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    • Montgomery the Pocket Gopher had proven to be lots of fun. Once out of his cage he had proceeded to run up Jemima’s arm and onto her head, and the homely looking girl had had to bend forward to allow Weedy to lift him off and give him a cuddle. Despite his vicious looking incisors, he never nipped at his human overlords, they who knew where the peanuts were kept!   Jemima had something else she wanted to show the diminutive lad, and beckoned him over to a glass tank, a miniature version of the one that Lamia slept in. She pointed to a small, anonymous looking spider in there, sitting grumpily under a bit of decorative tree bark.   “See that, that’s a fiddleback spider: they’re the most poisonous spiders ever. And if it bites you a great big ulcer grows on you and you die a horrible screaming death, foamin' at the mouth and blood spurtin' out of your ears and nose!" she said proudly, as if she were personally responsible for the tiny animal’s toxicity.   “And one time she escaped and we had to look all over for her, and eventually we saw her on the back of the Professor’s neck! And Mrs O’ screamed and near fainted, but I got a jam jar and coaxed it on in there and the Professor said I was the bravest girl he’d ever met!”     @Bongo
    • 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.   @boshmi @Wayfarer
    • "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.”   @JulieS
    • "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.   @JulieS @boshmi
Father Thomas Reed

A Man of God, and his Vices

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Posted (edited)

Mature Content: No

With: Father Thomas Reed, and anyone who happens to be present
When: Late March, 1876
Time of Day: ~11AM

 

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It was a fairly mild morning; a high fog light on the breeze, as Thomas first rode his way down Kalispell's main road. Though the full swing of spring was underway, and the thaw had most certainly come to these territories, there was an unquestionable chill in the air. His coat lay heavy on his shoulders, hat low on his head, and he kept mostly to himself as he scanned the little town with the wanderer's critical eye. He had passed through plenty of settlements the past winter, though none so well-kept as this; Kalispell. The structures all looked to be in good shape, and those outbuildings that ringed the main road were present in a respectable number. It was a modest place, certainly, but it had that frontier charm he had come to appreciate. If the ranches, fort, and creek he had passed were anything to go by, it would appear that it was making a fair amount of money too, enough so that it was attracting both settlers and raiders. Yes, this would be a good place to hang his hat for a time.

 

The clip-clop of Myriam's horseshoes on the road shifted down as he pulled in on her reins, coaxing her from a trot to a walk, and allowing Thomas ample time to take in the environment. Store, hotel, law, and there, at the end of the road, a saloon. The first port of call for any traveler. He pulled right on the reins, easing his mount towards the establishment, before making to dismount. One leg over the saddle, and he dropped to the ground with practiced ease. The mare snorted, tossing her head as though to express her delight at the conclusion of the morning's travels, and Thomas gave her an affectionate pat on the flank.

"Well done, lady." he whispered, before pulling the reins over her head to hitch them at the saloon's posts. He shook his legs, getting the saddle-stiffness out of his body, before turning to regard the establishment in all it's glory. It looked to be a well-loved building, with the scuffing of many boots upon it's threshold. A sign above the door declared it to be the Stardust Saloon, and the faint murmur of sound came from inside.

 

Thomas glanced down at his coat, the dust of the trail still settled lightly upon his shoulder, and gave himself a quick brush-off, before straightening his collar and stepping up onto the threshold. He raised an arm to push open the doors, and was met with that comforting, warm scent of foot and drink that all taverns seemed to exude.

Edited by boshmi (see edit history)
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The place had just opened at 11:00, while there were no signs telling of the operating hours the locals just knew. It also stayed up til all hours of the morning, not unusual to finally turn out the lights at 2 or 3 AM. So the newcomer pretty much had the place to himself for now at least.

 

There behind the bar, manning his usual spot, was a fully bearded man dressed in his usual garb with grey  suit and a rather loosely arranged  black neck tie. And leaning up against the bar was a petite young woman in a fine dress. Both of them glanced over as the doors swung open and a customer entered.

 

"Good timing! We just opened,"  Matilda smiled at the fellow, Ralph just gave a nod of acknowledgement.

 

91e6713d9a721080f7ec52dd194db07e.jpg   Matilda-again.jpg

 

Letting the newcomer reach the bar, Ralph then spoke up, "What can we get for ya, mister?"

 

Matilda blinked, "Or should we say, Reverend?"

 

She'd never had a man of the cloth step thru those doors, this one was the not local pastor, she had seen before at socials and funerals and such. Not like she ever went to church.

 

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Arabella had been dawdling, as per usual. Indulging in idle daydreams. Sometimes she was a beautiful Confederate lady spy, sometimes she was a delicate medieval princess, sometimes whe was some biblical heroine, sometimes she was just herself, but caught up in an exciting situation involving Indians or Bank Robbers or Saloon Singers. Either way, all of a sudden, she realised that she had been gone for over half an hour, just to clean out a spittoon! She high-tailed it back into the main part of the saloon, her clumpy boots thumping on the planks of the floor, and hoped that neither Ralph Flandry, the tough barman whom she loved like an ersatz father, or the permanently hard-to-please owner, Mrs Devereau, had noticed how long she had been at the task.

 

She skidded into the main bar-room, but her half baked excuses died on her lips as she beheld the antediluvian figure before her. The dog-collar singled him out as a member of the clergy, some clergy or other but, more importantly, he had the craggy aspect of some Old Testament prophet. It fair stopped the imaginative and religious fifteen-year-old in her tracks.

 

“I’d a been quicker but there was a great big lump o’ plegm… Ooop!” She stared up at him, spittoon in hand, just like Rachel holding her amphora when she met Jacob at the well, when she came to water her father Laban’s flock of sheep, in the Book of Genesis.

 

She didn’t need to see him order a drink to know this Man of God was not a Methodist like herself. He was nothing like Pastor Evans. Pastor Evans was like a pair of comfy old pair of slippers, this man was more like the claws of the Eagle of God. He looked like he’d just been in the desert for forty days and forty nights wrestling with the Devil and resisting his temptations. He was somehow awe-inspiring, earthy, elemental.

 

Her eyes were round and her mouth already open as the virgin thusly spake: “Howdy, I’m Arabella, you want I should play some hymns on the ‘pianna’?!”

 

@boshmi @Wayfarer

Edited by Javia (see edit history)

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"Good timing! We just opened." came a voice, and Thomas glanced up to see the place uninhabited, save for a man and woman, presumably the proprietors. He reached up to take the hat from his head, placing it upon his chest as he gave a polite nod to the two figures behind the bar.

"Sir. Madam." he greeted them in turn, taking in the saloon's ambiance. Both man and woman were dressed quite well, matching the relatively clean nature of the place; a far cry from some of the more... rough-and-tumble hovels he'd visited in the past three years. So too did they seem to give a sincere welcome, enough so that when he unlooped his gun belt to remove his coat, he did not feel the usual sense of vulnerability. These were honest people, doing honest work, and he intended to consider them with the trust they warranted.

 

Hanging coat, belt, and hat by the door, Thomas crossed to the bar, straightening the hem of his waistcoat as he went. His outerwear had managed to spare it the worst of the trail's assault, and even the whites of his shirt showed few marks. Thankfully, he'd been able to launder the garments down by the creek, lending him a presentability that he might have felt rather silly without.

"What can we get for ya, mister?" 671484066_ScreenShot2021-03-28at10_16_43AM.png.2027d747f0bac1f1358642bad55940b7.png

"Or should we say, Reverend?"

Thomas gave the woman an amiable smile as he leaned against the well-loved bar, folding his arms across the surface.

"Only if you are so inclined, madam." he replied. He'd been called a fair few things of late, and Reverend was among the more polite.

"As for the drink, I'll take a gill of bourbon, should you have any."

 

“I’d a been quicker but there was a great big lump o’ plegm… Ooop!”

Commotion to the side as a young woman, maybe fourteen or fifteen years of age, skittered into view, carrying a sizeable spittoon. Rather than the composed neatness of the bar-tending pair, she instead had an air of teenage liveliness; that sprightly sense of energy nigh-manifested in human form, and the Reverend could not help but inwardly chuckle at her entrance.

“Howdy, I’m Arabella, you want I should play some hymns on the ‘pianna’?!”

"Good morning, Arabella." he responded, turning to face her and ever-so-slightly leaning down, to bring their heights closer. "That would be wonderful, I'm sure. In fact..." he reached into the pocket of his waistcoat, and drew out two pennies, handing them to the girl. "There's a tip, for you."

 

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The newcomer hung up his coat, he showcased a most presentable wardrobe, especially if he had traveled far. It was the wrong time for a stagecoach arrival so most likely by horse then. Or he showed up last night and slept in the hotel. No matter, he was here, in their place.

 

"Only if you are so inclined, madam." 

 

"As for the drink, I'll take a gill of bourbon, should you have any."

 

The bartender nodded, "We got bourbon, it ain't cheap though."  He then turned to find the appropriate bottle from the maze of bottles on the shelf behind him.

 

Matilda was about to introduce herself when Arabella came racing in. Actually the girl never simply walked anywhere, she was always running hither and yon, as if everything in life was one big drama. By now Matilda was fond enough of the girl but she could be a bit.....wearing. Oh great, now she offered to play hymns? Before Matilda could shut that idea down, the minister found the offer to his taste and even gave her a few pennies.

 

"Very well, Arabella, but play just two at the most and play them softly," she addressed the girl first.

 

Then turned to the minister, "I'm afraid most of our customers don't really want to hear hymns in here, no offense. But right now you're the lone customer so..."

 

"By the way, I feel a few introductions are in order. This here is Ralph, bartender, part-owner, bouncer, and long time friend of mine."

 

Ralph nodded even as he poured a glass of bourbon for the customer.

 

"And I am Matilda Devereau, owner of this here place. You already met Arabella."

 

@boshmi @Javia

 

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"Good morning, Arabella." he responded, turning to face her and ever-so-slightly leaning down, to bring their heights closer. "That would be wonderful, I'm sure. In fact..." he reached into the pocket of his waistcoat, and drew out two pennies, handing them to the girl. "There's a tip, for you."

 

Arabella looked down at the two red cents. Not much, to be sure, but she could not but remember the parable of the Widow’s Mite. Perhaps that is all the craggy patriarchal figure had in the world, and here he was giving it away just to hear the joyous music of the Lord. She hadn’t heard the part where he’d ordered a bumper of the most expensive grog in the house!

 

She took the money with a look of pious beatitude about her smudged face (she’d been doing the oven flues before the spittoons) and gave a simpering saintly smile “I shall take it Father, but for the poor. We have a poor box at our chapel where we do such wonderful work for the needy.” She had noticed a few scratch marks on the box lately, where Pastor Evans had been trying to open it with a screwdriver, but she had hidden the key carefully someplace she knew that he would never look.

 

"Very well, Arabella, but play just two at the most and play them softly," she addressed the girl first.

 

“Yes, Mam.” She curtsied politely, putting on a good show in front of the Reverend Minister.

 

Then turned to the minister, "I'm afraid most of our customers don't really want to hear hymns in here, no offense. But right now you're the lone customer so..."

 

"By the way, I feel a few introductions are in order. This here is Ralph, bartender, part-owner, bouncer, and long time friend of mine."

 

Ralph nodded even as he poured a glass of bourbon for the customer.

 

"And I am Matilda Devereau, owner of this here place. You already met Arabella."

 

Arabella went over and started playing one of the latest religious hits, What a friend we have in Jesus, singing softly along in her pretty bel canto soprano and occasionally looking over and smiling at the priestly figure, as he knocked back his booze. It was so wonderful to play religious music on the relatively in-tune saloon piano, rather than the wheezy and flatulent church harmonium.

 

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"We got bourbon, it ain't cheap though." warned the bartender, and Thomas felt a twinge in his stomach. Money was always an object of personal contention these days, for it would not be long until his savings were depleted. Still, he'd been on the trail for a time, and could afford to part with a nickel or two for the sake of recuperation.

 

“I shall take it Father, but for the poor. We have a poor box at our chapel where we do such wonderful work for the needy.”

Arabella's obsequity was charming, coming from a girl of her age, and Thomas would have played right along, were it not for the strained plea of the woman behind the bar for her to 'play quietly.' He was a newcomer in town after all, and it may well be that this Arabella was known to take advantage of his ilk in some way. Ah well. In any case, it would be nice to hear some music, even if he may well have been buttered up in the process.

He watched the girl take her place at the piano and open up with a rolling tune, lyrics and all to go along with it. She had a fair voice, though the instruction to play quietly clearly held merit, for any louder and the song might have crossed from 'pleasant' to 'just tolerable' quite quickly indeed.

 

"I'm afraid most of our customers don't really want to hear hymns in here, no offense. But right now you're the lone customer so..."

"Ah, no offense taken. I understand completely." he reassured her. "Young Arabella merely seemed quite... enthused."

"By the way, I feel a few introductions are in order. This here is Ralph, bartender, part-owner, bouncer, and long time friend of mine."

Thomas turned his attention fully back to the bar, the notes of Arabella's song in the air, and gave Ralph a grateful smile as he placed the glass of corn whiskey in front of him. The reddish-brown liquid smelled strongly of spirits, and the priest lifted it to his lips to take a quick sip. The warmth seemed to wash the dust from his mouth and spread heat through his chest; the comfort of a familiar drink, and Thomas gave a nod of approval as he set the glass back down.

"And I am Matilda Devereau, owner of this here place. You already met Arabella."

"A pleasure to make your acquaintances." he replied. "My name is Father Thomas, a simple servant of the Lord, though recent events have left me without a congregation to speak of- ah, how much do I owe you?"

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Matilda fully realized much of Arabella's saintly act was just that but then the girl did attend Sunday services so that did make her more religious than either she or Ralph.  Still, the child was laying it on a bit thick. Oh well.

 

"Ah, no offense taken. I understand completely." the minister reassured her. "Young Arabella merely seemed quite... enthused."

 

"Yes, she is most often....quite enthused," Matilda shrugged then went on to introductions for the newcomer's edification. In return they got one back.

 

"A pleasure to make your acquaintances." he replied. "My name is Father Thomas, a simple servant of the Lord, though recent events have left me without a congregation to speak of- ah, how much do I owe you?"

 

Now Matilda had to wonder. Was that the man's Christian name or family name? She wouldn't pursue it though as he asked a question.

 

"Ahhh, I see....well, not that it will make a bit of difference to saving my soul when it's my time to meet your God, I'm gonna do you a little act of charity. The drink is on the house," she smiled.

 

"Ain't there been rumors our current parson might be up and leavin'?"  Ralph heard lots of things like that in his job as bartender, some of it gossip, some of it fact.

 

Matilda just shook her head, "I haven't heard that."

 

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"Ahhh, I see....well, not that it will make a bit of difference to saving my soul when it's my time to meet your God, I'm gonna do you a little act of charity. The drink is on the house."

Thomas frowned, shaking his head. "Oh come now, don't be silly. Here-" he said, once more reaching into his pocket. He drew out a handful of coins, from which he selected four nickels, and carefully counted them onto the counter. "If you won't take them for your two selves, pass them on to the needy, or... Arabella's donation box. As Our Savior Jesus Christ once said; 'it is more blessed to give, than to receive."

He pocketed the remainder of the change, before picking up his glass for another sip. Another rush of the hot, comforting liquid, and he placed the glass back down.

"Apologies, Ms. Devereau, I did not mean to preach. I'm sure you'd rather not have a sermon this early in the morning."

 

"Ain't there been rumors our current parson might be up and leavin'?" said the Bartender, to which Thomas tilted his head with mild surprise.

"Whatever for?" he asked Ralph. Kalispell seemed a nice, prosperous town, even if the frontier way of life may not be for everyone. Certainly it had greater prospects for growth than many of the other settlements he'd passed in the area.

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Her goodwill gesture was not accepted and Matilda was then given twenty cents. If the man thought that covered the drink, it certainly did not but she and Ralph refrained from informing him of that fact.  As for giving it to charity, Matilda never went to church to put it in a box for such things. Yes, Arabella could take the coins then and do her Christian duty this coming Sunday.

 

"Very well," Matilda nodded graciously.

 

"Apologies, Ms. Devereau, I did not mean to preach. I'm sure you'd rather not have a sermon this early in the morning."

 

Actually she would rather not have a sermon at any time of the day or night but she certainly wasn't going to admit to that, Matilda was not a religious person. Nor was Ralph. Their careers were ones which did not foster a sense of piety or deep seated belief. But in no way did that make her hostile to those who did choose to believe and practice.

 

"No apologies needed," she waved it off.

 

Ralph then brought up some rumor he had heard about the current minister. Ralph heard rumors all the time. One learned not to put much faith in them.

 

Thomas tilted his head with mild surprise,"Whatever for?"

 

"I have no idea, I never spoke with the man in my life. Just what I heard," Ralph shrugged.

 

"Would you perhaps entertain any thought on staying in Kalispell then and perhaps replacing him? I mean should it be true," Matilda had to be curious.

 

The man was drinking liquor in her saloon, at least he wouldn't be against the saloon. Parson Evans made no secret of his distaste for the Star Dust as a den of iniquity.

 

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"I have no idea, I never spoke with the man in my life. Just what I heard."

"Would you perhaps entertain any thought on staying in Kalispell then and perhaps replacing him? I mean should it be true."

 

Replacing the town minister? Thomas could not help but feel a little daunted by the prospect. He'd been in the area all of a few days and hardly knew any of the townsfolk, let alone their feelings, intentions, relationships... and yet, there was a part of him that was enthused by such an idea. Perhaps Kalispell could be more than a stop on his travels? It had certainly been a while since he'd held a real congregation, and truth be told; he missed it. At the same time, he did not want to coerce his way in. Some of the inhabitants might not accept him, and there was no sense in causing undue conflict.

At any rate, these were merely rumors, and one would do well not to get excited over them.

 

"I... well, I would not want to get ahead of myself, Ms. Devereau. There may well be someone already set to replace him." he finally said, conflict upon his weathered face. "Though, I would certainly not be adverse. Might young Arabella know?"

 

He turned his head to the teenage girl, where she sat, fingers wandering up and down the keyboard.

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"I... well, I would not want to get ahead of myself, Ms. Devereau. There may well be someone already set to replace him." he finally said, conflict upon his weathered face. "Though, I would certainly not be adverse. Might young Arabella know?"

 

 He turned his head to the teenage girl, where she sat, fingers wandering up and down the keyboard.

 

The girl, who had ears like a bat and had been listening to every word, suddenly brought the religious song to a sudden and somewhat irreverent coda with a comical little ending trill on the piano known to musicians as ‘shave and a haircut, two bits.’ "Oh, I know all about that!" she shouted, then jumped up and ran back over to them – thump, thump, thump – and leaned into the trio speaking in hushed and conspiratorial tones:

 

“Listen, don’t tell anyone, this is secret, but Pastor Evans has a chronic case…” she put her head back up and looked around to make sure that no eavesdroppers had suddenly sneaked into the bar “… a chronic case of the collywobbles!” She gave them all a wide-eyed, nodding, knowing look. “Why, there’s some Sundays, I can hardly get him up in that pulpit. I have to give him his medicine in the vestry before he comes out on this great big spoon what stretches his mouth like a toad! Like this!” She put each of her little fingers into her mouth and pulled them sideways, then turned her head, so each of them in turn could see the horrible effect.

 

“Now, he’s trying to keep it quiet, but he wants to retire, but not till he’s found a suitable replacement.” She looked up at Father Thomas “I can have a word with him and you can try out for the team this Sunday. As long as you ain’t a Catholic, of course!” she frowned. She didn’t think he could be a catholic priest, though, there were no tell-tale horns on his head, or a pointy tail hanging from his behind.

 

“… or a Mormon.”

 

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Edited by Javia (see edit history)

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The animation with which Arabella moved was exhausting just to watch. The shout; "Oh, I know all about that!", gangly legs hurrying across the floor, and then the enthusiasm with which she imparted such confidential information as Pastor Evans' collywobbles. It was endearing, in a sort of spirited, childish way, and Thomas found himself wondering what Arabella's parents were like - if indeed she had any to speak of, as was all too often the case out on the frontier. He watched the 'toadlike' display with an expression of mild bemusement upon his face, though did not comment; vaguely aware that Ms. Devereau and her bartender probably disapproved of this sort of thing. After all, Arabella was in their employ.

 

“I can have a word with him and you can try out for the team this Sunday."

 

"Well, that would be just fine Arabella, if you wouldn't mind." he replied.

 

"As long as you ain’t a Catholic, of course! … or a Mormon.”

 

Thomas gave a quick chuckle again, but shook his head reassuringly. "Not last I checked, child." Though, the point raised questions.

 

"I would have thought Kalispell to be a Catholic settlement?" he queried, turning back to the two behind the bar. "A few folk on the road were taking about St. Francis' - the abbey on the lake."

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The man was right that Matilda did not approve of the girl's histrionics and gossip but by now she was used to it.  She had agreed to take the orphan in right after the Whitefish disaster and she wasn't about to backtrack on her word. The woman also figured some people heartily disapproved of the girl living and working in a place like this but no one else had stepped forward that time. Even Ralph was surprised when she did.  Both the saloon people let the girl and newcomer talk.

 

"Well, that would be just fine Arabella, if you wouldn't mind." Thomas replied.

 

"As long as you ain’t a Catholic, of course! … or a Mormon.”

 

Thomas gave a quick chuckle again, but shook his head reassuringly. "Not last I checked, child." Though, the point raised questions.

 

Ralph frowned at the part about Catholics. He was of Irish background and had been Catholic, well during his early years. Now he was nothing, religion wise.

 

"I would have thought Kalispell to be a Catholic settlement?" Thomas queried, turning back to the two behind the bar. "A few folk on the road were taking about St. Francis' - the abbey on the lake."

 

"Yeah, that's out there. Hear tell that was an early mission built maybe even before the first buildings went up in town," Ralph answered.

 

Matilda backed that up with some info of her own, "There was a Catholic priest around just in the last year but he up and left. So you aren't going to have much competition should you decide to stay."

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"As long as you ain’t a Catholic, of course! … or a Mormon.” 

 

Thomas gave a quick chuckle again, but shook his head reassuringly. "Not last I checked, child." Though, the point raised questions.

 

“Phew!” grinned Arabella, wiping her forehead as if in relief. “I mean, they can’t help being cath’licks I suppose, but, well, you know!” She had just been raised to think that there was something a bit 'odd' and suspicious about people who held an allegiance to some foreign potentate in Rome, believed that they were really eating human flesh during their services, and whose strange celibate priests and often grotesque, martyred saints, a big step above ordinary folk,  were a necessary stepping stone to reach a distant God.

 

Now, as a Methodist, Arabella felt a more personal and direct relationship with her Lord and Saviour, and Pastor Evans was more of a leader amongst equals, as prone to sin as any other member of the congregation. He couldn’t ‘intercede’ for her with God, any more than some poor soul who’d been picturesquely done to death fifteen hundred years ago could. No, Arabella had to save her own soul, by acting as much like Jesus as she could throughout each and every day of her life.  

 

Ralph frowned at the part about Catholics. He was of Irish background and had been Catholic, well during his early years. Now he was nothing, religion wise. 

 

"I would have thought Kalispell to be a Catholic settlement?" Thomas queried, turning back to the two behind the bar. "A few folk on the road were taking about St. Francis' - the abbey on the lake."

"Yeah, that's out there. Hear tell that was an early mission built maybe even before the first buildings went up in town," Ralph answered.

 

Arabella jumped up and down with her hand up, like a schoolgirl who knows the right answer in the class “Ooh! Ooh! I know about him! Saint Francis was a Sissy, but he could talk to animals and knew all about the birds and the bees! And … and … he couldn’t help being a catholic because Methodists hadn’t been invented in them days.”

 

Matilda backed that up with some info of her own, “There was a Catholic priest around just in the last year but he up and left. So you aren’t going to have much competition should you decide to stay.”

 

“That right, he was called Father Ignoramus and he wore a dress just like me and Missus Devereau here, and he said it was a surplice and I said ‘looks more like it’s surplice to requirements to me!’ And he didn’t laugh at that at all. See, I took my friend Bridget up there one time ‘cause she’s a ‘left footer’, but the darned thing is, she ain’t actually got a right foot, so she’s the biggest left footer of ‘em all.”

 

She took a deep breath.

 

“And do you know what, they got this kinda chart thing up at that Mission called the ‘Catholic Ladder’ and there’s a picture of all these Catholics going up to Heaven past the Pope and there’s these two Protestants, a man and a lady, shown going off on a side road that leads to Hell! So, I got my little stubby pencil I uses for writing down the orders and I drew this big arrow on it, showin’ them Protestants going straight to Heaven, right around that silly old Pope!” she informed the tall minister of God, even fishing the aforementioned pencil out of her apron pocket and showing it to him, by way of verifying the story. “And it didn’t say so on the picture, but I had a good look at that man and lady, and they sure looked like Methodists to me!”

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"Yeah, that's out there. Hear tell that was an early mission built maybe even before the first buildings went up in town."

"Interesting." Thomas mused. Perhaps there was some colonial history to it's placement and denomination. As far as he knew, the Conquistadors had never made it this far north, but the French certainly had - and it had only been some seventy years since they'd left.

 

He wouldn't have time to voice his thoughts, however, for if Thomas had thought Arabella's excited movements and enthused gossip were tiring thus far, her subsequent tirade - though admittedly quite impressive - was another matter altogether. In another moment she was jumping up and down, rattling off some questionable lore about Saint Francis Assisi at such blistering speed that he could hardly tell if even the girl could follow what she was saying. It came almost as a breath of fresh air when Ms. Devereau interjected,

 

"There was a Catholic priest around just in the last year but he up and left. So you aren't going to have much competition should you decide to stay."

 

Though it would be only a short breath, for in just a moment Arabella was off again; this time about the priest, her friend, and a rather jarring anecdote wherein she had presumably defaced one of the frescoes, going so far as to show him the very pencil with which she'd done it.

 

"I, er, now Arabella, I'm not quite sure that was the right thing to do." he managed, jumping on the first pause she gave. "I would... encourage you to apologize at the abbey, if not in your own prayer. Jesus would forgive those who disagreed with him, and the gospel of Matthew reminds us to turn the other cheek, remember?"

 

Though Thomas was acutely aware that he'd now quoted the scriptures twice in a very short space of time, Arabella seemed a pious sort, and perhaps the gospel's words would have a greater effect than his own.

Edited by boshmi (see edit history)
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He came through the bat-wing doors sober as a judge, for once in his life, perhaps. But what he saw gave him pause, Miss Devereau, Flandry, annoying Arabella, and a man of the cloth. Since he was sober, and he knew he was sober, the sight took him aback.

 

Flandry must have gotten religion, or perhaps the fellow was merely in costume as the man in the bear get up at the Ladies Social. He continued on to the bar. smiled at Ralph, nodded to the others and said, "Good morning Mister Flandry. I see you have a guest, a man of the cloth."

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@Wayfarer

Edited by Flip (see edit history)
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As the newcomer attempted to reason with Arabella, always a dicey proposition at best, who should come thru the front doors than one of their steadiest customers, the town drunk not that either Matilda or Ralph would ever call him that.  As long as he could pay for his drinks, the man was a welcome customer.

 

"Good morning Mister Flandry. I see you have a guest, a man of the cloth."

 

"Mornin', " Ralph nodded in acknowledgment,"Not a guest, a customer. But yes a reverend and a newcomer to town."

 

 

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As if the advent of the Patriarchal Father Thomas somehow announced a new age of miracles; the swingdoors opened to reveal the first of these: a sober Dutton. Arabella’s head tilted at this curious sight as she tried to understand what the dickens she was looking at here.

 

Flandry must have gotten religion, or perhaps the fellow was merely in costume as the man in the bear get up at the Ladies Social. He continued on to the bar. smiled at Ralph, nodded to the others and said, "Good morning Mister Flandry. I see you have a guest, a man of the cloth."

 

"Mornin', " Ralph nodded in acknowledgment,"Not a guest, a customer. But yes a reverend and a newcomer to town."

 

Arabella stepped in and tried to help Dutton to his usual seat. “You’re lookin’ a little steady on your feet there, Judge! You’d better come along and sit down!” She always called him Judge, after all, according to his own slurred report, he could’a, should’a, would’a been Chief Justice of the United States of America, but for an unfortunate series of mishaps and petty jealousies.

 

She waved over to the craggy churchman. “That there’s Father Thomas, but don’t worry, he ain’t a Catholic, just calls himself that. He might be takin’ over from Pastor Evans, but don’t tell anyone, it’s a secret. Father T, this here’s Mr. Peabody, a Squire. He’s the best lawyer round here, why, he ain’t just been ‘called to the bar’ he practically lives at the bar! An’ do you know what, he should’a been a Judge and everything, but there was too many pretty jealousies and what not.” She wondered why she was even having to explain this, usually Dutton would have launched into a soliloquy of his own on the subject.

 

This was worrying. She put a hand to his brow: alarmingly un-clammy and un-feverish. “You all right Judge? You seem a little … well… sober! You want I should get you a drink? If you’re out of funds, the Father there just gave me some money for the poor, and I heard Mrs Miggins say that you’re ‘about the poorest specimen of mankind around these parts’, so I guess you’d qualify to receive it.” she informed him helpfully.

 

@boshmi @Wayfarer @Flip

Edited by Javia (see edit history)

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Before Arabella could react to his chiding, there came a creaking of the saloon's doors, and sound of footsteps upon the floor - distracting the young girl. Thomas made a mental note to visit the abbey at some stage in order to asses the damage, but for now he decided to let the matter lie.

 

"Good morning Mister Flandry. I see you have a guest, a man of the cloth."

 

Thomas turned from his position at the bar to witness the entrance of another character, presumably one quite well-acquainted with the saloon, judging by the genial rapport with which Ralph, Arabella, and he seemed to speak. Nevertheless, the reverend kept up a friendly face; a smile and nod so as to keep the air congenial, while Arabella began bustling about him in her already familiar way.

 

She waved over to the craggy churchman. “That there’s Father Thomas, but don’t worry, he ain’t a Catholic, just calls himself that. He might be takin’ over from Pastor Evans, but don’t tell anyone, it’s a secret. Father T, this here’s Mr. Peabody, a Squire. He’s the best lawyer round here, why, he ain’t just been ‘called to the bar’ he practically lives at the bar! An’ do you know what, he should’a been a Judge and everything, but there was too many pretty jealousies and what not.”

 

Thomas waved a hand to the newly-introduced lawyer from his place at the bar. "Thank you, Arabella, and a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Peabody."

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Dutton Peabody smiled broadly and extended his hand. "Likewise Padre. Not sure that was a fair statement that you 'call yourself a Catholic' and as Arabella says, ain't one. By golly you've got all the trappings. But be what you are my good sir. Spread the 'Word', that will give folks comfort, and by the Lord Harry, that's what most folks need in this day and age. Comfort."

 

Dutton looked again to Ralph, A cup of your fine coffee, Ralph, and whatever the Father here is having."

 

He looked to the young girl, "I'm quite able to stand on my own two feet, dear girl. I am quite steady I assure you, in fact never more steady, well, of late."

image.jpeg.4868ed12fbf18b9df0845e78bce8ba0b.jpeg

@boshmi@Javia@Wayfarer

Edited by Flip (see edit history)

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ooc: I don't really have much to say with my chars, they are more just there, don't wait for me.

 

Ralph nodded to Peabody, "Coffee huh? Diner would have been a better place to order that."

 

Matilda sighed, "Oh, I will go in the kitchen and see if Cookie had a pot on the stove. Just a minute, Mr. Peabody."

 

(Assume she comes back with one)

 

Ralph then pours a bourbon for the man, "This is what the reverend is having."

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"I, er, now Arabella, I'm not quite sure that was the right thing to do." he managed, jumping on the first pause she gave. "I would... encourage you to apologize at the abbey, if not in your own prayer. Jesus would forgive those who disagreed with him, and the gospel of Matthew reminds us to turn the other cheek, remember?"

 

Arabella’s reply to the reverend Father was disturbed by the whole kerfuffle of Dutton staggering in stone cold sober, and his ungodly demands for coffee rather than whiskey, while the churchman looked on guzzling the best bourbon in the house. It was turning out to be a topsy-turvy day all right.

 

He looked to the young girl, "I'm quite able to stand on my own two feet, dear girl. I am quite steady I assure you, in fact never more steady, well, of late."

 

“Well, it all seems a mite peculiar to me!” Arabella commented, shaking her head.

 

“Anyway, where were we? Oh yeah!” she remembered Father Thomas’ admonitions about the Catholic Ladder. “Well, Father, I only got three objections to your advice: Number one, if I apologise to the Abbey, then they’d know it was me what done it; Number Two, it serves ‘em right for sayin’ that Protestants is all headed fer Hell, and Number Three: Jesus did forgive them as sinned and such, but He also got right mad when He needed to! Why don’t you remember when He blew his lid with them money lenders in the temple, and he made himself a whip of cords and gave them rascals such a switchin’, just like Simon LeCree in Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and... and he droved them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen and he poured out the nickels and dimes of them money-changers and overturned their tables all over the place. And do you know what, if he’d seen that nasty old Cath’lick Ladder pinned up on the wall in that there temple He’d a tore it off and jumped up and down on it, mood He was in that day! Never mind scribblin’ on it.”

 

She was going to also mention the mild dressing down that The Lord also gave to the sacrificial pigeon sellers, but it seemed like a bit of an anti-climax after the whippings and table smashing, so she instead turned her attention to Dutton to solicit his support.

“What’s your learned opinion, Judge. I mean, how would you like it if someone said you was going all to Hell?” she asked. It suddenly occurred to her that Dutton might actually be a catholic himself. He certainly drank a lot, and everybody knew that Catholics generally had a weakness for the barley and the grape.

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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Ralph nodded to Peabody, "Coffee huh? Diner would have been a better place to order that."

 

"Well my good sir, I have been there for breakfast, yes, I did have coffee, however I haven't been here in some time, and it's always a chance to see the ever enchanting Miss Devereau, and of course, the precocious Miss Arabella." 

 

Matilda sighed, "Oh, I will go in the kitchen and see if Cookie had a pot on the stove. Just a minute, Mr. Peabody."

 

"I for one am in no hurry, so please, do not feel rushed on my account." Dutton assured them

 

(Assume she comes back with one)

 

Ralph then pours a bourbon for the man, "This is what the reverend is having."

 

"And as fine a bourbon as one will find in this country." He took up the glass and turned to the priest. "Father." As he hands the glass to the frock officiate. "To your good health Sir. Would that join you, but you see I had given my solemn oath in hopes that would deter the Temperance movement." At that point his coffee arrived, tepid at best, but ever the gentleman, he took up the cup and downed the contents.  "Miss Devereau."

 

"Ladies, Father, Ralph, I take my leave. Pressing issue await." He dropped a nickle on the bar, turned, and walked out, leaving them to their conversations.

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"Likewise Padre. Not sure that was a fair statement that you 'call yourself a Catholic' and as Arabella says, ain't one. By golly you've got all the trappings. But be what you are my good sir. Spread the 'Word', that will give folks comfort, and by the Lord Harry, that's what most folks need in this day and age. Comfort."

 

Thomas gave a sheepish chuckle. "Rest assured, Mr. Peabody, it was not my intention to detract from the title of our Father God, merely a more universal means of presentation. As you say, and I agree; to spread the word is a greater calling than to argue over it. Feel free to call me as you wish."

 

Ironically enough, Mr. Peabody's agreeable opinion was followed with a rather long-winded and once again exhausting justification of precisely the opposite rhetoric from Arabella.

“Well, Father, I only got three objections to your advice: Number one, if I apologise to the Abbey, then they’d know it was me what done it; Number Two, it serves ‘em right for sayin’ that Protestants is all headed fer Hell, and Number Three: Jesus did forgive them as sinned and such, but He also got right mad when He needed to! Why don’t you remember when He blew his lid with them money lenders in the temple, and he made himself a whip of cords and gave them rascals such a switchin’, just like Simon LeCree in Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and... and he droved them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen and he poured out the nickels and dimes of them money-changers and overturned their tables all over the place. And do you know what, if he’d seen that nasty old Cath’lick Ladder pinned up on the wall in that there temple He’d a tore it off and jumped up and down on it, mood He was in that day! Never mind scribblin’ on it.”

Quite content to let the girl tire herself out, Thomas waited patiently until she was done, though by this stage it was become increasingly clear that Arabella would not yield so easily.

 

"The money lenders on Temple Mount had laid sacrilege to a holy place, and prevented seekers of god from their goal, my child. You must know when to act, and when to forgive. After all, words and pictures cannot truly hurt you, and so long as you live a good, honest life, I know you will meet God in the Kingdom of Heaven, regardless of what anyone says."

 

He sighed, still smiling. On one hand, it was refreshing to talk religion again, but on the other, he could tell that the Stardust proprietors did not care for it, and Arabella did not make it easy to leave the subject. Fortunately, Mr. Peabody seemed in no hurry to continue the discussion, rather handing Thomas yet another glass of bourbon as it came.

 

"Father." He said, passing the glass to the frock officiate. "To your good health Sir. Would that join you, but you see I had given my solemn oath in hopes that would deter the Temperance movement."

 

"Oh, well, my sincere thanks Mr. Peabody. Truly, this is a charitable town." he remarked, accepting the drink with a bow of his head. He took a sip, quiet for a moment as Ms. Devereau returned with the coffee.

"Hopefully I can pay you back one day." he told the lawyer, before glancing over to Ralph and Ms. Devereau. "That goes for you two as well. Good bourbon is hard to come by this far west."

 

"Ladies, Father, Ralph, I take my leave. Pressing issues await." Declared Mr. Peabody, before dropping a nickle on the bar, turning, and walking out. Thomas waved him a goodbye, before tuning back to his newly-gifted drink, picking it up and downing what remained in the glass.

 

"If I could trouble you both for one more thing, might either of you know if the hotel has vacancies this time of year?" Thomas asked. "Or if not, where there might be other accommodation in Kalispell?"

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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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