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


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“I did study geology in school.”  James told the older man with a shrug since it had not been his focus as law ultimately ended up being.  “I did not however study animal husbandry so I know next to nothing about cattle.”  Or horses he thought, suppressing a shudder since he wasn’t comfortable at all around the big animals.

 

"Oh, Sir, I rather took you for a member of the 'landed gentry' of your nation. I have a background in agriculture m'self: though the plantation went to mah older brother - not that it was a lot of use to him after the war, of course!" opined Pettigrew who, although he spent all day grovelling at women's feet, measuring their hems, never forgot that his forbearers were of the Louisiana landed 'aristocracy'.   

 

Arabella bounced up then and asked them what they were all a jawin' on.
 
“Geology actually.”  James told her when she bounced her way back up to them, a bright smile on her face.  He smiled down at her, since there was something very appealing about the way she approached life

 

"Oh, I know all about that!" Arabella gasped excitedly, and started to recite what she'd learned by rote the few times she'd been able to walk down the mountain and go to the school house in Tazewell "A triangle got three sides an' three corners, a square got four corners and four sides, a hoblong got the same but it's all long on one side an' short on 'tother: and don't even get me started on palarelagrams, cause them's the most sigogglin' critters you ever did see!"

 

"That's geometry!" corrected Pettigrew "Well, barely."

 

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@Nova

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  • 3 weeks later...

James had been a member of what Pettigrew called the landed gentry, but these days he hardly knew what to call himself now what his brother had cut him off after the death of their father just last year.  So much had changed for him in a relatively short period of time.  He tried to smile at the older man, but it came out more as a grimace despite his best efforts.  “You’re not entirely wrong good sir.”  James told him, his tone somber, “The estate passed to my elder brother.”  He left it at that, not wanting to share his personal affairs with a stranger.
 
It took James a moment to shift gears mentally when Arabella started speaking excitedly about math terms since he and Pettigrew had been discussing something else entirely.  “That’s right.”  he agreed when he could get a word in.  “Both of you.”  he told them with a shy smile for them both.  

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It took James a moment to shift gears mentally when Arabella started speaking excitedly about math terms since he and Pettigrew had been discussing something else entirely.  “That’s right.”  he agreed when he could get a word in.

 

Pettigrew gave him a quizzical look.

 

“Both of you.”  he told them with a shy smile for them both. 

 

The short, fat man shook his balding, ginger head: both at Vaughn's diffidence and Arabella's somewhat simplified take on the ancient and noble art of geometry. 

 

"Miss Mudd, you should cultivate Mr Vaughn's company while he is residing in Kalispell" he advised. 

 

"Do what to him?" frowned the girl, looking James up and down.

 

"Spend as much time with him as he can stand. You wish to be an actress, do you not? Well, having a Southern accent is one thing, but frankly, my dear, your grammar, diction and vocabulary are a disgrace!" As a Louisiana man himself, he had a pronounced southern drawl, so this was no mere prejudice. He couldn't think of a better model for her to follow than the perfect clear diction and received pronunciation of the handsome young Englishman.

 

"There ain't nuthin' wrong with mah grandma, or, well, whatever them other thingumigigums was what you was just jawin' on!" she disagreed vociferously. 

 

She looked at James for backup "I speak right proper 'n' nice don't I, Jeemes?" 

 

Pettigrew turned a gimlet eye upon Vaughn: would he take the easy route and placate the excitable teenager with a lie, or actually help the girl with a harsh truth?

 

 

 

@Nova

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James flushed once again when Arabella looked him over, trying to figure out what Pettigrew had said regarding him.
 
Since he’d done the gentlemanly thing and tried to help her, James’ life had gone all topsy-turvy.  While he assumed they would see each other around town during his stay, he wasn’t exactly thrilled when Pettigrew told her that she should spend as much time with him as was possible.
 
“He said grammar, not grandmother.”  James told her with a faint smile though her misunderstanding really only served to prove what the older man had just told her regarding the way that she spoke, though he thought that Pettigrew had been rather harsh in his statement to the young girl.  One thing James suspected about Arabella was that she hadn’t had much in the way of formal education.
 
“Er…  well….”  James stammered for a moment, then cleared his throat, uncomfortably then straightened his shoulders, since he while he hadn’t known Arabella very long he rather enjoyed the younger girl’s company, even if he had to puzzle out what she was saying half the time.
 
He offered an apologetic smile, speaking as gently as he could.  “I’ve yet to hear you speak an unkind word to anyone Miss Mudd.”  He told her, “But I do admit that I have had quite some difficulty understanding the way Americans speak.”  He looked over at Mr. Pettigrew, including him in that group since the southern drawl wasn’t always that easy for him to understand.  He cast a longing look at the door to the saloon, praying for some kind of distraction so he could make his escape.  "I really should be going."  he said, a trifle faintly.

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“He said grammar, not grandmother.”  James told her with a faint smile.

 

"Uh?" replied Arabella, displaying all her mastery of the English language.

 

James seemed less happy answering Arabella's question about the standard of her spoken English.


“Er…  well….”  James stammered for a moment, then cleared his throat, uncomfortably then straightened his shoulders, since he while he hadn’t known Arabella very long he rather enjoyed the younger girl’s company, even if he had to puzzle out what she was saying half the time.
 
He offered an apologetic smile, speaking as gently as he could.  “I’ve yet to hear you speak an unkind word to anyone Miss Mudd.”  He told her, “But I do admit that I have had quite some difficulty understanding the way Americans speak.”  He looked over at Mr. Pettigrew, including him in that group since the southern drawl wasn’t always that easy for him to understand. 

 

Pettigrew gave a low chuckle and looked at James. "Well dodged, Mr. Vaughn, well dodged."

 

To Arabella he said "You must understand, Miss Mudd, that Mr. Vaughn here is an English Gentleman: he would no more say anything to hurt the feelings of a young lady than he would..." he searched for a suitable example "... than he would throw himself off the roof of a building!" Arabella glanced nervously at James, remembering her attempt to do that no more than an hour ago.

 

"No, let us face the truth!" he declared "Miss Mudd, you are a vivacious young woman with perhaps great potential as an actress, but you are hampered by an atrocious accent and a feeble grasp of the niceties of the English language! You, Mr. Vaughn..." oh oh, he was not going to let James off the hook, either.

 

"... you, Mr. Vaughn are an affable and intelligent young man who might go far in the field of Law. However, you are far too diffident and polite to last more than a minute in any court either side of the Atlantic. May I propose that you two young people can actually help each other?!" 

 

Arabella frowned and looked at James. What was the owner of the dress store proposing?

 

He cast a longing look at the door to the saloon, praying for some kind of distraction so he could make his escape.  "I really should be going."  he said, a trifle faintly.

 

Pettigrew held up his hand imperiously. "Not until I have both your promises that you will join me for supper at my place on Sunday evening. We shall have something nice to eat and drink, Miss Mudd will play us some pieces on the piano forte..."

 

"Oh, you mean them old-timey tunes you like?" she asked, meaning classical pieces.

 

"... and we will read a little from Shakespeare: and we will listen to Mr Vaughn's exemplary English as we do so. An evening such as this will be, I hope, both enjoyable and edifying to all and would give great pleasure to a lonely old man!" he ended. 

 

@Nova

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  • 3 weeks later...

“Thanks…?”  James struggled to keep his voice from breaking when he responded to the older man’s quip about his avoidance of hurting Arabella’s feelings regarding how she spoke.
 
A bead of sweat ran down James’s temple as he forced himself not to look over at Arabella for fear of giving away more than he intended.  “No sir.”  He managed to choke out, with a twist of his lips that was closer to a grimace than a smile.
 
Because he had been trying to edge away, James froze when Mr. Pettigrew turned his attention from the young girl back to him, inwardly groaning to himself, though he managed a smile that certainly appeared to be genuine.  
 
Unable to argue that point James merely cleared his throat before stating quietly, “Which is why I was studying to be a solicitor sir, rather than a barrister.  I’m well aware of my…..  Shortcomings.”  He said with as much dignity as he could manage.  
 
James wanted to refuse, but given the current state of his finances, he was hardly in a position to turn down a free meal.  His efforts to cook for himself were proving to be a dismal failure.  In fact, he’d narrowly avoided burning himself rather badly on more than one occasion.
 
James would’ve protested but for the fact that Mr. Pettigrew mentioned being a lonely old man.  The breath left his lung on a long slow exhale as he forced a smile.  “I’d be delighted.”

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