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.
"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.”
"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.
"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.
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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