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Sagas of the Wild West
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Grin and Bear It


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Both guests settled on the settee, and both were appropriately intrigued by the surroundings and conversation, equally looking forward to whatever was next.

 

Then the drink was set down and Weedy looked at it skeptically, thinking that it looked more like beer than anything.  He'd heard of lemonade, but lemons were not easy to come by in Montana, so he'd never had any, and he wasn't sure he wanted to start now, but then a challenge was laid down, so he reached for the glass, but hesitated.  He wanted to sniff it, just to be sure it wasn't poison or something, but he was afraid it would make his nose wrinkle, and he's lose the challenge, so instead, he just picked up the glass and took several big gulps.

 

For several seconds, he seemed to be fine, but then his eyes grew wide and he suddenly started to sputter and cough, much to Addy's amusement.  She'd had the drink once, in Nashville, and knew how sour it could be, sort of like your first whisky.

 

"Tha's real good," the boy managed to gasp, then bravely took another swig, finding it went down a lot easier.

 

@Javia

 

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The trio of incumbent residents at the Browne abode almost leaned forward to drink in Weedy’s reaction to their homemade concoction, waiting with baited breath for his verdict.

 

For several seconds, he seemed to be fine, but then his eyes grew wide and he suddenly started to sputter and cough, much to Addy's amusement.  She'd had the drink once, in Nashville, and knew how sour it could be, sort of like your first whisky.

 

"Tha's real good," the boy managed to gasp, then bravely took another swig, finding it went down a lot easier.

 

To their own amazement Falmer Brown, Mrs O’Houlighan and the homely Jemima burst into applause at Weedy’s positive reaction.

 

Browne, in fact, sprang to his feet and offered the diminutive twelve-year-old his hand.

“Master Porter James, I welcome you to the Order of Secret Lemonade Drinkers! We might have very little on the Freemasons, or the Order of the Mopses, or Mysterious Know-Nothings, but we are a select band, and of course, you must keep our secrets from…”  at this point he cupped his mouth secretively and, pointing at Addy, whispered “… non-members.”

 

“Members O’Houlighan and Wigfall away, and fetch the cakes of welcome for our newest acolyte!” he ordered and away the two went, only to return minutes later with a selection of tasty looking dainties. To Addy, Falmer Browne bowed a little and waved toward the tea pot.

“Do you take tea, Miss Chappel? Or could I offer you a glass of Madeira or…” he checked Mrs O’Houlighan wasn’t listening “… a wee dram of the good stuff?” he whispered, indicating that he might have a nice bottle of single malt whiskey hidden behind the stacks of books that lined the walls.

 

@Bongo

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Weedy flinched, looking a little startled as the man shoved his hand out at him, but quickly relaxed and grinned.

 

“Master Porter James, I welcome you to the Order of Secret Lemonade Drinkers! We might have very little on the Freemasons, or the Order of the Mopses, or Mysterious Know-Nothings, but we are a select band, and of course, you must keep our secrets from…”  at this point he cupped his mouth secretively and, pointing at Addy, whispered “… non-members.”

 

The lad had no idea what all those things were, but they sounded impressive, so he puffed up with pride, although his nose wrinkled up as the Professor whispered and pointed to Addy.  As awesome as being an Ordered Secret Lemonade Drinker, he and Addy weren't supposed to keep secrets, but when he glanced at her, she grinned and nodded.

 

“Members O’Houlighan and Wigfall away, and fetch the cakes of welcome for our newest acolyte!” he ordered and away the two went, only to return minutes later with a selection of tasty looking dainties. To Addy, Falmer Browne bowed a little and waved toward the tea pot.

 

"For Miz Addy, too!" Weedy put in, not wanting her to be left out, of course...not that he wouldn't enjoy the treats anyway.

 

“Do you take tea, Miss Chappel? Or could I offer you a glass of Madeira or…” he checked Mrs O’Houlighan wasn’t listening “… a wee dram of the good stuff?”

 

Tea?  Addy was a coffee drinker, although she knew they had been invited for tea, but with the offer of the 'good stuff' -- she had no idea what 'Madeira' was -- she grinned and nodded.  Sure, she'd had plenty of whisky in saloons and such, and some of it was 'good' and unwatered, but to be offered quality drink...

 

"I do believe I'd be remiss ta turn down such a generous offer," she murmured back with a grin, "an' no sense wastin' time with 'wee', is there?"

 

@Javia

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"For Miz Addy, too!" Weedy put in, not wanting her to be left out, of course...not that he wouldn't enjoy the treats anyway.

 

“Oh, especially for Miz Addy!” rejoined the older man. “For your Miz Addy, and her remarkable talents are about to enable me to complete a number of scientific experiments that will make starvation and want a thing of the past for all of Mankind!” It was quite a boast, especially as it was then followed by a very mundane piece of domestic query.

 

“Do you take tea, Miss Chappel? Or could I offer you a glass of Madeira or…” he checked Mrs O’Houlighan wasn’t listening “… a wee dram of the good stuff?”

 

"I do believe I'd be remiss ta turn down such a generous offer," she murmured back with a grin, "an' no sense wastin' time with 'wee', is there?"

 

“Ah!” nodded Falmer Browne, evidently pleased with this answer. He held up a finger, as if to say wait one moment, and then, when cakes had been delivered and the two servants had withdrawn, he tiptoed over to a sideboard and produced a couple of whiskey tumblers. Then he made a similar creep toward a large and lavishly illustrated edition of Dante’s Inferno on one of the bookshelves, pulling it out and reaching into the gap for a bottle of something golden looking.

 

“Ah, she hasn’t found it!” he said, checking a scratch-mark on the label that was level with the top of the liquid. Taking the bottle he poured a generous portion of the potion with a glug into each of the glasses, and then hid the bottle again behind Dante.

 

He handed one of the glasses to Addy and then proffered the cake tray and a small dish to Weedy. “Eat all the cakes you like, Mr. James, but whatever you do… never dare to peep into the book which I use to hide the bottle of “Ald Smellie” (for that was the brand of the scotch) “It contains illustrations so terrifying that even Mrs O’Houlighan dares not touch it, and she is not a woman to be easily cowed.”

 

@Bongo

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The admonition to stay away from the tome in question caught  the curiosity of both guests, although they'd never have the chance to see what was so intriguing, besides the alcohol it concealed.

 

"Oh, no, ain't no one ever gonna suspect."  Grinning, Addy accepted the drink, then took a small sip and sighed.  "Oh, that's right good!"  She'd had plenty of whisky in her day, some of it actually decent for being from a saloon, and not all of it was watered-down, but this was exceptionally smooth.  "Ya sure that's even whisky?  Ya bring this on th' trip ta Helena, I'd be happy as a warthog in September!"

 

In the mean time, Weedy was eyeing the pastries, and finally got antsy, figuring that, as a guest, the goodies had been offered, he reached for one and popped it into his mouth, then broke into a wide grin and reached for another.  What a great idea to make them all little like this, so you could try one of everything before deciding what was best!

 

@Javia

 

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"Oh, no, ain't no one ever gonna suspect."  Grinning, Addy accepted the drink, then took a small sip and sighed.  "Oh, that's right good!"  She'd had plenty of whisky in her day, some of it actually decent for being from a saloon, and not all of it was watered-down, but this was exceptionally smooth.  "Ya sure that's even whisky?  Ya bring this on th' trip ta Helena, I'd be happy as a warthog in September!"

 

Falmer Browne held up a finger “Miss Chappel, we shall not only take some bottles of this finely distilled malt to Helena with us, we shall bring a couple of crates back with us!” he promised her “A secondary consideration to the scientific instruments, of course, but still a consideration!”

 

In the mean time, Weedy was eyeing the pastries, and finally got antsy, figuring that, as a guest, the goodies had been offered, he reached for one and popped it into his mouth, then broke into a wide grin and reached for another.  What a great idea to make them all little like this, so you could try one of everything before deciding what was best!

 

“Oh yes, tuck in! Tuck in indeed!” beamed ‘The Professor’ reaching for a funny little orange colored cake with a white fondant on top and popping it into his mouth. “Taste one of these: you won’t believe that anything made of carrots can taste so good!” he enthused. “Careful of those ones, they’re ginger and burn your mouth! The combination of that and the lemonade might cause an explosion of unbelievable magnitude!” he jested in ribald fashion, the whiskey starting to take effect. Alcohol tended to go to his head; Mrs O’Houlighan kept the strong stuff locked away for that reason; and he, consequently, kept it hidden from her!

 

@Bongo

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Weedy wasn't exactly sure what 'tucking' was, but it seemed to imply permission to gobble up the treats, and who was he to defy an adult?  And, of course, he whole-heartedly accepted the ginger/lemonade challenge, having figured out that the man was more fun than grow-up, and curious to see if there was some grain of truth in the claim.

 

Grinning, he popped one of the ginger cakes in his mouth, then took a swig of lemonade.  His eyes widened, but once the slight burning from the ginger eased, he nodded.  "That's good!"

 

"That so?"  Addy took the challenge as well, but with whisky instead of lemonade, and actually, the combination was quite good!  "Ain't never had nothin' like that!  Might could work out a deal fer food fer part'a th' freight fees!"  After all, she couldn't cook much, and even as good as Miz Emeline's cooking was, it wasn't nearly this exotic!

 

@Javia

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F. Falmer Brown was enjoying having company and starting to feel a little fuzzy headed from the pure and powerful whiskey, but he did not forget that Miss Chappel was here for a purpose. However, before he proceeded with that, he did not forget to look to the needs of the curious young boy in their midst. When enough cake had been munched and enough lemonade imbibed, he moved to the next point on his agenda.

 

“Now Porter, if I may use you so familiarly, Miss Chappel and I have some rather dull business to speak about, which I do not wish you to sit through in boredom!” he said, addressing the lad with all the honesty and candour that he would bestow upon a grown up. “Now that Lamia is securely in her tank, it is safe to introduce you to another member of our household!” he said mysteriously.

 

He picked up a little bell from the table, the smaller of two. He held it up and gave it a gentle ting-a-ling, and a few seconds later an attentive Jemima appeared.

 

“Ah, Jemima! Would you take Mister James here through to the greenhouse, and introduce him to Montgomery?” he bade the frowsey servant and then, remembering Addy’s strange overprotective attitude to the boy, added “With your permission, of course, Miss Chappel. The greenhouse is just next door, and Montgomery nothing more harmful than my pet Geomyidae, er, that is a pocket gopher, in the common parlance.” Even that might be too much for the nervy adoptive mother of the boy. “We can go and talk in there too, if you wish.” He offered.

 

@Bongo

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Addy hesitated a few seconds, but then nodded to Weedy that it was all right to go...as long as she knew where he was, she could tear the place to bits to get to him if she needed to.  Besides, she could see that he was as anxious as she was to know what, exactly, a 'pocket gopher' was, and if he'd need to find somewhere else to out his frog!

 

Jumping up, the boy eagerly followed after Miz Jemima!

 

"It's good that th' boy can see new things," Addy declared before taking another swig of the whisky, "expand his horizons, so ta speak."  For someone who had never been to school, she firmly believed in education, and that that didn't necessarily mean spending time in a classroom.

 

"Down ta business, I suppose?"  Grinning, she grabbed up another treat and popped it into her mouth, washing it down with more whisky.

 

@Javia

 

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"It's good that th' boy can see new things," Addy declared before taking another swig of the whisky, "expand his horizons, so ta speak."  For someone who had never been to school, she firmly believed in education, and that that didn't necessarily mean spending time in a classroom.

 

“Montgomery will no doubt be as excited to meet Porter fellow as the young fellow seems to be to meet him.” Smiled Browne.

 

"Down ta business, I suppose?"  Grinning, she grabbed up another treat and popped it into her mouth, washing it down with more whisky.

 

“Indeed” agreed the philanthropist, taking another swig himself. “You know, I have been so intent on getting hold of my scientific instruments, and looking forward to having a whole case of this fine stuff to hide from Mrs O’Houlighan, that it did not occur to me that there may be other light freight we can ship up from Helena on this trip.”

 

Although his days of wheeling and dealing were long over, old habits died hard, especially when lubricated by strong spirits. “What it is that Kalispell lacks which can be found in plenty in the warehouses of Helena?” he wondered out loud, not necessarily expecting an answer from Miss Chappel.

 

@Bongo

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