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    • "Ain't hardly nothin' to do but hunker down till she blows herself out." The man squatted, "Rance, is the name. Been watchin' you, doin' a fine job. You'll do Wheeler, you'll do. Try and get some rest, might end up bein' a long night. Least you won't be ridin' drag come daylight, there's a plus for ya."   He stood and made his way to his shelter to await the grub that was coming.   @Bongo
    • Meanwhile, in the main house, Reb Culverson was visiting with his old friend Fightin' Joe Hooker, who was the ramrod for the fledgling Montana Territory Stockgrowers Association, Northern District. He was there to convince ranchers to join and support the organization, hoping it would take root.   "And just what good is this here association ya got started?" Reb asked.   "It'll give us a voice in the territorial government, Reb, that's what it'll do. Once that happens we'll be able to git us some sortta range police to protect the herds, and the ranchers." Hooker responded. "Rustlin' might not be the threat it was, but you know as well as me, it can come back."   "You get anywhere with Lost Lake, 'er that cow thief on the Evergreen?" Reb asked.   "Can't say as I have, startin' with the smaller spreads an' workin' my way up to them two. I'm well aware of both spreads, and the men that own 'em."   -------------0------------   They swept down out of the trees whooping and hollering and firing off a couple of shots as they closed on both sides of a big group of cattle, just as they had planned. The  lone night hawk knew he had no chance of stopping the raiders, or of saving the cattle while he watched the chunk of the herd moving toward and then into the trees at a run.  He emptied his Colt at the raiders, the whipped out his Winchester  and levered several shots in the area where they had disappeared.   He could not know that one of his shots had found its mark. A man that had just joined took a slug in his back and toppled from his horse. Toole and the men continued to drive the cattle toward the dry riverbed as planned. It was an acceptable loss.   The sound of the shots, mere pops at the distance to the main house and the bunk house alerted everyone, and men boiled out of the bunk house guns in hand, only to watch the night man shooting after the rustlers.
    • Out on the boardwalk they stopped, "So we managed ta git a deal right off, thet's good, it is. Now all we gotta do is convince ol' Wentworth to free up the money so's ya don't have ta use yers right off." Amos commented, "Seems a fair deal but like you say, minin's not no sure thing."   "John and Mary are good folks. It's not a sure thing, but you saw the vein, went to the floor and it looks rich," Speed responded. "And it looks to be wider where they stopped digging. I can't wait to get it assayed to see what we've really got our hands on."   "And it should assay out pretty good from the looks of it, though I know so little about copper ore." Alice admitted.   "Well, you saw the copper ore, which is clearly distinguishable from the surrounding rock due to its reddish, mottled appearance. And that surrounding rock is granite which is not easy to work, but it can be done, and, if we have hit it, the veins could be as much as a mile long, a mile wide, and a mile deep!" Speed explained with a grin. "With that equipment we'll be able to not only dig deeper, we'll be able to tunnel, and we have the property to do just that."   "Jumpin' Jehoshaphat!" Amos exclaimed. Might oughtta buy up what ground ya can aound 'er, jest ta be certain!"   "First things first, let get on up to the bank." Speed suggested.
    • Justus was more than happy to have a chance to get out of the bulk of the wind, although he knew this was far from over.  And he knew they'd be hacking up dirt for days.     With the picket lines set, he moved over to help put up the shelters for the night, pretty quickly deciding that it was a fool's errand...they were all going to be miserable until this let up.   Squinting, he looked out toward the herd, not able to see but a few in the dust, it looked like they had been swallowed by the big, dirty cloud, and weren't even there.  In fact, he had the eerie sensation that all that was left in the world was this small circle of men and horses.   "Ya need me ta do anythin' else?" he called over the din of the wind.   @Flip
    • Doc Gilcrest walked into the bunck house to see Carson on his feet, dressed. "I may not be able to ride, but I can darn sure walk some. Tired of layin' in that bed."   "I reckon you kin do thet, sure 'nough. No body said ya had ta lie there if'n ya didn't want to. Yer stitched up plenty good. Jest leave thet hog leg where she's hangin' fer now, don't need the weight in thet wound."   "So anybody come sniffin' around?" He asked.   "Not so's you'd notice. There's four men down there keepin' watch, but it don't look like Lost Lake's lost any sleep over their man, that is if'n they even know he's gone." Gilcrest offered.   "He seen that brand an' went ta shootin'!" Carson reflected. "I jest shot straighter. Had no choice in the matter. Fool could'a rode on, but, well, that just ain't what happened. Hell of a mess."   "Oh I dunno. So far nobodies come huntin', the boss ain't upset over it, neither's Granger, so you got nothin' ta worry on 'cept gettin' better."   "I should'a been more careful, but maybe there just wasn't no way to be more careful. Up on the side of that mountain is the purdiest view a man could look at. You can see fer miles, see right where they got them cows of theirs. Now that ain't gonna be no easy matter to get to any of 'em. They're deep on Lost Lake range. Gonna be hard to get at, an' worse to get out. We'll lose some men tryin' this one, that's for sure!'   Gilcrest rubbed his chin. It wasn't like Carson to go on about the prospects of a job.

A Room with a View, and you.


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Mature Content: Sadly, for Hector, no.

Author: Hector Mark Wigfall

With: Miss Aoife Leane.
Location: Wigfall Boarding House.
When: Mid-May, 1876.
Time of Day: Late afternoon.

 

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His sister was at work, Ma had gone to the stores, Pa was at the Telegraph Office where they both worked, and all the boarders were gone for the day. Hector Wigfall was all alone in the house, at last! He would be able to indulge himself in the thing which gave him the most pleasure in the world. He made his way to his sister’s room where there was a full length mirror (what a waste!) He stood before it and slipped his thumbs behind his braces.

 

He drew himself up to his full height as he gazed admiringly at himself in the looking glass.

 

“Gentlemen of the Jury, I put it to you that this beautiful young woman…” he pointed dramatically at an inanimate wardrobe “… could NOT have been present at the scene of the murder! For at that exact time, she was in the arms of I … no, shit… in the arms of ME! Hector M. Wigfall! For Miss Blank is my secret fiancée, and I further propound that…”

 

Bap! Bap! Bap!

 

His fantasy oration was cut short by a sharp rapping at the front door.

 

“Shit, shit, shit!” He was just getting to the good part. He ran out of Jemima’s room and down the stairs, cursing. The one time he had the house to himself and he had to run down to answer the door some rotten, no good, dirty, low-down… he pulled open the door … beautiful girl!!

 

He stood staring with an open mouth, which he closed just to be able to say a flat and dry-mouthed “Hello?”

 

@boshmi

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Several hours later, and here Aoife stood; Kalispell at last. Her jaunt with Robert in the woods might not have been an entirely negative experience - if anything it informed her she'd not be only Gael this side of Montana - but after all her traveling, she was, admittedly, looking forward to the prospect of a rest and a hot meal. She certainly felt quite disheveled at the least, and time to recuperate would have been very welcome.

The town itself was large, considering how far west it was situated, but all the more options she would presumably have, and the first thing she had done upon arriving on the outskirts was to look for a hotel or other lodging. A fairly well situated, innocuous building advertised itself as the 'Wigfall Boarding House," suiting her purposes well enough, and so Aoife, still dragging her trunk, had marched her way up to the front door, and placed three short knocks upon it's frame.

 

There was a clattering of footsteps and nondescript muttering from behind the boarding house door as a figure moved about within, but within the space of a few moments the door swung wide, to reveal yet another boy, funnily enough of similar age and appearance to Robert.

“Hello?”

He managed, wide eyes and shocked expression. He wasn't Irish, at least there was that discernment, and though it certainly wasn't the warmest welcome, at this stage, Aoife cared very little about her host's disposition.

"Hello." she repeated evenly. "D'you have any rooms?"

@Javia

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“Hello?”

 

"Hello." she repeated evenly. "D'you have any rooms?"

 

“Hello.” He repeated, staring at her like he’d never seen a woman before. Her accent was curious, clearly Irish, but a little ‘harder’ than he had ever heard before: but just as lovely, nonetheless.

 

“Do we have any rooms?” he frowned “Do we?”

 

He shook his head: not in answer but in an attempt to clear it. “You want a room! Yes. YES! Yes, Miss, we DO have a room, er, come in, I’ll get your … oh! I’m all alone! I mean, is it all right? Don’t beautiful young ladies always need chaperones when they’re alone with a boy, er, MAN!?”

 

He, who usually prided himself on his mastery of words, didn’t know if he was coming or going.

 

“I mean, not that you need a chaperone with me, I’m totally harmless! I mean, not harmless, GOD! No, not HARMLESS! Oh, ‘scuse my French, but, well, you know!” he grinned like a loon, coming down the step and hovering over her trunk to see if she wanted him to carry it in.

 

Come to think of it, had they got a room free? Who knew? The boarding house was boring. Oh well, she could have his room, he’d be happy to sleep on his sister’s bedroom floor if it meant getting to look at this stunning Rose of Erin over the breakfast table every morning. Even better, Jemima could sleep on the floor.

 

@boshmi

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Only standing marginally taller than herself, the boy (doorman?) seemed quite unbecome. It would have almost been funny, if not for the fact that Aoife really just wanted to shut herself away and rest.

 

“Do we have any rooms? Do we?”

 

He began to ramble, though through the babbling and bubbling, Aoife was able to discern that there was, in fact; a room available. Probably. Something struck her as odd about the whole situation, for she'd never heard of any boarding house that would open with the line; 'do we have any rooms?'

 

"Come in, I’ll get your … oh! I’m all alone! I mean, is it all right? Don’t beautiful young ladies always need chaperones when they’re alone with a boy, er, MAN!? I mean, not that you need a chaperone with me, I’m totally harmless! I mean, not harmless, GOD! No, not HARMLESS! Oh, ‘scuse my French, but, well, you know!”

 

Aoife said nothing, watching the boy with critical eyes. His grin and general sense of overbearing energy was tiresome, and tiresome was not an accolade she wanted attached to her evening.

 

"Never mind." she mumbled, gripping her trunk firmly and stepping down from the porch. Perhaps there would be somewhere else to stay, or perhaps she could wait until there was a less oppressive presence here.

@Javia

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"Never mind." she mumbled, gripping her trunk firmly and stepping down from the porch. Perhaps there would be somewhere else to stay, or perhaps she could wait until there was a less oppressive presence here.

 

It was as well for Aoife that Mrs Wigfall appeared on the scene at this juncture, her daughter Jemima in tow. The busy woman frowned at the sight of an obvious traveller being turned away, as it seemed, from her boarding house: especially as she had a room to let. An empty room was a dent in the family income.

 

image.png.39c6d0ad3705fc9a3e12225ecd6de84b.png

 

“Young lady, young lady!” she cried bustling up to the disconsolate looking girl “What is all this? Are you looking for bed and board? Why my dear, you look exhausted! Did you just come in on the stage?” she fussed.

 

The poor waif looked like she’d walked a hundred miles and then been dragged through a hedge backwards, and no doubt lugging that baggage all the way. Jemima looked at the girl suspiciously, and then at Hector, standing there dumbfounded at the effect his ‘magnetic personality’ had had on the pretty colleen. Well, magnets could repel as well as attract.

 

“Hector’s probably scared her away!” Jemima pronounced spitefully. "Trying to be all charming!" There was an evil smile on her lips, the look on his red face told her she'd hit the bull's eye.

 

@boshmi

 

 

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“Young lady, young lady! What is all this? Are you looking for bed and board? Why my dear, you look exhausted! Did you just come in on the stage?”

A voice to the side, and the sound of hurried footsteps presented two women; one fairly old, and another closer to Aoife's age. Her timing was impeccable, if indeed this was the ubiquitous Mrs. Wigfall, for her fussing was admittedly a preferable alternative to the boy's charged rambling.

 

“Hector’s probably scared her away! Trying to be all charming!"

 

Aoife glanced between the younger girl and the boy, immediately picking them out to be siblings. Ruthless teasing was quite the staple of any brother-sister relationship, as she well knew.

Managing a friendly smile, she regarded the three in turn, ending on Mrs. Wigfall, who seemed to carry the most authority.

 

"I, ah, well, I walked. From the pass up that way." she said, indicating the forest in the distance. "Do you have any available rooms?" she repeated her question from earlier, hoping for a more straightforward answer.

@Javia

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Managing a friendly smile, she regarded the three in turn, ending on Mrs. Wigfall, who seemed to carry the most authority.

 

"I, ah, well, I walked. From the pass up that way." she said, indicating the forest in the distance.

 

“Oh, my dear young lady, all that way … alone?! Oh, dear, dear me, you must be quite worn out! Oh, and the danger, with all those redskins about and on the warpath!” she declared, approaching Aoife and waving her hands in the air at the thought of what might have become of the poor girl out in the wilds.

 

“They like to torture women and do other things to them!” piped up the frowsy looking daughter scuttling at the older woman’s side, helpfully. Jemima always looked on the bright side.

 

"Do you have any available rooms?" she repeated her question from earlier, hoping for a more straightforward answer.

 

“Yes we do! Now, let’s get you inside and off those feet with a nice cup of cocoa and get you settled in a nice comfy room!” said Mrs Wigfall in a comforting but decisive and commanding manner which would have done any nursing sister, in Aoife’s chosen profession, proud.

 

“Jemima! Help the young lady with her luggage and you!” she pointed a vicious looking parasol at Hector “get inside and out of the way! We women have business to conduct!”

 

Jemima trudged over to the large and heavy trunk “What do you want me to take?” she asked first, rather than just laying hands on the other girl’s things. "So, what's your name?" she asked.

 

@Bongo

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“Oh, my dear young lady, all that way … alone?! Oh, dear, dear me, you must be quite worn out! Oh, and the danger, with all those redskins about and on the warpath!” declared Mrs. Wigfall, waving her hands in the air. "Now, let’s get you inside and off those feet with a nice cup of cocoa and get you settled in a nice comfy room! Jemima! Help the young lady with her luggage, and you! Get inside and out of the way! We women have business to conduct!”

 

In the space of a few short moments, an entire 180 degree turn had been performed, almost entirely absent of Aoife's personal input. Mrs Wigfall did seem more archetypal of a boarding house matron, however, and the young woman was inclined to go along with things, so long as they maintained their present course.

 

“What do you want me to take?” asked the girl at Aoife's side, already having relocated herself over her belongings.

 

"I can manage." Aoife said with what politeness she could muster, for what seemed like the hundredth time today. She picked up the trunk and ambled through the doorway, giving Hector a cursory nod as she went.

 

"So, what's your name?"

"I'm Aoife. And you?" she asked, though more customarily than by way of true curiosity.

@Javia

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“What do you want me to take?” asked the girl at Aoife's side, already having relocated herself over her belongings.

 

"I can manage." Aoife said with what politeness she could muster, for what seemed like the hundredth time today. She picked up the trunk and ambled through the doorway, giving Hector a cursory nod as she went.

 

Jemima shrugged, it was no skin off her nose. The Irish girl had missed out though, although the cleaning girl looked dumpy, she was solid brawn and could have lifted the heavy trunk with ease. She followed her inside.

 

"So, what's your name?"

 

"I'm Aoife. And you?" she asked, though more customarily than by way of true curiosity.

 

“Jemima” answered Jemima “Eeeee-fuhhh. Like Eve-uhr. Is that Irish for Eve?” she asked [it wasn’t] “Eve was the first woman to sin, that’s why we’ve got the curse.” Only Jemima Wigfall could manage to get the subject of menstruation into her first conversation with someone. “When she sinned she saw Adam’s nakedness and he saw hers.”

 

That was one of her favourite parts of the Bible.

 

Mrs Wigfall led Aoife into the parlour and bade her put her trunks down for now. She ordered Hector to the kitchen to make some hot drinks and indicated that the Irish girl should take a seat. Jemima stood there like a spare part.

 

“Now, my child, my name is Mrs Wigfall. I offer a decent bed and board for a decent price, no gentlemen callers. I usually set a curfew for young lady borders, but that’ll depend on what you do for a living. Might I ask that, do you already have a position here in Kalispell or are you looking for work, Miss…? Sorry, dear, I didn’t ask your name.”

 

“Eeeee-fuhhh!” intoned Jemima.

 

@boshmi

 

 

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“Jemima. Eeeee-fuhhh. Like Eve-uhr. Is that Irish for Eve?"

Aoife frowned, moving down the hallway. "I... don't think so."

“Eve was the first woman to sin, that’s why we’ve got the curse. When she sinned she saw Adam’s nakedness and he saw hers.”

Her frown quickly shifted to an expression of incredulity, not that Jemima would have been able to see. "Uh huh." was all she said.

 

Entering the parlor, Aoife set her things down at Mrs. Wigfall's command and moved to sit. Hector disappeared off into a far room and she almost expected Jemima to follow, but no, the peculiar girl stood like a sentry at the rear of the room.

What an odd family, she thought, though for the time being fixed her attention on the Wigfall matriarch, seemingly the most well-adjusted of the three.

 

“Now, my child, my name is Mrs Wigfall. I offer a decent bed and board for a decent price, no gentlemen callers. I usually set a curfew for young lady borders, but that’ll depend on what you do for a living. Might I ask that, do you already have a position here in Kalispell or are you looking for work, Miss…? Sorry, dear, I didn’t ask your name.”

Aoife opened her mouth to speak, but Jemima beat her to it.

“Eeeee-fuhhh!”

 

"Uh, yes. Aoife. Leane." she said, glancing up at Jemima. "I don't have work just yet, but I have money, no need to worry about that Ma'am. As for the ah, gentlemen callers, I am in complete agreement with you."

The last sentence she spoke rather firmly, a precaution against the overzealous Hector.

@Javia

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Aoife opened her mouth to speak, but Jemima beat her to it.

 

“Eeeee-fuhhh!”

 

"Uh, yes. Aoife. Leane." she said, glancing up at Jemima.

 

Jemima was already staring at her and so met the Irish girl’s gaze immediately with an intensity she reserved for those she either loved or hated. A tight little smile which didn’t materially affect the rest of her passive features indicated that she had decided that knowing Aoife’s name meant that, in her own slightly peculiar mind, they were bosom friends.

 

"I don't have work just yet, but I have money, no need to worry about that Ma'am. As for the ah, gentlemen callers, I am in complete agreement with you."

 

Jemima broke away from staring at Aoife to glance balefully at her mother. It wasn’t fair that she couldn’t have gentlemen calling on her either, she wasn’t a guest. Not that any gentlemen ever wanted to call on her, but you never knew what might be just around corner. Oh well, she would call on them and damn her Mother to Hell! Her stare of hatred was as intense as the one she reserved for objects of her morose affection, but she broke it off and looked at the floor when her mother stared back.

 

Mrs Wigfall seemed very pleased with the Irish girl and decided that she would waive the usual deposit that she usually demanded of long term boarders.

 

“Well, you can pay at the end of the week, that’ll be fine, you look like a good, hard working girl to me, and I pride myself on being a good judge of character. Now, what sort of work are you looking for, Miss Leane? I might be able to point you in the right direction.”

 

“Me too.” Echoed Jemima, not wanting to be left out of the conversation.

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"Uh, yes. Aoife. Leane." she said, glancing up at Jemima. The Wigfall girl was already staring at her and so met Aoife's gaze immediately with an intensity she reserved for those she either loved or hated.

Aoife blinked, and broke off the stare; stunned and altogether a little perturbed by Jemima's mannerisms. Under other circumstances she might have said so, but right now all she really wanted to do was lie down, and giving the matron's daughter a piece of her mind would be counterproductive to the fact.

 

Deprived of Aoife's own gaze, Jemima instead seemed to fixate upon her own mother in turn, though with a far more sinister expression. Glancing between the two, Aoife cleared her throat quickly, as though it would break the spell over this entirely bizarre family. Jemima subsequently lowered her eyes to the floor, though if it was a result of Aoife's work was open to question.

 

“Well, you can pay at the end of the week, that’ll be fine, you look like a good, hard working girl to me, and I pride myself on being a good judge of character. Now, what sort of work are you looking for, Miss Leane? I might be able to point you in the right direction.” Mrs. Wigfall proclaimed.

“Me too.” Jemima chimed in, with all the enthusiasm of a crime novel murderer attempting to derail their own investigation.

 

Aoife blinked again, brought out of her ruminations on the outlandish Wigfalls by the practicality of the present. "I... thank you... doctor. I was, I mean, I am a nurse." she managed, frowning through her fluster as she struggled to get her thoughts under control.

@Javia

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Aoife blinked again, brought out of her ruminations on the outlandish Wigfalls by the practicality of the present. "I... thank you... doctor. I was, I mean, I am a nurse." she managed, frowning through her fluster as she struggled to get her thoughts under control.

 

Mrs Wigfall put on her thinking cap. “Well, there’s Dr. Boone, that is whom I attend. He is a wise and kindly old gent, but starting to get on in years, well, aren’t we all? Perhaps he could do with a nurse to help hi…”

 

Jemima, unable to retrain herself, blurted out some counter advice before her mother could even finish. “Doctor Danforth is younger and handsome and has a big practice and whenever you go there he always seems too busy to cope and he’d be a much better place to try!” she gabbled before her mother could tell her off for interrupting. But it was important that Aoife know: in novels, Doctors always fell in love with their nurses and got married to them. She didn’t want the pretty Irish girl to get stuck with that old fogey, Boone.

 

Jemima sidled in closer to Aoife and whispered in her ear. “He’s so handsome he’ll make your toes tingle! And one time I had to go see him because I had this big boil on my back all full of pus and…”

 

Now it was time for the landlady to interrupt her daughter in turn. “Jemima Wigfall! What have I told you about whispering?! And if it’s about that boil-thing you had, well I’m sure Miss Leane doesn’t want to know, she probably has to deal with such disgusting things all day at work!”

 

“It’s NURSE Leane!” Jemima shouted, suddenly getting quite excited.

 

Hector came in carrying a tray full of hot drinks.

 

“Is she talking about her boil again?!” he asked brightly. “And Doc Danforth’s gentle hands?”

 

Jemima gave Hector a dirty look but leant in to Aoife again and whispered “He does have gentle hands!”

 

@boshmi

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“Well, there’s Dr. Boone, that is whom I attend. He is a wise and kindly old gent, but starting to get on in years, well, aren’t we all? Perhaps he could do with a nurse to help hi…"

“Doctor Danforth is younger and handsome and has a big practice and whenever you go there he always seems too busy to cope and he’d be a much better place to try! He’s so handsome he’ll make your toes tingle! And one time I had to go see him because I had this big boil on my back all full of pus and…”

 

As Jemima leaned in, ever encroaching on Aoife's space, the Irish girl in turn leaned away, a simple look of discomfort on her face (ooc: hey a rhyme). By the end of her overshare, she had moved in close enough that Aoife made to discreetly shift herself away upon the couch. Fortunately, Mrs. Wigfall made to interdict - “Jemima Wigfall! What have I told you about whispering?! And if it’s about that boil-thing you had, well I’m sure Miss Leane doesn’t want to know, she probably has to deal with such disgusting things all day at work!”

 

“It’s NURSE Leane!” Jemima shouted back, and who should come back through the door but Hector, joy of joys. Ironically enough, his presence might have served to get the conversation back on track and Aoife somewhere with less Wigfalls.

 

“Is she talking about her boil again?!” he asked brightly. Aoife's heart sank. “And Doc Danforth’s gentle hands?”

“He does have gentle hands!” reaffirmed Jemima, to which Aoife finally decided to hurry things along.

 

"Ah, would it be alright if I went and lay down? I have to say, I'm quite tired." she managed, forcing a smile.

@Javia

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“He does have gentle hands!” reaffirmed Jemima, to which Aoife finally decided to hurry things along.

 

"Ah, would it be alright if I went and lay down? I have to say, I'm quite tired." she manged, forcing a smile.

 

“Oh, of course, my dear; you must be so exhausted, first the travel then having to walk all that way with a heavy trunk. Oh, and when I think of what might have happened to you out in the wilds!” said Mrs Wigfall with genuine concern for the waif-like young woman.

 

“Jemima!” she said more sternly “Go and make up the bed in number five – use the fresh linen in the airing cupboard, and make sure Miss … oh, Nurse Leane has fresh water in the jug for washing. Go on! Shoo shoo!” she waved the sullen girl out of the room as she seemed reluctant to leave Aoife’s personal space.

 

Hector took up what he considered to be a commanding position in the room, with his cocoa mug in one hand and his other arm leaning against the mantle. “Sorry about Sis!” he declared to Aoife “Mother dropped her on her head when she was a baby and she ain’t been right since!”

 

“You be quiet!” Mrs W. admonished “I know she seems a little strange, Nurse Leane, but she’s a good, hard-working girl. Still, I’d lock your door at night, she sleepwalks.”

 

Hector took a loud slurp of his cocoa. “Ha, imagine waking up and seeing that ogre standing over you! A body would practically scream the house down!!” he laughed.

 

“Yes, YOU did!” added his mother, before turning to more practical matters. “Now, breakfast is 7 O’ Clock, Jemima’s up early so she can give you a knock if you like. And actually, she is right, Doctor Danforth probably should be your first port of call, he does run a big practice and probably needs help more than dear old Dr Boone.”

 

@boshmi

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“Jemima! Go and make up the bed in number five – use the fresh linen in the airing cupboard, and make sure Miss … oh, Nurse Leane has fresh water in the jug for washing. Go on! Shoo shoo!”

 

And with that, the enigmatic Jemima had been banished, putting Aoife one step closer to some peace. She might have not even minded idle chatter with Mrs. Wigfall, were it not for...

 

“Sorry about Sis!” piped Hector. "Mother dropped her on her head when she was a baby and she ain’t been right since!”

 

The nurse might have had something, or several somethings, about the effect head trauma would have had on an infant, but it seemed Mrs. Wigfall was all too ready to take up the mantle again - resulting in yet another back and forth exchange between mother and child.

 

“You be quiet!”  know she seems a little strange, Nurse Leane, but she’s a good, hard-working girl. Still, I’d lock your door at night, she sleepwalks."

“Ha, imagine waking up and seeing that ogre standing over you! A body would practically scream the house down!!”

“Yes, YOU did!”

 

Aoife once more held a blank expression through the ordeal. It all seemed much ado about nothing to her, but perhaps this was how frontier folk got their kicks.

 

“Now, breakfast is 7 O’ Clock," Mrs. Wigfall began, commanding Aoife's focus again." Jemima’s up early so she can give you a knock if you like. And actually, she is right, Doctor Danforth probably should be your first port of call, he does run a big practice and probably needs help more than dear old Dr Boone.”

 

"Er... I'll manage. I've always been an early riser anyway." Aoife said quickly. The prospect of Jemima standing over her while sleepwalking was intimidating enough, let alone while fully conscious and capable of... whatever she was capable of. "Thank you for the information though ma'am. I'll visit first thing." she said decisively.

"I should like to clean myself up before then, though, if it would be alright for me to heat water for-" she willed Hector to remain silent. "-a bath."

@Javia

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"Er... I'll manage. I've always been an early riser anyway." Aoife said quickly. The prospect of Jemima standing over her while sleepwalking was intimidating enough, let alone while fully conscious and capable of... whatever she was capable of. "Thank you for the information though ma'am. I'll visit first thing." she said decisively.

 

“Good, I’ll give you directions in morning.” Said Mrs Wigfall. She was pleased with what she had seen of this young woman, so far. Her only misgivings were around Hector and what antics he might get up to, showing off in front of the attractive girl.

 

"I should like to clean myself up before then, though, if it would be alright for me to heat water for-" she willed Hector to remain silent. "-a bath."

 

Hector didn’t say anything, but self-consciously slurped his cocoa just a little bit louder and tried to look like he wasn’t imagining the Irish girl naked in the little tin bath! Nonchalant, like.

 

“Oh of course, you must be all dusty after your journey and you’ll want to look your best for Doctor Danforth. The bath’s in the scullery, I’ll get Jemima to heat up some water and fetch down towels.” Clearly, even the muscular Jemima couldn’t be expected to cart a tin bathtub and umpteen pans of hot water up and down stairs to Aoife’s room all night. The scullery was just off the kitchen and that’s where everybody else had to have a bath when they needed one.

 

@boshmi

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A loud slurping from the corner of the room was her only indication of reaction, but still Aoife felt indignation at any response.

“Oh of course, you must be all dusty after your journey and you’ll want to look your best for Doctor Danforth. The bath’s in the scullery, I’ll get Jemima to heat up some water and fetch down towels.”

 

"That would be lovely, thank you." Aoife said, ignoring Hector as best she could. She realized then that she'd not yet touched her own mug of coca, and so leaned over to the cup for a quick sip, to be polite. It tasted bitter, but rich, as was fairly typical for what she'd come to expect in American drink-making. She only hoped the Wigfall boy had not dribbled in it or some such like, for who could really tell what he was capable of?

 

She straightened her posture, set the drink down, and stood, giving Mrs. Wigfall a look of gratitude. "Well, I might go see how Jemima's getting along. Up here?" she asked, crossing to the stairwell up which Jemima had disappeared.

@Javia

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"That would be lovely, thank you." Aoife said, ignoring Hector as best she could.

 

Mrs Wigfall made her way to the door and shouted upstairs.

 

“Jemima? Jemima! When you’re done, bring some towels down and run Nurse Leane a bath in the scullery!”

 

There was a clomping noise as the Wigfall girl’s boots moved on the floor above.

 

“Uh?” Her voice sounded distant.

 

“I said when you’re done, bring some towels down and run Nurse Leane a bath in the scullery!” repeated the matriarch.

 

“Uh!” More clomping.

 

She straightened her posture, set the drink down, and stood, giving Mrs. Wigfall a look of gratitude. "Well, I might go see how Jemima's getting along. Up here?" she asked, crossing to the stairwell up which Jemima had disappeared.

 

Normally Mrs W. would have directed Hector to carry up the girl’s trunk, what with Jemima’s muscles not being immediately to hand, but she had already picked up that the waif seemed unusually protective about the thing: it probably contained all she owned in the world and she’d no doubt had to keep her eye on it all the way from the starting point of her travels, maybe even from the Emerald Isle itself, and become wary of letting it out of  her sight.

 

“Very well. Do you want Hector to carry up your trunk?” she asked. She probably could have predicted he answer, but it was polite to ask.

 

~~~

By the time Aoife got upstairs, the efficient Jemima had done her work, and the room looked snug and welcoming without being twee. As she was now a paying guest, Jemima bobbed her a little curtsey, but her manner of address was as direct as ever.

 

“You should’a let me carry that trunk.” She informed her flatly. “I’ll go pour you a bath. Scullery’s just off the kitchen at the end of the corridor downstairs.” And with that she trudged off.

 

The tin bath took some filling, but as it was small, the liquid was quickly displaced by a normal sized person getting into it, so it didn’t have to be filled too high. Hector sometimes cruelly joked that Jemima was so bulky that when she got in, it only needed a couple of drops of water to fill it. ‘Not that she ever takes a bath, ha ha!’

 

When she was satisfied that she had heated enough water and the warm liquid had reached a satisfactory height in the metal tub, she shouted Aoife down from the kitchen, confident that her bellowing voice would be heard through the walls of her room. It also alerted a furtive Hector Wigfall that there was about to be an opportunity, if he was sneaky enough, to ‘accidentally’ catch sight of the attractive nurse in the nude. A thousand plans started to formulate in his filthy little mind.

 

@boshmi

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“Very well. Do you want Hector to carry up your trunk?” Asked Mrs. Wigfall again, and once more Aoife shook her head.

"It's no trouble." she said, hefting the case once more. After a short rest, the arm aches that were present on the way in had faded somewhat, and she was able to carry the case with little discomfort.

 

She proceeded to cart it up the stairs, where she wandered past the rooms until she found Jemima, who did a little curtsy on her arrival.

“You should’a let me carry that trunk.” She told her, and Aoife merely shrugged, before leaving the article in question at the side of the room.

“I’ll go pour you a bath. Scullery’s just off the kitchen at the end of the corridor downstairs.”

"Thanks, Jemima." Aoife said, with the most genuine smile she could muster. The girl wasn't being entirely intolerable at the moment, and having her as an informant on the town would be a good move. Maybe there was room for something resembling a friendship here.

 

Left alone for the first time in many weeks, Aoife sat on her led and lay back. The room was clean, comfortable, and large enough for her needs. Shutting her eyes, she could almost imagine herself falling asleep right then and there, but no, there were still preparations to be made and things to be done.

 

And so, somewhat reluctantly, the young woman pushed herself off the bed and moved back to the trunk. After so much time spent carrying the blasted thing around, it was somewhat enjoyable to finally use it in a room of her own, and the act of unlatching and raising the worn top was oddly comforting to her. She picked out a few things; set her book on the bed, left her journal with it's pencil upon the nightstand, and collected a change of clothes, both outer and inner. Her finer work garments she folded carefully and placed next to the trunk, ready for tomorrow.

 

~

 

Around the time she had her change of clothes ready, there came a shout form downstairs. Good grief that girl had a pair of lungs on her, though the case herein proved that they had their utility.

Aoife made her way back downstairs, following the distended harmony of Jemima's bass overtones into the kitchen. Sure enough, there she stood, emanating noise at a volume that would have put a particularly skilled tuba player to shame. Aoife gave the girl another friendly look, mostly to get her to quiet down, and nodded her head towards the side door, arms all full of clothing.

"In there, then?" she asked.

@Javia

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Aoife made her way back downstairs, following the distended harmony of Jemima's bass overtones into the kitchen. Sure enough, there she stood, emanating noise at a volume that would have put a particularly skilled tuba player to shame. Aoife gave the girl another friendly look, mostly to get her to quiet down, and nodded her head towards the side door, arms all full of clothing. 

 

"In there, then?" she asked. 

 

“Yeah, through here” said the dowdy girl simply and led the way. The scullery was like any other scullery, basic, bare brick walled, and equipped with a sink and various cleaning utensils and buckets. A side table or platform had the towels, tallow soap and a scrubbing brush on top and Jemima had been thoughtful enough to put a rough mat by the side of the metal tub, to save Aoife’s feet from the cold stone tiled floor. The bath itself was small and about one third full of warm (some might say tepid) water. All was illuminated by a struggling oil lamp, hung from a hook on the wall. 

 

The main problem was that there wasn’t exactly a door from the kitchen to the scullery, there was just a door-way. This kept the small antechamber reasonably warm, with heat from the kitchen, but also meant that anyone coming far enough into the kitchen would be able to see into the space and enjoy the sight of the Irish girl in all her glory. 

 

“Don’t worry, I gonna stay in the kitchen and keep guard in case anyone tries to come in” explained Jemima in that slow flat voice, “You don’t want no one peekin’” she said. It might have been a bit less unnerving if she’d left it at that, and hadn’t flicked her eyes up and down Aoife’s body, somehow intensified her usual unswerving stare, and added quietly “... when you all naked.” 

 

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“Yeah, through here” confirmed Jemima, and Aoife entered the scullery. It was of course, fairly standard, as was to be expected of a boarding house, but it took the Irish girl a few moments to realize what exactly perturbed her so about the room. There was no door.

 

“Don’t worry, I gonna stay in the kitchen and keep guard in case anyone tries to come in.” Jemima provisioned, seemingly reading her thoughts. Aoife said nothing in response, merely placing her clothes by the towels, brush, and soap. The situation raised questions about the general contentment of Wigfall guests with their bathing situation, but obviously it had never been enough of a problem to provoke any rectification.

 

“You don’t want no one peekin'... when you all naked.”  Jemima added unsettlingly.

"Jemima." Aoife said, commanding all of the authority that her marginal height difference offered. "Could you do that now, please?"

@Javia

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“You don’t want no one peekin'... when you all naked.”  Jemima added unsettlingly.

 

"Jemima." Aoife said, commanding all of the authority that her marginal height difference offered. "Could you do that now, please?"

 

Jemima’s dark eyes searched Aoife’s pale skinned, flawless face, chewing her bottom lip in God knows what fathomless thoughts, and finally said “Sure” in her usual slow, flat manner. As she reached the giant hole of a door-way, she turned on her big feet and, looking studiously at the Irish nurse again, intoned a dubious offer of “Gi’mme a shout if you want any help takin’ all them clothes off.”

 

Women, with their plethora of buttons, hooks and corset laces, sometimes did need help ‘getting undressed’, maybe it was just Jemima’s phraseology that made the offer sound a little odd.

 

Jemima walked back into the kitchen, out of Aoife’s line of sight, and did just as she had promised, standing like a lump, facing the inside of the kitchen door as if in a catatonic trance, her only perceptible movement being the chewing of her lip and a sort of nervous rubbing of her thumb and forefinger together as she thought about “them things” she liked to think about.

 

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“Sure. Gi’mme a shout if you want any help takin’ all them clothes off.”  Jemima finally said, and Aofie could have breathed a sigh of relief, that she was not about to get assaulted by an incredibly well-muscled boarding house girl.

"I'll be alright." she quickly said, for the prospect of having Jemima near for the next few minutes was an unpleasant one indeed.

As soon as she had departed, Aoife quickly set about memorizing the room's layout. Clothes, bath, towel, lamp, buckets, soap, brush. She nodded to herself, satisfied, and then crossed to where the lamp was. She did not trust either of the Wigfall children one bit, and would take matters accordingly.

 

Aoife gripped the handle, and with one last look at the room, she gave a deft twist to plunge it into darkness.

 

Having a bath in the dark was, ironically, rather good practice for bathing patients. Goodness knew she'd done it a fair few times before, and the affair of navigating underclothes came as naturally to Aoife as chopping wood might to a lumberjack. She removed her shoes, pulled off her sweater, and loosened the corset (though it was fairly loose already, the constriction of one's breathing had never been the sort of thing she'd bother subjecting herself to). This allowed her to pull her chemise over her head, and subsequently depart from skirt and stockings. By now her eyes had begun to adjust to the darkness, and she was able to take towel, soap, and brush from the table with very little groping around.

 

The bath itself was conducted quickly and efficiently, as she might with a tuberculosis patient. Soap on her head, torso, limbs, wash it off, brush down the worse accumulations of dirt, dip her head below the water, and soak, all conducted in a matter of minutes.

 

She rose from the bath, reached around for the towel where she'd left it, and quickly dried herself off, before hopping out onto the scullery floor. From there it was a matter of carefully feeling her way back to the table, and replacing her clothing with the clean items she'd brought down. Chemise, sweater, skirt, garters, stockings, and she moved back to where the lamp had been. After some fumbling around in the dark, she managed to find a friction match, and struck it alight, so that she could twist the oil release and re-ignite the lamp.

 

Aoife shut the lamp gate, satisfied with her concealed bath, and went to put her shoes back on. Then, she gathered up her discarded clothing, folded her towel, and placed the soap bar and brush back by the sink.

 

She left the scullery in good spirits, giving Jemima a nod of thanks as she entered the warmth of the kitchen.

@Javia

 

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Hector’s plan was simple enough and had been undertaken with success a few times before when they’d had a very nice looking and buxom lady called Mrs Trent staying with them, who was very fond of baths. There was an air vent, high in the wall of the scullery, a pretty standard grate in the brickwork which let in fresh air from outside and stopped the windowless room getting fuggy with stale air and steam. To get to peek into the scullery did take a little bit of ingenuity and acrobatic climbing skill, but perched on an old packing case on tiptoe a feller could get a decent view in and down to where the bathtub was usually placed.

 

This all took a little time to organise, of course, especially thinking of an excuse to his mother why he suddenly had to step outside for no little time, but eventually the oversexed teenager found himself, sweaty palmed, stood on a box round the side of the house and bringing his eyes up to the grate and peering in to the delicious sight of… blackness?

 

No. It wasn’t totally black, he could see vague shapes as his eyes adjusted to the gloom. The lamp glowing almost invisibly, a tin bath glimmering a little where dull light from the kitchen hit it, and a shadowy figure moving about. Female … a dark outline … now lighter. Ooo! She’d taken her dress off! White underwear glowed in the gloom, and was then removed! God, if only she’d turn the … oh! This was it! She was heading toward the lamp on the wall! She was going to turn the wick up and would be illuminated in all her naked glory for him to see.

 

“Yes, that’s it!” he mumbled hoarsely to himself as he gripped onto the outside wall with one hand “Come on… come on you Irish b… yes, that’s it, turn up the lamp, lets have a look at you!” he panted.

 

As Jemima, stripped completely naked and ready to use Aoife’s still tepid water, turned up the lamp to see what she was doing, she did hear a cry of what sounded like abject horror and a crashing noise outside the house, like someone falling off a packing case, perhaps. She shrugged, more concerned with the feeling of odd excitement at getting into the lovely young nurse’s bath and wondering if, by an odd osmosis, some of the other woman’s beauty might somehow rub off on her. At this point, she would try anything.

 

Jenny_Tomasin.jpg

 

[OOC: The end?]

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