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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.

The Ways of the Lonely Ones


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Mature Content: Yes.

Author: Arabella

With: Dr Danforth, Aoife Leane.
Location: Dr. Danforth's Practice.
When: Second Week of July 1876.
Time of Day: 9.05am.

 

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It was working pretty well. The one per cent of people in Kalispell who cared about, or even knew, Arabella Mudd were convinced that she had been besotted with Billy. Hadn’t they seen her throwing herself on his body and being carried off, in a dead faint of shock and grief? Hadn’t they heard Jemima Wigfall’s scuttlebutt that Arabella and Billy had shared more than just a kiss? Hadn’t they seen her, ever since his untimely death at the hands of Brendan Connelly, dressed in the deep black mourning clothes she’d been given by Crabbe when she was helping with the Memento Mori photographs? Hadn’t they heard about the execrably transcribed and composed poetry left at the lad’s still fresh grave and the basic wooden cross that she had paid for at its head?

 

She was dressed in her mourning black now, as she rapped on the fancy brass knocker on the glossily painted door of the stolid brick townhouse that contained Dr. Jonah William Danforth’s prospering medical practice. Maybe it was the black of the bonnet and the high neck of the sombre dress that made her face look so pale, as her thin white fingers played nervously with the tasselled edges of her black woollen shawl.

 

 @Bongo @boshmi

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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It was  little busy this morning, so at the knock, the only person available to answer was the cook, Mrs. Towberman, and she readily wiped her hands and set aside her task, heading for the door, relieved that it was just a knock that summoned her, and not the frantic pounding that accompanied emergencies.

 

When she answered, the woman managed to maintain her composure while she wondered what perceived excitement brought the child here.

 

"Good morning," she greeted with a smile, for the over-zealous girl reminded her of her sister when they were children, "what do you need?"

 

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@Javia; @boshmi

 

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Aoife had come in fairly early that morning, for the encroaching height of summer had obviously not been lending itself well to the health of Kalispell's townsfolk, and the Doctor had needed plenty of help managing their inventory and attending to the influx of patients. She sat at the kitchen table, pencil in hand, as she marked down the various quantities of the medicines, creams, and syrups that adorned the surface around her.

 

Her brow was furrowed in concentration, and she scribbled with such speed that her exasperation was unmistakable to any eye. The busyness of the last few days had left this particular task on the ice for a while, along with time for meals, sleeping, and washing. Indeed, she'd hardly been back to her place at the Wigfall boarding house for two nights now, having instead slept in one of the practice's spare rooms, which, in itself then needed to be made up and cleaned, creating a cycle of work.

 

Needless to say, Aoife Ciara Leane was not at her most presentable; clad in sweater and shawl rather than blouse and ribbon, hair tied back sloppily, and with a mood to match. So when there came yet another knock at the door, she did not even lift a finger in reaction, leaving Mrs. Towberman to answer.

 

"Good morning, what do you need?" came the woman's voice from down the hall, and Aoife once again felt amazement at that lady's patience, for as yet another strand of hair slipped out of the knot behind her head, she had to take a moment so as to prevent a most vulgar outburst.

@Javia@Bongo

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She was just about to chicken out and make a run for it when the ominous clunk of the door handle being turned from the inside sealed her fate and made her tummy do a somersault. She vaguely recognised the woman who stood within, although wouldn’t be able to put a name to her face or know what role she played within the practice. Maybe she was like a nurse.

 

"Good morning," she greeted with a smile, for the over-zealous girl reminded her of her sister when they were children, "what do you need?"

 

Arabella could usually bellow her way through any situation with a raucous unthinking stream of blather or an unrelenting relay of inane questions. Saloon full of rowdy cowboys? ‘Out the way fellers! Precious beer comin’ thru!’ Distraught parent about to have their dead child photographed as a last keepsake? ‘Oh ain’t she just the prettiest little darlin’? What was her favourite game? Did she like playing with dollies? What was her favorite flower?...’ Talk, talk, talk, that’s all she did all day long until sleep finally closed her eyes and her mouth at night.

 

The small, lost voice that now sounded from her lips, she hardly recognised as her own.

 

“Please Mam and can I see the doctor?” she mumbled looking at the woman’s feet rather than her face, her head swimming a little at what she was about to do. “I got money.” The only thing that made her brave enough to carry on was that she always had her back up plan: if she really needed to back out at the last minute she would tell the Doctor that she was there on account of her suffering so very badly with painful cramps when the curse was on her each month, which was true, though maybe no worse than for any other woman.

 

@Bongo @boshmi

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"He's with a patient right now," the woman commented, standing back to let the girl in, "but you can wait in the parlor.  It should just be a few minutes."

 

She glanced to see that Arabella was following as she led the way to the room that served as home parlor, clinic waiting area and library.  "You may have a seat," she nodded to one of the red padded velveteen chairs, then continued, "would you like some tea or milk while you wait?  Dr. Danforth has a new nurse working for him, she's quite smart, if you'd like to talk to her instead?"

 

If Arabella agreed to that, she'd have to warn Aoife, but then, the nurse lived with the Wigfalls, and they and Arabella could be written by the same hand, were they fictional characters!

 

@boshmi; @Javia

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“Please Mam and can I see the doctor? I got money.”

"He's with a patient right now, but you can wait in the parlor. It should just be a few minutes. You may have a seat. Would you like some tea or milk while you wait?  Dr. Danforth has a new nurse working for him, she's quite smart, if you'd like to talk to her instead?"

Aoife set down her pencil slowly, and stared at the list on the kitchen table for a few seconds. It would seem that the inventory would likely not come to fruition this morning either. This patient had better have a serious problem, or at least one worth adding to the ever-growing list.

 

She took a second to remove the scowl from her face, and rose from the table, ducking her head into the hall to listen for the girl's answer.

@Javia@Bongo

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"He's with a patient right now," the woman commented, standing back to let the girl in, "but you can wait in the parlor.  It should just be a few minutes."

 

Arabella wanted to get this over and was disappointed at the delay but nodded compliantly; she was completely out of her comfort zone here and was scared that there were special rules and regulations about being at the doctors which she dare not break. She followed the lady to the parlour like a sleepwalking hypnotic subject following her own personal Caligari.

 

She glanced to see that Arabella was following as she led the way to the room that served as home parlor, clinic waiting area and library.  "You may have a seat," she nodded to one of the red padded velveteen chairs, then continued, "would you like some tea or milk while you wait?

 

“No thank you, Mam.” Arabella squeaked nervously. Were she telling her usual audience of saloon patrons and friends of this adventure, she would improve her performance in the retelling and have herself at this point making jokes and funny comments, very far from her current, terrified reality. But no matter, she would never tell anybody of this visit, ever.

 

Dr. Danforth has a new nurse working for him, she's quite smart, if you'd like to talk to her instead?"

 

Arabella almost jumped out of her seat. She hadn’t expected this choice: her mind had been set on seeing Dr Danforth, as described by Jemima Wigfall: Danforth the advanced medical practitioner; Danforth the gentle; Danforth the man. For although one might describe her ailment as an uniquely feminine one, it was also one that she was loath to have to disclose to another woman.

 

“No! I don’t wanna see no silly old nurse, I gotta see a real doctor!” she gasped urgently, in something of a panic that she was about to be thwarted “I got money!” she assured the woman again. Had she known said nurse was listening, she might have been a little more complimentary.

 

@Bongo @boshmi

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"Well, I can't say as I blame you," Mrs. Towberman agreed with the girl, after all, she was a mother, had her own girls close Arabella's age, and despite her opinions on the child's dramatics, her motherly instincts were strong.  "Nurses are quite knowledgeable, Miss Leane is an excellent nurse, but I'll let the doctor know you are waiting.  I don't think it will be any more than ten minutes or so."

 

As she headed back to the kitchen, Mrs. Towberman had to wonder what had the normally anxious and over-the-top girl so sober and serious, and while she was speculating, she would leave it at just that.

 

When she saw Aoife, she asked the young woman to watch for Dr. Danforth and let him know the girl was waiting for him in the parlor.

 

@boshmi; @Javia

 

(Feel free to have Jonah finish with his current patient!

 

 

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“No! I don’t wanna see no silly old nurse, I gotta see a real doctor!”

The frantic words were a relief to hear, even if they were a little insulting. At any rate, it meant that Aoife could get back to the inventory work, and so she sat back down at the kitchen table. Where had she been? Ah yes, rolls of bandage. Eight, to be precise, but no sooner had she picked up the pencil, down the hall came Mrs. Towberman again, with the admonition that the Doctor's presence was once more required.

 

Aoife gave a short nod, and put her head down again. Bandage. Rolls. Eight of them.

 

The pencil touched paper and an adjacent door swung wide, from whence Jonah emerged, evidently having finished with his patient. She put down the pencil. Again.

 

"There's a girl, in the parlor, asking for you. Doesn't want to see me." Aoife told him quickly. Bandage rolls - Eight, she quickly scribbled, defying any divine intervention that might have further postponed that particular line.

@Javia@Bongo

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It was a long and anxious wait for Arabella in that parlour, each tick of the large wooden clock on the mantle seeming to echo into a vast, long silence before spawning its answering … tock.

 

Arabella suddenly heard her name called and stood up, walking forward on numb, wooden legs like an automaton. Marching where she was bidden, she passed a serious looking nurse sat at a table doing something vaguely medical, caught her eye, and just as quickly looked away: feeling that the pale beauty must somehow be able to divine her exact malady and automatically despise her for it. In the back of her mind it registered that the aethereal young nurse must be the female Irish boarder at the Wigfalls’ that Jemima had told her all about and who was hardly ever in her room, sleeping scandalously over at the Medical Practice with Dr. Danforth.

 

But the Virginian girl was too preoccupied with her own troubles to think overly upon this and the alien atmosphere of the Doctor’s office-cum-examination-room did little to quell her nerves, with its impressive dark-wood desk and chairs, examination bed, disrobing screens (Jemima had described those, and how she’d had to strip to the waist behind them, in gratuitous detail) and cabinets full of all sort of exotic bottles and preparations and medical equipment and surgical impedimenta. It was all fascinating and terrifying at the same time for a girl who had never visited a real life bona fide certified physician before.

 

She stood, twisting her shawl into a knot as the great man himself (he whom she had once accused of looting the pie store) followed into the room behind her.

 

@Bongo @boshmi [if you feel the need!]

 

 

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Jonah had to wonder why a young woman would want to see him specifically, since most ladies seemed to be more at ease with another female, but then, some felt that a nurse was 'just' a nurse, and not qualified to deal with even the most minor of complaints. 

 

Oh, well, it was what he was here for, and how bad could it be?

 

Then he entered the exam room and just about ran for St. Louis, slamming the door behind him!   That Arabella!  Good lord, what was in the child's craw now?

 

But she looked so earnest and serious, so he pushed aside his thoughts and nodded to Arabella, keeping some distance for now.  "Miss Mudd, isn't it?  What's the problem today?"

 

He sat in a chair across from her to feel a little less threatening, and smiled, trying not to speculate on what her current ailment might be.

 

@Javia; @boshmi

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But she looked so earnest and serious, so he pushed aside his thoughts and nodded to Arabella, keeping some distance for now.  "Miss Mudd, isn't it?  What's the problem today?"

 

The figure in black didn’t know if she was supposed to stay stood up, sit down or lie on the examination bed; when she saw the doctor sit down, she decided to do that too, but half expected to be told off for doing so.

 

She couldn’t look at him, she felt so ashamed of her condition, and stared at the desk in front of her in a sort of stunned daze. Her later visual recollection of the whole alien event centred on Dr. Danforth’s impressive and ornate wooden pen and ink stand. She glanced up at him quickly and turned her gaze back down as she asked him an initial question.

 

“Well, ‘fore I say…” she forced herself to take a breath “Well, this friend of mine, she said … well, is it right that you doctors take this here hypocritic oath and you’re not allowed to go telling folks anything that sick people tell you ‘bout themselves?” she asked anxiously, twisting on a tassel of her black shawl. “Even that nurse girl.” She added quickly. The somewhat jealous Jemima Wigfall had told her that the two of them, doctor and nurse, were virtually ‘living over the brush’ and she could just imagine the doctor and his pretty lover laughing over her very personal problem in the comfort of their boudoir. The idea of anyone knowing made the very blood freeze in her veins.

 

@Bongo [ @boshmi stocktaking! :)]

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Jonah tried to keep a straight face as he nodded somberly.  "Yes, we take the Hippocratic Oath at the end of our training, and part of that involves the privacy of our patients and their ailments."  He offered what he hoped was a reassuring smile.  "I'm not in the habit of discussing my patients anyway, so you needn't fear that anything will go beyond us."

 

Well, unless it was something that he needed advice on, since there were a slew of ladies problems that were still a mystery to him, and that, frankly, he preferred to remain so for all time!

 

"So, how can I help you today, young lady?"

 

@Javia

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Arabella nodded thoughtfully at Dr. Danforth’s assurances that anything she tell him be treated in the strictest of confidence. There was still the opt-out of telling him about her period pains, but no, she had come this far, she must go on.

 

"So, how can I help you today, young lady?"

 

She glanced up at him for a fleeting second and then began her monologue to the quietly listening desk before her.

 

“Well, you’re a doctor, right? So you know all about the birds and the bees and all that ornery stuff. Well, … well I’m a good girl but, well sometimes I do wrong things, but the Lord always forgives me”. she took a deep breath.

 

"Well, any old how, couple months ago, me and this boy, well, he kissed me and then we did some wrong things together and, well, I ain’t proud of it, but there it is.”

 

She gave him a quick glance to see if he was following her tale of woe.

 

“Anyhow, that stuff we did together, well, you know, it wasn’t that bad but I didn’t like it much really, kinda like eating oat meal, you can get thru it but you don’t get a real hankerin’ to do it again any time soon.” Clearly, Arabella’s first clinch with the young man Billy hadn’t been anything to write home about.

 

 “Well anyhow, after that, well, me and this friend where I work we was funnin’ around and she was a little bit worst fer wear with the booze, you know, because, boy, is that one a drinker!” the girl in black actually managed a weak smile at this, but that quickly collapsed back into a frown as she carried on. “And … and … and, well, we, I mean, it was me, I kissed her and, well, then we funned around like I done with the boy that time, and … and…” now she looked at him full in the face and tears were starting to brim in her eyes.

 

“Well, listen Doctor, I’m sick, see?, I’m real sick, I got something… wrong about me. I like girls the same way as I’m meant to like boys. I’m ill, see? And I thought you might have some medicine that can help me, I .. I got money see? I can pay!” she stood up and opened her little clutch purse and, her hands visibly shaking, started to pull out coins, coppers, silver, even some notes and hastily started to pile them clumsily on the desk.

 

“There’s fourteen dollars there, nearly, or maybe there’s a operation you can do, I’ll pay. If it’s more than fourteen dollars, well, I’m earning good money, I can, I can pay it off in instalments just, just please, please, please, help me!” she pleaded, the tears really rolling down her cheeks now.

 

She was practically begging him on her knees now. Jesus had turned His back on her, God did not forgive her trespasses. Seeing the doctor to cure her ailment, this sick disease within her, was her only chance to have a normal life again.

 

@Bongo @boshmi 

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"No, no, no..."  Jonah reacted first to the easiest of the list, shaking his head.  "It's only two dollars for the visit."  He offered an uncertain smile, dismayed now that any means of stalling on the confessions was spent, and that he'd have to address the child's concerns.

 

Where to start?  Of course, her primary worry was the perceived attraction to women, and that was something that Jonah very much doubted was covered in medical school, should one make it all the way through.  It was considered a psychological aberrancy, something wrong in the brain, or just a mistaken impression by the sufferer...something that they could 'teach' themselves to stop.

 

But...Jonah wasn't ready to quite address that just yet (ever!), so he instead reverted to her first confession. 

 

"So, you say you 'sinned' with a boy?  Could you be more specific on that?  What exactly did you do?  Besides kissing, I mean?"

 

Oh, dear God, could the child be pregnant?  Did she even know what caused pregnancy, or of she had had intercourse (EW!) with the boy, that a child could result?  And where the hell was her mother?!

 

@Javia

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"So, you say you 'sinned' with a boy?  Could you be more specific on that?  What exactly did you do?  Besides kissing, I mean?"

 

Oh, dear God, could the child be pregnant?  Did she even know what caused pregnancy, or of she had had intercourse (EW!) with the boy, that a child could result?  And where the hell was her mother?!

 

Arabella frowned. This feller was kinda nosy. But it was worth telling him all if it would help him to find a cure for her malady. She was still standing. Instead of sitting back down, she began to pace up and down the room, twisting her shawl and spewing forth a stream of consciousness monologue.

 

“Well… he didn’t stick it in me, if that’s what you’re getting at!” she declared for starters, glancing at him very briefly to make sure he understood her.

 

“Oh, I know all about boys, see, cause when my Mama was dyin’, she called me to her bedside and she says ‘Sumter, Sumter, come here child…” she imitated the woman “… Listen Sumter, Mama’s gonna go live with Jesus soon, and I need to tell you some things lil’ girls need to know, fore I go to Heaven. Like about boys. Cause boys and men’re nasty, nasty critters. And all them men is ever thinkin’ about is their dirty little diddlers. They’re always thinkin’ about ‘em, or touchin’ ‘em, or playin’ about with ‘em and plannin’ where to stick ‘em! And whenever you meet a boy or a man, don’t matter how nice they seem, that’s all they’ll be thinkin’ of: tryin’ to stick their nasty little diddlers inside o’ you!” She glanced over at Doctor Danford, and quickly back. “And then she told me stuff about how to, well, kinda head ‘em off at the pass’, and how any girl who knows how to milk a cow can…, well, an’ a few other things..”

 

She trailed off and then something even darker clouded her face and she stood stock still and stared out of the window.

 

“And then she said some real horrible stuff about my Daddy, and how I’d be the only white woman on the mountain with him onct she went off to live with Jesus, and how my Daddy was startin’ to look at me funny and … I had to be careful … and…” she took a deep breath and faced the Doctor, looking him straight in the eye. “But she was wrong! My Daddy loved me: that was just her, she always thought bad things like that about people, she was… she had something wrong with her; like I got something wrong with me. Guess that’s where I get it from. Bad blood.”

 

@Bongo @boshmi

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Good heavens!  The poor girl's mother had poisoned her brain, and that was going to be a hard prejudice to overcome, and certainly not his problem to worry on, past the extent that he wouldn't do anything to prove the theory right.  And hopefully, one of the ladies at the dance hall could set her straight, not that that was the best source for that sort of thing.  Or maybe she'd meet a man who was a gentleman and would treat her right?

 

Well, not the immediate problem.  At least she wasn't pregnant.

 

"Not every man is looking to...diddle," he explained as evenly as he could in defense of his gender, "in fact, a true gentleman would never ask anything of you regarding his diddler...penis..." child may as well know the true terms, "...outside of wedlock.  You do understand that when a man puts his...penis in your vagina you risk pregnancy?"

 

If a man could cry, Jonah would be doing that right now!  At very least, he wanted to wash his mouth clean with the strongest lye soap that Mrs. Towberman kept on hand!  And he was certain that his 'diddler' was never going to make it past 'did' ever again!

 

@Javia

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"Not every man is looking to...diddle," he explained as evenly as he could in defense of his gender, "in fact, a true gentleman would never ask anything of you regarding his diddler...penis..." child may as well know the true terms, "...outside of wedlock.  You do understand that when a man puts his...penis in your vagina you risk pregnancy?"

 

Ewwwww! Arabella had the unlettered peasant’s horror of the correct medical terms for anything to do with ‘down there’, much preferring the homespun euphemisms which took the linguistic sting out of talking about ‘dirty stuff’.

 

“Course I know that, I weren’t born’d yesterday!” she frowned. Despite her despair, she still had some sense of pride in her knowledge, especially since a much cleverer girl of her acquaintance had not seemed to have known that, and was now in her third month of pregnancy after a hurried marriage. “My Mama told me that, too: when a boy puts his diddler in yer doodie and does a special kinda tiddle, then nine months later it’s ‘hello baby’ and ‘what you gonna tell your Papa?’” Her mother had also informed her that some men had ‘dirty diddlers’ and could give a girl a nasty sickness.

 

“Anyhow, all that boy stuff don’t bother me none.” She’d started to pace the room again. “I’m glad I don’t like ‘em. Saves me a good deal o’ bother. Them fellers at the saloon, they never bother me none, neither. Used to think it was just cause I’m plain and skinny, but now I think it’s cause they kinda … smell it on me, I reckon; they never try nuthn’, they know I ain’t right.”

 

The girl suddenly stopped her fretful pacing and marched back to the chair, holding onto the back of it with a white knuckled grip.  

 

“It’s them other feelin’s that’s got me all of a skitter. ‘Bout them … girls.” It seemed odd to say that out loud. It wasn’t all other females, of course, just certain ones. Her tempestuous, volatile and sexually tense relationship with Caroline Mundee which, with the help of demon booze, had spilt out on to the actual physical. Her more dreamy and deep yearning for Clara Lutz, which made her as miserable as it made another person, this time of the right gender, who was also madly in love with her from afar.

 

“See, Doc, I done a lot of wrong things in my life, but I’m a good girl, cause I sure don’t wanna go to Aitch-Ee-El she didn’t want to actually say the word Hell “… and I always ask Jesus for forgiveness fer them trespasses every Sunday in church and every night when I say my prayers and I gotta say: He’s always been pretty accomodatin’ about it all so far. But this.. this girl stuff, He … well let’s just say He’s real takin’ His time about getting’ back to me about it! You know what I’m sayin’?!”

 

@Bongo

 

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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Stunned and baffled, Jonah let the girl go on, pouring out her heart as he puzzled over what course of treatment he might prescribe.  Were there medications, even herbals, that might help?  He couldn't think if any, had never heard of medicinal treatments for such things.  Of course, there was always laudanum...If little Miss Arabella was given enough laudanum, she'd be lost in a fog so thick that she wouldn't even know where 'up' was, much the less who she was attracted to sexually.

 

Sadly, that wouldn't be considered ethical, and it really wouldn't accomplish anything in the long run.

 

Then he noticed that she was looking at him, waiting for an answer, those doleful eyes so eager for an answer he didn't really have.  And where to start?

 

"No one can see your predilections just by looking at you."  There was a simple topic to cover.  "It's only by your actions that anyone would suspect that your preferences may be inverted."  God, he was never going to have children, not that he wanted to anyway, but if it meant these sorts of conversations, he was determined that there would be no children.

 

"You are quite young," he continued, hoping she wasn't going to be insulted, but it was true, she was still very much a child, still figuring out her path, and the fact that she was an orphan, without proper parental guidance just made things more difficult for her. 

 

"There's a good possibility that you are just...confused, learning about yourself, and in a few months you won't feel this way, especially if a good boy comes along."  Hedging, procrastinating...but he had to offer her something.

 

"I have heard that hypnosis can be very helpful in these situations..."

 

@Javia

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"No one can see your predilections just by looking at you."  There was a simple topic to cover. 

 

Arabella nodded, but wasn’t actually sure what her ‘predilections’ were: she was just glad they weren’t showing, not in this dress anyhow.

 

"It's only by your actions that anyone would suspect that your preferences may be inverted."  God, he was never going to have children, not that he wanted to anyway, but if it meant these sorts of conversations, he was determined that there would be no children.

 

“So don’t do bad actions.” She repeated, turning his advice into definite steps she might follow to a effect cure for her ‘inversion’.

 

"You are quite young," he continued, hoping she wasn't going to be insulted, but it was true, she was still very much a child, still figuring out her path, and the fact that she was an orphan, without proper parental guidance just made things more difficult for her. 

 

Arabella wasn’t in the slightest bit insulted, she was just relieved: hanging gratefully onto every honeyed word of advice that dripped from the medical man’s authoritative sounding lips. True, she often boasted that she was ‘nearly sixteen’, but right now she felt like a babe in the woods, needing to be told what to do by a grown up.

 

"There's a good possibility that you are just...confused, learning about yourself, and in a few months you won't feel this way, especially if a good boy comes along."  Hedging, procrastinating...but he had to offer her something. 

 

“Yeah, that’s right, just gotta wait for a … a good boy. The boy. Right!” she confirmed, feeling vastly relieved. Phew! So that was it, she just hadn’t met the right boy yet: Billy, Charlie, all them old fellers she’d become obsessed with, yeah, they were all wrong for her, they had massive flaws, they weren’t good. No wonder they didn’t make her heart beat faster in that special way.

 

She tried not to think of Brendan, the exception to this rule: he was a good man; he’d gotten into trouble, sure, but that was through no fault of his own: he was a very dear pal to Arabella, or at least had been, he was good to the core: but still, she wanted to mother him, protect him, not kiss and cuddle and get married to him! She loved him like a kid brother, or a sort of cute lost puppy; but she wasn’t in love with him.

 

Her frowning at this anomaly brought on a fit of extra advice from the good doctor:

 

"I have heard that hypnosis can be very helpful in these situations..."

 

“Oh! Like mesmerisin’!” she nodded, again grasping at any straw. “How much does that cost?” she asked eagerly. “Can we try that now?”

 

Even if he couldn’t oblige with that method of treatment himself, she knew someone who was experienced in that line: her and Bridget having once attended Spiritualist Church with Jemima Wigfall. The experience had scared the Dickens out of her, to be sure, and she’d had to sleep in Caroline’s bed for a week afterward, but at least she knew that Jemima, Mrs Orr or that creepy old blind man that had attended were all ‘dab hands’ at getting into a trance.

 

So, to summarise: don't do bad actions; wait for a good boy, the boy; get mesmerised. Easy.

 

@Bongo

 

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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"Yes, yes, mesmerized..."  As if he had any clue how to do that!  "It will only be a dollar more, I think, but I need to contact a specialist, I'm not certified in the procedure, and it can be harmful if not done correctly."

 

And funny, but he had the same thought, the only person(s) he could think of that might dabble in such things was a Wigfall, be it Mama or Jemima, so penance on top of discussing sex and partners with a little girl, he was going to have to go talk to those people!  And if they didn't dabble in that, he was going to have to figure something out...

 

"And in the mean time, even if you can't control your thoughts, just don't act on them, at very least where you might be seen."  Sage advice, although he couldn't say how wise.  "Will you be all right until tomorrow?"

 

@Javia

 

 

 

 

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"Yes, yes, mesmerized..."  As if he had any clue how to do that!  "It will only be a dollar more, I think, but I need to contact a specialist, I'm not certified in the procedure, and it can be harmful if not done correctly."

 

“Is that so?” cooed Arabella, open mouthed and goggle eyed. A Specialist! Just for her! To cure her rare disease! It did make her feel kinda special and proud. And what a relief that there was a cure out there for her ailment. She started to pack the money on the table back into her purse, $3 in total, then. And here she was thinking it would cost her an arm and a leg to get the thing removed.

 

“So, here’s the $2 for today and another $1 for the special man.” She said, counting the coins back out agin. Dr Danforth had some advice to keep her alive for the next 24 hours:

 

"And in the mean time, even if you can't control your thoughts, just don't act on them, at very least where you might be seen."  Sage advice, although he couldn't say how wise. 

 

This was even better, he was sort of giving her licence to indulge in her prurient thoughts until she got cured. And if she could somehow make things up with Caroline and maybe get her drunk again and have another jump with her: as long as no one saw, ‘twernt no sin! She guessed that was because it wasn’t her fault – it’d be the disease making her do it. And after she was cured, she wouldn’t ever have those feelings again. She wouldn’t miss ‘em though, because she’d feel that way about boys instead. This Doctor was a genius, and to think, she’d once accused him of looting the Lickskillet.

 

 "Will you be all right until tomorrow?"

 

“Yeah, got it. Just don’t get caught, right!” she summarised his instructions. “Oh Doc, I can’t thank thank you enough for what your doing for me!” she said, her heart bursting with hope now where it had been withering with despair half and hour ago.

 

“I’d give you a hug and a big kiss, but I think I’ll wait ‘til I’ve had the cure – that way I’ll enjoy it more!” she grinned.

 

@Bongo

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Oh, good god, it just got worse!

 

"Well, child, you really shouldn't be hugging and kissing men who are old enough to be your father, except perhaps a good friend, and that should be nothing but chaste."

 

How the hell was the girl not already not pregnant many times over...she obviously had no good adult guidance, and there was no disputing that she was pretty, not that that mattered to men who would take advantage of her innocence...ignorance...stupidity....it was just a matter of time. 

 

And there was the issue...as long as she thought that she was attracted to women, as aberrant as that was, at least it wouldn't land her pregnant...

 

Standing, he opened the door, giving her a sympathetic smile.  "I'll send word when you need to return.  Do you work steady hours?  I'll try to make the arrangements around your work."

 

Now all he had to do was find someone who could 'hypnotize' the girl, lucky him!

 

@Javia

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Oh, good god, it just got worse! 

 

"Well, child, you really shouldn't be hugging and kissing men who are old enough to be your father, except perhaps a good friend, and that should be nothing but chaste."

 

“Don’t you worry Doc, I know what’s what. In fact, when you make me better and I like boys again, I might start practicin’ on some of them really old fellers who can’t do me no harm and sort of ‘work my way up’ to younger fellers who can do something about it!” she said, starting to plan her wonderful new, normal heterosexual life ahead.

 

Standing, he opened the door, giving her a sympathetic smile.  "I'll send word when you need to return.  Do you work steady hours?  I'll try to make the arrangements around your work."

 

“Oh, I can can come runnin’ any old time of the day; it’s just at night time I’m stuck, cause I play the pianna then.” She assured him: she didn’t want anything to get in the way of him effecting a cure as soon as possible. She looked serious again for a moment and reached out a hand that touched the lapel of his jacket, her sad blue eyes flicked to his for a moment. “I … I want you to know how much this means to me, Doctor Danforth, I … I’ve been close to killin’ myself over this and… well, it just it just means the word to know I’m going to be all right after all!”

 

She pushed a smile back onto her face, even though her eyes were glistening.

 

“Just think, this time next week I might be madly in love with you!” she sniffed and tried to grin, pulling herself together, ready to leave this strange place, hermetically sealed from the ‘real world’ where you could be your real self and talk in confidence about what ailed you. It had certainly been $3 well spent.

 

As she walked out, she glanced over to the nurse.

 

Nice.

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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“Don’t you worry Doc, I know what’s what. In fact, when you make me better and I like boys again, I might start practicin’ on some of them really old fellers who can’t do me no harm and sort of ‘work my way up’ to younger fellers who can do something about it!”

 

Lost...the child was completely and utterly lost!  Maybe it was best that she steer clear of men, for her own good.

 

“Oh, I can can come runnin’ any old time of the day; it’s just at night time I’m stuck, cause I play the pianna then.”

 

"Good, that will make the arrangements easier."  He did have to wonder at her 'pianna' playing, maybe one evening he'd have to go over and find out, with the perk of having some drinks!

 

“I … I want you to know how much this means to me, Doctor Danforth, I … I’ve been close to killin’ myself over this and… well, it just it just means the word to know I’m going to be all right after all!”

 

It was almost done, he was almost free of her, for now, and then...it just got worse!  And, worse on worse, he really was starting to feel for her.

 

“Just think, this time next week I might be madly in love with you!”

 

Jonah chuckled, although a spike of fear coursed through him that she was telling the truth, and then what?  And now, he was happy to just escort her out, with the mild caution, "It isn't a guarantee, but it's a place to start."  He didn't need her getting her hopes up too high.

 

But, as he opened the door to show her out, he hesitated, letting out a breath.  "Miss Mudd, there's never a reason to kill yourself, and in the eyes of the Church, that's a great sin, so trying to solve one sin with another..."  Well, maybe that hadn't been the best thing to say, but he didn't know what else to tell her.  "If you come to that, talk to someone...me, if necessary, please..."

 

Then what?  He didn't know, but gambling in St. Louis was sounding better all the time!

 

@Javia

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