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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.

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Mature Content: No.

Author: Hector Wigfall

With: Clara Redmond & Family, Jacob Lutz & Family and friends.
Location: The Church.
When: Early June 1876.
Time of Day: Five Past One in the Afternoon.




Hector Lupin Wigfall considered it all again for a moment. Some mere fifteen hours ago – fifteen – he had been sitting quite happily in the front parlour, reading The Telegrapher journal (good article on the Baudot code) and now he was standing here in church, of all the God damn places, in his best suit, acting as Best Man to a kid he’d hated at school and hadn’t actually seen much of since. The only time Lutz had entered his orbit was all those times he’d come round to see his horrible sister … whatever that was all about.


He shuddered.


No sign of the Bride’s party yet. Late! God damn rude he called it. Groom’s side of the church were here but looked like a pretty ropy lot, item: his own sister, looking a sight and still putting the finishing touches to Lutz. She’d been up all night taking in one of their father’s suits and when the husband-to-be had come round to the Wigfall place to get into it this morning, his gruesome twin had given the beanpole a shave and a haircut! Hector wouldn’t let that crazy fruitcake anywhere near HIS windpipe with a cut-throat razor.


Then there was the Groom himself, the lanky drip, probably looking the best he ever would in his life, thanks to Jemima’s ministrations. Granny Miggins, the dried up old Mummy, rubbing her finger like she been sticking it somewhere it shouldn’t oughta been stuck … and got it stuck. Then Lutz’s big sister, Leonora. She was actually a nice bit of real estate, but given to fainting fits, apparently. Mind you, having an attractive and unconscious female in his company might not be such a bad thing.


Then there was that ginger piece, Bridget something. Not bad but only one leg – ugh!


He pulled out his hunter and flipped the lid. ‘Bride’s prerogative’ and all that but what the Hell?! Father Thomas didn’t look concerned. Hector drifted over to him.


“So, Father, how long are we going to give it until we call it a day and head for the saloon?” he asked with an unsuitable air of levity.



Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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The afternoon was pleasant for a wedding, for the summer heat was beginning to set in and the spring rains were becoming ever less frequent. Under the roof of the church the air was cool, and outside the road lay free of muck, due to the absence of any wet weather. It might have been the perfect scene, in fact, were it not for how hurried the whole thing had been. Thomas'd hardly had time for any decorations, having instead to make do with a few flower bunches that he'd arranged along the outer nave, and a ceremonial cloth at the altar.

Still, he'd tried as best he could for the young couple, and the church was hardly ramshackle. For his part he'd thrown a just-purchased suit jacket over his shirt and waistcoat, lending an aspect of the refined to his usual informal appearance.


The guests too seemed to have made an effort, mostly bearing what fine clothes they could dig out of their wardrobes or scrounge from each other, and for a frontier wedding it was not all that bad. At the very least it showed that the invited parties cared for Jacob and Clara.


He glanced over at the Lutz boy, no doubt preoccupied, nervous, excited, and scared. He thought of how he felt at his own wedding, a lifetime ago, and reached onto his pocket to give the rosary stashed there a discreet squeeze, that hybrid of Catholicism and Protestantism perhaps being symbolic of a union between such different personalities.

Or perhaps he simply felt like dwelling on the past for a moment.



“So, Father, how long are we going to give it until we call it a day and head for the saloon?”

Thomas glanced over at the source of the question; a sort of young, wiry boy - the ubiquitous Hector Wigfall. Jacob's best man, by his own request, though it became ever clearer that the arrangement was more one of necessity than any brotherly camaraderie.

He gave a sort of half-bemused, half-concerned look, not quite sure if a dig was being made at his rooming in the Stardust some months back.

"It won't be long now, I don't think." he said with his usual inoffensive tone, though he turned his gaze to the entrance as he said so. Clara had seemed such a prudent girl, and he hardly expected her to be severely late in any capacity.


Edited by boshmi (see edit history)
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Of course, Clara Anne Redmond was never later for anything. To be late for her own wedding would be especially galling. However, when it came to weddings, the people with the least control over anything were the bride and groom. The particular fly in this jar of the ointment of promptitude was Arabella. Not that she was late. She arrived right on time, five minutes to One of the Clock, and, to be fair, she looked pretty good: the saloon folks had done a real good job of finding a nice dress and getting it to fit and pinning up hems and taking in bodices and lowering sleeves, and on top of it all, she had tied up her long black hair right prettily with a brand new light blue ribbon bought from Pettigrew’s and saved up for a special occasion such as this.


However, she had demands. Just as Clara was about to enter the church, bang on One, she had screamed.


“Oh Lordy, you do got ‘something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue, don’t ya?!” she had questioned urgently. The procession skidded to a halt.


Clara might not have been bothered about such old superstitions, but others didn’t want to take the risk, and this occasioned some thought and scrabbling around. The dress was both blue and old, so that was all right: but it had been given as a gift and therefore disbarred form the ‘borrowed’ part. Eventually Arabella had a brainwave and pulled the ribbon from her head, occasioning a cascading waterfall of black hair over her face.


“Borrow this new ribbon!” she urged, peeping out from behind the sable curtains. There was no time to actually put it anywhere on show, and in fact it clashed horribly with the beautiful deep Prussian blue of the dress “Just shove it down your décolletage!” Arabella hissed.


She smiled at Mr. Redmond and moved in front of his daughter, to spare her modesty at such a moment.


Arabella had single-handedly managed to put the whole affair a good three minutes behind schedule, and she now looked like a wild woman of Borneo, but, to be fair, she had also assured the future happiness of the happy couple.


@Wayfarer @Bongo @boshmi

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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Clara and the rest of her part of the wedding party made a hasty walk over to the church, Aurelian nodding pleasantly at a few of the local townsfolk staring at the well dressed group. Clara was far too nervous to even glance at any of these folks. Emeline had provided her with that blue dress - same one as the barn dance - that Clara was now so fond of and also threaded some flowers thru her freshly washed brunette hair. Her shoes were her Sunday go to meeting pair, adequate though certainly not new but at she had polished them last night, not that anyone would really see them under that long blue dress.


Arabella had slowed things up by at the last minute trying to add her own imagined fine touch to the ensemble but Clara could only tolerate the blue ribbon for about twenty steps before she pulled it out and off, handing it over to Wyatt.


"Hang onto this for me," she requested, "and do not lose it. We would not want to lose it now, would we?"


The exchange of looks was added silent communication between the siblings. Wyatt grinned, he knew his sister and he knew what her real meaning was in this sudden request, "Oh yeah, sure. I'll take great care of it."


Arriving at the front door of the church then, Aurelian opened the door and signaled to those inside with a quick wave of one hand that they had arrived and were ready to start this ceremony now.  Aurelian and Clara lined up next to each other. They hadn't actually rehearsed any of this so they waited until they got some sort of cue from the minister or heard some music.  Either would set them off for their procession down the aisle.






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Had Emeline been present for Arabella's antics, she very likely would have grabbed Miss Arabella Mudd by the ear and dragged her as far away from Clara and the ceremony as she could, then educate her in manners and propriety.


But once she had helped Clara dress and styled her hair, then made certain that everything was perfectly in place, she had given the young woman -- her surrogate sister -- a quick kiss on the cheek, then gone in to find her seat by Barnabas.  Her heart was pounding in sympathy for Clara, even as she was beaming with pride and blinking away a few tears...this was even more emotional for her than her own wedding!


But...where was Clara?  She should have been coming down the aisle, and Emeline was about to go look for her, but then there she was, on her father's arm, looking so pretty and vulnerable all at once (Clara, not Aurelian!), and Emeline reached over and gripped Barnabas' wrist, squeezing tightly as she prayed that someday it would be their child, and he would be the one walking her down the aisle!




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As the doors opened and his lovely Clara entered the little church along with the rest of the Bridal Party, Jacob Lutz felt more dead than alive, more paralysed with fear than he had ever felt in his whole life. He didn’t know why. Fear of forgetting his lines? or of his voice trembling?, or that he might even faint?  … he knew not what. He was vaguely aware of Jemima finishing retying his tie, which he had botched, brushing some stray newly cut strands of hair from his shoulders and giving him a manly slap on the back as she scuttled off and took her place in the pews next to Bridget. He heard the snap of Hector’s hunter closing and his snarky comment of “’Bout time! Is she always this late for everything?” [😉] as he took his position next to the groom. But mostly he was aware of the feeling of his own heart thumping in his chest and the sound of blood rushing in his ears.


He didn’t dare to turn around and, anyway, was vaguely aware that he was supposed to show decorum by not rubbernecking as the party approached and various ooohs and ahhhs came from the congregation in the pews as they caught sight of the lovely bride and the well turned out Father of the Bride and Bride’s Maid. He was even grateful for the distraction of Wigfall’s somewhat grating commentary on the whole thing: he certainly wasn’t shy about turning round and having a good gander at the proceedings.


“Well, your Missis has scrubbed up well for the thing; Pa forgot his shotgun, so you’re safe there;  Mudd looks like The Wreck of the Hesperus and…” he feigned wide eyed surprise”… that poor little Wyatt kid’s been decked up in velvet knickerbockers and a top hat!”


“No he ain’t, shut up!” replied Jacob, keeping his up stoic forward stare. But it did him good to speak, and to know he hadn’t lost his voice completely!


The Bridal Party were nearly upon them and the Best Man had time for only one more comment before he too had to maintain some sort of dignity. “Phew, Blakesley's looking pretty damn good today, wouldn’t mind me a slice of that pie!”


But Jacob wasn’t listening. He knew she was near him and the air tingled with electricity as she came closer and ever closer and for some reason he abstractly remembered the feeling of their skin touching as they had made love in the field yesterday.


He felt Clara draw near at his side and couldn’t help but steal a glance. He stopped breathing for a second. She was SO BEAUTIFUL. He felt undeserving of her. A tear piped in his eye and all he could do was to reach out and grip her hand (who cared if that was allowed in the ceremony or not) and whisper to her those worn out, but ever-new words “I love you.”


Now he was looking he couldn’t stop and his eyes flicked to Aurelian, to whom he directed a grateful and manly smile and Arabella close behind Clara to whom he… he frowned, what the Hell was happening with her hair?! All he could see of her face was a nose sticking out between the black drapes … oh, then a tongue. Nice. All right, that was enough to make him turn back facing forward.


He didn’t feel scared or ill or anything bad now. With Clara at his side, he could do anything, and find happiness in any situation: this one most of all.


@boshmi @Bongo @Wayfarer


[OOC: wasn't sure if Wyatt would sit on the pews or traipse up to the altar with the others]

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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As the procession marched their way up the aisle, Thomas took to the commanding position by Jacob and the Wigfall boy, placing him in full earshot of the overly informative and occasionally perverse running commentary. Were he not officiating a teenage wedlocked marriage, there might have been something to say for the sin of lust in the house of God, but given the circumstances, he'd let it slide.


Instead he distracted himself by beaming encouragement at Clara and Aurelian as they approached, until the hand-off was complete and before him stood Hector Wigfall, Jacob Lutz, Clara Redmond, and Arabella Mudd, in that order. Under normal circumstances he might have waited until the music had stopped to begin the service but, well, there wasn't any music.


He stepped forward and raised a welcoming arm to all in the church, as he had done so many times before;

"Friends and relations, we are gathered today in the sight of God, to witness and bless the joining together of Jacob Lutz and Clara Redmond in Christian marriage. The covenant of marriage was established by God, who created us man and woman for each other. With his presence and power Jesus graced a wedding at Cana of Galilee, and in his sacrificial love gave us the example for the love of husband and wife. Jacob and Clara come now to give themselves to one another in this holy covenant."


He paused for a moment, allowing the room to settle and any whispering to die down after the introduction. Then, he looked down, speaking directly to the couple.


"I ask you both now, in the presence of God and these people, to declare your intention to enter into matrimony, through the grace of Jesus Christ, who calls you into union with himself as acknowledged in your baptism. Will you give yourselves to each other, to live together in holy marriage? Will you love, honor, comfort, and keep each other, in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, be faithful, as long as you both shall live?"


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Emeline reached over and gripped Barnabas' wrist, squeezing tightly as she prayed that someday it would be their child, and he would be the one walking her down the aisle!


There is pain that men endure for good reason, then there is pain that men endure that seeming has no reason, such was the pain in his wrist. He craned his head around, half twisting his body in the pew to gander at the bride and her father. He almost didn’t recognize Clara in the splendor of her bridal gown, hair all done up, pretty as a picture, almost as pretty as Em had been on their day.


Both were beaming on this very special day for both, Aurelian looking smart in a fine suit of clothes. Barnabas did not really know the man, though he had seen him about town on occasion, and perhaps spoken to him. The man looked proud and happy all at once. Which was good, very good, Barnabas thought.


Then there was a vision of himself, arm in arm with his own daughter, perhaps in this very church, walking down that very isle on her wedding day, and quite suddenly the entirety of this particular ceremony hit him, the realization he was looking at himself some years down the trail. Unconsciously, he patted Em on her hand that gripped his wrist, as his head and eyes followed the Bridal Party to the alter.




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Though he had not been officially invited, Speed stepped inside the church after the procession had passed. He who had not considered tying the knot, and had actually never found a woman that he would consider marrying was impressed with the scene before him, and young Miss Clara from the Lickskillet, look beautiful just as a bride should.


Pikes wedding had been similar, except it was his friend and Emily Blakesley at the alter, with him as best man. It was that part of life, some had called it the circle of life, he did not see it quite like that, in fact he considered it more the normal progression of things that happened for some, but not all, in this life.


It was a day to be joyful, and hopefully he thought, a day without incident, which it had been of late.

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As she slowly walked down the aisle, Clara, who prided herself on being able to keep calm under pressure and reining in her emotions, was both nervous and filled a heady mix of joy and fear. This was about to change her life forever and it seemed incredible that not three months ago she did not even know this young man who she was about to marry.  Had someone told her ahead of time of this occurrence she would have simply scoffed at the very possibility she would ever act so impulsively. But.........here she was. It was quite intimidating actually.


Aurelian stopped then silently handed over his much beloved daughter to this boy who looked even younger now at least in his eyes. But he also looked past the mere physical appearance of the gangly lad and saw something else, a real sincerity and it gave him hope...no make that faith in these two. That they were indeed in love and both had the strength of character and their convictions to make this marriage work. It was very soon going to be official, Clara was no longer just his daughter, she belonged to Jacob now. Things were never going to be the same. He dearly hoped Katherine would approve of his decision to let this happen but he had a strong feeling she would have. Katherine had been a far more romantic about such things than he.  The man snapped out of all these thoughts when the clergyman began speaking.


Clara exchanged a quick glance at Jacob and almost smiled but her eyes were lit up with excitement. Good lord, he looked so handsome. He had gotten a haircut even. She liked him with the longer hair but he certainly did look more dignified this way. Nice suit too. Fr. Thomas then addressed the sparse audience and of course the couple so Clara focused on every word. He was right to the point then commenced with the nitty gritty of the ceremony itself.


"I ask you both now, in the presence of God and these people, to declare your intention to enter into matrimony, through the grace of Jesus Christ, who calls you into union with himself as acknowledged in your baptism. Will you give yourselves to each other, to live together in holy marriage? Will you love, honor, comfort, and keep each other, in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, be faithful, as long as you both shall live?"


"I will," Clara even emphasized the solemn vow with a nod. There had not even been the slightest hesitation, she was all in!



Meanwhile in the pew, Wyatt watched and listened and dearly hoped this wouldn't be as long as some of Parson Evan's sermons. Lot of fuss in his opinion. Besides, he was hungry.


@Javia @Bongo@boshmi @Flip




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"I will," Clara even emphasized the solemn vow with a nod. There had not even been the slightest hesitation, she was all in!


“I will,” Jacob almost didn’t hear Clara say it, their voices had chimed so in unison.



Meanwhile in the pew, Wyatt watched and listened and dearly hoped this wouldn't be as long as some of Parson Evan's sermons. Lot of fuss in his opinion. Besides, he was hungry.


As the ceremony trundled along, the brother-of-the-bride Wyatt’s alter ego, the sister of the groom, still half fainting with the shock of it all, tried to recall the events of the last twenty four hours. Leonora Lutz had been in the kitchen peeling carrots, wondering if Aurelian liked carrots. Probably. He had such strong, white teeth, like a rabbit, good for eating carrots.


Then Jacob came in and told her … told her that … oh God, she had trouble saying it even in her head, even though she was sitting in the hurried, tawdry ceremony that was the direct consequence of that terrible, terrible indiscretion on Jacob’s part. Oh God the SHAME. What must Aurelian think of them, what must Aurelian think of HER?!!


She twisted her hanky in her hand nervously as she watched Him standing at the front with the so-called happy couple. More like sinful, disgusting couple. What was she hoping for? That he would suddenly turn around, walk up to her sitting in her pew, and say ‘It isn’t your fault, Miss Lutz, it was their fault, you are totally innocent, in fact, you are so lovely I want to marry you.” She had to stop herself imaging that, it made her head swim and her heart palpitate and her fainting fits come on again.


Granny Miggins, next to her in the pew, gave her a sharp nudge. “Stop fidgitin’, girl!!” the old woman hissed to her granddaughter. What that girl needed, Nellie told herself as she rubbed the third finger on her left hand, was to marry some feller and get a damn good jump! She looked at the finger, and at the strange furrow at its base, where her wedding ring had rested for the last sixty-odd years.


@Bongo @Flip @Wayfarer @boshmi (when you get a chance, my friend!)


Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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Thomas smiled as Jacob and Clara echoed their agreement with no hesitation or pause, as he had known they would.

He raised his eyes to the room at whole, picking out a few faces in the audience. Nellie Miggins, Clara's requested Emeline Blakesley, relations of the groom, Aurelian standing behind his daughter, even Marshal Guyer and Deputy Pike had taken the time to come and witness the event, alongside a few other folk whom he had not yet gotten to know.


"The marriage of Jacob and Clara unites their families, and creates a new one. Do you, who represent their friends and relations, rejoice in their union, and pray God's blessing upon them? Will all of you, by God's grace, do everything in your power to uphold and care for these two in their marriage?" he addressed them as a whole, to repeat the agreement that the couple had given.



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Emeline bristled at the parson's question, even though it was a common one, although to her thinking, it was a moot point...of someone objected, they should have spoken up well before today....


Well, maybe in this case, there hadn't been time for anyone to really think on what was happening, or to object, but  Emeline was thinking that if anyone caused a fuss, she'd likely deck them!


Finally, she realized that she was squeezing Barnabas' wrist, and she eased up, glancing at him with a small smile.  'Sorry," she whispered. 


Maybe she'd ask their children to just elope and tell them later so she didn't have to endure the weddings!



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Barnabas looked at Em, then to his wrist. and back to her. " 's okay, Em, just my wrist. What's he goin' on about? Don't remember none'a that when we was hitched." It was different than the ceremony  that they had had in a couple of ways, which was fine, it was after all, their wedding and what was said an done was up to them, he supposed.


"Reckon we're to say 'I will,' that what he's after?"


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Speed stood, seeing no need to take a seat at this late date. He had managed to slip in for the ceremony all but unnoticed, which was fine with him as the day was about the young couple, not him.


The priest was asking everyone, "Will all of you, by God's grace, do everything in your power to uphold and care for these two in their marriage?" Speed found that interesting, that he would task the people present with the  care of the two in their marriage.


It must be some sort of tradition from another culture, other than the one he was familiar with. He looked on a marriage as the couple's responsibility, and folks butting in, well, not anything he would abide in his marriage, if he was too ever had one.  He donned his hat and walked through the open door into the sunlight. It was none of his affair.

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Aurelian was of course paying strict attention to every word spoken, though in truth his eyes remained focused on his beautiful daughter. If he was praying for anything now, it was that she and her painfully young husband would have  good life. And well, for a healthy newborn.


When the clergyman asked them to acclaim their willingness to assent to the marriage and help the young couple any way possible, he did not hesitate.


"I will," he stated in a clear voice.


Wyatt perked up, it was Clara up there, he should probably say something, "Me too!"

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“I might


Jemima Wigfall had been born under a planet so dark, so slow moving in its ponderous path around the firmament, that astronomers here on Earth had yet to even anticipate its presence, let alone locate it in the night sky. And she thought about things like this. Deeply.


This ceremony was like learning those lessons by rote in the old schoolroom. You were just expected to remember and repeat whatever the person at the front told you to say, no matter what you thought of it.


The Capital of France is Paris

The Capital of France is Paris


The Capital of England is London

The Capital of England is London


TheJemima Wigfall!! Go and stand facing the corner this instant, you STUPID GIRL!

Ha ha ha ha ha ha!


Why should she ‘do everything in her power to uphold and care for Jacob and pug-nosed pretty-pretty face in their marriage?’


Huh! She thought she knew him. How? Why? What had they ever done together? They’d done IT. Oh yes, no doubt… dirty, filthy IT. Hypocrite. She’d no doubt read his poems. She probably thought they were horseshit. His new poems were short. They were just words. One or two words, about her pretty-pretty face. Not those long, awful, heart-wrenched wails that he had written for the plain Wigfall girl. For what was the whimsy of Romantic Love compared to deep, lacerating, gouging, soul destroying, suicidal guilt?


The happy couple had probably walked hand in hand along country lanes, picking flowers for each other, looked up at the Moon together. She knew that they had danced together. She had watched them that night at the barn dance. So happy, so gay, so light. Her dark burning coal eyes had burned into them on that spit and sawdust barn floor.


But had he yet stained her lap with his tears? Had he yet ripped his heart up, torn it to shreds in front of her? She doubted it. Girls like that had expectations. Manly fortitude. A strong commanding presence. The Man, The Father of her Children, The breadwinner, The Brave, The Strong, The True. That part of him she would have.


She would have always the guilt-ridden, lost, lonely, motherless little boy, always.


“Arabella!” Bridget whispered excitedly at her side “Mopses!”


The nerveless Jemima did not jump at the sudden exclamation, she looked slowly away from Jacob and Clara to Arabella, who had pulled her hair behind her ears for the umpteenth time and had turned around, wiggling her eyebrows at Bridget in the congregation in the way that she knew would always make the simple girl laugh. Jemima’s face expressed not amusement, but deep approval.


“Yeah, Sister ‘Bella’s really … shining.” came the considered, contralto response.

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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The vague smattering of 'I will' from the room might have been more indicative of the audience's inexperience with Methodist wedding customs than any ill-wishing, but at least two of them had echoed the sentiment, including Aurelian, and none had said that they would not, which was all that was needed.


"Er... very well." Thomas intoned, once the room had said their piece. "The Lord be with you all. Now, let us pray."

It was customary for a prayer at events such as this, but given that most of the audience had responded so indistinctly to their declaration of intent, he made sure to speak slowly, and not expect much by way of response to his words. He shut his eyes for a moment, hand on his bible at the lectern.


"God of all peoples, you are the true light illumining everyone. You show us the way, the truth, and the life. You love us even when we are disobedient. You sustain us with your Holy Spirit. We rejoice in your life in the midst of our lives. We praise you for your presence with us, and especially in this act of solemn covenant; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Eternal God, Creator and Preserver of all life, Author of salvation, Giver of all grace: Bless and sanctify with your Holy Spirit Jacob Lutz and Clara Redmond, who come now to join in marriage. Grant that they may give their vows to each other in the strength of your steadfast love. Enable them to grow in love and peace with you and with one another all their days, that they may reach out in concern and service to the world, through Jesus Christ our Lord."


He opened his eyes to the congregation, before finishing the prayer; "Amen."


He looked down at the couple at altar, letting them know that it would be their time. "Now, Jacob and Clara will say their vows, and bind each to each in matrimony."


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The minister spoke a bit to the wedding assemblage then it was back to the bride and groom.


"Now, Jacob and Clara will say their vows, and bind each to each in matrimony."


 Clara had been studying the copy of what she needed to recite, as if she hadn't had enough to do for wedding preparations considering the wedding dinner was at the farm and she was the one to prepare it. But Jacob wanted it this way so she made the effort. Hopefully she could get thru it without a stumble.


'In the name of God, I, Clara Redmond take you, Jacob Lutz, to be my husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until we are parted by death. This is my solemn vow."


She pulled it off but then she had always been a good student when she was younger back East and actually had attended school. Still, it was a relief to have gotten thru it without incident. Hopefully Jacob could do the same, her eyes went him as he began.



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'In the name of God, I, Jacob Lutz take you, Clara Redmond, to be my wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until we are parted by death. This is my solemn vow."


He had not only remembered it perfectly; he had said it with feeling; that’s what got Arabella. What she didn’t get was: why she wasn’t crying? She usually cried at the drop of the hat! She should be in floods by now, but instead she felt a sort of awe at it all. This felt … important. There they were, the two of them, like Adam and Eve, and already in Clara’s womb, the spark of new life to come.


If the two of them were a modern-day Adam and Eve, then who were they, they who stood and watched this blessed union take place? Arabella could only think of the Angels who had stood and watched God create the first two humans at the beginning of time. Those Angels were lonely, she supposed, they couldn’t marry, or ‘know’ one another: how awful, eternally alone.


Apart from Barnabas and Em, they were all of them alone, at least for now: Granny Miggins because she was old, Wyatt because he was young; Aurelian because he was widowed; Leonora because she was ill; Even Father Thomas seemed to be alone by choice, celibate, and Hector of course because he was, well, kinda unbearable.


And, finally, Arabella and her dear ‘sisters’; her dear sisters in loneliness: Bridget and Jemima. These three would never know this union of man and woman. That, more than just girlish friendship, was their peculiar bond. 


Finally, watching the happy couple holding hands and making their vows, a tear sprang in her eye. Not a tear of pity for herself and the other lonely hearts here present, but of genuine happiness for Clara and Jacob, these two she had loved with all her heart.


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"In the name of God, I, Jacob Lutz take you, Clara Redmond, to be my wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until we are parted by death. This is my solemn vow."

"In the name of God, I, Clara Redmond take you, Jacob Lutz, to be my husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until we are parted by death. This is my solemn vow."


It was perfect, or about as good as he could have hoped, considering the choice to recite from memory and only having actually learned the vows some twenty-six hours ago. He could recall a few occasions where overzealous couples had arrived at the altar only to forget their lines entirely. Those marriages tended to be fairly short.


"Jacob." Thomas said, gesturing to the boy. "You may now exchange a ring or other token, to signify the union of yourself and Clara in holy marriage."

He only hoped that Jacob had managed to procure a ring, as he had declared he would, for otherwise this would be quite embarrassing.


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Jacob knew his part too, well he better have because the recital from memory was his idea not hers. But he said the words with conviction. It was that sincerity that first attracted Clara to the boy, though he wasn't a boy anymore. She just gazed at him thru it all, yes he was the one for her. This was no mistake on their part. They were going to obey those vows, she was sure of it.


"Jacob." Thomas said, gesturing to the boy. "You may now exchange a ring or other token, to signify the union of yourself and Clara in holy marriage."


Clara blinked..... did he say "exchange" ? She had no ring for Jacob. Where would she have been able to get a ring that fast. So be it. The success of a marriage did not hinge on the possession or not of a small piece of metal.  She then glanced to her husband to be.




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"Jacob." Thomas said, gesturing to the boy. "You may now exchange a ring or other token, to signify the union of yourself and Clara in holy marriage."


Hector Wigfall, being Hector Wigfall, made a joke of patting his pockets as if he’d lost the beautiful old gold ring he was supposed to hand to the Groom, then suddenly producing it, it being in his hand all the time. Nobody much thought this age-old jape was funny except Arabella, who gave her usual hooping laugh at the joke. But then she was easily tickled. Frowning brows soon shut her up, but it did remind her of an unexpected part she had been bidden to play in this marriage. The Clinch Mountain girl in the nice bridesmaid’s dress and the unruly black tresses, moved forward a little and tapped the bride on the shoulder.


Nobody expects to be tapped on the shoulder when they are getting married.


When Clara turned, Arabella was holding up the miracle of a shiny silver ring. It was plain but perfect and exactly the right size for Jacob’s finger. “Sorry it’s only silver!” hissed the bride’s maid as she handed it over. She herself didn’t have a clue where it had come from: it had just been left in an envelope at the Saloon this morning, addressed to ‘The Bridesmaid’.


Only one person in that congregation knew the provenance of that mysterious ‘miracle ring’ as Arabella was apt to call it in future retellings of the tale. That person knew that this time yesterday, the ring had actually been quite tarnished on one side, where it had lain on naked skin on a chain close to somebody’s heart for the last two years. But said person also knew all about how to clean silver properly, so that the black of two years waiting was wiped away and the silver looked as new as the day she had bought it, thanks to a loan from her employer.


Mr Pettigrew had given her extra hours and piece work to help pay back for the loan, for her usual wages from the many jobs she did all went straight back to her Mother. The final part of the money, the kind man had wiped from the ledger, seeing the girl become so worn out with work that to demand more of her was beyond human pity. He had told her that it was in recompense for how she and her brother, working in harmony for once, had worked out how that ‘dashed infernal sewing machine’ was to be run and operated.


Dark eyes watched from the little congregation as the happy couple slipped those rings onto each others fingers. A perfect fit, the two of them deeply in love and facing a tough, perhaps, but hope-filled future together, their eyes for each other only, all trammels of any past love affairs forgotten and left to die in the dust of yesterday.


And as Jemima watched Clara slip her ring on Jacob’s finger, out beyond the little Methodist chapel, out beyond the town of Kalispell itself, out on some romantic little trail in the hills, a final bit of moss grew, completely covering over two hearts carved on a lonesome pine.




@Bongo @boshmi @Wayfarer @Flip

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All was quiet while Hector searched for the ring, which was why Arabella's sudden outburst was so incredibly jarring. She was soon silenced though, and the couple exchanged rings; the final signification of their marriage.


"These rings are the outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace, signifying to all the uniting of Jacob and Clara in holy marriage. Bless, O Lord, the giving of these rings, that they who wear them may live in your peace and continue in your favor all the days of their life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen." Thomas recited, giving the couple a moment of togetherness before facing the assembly one last time.


"Now that Jacob and Clara have given themselves to each other by solemn vows, with the joining of hands, and the giving and receiving of rings, I announce to you that they are husband and wife; in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Those whom God has joined together, let no one put asunder. Amen."


He stepped back, giving the newlyweds a bit of space.
"You may now kiss."


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Pike smiled,it was the beginning of their future together, just as he and Em had done not long before. Different ceremony, different words, but the same meaning. That pledge that he had made to Em, Jacob had made to Clara.


Only time would tell where it would lead, and that is what Pike liked to call 'The Mystery of Life.'

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