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    • Her smile was a bit wistful as she added, "There's times I wonder if I wasn't born in th' wrong time an' th' wrong britches."   F. Falmer Browne gave an indulgent smile to this but said nothing. He would have to admit to himself that when he had first lain eyes on Miss Adelaide Chappell, now sat before him in all the becoming trappings of a woman, virtually dressed as a man on her wagon-driving expeditions in and out of town, he had wondered. True, male attire was handier for her trade, but she seemed to go that way at most hours of the day, except for very formal functions like the Ladies (so called!) Society Meeting of this morning.   When he had lived in the vast metropolis of New York, that Sodom and Gomorrah of these disunited United States, he had seen two types of women dressed as men: the first were demimondes of the stage, who dressed as ‘boys’ in fanciful tights to merely titillate their audiences (usually successfully, Browne had to admit) with a well-shaped leg, and secondly, some women of the more bohemian quarters who dressed as men because, apart from their physical form, they were men, in their own minds.   Walking with a friend down Broadway, he had seen two such women, walking arm in arm, and his friend had remarked “See those creatures, Browne? Disgusting! God must weep when He sees such sinful animals on parade. The police should arrest them and some Judge put the filthy animals to hard labor on the treadmill.” Browne had, cowardly he now knew, consented, but really wondered if it was not God Himself who had played such a rotten trick on them. At least in New York, teeming with every nation and type under the Sun, two such ‘creatures’ might find each other. For any man or woman ‘that way inclined’ out here in a small town like Kalispell, such proclivities must result in a lonely and loveless life indeed.   Addy’s talk of Jay Ryker and their evident love for one another did Browne good to hear, despite a slight pang of jealousy: it meant that this lovely woman was not destined for a life of loneliness. There must be others in town, though, hidden and trapped in their unusual sexuality, who were destined to ever drink from the well of loneliness.
    • "Oh, well certainly. If you would rather talk there. Anyplace is fine with us," Clara would have agreed to discuss it even if he had suggested the middle of a river. She just wanted to get it done!   The four of them shuffled back to the rear of the church and through the little-used back door, into the main part of the building where the pews were neatly rowed and the pulpit stood empty at the far end.   The man then offered, "I could fix something to drink? Tea perhaps?"    "No thank you, we do not wish you to have to make a fuss on our account," she gently shook her head in the negative.   “Ooh, It’s no fuss Clara! I’ll fix that, Brother.” Arabella gushed obsequiously “You three will want to talk privately.”   She would also, perhaps a little too optimistically at this point, fetch out a blank marriage certificate, for she knew where Pastor Evans stored them. In fact, she’d had a good root through most of the drawers and cupboards in his little office, off the vestry, and found some amazing and interesting stuff. Her favourites were a collection of pictures in a little book which, she assumed, the good Pastor must have confiscated off some sinful parishioner in the past.   @boshmi @Wayfarer
    • "All right, if this has anything to do with getting rid of ol' Klutz, then I'll do it," he said in a slightly slurred tone.  The whiskey was now starting to affect his speech, "Clara's gotta see that I'm the better man."   Crabbe nodded. He wasn’t exactly sure what he was hoping to get out of this situation, but he had made a living, the last six years of his life, by exploiting other men’s passions, and this young feller had passion in spades. Lorenzo recognised it for the sort of dangerous, jealous, twisted, brooding passion that so often haunts the hearts of men where women are concerned, and knew it would have to be handled with kid gloves to benefit himself any.   “Problem is, he’s ensorcelled her with these here love poems.” Lorenzo slyly took up a theme that Charlie himself had mentioned. “You attack him, she’ll just cleave tighter to the stupid lookin’ bastard.” He’d never seen this Klutz feller, but it didn’t harm to insult him in Charlie’s presence.   “We gotta work on her.” He said, thinking fast. “First of all, we gotta make you a more attractive proposition, er, make her kinda jealous of you, see? Make ol' Clara see you in a better light. Hmmm, you know any girls? I mean, not like Arabella, pretty girls.”   @JulieS
    • "Well." Thomas declared, sitting upwards in his chair. "I wonder what Arabella has gotten up to. I do hope I haven't complicated anything by bringing her along. Your wife seemed... er... unenthusiastic about her presence."   As if on cue, there was a crashing noise from the distant kitchen and Arabella’s voice sounded an “Ooops!”, but nonetheless, the two women presently appeared, carrying coffee and cake.   “Now, how are you two boys getting along?” asked Arabella, as if Thomas and Gideon were two five-year olds on their first playdate. Mrs Evans attended to the domestic stuff while Arabella jumped up and down, plexing her fingertips together with excitement.   “What do you want me to play on the harmonium, fellers?!” she asked excitedly, just hoping it wasn’t that well-known mondegreen “Bringing in the Sheep” which required notes that the poor old instrument could no longer sound. Arabella always had to substitute other notes in the same chord which made her playing sound like she’d invented jazz forty years too early.   @JulieS @boshmi
    • "That goes both ways, Barnabas," Emeline countered, "I finally found something good, and I don't want to lose it."  Although it dawned on her that if he was distracted worrying about her, that put him at more risk.   "I didn't count on the man that I fell in love with becoming a deputy, and I don't know how to reconcile that, except that I know that anything can happen to anyone at any time, and there is no way to predict that or stop it."   Of course, law enforcement put a man at higher risk, but she wasn't a widow because of that.   "I'll try to use discretion, that is the most I can promise."  He'd have to accept that as much as she accepted his choice of professions.   @Flip

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Mature Content: No

With: Brendan and Caroline
Location: Main Street of Kalispell
When: May 1876
Time of Day: Shortly before noon

 

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 This would not be the first time the saloon girl strolled on down the boardwalk of the town's main street, she had been doing it fairly regular since her arrival. But for the first time she was going to have an escort. As she waited, clad in a bright scarlet dress though without any covering at  all on her head much less a hat, she smiled at the sight of the cowboy cantering up the street. So he had indeed made it, having ridden there from the Evergreen ranch property.  Now proper ladies were always expected to cover their heads when out in public but no one had yet to see any such thing on Caroline since her arrival. And they never would, she hated hats. Besides they were symbols of traditional society and she loved to flaunt such things.

 

"Ahh, I wondered if you would make it? Hope you will not get into trouble for showing up here in the middle of the day?" she greeted him when he got within earshot.

 

"It is fine weather for a stroll, I trust you cowboys know how to actually walk?" she teased him with a grin.

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As Brendan rode into town, his eyes were sweeping the street and boardwalk to see if Caroline was out already. And there she was, in a dress that was as brightly-colored as a cardinal's feathers. His mother would have called such a bright color sinful. But Brendan was not his mother, and he liked the bright red dress on Caroline.

 

He tipped his hat as he came nearer, then swung down from his horse and tied the reins to the nearest hitching post. "If I do get in trouble, I'll just talk my way out of it. Or point out all the times the other hands run off when they ain't supposed to." He answered her first question carelessly and patted his horse's side fondly before turning all of his attention to Caroline.

 

"And yes, ma'am, I do know how to walk. I'm good at walkin'...and lots of other things." He returned her grin with one of his own and winked. It was just a little bit of harmless flirting, and if she didn't like it, he was sure she'd either tell him to stop or slap him. He'd had both responses from women before.

 

"Shall we?" He tried to sound dignified and educated as he held out his arm to her.

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One thing about the cowboy, he sure wasn't worried about getting into trouble with his boss or bosses, declaring he could simply talk his way out of it. Well, that was his business she supposed.

 

"Smooth talker, are ya, hon?" she smiled.

 

"And yes, ma'am, I do know how to walk. I'm good at walkin'...and lots of other things."

 

"A man of many talents, I guess I should be impressed? And here I thought you probably just depended on yer rugged good looks," she exclaimed.

 

He was right, she didn't mind flirting in the least, in fact it's pretty much half of what she did for a living. She knew how to twist fellas around her finger alright. Well, cept one little thing.

 

"Hon, don't wink. I never liked winks, they're annoying," she pointed out.

 

"Shall we?" He tried to sound dignified and educated as he held out his arm to her.

 

Actually he wouldn't need to be either of two things as she was neither of them herself.

 

Caroline slotted her arm into his and now they could stroll along like some ordinary couple, "Such a gentleman. I like it."

 

They began their jaunt, it would be slow and steady, no hurry needed.

 

"You from around these parts? Like born in Montana? I'm not having any luck placing yer accent, maybe you don't even have one?" she decided to start up the conversation.

 

 

 

 

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Rugged good looks. Brendan beamed. He liked getting compliments, and Caroline was doling them out generously. But it seemed she didn't like his winking as much as other women did. What could Caroline have against winks? It wasn't as though they were a vice. There were lots of things worse than winking.

 

As they began walking, Caroline struck up a conversation

 

"Naw, I was born in Mississippi. Raised there, too. Traveled around a little bit before endin' up here." His accent wasn't that much different from Arabella's, although of course a twelve-year-old girl and a grown man sounded quite different. And Arabella spoke a lot faster than he did. He hung onto his words right until they left his mouth so his speech was slow and smooth, at least when he was relaxed.

 

And he was relaxed now. He was walking down Main Street with a pretty woman in a pretty dress on a sunny day when everyone else at Evergreen was slaving away or trying to avoid work. Today was going to be a good day.

 

"What 'bout you? You sound like a Yankee. Not that I mind," he added hastily. "You're right pretty for a Yankee." He almost winked but thought better of it, and instead grinned.

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Mississippi then? Yeah, it made sense. Caroline nodded as he revealed his background.

 

"Hear it gets godawful hot down there," she asked.

 

"What 'bout you? You sound like a Yankee. Not that I mind," Brendan added hastily. "You're right pretty for a Yankee."

 

"I'm a Yankee and proud of it. Born and raised in Chicago, same state as Abe Lincoln, God rest his soul," Caroline declared, "But the war's over, hon. So shouldn't make no difference where someone's from. Besides you look too young to have soldiered in that affair?"

 

She guessed him to be in his mid twenties, maybe late twenties?

 

 

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"It does. It gets real hot. It's a sticky heat, though." He shrugged and inhaled slowly. It was hot in Montana, but at least the heat here didn't feel like it was suffocating him. It was a drier heat.

 

"I wasn't in the war, but my pa was. An' it does make a difference." He set his jaw stubbornly, the mention of the war getting his hackles up a bit. He didn't like to lose and he didn't like people he cared about to lose, and even though he hadn't been in the war, he didn't like to talk about it. After a moment, he glanced at Caroline from the corner of his eye and cleared his throat.

 

"Anyhow, how d'you know Mike Wentworth? You two seemed right friendly that night at the saloon." Now he looked across at the other side of the street so as not to seem overly-eager for the answer. If she was involved somehow with Mike, he needed to know. And then he could decide whether to leave things as they were, or become involved himself.

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"I wasn't in the war, but my pa was. An' it does make a difference." He set his jaw stubbornly.

 

Caroline glanced up at the young man, "So you sayin' yer holding it against me cuz I'm a Yankee?"

 

Seemed awfully foolish in her opinion.

 

After a moment, he glanced at Caroline from the corner of his eye and cleared his throat.

 

"Anyhow, how d'you know Mike Wentworth? You two seemed right friendly that night at the saloon."

 

Caroline had to chuckle, "That's cuz we are friends, old friends from back in Helena when I worked in another saloon there. We hadn't seen each other in quite some time til there he was in the Star Dust. "

 

She again glanced up at him, he was a good head taller than her afterall, "Why? You thought he was an old beau or ex-husband? I don't think either of us are the marryin' kind. Besides, Mike is smart and nobody in their right mind wants to marry a saloon gal."

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"No, not against you," Brendan said grudgingly. "Just...other Yankees." He waved his hand at the imaginary "other Yankees." He wasn't sure what made Caroline different than the faceless Yankees he thought he hated. "You don't seem so bad."

 

He was relieved to hear that there was nothing between Caroline and Mike besides friendship. That might leave Caroline open to...well...he wasn't sure exactly what he wanted from her. "Somethin' like that," he said in answer to her question about who he thought Mike was.

 

"Besides, Mike is smart and nobody in their right mind wants to marry a saloon gal."

 

Brendan had to grin at that. "Now that you mention it, I never did meet anyone who's tried to marry a saloon gal. Tried to do other things with 'em, maybe, but never tried to marry 'em. I guess you never had anyone propose to you?"

 

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"Well then, guess that makes me some kind of real special Yankee? I don't know if I should be flattered?" Caroline chuckled, it was almost a giggle.

 

He asked about her old friend, Mike, so she told him the truth. Frankly it was none of his business but she had nothing to hide. In her trade she knew a lot of men, an awful lot of men. Maybe this one was a mite jealous?  Again she was bemused but did point out her view that no men wanted to get hitched to saloon gals.  She got no argument from him.

 

"Now that you mention it, I never did meet anyone who's tried to marry a saloon gal. Tried to do other things with 'em, maybe, but never tried to marry 'em. I guess you never had anyone propose to you?"

 

Caroline shrugged, "Oh I have had some proposals alright, none of them made by anyone sober. I just laugh it off."

 

"As for those......other things? Well, not sure if I mentioned it the other night but if not then you should know. I don't whore. I never have and I never will. So if yer lookin' to jump me in bed, cowpoke, yer in for a disappointment," she warned in a calm sort of voice.

 

 

 

 

 

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"You should be flattered, I guess," he said with a grin. "Not every southerner takes to people the same way Arabella does." Since Arabella and Caroline worked together, he assumed that they got on well and that Arabella had taken to her immediately the way she did with so many other people.

 

"As for those......other things? Well, not sure if I mentioned it the other night but if not then you should know. I don't whore. I never have and I never will. So if yer lookin' to jump me in bed, cowpoke, yer in for a disappointment."

 

He looked away quickly. "Oh, I didn't reckon you did," he said hastily - a lie; almost every saloon girl he'd ever met did, so he'd assumed she did too. He cleared his throat and looked back at her. "You like horses?" he asked suddenly, wanting to steer the conversation to a more comfortable topic.

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"You should be flattered, I guess," he said with a grin. "Not every southerner takes to people the same way Arabella does."

 

"Flattered maybe? More disappointed I guess. That you hold it against Yankees...for a war you folk started and lost," Caroline shrugged, "But I don't wanna argue with you. We're supposed to be enjoying this day."

 

She also made it a point to stress to the young man she was not going to be the sort of gal who simply hopped into bed with him because he made nice with her. Or, god forbid, offered her money. In fact if he knew what was good for him, he wouldn't try that especially.  She made her views crystal clear.

 

He looked away quickly. "Oh, I didn't reckon you did," he said hastily.

 

"Good!"

 

He cleared his throat and looked back at her. "You like horses?"

 

"Well, I never met any personally but yeah from a distance I think they're magnificent animals. But I'm a city girl, I never rode one in my life. Hell, I never even sat on one. Just stagecoaches and buggies," she answered him honestly.

 

"Bet you like 'em, bein' a cowpoke n'all," she smiled up at him.

 

 

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Brendan rolled his eyes at Caroline's statement about the war, but decided that if she could let it go, he should, too. She was right. They were here to enjoy themselves. And maybe she was right about him and other southerners holding grudges, but he wasn't going to admit that to her.

 

"Yeah, I like horses." Brendan grinned at this understatement and then had an idea. He'd intended his question to be merely conversational, but maybe he could turn it into something more than that. Caroline's statement that she had never ridden a horse was the perfect opportunity to test just how far he could go with her.

 

"Would you, uh, would you want to ride one now? Mine's trained real good and won't buck or nothin'." He gestured back to where they had started walking, where his horse waited placidly at the hitching post. They were a good ways off from his horse now, and had in fact almost walked the length of main street. "I'll walk alongside and hold the reins so's he can't run off with you."

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"Yeah, I like horses."

 

"Well, I'm shocked to hear it," Caroline grinned.

 

He apparently brought up that subject because he had a plan too.

 

"Would you, uh, would you want to ride one now? Mine's trained real good and won't buck or nothin'."

 

"Now?" she blinked.

 

He gestured back to where they had started walking, where his horse waited placidly at the hitching post, "I'll walk alongside and hold the reins so's he can't run off with you."

 

"Oh no thank ya, Brendan. Not that it isn't a nice enough offer but I'm wearin' one of my best dresses and I ain't about to risk gettin' dirty ridin' or even worse maybe fallin' off your horse. I also just painted my nails too," she then raised one hand in front of his face showing the brightly decorated fingernails she was obviously proud of.

 

Just then two middle aged women walked by them going the other direction, they were of course properly clad in long dresses down to their shoes, no low neckline such as Caroline's, and certainly no make up or painted nails. Their heads were covered too with the expected bonnets.

 

"Trash!" one of them muttered but she definitely made it loud enough for her target to hear.

 

Caroline turned her head and sneered, "Fuck you!"

 

The ladies went wide-eyed in horror and hurried past, whispering to each other. Caroline re-focused on Brendan then, "It's always the same any town I go to, I get used to it."

 

  The last part was a lie, she never got used to it. She just never let anyone see that it had any effect.

 

 

 

 

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"My horse ain't dirty!" Brendan protested. "And my saddle ain't neither!" His protests were stopped by the sight of Caroline's nails. "Well, those are some fine-lookin' nails, I s'pose."

 

He was trying to come up with a counter-argument as two well-dressed women walked by and insulted Caroline. She responded with a quick and cutting retort that shocked the ladies. Brendan was slightly surprised, too, not at the particular wording, but at Caroline's readiness to curse at the women out in public.

 

He let out a whistle and put his hands on his hips, impressed by her spunk, flashing her a grin. "They sure looked right horrified, didn't they? Surprised they even knew that word." It seemed she was used to being treated that way, however, which might explain her ready reply to the women.

 

He thought for a moment, then pushed his hat back on his forehead and looked at Caroline again. "Bein' on a horse makes you above everybody else. What say we get you up on my horse so them ladies and everyone in town can see how pretty you look in this dress?"

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She didn't say his horse or his saddle was dirty...though in all honesty she doubted they were recently washed clean either. Folks didn't do either of those things, leastwise that she knew of. He missed the crucial part of her refusal though it seemed. Least he recognized her fingernails point.

 

"If I fall off the horse and land on the street, you sayin' the street ain't dirty either? This here is a nice dress I'm wearing I will have you know," Caroline retorted good naturedly.

 

That was followed by a short and sweet but decidedly unpleasant encounter with two local ladies. Caroline didn't take any prisoners in her snapbacks.

 

He let out a whistle and put his hands on his hips, impressed by her spunk, flashing her a grin. "They sure looked right horrified, didn't they? Surprised they even knew that word."

 

"They're lucky I don't have a few drinks in me, I woulda decked the one right onta the boardwalk," Caroline declared. It was hard to tell if that was just talk or an actual possibility.

 

"Leastwise you ain't shocked," she chuckled.

 

The handsome cowpoke pushed his hat back on his forehead and looked at Caroline again. "Bein' on a horse makes you above everybody else. What say we get you up on my horse so them ladies and everyone in town can see how pretty you look in this dress?"

 

"Oh nice try but nope, already gave ya my answer. Besides, I'd be up there grippin' those reins and looking all nervous and that's not the image I wanna give folks," she didn't budge.

 

Or just maybe she did?

 

"Maybe another time. I will make a point of wearing my oldest dress where it wouldn't matter if it got dirty or torn or whatever," she offered.

 

 

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Brendan didn't have to glance at the street to know it was dirty. Hell, it was made of dirt. Caroline did have a point. "It sure is a nice dress, and it sure does look nice on you." He flashed her a smile, determined not to be disappointed by her refusal.

 

"They're lucky I don't have a few drinks in me, I woulda decked the one right onta the boardwalk."

 

He hid a grin. "Sure you would." His tone was just as ambiguous as hers. He wasn't sure that she would actually take a swing at her assailants, but he wasn't going to tell her that.

 

"All right, all right, I give up," he chuckled. But what was this? She might try another time? "Does that mean you want me to come back and escort you again? 'Cause I'd sure like to."

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ooc: sorry, because it's not a saloon thread, I keep forgetting to check on this one.

 

 

He agreed it was a nice dress and complimented her for which she nodded and smiled. She loved compliments about her wardrobe. That moment was interrupted though by a sour one as the two women and her had a verbal run in. Caroline assured him had she some liquid fortification she would have punched them out. He didn't sound like he believed her though. Then he'd never seen her in action. Over the years she had had plenty of run ins.

 

"All right, all right, I give up," he chuckled, "Does that mean you want me to come back and escort you again? 'Cause I'd sure like to."

 

"Yeah, well I don't figure you can miss work every day but on occasion if you are in town, you are more than welcome to accompany me on my stroll. Yer right pleasant company," she nodded.

 

"But if you come in some Sunday, we ain't open. I could dress down from this sort of outfit to something more everyday and shabby and then I'd be willin' to sit on your horse or go for a ride or something like that," she offered.

 

@Bailey

 

 

 

 

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Caroline was right; Brendan couldn't get away from work every single day to come escort her on her walk. But he could on Sundays, maybe. Certainly not every Sunday or the other hands would think he'd got religion or something like that. But every once in a while, sure.

 

He nodded. "I'd like that. Sundays might be easier for me to get away. Well...until then, Miss Mundee." He swung himself up on his horse and looked down at her for a second before raising one finger up to the brim of his hat as though he was going to tip it. The thought crossed his mind that he should have kissed her hand or something like that, but he didn't.

 

He wheeled his horse around, flashed Caroline one last smile, and headed back for Evergreen.

 

OOC: A good place to end, I think, and then I can move start their post-shootout thread soon.

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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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