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Sagas of the Wild West
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Trouble Ends (Out Where the Blue Begins)


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“Rips in my togs?”  James echoed feeling even more bewildered than ever as she snagged his hand in her tiny one, pulling him along in her wake like a baby duck.  Her smile was so endearing that James had to smile back down at her.

 

"Sure! You got a bigger cotton-tail pokin' out your stern than a jack rabbit!" she informed him picturesquely "Come on back to ours 'n I'll fix it for you."

 

“I…  Thank you.  You’re too kind.”   He left his hand in hers, but his head swiveled this way and that as he followed her down the dusty street, keeping a wary eye out for any sign of Tobin.

 

But there was no sign of the deluded old seafarer as Arabella pulled the young man along until they reached the prominent Stardust Saloon which dominated the Main Street of Kalispell. However, instead of entering the eponymous swinging 'saloon doors' at the front of the building, she dragged him down the side of the building and toward a very domestic looking door at the rear. Here she stopped, though, and swivelled, looking up at him seriously.

 

"Now listen here, Mr James Vaughn, I gotta take you up to my bedroom so I can get them pants off of you an' fix 'em right, see? But I don't want you to feel all nervous and think your honor might be all compromised without a chaperone, I ain't about to radish you or nuthin'. See..."

 

She looked about the back yard area, to make sure nobody could hear her.

 

"See... when I was jumpin' off of that there roof to kill myself, it was cause I got this kinda sickness about me, I'm ill and poorly in my heart: I can't get worked up about boys: not even handsome, nice mannered and brave... oh so brave... fellers like yourself, so you'll be all safe with me, see? Even with y' pants off!" She looked up to see if he looked suitably convinced about his safety, should he enter her threadbare and ramshackle boudoir.

 

@Nova

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“Cotton-tail?”  James echoed yet again, beginning to feel very foolish indeed, since all he seemed capable of doing was to repeat little bits of her speech back to her.  Perhaps because she was American rather than British, there were phrases she used that baffled him to no end.

Had she led him up to the doors of the saloon, James wouldn’t have known what to think so it was fortunate indeed that their destination was to the rear of the building that housed the saloon.  James had never darkened the door of such a place, though he was worldly enough, if only just to have a fair idea of what happened in those sort of places.

When she informed him that she was taking him up to her bedroom, James’s cheeks immediately turned crimson as he gaped down at Arabella, shocked despite her assurance that she had no intention of ‘radishing’ him, since there was no one to chaperone them.  He was more concerned about her reputation than he was his own, indicative of the double standard between men and women.  Flustered by the blunt way she assured him she wasn’t going to assault him, he stammered, “Errr…  Yes, well that’s good to know.”

A myriad of emotions passed over James’ face, shock, embarrassment, surprise and his skin turned crimson and paled in quick succession, since he hated the idea that anyone could feel so low as to want to take their own life.  She was young, with the world before her.  Why on earth did she feel she should kill herself?  The blush was a direct result of being called both handsome and brave, since he really didn’t believe that he was either.  But the notion of being without his pants in her rooms caused him to turn redder than he ever had before.  "It's fine."  He mumbled, striving to compose himself, "I trust you."  He followed her, feeling the seat of his trousers as discreetly as he could while walking. 

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But the notion of being without his pants in her rooms caused him to turn redder than he ever had before.  "It's fine."  He mumbled, striving to compose himself, "I trust you."  He followed her, feeling the seat of his trousers as discreetly as he could while walking. 

 

When they got to the top of the stairs, Arabella turned to James and held her finger to her lips, nodding to the penultimate room on the landing. "Shhh... that's Caroline's room: she's probably still snoozin'!" she whispered.

 

She let James into her room which was basically a storeroom with a bed in it and a tiny window that faced onto a wall opposite. The furniture was meagre and dominated by a big King James bible on the bedside table; but it was her home sweet home. 

 

The strange girl clomped over to the wardrobe where she kept all her worldly possessions, including a somewhat depleted collection of thread, darning wool and needles for repair work on her scanty collection of duds. "You pull off your pants and I'll get threadin' ma needle!" she instructed him gaily. "Take yer boots off, it'll be easier." she added, helpfully.

 

Her head reappeared from inside the wardrobe and she held up some dark thread and a big needle proudly. She made a downward gesture, indicating that he should drop 'em as soon as possible, while she plonked down on the creaky bed and licked the end of the thread before holding it up and trying to thread it through the eye of the needle, her tongue sticking out of the corner of her mouth in concentration. 

 

@Nova

 

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A few steps behind her, James nodded in acknowledgement of her whispered words, doing his best cimb the last few steps as quietly as he could in case she was right and this Caroline was still asleep.
 
The young man looked around with interest, though he did his best to hide it from her, not wanting to make her uncomfortable.  The room he had was a little bigger than hers, but his collection of books seemed to grow everytime he turned his back on them.  He couldn’t imagine his life without them and was confounded by the fact that she only had the one.
 
James’ gaze dropped to the battered shoes, a tiny smile curling his lips.  “Very well.” His earlier study of her living space had revealed that there was no dressing screen for him to hide behind so he tugged his shirt free of his pants, intending to use it’s length as a makeshift barrier.  That coupled with the space between them would hopefully suffice.  Long fingers undid the fastenings of his trousers as he toed off his worn leather shoes.
 
A faint chuckle escaped his lips despite everything as he eased his pants off.  The sight of her earnest expression and the tip of her tongue poking from the side of her mouth as she threaded her needle.  Feeling shy, James stood quietly in the corner of the room, his ripped pants clutched in both hands.  When she looked ready he would shuffle forward and hand them over to her.

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A faint chuckle escaped his lips despite everything as he eased his pants off.  The sight of her earnest expression and the tip of her tongue poking from the side of her mouth as she threaded her needle. Feeling shy, James stood quietly in the corner of the room, his ripped pants clutched in both hands.  When she looked ready he would shuffle forward and hand them over to her.

 

"Well, don't be a standing over there, I don't bite y'know! Oooh, and don't sit on that chair: it's just fer show. The leg falls off. Come an' sit next to me on the bed and we can have nice talk while I sew up yer britches!" Arabella beamed, happy to have gotten that pesky needle threaded. She tied up the ends of the thread in a nice thick knot that'd catch and keep the mending secure and reached out her thin arm for his rent garment.

 

She hummed musically while she turned his trousers inside out and found the seam that had split. She peered at the label inside the pants.

 

"Flambard and Flambard, Bespoke Gentleman's Outfitters, Saville Row, London." she read slowly, before glancing up at him with an excited grin on her face. "Say, you ain't really this here 'Springfield Jack' feller are you, what goes round aductin' women off of rooftops?"

 

Just in case he was, she added.

 

"Well, anyhow, don't go trying to radish me cause I'm armed..." she held up the glinting bobbin-like needle "... and you got a chink in yer armour!" she giggled. Indeed, James' button-up under-drawers, now he was sat down, were rather gaping at the front.

 

@Nova

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

James let out a nervous chuckle, “I didn’t think you did.”  he hastened to assure her, since he truly didn’t believe that she would bite him.  Nor was he exactly comfortable with sitting down beside her on her bed.  More for propriety’s sake than because he was afraid of her or anything like that.  “I’m fine standing.”  he murmured, rubbing his hand over his chin, his eyes not quite meeting hers when he passed over his ripped pants.  James tugged at the hem of his shirt, caught himself and forced his arms back down to his sides.  
 
His lips curved when she started humming before reading off the name of the store where his pants had come from.  “Definitely not.”  James said quietly but firmly, the tiny smile that had begun in response to her humming faded as he thought about the life he’d left behind.  “I…  My clothing did come from London, but I’m just a….  Simple man.  No kidnapping of fair maidens for me.”  He managed a slight smile, clearly trying to but her at ease.
 
“Your virtue is safe with me, I assure you Miss Arabella.”  James said with as much dignity as a man without any pants on could muster.  In his case it wasn’t really that much.  Her giggling comment about chinks in his armor had his face falling.  “Another?”  He choked out in dismay, looking down at himself trying to see what she was referring to this time.

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There was a sudden and hasty knock on the room door only to be followed by it being opened without waiting on an answer and in stepped a blonde young woman, likely in her early twenties if James was a good guesser. The woman was wrapped in a bathrobe and barefoot. It also would be a pretty safe guess that she had no other clothes on beneath that robe!

 

"Hey hon, I............" she stopped mid-sentence upon sight of this man standing next to Arabella without a pair of trousers on.

 

"Oh shit!  Ummm, I didn't know you had company, kiddo," Caroline gave Arabella a look like  'what the devil?' and then switched to glaring at the man.

 

 

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"Flambard and Flambard, Bespoke Gentleman's Outfitters, Saville Row, London." she read slowly, before glancing up at him with an excited grin on her face. "Say, you ain't really this here 'Springfield Jack' feller are you, what goes round aductin' women off of rooftops?"

 

“Definitely not.”  James said quietly but firmly, the tiny smile that had begun in response to her humming faded as he thought about the life he’d left behind.  “I…  My clothing did come from London, but I’m just a….  Simple man.  No kidnapping of fair maidens for me.”  He managed a slight smile, clearly trying to but her at ease.

 

Arabella looked at James long and hard. "You might not be Springfield Jack, and you might not kidnap fair maidens fer pastime, James Vaughn, but somehow I don't reckon you're no simple man!" she said shrewdly.  "Now come and sit down will ya, yer in my light!"  
 
“Your virtue is safe with me, I assure you Miss Arabella.”  James said with as much dignity as a man without any pants on could muster.  In his case it wasn’t really that much.  Her giggling comment about chinks in his armor had his face falling.  “Another?”  He choked out in dismay, looking down at himself trying to see what she was referring to this time.

 

The girl just shook her head, smiling and humming to herself, and got to work. It really was fine stitching on his duds: she figured that old Flambard and Flambard surely knew their stuff, and she tried her level best to match their workmanship with her mending. Her humming turned into singing.

 

🎵London Bridge is falling down
Falling down, falling down
London Bridge is falling down
My fair lady...🎵

 

She was just about to suggest that she and James sing a 'round' with her, he starting the tune halfway through, when there was a sudden and hasty knock on the room door only to be followed by it being opened without waiting on an answer and in stepped a blonde young woman, likely in her early twenties if James was a good guesser. The woman was wrapped in a bathrobe and barefoot. It also would be a pretty safe guess that she had no other clothes on beneath that robe!

 

"Hey hon, I............" she stopped mid-sentence upon sight of this man standing next to Arabella without a pair of trousers on.

 

"Howdy, Cara'!"  trilled Arabella happily, without daring to take her eyes off her sewing. 

 

"Oh shit!  Ummm, I didn't know you had company, kiddo," Caroline gave Arabella a look like  'what the devil?' and then switched to glaring at the man.

 

"That's all right." she kept her eyes down on the seam. No matter how careful she was, her stitching was wonky compared to Messers Flambard and Flambard, but when the trousers were turned right way round again, the mending should still be pretty invisible.

 

"Jim, this is Miss Caroline Mundee, the Chicago Nightingale. Cara', this is Mister James Vaughn, the Terror of Old London, but he prefers Jim." she announced, pulling her needle clear and snapping the thread with her teeth to tie off the ends.

 

Looking up, Caroline still looked a little astounded.

 

"Oh" Arabella explained "I tried to kill myself and Jim split his pants savin' my life!"

 

@Nova @Wayfarer

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  • 2 weeks later...

James merely blinked at her, since she was right in certain respects, after all, he had been born into the aristocracy  Which, he supposed lent a certain amount of truth to her statement that he wasn’t a simple man. Though he wasn’t in that world anymore, doing his best to thrive in the world he now found himself in.  Uncomfortable with the idea of joining her on her bed, James stayed on his feet, though he did move to the side so as to not block the light from the window. 
 
The sound of her cheerful humming did much to relieve the tension in James, though not even her melodious voice could banish it entirely as she began to sing.  He enjoyed music, but would have gently refused since singing was not one of James’ strengths.  His artistic abilities lay in a very different direction.

 

Once again, James gave a tug to the hem of his shirt as the door opened and another woman entered the room.  Her arrival cause the blood to rush upwards, staining his cheeks bright red.  

 

Under the weight of her glare, James swallowed, then offered Caroline a shaky smile, “I err…  Miss Arabella is doing me the courtesy of repairing my trousers.”  He didn’t say how he’d come to rip his pants, believing to reveal her attempt to take her life would be ungentlemanly.

 

At Arabella’s inaccurate introduction, James closed his eyes briefly, “James.”  He said clearly, though the tone of his voice was a trifle bewildered since he’d never told Arabella his name as anything but James.  “My name is James Vaughn, not Jim.”  He started to offer her his hand, but caught himself since it seemed the height of idiocracy given his current lack of trousers.  Why does she keep calling me Jim?  He wondered, It's not my name.

 

Letting out a long slow breath, James resisted the sudden urge to press himself even further back into the corner, his thin hands trying to tug the hem of his shirt down lower, wishing that he had on his pants, even with the rips.  That would be much less embarrassing.

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The obviously ambushed and uncomfortable fellow now spoke up, “I err…  Miss Arabella is doing me the courtesy of repairing my trousers.”

 

"Oh, she is then is she?" Caroline could see with her own eyes but looks can be deceiving. Maybe they were about to do something quite different.

 

Unsmiling, for once, Caroline nodded at Ara's introduction, "Jim."

Nope that was wrong....

 

"James then," Caroline tried for it again.

 

"Oh" Arabella calmly declared,"I tried to kill myself and Jim split his pants savin' my life!"

 

"What?" Caroline was surprised, well about the first part mostly. What the hell?

 

"That's a whole lot to take in, hon," she first addressed her piano player then reserved a withering look for the tall young man.

 

"Look here, James whatever you said, this is a saloon not a whore house. If you are thinkin' of anything with this young miss, our boss, Miss Devereau don't allow no prostitution on the property. Besides which ain't she a bit young for you?"

 

Actually it didn't matter a hoot what justification he might give, there was no way Caroline was going to allow Arabella to be............well...just not gonna happen. She was being nice - so far. This James jasper did not wanna see her NOT nice. It wouldn't go well for him.

 

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