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Here Endeth the Lesson


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Mature Content: For the love of God. let us hope not!

Author: Leonora Lutz

With: Redmonds, Lutz, any other Church-going folk.
Location: Kalispell Methodist (Community) Church. (open to all denominations)
When: Mid 1876
Time of Day: End of Sunday Morning Service.

 

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It had been a long, long time since she had been in this situation.

 

Standing in a dour, serious Church service, absolutely dying to burst out laughing. She tried everything: biting her lip, digging her nails into the palms of her hands, thinking of the saddest most pitiable things that she could imagine. It was not helping. She could only hope that anybody spotting the tears rolling down her cheeks would suppose that they were caused by some sort of divine rapture, rather than the hilarious noise coming from the harmonium as they all sang number 528 on the board, “Nearer my God to Thee”. She somehow felt sure that the strange skinny teenage girl playing the battered, foot pumped, keyboard instrument was doing it on purpose, the one Jacob had described to her, in her sickbed as “The Reb”, making sure that in the interludes between the verses, she played a particular deep, faulty note on the thing that sounded for all the world like someone breaking wind. And not just a polite whispery one; a full bodied, underwear-destroying RASP!

 

By some miracle of the aforementioned deity, Lee got to the end of the hymn without shrieking with laughter at the funny sound. The amazing thing was nobody else seemed to notice it! Was it just her? Maybe she was irreligious. She’d certainly come close enough in the last year to making it to the Pearly Gates and finding out if the elevator ride was Up or Down. Now she felt so much better. She’d put on weight, as well. Too much weight, her Grandmother said! Her heart would always be weak, but what did they say? ‘Cracked pots last longest’ - so she might be around for a few years yet for all her 25 years.

 

Since last she’d been well enough to be in Church there were many new faces, many old ones gone. Two new ones she guessed at, as they all filed out of the church, shaking hands with Pastor Evans. She nudged Jacob as he took her arm in support.

 

“Is that her? The famous Clara?” she asked him, a twinkle in her eye. “And her Father, I suppose?”

 

“Uh-huh.” Nodded Jacob, at his most taciturn. But his neutral face changed to horror as she let go his arm and rushed forward to catch up to the tall, dark haired man with the neat Napoleon, walking out of church with his beautiful dark eyed daughter.

 

“Oh, is it Mister Redmond?” she asked precipitously “Mister Aurelian Redmond?” she specified, looking up at him with those enormously round blue eyes.

 

@Wayfarer

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Yes, the music was wretched alright, Clara had to concede that much but she was used to it by now. She had heard Arabella was really good with the piano over at the saloon not that she ever entered that sort of place to listen. A proper lady should never set foot in such places. But whatever her musical talent, nothing Arabella could do made that instrument in church sound anything better than awful. However God allowed it all to happen so was she had to be accepting.

 

Mercifully when the service ended, she accompanied her father, Aurelian Redmond, on out the door. Earlier she had cast a few glances in the direction of none other than Jacob. Since their last time alone with each other, nothing similar had followed unfortunately.  She missed the boy, well he certainly wasn't a boy anymore then was he though. Should they risk at the very least a quick chat when services were over? She certainly hoped so!

 

Aurelian shook hands with the minister on the way out and then, accompanied by his daughter, headed on outside. For the moment his mind was on nothing more than looking forward to a big breakfast.  The pair didn't get far though before...

 

“Oh, is it Mister Redmond?” a young woman now asked precipitously “Mister Aurelian Redmond?” she specified, looking up at him with those enormously round blue eyes.

 

He stopped then, "Yes, I am Aurelian Redmond. And this is my daughter, Clara."

 

"I apologize but I do not know who you are... miss?"

 

Clara silently agreed with her father as she eyed the woman. Wait! She had been inside services right next to Jacob! Was this his sister maybe? There was little family resemblance in all honesty.

 

Clare-Monroe001.jpg

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He stopped then, "Yes, I am Aurelian Redmond. And this is my daughter, Clara."

 

Lee’s eyes glanced at Clara with an interest that made the big black pupils of her eyes visibly dilate, before she swivelled those expressive orbs back to Aurelian. “You have a beautiful daughter, Mister Redmond.”

 

"I apologize but I do not know who you are... miss?"

 

“My name is Lutz, Leonora Lutz, for my sins.” She introduced herself and thrust out a hand at the man. That was an unladylike thing to do, perhaps, but since her brush with death, she felt she couldn’t wait for the slow cogs of propriety to get things done.

 

“My brother Jacob and I have the Miggins Place…” she indicated a gangly and somewhat uncomfortable looking youth behind her, who was looking every which way, other than directly at Aurelian and Clara, like he thought making eye contact with them would somehow magically inform everybody present what exactly had transpired between the pretty brunette and himself. “… further out of town than you, I understand you’ve bought Lloyd Sidwell’s place?” Lee carried on.

 

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At that point, a helpful little minx called Arabella Mudd poked her head out of the door behind them and in that raucous voice of hers shouted “Hey, Hayseed, Clara! Come and help me collect up the hymnbooks, will ya?!”

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"Why thank you, miss, I always tell her that too she is a hard one to convince," Aurelian smiled even as Clara blushed at the sudden compliments.

 

The woman then introduced herself and stuck out a hand for a shake. Aurelian was bemused but honestly did not think any worse of the woman for it and they shook.

 

"Nice to meet you, Miss Lutz," Aurelian smiled, he knew the family name alright, Clara had talked quite a bit about the boy, Jacob.

 

“My brother Jacob and I have the Miggins Place…” she indicated a gangly and somewhat uncomfortable looking youth behind her,  “… further out of town than you, I understand you’ve bought Lloyd Sidwell’s place?”

 

"Yes, Clara has told me all about your brother, Jacob," he smiled.  Little did he know she hardly told him ALL.

 

"And I did, I got a great deal from Mr. Sidwell, it seemed him and his wife had decided they no longer wanted to continue with frontier life but instead they went back East. I hope it all went well with them," Aurelian explained.

 

ooc: I'm gonna break this thread up now as there are now two different conversations in different locations.

 

 

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Clara snuck a look at Jacob as her father and his sister commenced their conversation but the boy was looking everywhere but at her. Could he look any more guilty?

 

At that point, a helpful little minx called Arabella Mudd poked her head out of the door behind them and in that raucous voice of hers shouted “Hey, Hayseed, Clara! Come and help me collect up the hymnbooks, will ya?!”

 

Perfect!  Clara decided to take advantage of the opening Arabella gave her (and Jacob too).

 

"Oh, excuse me, Father, Miss Lutz," she then headed back to the church as she and Jacob now fell in together. They only had seconds to go before they would be in church with Arabella and no secrets could be shared with that chatterbox around.

 

"I miss you so much," she hissed, wanting to reach for his hand but having the self control not to what with all the people around.

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"Oh, excuse me, Father, Miss Lutz," she then headed back to the church as she and Jacob now fell in together. They only had seconds to go before they would be in church with Arabella and no secrets could be shared with that chatterbox around.

 

"I miss you so much," she hissed, wanting to reach for his hand but having the self control not to what with all the people around.

 

“And I miss you too, but why’s my sister talking to your Father?!” Jacob hissed.

 

He was totally confused and suspicious, Lee hadn’t mentioned anything about this before. He was antsy to know what the heck she was talking to him about back there, but at the same time relieved not to be standing there with GUILT written in red letters on his face.

Arabella was ready to receive them with two tall, slightly wobbly looking towers of hymnbooks neatly stacked on the front pew.

 

“Ooops, I forgot I already collected them up!” she grinned “But can you two take them into the vestry at the back there?” she asked with suppressed, conspiratorial mirth. “I’m gonna stay here and keep vigil … religious vigil that is!” The scamp was fixing them up with a little tryst.

 

Jacob needed no further prompting, grabbing his pile of tottering leather bound books and encouraging Clara to do the same with a hasty “C’mon!”

 

“The vestry” was a rather grandiose term for an oversized broom cupboard, but anywhere that Jacob could be alone with Clara was a palace. The stack of hymnals collapsed like the tower of Babel as he shoved it too hastily onto the bookshelf, wanting to grab Clara and kiss her greedily on the lips as soon as humanly possible.

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"And I did, I got a great deal from Mr. Sidwell, it seemed him and his wife had decided they no longer wanted to continue with frontier life but instead they went back East. I hope it all went well with them," Aurelian explained.

 

“Oh, you didn’t hear, then…” began Lee, but at that point her brother and Mr. Redmond’s comely daughter were called back by the queer little harmonium playing waif to help with some ecclesiastical housekeeping chore. She had never seen Jacob so keen to do a chore before in her life.

 

She watched the two of them file back into the church, keeping studiously apart from each other.

 

Leonora looked back at the Father, searching his deep brown eyes. His manner was reserved, but those eyes were sharp, missed nothing: except maybe what they didn’t want to see.

 

“Jacob told me how you and Clara took the little harmonium player in last Christmas, when she was at death’s door, and nursed her back to life.” The joke might be that, after the noise of the instrument, they had done the community a disservice; but Lee’s heart was full of vicarious gratitude: around that time, in the black night of  Winter, she had been at the brink of death herself, nursed back from the precipice, barely,  by the loving hands of brother, grandmother and friends. That the Redmonds had done this for one who was neither kith nor kin nor even known to them touched her soul.

 

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“And I miss you too, but why’s my sister talking to your Father?!” Jacob hissed.

 

"How do I know? I might have been able to find out but Arabella called me away," Clara thought she was stating the obvious. Well, she did hurry to respond because, after all, it meant some time to see Jacob again.

 

 

Arabella was ready to receive them with two tall, slightly wobbly looking towers of hymnbooks neatly stacked on the front pew.

 

“Ooops, I forgot I already collected them up!” she grinned “But can you two take them into the vestry at the back there?” she asked with suppressed, conspiratorial mirth.

 

"I know where the vestry is," Clara frowned, what was this girl up to now.

 

“I’m gonna stay here and keep vigil … religious vigil that is!" Arabella announced.

 

Jacob needed no further prompting, grabbing his pile of tottering leather bound books and encouraging Clara to do the same with a hasty “C’mon!”

 

"Very well," Clara scooped her half of the books, almost dropping them in her haste.

 

“The vestry” was a rather grandiose term for an oversized broom cupboard. Jacob just dumped his books without much care. That would never do for Clara though, who carefully set her stack down then even straightened a few out of place volumes before deciding it was satisfactory. Then facing Jacob.

 

"You look as handsome as ever," Clara actually smiled at the sight of him. For the moment her father and his sister were forgotten.

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The Lutz woman was about to say something but that train of thought seemed to be derailed when Clara and her brother were called into church by the Mudd girl. When Miss Lutz continued it seemed to be on a new topic.

 

“Jacob told me how you and Clara took the little harmonium player in last Christmas, when she was at death’s door, and nursed her back to life.”

 

"Oh that, well it was the Christian thing to do," Aurelian shrugged, "And actually young Miss Mudd just needed some warmth, rest, and some nourishing meals to bounce back. Youth are resilient you know."

 

"Besides Clara had made it her personal cause to save that girl, so Miss Mudd would not have dared die. When Clara puts her mind to something, she is a sight to behold," he grinned, it was so obvious the man was very proud of his daughter so some bragging should probably be expected from him.

 

 

 

 

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"You look as handsome as ever," Clara actually smiled at the sight of him. For the moment her father and his sister were forgotten.

 

Once they were safely in the Vestry with the door closed behind them, Jacob wanted to get busy canoodling with the alluring Clara, looking, if anything, even prettier than ever in her Sunday best; but being a woman, she wanted to talk.

 

“Yeah, I know, so do you, I mean, you look beautiful! And of course I’m handsome: every time I read a book and there’s some feller in love in it, he’s always handsome! Now, how about a little kiss for this handsome feller?” he smiled, his eyes flashing even in this very pleasantly dark pantry. Time was going to be fleeting, as factor which added to the thrill of it all; that and the thought that at any moment the door might fly open and there could stand Clara’s stern looking Father, his sister, Pastor Evans, the whole dog-gone congregation!

 

Maybe that pest Arabella had gone to fetch them and this was all some nasty prank she was playing on them both, just because he still owed her 15 cents. But nah, she was a pest, but she was a sort of ‘romantical pest’ who was evidently determined to help them in their endeavours to get at least a little spooning in. He didn’t even care if she was listening at the door outside (which she wasn’t, although she did hover near, lest a warning was required).

 

Jacob put his hands on Clara’s trim waist and suddenly felt he was back at the lake again. He looked into her eyes and moved in for a kiss.

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