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On the Boardwalk


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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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