"Rev. Reed? Ohhh, yes that new preacher in town. Who said he lived here? Nonsense. He's a man of God and this ain't a house of God," she declared, really to protect the clergyman's rep more than anything.
Jacob manfully resisted the urge to point at Clara and say “She did!” Instead he gave a nondescript shrug.
"He did come in here....once, when he first showed up in town. To ask directions and get the lay of the town. But he never lived here," she then smiled.
Jacob thought he’d better make an effort to show he believed her, like it mattered if he’d lived there or not. Wasn’t Jesus friends with publicans? “Who knows how these rumours start, huh!?” he proffered, feeling like his words were strangely pompous somehow.
"One of my employees is an avid churchgoer, she might know where he lives now," she added.
"Yes, Arabella," Clara interjected since no either introduced her nor asked who she was.
"Yes, that's her in all her glory," smirked the woman.
Clara blinked, "If you say so, ma'am."
“Good old Reb!” chimed in Jacob, feeling he ought to chime in.
"Well come on in, get enough bugs in the place without holding the door wide open for more to sashshay in," Matilda now stepped back to allow entrance.
"Oh ...umm, " Clara began but Jacob went right on in so she figured she better follow. The saloon was open, one could easily hear the sound of customers' laughing and shouting, apparently having a good time.
"So....Mr. Lutz, I seem to recall you have an older sister, is this her?" Matilda asked.
Despite the strangeness of the situation, Jacob couldn’t help having to stifle a laugh at this. Lee would have been horizonal in a dead faint by this point in the proceedings, Clara was made of sterner stuff.
"What?" Clara was pretty sure she had just been insulted, "No, I am not."
“Just another pal of Arabella’s” explained Jacob, deciding not to bandy Clara’s still good name around.
Arabella, in a room just off the kitchen when the laundry got done, heard the familiar voices but it never occurred to her that the female one could be Clara Redmond, not here in this disgraceful den of iniquity. Jacob, on the other hand.
“Hey! Is that Hayseed?!!” she yelled with leather lungs. “Get in here, stranger, I need a hand pullin’ down ma bloomers!” she implored, for indeed, the annoying garment had got stuck in the mangle and needed a strong arm to pull them down and out.