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


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Arabella, tongue jammed out of the side of her mouth in concentration was too busy looking at her sewing to notice Caroline's cold looks and somewhat rigid stance as she gave her perfectly platonic room visitor a frosty welcome.

 

"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?

 

"Oh sure. I just tried to throw myself off that roof of that house opposite the General Store; you know the one that funny Mr. Toe-Bean lives at, and I got J..." All right, the jig was up, she could no longer pretend to think that the young Englishman liked to be called Jim. The problem was, as she had found out on the wagon train out here, Northerners laughed at the way she pronounced his full name. 

 

"I got Jeems here to help me up onto the roof, but when he realised what I was all about, he flew up and rescued me like a right real gent, and then Mr. Toe-Bean shot his gun at us and we fell off and... Jeems gave me a nice soft landin' but that's when his pants come assunder."

 

There was something else important, oh yes!

 

"Oh, and... Jeems was knocked all insensible by the fall but I give him the 'Kiss of Life' and you can believe me that sure got him up and kickin'! Well, you know how good I am at kissin'!" 

 

"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.

 

"Ain't that the truth!" agreed Arabella, turning the pants right-way-out now to see how the mend looked.

 

"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?"

 

"Caroline!" Arabella gasped, shocked "Jeems ain't like that, he's a gentleman!" she stood up and moved in front of him protectively, for well she knew that a Mundee in full spate was a terrible thing to behold. "And I'm not like that neither!" she added before turning to James and adding, for information, "But if I was, I am nearly Sixteen: that's legal where I come from!"

 

She shoved the mended pants into James' arms and plonked herself glumly down on the bed with a creak and a sigh. "Reckon that's why I tried to throw m'self off of that roof. Cause I ain't that way about boys." she shook her head despondently. "I'm just a lost cause."

 

@Nova @Wayfarer

 

 

 

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“Thank you.”  James said with a brief smile for the older of the two young ladies.  He’d caught the coldness in Caroline’s manner towards him and it made him very uncomfortable.  He had his own issues due to the way he’d been treated by his older brother Henry and by his classmates who’d tormented him throughout his school years.
 
At her withering look, James flushed, shifting his weight from one stockinged foot to the other, staring down at his bared legs.  But when Arabella mentioned giving him the ‘Kiss of Life’ his gaze jerked upwards, first to Arabella then over at Caroline, horror draining all the color from his cheeks.
 
James’ jaw dropped and he swiftly went crimson again before he sputtered out, “It’s not like that a’tall.  I…  err would never frequent such a place.  Nor would I take advantage of a young lady.”  What he said was nothing less than the truth, since he had steadfastly refused to join Arabella on her bed.  “If not for the rip in my trousers I would not be standing here now.  I am not the sort of man who would risk a lady’s reputation.”  He said doing his best to be reassuring.  He had no issue with Caroline since she was only looking out for her friend.
 
James accepted his trousers from Arabella with a nod of thanks, then hurriedly slipped them back on, fastening the buttons at his waist with a sigh of relief.  When the younger girl claimed that she was a lost cause, he immediately shook his head.  “I’m sure that’s not true Miss Arabella.”  He blurted out, heedless of incurring Caroline’s wrath.  “That’d be like me saying I wasn’t a man because I’ve never…  err…”  Here words failed him, since he might not have ever lain with a woman, it didn't mean he was crass enough to say so to not one but two young ladies.

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Arabella then leapt to the man's defense (so apparently he needed it?) and added some details to her dramatic suicide story including this James kissing her to revive her. But of course, he had to. Sounded like more of Ara's fanciful stories, she was full of them.

 

The man looked horrified or was that terrified as he protested, “It’s not like that a’tall.  I…  err would never frequent such a place.  Nor would I take advantage of a young lady.”

 

Caroline decided to ignore Arab's declaration of her being of legal age, back where she came from. No matter really, that had not been Caroline's point.  Tildy did not allow that sort of thing in her saloon and they worked for the woman so her word was final, least in Caroline's view.

 

"Yeah, well that's good to know then, James, and - lucky for you too. Good for your health if you get my drift?" she took a threatening step forward. Yes, he towered above her height wise but she had assessed him already and decided he couldn't fight his way out of a paper bag. While she was a veteran of quite a few fights, some very nasty, and she had always more than held her own. Yeah, she had no doubt she could take him alright.

 

Arab now blathered something about boys and how she was a lost cause to which James had a quick rejoinder.

 

“I’m sure that’s not true Miss Arabella.”  He blurted out,  “That’d be like me saying I wasn’t a man because I’ve never…  err…”  

 

He didn't finish his sentence though but he didn't need to, Caroline got the drift of it already.

 

"So yer a virgin, huh? Somehow, hon, I actually believe you," she admitted, and she really did. This jasper was harmless. Didn't mean he could stay - if Matilda found him there....well she would summon Ralph and it would not go well for James.

 

 

 

 

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"So yer a virgin, huh? Somehow, hon, I actually believe you," she admitted, and she really did. This jasper was harmless. Didn't mean he could stay - if Matilda found him there....well she would summon Ralph and it would not go well for James.

 

Arabella was genuinely baffled at Caroline's rude manner toward James: especially as she had explained how wonderful he had been to her. "Why you beein' so mean to my James?!" she finally frowned, grabbing on to him and pulling him toward the door. "Shoo shoo! Now his pants is nailed up, I'm takin' him downstairs to show him off to everybody!" she declared.

 

"And for your inflamation, I'm glad he ain't done it with no wimmin round here, anyway, cause none of 'em's good enough for him, and that includes you, Miss Caroline Mundee!" she added, holding her head up high. Caroline, Arabella had decided sometime ago, had a somewhat jaded view of men. Maybe it was just her job: which basically consisted of gulling them every night of the week. Or something else. Certain things seemed to set her off too. Clearly there had been something about the sight of James in her room that had - what? Reminded her of something. 

 

Well, no matter, she mustn't be nasty to her nice, kind, gentle James, with his crazy hair and his startled antelope eyes.

 

"Come on James, I want you to meet all the rounders in the saloon!" she piped, trying to drag him out of her bedroom, past Caroline. 

 

@Nova @Wayfarer

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There was some validity to Caroline’s musings about him needing Arabella to defend him, not because he’d done anything wrong, or had the slightest intention of doing anything wrong.  James simply wasn’t the type to stand up for himself.  The few times he’d tried hadn’t ended up very well for him.
  
While it was new for James to be threatened by a woman, he’d been threatened plenty in his life and as was usual for him, he flinched away from the source, in this case, Caroline defensively.  Fighting back was not in James’ make-up, she would wipe the floor with him, even if he’d been willing to fight a lady.  “All I want is to get my trousers mended so I can be on my way.”  He stammered striving for dignity though he failed pretty miserably, his cheeks going pale, his hands trembled visibly before he yanked them out of sight, clasping them behind his back.

 

So much blood rushed to James’ face that they looked magenta and literally gave off heat as he nodded awkwardly.  Not that he was looking to lose his virginity here with either Arabella or Caroline.  

 

“Saloon?”  He choked out, as she dragged his unresistant body towards the door of the room she shared with Caroline.  James kept a wary eye on the older of the two young women,  He didn’t think she’d hit him from behind especially since he was leaving,  But given he’d been hit and shoved by bullies growing up, he was understandably anxious.  He followed Arabella meekly down the stairs, desperately thinking of some way to extricate himself without giving offence before she dragged him into a saloon.

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  • 2 weeks later...

“All I want is to get my trousers mended so I can be on my way.” He stammered striving for dignity though he failed pretty miserably, his cheeks going pale, his hands trembled visibly before he yanked them out of sight, clasping them behind his back.

 

Unlike James, Arabella wasn't worried that Caroline would physically assault him, but she was sure that the singer would have more to say as she dragged James past her and down the stairs. But apparently not.

 

"C'mon, the Saloon's down here!" she yelped cheerily as she pulled him along, toward the rough and ready crowd below.

 

"I'll introduce you to all the fellers. Maybe Mr. Cantrell's there, y'know he's killed so many men he's run out o' room on his gun to make the notches, and if Mr Grimes is there, he can show you his scars where Tallahassee Tessie stabbed him repeatedly with a letter opener. Tessie's one of our whores, except, she don't work here, she takes the gentlemen elsewhere. Don't worry, she won't be in awhiles yet, it's way too early for her, I mean she's been up all night working so she don't come in till about five. Oooh, and I can show you my piana as I play. And don't worry about Mr. Grimes and Tessie cause that's all water under the bridge and they can both look back and laugh about it now!" she rambled on in her usual manner as they approached the relatively quite, but still fairly bustling main bar room.

 

Many were deep in conversation, others laughing and joking, a couple were arguing, one feller was just ordering a drink, but all came to a grinding halt as Arabella's leather lungs shouted "Hey Everybody!! This here feller's Mr. James Vaughn of London, England and he just saved me from plungin' to a horrible death off of the top of the General Store!!"

 

This announcement brought a mixed reaction of 'Whoooo!', 'Darn idiot!', 'Well bless my soul', 'What'd she say?', 'The General Store, eh!' and various other exclamations of surprise. 

 

"Mr Flandry?" she turned to the imposing, bearded barman "Would it be all right if I buy Mr. Vaughn here a drink to say thankyou?" 

 

@Wayfarer @Nova

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ooc: Sorry if it was my turn, I missed this. Not that it was a big deal Caroline was not going to attack him or even block him from leaving. She had decided the man was not actually a threat to Arabella.

 

"Alright, you two git goin' then. I got things ta do myself," she announced and watched them go.

 

If it wasn't one thing, it was another with that girl.

 

ooc: OK, she is now out of the thread.

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Ralph was about to pour a shot of whiskey for a thirsty cowpoke when there was a familiar screeching shout out - who else but Arabella. No matter how many times he or Matilda told her to stop doing it, she kept on doing it.  It was just something they had to put up with.  By now Ralph seldom even bothered to listen to the details. No doubt something important to her alone.

 

She then dragged this rather fish out of the water looking jasper up to the bar, a young man Ralph had never seen before.

 

"Mr Flandry?" she turned to the imposing, bearded barman "Would it be all right if I buy Mr. Vaughn here a drink to say thankyou?" 

 

"Buy as in you present me with some money to pay for it or buy as you promise to pay for it later and I never even see a penny?" Ralph answered, dripping in sarcasm.

 

"Shot costs a dime," he quoted the dirt cheap sort of rotgut whiskey price.

 

"When I see the dime on the counter, I'll pour the shot," he added, casting a second glance at the man wondering why the hell he wasn't buying a drink for the girl? Caroline had to teach Ara better how that was supposed to work.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Since she was dragging in out of the room and away from the disapproving Caroline, James went along readily enough. But his steps stowed as he realized where exactly she was leading him.  
 
“Really don’t need to put yourself out on my account Miss Arabella.”  He tried to tug his hand free without causing her harm, but his polite manners towards a lady meant that he was stuck, trailing along in Arabella’s wake.  His attempts to speak and to free himself were lost beneath her rapid fire chatter, about whores?  James’ flushed again, shocked by her knowledge of and reference to such matters.  She was so young and while he knew that there were women who  sold their bodies he was much older than she.  “That’s….  Good.”  He said faintly, his cheeks hot with embarrassed blood.  “I should love to hear you play Miss Arabella.”  That was true, but the idea of so young a lady setting foot in a saloon did not sit well with him.  
 
Still caught firmly in Arabella’s grasp, James gave an awkward nod in response to her shouted introduction, the ear nearest his young captor ringing slightly.  He hadn’t expected her to do that and was surprised by the volume she managed to produce from so slight a frame.
 
James’ eyes widened at Arabella’s offer to buy him a drink, “No need to trouble yourself with that my good man.”  He told the burly bearded man standing behind the heavy wooden bar. 
 
He turned to Arabella, “While I do appreciate the offer Miss Arabella.  It’s really not necessary.”  He smiled gently at her, lifting their joined hands, twisting so he could lift her knuckles to his lips, pressing a kiss to the back of her hand.  “No gentleman could ever accept payment for helping a lady as I did for you.”
 
Wishing that he were anywhere but here, James missed the quick glance that Ralph sent his way, the bulk of his attention was on the young girl who still had a death grip on his arm,  “It’s alright.”  He whispered, intending his words to only reach Arabella’s ears.  "I'm not much of a drinker anyway."

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James’ eyes widened at Arabella’s offer to buy him a drink, “No need to trouble yourself with that my good man.”  He told the burly bearded man standing behind the heavy wooden bar. 

 

"It's all right, I got the money here!" Arabella yelped, frantically searching her apron pocket with her free hand: she definitely had 20 cents amongst the brick-a-brack and fluff in there. She started to put the cents up on the bar one by one, along with an empty bobbin, a crochet hook and a piece of string.
 
He turned to Arabella, “While I do appreciate the offer Miss Arabella.  It’s really not necessary.”  He smiled gently at her, lifting their joined hands, twisting so he could lift her knuckles to his lips, pressing a kiss to the back of her hand.  “No gentleman could ever accept payment for helping a lady as I did for you.”
 

This caused a chorus of catcalls, wolf-whistles and shouted demands to be 'invited to the wedding!' by the rough and rowdy denizens of the wild west saloon while, for once in her life, Arabella was left red faced and speechless, until she recovered herself enough to shake a fist at the lot of them. "Pipe down you fellers, that don't mean anything, English fellers is always kissin' ladies hands!"

 

However, she did wonder: the poor feller hadn't gone and fallen in love with her had he?! That wouldn't do, that wouldn't do at all! Good grief, if that was happening, she'd have to introduce him to someone more beautiful than herself, try and 'draw his fire' so to speak. She made a list in her head of her female friends who didn't either have a leg missing, a hairy back, were needlessly aggressive to men, or were already sparking with some feller. It was a list of zero. Darn it! This would take some thought.


Wishing that he were anywhere but here, James missed the quick glance that Ralph sent his way, the bulk of his attention was on the young girl who still had a death grip on his arm,  “It’s alright.”  He whispered, intending his words to only reach Arabella’s ears.  "I'm not much of a drinker anyway."

 

She let go of his arm and patted it. "Oh well, how 'bout I play you a tune on the pianna instead? What's your favourite song?"

 

@Wayfarer @Nova

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