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Sagas of the Wild West
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An Official Visit


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Just the simple act of the boy taking and holding onto her hand was very comforting to the girl. Clara felt so alone so vulnerable now that she had this secret that she could not yet share with anyone. Other than Jacob of course. She also felt so grateful that he was not abandoning her but was loyal to the core. His support meant everything. He could have just be horrified by her news and coldly denied any responsibility, there was no way Clara could prove anything if he had. But - she had been right about Jacob from the very beginning, he was a good person. Unlike a fairly long list of other men she could think of.

 

Clara now informed him of her certainity she was indeed with child. It did not rattle him in the slightest.

 

"I haven’t told anybody yet” said Jacob, looking into her eyes. “I’ve thought pretty hard about how to tell your Father. Come up with a dozen different ways of saying it. Tell him outright, ask for your hand and just hope he says ‘yes, and let’s make it tomorrow’, all sorts of different ways and means and… I don’t know that any of them will make it easier for him, or us…”

 

Clara's features showed her worry, "Oh, I do not know...if that is such a good idea. You telling him first."

 

It was her father, Clara felt it incumbent upon her to deliver the shocking news.

 

“I might tell Lee first, just to see how that goes. Then go see your Pa. Might be better if it’s when you’re not there. I want him to … well, I want to take the first assault, if you get what I mean?”

 

"How will your sister take this?" Clara was most afraid that the woman would immediately tattle to Granny and then there would be ....heck to pay.

 

"Assault? Oh good heavens, my father is a kindly man. We are truly close and while I know he is going to be very hurt by this, and no doubt angry, I honestly do not think he would harm you. "

 

However one never knew for certain so she added, "Might be best though if I am there, to step in should the worst happen."

 

Clarawithhat.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Clara's features showed her worry, "Oh, I do not know...if that is such a good idea. You telling him first." 

 

It was her father, Clara felt it incumbent upon her to deliver the shocking news.

 

Jacob shook his head slowly and with great certainty. “It’s got to be me, Clara” he said seriously “I got you this way, I want to marry you, I’ve got to be a man, and I’ve got to face this  with your Pa man to man. I can’t hide behind your skirts or Lee’s or even Granny’s: tempting though that is, believe me. If I’m to be worthy of you, then I’ve got to do this alone.” He said with a firmness he perhaps didn’t really feel when he woke in the wee hours of the morning and went through the possible conversations and their outcomes in his head.

 

“I might tell Lee first, just to see how that goes. Then go see your Pa. Might be better if it’s when you’re not there. I want him to … well, I want to take the first assault, if you get what I mean?” 

 

"How will your sister take this?" Clara was most afraid that the woman would immediately tattle to Granny and then there would be ....heck to pay.

 

Jacob just puffed his cheeks and blew out a whoosh of air. He wasn’t scared of what she would say; just aware that he had let her down and that he didn’t want to add this burden to her already troublesome existence.  

 

"Assault? Oh good heavens, my father is a kindly man. We are truly close and while I know he is going to be very hurt by this, and no doubt angry, I honestly do not think he would harm you."

 

Jacob just shook his head, this time staring into the distance. The man could be sympathy and understanding personified, the thought of telling him made his tummy leap, his heart pound and his legs turn to jelly. Ironic, that’s how seeing Clara made him feel. Same symptoms, but the different circumstances made all the difference.

 

However one never knew for certain so she added, "Might be best though if I am there, to step in should the worst happen."

 

He quit staring into his future fears, and turned to the girl he was with right now, in this very moment and said the only thing he could say when looking at Clara’s beautiful face: “I love you.” 

 

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Jacob, nobly in Clara's estimation, was insisting he should have to be the one to notify her father about what had occurred. While it was so like him to be like that, Clara had her doubts of the wisdom of that course of action.  For now they choose to disagree but without arguing. He on the other hand could not even venture a guess how his sister might accept  the news. All of this was just nerve wracking. A part of her just wanted to get it over with, even if the adults ended up furious. It was a given already they would be so disappointed.

 

Clara then decided to at least throw in her belief that she should be present if Jacob did face her father, just in case. She had never seen her father lose his temper but then he had not never found out his daughter lost her virginity. Jacob did not refuse her idea but looked at her for a quiet moment.

 

“I love you," he said softly but she just knew it was in total sincerity.

 

"And I love you too. If we can just somehow get through all this ...well, I truly believe we can make a go of it, our future life.  As a family," she nodded.

 

Then out of the clear blue she suddenly asserted, "And lest anyone bring it up, I will not, I absolutely will not give up this baby. It cannot be an option. This is our child, no one can take it away from us."

 

It was something which had been lurking in her fears.

 

 

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Then out of the clear blue she suddenly asserted, "And lest anyone bring it up, I will not, I absolutely will not give up this baby. It cannot be an option. This is our child, no one can take it away from us."

 

It was something which had been lurking in her fears.

 

Jacob went wide eyes, he hadn’t even thought of that as something that might happen.

 

“Oh God, no! We’d… run away first!” he said urgently. “Do you really think that’s something they might try and do to us?” he gasped, alarmed.

 

Just then, the door from the kitchen burst open and Jacob leaped up in fright, letting go of Clara’s hand like it was made of red-hot iron. It was Granny. She jerked a thumb toward the kitchen. “Go help your sister!” she ordered Jacob, who looked worried: like somehow this was the ‘grown ups’ plan to snatch their baby going into immediate operation! He shot Clara what he hoped was a comforting smile. “I’ll be right back!” he said, walking backward toward the kitchen door.

 

Once he was gone, Granny sat back down in her rocking chair and rocked herself back and forth with nonchalant ease while drinking in the prim looking but certainly feisty Miss Clara Redmond.

 

“So” she finally said “How long you and our Jacob been seein’ each other?”  

 

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Oh God, no! We’d… run away first!” he said urgently. “Do you really think that’s something they might try and do to us?” he gasped, alarmed.

 

"It is not unheard of, at least back in Pennsylvania," Clara recalled a local girl who left home after rumor had it she was with child then returned some months later - alone. Clara's mother had told her that the parents had given the baby to a family who could afford it. Clara hadn't thought much about it until just now.

 

Just then the redoubtable Granny Miggins re-entered the room and barked at Jacob to help his sister in the kitchen. The boy jumped to obey, it was plain to see the oldster's complete domination of these younger folks. Respect one's elders to be sure. But this was more like fear!

 

Once he was gone, Granny sat back down in her rocking chair and rocked herself back and forth with nonchalant ease while staring at Clara who tried to simply sit there and act calm, fighting off the unease she felt.

 

“So” she finally said “How long you and our Jacob been seein’ each other?”

 

"We met at the barn dance. He asked me for a dance. We hit it off immediately. Jacob is a wonderful young man," Clara answered.

 

Clarawithhat.jpg

 

 

 

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 “So” she finally said “How long you and our Jacob been seein’ each other?” 

 

"We met at the barn dance. He asked me for a dance. We hit it off immediately. Jacob is a wonderful young man," Clara answered.

 

“Mmmm” the old lady ruminated on this.

 

“I remember that dance. Couple o’ months ago now, isn’t it?” she asked rhetorically, she knew damn well how long ago it was.

 

“Hmm, two months” she said, examining Clara over her glasses “I reckon you’ve put a little weight on since then. Good, can’t be doin’ with these scrawny girls with no meat on their bones. Hmmm, nice healthy glow about you, child.” She smiled knowingly to herself. “And you two are courting, steady, are you?” This time it was a real question.

 

Suddenly there was an anguished feminine scream from the kitchen and Jacob burst through the door.

 

“Granny, it’s Lee, she’s fainted!!” he cried.

 

“Oh shit, not again!” grumbled Nellie, getting out of her rocking chair. “Clara, come with me! Jacob, you fetch the smelling salts!” she ordered, like General Sherman directing his men.

 

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"I remember that dance. Couple o’ months ago now, isn’t it?”

 

"Yes," Clara nodded.

 

“Hmm, two months” she said, examining Clara over her glasses, “I reckon you’ve put a little weight on since then. Good, can’t be doin’ with these scrawny girls with no meat on their bones. Hmmm, nice healthy glow about you, child.”

 

"I work at the diner, perhaps I have gained a few pounds, Miss Emeline's cooking is excellent," Clara had a ready excuse.

 

She smiled knowingly to herself. “And you two are courting, steady, are you?”

 

"Jacob is the only boy I have ever courted...been courted by," Clara would only speak for herself.

 

Suddenly there was an anguished feminine scream from the kitchen and Jacob burst through the door.

 

“Granny, it’s Lee, she’s fainted!!” he cried.

 

"What?" Clara was not surprisingly startled by this sudden development.

 

“Oh shit, not again!” grumbled Nellie, getting out of her rocking chair. “Clara, come with me! Jacob, you fetch the smelling salts!”

 

Clara stood immediately then hurried into the kitchen right behind Granny Miggins.

 

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“Granny, it’s Lee, she’s fainted!!” he cried.

 

"What?" Clara was not surprisingly startled by this sudden development.

 

“Oh shit, not again!” grumbled Nellie, getting out of her rocking chair. “Clara, come with me! Jacob, you fetch the smelling salts!”

 

Clara stood immediately then hurried into the kitchen right behind Granny Miggins.

 

Nellie had taken a cushion from her rocker in with her and, as Jacob rushed past the other way,  she thrust this into Clara’s hands as they looked down at the prone figure of Leonora on the kitchen floor. There were carrots everywhere. “All right Clara, you put this under her head, I can’t get down there with these legs. I’ll fetch over the chair.”

 

From the sitting room, Jacob was shouting “I can’t find ‘em! Where are they?!” Granny yelled back the age old reply to such questions “They’re where you left ‘em, o' course!”

 

Granny half carried, half dragged the chair across the floor with a loud scraping noise and set it up near Leonora’s feet. She nodded approval at Clara’s efforts with the cushion. “Good. Now, on the count of three, we’re going to lift her feet onto the chair. That’ll bring her round. All right, Clara?” Granny was watching Clara carefully, as if all of this was some kind of aptitude test she had set up to gauge the girl’s mettle, although Leonora clearly really was in a dead faint.

 

“Here we go…” there was an almost audible cracking of bones as Granny bent down and got hold of Lee’s ankles from her side. “… one, two, three, hup!”

 

At that point Jacob re-appeared, smelling salts in hand, staring at Leonora, in her strange position, like a ghost. Granny was actually chuckling now “He, he! Good job your pappy didn’t come in to visit, Clara, she’d ‘a been mortified if he’d seen her like this, flashin’ her ankles! He, he, he.” But catching sight of Jacob, her smile faded: “What you lookin’ so squirrel about, boy?! Ain’t like she don’t do this at least twice a week!”

 

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Clara had a pillow thrust into her hands and immediately realized what was expected of her though Granny gave her a quick command anyhow.

 

“All right Clara, you put this under her head, I can’t get down there with these legs. I’ll fetch over the chair.”

 

"Of course," Clara knelt down and gently lifted Lenora's head until she could slide the pillow under it.

 

“Good. Now, on the count of three, we’re going to lift her feet onto the chair. That’ll bring her round. All right, Clara?”

 

"Oh for goodness sake, I can lift her feet myself, don't you strain yourself," Clara assured the woman but Granny insisted on helping.

 

Nonetheless Clara did the lions share of the lifting and placing at the count of three. It was definitely not a two person task in her opinion.

 

Granny was actually chuckling now “He, he! Good job your pappy didn’t come in to visit, Clara, she’d ‘a been mortified if he’d seen her like this, flashin’ her ankles! He, he, he.” But catching sight of Jacob, her smile faded: “What you lookin’ so squirrel about, boy?! Ain’t like she don’t do this at least twice a week!”

 

"My father has seen womens' ankles," Clara calmly pointed out, "He was after all married.

 

But Granny was busy barking at Jacob.

 

"Goodness, so this happens a lot?" Clara was shocked. Something serious must be wrong with Jacob's sister?

 

 

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"My father has seen womens' ankles," Clara calmly pointed out.

 

“Has he, by Gum?” replied Granny “Well, he’d better not try and see mine!”

 

"He was after all married.”

 

 “Hmm!” Granny grumped “Not much fun fer a feller to look at his wife’s ankles!”

 

Granny was busy barking at Jacob. Despite her usual irreverent manner, she did look a bit worried about Leonora, as if maybe this was a worse case of the fainting fits than usual.

 

"Goodness, so this happens a lot?" Clara was shocked. Something serious must be wrong with Jacob's sister?

 

“She’s got a weak heart” explained Jacob, bending down and trying to get the cap of the smelling salts in their tiny little bottle.

 

“More like a weak mind!” countered Mrs Miggins as the septuagenarian went to the back door that led to the outside. She cracked it open and shouted.

 

“Ned! Ned! Get in here and carry Miss Lee into the parlor. ‘Nother one of her fits!”

 

Jacob finally got the cap off and wafted the bottle under the recumbent Leonora’s nose; she immediately started to cough and splutter and come out of her unconscious state. Like a sleeper who wakes with a vague foreboding that something is terribly, terribly wrong, she half opened her eyes, looking up at the people above her, trying to remember what awful news she had just received.

 

Her eyes cast about, past the concerned looking Jacob, then Granny at the back door, and then … Clara. She gave an audible gasp and then started to babble incoherently “Clara! Clara! With child! No! No!” and started to swoon away again.

 

“WHAT’S THAT?!!” bellowed Granny Miggins striding over. “SHE’S PREGNANT?!!”

 

“No, Granny.. I … “ Jacob’s words were cut off as the old lady slapped him sturdily across the ear and looking for a carving knife, but finding only a fork to hand on the draining board, picked it up and started to jab at the terrified teen with it.

 

“You dirty, no good son of a bitch! I told you I’d slice ‘em off with a rusty butter knife if you got any girls in trouble!!!” she yelled furiously, pursuing Jacob, who retreated in disorder and tried to hide behind Clara.

 

Just then a middle aged black man appeared at the back door to be greeted by the sight of a strange girl standing in the kitchen, Miss Leonora lying on the floor with her feet on a chair, and Granny trying to kill Jacob with a fork.

 

“Howdy folks, so what’s happenin’ all up in here today?!” he smiled genially, it was just another typical scene in the Miggins household as far as he could tell.

 

@Wayfarer

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