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Mature Content: No.

Author: Anaesthesia Orr

With: Oskar Winter plus any other customers.
Location: Gunsmiths.
When: Saturday, 8th July 1876
Time of Day: Morning.

 

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Well, there had been quite a to-do about it, and no mistake. The Orr family were far too polite and, well, socially advanced, far too civilised, in other words, compared to the bulk of  the ingrates who inhabited Kalispell, to have a family row, even about this contentious issue. But there had been a conversation. Mrs Orr had been the main opponent; dear Papa had, of course, been wrapped around Anaesthesia's finger from the outset.

 

Anaesthesia had been on the backfoot at first: for her major source of truth, The Young Lady journal, had a great deal to say about poetry and flower arranging and the latest fashions from Paris and how to politely turn down an invitation to high tea by somebody who wasn't quite of one's own social class: but on the subject of guns it was quite mute.

 

However, her Mother's own little foible, her dabbling in the occult realms of spiritualism, had been her Achilles heel. In the days following the awful news of the Custer disaster, everybody, even gentlemen like Mr. Orr himself, had been seen toting a gun in the street: a sort of militia had sprung up, ready to repel the inevitable Indian attack upon Kalispell which, to the population's mingled relief and disappointment, never came. When the dreadful Wigfall girl had appeared at the house to arrange that Sunday's Spiritualist meeting with her Mama, she was seen to be carrying a sawn-off shotgun in her hand, wearing an impressive looking revolver over her apron, a bandolier of bullets across her chest and a vicious looking kitchen knife tucked under her holster belt. "If I run outta bullets, I'll plug one last one with my knife!" she had explained with some gusto. 

 

Well, if lowly females like Jemima Wigfall were allowed to tote firearms to defend themselves (although Jemima seemed to be actively looking for trouble, it had to be said) then why not their social betters?

 

+++

 

Mr Winter's store didn't have a tinkling bell when one entered, Anaesthesia noted. Was it really even called a store, a gun smith's place? A Smithy might be more correct. She resisted the urge to run home and consult Webster's upon the subject. She pushed forward, into the odd emporium which displayed a rather monotonous looking stock of guns, guns, guns and more guns, in neat rows, all looking very much the same to Anaesthesia's untrained eye: except that some were the long ones with wooden handles and some were smaller short ones that one could let off, or fire or whatever the phrase was, with one hand. 

 

There was a neat looking older man with a beard just like dear Papa's waiting for her behind a counter. How should a young lady best address such a person? She could just imagine the likes of Jemima Wigfall crashing open the door and yelling 'Hey you, I wanna buy a gun!' Gun, urgh, such a brutal, crude and uncouth sounding word. 

 

"Good day, my man, I wish to purchase an item of ordnance, if you could be so kind" were the words of polite introduction that she finally settled upon.

 

@boshmi

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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The business had indeed done well these past few days, with the town up in arms (quite literally) about an impending attack. Oskar had been working around the clock to assemble and clean what stock he could, before it was snatched up immediately by the grasping hands of overeager townsfolk. Those weapons which lined the cage walls were mostly American makes; the people of Kalispell sure liked their 'home-grown' Colts, and he was in the process of pushing a cylinder lug back into a Single-Action Army when one most atypical customer came through his door.

 

She was exceedingly young, and of course; a woman, which would not have been particularly unusual - heavens, that Wigfall girl seemed half intent on purchasing this entire stock - but this girl was dressed in fine clothing, and carried herself with the air of someone who had never worked a day in her life.

 

"Good day, my man, I wish to purchase an item of ordnance, if you could be so kind."

"Fräulein." he greeted respectfully (rich sorts generally appreciated an insinuation of their multilingualism). "It would be my pleasure to do so. Did you have any idea as to the type of firearm that interests you? Something for hunting? Or self-defense?"

He slyly whisked the Peacekeeper he had been fiddling with under the table. .45 Colt wasn't the heaviest caliber, but from the looks of the poor child's dainty wrists, shooting the handgun might snap her in two.

@Javia

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"Fräulein." he greeted respectfully (rich sorts generally appreciated an insinuation of their multilingualism).

 

Anaesthesia was taken aback by the address in what she recognised as German. Had it come from some smelly rough-hewn immigrant farmer, she would have turned up her nose, but 'clothes maketh the man' as the saying goes, and coming from the well dressed and dapper gentleman, it seemed excitingly continental and sophisticated. Pity she couldn't speak German back to him, just some execrable schoolgirl French.

 

"It would be my pleasure to do so. Did you have any idea as to the type of firearm that interests you? Something for hunting? Or self-defense?"

 

"For shooting Indians , please." she replied serenely. She wondered, idly, if there was a special type of gu... ooh yes, firearm the man had said, that was a much nicer word... a special type of firearm best suited for exterminating those dreadful naked savages. Ever since the news of poor gallant General Custer's brutal murder by the treacherous redskins, she had been haunted by terrible fantasies of being closed in on by half a dozen of the brutal copper coloured young warriors in their scanty loin cloths and their painted slim, but muscular, torsos. How disdainfully she would laugh as she 'filled them full of tin', or whatever the phrase was. 

 

He slyly whisked the Peacekeeper he had been fiddling with under the table. .45 Colt wasn't the heaviest caliber, but from the looks of the poor child's dainty wrists, shooting the handgun might snap her in two.

 

The curious Miss Orr lifted herself up on tiptoes a little to peep over the counter, she was impatient to see what the perhaps older, but quite attractive and suave, German speaking gentleman had to offer her. 

 

@boshmi

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"For shooting Indians." Oskar repeated. "I'm sure we can find something to fit that need."

He drummed his hands enthusiastically upon the countertop and flashed the young lady a smile, before ducking his head down to one of the lower cabinets. She'd need something with a small powder load, lest she be knocked flat on her back in any attempt to use the thing. No doubt the young Miss would want to shoot the thing once or twice before she bought it, and customers generally didn't choose products that left them with sore wrists and bruised egos. It's actual utility wouldn't really be an object - so long as it went bang and severely wounded whatever it was pointing at.

She'd probably never even use the thing, but of course; Oskar was a vendor of sound mind, so much as he was of weaponry.

 

He rose from below the counter with a small derringer pistol in each hand, depositing them both before his customer, then ducking down once more to lay a third, and final pistol next to the others.

 

"The derringer family of pistol are sworn by many fine ladies and gentlemen." he began, bracing himself against the counter. "Easily concealable in a sleeve, hand bag, or pocket, a derringer may be brought where politeness would otherwise dictate the absence of a pistol. Say, for the sake of the argument, you were at a dinner party, and a furious Indian were to burst through the door, eyes ablaze while you sere sitting down to eat!"

Oskar leaned forward and flared his eyes behind a smile, enunciating the theatrics of his story.

"One with a large and unwieldy firearm might feel foolish, having left his weapon by the door so as not to give offense to their host. But you, my good Miss, need not fear, for you have kept your small derringer in your handbag, and need only pull it out to put the brute down."

 

The salesman in him had never really died, and Oskar couldn't help but grin at the old dance; tell the customer what they want to hear, play on their fears, let them know that they are making the right choice in their purchase.

@Javia

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"The derringer family of pistol are sworn by many fine ladies and gentlemen." he began, bracing himself against the counter. "Easily concealable in a sleeve, hand bag, or pocket, a derringer may be brought where politeness would otherwise dictate the absence of a pistol. Say, for the sake of the argument, you were at a dinner party, and a furious Indian were to burst through the door, eyes ablaze while you sere sitting down to eat!"

 

Anaesthesia frowned, these didn't look like the guns that Jemima and all the men about town were totting, they looked little more than toys lying there on the counter. But she let the man continue on with his patter, he did seem so awfully nice. 

 

Oskar leaned forward and flared his eyes behind a smile, enunciating the theatrics of his story.

"One with a large and unwieldy firearm might feel foolish, having left his weapon by the door so as not to give offense to their host. But you, my good Miss, need not fear, for you have kept your small derringer in your handbag, and need only pull it out to put the brute down."

 

"No, I don't like them" said the eighteen year old in the same way that she would send away a proffered bonnet or pair of gloves that didn't quite meet her taste at Pettigrew's. "I want one I can kill six Indians with in a row and... and I can wear... outside" she said, looking around. By 'outside' she meant outside her dress.

 

"What about that one?" she asked, gesturing (but not rudely pointing) at one of the cabinets with a gloved hand. A slim looking old Lefaucheux '58 six-shooter had caught her eye: as long as a peacemaker but a whole lot lighter.

 

"I want to try that one!" she said and although she didn't physically stamp her foot, she did seem very determined indeed to at least try firing it.

 

images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQns9a0_ulKo7rZ5Ni7vkZ

 

 

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"No, I don't like them"

Oskar tilted his head. "No? Very well."

For all his efforts, the whims of young gentry were entirely unpredictable. He obediently nodded and swept the series of derringers to the side.

"What about that one?"

The gunsmith followed the girl's finger to one of the handguns on the wall cabinets; a French pinfire revolver, and winced a little in doing so. The '58 Lefaucheux had a smaller load, but a double-action; a difficult pull for even the sturdiest ranch-hand fingers.

 

"Ah, very well." Oskar said, as he moved to unlock the case in question. He lifted the revolver from it's mount, setting the hammer to half-cock, opening the loading gate, and giving the cylinder a spin to show the young Miss that her prospective weapon was presently unloaded.

 

"The Lefaucheux model 1858, possibly one of the first cartridge-loaded pistols, comes in 7 millimeter cartridges - that's .275 inches - enough blackpowder to stop any human foe." he placed it down on the counter before her. "The ah, action is self-cocking, meaning the pull is quite heavy, here..."

 

He shut the loading gate and lowered the hammer, before offering the handle to the young lady. "...see if you can squeeze that trigger back."

@Javia

Edited by boshmi (see edit history)
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"The Lefaucheux model 1858, possibly one of the first cartridge-loaded pistols, comes in 7 millimeter cartridges - that's .275 inches - enough blackpowder to stop any human foe." he placed it down on the counter before her. "The ah, action is self-cocking, meaning the pull is quite heavy, here..."

 

All this was all Greek to Anaesthesia, but it sounded thrillingly arcane and mysterious, and talk of Lefaucheuxs and millimetres so dangerously French. 

 

He shut the loading gate and lowered the hammer, before offering the handle to the young lady. "...see if you can squeeze that trigger back."

 

She put down her parasol against the counter and took the piece, surprised at the weight: well after all, it was a largish piece of metal when all was said and done. She didn't want to look like she had made a mistake, though, so weighed it in her hand and lied "Oh! I thought it would be much heavier!" before lifting it up to what she supposed was a firing position and screwing up her eyes in case it really did go off, and pulled jerkily on the trigger, rather than squeezing it like a pro. It was stiff all right, but did at least make a satisfying click as the hammer fell into place.

 

"Hmmm, let me try again!" she said "I pull this down, yes?" she asked re-cocking the revolver. Miss Orr might be closeted and ignorant of much of the real world outside her fancy townhouse, but she was not unintelligent and she was certainly very observant. Pulling the hammer back was more difficult than Mr. Winter had made it look, but she managed it and 'fired' the thing again, this time with her eyes open, looking down the barrel at an imaginary redskin.

 

"Oh, this is tremendous fun!" her pretty face beamed at Mr. Winter "One more go, then I want to see it go off properly!" she said. In her haste she forgot to cock it and found the trigger almost impossible to budge. "Oh it's broken", she cried. Nothing daunted she steadied the butt against the hard whalebone stays that covered her stomach and using both forefingers managed, with an unladylike grunt, to pull the trigger back.

 

"Oh Mr. Winter, look what I have discovered" she gasped at the veteran gunsmith "If you don't pull back the thing first and just pull the trigger, the thing goes back anyway and the doo-dah turns around on its own! Isn't that clever?!"

 

Her arm was hurting with the weight of it, and her hand aching, but once you knew what to expect, she found you could put your mind to it and do it again more easily. She used the double action again and then turned to Oskar, her blue eyes bright with excitement.

 

"I want to fire it with real bullets!!" she demanded. For the first time in her life, Miss Anaesthesia Ether Orr was madly, passionately in love: with a 1858 model Lefaucheux double action revolver.

 

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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"Hmmm, let me try again!" she said "I pull this down, yes?"

"Er... ja." Oskar nodded. "The action itself means you don't need to, but..."

 

He trailed off as Anesthesia discovered the revolver's function in real time, with a cry of; "Oh it's broken" and a subsequent;

"Oh Mr. Winter, look what I have discovered"

 

"Yes. That happens, but I'd ah... personally caution against it. That effort might send the shot flying off who-knows-where."

"If you don't pull back the thing first and just pull the trigger, the thing goes back anyway and the doo-dah turns around on its own! Isn't that clever?!"

He nodded patiently. "Yes, quite clever. The double action uh... doo-dah is one of the marvels of the modern age."

 

"I want to fire it with real bullets!!"

 

Of course she did. "Right." Oskar intoned. "Of course. One moment, please." and he disappeared below the counter once more to grab a box of small pinfire cartridges. He had half a mind to pull off the bullets and let the girl fire blank rounds, lest the back of his store end the day with a bit more of a draft than that with which it had begun, but young Miss Orr was evidently the persistent type, and obstructing her desires would likely get him nowhere.

 

"If you'll come with me, Fräulein." he told the girl, as he stepped out from behind the counter. There was a jangle as he pulled a set of keys from his pocket and unlocked the back door, leading outside to a sort of miniature shooting gallery. Some fifteen yards away lay a set of bottles as targets, and further back still was a novelty wooden cutout of a bandanna-wearing outlaw, complete with red targets upon his head and heart.

 

"Have you loaded or fired a gate-loaded revolver before?" he asked, as he thumbed three cartridges into his palm.

@Javia

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"I want to fire it with real bullets!!"

 

Of course she did. "Right." Oskar intoned. "Of course. One moment, please." and he disappeared below the counter once more to grab a box of small pinfire cartridges.

 

It wasn’t very ladylike, but again Anæsthesia stood on tiptoes and peered over the top of the counter to see what the clever foreign gentleman was up to now: he looked like a little grey squirrel, scrabbling around for nuts. He came back up, holding the most darling little box.

 

"If you'll come with me, Fräulein." he told the girl, as he stepped out from behind the counter.

 

“With pleasure” she beamed, holding the pistol close like a baby or a dolly or some other precious toy. Mr. Winter used his impressive set of keys to open the back door (a man with a big set of keys always seemed so important, and Oskar had a set almost as big as her Father, the Postmaster's!) And as for his shooting gallery in the back yard! Oh, it was a virtual wonderland for the want-to-be shootress. She especially like the wooden ruffian at the far end.

 

"Have you loaded or fired a gate-loaded revolver before?" he asked, as he thumbed three cartridges into his palm.

 

She looked at him densely for a second and then held up the pistol.

 

“Gate-loaded… Oh, is that what this is?” she smiled “No, I am afraid not. Could you be so kind as to show me what to do, Mr. Winter, you are so very clever at this sort of thing.” She said so very politely: the editorial staff of The Young Lady would have been proud of her.

 

@boshmi

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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“Gate-loaded… Oh, is that what this is?”

The gunsmith nodded confirmation. "Yes, hence the uh... loading gate."

“No, I am afraid not. Could you be so kind as to show me what to do, Mr. Winter, you are so very clever at this sort of thing.”

 

"Your flattery is most charming, Miss Orr. Of course." Oskar replied, a little queasy in the stomach at the sickly sweetness of it all.

 

"First, you pull back the hammer to half-cock, or halfway." he told her, placing his hands over her own to perform the action. "This allows the cylinder to spin freely, and the loading gate to open, see?"

To illustrate his point, he spun the weapon's cylinder and thumbed open the gate at the side of the revolver. Next, he pulled one of the pinfire cartridges from their little paper box and handed it to the girl.

"Now, you take one of these... and slot it into the gate, there. Make sure the little pin is sticking into it's notch, otherwise the hammer won't hit it and the weapon won't fire."

 

For this part, he was careful to stand back from Anesthesia. As enthusiastic as she seemed to be about all this, he didn't entirely trust her not to defy all logic and set off a round in some way or another.

@Javia

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"Your flattery is most charming, Miss Orr. Of course." Oskar replied, a little queasy in the stomach at the sickly sweetness of it all.

 

Oh dear, he'd accused her of flattery. That wasn't quite polite. It would have been more proper of him to say he was flattered. It was a very nice distinction between the two, but a most important one. One point from Mr. Winter. Then again, she liked him, and he was foreign, so probably couldn't help himself: she decided to restore the point, especially as he was holding her hand now!!

 

"First, you pull back the hammer to half-cock, or halfway." he told her, placing his hands over her own to perform the action. "This allows the cylinder to spin freely, and the loading gate to open, see?"

 

"Oh, I see!" she squeaked, feeling his hand through her glove and trying to concentrate on the lesson. Touched by a tradesman! What would the members of the Kalispell Ladies Society say if they heard?! Well, he had to show her how to get half-cocked, didn't he?

 

To illustrate his point, he spun the weapon's cylinder and thumbed open the gate at the side of the revolver. Next, he pulled one of the pinfire cartridges from their little paper box and handed it to the girl.

 

"Now, you take one of these... and slot it into the gate, there. Make sure the little pin is sticking into it's notch, otherwise the hammer won't hit it and the weapon won't fire."

 

"Oh, I shall have to take these gloves off!" she protested, handing him back the cartridge and the gun and unbuttoned the fine calfskin gloves before peeling them from her hands. Her cheeks became a little pink and all of a sudden she felt rather hot: it felt like she was doing a striptease. She was suddenly aware that she was here without a chaperone in Mr. Winter's secret grotto: she had never felt so demimonde in all her life!

 

"Please hold these." she commanded and giving him the gloves she took the cartridge and gun back. She held the cartridge up in her left hand and examined it. "It's quite a sweet little thing, isn't it?" she asked him before placing it carefully into the chamber, as per his instructions.

 

For this part, he was careful to stand back from Anesthesia. As enthusiastic as she seemed to be about all this, he didn't entirely trust her not to defy all logic and set off a round in some way or another.

 

For her part, Anæsthesia had noticed that Mr. Winter had withdrawn from her. Poor man, he had no doubt stepped away in desperation as he tried to fight the irresistible urge to snatch up her hand, gun and all, and cover it with kisses and declare his undying love for her. That, of course, would be quite inconvenient when she was so near to understanding this whole gate loading business.

 

"I've popped it in!" she beamed, proudly showing teacher her handiwork, like she used to do at school.

 

@boshmi   

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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Anesthesia's pupils widened ever-so-slightly at his accusation of flattery, and Oskar immediately knew that he'd said something wrong. He might have been in America for years now, but the linguistic intricacies still managed to occasionally elude him. Granted, he no longer spent his nights dining with dukes and days negotiating with warlords, but it was a sobering jolt to the pride for one of his compliments to be 'lost in translation.'

Verdammte Britisch sprache.

 

Nevertheless, he resolved to be a little more reserved with the girl. Stick to the phrases that he knew would cause no offence.

 

"Please hold these." she asked, and Oskar was jolted back into the (admittedly rather dangerous) moment. He smiled, nodded, and with a degree of misgiving, let go of the weapon to take up her gloves.

 

He watched with a cautious eye as she did as he told, all the while remarking on the 'sweetness' of the munition.

"Yes, quite." he agreed hesitantly. "Now, while the weapon is loaded, remember to keep it pointed down the range, and under no circumstances should you look down the barrel, or otherwise aim at anything other than your target, okay?"

The tone of the tradesman was still there, in its genial and polite ups-and-downs, but now mixed in with just a hint of severity. Guns were dangerous things, and Oskar knew all too well what an inexperienced shooter could do.

 

He checked once again over her shoulder to ensure that it was loaded properly, before he moved back to his spot about a meter away. "Now, close the loading gate... push it shut until you hear a click... take aim at the bottles, or the bandit, if you prefer.... see the two notches at the back? Hold the gun out in front of you, yes... and line the little notch at the end of the gun up so that it's between the two at the back. Then, erm, when you're ready... just center all three notches over the target, and you can pull back the hammer, and then shoot. Careful, it'll have a bit of a kick..."

 

From his position behind Anesthesia, Oskar stood ready to catch the girl, should she be knocked clean over by the recoil. It had certainly happened before, even with low-caliber pistols like the Lefaucheux. With customers of... sterner body mass, he'd usually explain the proper one-hand grip and minimized profile of the bullseye stance, but in Miss Orr's case, Oskar thought it might be beneficial for her to have both hands on the weapon when it went off.

@Javia

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"Yes, quite." he agreed hesitantly. "Now, while the weapon is loaded, remember to keep it pointed down the range, and under no circumstances should you look down the barrel, or otherwise aim at anything other than your target, okay?"

 

"Do not look down the barrel. Do not aim at anything other than the target." she repeated obediently. Learning things by rote was her favourite way of taking on new information. She used to love that at school 'One times One is One; One Times Two is Two...' much better that being asked 'if two times three is six, what is three times two?'

 

He checked once again over her shoulder to ensure that it was loaded properly, before he moved back to his spot about a meter away. "Now, close the loading gate... push it shut until you hear a click... take aim at the bottles, or the bandit, if you prefer.... see the two notches at the back? Hold the gun out in front of you, yes... and line the little notch at the end of the gun up so that it's between the two at the back. Then, erm, when you're ready... just center all three notches over the target, and you can pull back the hammer, and then shoot. Careful, it'll have a bit of a kick..."

 

The instructions were long and detailed, so Anæsthesia tried to break it down to something simpler to remember. "Close. Click. Aim. Hammer. Shoot. Kick!" she uttered, following his process. She took the gun in both hands, standing face on to the target with legs a little apart (but not so far apart as to be unladylike). She carefully pulled back the hammer and pointed the gun at the centre bottle (she would settle that bandit's hash later) and... and... BANG!

 

She staggered back, thrilled at the sound of tinkling glass. She was less thrilled when she opened her eyes and not only were all the bottles still there intact, but she found that she had staggered backwards into Mr. Winter's strong arms. 

 

"Oh!" she breathed, expressively.

 

@boshmi

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Sure enough, the lightweight girl had stumbled right back towards him, and with arms outstretched, he caught her and quickly pushed her back onto her feet. Hopefully she wouldn't consider that sort of thing too salacious - heavens knew how pedantic the upper echelon could be.

The acrid aroma of burned blackpowder was on the air, and a small grey cloud sifted upward over the shooting range as Oskar quickly glanced at the targets, affirming that none of them had been struck, and the bullet had sailed somewhere off into the grassland behind the store.

"There, are you alright, Miss? You were very close to hitting that bottle, I must say." he told Anesthesia. He hadn't been watching the bullet's trajectory at all, of course, but it was good practice to reaffirm the faith of first-time shooters.

 

"Not too rough, I hope? We could try again, or choose a smaller caliber weapon, if you'd prefer..."

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Sure enough, the lightweight girl had stumbled right back towards him, and with arms outstretched, he caught her and quickly pushed her back onto her feet. Hopefully she wouldn't consider that sort of thing too salacious - heavens knew how pedantic the upper echelon could be.

 

Anæsthesia was not at all put out at the way Mr. Winter had gently, but firmly, grasped her to stop her falling over backwards. She could hardly blame him if, in his attempt to save her, he had accidentally laid his hand on her, ahem, upper echelons.

 

"Oh drat, it went wide!" sulked the blonde girl with the angelic features. 

 

"There, are you alright, Miss? You were very close to hitting that bottle, I must say." he told Anesthesia. He hadn't been watching the bullet's trajectory at all, of course, but it was good practice to reaffirm the faith of first-time shooters.

 

"Oh, do you really think so? I should love to try again!" she smiled.

 

"Not too rough, I hope? We could try again, or choose a smaller caliber weapon, if you'd prefer..."

 

"Oh no, Mr. Winter, when a young lady has found the one, she must stick with it through rough and smooth." said, paraphrasing something that she had read pertaining to marriage and fidelity in The Young Lady that very morning. She stroked the handle of the Lefaucheux lovingly as she did so.

 

She looked at Mr. Winter appraisingly. "Do you give lessons?" she asked, rather bluntly. 

 

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"Oh, do you really think so? I should love to try again!"

Oskar nodded in affirmation. "Yes, very close. Why, I could see some of the dust blown off the bottle's side!"

 

"Oh no, Mr. Winter, when a young lady has found the one, she must stick with it through rough and smooth."

"Of course, do pardon my presumption." he quickly corrected. He'd never heard such an adage attributed to a firearm, and couldn't help but wonder if it wasn't better suited to more permanent ideals.

 

She went ahead and begun to stroke the handle of the weapon, which Oskar took to be a declaration of affection for the object of steel and wood. Oh well, at least it'd be a sale. "Do you give lessons?" Anesthesia quite suddenly asked, and the gunsmith felt his stomach turn.

"I, er... es tut mir leid, Fraülein, that is to say; I am sorry, but I am quite busy most days, you know, assembling stock and the like." he said, trying his best not to seem overly repulsed by the idea.

 

"Um... here, let me show you..." he continued, changing the subject as he gestured to the still-smoking revolver in her hands. "To reload the weapon after firing, you must set the hammer back to half-cock, open the loading gate like before, and turn the cylinder to the spent cartridge, yes, there... and then push the little ejector rod on the end of the firearm there, careful not to put your fingers in front of the barrel, yes... and watch for the brass as it falls out, it can be quite hot..."

 

He moved back to the little box and this time drew out two cartridges, handing them to Anesthesia. "See if you can load it yourself this time."

@Javia

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Oskar nodded in affirmation. "Yes, very close. Why, I could see some of the dust blown off the bottle's side!"

 

"Really!" she asked, peering at the bottles, then looked at him sideways. "Mr. Winter, I do believe that you are making fun of me, slightly, or even worse, humouring me." she said, but not in an angry way: rather she seemed like she was enjoying having a little repartee with the older man. Indeed, she was bored with talking to her Father or to her Mother and her tedious or just plain odd friends. It was refreshing to have a conversation with a real person outside of her limited social circle, off her own bat, so to speak.

 

"Please believe that you may talk to me with the utmost candor. I feel that one's relationship with one's gunsmith must always be truthful and honest." she blathered, trying to sound like one of the advice-laden columnists of The Young Lady.

 

After expressing her fidelity to the six shooter in her hand, she took Mr. Winter's instruction for reloading the piece, listening carefully and committing the process to memory and even going so far as to... possibly for the first time in her life... extrapolating the data to hand and loading a second bullet in the next chamber, so that she could fire two shots in a row. She glanced at him as she did so, just to confirm that this was allowed.

 

"Close. Click. Aim. Hammer. Shoot. Kick!" She repeated the phrase that she had learned before as she closed up the chamber, and took up her stance.

 

Here next shot went wide again, although this time she braced herself, sticking out her bottom, bustle and all, and bending her legs slightly, rather than standing straight as a poker. It was a rather indelicate stance for a young lady of breeding, but (for better or worse) it stopped her flying back into Mr. Winter's arms.

 

The next time, she got one! Maybe not the one she was aiming at, but still!!! There was a heavenly tinkle of glass after the initial loud report of the revolver and a beautiful space where one of the green bottles had once stood. She looked around to Mr. Winter and rhetorically asked "Did I hit one?!" hoping for some praise from the expert arms dealer.

 

@boshmi

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"Did I hit one?!"

 

"I believe so, yes." Oskar declared, squinting out onto the range. Anaesthesia appeared to have clipped the top of the bottle, sending fragments of brown glass across the dust. What remained of its now-jagged body had tumbled to the ground and lay rather haphazardly in the dirt.

 

"Well done." he added, in approval. "You'll be... ah... I forget the word in English... a gunman? A gunslinger. You'll be a gunslinger in no time."

 

Oskar moved once more to the ammunition box and drew one more cartridge from within, offering it to the girl. "See if you can hit the bandit." he said with a smile. "Just give it a try."

 

Usually he'd give customers about three shots as testers, but considering how unusual it was to get someone like Miss. Orr into the range, the old gunsmith found himself curious as to if she'd be able to tag a target at greater range. Besides, he found himself rather chuffed at the girl's excited reactions to the product of his craft.

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"Well done." he added, in approval. "You'll be... ah... I forget the word in English... a gunman? A gunslinger. You'll be a gunslinger in no time."

 

"Well, let's not get carried away, Mr. Winter!" she tried to keep things dignified but there was no mistaking the delight in her broad grin or the excited heaving of her bosom at her success.

 

Oskar moved once more to the ammunition box and drew one more cartridge from within, offering it to the girl. "See if you can hit the bandit." he said with a smile. "Just give it a try."

 

"Very good!" she responded with military precision, like an officer taking an order from the general. She took the bullet and, mouthing the process to herself, went through the rigmarole of loading the handsome sidearm.

 

Miss Orr had been trained to bear herself always with the correct posture and poise; she was the kind of a girl who could walk around the room for hours with a stack of books balanced on her head and never drop a one. But this was serious target practice and, even though a gentleman, well tradesman, was looking on, she did not stint in adopting as stable a posture as she could for aiming the Lefaucheux, legs splayed, knees bent, bum sticking out behind so that her bustle was virtually in the air above her, one eye closed, and her little pink tongue sticking out in concentration.

 

Hardly a ladylike posture, to be sure, but one that paid dividends: the pistol cracked, a miracle in itself, and a new hole appeared where the bandit's roughly painted nose had been! Anaesthesia gasped and span around to face Oskar. "Oh, Mr. Winter, have I done awfully well?!" she panted, begging for that praise that was as ambrosia and nectar to her perfect shell like ears. 

 

Angharad+Rees+-+Hands+of+the+Ripper.JPG

 

@boshmi

 

 

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"Very good!" responded Anaesthesia, with no small degree of enthusiasm. She adopted her peculiar stance and prepared herself, two-handed grip, awkward thumbing of the hammer, and finally a crack of noise, a burst of smoke, a bullet whizzing out the barrel of the gun and... right into the target?

 

Oskar's first thought, peering at the target downrange was that its face was very dirty, and that he'd need to give it a good wipe-down once Miss Orr left. Next was the peculiar notion that the dirt seemed to have accumulated in a remarkably even ring, right on the bandit's nose, and finally came the dawning realization. That dirt was, in actual fact; what remained of a splintered hole, produced by a bullet that had found it's way home with unprecedented accuracy.

 

"Oh, Mr. Winter, have I done awfully well?!"

 

Oskar looked down at the girl, and slowly but surely, his dumbfounded expression changed to one of amazement. "Why, I should think so!" he remarked. "I daresay half the cattle men in this town couldn't land a shot that clean!"

He clapped his hands together, entirely willing to ride this wave of encouragement. "You and that revolver seem quite a pair, if I may say so! Every last Indian from here to the Pacific ocean will be fearing for his very life, I'm sure!"

 

He picked up the cartridge box and held out a hand for the gun, still shaking his head in disbelief. "I take it you've, er... found your match, so to speak?"

@Javia

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Oskar looked down at the girl, and slowly but surely, his dumbfounded expression changed to one of amazement. "Why, I should think so!" he remarked. "I daresay half the cattle men in this town couldn't land a shot that clean!"

 

"Really?!" She felt as pleased an excited as she looked, but then reflected that one must always give the impression of modesty, no matter how great one's achievements. "I am sure it was just a lucky shot, aided by your counsel and encouragement, of course." she added, self effacing tones.

 

He clapped his hands together, entirely willing to ride this wave of encouragement. "You and that revolver seem quite a pair, if I may say so! Every last Indian from here to the Pacific ocean will be fearing for his very life, I'm sure!"

 

"Oh Mr. Winter, now you are surely flattering me." She had not forgotten their earlier conversation.  

 

He picked up the cartridge box and held out a hand for the gun, still shaking his head in disbelief. "I take it you've, er... found your match, so to speak?"

 

Anæsthesia looked down lovingly at the instrument of death and then gave it back to Mr. Winter with a sad little smile of regret, yet knowing that it was to be 'au revoir, but not goodbye'. "Oh yes, Mr. Winter, I wish to purchase the gun and a box of ammunition, please, enough to practice with. Oh, and the wherewithal to care for the dear thing, for I see my father clean his guns regularly." she affirmed. "Oh, ... and a ... 'holster'?" 

 

"... and if, perhaps, you yourself are too busy to offer me lessons: could you recommend a man of good character who would be able to offer me such a service for a reasonable recompense?" she asked, for she knew that if she did not practice, she would soon forget all that she had learned today.

 

@boshmi

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"Oh Mr. Winter, now you are surely flattering me."

"No, no, I assure you. They'll be running for the hills." Oskar affirmed. Of course, there had probably been a fair bit of luck at play in Miss Orr's shot, but it had been truly remarkable nevertheless.

 

"Oh yes, Mr. Winter, I wish to purchase the gun and a box of ammunition, please, enough to practice with. Oh, and the wherewithal to care for the dear thing, for I see my father clean his guns regularly.Oh, ... and a ... 'holster'?" 

 

Oskar nodded thoughtfully as he took the gun, half-cocking the hammer, opening the loading gate, and ejecting that last cartridge with a deft push on the ejector rod. "Certainly. The pistol itself sells at 17 dollars, but I can give you a ramrod, oil and a box of cartridges for three extra."

He moved to the door that would lead back into his store, opening it for Anaesthesia and gesturing for her to go first (as was polite). "The holster is a bit more difficult, see they aren't usually made to fit... young girls." Or at least not such small young girls he added silently. "I'm sure I can find something, however."

 

Once they were both back inside, the gunsmith ducked back under his counter, before emerging one more time with a little wooden box. He lifted the top to reveal a bottle of gun oil, along with a dainty little cloth for it's application. Next to them sat a steel ramrod.

"Make sure to clean it after you shoot, and every week or so even when you don't, to keep it in top condition." He advised. "Most important is to put some oil down the bore, in the cylinder chambers, and between the hammer and the firing pin. That's here, here, and here... the ramrod is to go down the barrel and the chambers as well, until you can see no more powder residue in them. That's the blank gunk there..."

 

"... and if, perhaps, you yourself are too busy to offer me lessons: could you recommend a man of good character who would be able to offer me such a service for a reasonable recompense?"

 

It was that request, specifically, that entirely stumped Oskar. Most of the gun hands he had sold to were ranching types, or otherwise engaged in worldly pursuits. There was the Wigfall girl, perhaps? A tutor of congruent age and gender to Anaesthesia may prove easier to learn from, but even Jemima was occupied with... whatever it was that went on in the Wigfall boarding house.

"Oh!" he said, suddenly. "What about your father? I'm sure he'd make time..."

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Anæsthesia listened with blithe unconcern as Mr. Winter enumerated the cost of the weapon and the associated impedimenta; money really was no object. But she watched carefully at the procedure for cleaning the gun out after use.

 

"Certainly. The pistol itself sells at 17 dollars, but I can give you a ramrod, oil and a box of cartridges for three extra." 

 

"That is very reasonable." she said. $20 was nothing to her, even though she would be paying for this out of her own allowance.

 

He moved to the door that would lead back into his store, opening it for Anaesthesia and gesturing for her to go first (as was polite). "The holster is a bit more difficult, see they aren't usually made to fit... young girls." Or at least not such small young girls he added silently. "I'm sure I can find something, however."

 

Anæsthesia felt very grown up now that she was 18, but did not mind the appellation of 'young girl': she was, after all, so very pretty and youthful looking. 

 

Once they were both back inside, the gunsmith ducked back under his counter, before emerging one more time with a little wooden box. He lifted the top to reveal a bottle of gun oil, along with a dainty little cloth for it's application. Next to them sat a steel ramrod.

 

"Oh, it is simply darling" his customer cooed, clapping her hands together "What a perfect little set!" 

 

"Make sure to clean it after you shoot, and every week or so even when you don't, to keep it in top condition." He advised. "Most important is to put some oil down the bore, in the cylinder chambers, and between the hammer and the firing pin. That's here, here, and here... the ramrod is to go down the barrel and the chambers as well, until you can see no more powder residue in them. That's the blank gunk there..."

 

Anæsthesia muttered repetitions of what he was saying to help her remember all of this ".... clean it every week.... oil down the bore... chamber, hammer, pin... ramrod in the barrel, chambers... blank gunk..."

 

"... and if, perhaps, you yourself are too busy to offer me lessons: could you recommend a man of good character who would be able to offer me such a service for a reasonable recompense?"

 

"Oh!" he said, suddenly. "What about your father? I'm sure he'd make time..."

 

"I hardly think so, Mr. Winter, my Father heartily disapproves of me buying a gun: it took all my powers of persuasion to convince him that I am mature enough for such  responsibility."

 

she looked mistily into the distance "That is why it is so very important that I become proficient in the use of my wonderful little Lefaucheux: when he sees me shooting the tops off beer bottles and killing bandits and Indians and other such undesirables, he will see how wrong he has been." she smiled in beatific contemplation of the imagined scene of broken glass and dead bodies.

 

"Now, about these holsters..." she held her arms up, ready for him to try some on her for size, rather as she did when in Pettigrew's and Mr. Pettigrew or the girl measured her perfect waist with the tape measure. "... what shades do they come in? Not just brown, I hope!"

 

@boshmi 

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"I hardly think so, Mr. Winter, my Father heartily disapproves of me buying a gun: it took all my powers of persuasion to convince him that I am mature enough for such  responsibility. That is why it is so very important that I become proficient in the use of my wonderful little Lefaucheux: when he sees me shooting the tops off beer bottles and killing bandits and Indians and other such undesirables, he will see how wrong he has been."

"Ah, I see." Oskar said, somewhat dispirited. "Well, there's Miss. Wigfall... she knows her way around a sidearm... I suppose there was a Mexcian fellow... Joté... Javier... something along those lines. He works up at the Evergreen ranch, but I hear they aren't too busy this time of year. He knew what he was doing, certainly, but he was... you know... Mexican."

 

"Now, about these holsters..."

"Yes, of course." Oskar said, returning to the present. He disappeared beneath the counter for a third time, pulling free a stand of mounted gun belts.

1880-js-collins-design-fold-over-roughout-leather-cartridge-gun-money-belt_01.jpg.64d97f4462829c3814efff66d7edb59b.jpg"... what shades do they come in? Not just brown, I hope!"

Oskar paused, his hands full with a selection of gun belts, all in varying shades of brown. "Er... well... mostly, yes. They differ a little in their design, though; see this one here comes in shipments from Missoula, a fairly standard product at a dollar each..."s-l1600.jpg.62720b1737a5c370f7e0eacdcb1101e7.jpg

 

"... conversely, there is some fine leatherwork in these belts, see here, with proper steel buttons. Naturally, as with any artisanal product, the price does rise with the quality."

He stopped, to ensure that Anesthesia was taking all this in. He got the sense that she was rather hoping for a bit more choice so far as personal customization was concerned, choice which, unfortunately enough, really wasn't commonplace in the firearms industry.

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"Ah, I see." Oskar said, somewhat dispirited. "Well, there's Miss. Wigfall... she knows her way around a sidearm..."

 

Anæsthesia visibly wrinkled her nose. "I hardly think so, Mr. Winter. The girl is not only exceedingly common and hoydenish, but I am afraid that she smells strongly of body odour: hardly a suitable teacher for young lady of breeding." she replied snobbishly, dismissing that suggestion.

 

"I suppose there was a Mexcian fellow... Joté... Javier... something along those lines. He works up at the Evergreen ranch, but I hear they aren't too busy this time of year. He knew what he was doing, certainly, but he was... you know... Mexican."

 

"A..." Anæsthesia closed her eyes and gulped, she could hardly even bear to say the word "... Mexican, Mr Winter?" She didn't need to say another word on that ridiculous suggestion. "No matter, if you think of a white man of good character who may be able to assist, do have them call upon me." she commanded.

 

Anæsthesia was even less pleased with Mr. Winter's holster collection: there were a lot of them, but they all looked rather alike and none of them was particularly pretty. She wrinkled her smooth and pretty brow, even though her mother had warned her not to on many occasions, lest the wind change direction and the wrinkles stick. Then again, her mother, like most mothers, was slightly dotty.

 

"I know!" she said brightly "I'll have the one that gives me the quickest draw, and then get Pettigrew's to make me up some copies in shades that will tone with my favourite outfits!" Sometimes, she was quite amazed at her own cleverness. 

 

"Do strap one on me, Mr. Winter, I wish to see how quickly I can draw my weapon if faced with an adversary." she raised her arms again, expecting him to grovel down and tie the gun-belt around her waist. It never occurred to her to tie it on herself, she was so used to having a maid's help to dress her. 

 

"Oh, I shall have one in Puce, one in Azure, and perhaps Sable. I did think Prussian Blue but that tone is quite out this season according to The Young Lady." she prattled on, waiting for him to adorn her with the leather gun belt.

 

@boshmi

 

Picture: "A... Mexican, Mr. Winter?"

 

Hands_of_the_Ripper_4.png

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