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    • James smiled back, forgetting again that she could not see it.  Truthfully he would be hard pressed to stop himself from doing such things even in her presence but for those who had sight, they would struggle to imagine how she lived as well as she did without it.  It was as ingrained in him as it was for her doing without.  Because he’d been raised at all-male boarding schools, the young British man had very limited experience with the fairer sex, this was simply a fact, one that James had no trouble acknowledging.   When she joked with the Marshall regarding being weighed down with metal coins, James chuckled at her jest, stopping suddenly as something occurred to him.  “I say!”  He exclaimed, then rushed on, “Have you ever given thought to folding each kind of bill in a different way so that you can tell which is which?”  He caught his breath then, waiting to see what she or the Marshall thought of his latest idea.  If she needed his assistance in the folding, he'd be happy to help her.   As she suspected, James was obvious to the fact that she was gently flirting with him, taking everything at face value, his inexperience with the fairer sex once again rearing it’s head.  He caught something of the heat that colored her cheeks, and the errant thought passed through his mind that she might be falling ill.  Not uncommon so soon after the passing of a loved one.
    • He tried to make it sound important enough that she should be interested in local politics but really what good did being interested do her? She could not change anything. She could not vote so to hell with it. The people she lived with, worked with were what was important to her. But she wasn't going to argue with him about it.   "Sure, I reckon," Caroline shrugged.   Then handsome young soldier...correction, officer now launched into a nice long tale of his family roots. It was fascinating really he knew all that much about his family history and those who came before. She didn't know a damn thing about such things in her own life. She was pretty damn sure the woman she called Ma had been the one to give birth to her but she was not positive. And there was even more doubt about her father or step father. No matter, they had been a family and stuck together til two out of three died. So now it was just her. Well, her and her saloon family.   "Interestin'," she nodded, enjoying the way he told the story as much as the actual story.   "So you see, in a hundred years time... the president of the United States will be tracing his roots back to a beautiful saloon singer in old Kalispell and a tramp in the street'll be vaguely aware that he is descended from the once great Greenes of Vermont." He shrugged. "Who cares, rich man, poor man, beggar man thief." he looked into the depths of her blue eyes "... or lady, baby, gypsy, queen."   "Not gonna happen that way. I'm never gonna get married and I ain't gonna have any children so no one is descendin' from me, hon. But I liked yer tellin' of it," she liked him, this dinner date had turned out better than she had figured it would.          
    • "Ah yeah, the mayor's election. Why should I care who wins? I can't even vote in it, "Caroline waved it off. Oh she would clap for and cheer on Mr. Priest whom her boss was pushing to win but she personally did not give a damn.   Greene shrugged. "Maybe not, but the person who's elected could make your life a lot better or a whole lot worse. You ever hear of a abomination that goes by the name of a 'dry county'? The poor b... er, denizens of a place like that probably didn't realise until too late what they were voting in." he laughed, although it was no laughing matter: reformers and prohibitionists were even in these early decades starting to make their voices heard.    He then mentioned being interested in listening to her and Ara perform.   "Please do. I don't want to sound like I'm braggin' but most folks say I've got a real nice singing voice. I admit my dancing is not that special but I just show them a little leg.......or more than a little...and they clap alright," she informed him.   "I can imagine!" he smiled. But it was a nice smile. A friendly smile. Not the sort of lascivious smile that indicated that he already had been imagining... frequently.    They talked of the famous Dance.   "Yeah, must have been before I arrived in town. No local dances for me yet...besides I got a feelin' my sort would not be welcomed at any such town affair. Those things are for proper folks."   Greene frowned. He didn't like to think of this beautiful woman being denigrated in any way: though he was not unaware of the snobby often hypocritical attitude of those who felt them selves a cut above the type of folks who worked in certain professions, including soldiers - at least the non-commissioned kind. Sometimes with good reason, often times not.   "You know, one of my aunts once had our family tree drawn up, just like the noble families of Europe. The fellow who did it even drew it like a tree, leaves, and apples, and all. We're real Vermont blue-bloods, you see, despite the green name. Aunt Mary-Anne expected our forefathers to have come across on the Mayflower, or with Captain Smith to Jamestown."   He smiled happily at the memory of it.   "Imagine her delight when the feller delivered our family tree and revealed that the first Greene to set foot on American soil was an indentured servant, a virtual slave, who'd been transported here for, get this, stealing apples from some rich lord's orchard!"    He enjoyed the memory of his snobby aunt's discomfort for a moment then returned to the present.   "So you see, in a hundred years time... the president of the United States will be tracing his roots back to a beautiful saloon singer in old Kalispell and a tramp in the street'll be vaguely aware that he is descended from the once great Greenes of Vermont." He shrugged. "Who cares, rich man, poor man, beggar man thief." he looked into the depths of her blue eyes "... or lady, baby, gypsy, queen."   @Wayfarer        
    • "Debate, you dumb bitch, it's called a debate," Caroline mumbled under her breath but the woman figured it out just then too.   Priest wasn't going to be rushed though. He would reveal all later was all he would promise. In that way the man was a true politician, promises a whole lot, she'd see if he actually delivered on anything. The politicians in Chicago had been crooked, the mayor of Helena had been well meaning but a bumbling fool, and the one here in Kalispell was ......well, she didn't even know who the hell that was, he was pretty much invisible. The town seemingly had been run by that one council member before he lit himself on fire.   Just then they got themselves a trio of new customers, rough looking lot but a customer was a customer. Fortner invited them to have a drink and they promptly bellied up to the bar. Of course Ralph was there, waiting to hear what they'd like.   "Three whiskies," one of the men said, after reaching into his coat and putting down some coinage.   "Sure nuff, comin' right up," Ralph nodded and reached for one of the cheap bottles, he was a pretty good judge of customers' taste and proclivities. He poured three shots of the powerful liquor.   Caroline swung into saloon girl mode too, sashaying up to the one lined up at the bar closest to her, gifting him with a bright smile, "Welcome! Have a long ride, did ya, hon?"    
    • He gazed up at the domed ceiling and was awe struck at it's beauty. He was taken aback by the obvious talent that it took to create such a beautiful thing. "Dang near as pretty as you, Em." was his comment. "Took 'em a while to get that done. Never seen the like."   And that was a fact. There had been nothing that he had seen before to compare to the glass domed ceiling, nothing. He suddenly felt out of place, something odd for him to feel, at any time, in any place, but it struck him here in this place. The sheer beauty of it touched him. What man could accomplish given the opportunity   "Now 'at's somethin'. Best we see what other marvels they got in this place. May not have time ta see everything." He pointed out. @Bongo
Clara Redmond Lutz

An Official Visit

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"And who are you to demand that I swear on my mother's soul to satiate your curiosity? You may order around everyone else here but I am not part of your family. I do not have to do anything of the sort," Clara stood her ground.

 

“HA! Well, that answers THAT question!” said the old battleaxe, with an air of finality. As far as she was concerned, Clara’s refusal to swear was an admission of guilt. “And I reckon from now on in, child, we’re part of the same family whether we like it or not!” she added, nodding toward Clara’s belly.

 

As if to add weight to Granny’s interpretation of the Redmond girl’s refusal to fess up, Leonora’s voice could now be heard wailing and moaning in the other room, where she had evidently come out of her swoon.

 

“Oh, Clara with child! How could you Jacob?! After all my warnings! Oh, What will Aurelian say?!”

 

Granny crossed her arms, her sympathetic smile was now tinged with a note of triumph. She suddenly hollered out. “Jacob, get on in here! Granny needs to talk to you!”

 

It seemed Jacob couldn’t get out of Lee’s blabber-mouthed company quickly enough, even Granny’s fork-stabs were preferable to that.  He caught Clara’s eyes as he came sheepishly back into the kitchen, and shook his head. “I’m sorry, I told Lee ‘cause I thought she could help.” He explained quietly, letting the cat out of the bag for sure now.

 

The old woman actually cackled now.

 

“What? That wet Nellie?!” she almost choked with mirth “She’s worse than useless! In fact, we’re going to have to lock her in her room before this ‘uns Pap comes back here, or she’ll tell him fer sure!” she predicted. “I presume he DON’T know!? Good. Well let’s keep it that way for now.”

 

She rubbed her somewhat bristly chin, and looked at Clara with a more serious mien.

“Now, we ain’t got time fer all o’ this false modesty, Missy, we got a wedding to arrange. Now, how far gone are you? You got the morning sickness yet? And most importantly, who the Dickens knows about this thing?!”

 

“We’re keepin’ the baby Granny!” Jacob blurted suddenly.

 

She looked like she was about to reach for the fork again.

 

“Well of course you’re keepin’ the baby, you damned idiot!” she pointed at Clara’s midriff “That child’s a Miggins!! And we look after our own!!!” Jacob knew better than correct her about the little one being destined to be a Lutz, best keep the formidable old bat on side.

 

@Wayfarer

Edited by Javia (see edit history)

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“HA! Well, that answers THAT question!” said the old battleaxe, with an air of finality.

 

"It does not, it only means I refuse to answer," Clara contested the implication gamely.

 

“And I reckon from now on in, child, we’re part of the same family whether we like it or not!” she added, nodding toward Clara’s belly.

 

And who said that Clara liked the possibility of just that either, Jacob was the lone member of this family she cared about.

 

Leonora’s voice could now be heard wailing and moaning in the other room, where she had evidently come out of her swoon.

 

“Oh, Clara with child! How could you Jacob?! After all my warnings! Oh, What will Aurelian say?!”

 

Clara could not help but blanch a bit at that question too, what would her father say???

 

Granny crossed her arms, her sympathetic smile was now tinged with a note of triumph. She suddenly hollered out. “Jacob, get on in here! Granny needs to talk to you!”

 

Clara braced for yet another possible confrontation with her and the old woman if she once more went after Jacob.

 

  Jacob caught Clara’s eyes as he came sheepishly back into the kitchen, and shook his head. “I’m sorry, I told Lee ‘cause I thought she could help.”   

 

He what? How could he do that? Their secret and he just ups and reveals it? Clara was disappointed in her shining knight right about then. His abject fear of his grandmother and now this!

 

"What? That wet Nellie?!” Granny almost choked with mirth “She’s worse than useless! In fact, we’re going to have to lock her in her room before this ‘uns Pap comes back here, or she’ll tell him fer sure!” she predicted. “I presume he DON’T know!? Good. Well let’s keep it that way for now.”

 

Clara felt defeated right about then, her lying was exposed for what it was. This visit was a disaster.

 

Granny then declared,  “Now, we ain’t got time fer all o’ this false modesty, Missy, we got a wedding to arrange. Now, how far gone are you? You got the morning sickness yet? And most importantly, who the Dickens knows about this thing?!”

 

Before Clara could consider if she was going to answer that ............

 

“We’re keepin’ the baby Granny!” Jacob blurted suddenly. Clara was glad at least the boy was brave enough about that.

 

“Well of course you’re keepin’ the baby, you damned idiot!” she pointed at Clara’s midriff “That child’s a Miggins!! And we look after our own!!!

 

Least they did not need to argue with the woman about that point because Clara would never yield on that central  matter. The baby was hers and Jacob's and no one could make any decisions regarding it. 

 

"That child will also be a Redmond too and I am the mother so I will make the decisions.....with Jacob of course," Clara wanted Granny Miggins to know that.

 

 

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“Well of course you’re keepin’ the baby, you damned idiot!” she pointed at Clara’s midriff “That child’s a Miggins!! And we look after our own!!! 

 

"That child will also be a Redmond too and I am the mother so I will make the decisions.....with Jacob of course," Clara wanted Granny Miggins to know that.

 

“Well, o’ course you’ll both make them decisions together” agreed Granny “And I’m about to tell you what them decisions’ll be! Now come on, stop shilly-shallying’ who we got to deal with.”

 

Jacob shrugged ”I reckon Arabella’s worked it out.” He guessed, not knowing if Clara had any more intelligence on that front than he did.

 

“Ara… oh, that dreadful girl with the harmonium! D’ya reckon she’d tell anyone? She seems like a blabber-mouth to me!” Granny asked. Then Jacob said the oddest thing.

 

“Nah, she’s loyal. She’s almost as much in love with Clara as I am.” He smiled goofily at Clara, not even thinking about what he’d just revealed about the pot girl.

 

“Oh, one of those, eh?” Granny shook her head “Hmmm, them types often do get religion pretty bad. And here was me thinkin’ she was sniffin’ around that old fossil Evans. All right, well she might come in useful when we need to get a pastor over here to conduct the ceremony. Not Evans though, maybe that new one. He looks like he’d do anything for money or booze. Anyone else you told?”

 

Jacob shook his head genuinely. Granny looked at Clara over her glasses. “Well child, you told anyone else?” her blue eyes might be old and rheumy, but her gaze was as steely and direct as it had ever been, and she also reminded Clara of something. “Now come on, Clara, I know now that you’re too good and honest a girl to make a good liar … who’d ya tell?!”

 

@Wayfarer

Edited by Javia (see edit history)

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“Well, o’ course you’ll both make them decisions together” agreed Granny “And I’m about to tell you what them decisions’ll be! Now come on, stop shilly-shallying’ who we got to deal with.”  

 

Clara frowned, the woman was impossible! This was never going to work between the two of them.

 

Jacob shrugged ”I reckon Arabella’s worked it out.”

 

"Nonsense!" Clara simply did not believe that.

 

Granny was not thrilled to hear that guess either and she and Jacob carried on back and forth. Though there was one part Clara did not get.

 

"She’s almost as much in love with Clara as I am.” He smiled goofily at Clara.

 

"That is silly," Clara scoffed.

 

It seemed that was it for Jacob's knowledge of those in the 'know' as it were so Granny's attention was focused on her once more demanding as always.

 

“Now come on, Clara, I know now that you’re too good and honest a girl to make a good liar … who’d ya tell?!”   

 

Finally Clara relented and went with the truth, "Just Emeline....Mrs. Blakesley at the LickSkillet. I work for her and she is just wonderful. Like the mother I no longer have." 

 

 

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"She’s almost as much in love with Clara as I am.” He smiled goofily at Clara.

 

 "That is silly," Clara scoffed.

 

“Being in love with you could never be silly” countered Jacob in saccharine tones while staring dreamy eyed at Clara. Granny made a noise like she was trying not to suddenly throw up.

 

Now that it was all out in the open, Jacob felt a lot less worried, somehow: what he’d been dreading had happened and, well, here they all were, still alive and unharmed, except for a few minor fork wounds. Granny was a tyrant, it was true, but at least she was doing something to put things right, something he knew he should be capable of but… he just lacked the experience and certainty and drive of the mad old woman.

 

Look at her, even now she was pushing on relentlessly with her interrogation of Clara, she was a strong determined woman. Just like Clara. Oh God! Did Clara remind him of Granny?! He shook his head and tried not to think of that one!

 

“Now come on, Clara, I know now that you’re too good and honest a girl to make a good liar … who’d ya tell?!”  

 

Finally Clara relented and went with the truth, "Just Emeline....Mrs. Blakesley at the LickSkillet. I work for her and she is just wonderful. Like the mother I no longer have."

 

“Good!” nodded Granny. “I mean good you told me, not good you told her!” She shook her head. “Ohh, I can see why you told Emeline Blakesley, same reason this beanpole went and told his wet blanket of a sister: thought he’d get a sympathetic hearing. Hmm, well I know Emeline Blakesley, oooh, she’ll have been kindness itself, probably gave you a hug and told you everything’d be all right and stuffed a slice of pie inside you. Am I right, or am I right? Problem is, she’s well meanin’ and well meanin’ folks is dangerous to tell any secrets to!”

She rubbed her chin thoughtfully.

 

“Wouldn’t be surprised if she’s telling your Papa all about the thing right this very minute.”

 

@Wayfarer

Edited by Javia (see edit history)

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“Being in love with you could never be silly” countered Jacob in saccharine tones while staring dreamy eyed at Clara.

 

"That was not what I meant, I meant Arabella," Clara pointed out. But no matter right now, they had more important issues to discuss.

 

Clara reluctantly admitted that she had told Emeline about the news, she trusted the woman with her secret. Seemed Granny did not though. Gosh, this woman was maddening.

 

“Wouldn’t be surprised if she’s telling your Papa all about the thing right this very minute.” 

 

"You do not know her and you do not know our relationship. I do not have to stand here and listen to this anymore - I am leaving!" Clara had had it, bad mouthing Emeline was the last straw.

 

"I am sorry, Jacob, but this is intolerable," she glanced at the boy as she started to exit the kitchen and head for the door.

 

 

 

 

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"You do not know her and you do not know our relationship. I do not have to stand here and listen to this anymore - I am leaving!" Clara had had it, bad mouthing Emeline was the last straw.

 

Poor Jacob was finding himself in the unenviable position of many a man before him and many a man since, stuck in the middle of two strong willed women and being squashed like a ripe tomato between their two personalities.

 

“Aw, no, come on Sweetheart!” he pleaded weakly, realising he’d never called her that before, it sounded sorta odd.

 

"I am sorry, Jacob, but this is intolerable," she glanced at the boy as she started to exit the kitchen and head for the door.

 

“Aw no, come on back.” He tried “Granny didn’t mean it, did you Granny?”

 

“Every word!" replied Nellie robustly. "And don’t you dare go after her neither Jacob Lutz! I’m warnin’ you boy! Let her run! Let her run back to Emeline Blakeley and see what good cuddles and sympathy does her come January when she’s squeezin’ out a Baby in her Papa’s outhouse and everyone’s callin’ her a whore!”

 

Jacob saw red then then.

 

“Shut up! Shut up!! You hear me! Clara’s the most beautiful wonderful thing that ever happened to me, and I’m going with her and you can .. you can go rot in Hell!!” he screamed and fled before the old woman could reach for a weapon.

 

“I’m goin’ with Clara and I’m never coming back!!” he shouted hoarsely and marched to the back door where Clara stood.

 

@Wayfarer

Edited by Javia (see edit history)

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Jacob was naturally upset and pleaded with her not to go. But Granny saying that awful stuff about Emeline was the last straw. Clara could only take so much of this bossy know it all woman who was so different than ...say her mother or Emeline for that fact.

 

Jacob even tried to reason with Granny, to get her to admit she didn't mean what she said. But Granny proved everything Clara disliked about her.

 

"And don’t you dare go after her neither Jacob Lutz! I’m warnin’ you boy! Let her run! Let her run back to Emeline Blakeley and see what good cuddles and sympathy does her come January when she’s squeezin’ out a Baby in her Papa’s outhouse and everyone’s callin’ her a whore!”

 

"What?" Clara was appalled to hear that last word.  And that seemed to finally galvanize Jacob into action too.

 

“Shut up! Shut up!! You hear me! Clara’s the most beautiful wonderful thing that ever happened to me, and I’m going with her and you can .. you can go rot in Hell!!” he screamed and fled before the old woman could reach for a weapon.

 

“I’m goin’ with Clara and I’m never coming back!!”

 

Finally, the boy showed some backbone! Clara was so glad though she was too upset to show it, she just keep walking, to be joined then by Jacob. The pair then exited the farm and headed down the small trail, if needed they would just have to walk all the way back to town. Clara was so upset her heart was pounding and she finding it difficult to think straight.

 

But she did find a voice for one thing, "Oh Jacob, I am sorry. But I really appreciate you chose me over your own family. The way I see it, even if it is just the two of us against the world, we will make a go of it."

 

claragif2.gif

 

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But she did find a voice for one thing, "Oh Jacob, I am sorry. But I really appreciate you chose me over your own family. The way I see it, even if it is just the two of us against the world, we will make a go of it."

 

Jacob walked along side Clara for a while, it was actually hard to keep up with her, despite his lanky lags, she was stomping along at such a pace. Eventually she slowed down a bit as the initial fury at Granny’s words seemed to wear off. At this point he risked a tentative comforting hand on Clara’s back, near the shoulder. He really never knew just how well she would take to being touched like that.

 

“Yeah, I’m having nothing to do with them from now on in!” he said, trying to sound decisive. He wondered how much that was true, but for now it was the right thing to say, at least.

 

“We … we should get on a stage to Helena right now and go and get married there and get jobs, well I’d get a job, and … well, we’d show them we can do it all on our own!” His fine words only filled him with despair really, but love can make brave fools of us all.

 

“Only problem is, I don’t have any money. I spent it all on pies.” He ruminated.

 

@Wayfarer

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It was Jacob's hand on her back so she accepted it completely, by now Jacob had free rein to touch her all he wanted to (well not in public of course). She kept walking though because every single step to her that was that much further away from that old witch in the Miggin's abode.

 

“Yeah, I’m having nothing to do with them from now on in!”  he declared.

 

However Clara did not want that.

 

"No, Jacob, Lenora is your sister. I have nothing against her, she seems nice and besides she is in a fragile state of health," she calmly pointed out.

 

Left unsaid was that for as awful as the woman was, Granny Miggins was kin to Jacob and he could not simply cut her completely out of his life. But ..............the two of them would be married soon and he would no longer have to live under that woman's roof. That suddenly brought up a whole new issue though!  Where would they be living? It's not like they could afford to buy a property of any sort.  She decided not to deal with that right at the moment, first things first.

 

“We … we should get on a stage to Helena right now and go and get married there and get jobs, well I’d get a job, and … well, we’d show them we can do it all on our own!”

 

Clara winced at that plan too, however noble and however much it sounded like noble Jacob alright. Before she could add a dose of reality to his notion though....

 

“Only problem is, I don’t have any money. I spent it all on pies."

 

"Even if you had the money back you spent on pies, that would not leave us with enough to last more than a few days at best.  You must realize that," she turned to look hard at him.

 

She loved him dearly but - like most poets in her opinion - his head was in the clouds too much.

 

"I had thought on Helena....in fact, Emeline suggested eloping may well be the best short term plan we could come up with. She pointed out whatever we do, we need to do it as fast as possible. We must ....absolutely must be married before....heaven forbid I start showing....well, you know what I mean."

 

"What about simply being married locally? That new reverend, I have not yet met him officially of course, but he seems.....well, quite a horse of a different color than Parson Evans. Perhaps he might be willing to marry us in a private ceremony?"

 

Clarawithhat.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

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"No, Jacob, Lenora is your sister. I have nothing against her, she seems nice and besides she is in a fragile state of health," she calmly pointed out.

 

Jacob sighed. “Why’s she have to go and faint all the time?” He had been hoping for help and advice from her, not blabbing the biggest secret he’d ever had incoherently on the kitchen floor.

 

“We … we should get on a stage to Helena right now and go and get married there and get jobs, well I’d get a job, and … well, we’d show them we can do it all on our own! Only problem is, I don’t have any money. I spent it all on pies." 

 

"Even if you had the money back you spent on pies, that would not leave us with enough to last more than a few days at best.  You must realize that," she turned to look hard at him.

 

She was right, of course. Why hadn’t that chest they’d pulled out of the lake contained a ton of gold coins? They hadn’t even opened it. Pandora’s box. Granny had money. Granny had plenty of money. If only Clara hadn’t … If only Granny hadn’t fallen out with Clara.

 

She loved him dearly but - like most poets in her opinion - his head was in the clouds too much. 

 

"I had thought on Helena....in fact, Emeline suggested eloping may well be the best short term plan we could come up with. She pointed out whatever we do, we need to do it as fast as possible. We must ....absolutely must be married before....heaven forbid I start showing....well, you know what I mean."

 

He nodded, thoughtful. They’d walked far enough away from the homestead now to be surrounded by blank, miserable countryside. Usually it looked beautiful, but in this trough of indecision, it looked hopeless, somehow. Yet they managed to carve a living out of it, a livelihood. That’s what the two of them had to do now, carve a living out of a blank, uncaring, harsh world. The walked along – two tiny figures in the enormous blank canvas of Montana.

 

“What about simply being married locally? That new reverend, I have not yet met him officially of course, but he seems…..well, quite a horse of a different color than Parson Evans. Perhaps he might be willing to marry us in a private ceremony?”

 

“Thomas, er, Father Thomas. I don’t know. ‘Bella says he’s an Episcopalian.” It wasn’t clear if this was supposed to be a problem in some way or other. But he did nod at Clara's idea. Wasn't that the same idea Granny had had? Oh well, he wasn't about to mention that. He was learning fast.

 

“Spose we could ask him.” He squinted his eyes to the horizon, and blew out his cheeks. “It’s quite a space to town, though. Maybe we should go back and get Buttercup and the cart.”

 

@Wayfarer

Edited by Javia (see edit history)

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Jacob sighed. “Why’s she have to go and faint all the time?” 

 

"Well in fairness to your sister, I hardly think she has control over that," Clara pointed out calmly.

 

The conversation moved on to the topic of them and their issues. She wondered about talking to that new minister.

 

“Thomas, er, Father Thomas. I don’t know. ‘Bella says he’s an Episcopalian.” 

 

"I do not care, he is a man of God," Clara thought this no time to get picky. One thing was for certain Rev. Evans would never agree, especially if he knew the father was unaware of the daughter's marriage.

 

“Spose we could ask him.” He squinted his eyes to the horizon, and blew out his cheeks. “It’s quite a space to town, though. Maybe we should go back and get Buttercup and the cart.”

 

"No, I will not turn around and go back there. We are young and in fine health, we can make it to town. Besides......we are alone now again, first time since....." she didn't need to finish that sentence!

 

Neither of them would EVER forget that day.

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Afterward, they lay on their backs in the rough fescue, Parry's oatgrass and Koeleria of the Montana plain, holding hands like they did on that very first night at the barn dance. The clouds were sparse and misty, and they moved across the azure above at a rate of knots like some mystical sailing ships plying some mystical ocean. In his mind, they were already married. This time – only the second – had not been like the first. The first had been fumbling, unsure, guilty, first time love. This time had been sure, no fear, settled, but not tame: it had been intense, and they had enjoyed it.

 

The warmth of Clara’s hand was enough, he didn’t have to turn and remind himself of her beauty, he knew it was there. Instead he looked forward and up into the forever of the firmament and stared back at God, who had witnessed their union. Reverends, Fathers, Witnesses, Bridesmaids, Matrons of Honor: who needed them? God Himself had just witnessed that they were man and woman and that the woman was quick with child, as behoved His eternal plan.

 

“I’m never going to write a poem again.” He said to Clara, or to God, or to Montana.

 

@Wayfarer

Edited by Javia (see edit history)

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It was amazing really, even Clara fully realized how much had changed in her. Their first time she had been afraid though willing, had taken her awhile to even respond to his first efforts though by the end, she had been much more involved and enthusiastic. But now, this second time, Clara was like another person. She took an equal almost aggressive role in their lovemaking. And this time, she had actually experienced the full gamut of it all as she had climaxed. It was incredible! She had never wanted it to end but all good things do. And, as they lay there next to each other, looking up at the vastness of the Montana sky she was content, at peace. Well, at least til they would have to return to their lives and all the issues that were awaiting them. The three of them!

 

“I’m never going to write a poem again.”  he suddenly announced.

 

"What a loss to the literary world," Clara replied in that dry manner of hers.

 

"Still, I guess I will still marry you anyhow," she turned, actually blessed him with a warm smile then kissed him on the cheek.

 

Then she sighed, "We really should get dressed and get back on the road. The town is not any closer you know."

 

 

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“I’m never going to write a poem again.”  he suddenly announced. 

"What a loss to the literary world," Clara replied in that dry manner of hers.

 

He considered that for a second.

 

“They’ll get over it.”

 

"Still, I guess I will still marry you anyhow," she turned, actually blessed him with a warm smile then kissed him on the cheek. 

 

He carried on looking up as the sky but now with a big smile on his face and squeezed her hand tighter. Their union had been perfect. Would it spoil it if he tried for a second round? He was just about to start making overtures but then she sighed, "We really should get dressed and get back on the road. The town is not any closer you know."

 

He turned his head now.

 

“I’d forgotten we were naked” he admitted, a note of wonder in his voice “Like Adam and Eve.” But now he remembered that they were the fallen and must carry themselves out of this Garden of Eden and off to the Land of Nod, or Kalispell as it was known in common parlance.

 

He loved watching Clara getting dressed: it was oddly erotic, seeing her beautiful body being covered, it was as arousing as watching, or helping, her uncover it. As she drew on her plain, utilitarian stockings and underwear he couldn’t resist reaching over and caressing her, stooping to kiss the top of her head.

 

“We could … no, you’re right!” he sighed, looking around for his trousers. His hat had blown away and got stuck on a bush, back the way they had come. He padded up, naked, to the bush to retrieve the round brimmed hat and gave a shriek! He padded back to Clara, the head-covering covering something else.

 

“It’s Ned!” he hissed to Clara “He’s on the road! In the cart! Just stood there!!”

 

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“I’d forgotten we were naked” he admitted, a note of wonder in his voice “Like Adam and Eve.” 

 

"Not me, I was too busy ogling that body of yours," Clara declared in decidedly un-Clara fashion.

 

Jacob seemed to be in the mood for a second round but Clara pointed out they really should get going. So he rose, still naked, to retrieve his hat apparently. Even as she dressed she snuck a look at his backside. Yes, most folks would say he was scrawny but Clara was quite content with the way he was. He wasn't a weakling and once they were married, her cooking would put some pounds on that lanky frame.

 

He was back very quickly though and rattled.

 

“It’s Ned!” he hissed to Clara “He’s on the road! In the cart! Just stood there!!”

 

Clara went wide-eyed but calmed quickly, "Well...he could not have seen anything. We were low to the ground."  Besides they had deliberately gone far enough from the road and selected a spot of ground that had low brush shielding view from any traffic.

 

"Hurry up!" like she needed to tell him as she now hastened to put on her shoes and tie them.

 

 

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“It’s Ned!” he hissed to Clara “He’s on the road! In the cart! Just stood there!!” 

 

Clara went wide-eyed but calmed quickly, "Well...he could not have seen anything. We were low to the ground." 

 

“Yeah, most of the time! But not when we … well, never mind that, what’s he doing there?! It’s like he’s just waiting for us! We’d better go back to the road and see what he wants, we can pretend we were just admiring the view.” He looked down at her as she carried on dressing, but more hurriedly now, admiring the view. He was still in sneaking around mode, even though the whole Miggins household now knew that he and Clara were well beyond the ‘admiring the view’ stage.

 

"Hurry up!" like she needed to tell him as she now hastened to put on her shoes and tie them.

 

The man on the cart was happy to wait. He was happy to sit on that cart, looking at the miles and miles of expanse, free to ride North, East, South or West; or free to sit stock still and wait for young Jake. It had been eleven years, but what was eleven years compared to the forty five before them? He still had to stop himself saying it in his head. Mars Jake. He was just Jake, and he was just Ned. Sure, Ned, short for Edward. He’d changed that, amongst other things. Ned, not Nero. Those genteel Southerners and their liking for classical names.

 

image.png.181c3fce2f8c1b5793f83fc8f29ebdb2.png

 

He also stopped himself remembering how he had spotted the place where Jake and his lady friend had departed the road and pushed their way through the bushes. He stopped himself remembering how many times he’d helped the overseer track down a runaway, him and Brutus. Brutus had been a hound, by the way, not another slave. Those genteel Southerners and their liking for classical names.

 

Why, here they came now, doing a pretty good imitation of a couple out for a Sunday stroll. He’d never seen anything quite so innocent looking. He stifled a chuckle and looked serious.

“Jake, Miss Clara. Just fancy seeing you here!” he smiled.

 

“We were just admiring the view!” shouted Jake as the two of them tried not to stumble too much as they came through the scrub to the dirt road, hand tightly in hand. “Weren’t we dear?” he included Clara and called her what her supposed a man should call his wife.

 

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Clara actually was finished dressing before Jacob, quite a feat really since she had more to put on than he did. Once looking reasonably presentable after brushing off dirt and such from their garments, the pair emerged to walk toward the negro man waiting seemingly patiently in the wagon.

 

“Jake, Miss Clara. Just fancy seeing you here!” he smiled.

 

Clara only nodded, adjusting her hat yet one more time, letting Jacob do the talking.

 

"We were just admiring the view!” shouted Jake as the two of them tried not to stumble too much as they came through the scrub to the dirt road, hand tightly in hand. “Weren’t we dear?”

 

"Yes of course, a beautiful day," Clara dutifully fell into the act but she felt certain the old fella wasn't that stupid to not know something had been going on out of sight of the road.

 

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"We were just admiring the view!” shouted Jake as the two of them tried not to stumble too much as they came through the scrub to the dirt road, hand tightly in hand. “Weren’t we dear?” 

 

"Yes of course, a beautiful day," Clara dutifully fell into the act but she felt certain the old fella wasn't that stupid to not know something had been going on out of sight of the road.

 

Ned tried, unsuccessfully, to look convinced, staring at nothing on the horizon and thinking of something sad to stop from laughing. Poor old Brutus.

 

“How come you’re out with Buttercup?” asked Jake but pointedly not asking him why he was stopped in the middle of nowhere, just by chance where he and Clara had been canoodling.

 

“Well, Jake, I was standing in the kitchen after you two lit out, and a certain person who shall not be named says to me ‘Now listen you, don’t you dare go getting that horse and cart and followin’ after that pair!’ she says. And then she says ‘And don’t you be getting’ that money I saved for that ungrateful rascal out from where I hid it!’ And I says to myself, ‘Why Ned, you’re a free man! You don’t need to do what that old woman says. So here I is, here’s the cart and…” he patted a small bag next to him “… here’s your money!”

 

(He forgot to mention the part where Granny had also had to say to him ‘Well, what’re you waiting for, Slowcoach, they’ll be halfway to Canada by now!’)

 

Ned looked down at the innocent looking young, young couple. “Well, where we headed, folks?” he asked.

 

Jacob squeezed Clara’s hand and turned to look into her eyes, a little suspicious of this deus ex machina but happy to have a straw to grasp at.

 

“Kalispell?” he asked her.

 

@Wayfarer

Edited by Javia (see edit history)

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Ned seemed to accept their flimsy cover story, bless the fellow, and Jacob inquired then why he was out here on the road with horse and wagon.

 

“Well, Jake, I was standing in the kitchen after you two lit out, and a certain person who shall not be named says to me ‘Now listen you, don’t you dare go getting that horse and cart and followin’ after that pair!’ she says. And then she says ‘And don’t you be getting’ that money I saved for that ungrateful rascal out from where I hid it!’ And I says to myself, ‘Why Ned, you’re a free man! You don’t need to do what that old woman says. So here I is, here’s the cart and…” he patted a small bag next to him “… here’s your money!”

 

Money? Clara blinked, he did too say money! And it sure sounded like Granny had placed powerful hints to the old negro to do what he just now did. He also patted a money purse. Still Clara could not help but be suspicious - afterall it was the same woman who was so insulting and callous and demanding just earlier.

 

"Would she give you money?" she asked of Jacob, "Maybe she is setting a trap? We accept it and then later she tells the law that we stole it?"

 

Ned then asked where they were going. Jacob glanced to her, "Kalispell?"

 

"Yes, yes, to town. Thank you, Ned," Clara nodded then let Jacob help her into the passenger seat,

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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"Would she give you money?" she asked of Jacob, "Maybe she is setting a trap? We accept it and then later she tells the law that we stole it?"

 

Jacob shook his head. “She nuts, and she can be pretty rough on people, but she ain’t mean to her own.” Was his opinion.

 

Ned chuckled his agreement. “Ain’t that the truth, ol’ Jake here’s the apple o’ that old woman’s eye, even if she don’t always show it. Reckon her problem is: you’re the apple o’ his eye now, Miss Clara!”

 

Ned then asked where they were going. Jacob glanced to her, "Kalispell?"

 

"Yes, yes, to town. Thank you, Ned," Clara nodded then let Jacob help her into the passenger seat.

 

“Yes! Kalispell, and don’t spare the horses!” Jacob pronounced jocularly as he helped Clara up onto the wagon, upon which they would take a bumping, jolting ride it town. Buttercup must have heard that last crack as she tossed her head and whinnied at the injunction.

 

Ned made a click-click noise with his mouth and the horse pulled them forward. Jacob picked up the bag and was about to count it when, on a whim, he gave it to Clara. “Here you are dear, you’d better have this: housekeeping money.” He liked practicing his husbandly duties, no matter what their nature.

 

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Jacob shook his head. “She's nuts, and she can be pretty rough on people, but she ain’t mean to her own.”

 

"I do not know how you can say that? I was only there in your house for a short while and she insulted and called both you and your sister names. She bullied you both," Clara countered.

 

Ned chuckled his agreement with Jacob. “Ain’t that the truth, ol’ Jake here’s the apple o’ that old woman’s eye, even if she don’t always show it. Reckon her problem is: you’re the apple o’ his eye now, Miss Clara!” 

 

"And that is hardly my fault," Clara sighed. So now among all their other problems, she had to deal with jealousy too?

 

The pair decided to ride the wagon into town rather than walk so both clambered up and Ned urged the horse forward.

 

Jacob picked up the bag and was about to count it when, on a whim, he gave it to Clara. “Here you are dear, you’d better have this: housekeeping money.”

 

Clara shook her head, "We do not even have a house yet to clean. And I am reluctant to accept her money anyhow. I would prefer she apologize to the both of us for the names she called us.  I have no desire to be beholden to her."

 

There was a catch, a price to this monetary gift, she was sure of it.

 

 

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"I do not know how you can say that? I was only there in your house for a short while and she insulted and called both you and your sister names. She bullied you both," Clara countered.

 

Jacob was just used Granny’s language, he hadn’t really given it another thought, and technically the old woman hadn’t called Clara a whore, just said that everybody else would call her one, if they didn’t get wed, pronto. But, and this was a very big but, he wasn’t fool enough to say that to Clara, he just hemmed and hawed and grunted agreement at anything his darling little wife to be suggested, hoping for a quiet life. Why, they were as good as married already!

 

They clambered onto the wagon and, Clara refusing it, he counted up the money as they headed into Kalispell. It might not have been a king’s ransom in gold, but it was a tidy sum and Jacob couldn’t but wonder at the tattily dressed Ned, who presumably knew where all Granny’s buried treasures were hid and didn’t grab the lot and make a run for it. He had heard Ned’s stories about the South and the end of the Civil War when his owners, fearing the approach of Sherman’s ravagers, had given him all the family silver to hide in the cane break while they waited terrified in the house, hoping to stop it being burned to the foundations. The man was just innately trustworthy.

 

 ******

 

After Ned had dropped them off in Kalispell and told them where he’d be if they needed him, the obvious place to go and look for their prospective celebrant was the Church. Like most churchgoers, they assumed that the man who conducted the services was kept, along with the prayer-books and other paraphernalia of religion, in the small dusty cupboard known as the vestry, and fetched out and put in place in the pulpit each and every Sunday. But no dice, he wasn't there.

 

Jacob looked lost.

 

“What are we going to do?” he asked Clara weakly, looking around outside the church, hoping the tall pastor, who had taken over many of the ailing Gideon Evans’ duties, might suddenly appear from heaven in a fiery chariot like Elijah in reverse.

 

“Arabella’ll know where he lives.” He proffered, not wanting to be the one who actually suggested that they go and find her.

 

@Wayfarer

Edited by Javia (see edit history)

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Jacob took back the coin pouch from her after Clara's adamant refusal to accept Granny's money then counted it carefully while she sat here as the wagon rumbled slowly on the road til their eventual arrival in Kalispell. Ned dropped them off, the girl making a point to voicing her thanks to the man. She had to admire an honest and loyal man like he was.

 

Of course the young couple checked out the church building first but no one was there. Clara was relieved in a way as she was quite certain Parson Evans would not condone a marriage like this especially without parental consent. Their hopes were on the new man. Rumor already had it the fellow lived in the saloon of all places! Fairly scandalous. Clara might be thinking blasphemously but a clergyman like that might be more willing to bend the rules for a marriage like theirs?

 

“What are we going to do?” Jacob asked Clara weakly, looking around outside the church.

 

"I honestly do not know," Clara shrugged, it was unsurprising things were not going well, this whole situation was such a disaster.

 

“Arabella’ll know where he lives.” He proffered.

 

"He lives in the saloon. I heard it in the diner," Clara announced out of the blue, "So you want to go in there and look around?"  She was not about to suggest she do such a thing.

 

 

 

 

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“Arabella’ll know where he lives.” He proffered.

 

"He lives in the saloon. I heard it in the diner," Clara announced out of the blue, "So you want to go in there and look around?"  She was not about to suggest she do such a thing.

 

Jacob frowned. Really?! That sounded a bit odd, but he wasn’t about to gainsay Clara on the matter. Besides, they’d have to go there anyway to ask Arabella where her ‘friend in religion’ actually lived.

 

“All right, but you come too. Don’t worry, it’ll be all right, we won’t go in the saloon, we’ll go round the back where I make the deliveries. I don’t think I’m in Arabella’s good books right now, but she’ll do anything for you.” He reasoned.

 

To be honest, he had been avoiding the Virginian girl for some time: not for the usual reason people avoided her – earache – but, at first, because he owed her money. Not a lot, but enough so that, if he paid her, he wouldn’t be able to visit Clara at the diner and sample her pie. Then, after he and Clara had ‘cemented their bond’ he didn’t want Arabella quizzing him about it. He didn’t get the impression that Clara ever actively sought the girl out, either. But now they needed her help.

 

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About Sagas

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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