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After a Long Day


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Mature Content: No, at least not on Lucinda's part! I can't speak for Hector, though.

With: Lucinda and the Wigfalls; possibly Aoife?
Location: The Wigfall Boarding House
When: June 19, 1876
Time of Day: Evening, after dusk

 

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Lucinda profusely thanked the gentleman who had lugged her trunk over to the Wigfall's boarding house and gave him a flattering smile in lieu of coins, since she was short on those at the moment. She knocked on the boarding house door and was thankful she couldn't see what her hands looked like. They were probably red and prune-like from washing dishes for Emeline that evening. It had been a while since she had worked for so long at one thing, and she was tired but felt like she had done something worthwhile.

 

She rubbed one thumb over the rest of her fingers and was pleasantly surprised to feel that her fingers were not as shriveled as she had thought. That was fortunate, since she would probably need to do some hand-shaking soon. She hoped that the Wigfalls had a room available for her. What if they didn't? The only thing to do would be to go back to the Lickskillet and see if Emeline would let her spend the night there until she could find something else.

 

She certainly didn't want to spend the night anywhere else. Emeline's talk of guns and bank robberies had made her more wary, and she didn't want to be alone for much longer after dark. But at least she was on the steps of a reputable boarding house right now.

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"HEC-TOOOOOOR!!" Silence "HEC-TOOOOOR! GET THE DOOR!!" Silence.

 

Hector slid further behind The Telegrapher, as if having his face hidden from view officially made him deaf. His mother's voice reverberated through the house. "HECTOR!!!" The following silence signalled a gear change.

 

"JEMIMAAAAAA?! JEMIMAAAAAA?!!" It was impossible to know where exactly Mrs Wigfall was in the house: her voice seemed to resonate from the very walls themselves. The same could be said of the following clomping noise of her daughter's boots as they came bad temperedly down the stairs and up to the front door, which she opened furiously, knowing very well that hector had been closest to it all along.

 

Jemima looked down at the blonde traveller on the steps, complete with luggage, like something nasty had been left on their doorstep. She folded her arms.

 

"You wanna room?" she asked, but before an answer could come a booming voice sounded from someplace behind her: "WHO IS IT?!"

 

Jemima stamped her foot with so much force that it was a miracle it didn't go through the floorboards and span around, shouting up the stairs at the top of her voice "I DON' KNOW YET!!!! with as much anger as volume. 

 

She turned around, still cross armed and as placid (one might almost say inert) looking as she had been a second ago.

 

"We gotta room if you want one." she announced flatly.

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Lucinda blinked as the loud voices echoed through the house and out onto the porch where she was standing. Was everything all right inside? It seemed that everyone was very busy inside if this Hector was not available to answer the door.

 

Someone did finally answer the door, but it was a girl who looked at Lucinda like she was a hairball a cat had coughed up. She had never been looked at that way before and swallowed.

 

She flinched slightly as the girl stomped her foot...very, very hard...and yelled back into the house. Well, that was perhaps not the most polite encounter she had ever had. But this was the frontier, she reminded herself. Maybe the girl didn't have manners on most days and being sent to answer the door only exacerbated her lack of manners. When the girl turned back, she was back to being lethargic.

 

Lucinda cleared her throat. "Yes, I would like a room. Emeline at the Lickskillet recommended this establishment to me. Am I speaking to the proprietor?" Oh, dear. The poor girl probably wouldn't know what that meant. "...the owner?" she added belatedly.

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Lucinda cleared her throat. "Yes, I would like a room. Emeline at the Lickskillet recommended this establishment to me."

 

The girl frowned and sniffed "You mean Missus Pike." she corrected Lucinda shortly.

 

"Am I speaking to the proprietor?" Oh, dear. The poor girl probably wouldn't know what that meant. "...the owner?" she added belatedly.

 

"Nope." replied Jemima, marching down the steps and grabbing hold of the traveller's trunk, which she hefted up like it was full of nothing heavier than feathers and carried it into the house with the terse instruction "Come on."

 

Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Alva Edison had wasted their time inventing telegraphs and telephones, the Wigfalls had already perfected the art of effective communication: it was called loud shouting.

 

"CUSTOMER!!!" shouted Jemima as she re-entered the house, trailed by the sophisticated Mrs Dietrich; Mrs Wigfall was just coming down the stairs. "All right dear, no need to shout!" she admonished the homely and impressively strong girl. 

 

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Mrs Wigfall beamed at Lucinda.

 

"Oh do come in Miss! Do come in, oh my poor dear you must be exhausted from your dusty travels!" came the hearty welcome that she gave to all paying guests.

 

"No she ain't!" countered Jemima "She just come from the Pie Store."

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"Yes, yes, Mrs. Pike." Lucinda was frustrated that she had neglected to refer to Emeline properly. What was wrong with her? She was tired, but that was no excuse for losing her manners. She followed Jemima inside, silently marveling at the girl's strength.

 

It was a relief to be inside a place that seemed homey again. She had opened her mouth to respond to Mrs. Wigfall's warm - if formulated and often-repeated - greeting when Jemima interrupted. Well. The girl certainly had some nerve and a distinct lack of propriety.

 

She cleared her throat and addressed Mrs. Wigfall. "I have come from the Lickskillet Café, but prior to that I was traveling." Although she emphasized certain words to make sure her point got across, her tone was even, a direct contrast to the Wigfall's earlier shouting. It was important to her that Mrs. Wigfall knew her circumstances; her true circumstances and not just half of them. And it was important that neither Jemima nor Mrs. Wigfall felt slighted in any way by her words. "And I am rather tired. Your...daughter informed me that you have an available room?"

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She cleared her throat and addressed Mrs. Wigfall. "I have come from the Lickskillet Café, but prior to that I was traveling." 

 

"Really dear? I see." beamed Mrs Wigfall, who wasn't particularly bothered whether the woman had come from the Lickskillet or Timbuctoo as long as she could pay the rent and didn't want to have gentlemen callers. 

 

At the sound of the lady's voice, Hector had finally lowered his copy of The Telegrapher and it didn't go back up again. In fact, the technical journal went flying and he himself leapt to his feet straightening his neck tie-less shirt and trying to make himself look half-decent.

 

"And I am rather tired. Your...daughter informed me that you have an available room?"

 

"Yes" Mrs Wigfall nodded, "Jemima, take the lady's trunk up" but Hector got there first and giving Lucinda a winning smile, chirped "Allow me, Miss, I'm Hector Wigfield. I'm the... hurrggghh!!" he nearly gave himself a hernia trying to lift the trunk. ".... man of the... hurrgghhhh.... house..." he couldn't lift it, so he was dragging it across the floor.

 

"HECTOR!" yelled Mrs Wigfall "Stop being ridiculous, you're ruining the carpet! Let your sister do it, you know she's stronger than you!" There then commenced a scuffle over the trunk, the result of which was a foregone conclusion which left Hector anting on the stairs as Jemima carried the heavy piece of luggage up to the room.

 

The Landlady smiled apologetically at Lucinda "I'm sorry about that, you know how boys are, always trying to show off. Now Miss...or is it Mrs?"

 

@Bailey

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Lucinda smiled at Hector's "showing off" and quirked an eyebrow, impressed once again by Jemima's strength. "A pleasure to meet you, Hector," she called to the nearly-collapsing boy. Hopefully that bit of attention would satisfy him and he wouldn't follow her around like a puppy.

 

"It's Mrs...technically, I suppose. I'm...newly widowed." That was something she didn't remember learning at school. Maybe she had learned it but had just forgotten it. After all, who would have thought that her husband would die so soon into their marriage?

 

She shook her head once as if to clear the gloomy thoughts away and focused on Mrs. Wigfall again. "How far in advance must I pay for my room?"

 

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Lucinda smiled at Hector's "showing off" and quirked an eyebrow, impressed once again by Jemima's strength. "A pleasure to meet you, Hector," she called to the nearly-collapsing boy. Hopefully that bit of attention would satisfy him and he wouldn't follow her around like a puppy.

 

To give him his due, Hector pulled himself together pretty quickly after having been thrust aside like a rag doll by his twin sister. "The pleasure's all mine, Miss'!" he smiled engagingly, while tucking his shirt in.

 

"It's Mrs...technically,..."

 

Hector's face fell. Damn, why were all the beautiful ones snapped up!?

 

"... I suppose. I'm...newly widowed." That was something she didn't remember learning at school. Maybe she had learned it but had just forgotten it. After all, who would have thought that her husband would die so soon into their marriage?

 

The 19 year old's face lit up again at this good news, then he remembered to dampen it down again: you shouldn't really be grinning like a Cheshire cat on hearing somebody had been recently been widowed. Still... yippeee! 

 

"I am so sorry to hear that, Mam'" he simpered, reaching out to place a reassuring hand on her arm which Mrs Wigfall immediately slapped away. "Hector, what have I told you about touching the guests?!" she told him off "Go to the kitchen and put the kettle on!" Off he trotted, after one last sympathetic and warmly understanding smile at the new peach in the orchard.

 

She shook her head once as if to clear the gloomy thoughts away and focused on Mrs. Wigfall again. "How far in advance must I pay for my room?"

 

"Come and sit down, my dear, and we can take care of all that unpleasant business. I only make Irish and foreigners pay in advance, you can pay in arrears. Now how long would you like to stay for, and will it be full board or just bed and breakfast?" she enquired in a kindly but business-like manner as she led the lady into the parlour.

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Lucinda had not expected Hector to be so engaging...or so touchy. She was startled when he touched her arm and moved sideways slightly, but Mrs. Wigfall came to the rescue and sent the boy - he was closer to a man, really - to put the kettle on.

 

She followed Mrs. Wigfall into the parlor and sank gratefully down into a chair. It felt wonderful to take a load off her feet. That wasn't a very proper expression, but it did the trick. She wiggled her toes in her boots and listened to Mrs. Wigfall. "Fortunately I am neither Irish nor foreign," she said with a small smile. She supposed she might be foreign, very distantly - after all, both her English ancestors the German-descended family she had married into hand been foreigners once. She took a moment to think over her plans and the options Mrs. Wigfall had given her.

 

Finally she looked up, searching the older woman's face to see how shrewd she might be. "I am unsure how long I will need to stay. I do plan to stay in Kalispell for a time - a month, at least - but I am not sure if another living situation will present itself. Shall we say full board for the time being and then we can amend our agreement if need be after the first month?"

 

That was a graceful way of not committing to a long stay, and of offering the landlady a sweetening of full board.

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"Fortunately I am neither Irish nor foreign," she said with a small smile. 

 

Mrs Wigfall nodded, that was indeed fortunate, for both of them. She had a small confession to make: "We do have one Irish girl saying, Hector had more or less invited her in, so I had to take her. I'd taken the sign down to clean the inside windows..." Mrs Wigfall was obsessed with cleanliness "... but she had turned out to be a good, clean girl: she is a nurse over at Dr. Danforth's and pays her rent on time." came the glowing tribute to Aiofe. It was an unfortunate side effect that she now couldn't really put the "No Irish" sign back up in the window.

 

Finally she looked up, searching the older woman's face to see how shrewd she might be. "I am unsure how long I will need to stay. I do plan to stay in Kalispell for a time - a month, at least - but I am not sure if another living situation will present itself. Shall we say full board for the time being and then we can amend our agreement if need be after the first month?"

 

"Very good, as long as you give me good notice if circumstances change." replied Mrs Wigfall as they went on to fix rates and the date of payment. 

 

Hector reappeared with a tea tray but before he had a chance to smarm around the pretty new inhabitant of the boarding house, his mother sent him to fetch the guest-book. "What name shall I enter?" asked Mrs Wigfall.

 

 

 

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