of forgiveness to ask Jesus for at church tomorrow.

 

Hmmmm, she wouldn't follow him into the bathhouse? Yeah that was it!

 

"Besides I wanna go take a bath if they're still open and while I still have a dime to my name," he had been losing what little money he had at cards back in the saloon.

 

The number one rule of Saloon business was a simple one: never let a customer leave with money still in his pocket.

 

“Ha!” Arabella’s face cracked into a grin of bemused amazement “What d’ya want to do throwing away money on bathhouses for? You can have a bath for free, right now, right here!” she jerked a thumb toward the stairs. “Ms Deverau’ll have just finished hers. Water’ll still be nice warm and I can top it up with that kettle I just boiled for the plates. And she don’t tiddle in the water like some folks do.” By ‘some folks’ she meant herself.

 

“Listen, I was watchin’ you playin’ cards in there, and you looked to me like a feller who was just about to have a winnin’ streak. So, you go have a bath, first door on the right…” she frowned down at his hand and then tugged at his right sleeve “… that’s that side, and then go back in there, get in the game, win a whole bunch of money, and you can buy Bridget Monahan a nice bunch of flowers when you take her for a promenade after church tomorrow. I’ll get Mundee to come and stand next to you at the card table and put her hand on yer shoulder, blondes are good luck for gamblers, y'know!”

 

She’d never actually seen Billy in church, but he could meet them outside afterwards, she figured.

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Well, yeah, she is. She’s nineteen now, getting to be an old maid, and what with bein’ too attractive for men to dare to ask her out, she’s scared she’ll miss the boat; she’ll just be left there to sit, all alone, on that big pile of money she’s goin’ to inherit when her rich old uncle dies.”

 

The way this odd girl was gushing on about this enchanting and soon to be rich gal was simply too good to be true. All that going for her and yet she was supposedly available and just waiting for some dirt poor young cowpoke she never met come and sweep her up? It was all a load of bull shit, Billy scoffed.

 

"Don't believe you for a minute, besides............."

 

He then came up with what he thought a brilliant excuse to get away from her and her madwoman schemes. Surely even this girl would not follow him into a bath house. Not to mention the owner would definitely kick her right out. Well, Billy did not reckon with Arabella alright.

 

“What d’ya want to do throwing away money on bathhouses for? You can have a bath for free, right now, right here!” she jerked a thumb toward the stairs. “Ms Deverau’ll have just finished hers. Water’ll still be nice warm and I can top it up with that kettle I just boiled for the plates. And she don’t tiddle in the water like some folks do.”

 

 "Deverau? Ain't that the lady who owns this place? Like I am gonna go jump in her bathtub without a by your leave? She might well shoot me or have that bartender of hers do it. Word has it that man is a real killer too. I'm not taking that risk," Billy protested.

 

“Listen, I was watchin’ you playin’ cards in there, and you looked to me like a feller who was just about to have a winnin’ streak. So, you go have a bath, first door on the right…” she frowned down at his hand and then tugged at his right sleeve “… that’s that side, and then go back in there, get in the game, win a whole bunch of money, and you can buy Bridget Monahan a nice bunch of flowers when you take her for a promenade after church tomorrow. I’ll get Mundee to come and stand next to you at the card table and put her hand on yer shoulder, blondes are good luck for gamblers, y'know!”

 

"Bridget Monahan? That's this beautiful rich lady friend of yers? I know of her. She is some sort of a half-wit who wanders the streets all the time. Somethin's wrong with one of her legs too, limping about like she does," he frowned.

 

"Well no thanks, not to mention the fact i don't ever go to any church services. As for that bath, I was almost tempted but only a fool would trespass onto that woman's private quarters. I already got one of the Lost Lake owners wantin' to shoot me first chance he gets, don't need a big shot woman lookin' to do the same," once more he started to try his escape.

billyforsaga1.jpg

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 "Deverau? Ain't that the lady who owns this place? Like I am gonna go jump in her bathtub without a by your leave? She might well shoot me or have that bartender of hers do it. Word has it that man is a real killer too. I'm not taking that risk," Billy protested.

 

Arabella waved a hand dismissively.

 

“Oh what a big baby! Ralph don’t shoot customers, anyway, he usually just decks ‘em out, so as they can come back for more the next night.”

 

“Listen, I was watchin’ you playin’ cards in there, and you looked to me like a feller who was just about to have a winnin’ streak. So, you go have a bath, first door on the right…” she frowned down at his hand and then tugged at his right sleeve “… that’s that side, and then go back in there, get in the game, win a whole bunch of money, and you can buy Bridget Monahan a nice bunch of flowers when you take her for a promenade after church tomorrow. I’ll get Mundee to come and stand next to you at the card table and put her hand on yer shoulder, blondes are good luck for gamblers, y'know!”

 

"Bridget Monahan? That's this beautiful rich lady friend of yers? I know of her. She is some sort of a half-wit who wanders the streets all the time. Somethin's wrong with one of her legs too, limping about like she does," he frowned.

 

Arabella frowned. Darn! Busted.

 

“She don’t limp about!” she countered weakly “That was just one time when her wooden leg got kinda broke!”

 

"Well no thanks, not to mention the fact I don't ever go to any church services. As for that bath, I was almost tempted but only a fool would trespass onto that woman's private quarters. I already got one of the Lost Lake owners wantin' to shoot me first chance he gets, don't need a big shot woman lookin' to do the same," once more he started to try his escape.

 

“Listen, it ain’t even in her room, it’s in Caroline’s … Miss Mundee’s … and Ol’ Devereau’ll be locked in her room for two hours now getting herself all done up like a dog’s dinner. Then she’ll sashay down them stairs, check that me an’, Mr Flandry and Caroline and the cook are working like dogs for her, then sashay right on out again, ‘fore she has to do any hard work herself!” Arabella was so busy with her disgruntled rant, she’d almost forgotten when they were talking about. Oh yeah!..

 

“So you just go on up there and lose yer toggery and I’ll go fetch some nice pipin' hot toppin’ up water; and think of all that money you’ll save.” She started to guide him toward the bottom of the stairs. “And just think, you’ll be able to tell all them simpletons y’work with that you’ve been in the private boudoir of the allurin’ and beautiful Miss Caroline Mundee!” she threw in for good measure.

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“She don’t limp about!” the strange girl countered weakly “That was just one time when her wooden leg got kinda broke!”

 

"Wooden leg too? And wooden head I'm thinkin' too," smirked Billy, not exactly all that tolerant of those folks afflicted with addled brains.

 

Billy lied and said he was tempted by the free bath offer but really he wasn't. He had been serious before, he did not want to get shot for trespassing in private quarters...especially using someone's bathtub! Hell, it's not like he took very many baths ever in a year, definitely not worth dying over. But then  - she said something which altered the whole situation.

 

"Listen, it ain’t even in her room, it’s in Caroline’s … Miss Mundee’s … and Ol’ Devereau’ll be locked in her room for two hours now getting herself all done up like a dog’s dinner. Then she’ll sashay down them stairs, check that me an’, Mr Flandry and Caroline and the cook are working like dogs for her, then sashay right on out again, ‘fore she has to do any hard work herself!”

 

"Miss Mundee's room? That's the singer, right?" he perked up suddenly.

 

“So you just go on up there and lose yer toggery and I’ll go fetch some nice pipin' hot toppin’ up water; and think of all that money you’ll save.”

 

For the first time Billy truely considered the offer and , besides, a saved dime was still a savings. It would buy him a good beer if nothing else. He paused.

 

She started to guide him toward the bottom of the stairs. “And just think, you’ll be able to tell all them simpletons y’work with that you’ve been in the private boudoir of the allurin’ and beautiful Miss Caroline Mundee!”

 

Well, the girl had a good point. He bet he would be the only cowboy on the Evergreen ranch to be able to have bragging rights like that. Might improve his reputation some, that!

 

"Umm, alright...I'll do it. But if I get caught by your boss, I am gonna blame it all on you," a part of him said he should not trust this strange girl but hell, he was going to take a chance. Just maybe he'd even meet this Caroline Mundee.

 

billyforsaga1.jpg

 

 

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“She don’t limp about!” the strange girl countered weakly “That was just one time when her wooden leg got kinda broke!”

 

"Wooden leg too? And wooden head I'm thinkin' too," smirked Billy, not exactly all that tolerant of those folks afflicted with addled brains.

 

Arabella couldn’t help laughing at this, unable to suppress a throaty chuckle at Billy’s razor sharp wit. “You’re so funny.” She sighed, wiping the tears from her eyes.

 

Amazingly, the intelligence that the room he would be bathing in belonged to Caroline brought a sea-change in Billy’s attitude.

 

"Umm, alright...I'll do it. But if I get caught your boss, I am gonna blame it all on you," a part of him said he should not trust this strange girl but hell, he was going to take a chance. Just maybe he'd even meet this Caroline Mundee.

 

“Sure!” yelped Arabella, excited that one of her great plans actually seemed to be going right for once “You go get in and I’ll bring up some more hot water!” she slapped him on the shoulder encouragingly and scooted off to the kitchen.

 

The cooking area was full of steam and frazzling meat smells and clunking and clanking of pans. Cookie was up to her neck in work and Arabella still hadn’t done them dishes. When the girl came rushing in, she didn’t even look up, let alone listen up.

 

“I’m just taking the hot water: I got a cowboy taking a bath up in Caroline’s room!” she informed the preoccupied chef, breathlessly.

 

“Now you be a help Arabella! You just make sure you get your hands right into that water and give everything a good scrub!” instructed the cook, preoccupied with their lack of clean dishes.

 

“Oh … urm … all right!” shrugged the teenager, surprised that she was expected to actually help wash Billy, but orders was orders! She picked up the heavy water pot using a cloth to protect her hands from the hot metal handle and tottered out of the room with it, unnoticed by Cookie.

 

By the time she got to the door of Caroline’s room, her arms were killing her, and without more ado, she kicked the door open with one of those big, clodhopping lace-up boots, that made her feet look almost as big as Clara’s.

 

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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