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Jemima Wigfall

A New Broom Sweeps Clean or The Littered House on the Prairie

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Posted (edited)

"That was kind of you to say," she paused to try and come up with something more but failed miserably.  Jemima, for all her intimidating looks and usually words too, was acting very nice!

 

"I am kind!" Jemima frowned, as if surprised that anyone would ever think anything different "And if anyone says I ain't, I'll give 'em a fat lip!" she advised Miriam, who didn't seem to like all this talk of good old fashioned healthy violence. 

 

"Oh but please....don't bash anyone over us. I would hate to see anyone get hurt," she now pleaded.

 

"Don't knock it 'til you've tried it, Squirt." countered Jemima: she had enjoyed plenty of practice at exacting revenge, sometimes quite nasty revenge, on various people who had annoyed her, especially her brother, and was something of a connoisseur in the field. Of course, although applying physical violence was a quick and effective method of 'teaching someone a lesson', and the one she had learned first from her oft-times violent mother, it lacked the finesse of other, more devious and humiliating, courses of action.  

 

Eventually they got back from the creek: Jemima in the lead, totting two full buckets of fresh water with ease, Miriam lagging behind with her once-full, single bucket slopping all over the place due the rough ground underfoot.

 

"Here you go, Missus, three buckets' full. Well, two and a half, the Squirt spilled most of hers." Jemima announced gruffly to Clara as they entered. 

 

Arabella grinned at hearing the nickname for Miriam, even though it was such an obvious one and the girl didn't seem too happy about it. This might have seemed strange, but as she jumped down from a chair that she had been standing on to do some dusting and helped her diminutive friend with the bucket, she whispered excitedly "She gave you a nickname, that means she really likes you!"

 

Indeed, when Jemima had started to call Bridget Monahan 'Peg' and Arabella herself had become 'Skeets' it had symbolised, despite their faults and imperfections, their acceptance into the hoydenish female's circle of trust and protection.

 

@Wayfarer

Edited by Javia (see edit history)

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"Squirt?" Miriam raised one eyebrow. Well she supposed she could be called worse - like back in New York where she had heard 'dirty little Jew' more than once. And after Jemima had said nice things about Ara and her, she was not going to complain.

 

Jemima was as strong as she looked, maybe stronger and easily carried two pails. Miriam, not so much, struggled with hers and did spill some on the journey back, her dress was such that it looked like she had wet herself. But they got back and into the cabin once more.

 

"Here you go, Missus, three buckets' full. Well, two and a half, the Squirt spilled most of hers." Jemima announced gruffly to Clara as they entered. 

 

"Thank you, Jemima, and please....call me Clara," the taller brunette replied also glancing at the new girl, "Oh, that is fine. It is near full and admittedly the journey to and fro is a long one."

 

Arabella joined Miriam with the pail heft and whispered, "She gave you a nickname, that means she really likes you!"

 

Miriam nodded and grinned then whispered, "She actually does. And...well, I will tell you something later."

 

And with fresh water for cleaning, all four girls tied into the difficult job of making this long abandoned wreck reasonably clean and liveable. Miriam hummed some little ditty to herself as she scrubbed one section of floor, Clara glancing at her for a second then shrugging and getting back her own efforts.

 

 

 

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Miriam nodded and grinned then whispered, "She actually does. And...well, I will tell you something later."

 

Arabella, who was curiosity personified, was burning to know what Jemima had said to Miriam, but they had shilly-shallied enough, and there was work to be done. She would find out later. 

 

And with fresh water for cleaning, all four girls tied into the difficult job of making this long abandoned wreck reasonably clean and liveable. Miriam hummed some little ditty to herself as she scrubbed one section of floor, Clara glancing at her for a second then shrugging and getting back her own efforts.

 

The tune that the Jewish girl hummed so beautifully was not some reel or schottische or folk song brought to these shores by the descendants of Japheth, neither was it a negro spiritual or sprightly banjo tune culled from the songbook of the dusky great grandchildren of Ham. No, this was the third and final ingredient into the great melting pot of American music: it was the music of the children of Shem: a soulful, prayerful sigh of fortitude in the midst of the misery  of persecution and diaspora.

 

The melody's beautiful and haunting strains soon caught and tangled in Arabella's ear and drew from her own lips a sad but apposite harmony. Jemima couldn't carry a tune in a bucket, but she inadvertently timed the sniffs of her permanently runny nose to sound on the off beat every twelve bars. To hear them sing the Yiddish harmony, you would have thought the trio Jewish slave workers, building great Pharaoh's pyramids: not three Western gals, cleanin' up a shack.

 

The work was hard, but it was worth it to see the transformation of the place. Eventually, even the table was so clean that you could eat your dinner off of it: so they did. 

 

"Oh I do love dill pickles!" sighed Arabella in a sing-song voice as she shoved her fingers in the jar, rather than pick one out with a fork "Say, Clara, why don't you ask Jemima about Jacob sayin' he was goin' on a hair-raisin' dangerous mission!?"

 

@Wayfarer

 

 

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All of them were quite satisfied with their labors as they then took a break to eat the lunch the girls had brought with them. Clara glared at Arabella's shoving her hand into the pickle jar though.

 

"Honestly, do not do that. I have forks," she pointed out.

 

Even Miriam was a bit taken aback by the lack of manners but since it was Arabella she chalked it up to the girl being a poor orphan child. Besides Clara had already dealt with the issue, she would never criticize the girl  with others around.

 

"Say, Clara, why don't you ask Jemima about Jacob sayin' he was goin' on a hair-raisin' dangerous mission!?"

 

Pickles forgotten instantly, Clara decided to take Ara up on that idea and turned to Jemima then.

 

"Yes, if I might ask what exactly did Jacob tell you about his new job? He told me it was quite simple and paid well. Do you know more details by any chance?"

 

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Posted (edited)

"Honestly, do not do that. I have forks," she pointed out.

 

"Oh, I don't mind!" said Arabella with her mouth so full of pickle that it sounded more like "Wow, Wa Won Wind" She didn't pay too much mind to what Clara thought about these matters because she was far too prissy in her manners anyways. If she had known that Miriam didn't approve, she would have acted a lot more daintily, of course.

 

"Say, Clara, why don't you ask Jemima about Jacob sayin' he was goin' on a hair-raisin' dangerous mission!?" she asked once her pickle was at least half eaten, then let out a "Yow!" as somebody kicked her under the table.

 

Pickles forgotten instantly, Clara decided to take Ara up on that idea and turned to Jemima then.

 

"Yes, if I might ask what exactly did Jacob tell you about his new job? He told me it was quite simple and paid well. Do you know more details by any chance?"

 

"It wasn't Jake, he's not worried about the jaunt." Jemima started off "Just my no-good, cowardly brother." Poor Hector, he would have been mortified, had he known that he was being thus abused in front of the diminutive Miriam Kaufman, upon whom he had a crush as enormous as she was tiny! Conversely, Jemima couldn't help but still hold something of a torch for Jacob, even though she knew that any hopes there were long gone yeas ago. She was worried about Jake on this trip all right, and felt a sort of empathy for Clara on the matter, despite her burning jealousy of the woman. Who knew that such a mixture of emotions could writhe and squirm beneath such a placid, almost zombie-like exterior?

 

"They've gone to see a tribe of Indians, friendlies." she provided elucidation "Take them gifts and renew the peace pipe betwixt them and the Western Union." 

 

"Uh?" asked Arabella dumbly, shoving another pickle in her mouth.

 

"Indians don't think like white folks" explained Jemima who, despite the fact that she regularly toted a veritable arsenal of weaponry  around to kill them with, was quite interested in a culture that would accept, say, a girl with a body like a man's, or two women being in love with one another.

 

"They think the Telegraph Company workers are a separate tribe to the soldiers and the settlers; just cause they're at war with one bunch, doesn't mean they're at war with the other. They don't realise that the telegraph wires carry the army's orders, they think they're just big totem poles." she informed them, looking a bit uncomfortable at being the centre of attention of the little group. 

 

"Hector was getting cold feet and  wanted to borrow a gun off of me: I wasn't going to give him one but then I thought it'd be extra protection for Jake so I let him have it. But they'll be all right... Arabella, will you stop gobbling up all them pickles?! My Ma sent them for Clara in case she was getting the cravings!" she shouted at the girl, who was just shoving a third slice of vinegary, dill-peppered cucumber into her maw.

 

@Wayfarer

 

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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Well, Clara got what she wanted, though hardly what she had hoped to hear, from Jemima about the true nature of Jacob's job.  He was out there mingling with INDIANS! Jemima said peaceful ones but could a person ever really trust them? 

 

Though part of Jemima's story did not sound right. The Indians weren't as stupid as the other girl made out they were. Hadn't they just wiped out Gen. Custer and the 7th cavalry and Custer had been a brilliant leader in the Civil War, her father said so.

 

"I think you might be incorrect there. I have heard stories of how the Indians cut the telegraph lines so they can ruin our signaling as such," she felt compelled to point out.

 

The fact that Hector was with Jacob gave Clara no confidence either, she thought him quite an idiot. How Jacob could be friends with that boy was beyond her.

 

Jemima now joined in on criticizing Arabella as she kept chomping down the pickles, saying her mother had sent them specifically for her (Clara) in case of cravings. So that meant Mrs. Wigfall knew about her being pregnant too? Did the whole town know the truth?

 

"So did your brother tell you when they expected to be back home?" Clara asked even more worried now than before.

 

Plus had not Jacob promised her to always tell the truth to her?  But he had lied.

 

 

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"I think you might be incorrect there. I have heard stories of how the Indians cut the telegraph lines so they can ruin our signaling as such," she felt compelled to point out.

 

Jemima shrugged.

 

"Maybe the clever ones like Sitting Bull'd know to do it." she wondered, somewhat idly. 

 

Arabella shuddered "Oh do be quiet about indians. I'm scared of 'em!" she said, reaching for another pickle and then withdrawing her hand under Clara and Jemima's withering glare. "Why, the thought of being captivated and scalped by them and killed and tortured and..."

 

"Will you shut up!" snapped Jemima "Can't you see she's worried sick now, thanks to you and your big mouth?!"

 

Arabella shrugged and looked at Clara. "Sorry."

 

Jemima now joined in on criticizing Arabella as she kept chomping down the pickles, saying her mother had sent them specifically for her (Clara) in case of cravings. So that meant Mrs. Wigfall knew about her being pregnant too? Did the whole town know the truth?

 

"So did your brother tell you when they expected to be back home?" Clara asked even more worried now than before.

 

Jemima shook her head. "Depends where the Indians are, they move around now and again." she looked up at Clara, her ugly, piggy little eyes meeting the other woman's beautiful lustrous brown eyes that Jacob had understandably fallen in love with. 

 

"Listen, Missus... Clara..." This was odd for Jemima, trying to comfort the woman she had long ago decided she hated, but to whom she now felt a deep empathy "Jake obviously didn't wanna tell you exactly what the thing was, because it sounds worse than it is and he wouldn't wanna worry you needlessly. These Indians are friendlies, they get bribed by the company as well as the government to keep it that way. There'll be more danger on the journey to and fro' than at the Indian camp: and Jake's a good woodsman who can look after himself and a crack shot with that rifle, too. He's a fine rider and can hold his own in a fight..." 

 

These were the arguments not to worry that she had rehearsed in her mind to assuage her own fears and they came easily. The next part did not. 

 

"... and, well, when a man loves a woman as much as I know Jacob loves you: then Hell or High Water won't stop him coming back home safe to you." She said stoically and with that same old unemotional look on her face. 

 

Arabella, on the other hand, suspecting how much this last statement must have cost the plain, lovelorn girl, gripped Miriam's hand under the table , she had a tear welling in her eye and only the Jewish girl was close enough to hear her mutter under her breath. "Oh, Jemima."

 

 

 

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Arabella shuddered "Oh do be quiet about indians. I'm scared of 'em!" she said, reaching for another pickle and then withdrawing her hand under Clara and Jemima's withering glare. "Why, the thought of being captivated and scalped by them and killed and tortured and..."

 

Clara took in her breath, not her Jacob. She'd already lost her mother to Indians, no not her husband too.

 

"Will you shut up!" snapped Jemima "Can't you see she's worried sick now, thanks to you and your big mouth?!"

 

Arabella shrugged and looked at Clara. "Sorry."

 

"I would appreciate less dwelling on that sort of thing, Arabella," Clara addressed her first then glanced to Jemima, "And thank you for you telling me what is really going on and then also understanding my  feelings."

 

She had a new respect for the girl. Then Jemima tried to walk back the danger and risk.

 

"Listen, Missus... Clara...Jake obviously didn't wanna tell you exactly what the thing was, because it sounds worse than it is and he wouldn't wanna worry you needlessly. These Indians are friendlies, they get bribed by the company as well as the government to keep it that way. There'll be more danger on the journey to and fro' than at the Indian camp: and Jake's a good woodsman who can look after himself and a crack shot with that rifle, too. He's a fine rider and can hold his own in a fight..." 

 

"Maybe, I certainly never saw that side of him," Clara had to admit but wanted to believe.

 

"... and, well, when a man loves a woman as much as I know Jacob loves you: then Hell or High Water won't stop him coming back home safe to you."

 

"Thank you for that but I think how you feel about a person or the burning love you have for them is no determinant of whether you will actually survive a danger. My mother loved me so much and when Indians attacked she was killed by them. And I was right there, I saw it happen and could not do a thing about it," Clara's mind went right back to that brutal day, the horror seemed like it would never really leave her.

 

 

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Posted (edited)

As Clara and Jemima talked about Jacob, Arabella couldn't help thinking that they both sounded terribly grown up compared to her and Miriam. Was there a line you crossed, suddenly, one day, when you stopped thinking and speaking like a silly little girl and became an intelligent woman? Some women never seemed to reach that point: look at Mrs Orr, that silly old fibberty-gibbet! Maybe she was, herself, reaching that cusp of life. More and more often, she managed to stop and think before saying something idiotic and potentially upsetting to other people. That happened again now.

 

"Thank you for that but I think how you feel about a person or the burning love you have for them is no determinant of whether you will actually survive a danger. My mother loved me so much and when Indians attacked she was killed by them. And I was right there, I saw it happen and could not do a thing about it," Clara's mind went right back to that brutal day, the horror seemed like it would never really leave her.

 

Jemima couldn't argue with the logic of that, so answered it with a simple statement of faith "He'll be all right." coupled with that tight little smile which, coming from someone who never smiled, was an unexpected totem of reassurance.

 

Arabella's knee-jerk reaction was to remind everyone that her mother was dead as well, and it was worse for her because her Pappy and little brother were dead too. Her second thought was to tell them all about her mother's painful, lingering, semi-delirious death after child-birth and how she, Arabella, had mopped her fevered brow and uttered prayers of comfort, little heroine that she was. The latter story would have been especially cruel to mention in front of the pregnant Clara.

 

But she stopped herself, and sort of tripped over the cusp.

 

As they sat there in silence, she quietly said, instead, "Let's say a prayer for Jacob." 

 

Jemima nodded and put her hands together. Arabella followed suit, closed her eyes and said: 

 

"Oh God, please hear our prayer and protect and look after our brother Jacob Lutz and bring him safely back to all those who love and care for him, especially his wife Clara, and his family Nellie and Leonora and his friends Jemima and Miriam and Arabella, in this God we trust." then she suddenly remembered "Oh, and bring back Hector safe too, I guess. Amen." 

 

Both Arabella and Jemima sat in a sort of glazed but happy daze of contemplation for a few seconds. For religious nutcases like themselves, this short, heartfelt prayer was as good as sending out a detachment of the 2nd Cavalry to protect the boys.

 

@Wayfarer

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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Jemima paused then simply stated, "He'll be alright". Then gave an odd sort of smile not that Clara was one to criticize smiles, it was not something that came easily to her either although - since she met Jacob, she was getting better at it.

 

Arabella then actually came up with a pretty sensible idea (for once) and suggested they all say a prayer for her husband, Clara immediately nodded and folded her hands into prayer, bowing down her head too.

 

"Oh God, please hear our prayer and protect and look after our brother Jacob Lutz and bring him safely back to all those who love and care for him, especially his wife Clara, and his family Nellie and Leonora and his friends Jemima and Miriam and Arabella, in this God we trust." then she suddenly remembered "Oh, and bring back Hector safe too, I guess. Amen."

 

"Amen," Clara mouthed, having forgotten about Hector until Ara mentioned him. 

 

Miriam, had not done more than lower her head to stare quietly down at the wooden newly washed cabin flooring. She noted it was still in pretty wretched condition. But in her own way she asked Jehovah to bring this girl's loved one back....and Hector of course.

 

The girls should probably be going soon, it had been a fast moving afternoon of much hard effort. Miriam's folks would be expecting her.

 

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Posted (edited)

After the prayer, and more food - Mammy Cookie, Mrs Wigfall and Mrs Kaufmann sure were a sainted trio of talented cooks - the two younger girls took the plates and cutlery to the creek to wash up and, miracle of miracles, Clara actually agreed to Jemima helping her to fix the roof up as best they could with fallen shingles and planks of wood.

 

Once they'd managed to get Jemma actually up there, the task was not as herculean as envisaged and in fact they had completed it even before Miriam and Arabella had returned. The two of them had been gone ages, what on earth were they up to? Jemima could hazard a shrewd guess, but kept her council.

 

Instead, she had a question for Clara, as she brushed down her rough smock with her hands.

 

"Well, that ought to hold off any rain." she started, looking at the sky where the odd cloud was drifting and the Sun starting to wend its way down to the horizon, though dusk was some hours away yet.

 

The girls should probably be going soon, it had been a fast moving afternoon of much hard effort. Miriam's folks would be expecting her.

 

"Ned'll be here soon. He was going to take those squirts home while I stayed the night. I know you... well, I know you didn't like the idea, but seein' as Arabella promised Jacob that I would I thought I'd... well, I thought I'd offer again. It's no trouble to me, sorta holiday in a way, and two girls can look after themselves better than one. Well, there it is." Jemima said, with a sort of shrug which spoke volumes. She didn't think the new Mrs Lutz would want an old female friend of her husband hanging around, even if she was far too frowsy to offer any kind of a threat to her conjugal happiness.

 

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Edited by Javia (see edit history)

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"Well, the main hole anyway, the roof is still............well, thanks to you we did what we could, thank you again," Clara nodded as they studied their handiwork from the ground.

 

"We shall not live here long and then we will be living above the diner," Clara looked forward to that very much, talk about a short trip to work.

 

"Ned'll be here soon. He was going to take those squirts home while I stayed the night. I know you... well, I know you didn't like the idea, but seein' as Arabella promised Jacob that I would I thought I'd... well, I thought I'd offer again. It's no trouble to me, sorta holiday in a way, and two girls can look after themselves better than one. Well, there it is."

Clara thought on a few seconds, she no longer just had herself to worry about here but also the baby. And one could not deny Indians were a risk. The paper had stated confidently the army was chasing them north and would crush them but plainly Custer thought that too.

 

"Very well, since you put it that way. But I absolutely forbid you to do any more work around here for me. I am just fine. Oh and while I did not say so before I am armed too. Father's Dragoon Colt and, trust me, I do know how to use it," Clara gave in.

 

Not that she EVER had but that need not be imparted to Jemima.

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Posted (edited)

"Well, the main hole anyway, the roof is still............well, thanks to you we did what we could, thank you again," Clara nodded as they studied their handiwork from the ground.

 

Jemima nodded and gave a sniff of agreement. It was a serviceable repair as long as they didn't have any kind of a storm over the next few days and nights.

 

"We shall not live here long and then we will be living above the diner," Clara looked forward to that very much, talk about a short trip to work.

 

The husky young woman turned her eyes to Clara. She had a question about that, but she would ask later. There was something more pressing she needed to ask. 

 

"Ned'll be here soon. He was going to take those squirts home while I stayed the night. I know you... well, I know you didn't like the idea, but seein' as Arabella promised Jacob that I would I thought I'd... well, I thought I'd offer again. It's no trouble to me, sorta holiday in a way, and two girls can look after themselves better than one. Well, there it is."

 

"Very well, since you put it that way. But I absolutely forbid you to do any more work around here for me. I am just fine. Oh and while I did not say so before I am armed too. Father's Dragoon Colt and, trust me, I do know how to use it," Clara gave in.

 

"Good." Jemima rewarded Clara with one of her rare tight little smiles. Altogether, they were a pretty dour pair: this was not going to be a night of hilarity by any stretch of the imagination. 

 

In stark contrast, Arabella and Miriam came back from the creek full of the joys of spring, laughing and giggling as they stumbled over the rough ground and nearly spilling the crockery. Before old Ned could whisk them away back to Kalispell, Arabella expressed great delight that Clara had relented in letting Jemima stay.

 

"Oh, Clara Anne, I'm just so relieved! I couldn't 'a looked Jacob in the eye if anything had happened to you after I promised him that  'Mima would stay over!" she gushed, throwing her arms awkwardly around Clara while trying not to squash her tummy as they got ready to leave. 

 

Next to that pair, Jemima was giving Miriam a curt business-like nod "See you Wednesday." she said flatly, that was the next time both of them were working together at the same time at Pettigrews. And then... the flood of goodwill and friendship that the circumspect Wigfall daughter had been holding back like a dam until she was sure that she liked Miriam.

 

It poured forth like a deluge.

 

Sniff. "I'll show you how to work the Willcox & Gibbs."

 

Yes!!! The new fangled Willcox & Gibbs treadle operated sewing machine! The Holy Grail of modern, high quality, industrial level sewing technology!

 

@Wayfarer

 

Edited by Javia (see edit history)

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"Oh, Clara Anne, I'm just so relieved! I couldn't 'a looked Jacob in the eye if anything had happened to you after I promised him that  'Mima would stay over!" Arabella gushed, throwing her arms awkwardly around Clara while trying not to squash her tummy as they got ready to leave. 

 

Clara tensed and stood there like a pillar, "Yes, of course you are."

 

Next to that pair, Jemima was giving Miriam a curt business-like nod "See you Wednesday."

 

"Yes, you will. You take care now," Miriam nodded with a smile.

 

Sniff. "I'll show you how to work the Willcox & Gibbs."

 

Miriam was familiar with that machine alright, as she told her employer but she had not gotten to try it. Least not so far. And in truth, she certainly did want to try it! What seamstress wouldn't?

 

"That would be wonderful........we need to get Mr. Pettigrew's permission though," Miriam pointed out, never one to rock the boat.

 

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Posted (edited)

Miriam was familiar with that machine alright, as she told her employer but she had not gotten to try it. Least not so far. And in truth, she certainly did want to try it! What seamstress wouldn't?

 

"That would be wonderful........we need to get Mr. Pettigrew's permission though," Miriam pointed out, never one to rock the boat.

 

Jemima just screwed up her face in distain. "He won't give us any trouble!" she predicted confidently. To tell the truth, Pettigrew seemed scared of the thing: it represented a new world and a new way of doing things. It was the future and Jemima thought that she and Miriam were young enough to want to grasp it.

 

They made their goodbyes, Arabella squealing and squeezing Jemima like she was never going to see her again; Jemima peeling her off herself with a look of mild annoyance and calling her a 'lunatic skeeter'.  Once Ned and the girls had disappeared from view (Clara and Jemima had been able to watch them go until the cart had become a mere dot on the horizon), Jemima had tended to Bridget's little donkey and made sure it was tied up with grass enough to nibble nearby and water.

 

When she returned to the shack, which did look a little more like a home now, albeit a very temporary one, it was eerily still. She came in and saw Clara, all alone in the late afternoon shadows.

 

"Quiet without 'em." she said, just to fill the melancholy vacuum of sound.

 

@Wayfarer

 

 

Edited by Javia (see edit history)

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Miriam wanted to try the new machine but also would not take such a step without their employer's say so on the matter.

 

Jemima just screwed up her face in distain. "He won't give us any trouble!" she predicted confidently.

 

If he was as intimidated by Jemima as Miriam was, she believed it! The two girls saw Ned approach and soon were off to Kalispell again leaving behind Jemima who decided first off to see to the donkey. Clara went back into the cabin, even for an active soul like herself it had been a long hard day of work.  She wondered too if being pregnant might have something to do with it too?

 

***

Jemima re-entered the shack then and spoke up to Clara, "Quiet without 'em."

 

"Indeed, quiet is not something one can enjoy when Arabella is about. Loquacious thing, that girl but she means well. I try not to get mad at her though I admit I do fail at times," Clara nodded.

 

"So you work with the new girl? I am happy for Arabella to have found a new friend. What do you think of her?......Miriam that is.........not Arabella."

 

She wanted to go to sleep fairly soon but there was still time for some talk.

 

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Jemima re-entered the shack then and spoke up to Clara, "Quiet without 'em."

 

"Indeed, quiet is not something one can enjoy when Arabella is about. Loquacious thing, that girl but she means well. I try not to get mad at her though I admit I do fail at times," Clara nodded.

 

Jemima nodded. "She seems a little calmer since she's palled up with Miriam" she offered, having to bite her tongue not to call her 'Miss Kaufmann' as that is how she referred to her when working at Pettigrew's, just as Miriam had to refer to her as 'Miss Wigfall'.

 

"So you work with the new girl? I am happy for Arabella to have found a new friend. What do you think of her?......Miriam that is.........not Arabella."

 

Jemima nodded as lugubriously as ever to indicate her understanding of the question, and gave her habitual preliminary sniff. "I didn't like her at first, and not just because she's a Jew. I thought her too meek for the front of store work, but she's startin' to show that she's tough in her own quiet way."

 

Jemima knew that the painfully shy little seamstress had even managed to do a little modelling work for Pettigrew when the Saloon whore, Caroline Mundee, had come in for a fitting, and she was starting to roll out the patter for the customers without going bright red and quaking in her boots these days.

 

"They say still waters run the deepest." she said about Miriam although, truth to tell, the same adage could be applied to the pregnant Clara.

 

@Wayfarer

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"Somebody who can calm Arabella?  Now that is good to hear," Clara had to admit, "I never had any luck with that."

 

She then asked what Jemima thought of the newcomer.

 

"I didn't like her at first, and not just because she's a Jew. I thought her too meek for the front of store work, but she's startin' to show that she's tough in her own quiet way."

 

"They say still waters run the deepest," the other girl added.

 

"Interesting. Of course that makes Arabella pretty shallow," Clara quipped but in a deadpan fashion, "I am just teasing. I do like Arabella even though she thinks I do not.  You see, I am not a very demonstrative person. "

 

"Jacob is helping me with that flaw of mine though," she had to point out.

 

 

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Posted (edited)

"Somebody who can calm Arabella?  Now that is good to hear," Clara had to admit, "I never had any luck with that."

 

Jemima frowned with interest, Clara seemed to agree with her that Arabella was a fibbertygibbet: someone who never stopped talking or asking questions or coming up with odd plans and ideas and notions. Miriam seemed to have made her a little more inclined to stop, look and listen.

 

Then on to Miriam, the new, quiet girl in town whom her brother seemed to have a quiet little crush on. Jemima smiled a little maliciously to herself, thinking what a wrong tree he was barking up there.

 

"They say still waters run the deepest," the other girl added.

 

"Interesting. Of course that makes Arabella pretty shallow," Clara quipped but in a deadpan fashion,

 

Clara was laying in to Arabella again, Jemima noted. 

 

"You really don't like Arabella much, huh?" Jemima ventured. This was interesting, the saloon girl was always referring to Clara in conversation as 'my bosom friend' and telling her and Bridget how Clara hardly dared take a step out of the door without consulting Arabella on what to wear or how to do her hair or a myriad other things. She even reckoned that she was responsible for getting Jake and the new Mrs Lutz together in the first place. 

 

"I am just teasing. I do like Arabella even though she thinks I do not.  You see, I am not a very demonstrative person. "

 

Jemima nodded. If Clara was 'not very demonstrative', Miss Wigfall was virtually inert!

 

"Jacob is helping me with that flaw of mine though," she had to point out.

 

"How does he do that?" Jemima wondered out loud, with honest interest "I can't let myself go, either. Except when I'm fighting my brother." she admitted. 

 

@Wayfarer

 

Edited by Javia (see edit history)

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She did not want Jemima to get the wrong idea about her and Arabella. They were such disparate personalities is all.

 

"Honestly if Arabella ever found herself in trouble or in dire need of a friend, I would certainly step up to be that friend," Clara assured the other girl. She then admitted part of the issue was her very own issue of not being- as she labeled it - demonstrative.

 

"Jacob is helping me with that flaw of mine though," she had to point out.

 

"How does he do that?" Jemima wondered out loud, with honest interest "I can't let myself go, either. Except when I'm fighting my brother." she admitted. 

 

"I can see where your brother would bring that side out of anyone," Clara thus far was not impressed with Hector. Handsome, yes. The rest, ugh.

 

"Well, I have long...especially after my mother's death...had an aversion to human touch even signs of affection, love, call it what you will. I get uncomfortable with such things as hugs, handshakes, you know," Clara started.

 

"Then Jacob came along and he gave me my first kiss, he held my hand...hands, he...well, suffice it to say I liked it. I even craved it and then there was Mrs. Blakesley...excuse me...Mrs. Pike. She hugged me, I liked it. I began to realize human contact was not a bad thing.  Now I - on occasion - even look forward to such things. Wait til the baby comes, we shall be inseparable I feel,? Does all that make sense?"                                                                                                                                                                                                           

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Jemima listened - impassive looking, but all ears, as Clara explained quite candidly, the changes in her that the gangly young man had wrought in her.  Jacob, whose attentions, platonic though they were, she had once commanded solely. 

 

"Well, I have long...especially after my mother's death...had an aversion to human touch even signs of affection, love, call it what you will. I get uncomfortable with such things as hugs, handshakes, you know," Clara started.

 

Jemima nodded her understanding. She felt exactly the same way at the touch of her mother, or that unwelcome and surprisingly frequent and unnecessary visitor to their house, the odious Uncle Dick.

 

"Then Jacob came along and he gave me my first kiss, he held my hand...hands, he...well, suffice it to say I liked it. I even craved it and then there was Mrs. Blakesley...excuse me...Mrs. Pike. She hugged me, I liked it. I began to realize human contact was not a bad thing.  Now I - on occasion - even look forward to such things. Wait til the baby comes, we shall be inseparable I feel,? Does all that make sense?" 

 

Yes, it cut her to the quick, that the foolish young boy of 14 who had bizarrely proposed to her three years ago was now giving his love to another: a much improved model on herself, you could say. But she no longer resented Clara for it, now she had met her and worked together with her and knew her as a real person. 

 

"It's like you were maybe just waiting for the right person to come along to... to kinda heal the wound. I think Jake... Jacob..." she used his, to her, 'new' name. He had always been Jake at school "... is the same. He's been sort of lost since his Ma died: it's like he was waiting for you to come along: the right person."

 

Funny, she suspected that Jacob had used his courtship of Joanna Coltrane as an excuse to dump her as soon as he had gotten over the initial shock of his mother's death and come to his senses a little. He had been very gentlemanly about it, offering to go through with his rash boyish promise to marry her. But when he had first set eyes on Clara Redmond, serving up pie in the diner, he had unceremoniously dropped poor Joanna like a sack of spuds.

 

"Maybe this is the year for finding the right person." she said, wistfully enough for her "You and Jacob, Mr and Mrs Pike, Arabella and Miriam. Maybe there's hope for me yet." she had added the last couple without even thinking about it.

 

@Wayfarer

Edited by Javia (see edit history)

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As they talked and Clara listened to what Jemima had to say, it occurred to her that this young woman was a whole lot more intelligent than most people of Kalispell realized. No doubt they judged her for her looks and that was unfair. Clara found herself admitting her innermost thoughts regarding her relationship with Jacob and more. And Jemima responded with her own interesting and thoughtful take on such matters.

 

"It's like you were maybe just waiting for the right person to come along to... to kinda heal the wound. I think Jake... Jacob... is the same. He's been sort of lost since his Ma died: it's like he was waiting for you to come along: the right person."

 

"Oh...yes, that does make a good deal of sense," Clara nodded.

 

"Maybe this is the year for finding the right person," Jemima said, "You and Jacob, Mr and Mrs Pike, Arabella and Miriam. Maybe there's hope for me yet."

 

Clara blinked, "Arabella and Miriam? I thought we were talking about love not friendship?"

 

Suddenly it hit her, did Jemima mean what it seemed she did?

 

"Wait! You mean those two are.....?" she did not finish it because she was not quite sure of the correct wording.

 

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"Maybe this is the year for finding the right person," Jemima said, "You and Jacob, Mr and Mrs Pike, Arabella and Miriam. Maybe there's hope for me yet."

 

Clara blinked, "Arabella and Miriam? I thought we were talking about love not friendship?"

 

"They aren't just friends." said Jemima flatly.

 

"Wait! You mean those two are.....?" she did not finish it because she was not quite sure of the correct wording.

 

The Wigfall girl pulled a face like she was smelling something unpleasant and nodded. "Oh well" she shrugged philosophically "Less competition for the boys." She didn't think Arabella would have many suitors, but she had gathered that Miriam had at least one admirer already in the form of her horrible brother.

 

"I thought you'd have realised about Muddy." Jemima added pointedly. 

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Jemima boldly declared the two girls were not merely friends. So that meant........Clara tried to wrap her mind about such a revelation. Had not Arabella talked about experiences with boys and Clara had even heard rumors that the girl had had a crush on that Evergreen hand, Billy.  Talk about poor taste though in Clara's opinion.

 

Jemima seemed to feel it was a good thing as it meant less competition for boys. She also added, "I thought you'd have realised about Muddy."

 

"No, not at all. Say you do not think that maybe this Miriam unduly influenced Arabella in this sort of .........well.......behavior?" Clara suddenly had a theory.

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Jemima seemed to feel it was a good thing as it meant less competition for boys. She also added, "I thought you'd have realised about Muddy."

 

"No, not at all. Say you do not think that maybe this Miriam unduly influenced Arabella in this sort of .........well.......behavior?" Clara suddenly had a theory.

 

Jemima merely barked out a dry "Ha!" at this notion. "More like the other way around!" she laughed somewhat humourlessly. 

 

"Oh, I'd like to say I've been suspicious of Arabella ever since I first got to know her. You know: realised something was wrong about her from the beginning, but I was as blind as you were until she told me outright. Course, she's never liked me in that way!"  Jemima said this as if it was something to be especially proud of. 

 

"Then again, I ain't pretty like you, and I never saved her life and nursed her back to health and all those things she always does  run on about you, Clara." she added, tellingly.

 

@Wayfarer

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About Sagas

Sagas of the WIld West is a roleplaying game set in a fictionalized version of the town of Kalispell in Montana territory. Our stories begin in 1875 and are set against the backdrop of actual historical events.Sagas was inspired by the classic television and movie westerns. Our focus is on writing, storytelling and character development.

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