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Turn the Other Cheek


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Mature Content: Let us pray to God NO!

Author: Arabella Sumter Mudd

With: Father Thomas Reece, Pastor Gideon Evans, Mrs Evans.
Location: Add specific location information here.
When: Late March 1876
Time of Day: 10.47am.

 

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“Now, o’ course, I’m a Southern Methodist and he’s a Northern Methodist, so we disagree on a few points, but even though we’re from different connexions, we seem to get along all right. Still and but, I think you should avoid talking about religion, if at all possible. And I might call you ‘Brother Thomas’ cause that’s more Method-y than Father Thomas, see?” Arabella was giving the grave looking Man of God a pep talk on how to get along with Pastor Evans as they trudged the streets of Kalispell toward that man’s neat if modest abode.

 

She had to skip forward of a sudden to catch up with the Reverend Reece, and try to match his long limbed strides, despite the heavy load he was carrying.

 

“It was mighty nice of you to offer to carry the harmonium!” she beamed up at him gratefully. “Brother Gideon’ll be tickled to death to hear some hymns played on that ol’ thing in his sick bed!”

 

Arabella then thought of another useful tip.

 

“Ooh, an’ another thing. Mrs Evans, that’s his wife, she’s a little cross-eyed so remember not to stare, an’ remember it’s the one on the right that a-lookin’ at you. And don’t make any funny jokes about it because I did onct and neither of ‘em laughed.” she advised him as she beetled along side him, directing the way: looking for all the world like a little old lady with her poke bonnet, shawl and basket.  

 

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"Now, o’ course, I’m a Southern Methodist and he’s a Northern Methodist, so we disagree on a few points, but even though we’re from different connexions, we seem to get along all right. Still and but, I think you should avoid talking about religion, if at all possible. And I might call you ‘Brother Thomas’ cause that’s more Method-y than Father Thomas, see?”

"Yes, well, if you think it best, Arabella." Thomas replied, grunting under the harmonium's weight. In truth, it had been a fair time since he'd been in any true house of God, and no doubt his more blasé approach to differing schools of Christianity would not fly. It had been a while too since he was 'Reverend Thomas', and longer still since 'Brother Thomas', but the ambivalence worked both ways. If he could take on the Catholic mantle, he could take on the Methodist, so long as he could do what he enjoyed doing. It might actually be best to let the girl take most of the talking, for the Lord knew she was good at it.

 

“It was mighty nice of you to offer to carry the harmonium!” she beamed up at him. “Brother Gideon’ll be tickled to death to hear some hymns played on that ol’ thing in his sick bed!”

"I'm sure he will." Thomas reinforced, though if the previous comments of Ralph and Matilda were anything to go by, there may have been more fiction than fact in her words. He was inclined to trust their judgement too, by way of how kind they had been with their spare room. His stay in Kalispell thus far had been the most comfortable he had been for a time, and the ebbing patrons that crossed the threshold of the Stardust were never in truly poor spirits, a hopeful portent of the townsfolk's demeanor.

 

“Ooh, an’ another thing. Mrs Evans, that’s his wife, she’s a little cross-eyed so remember not to stare, an’ remember it’s the one on the right that a-lookin’ at you. And don’t make any funny jokes about it because I did once and neither of ‘em laughed.”

Thomas winced a little, imagining the overexciteable Arabella poking fun at Mrs. Evans' disfigurement, but nodded along as though she had imparted some unknowable token of information.

"I'll certainly keep that in mind, thank you."

 

With the morning sun, Thomas had little need for a coat, a thankful fact that had made the harmonium's transport a far less awkward affair. The sleeves of his shirt were rolled to his elbows, and his waistcoat was presented neatly, all ready for a meeting with the pastor. He'd left his things in the saloon, so as not to appear overeager (and indeed, so as not to go sporting a firearm in someone's church), and so carried himself with nothing but a friendly face. Oh, and Arabella's harmonium, of course.

@Javia

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The Evans’ abode had a neat front door at street-level, with only the smallest of steps, so Father Thomas wouldn’t have to lug the bulky instrument up too many stairs until they were inside. Arabella rapped on the door, but didn’t really give anyone a chance to answer it before boldly opening it herself and marching in, explaining to her porter “She must be givin’ him his chill tonic!”

 

She held the door open for Father Thomas in order for him to enter the hallway carrying the bulky and awkward harmonium in and called out “Ooooo-eeee! Ooooo-eeee! Missus Eeeeeevans?!”

 

The woman in question appeared from a side door to a parlour and gave a look of horror at the sight of the girl from church and the man carrying a large boxlike object: she thought for a second that Arabella was intending to move in with them, and this was her luggage. “Howdy Mrs E.! This here’s F… er, Brother Thomas Reece, come to visit with the Pastor. And we brung the harmonium to cheer him up!” she explained brightly, as she went to mount the stairs to the second floor of the house.

 

“He’s in the Parlour, convalescing.” Explained the poor woman in question, trying to do three things at once: relieve the tall, distinguished looking man of his terrible burthen; stop Arabella poking about upstairs and warn her husband that she was here, the probable cause of his nervous collapse.

 

“Do go through, Brother Thomas. My husband will be pleased to see you, if not that which you carry. Miss Mudd, perhaps you will join me in the kitchen to prepare some refreshments for the gentlemen.”

 

“Right you are Missus!” agreed Arabella sadly, taking one last nosy look up those intriguing stairs, thwarted in her quest to explore the unknown and see the no-doubt amusing sight of Brother Gideon in his nightgown and night cap.

 

Before she followed Mrs Evans into the kitchen, she gave Thomas a reassuring slap on the back. “Good luck! And remember, don’t mention the Baptists!”

 

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Thomas followed Arabella through the doorway, trying his best not to seem all too complicit in her loud 'ooo-ing.' With the appearance of Mrs. Evans at the side door, he gave a bashful smile, reluctant to draw attention to himself when there was such an embodiment of attention attempting to clatter her way up the stairs.

“Howdy Mrs E.! This here’s F… er, Brother Thomas Reece, come to visit with the Pastor. And we brung the harmonium to cheer him up!” she declared excitedly.

“He’s in the Parlour, convalescing. Do go through, Brother Thomas. My husband will be pleased to see you, if not that which you carry."

"Right you are, ma'am, thank you for your hospitality." he said quickly, for a moment considering if he should correct Arabella, though deciding to merely let it lie. The lady's comment about the harmonium did confirm his suspicions, however, and to that end he slyly placed the instrument to the side of the door, to be 'forgotten.'

 

With Arabella cordoned off into some kitchen task, Thomas moved to the parlour entrance, though not before a jarring clap on the back reminded him of the girl's presence.

“Good luck! And remember, don’t mention the Baptists!”

Thomas nodded, flashing a look of thanks for her sake, before swinging the door wide. He entered the room slowly, so as not to cause any undue stress to the Reverend before Arabella inevitably did.

 

"Pastor? I hope I'm not intruding."

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Pastor Evans looked up from the book he had been reading.  The man standing before him was a stranger and one that seem to have some bearing.  He wasn't surprised at having a stranger in his home as Kalispell had seen a lot of them during his time as pastor of the community church.  Thankfully most of them proved to be harmless and he knew somehow that this man was one of them.

 

"Normally, I would get up to greet you but Doctor Danforth says I must not exert myself too much.  I hope you don't mind.  Please take a seat and tell me what brings you here."

 

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"Normally, I would get up to greet you but Doctor Danforth says I must not exert myself too much.  I hope you don't mind.  Please take a seat and tell me what brings you here."

"Of course, thank you." Thomas replied. "I wouldn't want to cause any undue fuss, especially to one under doctor's orders."

He moved to a chair opposite the pastor, easing himself into it and leaning forward. To be fair, the man was well composed, with a stranger in his parlour, though Thomas knew all too well that one quickly learned to be comfortable around guests, as a priest.

"My apologies, where are my manners? I'm Reverend Thomas Reed, formerly of Pembina." he introduced himself, holding out a hand. "...and I don't mean to alarm you, especially considering your condition, but, well, I've come here with Arabella, from the saloon. She was rather adamant."

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Gideon Evans raised an eyebrow when he heard what the man called himself.  Maybe this was the answer to his prayers.  After shaking the man's hand, he straightened up in his chair and fixed the blanket around his lap.

 

He smiled, "I have no doubt Arabella embellished my condition somewhat...the girl has the tendency to do that.  My condition is not as dire as some may think, it's more a case of getting old.  Being the only pastor around for miles, my job involves a lot of travelling to outlying ranches and farms to perform services and whatever else is needed as it is often difficult to get into town.  I'm expected to start my rounds as soon as the winter snows start melting but it can still be a very cold trip and I'm afraid that my body has seen fit to let me know that it's time to slow down."

 

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"I'm expected to start my rounds as soon as the winter snows start melting but it can still be a very cold trip and I'm afraid that my body has seen fit to let me know that it's time to slow down."

Thomas shook his head. "I'm sorry to hear that. It happens to the best of us, and of course, at the most inopportune times."

Traveling the countryside seemed an awfully draining task too, for someone of the pastor's age. No doubt he was a very driven man, or perhaps particularly caring. Either of the two were good qualities in a Reverend.

"Of course, that brings us to the subject of my visit." Thomas began. "I've had my few years of training, held a congregation for some decades, and, if you'll pardon my boldness, I would be more than happy to help, to any degree you see fit."

He paused for a moment, placing his hands together idly. "Kalispell seems a nice place, with good people, and... well... I should like to stay here, for a time."

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Gideon smiled.  This was indeed an answer to prayer.  "I thank you for your kind offer, Reverend and I will take you up on it.  I think I can manage to do services here in town, so we can work out some sort of schedule where we can share that duty.  My main concern is the parishioners in the remote areas.  Would you be all right with taking on those duties."

 

He paused for a moment.  Maybe he was asking too much of the man who had only just arrived, "I do understand that you might want to learn more about the town and the surroundings before you accept.  Is there anything in particular you would like know?"

 

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"I thank you for your kind offer, Reverend and I will take you up on it.  I think I can manage to do services here in town, so we can work out some sort of schedule where we can share that duty.  My main concern is the parishioners in the remote areas.  Would you be all right with taking on those duties?"

The priest's smile was more of a positive reaction that Thomas could have ever expected. It seemed that the Lord had seen fit to draw him unto Kalispell at just the right time, a fact for which he was grateful.

"By all means, it would be my pleasure." Thomas declared jovially. "I've always had a soft spot for the countryside anyway."

"I do understand that you might want to learn more about the town and the surroundings before you accept.  Is there anything in particular you would like know?"

"Oh, I imagine it'll come to me quickly. Not the least by way of Arabella. She's a, er... talkative girl to say the least." he replied, but his voice quickly took on a more serious tone. "Though if I may ask, pastor, what was it that drew you personally to Kalispell? It's certainly an out-of-the-way sort of place."

With a position all but secured, Thomas was now interested to see just what made the pastor tick. He suspected that it might afford some insight into Kalispell itself, for who best to know of the townspeople's troubles than their good reverend?

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