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    • James smiled back, forgetting again that she could not see it.  Truthfully he would be hard pressed to stop himself from doing such things even in her presence but for those who had sight, they would struggle to imagine how she lived as well as she did without it.  It was as ingrained in him as it was for her doing without.  Because he’d been raised at all-male boarding schools, the young British man had very limited experience with the fairer sex, this was simply a fact, one that James had no trouble acknowledging.   When she joked with the Marshall regarding being weighed down with metal coins, James chuckled at her jest, stopping suddenly as something occurred to him.  “I say!”  He exclaimed, then rushed on, “Have you ever given thought to folding each kind of bill in a different way so that you can tell which is which?”  He caught his breath then, waiting to see what she or the Marshall thought of his latest idea.  If she needed his assistance in the folding, he'd be happy to help her.   As she suspected, James was obvious to the fact that she was gently flirting with him, taking everything at face value, his inexperience with the fairer sex once again rearing it’s head.  He caught something of the heat that colored her cheeks, and the errant thought passed through his mind that she might be falling ill.  Not uncommon so soon after the passing of a loved one.
    • He tried to make it sound important enough that she should be interested in local politics but really what good did being interested do her? She could not change anything. She could not vote so to hell with it. The people she lived with, worked with were what was important to her. But she wasn't going to argue with him about it.   "Sure, I reckon," Caroline shrugged.   Then handsome young soldier...correction, officer now launched into a nice long tale of his family roots. It was fascinating really he knew all that much about his family history and those who came before. She didn't know a damn thing about such things in her own life. She was pretty damn sure the woman she called Ma had been the one to give birth to her but she was not positive. And there was even more doubt about her father or step father. No matter, they had been a family and stuck together til two out of three died. So now it was just her. Well, her and her saloon family.   "Interestin'," she nodded, enjoying the way he told the story as much as the actual story.   "So you see, in a hundred years time... the president of the United States will be tracing his roots back to a beautiful saloon singer in old Kalispell and a tramp in the street'll be vaguely aware that he is descended from the once great Greenes of Vermont." He shrugged. "Who cares, rich man, poor man, beggar man thief." he looked into the depths of her blue eyes "... or lady, baby, gypsy, queen."   "Not gonna happen that way. I'm never gonna get married and I ain't gonna have any children so no one is descendin' from me, hon. But I liked yer tellin' of it," she liked him, this dinner date had turned out better than she had figured it would.          
    • "Ah yeah, the mayor's election. Why should I care who wins? I can't even vote in it, "Caroline waved it off. Oh she would clap for and cheer on Mr. Priest whom her boss was pushing to win but she personally did not give a damn.   Greene shrugged. "Maybe not, but the person who's elected could make your life a lot better or a whole lot worse. You ever hear of a abomination that goes by the name of a 'dry county'? The poor b... er, denizens of a place like that probably didn't realise until too late what they were voting in." he laughed, although it was no laughing matter: reformers and prohibitionists were even in these early decades starting to make their voices heard.    He then mentioned being interested in listening to her and Ara perform.   "Please do. I don't want to sound like I'm braggin' but most folks say I've got a real nice singing voice. I admit my dancing is not that special but I just show them a little leg.......or more than a little...and they clap alright," she informed him.   "I can imagine!" he smiled. But it was a nice smile. A friendly smile. Not the sort of lascivious smile that indicated that he already had been imagining... frequently.    They talked of the famous Dance.   "Yeah, must have been before I arrived in town. No local dances for me yet...besides I got a feelin' my sort would not be welcomed at any such town affair. Those things are for proper folks."   Greene frowned. He didn't like to think of this beautiful woman being denigrated in any way: though he was not unaware of the snobby often hypocritical attitude of those who felt them selves a cut above the type of folks who worked in certain professions, including soldiers - at least the non-commissioned kind. Sometimes with good reason, often times not.   "You know, one of my aunts once had our family tree drawn up, just like the noble families of Europe. The fellow who did it even drew it like a tree, leaves, and apples, and all. We're real Vermont blue-bloods, you see, despite the green name. Aunt Mary-Anne expected our forefathers to have come across on the Mayflower, or with Captain Smith to Jamestown."   He smiled happily at the memory of it.   "Imagine her delight when the feller delivered our family tree and revealed that the first Greene to set foot on American soil was an indentured servant, a virtual slave, who'd been transported here for, get this, stealing apples from some rich lord's orchard!"    He enjoyed the memory of his snobby aunt's discomfort for a moment then returned to the present.   "So you see, in a hundred years time... the president of the United States will be tracing his roots back to a beautiful saloon singer in old Kalispell and a tramp in the street'll be vaguely aware that he is descended from the once great Greenes of Vermont." He shrugged. "Who cares, rich man, poor man, beggar man thief." he looked into the depths of her blue eyes "... or lady, baby, gypsy, queen."   @Wayfarer        
    • "Debate, you dumb bitch, it's called a debate," Caroline mumbled under her breath but the woman figured it out just then too.   Priest wasn't going to be rushed though. He would reveal all later was all he would promise. In that way the man was a true politician, promises a whole lot, she'd see if he actually delivered on anything. The politicians in Chicago had been crooked, the mayor of Helena had been well meaning but a bumbling fool, and the one here in Kalispell was ......well, she didn't even know who the hell that was, he was pretty much invisible. The town seemingly had been run by that one council member before he lit himself on fire.   Just then they got themselves a trio of new customers, rough looking lot but a customer was a customer. Fortner invited them to have a drink and they promptly bellied up to the bar. Of course Ralph was there, waiting to hear what they'd like.   "Three whiskies," one of the men said, after reaching into his coat and putting down some coinage.   "Sure nuff, comin' right up," Ralph nodded and reached for one of the cheap bottles, he was a pretty good judge of customers' taste and proclivities. He poured three shots of the powerful liquor.   Caroline swung into saloon girl mode too, sashaying up to the one lined up at the bar closest to her, gifting him with a bright smile, "Welcome! Have a long ride, did ya, hon?"    
    • He gazed up at the domed ceiling and was awe struck at it's beauty. He was taken aback by the obvious talent that it took to create such a beautiful thing. "Dang near as pretty as you, Em." was his comment. "Took 'em a while to get that done. Never seen the like."   And that was a fact. There had been nothing that he had seen before to compare to the glass domed ceiling, nothing. He suddenly felt out of place, something odd for him to feel, at any time, in any place, but it struck him here in this place. The sheer beauty of it touched him. What man could accomplish given the opportunity   "Now 'at's somethin'. Best we see what other marvels they got in this place. May not have time ta see everything." He pointed out. @Bongo
Jemima Wigfall

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

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"More like the other way around!" Jemima laughed somewhat humourlessly. 

 

Clara had no reason to disbelieve what the dour Jemima was saying about all this but she was a bit surprised that she herself had had no inkling of Arabella's..........inclinations. She had always thought herself a good judge of people, maybe she was not?

 

"Oh, I'd like to say I've been suspicious of Arabella ever since I first got to know her. You know: realized 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!"

 

"Goodness! She even told you, admitted such a thing?" Clara thought that was pretty much the clincher then on this unraveling mystery.

 

"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."

 

"I am not that pretty....there have been only two men who called me that - my father, who we both have to admit there is reason to believe he is biased -  and  Jacob. Who is no doubt putting me on a pedestal because we are in love," Clara pointed out.

 

"And secondly, I did not save Arabella's life. I did help nurse her back to health it is true enough but I was only doing my Christian duty as I am certain you would do the same in my place."

 

Suddenly the mention of  'Christian' hit her. She turned to Jemima with a very worried look on her face.

 

"Jemima, you have not told others about ...........well Arabella's ...bent...have you? I ask because if word gets out to certain folks......quite a few folks actually.........she could well have her reputation ruined in Kalispell. She could be driven out of the church, she might even lose her job. Her life has been hard enough as it is. I would hate to see it come to that."

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"Goodness! She even told you, admitted such a thing?" Clara thought that was pretty much the clincher then on this unraveling mystery.

 

Jemima nodded. There had been a reason that she had been let in on the terrible secret. 

 

"She told me about it before she was..." Jemima didn't really know how to frame it: Arabella's new found acceptance of her 'problem'. "... well, before she was 'right' with herself about it. She said she'd tried everything to cure it: prayer, fasting, kissing boys, she even tried to kill herself. Course, you can imagine the mess she made of that." Jemima sniffed. 

 

"Well, anyway, she wanted me to try beating it out of her. Reckoned that's what monks and nuns did in olden times to rid 'emselves of sin. Well that didn't work. I reckon she enjoyed it more than anything. So I said 'Arabella you're sick, you need to see a doctor' and she did and I don't know what he did but she's as bad as ever, but she just doesn't give a d__n about it anymore." The plain girl sort of stared into space after this little tale: considering whether, if you couldn't repair your faults, maybe all you could do was stop worrying about them, and a faint smile haunted her face.

 

When she explained that Arabella didn't admire Jemima in that way, unlike the pretty Clara, the new Mrs Lutz was all modesty.

 

"I am not that pretty....there have been only two men who called me that - my father, who we both have to admit there is reason to believe he is biased -  and  Jacob. Who is no doubt putting me on a pedestal because we are in love," Clara pointed out.

 

Jemima just shook her head at this, she would kill to be as attractive as Clara.

 

"And secondly, I did not save Arabella's life. I did help nurse her back to health it is true enough but I was only doing my Christian duty as I am certain you would do the same in my place."

 

"Probably." was about as far as Jemima would go on that one. 

 

"Jemima, you have not told others about ...........well Arabella's ...bent...have you? I ask because if word gets out to certain folks......quite a few folks actually.........she could well have her reputation ruined in Kalispell. She could be driven out of the church, she might even lose her job. Her life has been hard enough as it is. I would hate to see it come to that."

 

Jemima was surprised that Clara thought the Saloon owners might fire Arabella for her 'aberration'- they who ran such a den of iniquity: she might have a point about the Church though, and that place meant a lot to the subject of their conversation. She sniffed and shook her head to assuage Clara's fears.

 

"Here's who knows: you, me, Doctor Danforth, I guess, and that Miriam." She had no idea about Mr. Pettigrew, Nurse Leane, Caroline Mundee and Messalina McMahon, the cook at the saloon.

 

"Oh, and Bridget Monahan. She's a funny one, that girl. Didn't think she'd understand that sort of stuff but I sometimes get a feeling she sorta picks up on things, you know? Even without being told." Jemima's usually frowny face managed somehow to frown some more.

 

@Wayfarer

 

 

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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"She told me about it before she was..." Jemima paused for a second, "... well, before she was 'right' with herself about it. She said she'd tried everything to cure it: prayer, fasting, kissing boys, she even tried to kill herself. Course, you can imagine the mess she made of that." Jemima sniffed. 

 

"Oh my god! Tried to kill herself? That is terrible. I did not know any of this," Clara was truly shocked.

 

And the shocks continued. So Jemima tried to beat it out of her? That was nonsense. Yet somehow Arabella had enjoyed it? At least Jemima did something smarter, had her go see a doctor. Still...........

 

"So the doctor was no help," Clara frowned. Maybe she should see Rev. Thomas? But for now she kept this idea to herself.

 

The conversation now moved on to something which worried Clara, just how many people knew this terrible secret about Arabella.

 

"Here's who knows: you, me, Doctor Danforth, I guess, and that Miriam."

 

"Oh," Clara nodded, not as many as she had worried there might be. A doctor would never tell as it was part of his professional oath, some Greek name. So that narrowed it down further. But there apparently was one more. Bridget ?????

 

"Well, that is strange but then we know Bridget, the poor dear, is not quite...normal, thru no fault of her own," Clara sighed.

 

"So then, please, I beg of you .....do not tell anyone else about Arabella. For her reputation is at stake here. Her future in Kalispell even. As her friends we have to be sympathetic to her....problems as best we can," Clara now made her pitch on this matter.

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"Oh my god! Tried to kill herself? That is terrible. I did not know any of this," Clara was truly shocked.

 

Jemima nodded sagely; half because she knew lots of things that Clara Lutz didn't know, but also in confirmation of what she'd always suspected: Arabella's 'close friendship' with the daughter of the handsome Mr Aurelian Redmond was all in Arabella's head!

 

And the shocks continued. So Jemima tried to beat it out of her? That was nonsense. Yet somehow Arabella had enjoyed it? At least Jemima did something smarter, had her go see a doctor. Still...........

 

"So the doctor was no help," Clara frowned. Maybe she should see Rev. Thomas? But for now she kept this idea to herself.

 

"That depends on how you look at it. She isn't cured, but she's happy." Jemima shrugged. "Still, that Doctor Danforth's got a few secrets of his own, I'll be bound." she was thinking primarily of the habit his Nurse Aoife Leane had of sleeping over at the surgery with him instead of coming home to her lodgings.

 

The conversation now moved on to something which worried Clara, just how many people knew this terrible secret about Arabella. Only Bridget's name seemed to surprise Clara.

 

"Well, that is strange but then we know Bridget, the poor dear, is not quite...normal, thru no fault of her own," Clara sighed.

 

"Oh, she's a funny'n all right" agreed Jemima "And yet for all her missing pieces, she's got a handsome cowboy chasin' after her!" At least, that was the word Dame Rumour was spreading.

 

"So then, please, I beg of you .....do not tell anyone else about Arabella. For her reputation is at stake here. Her future in Kalispell even. As her friends we have to be sympathetic to her....problems as best we can," Clara now made her pitch on this matter.

 

"Her secret's safe with me, besides, she knows my secrets too, so..." she realised there was a contradiction here, hadn't she just spilled the beans to Clara? "I only told you because, well, I thought you had a right to know. Arabella reckons that you're thinking of naming the baby after her and making her Godmother. I told her I doubted that was true, but just in case, well, you might not want to do that with someone who's got something peculiar wrong with them." she stated plainly. 

 

Miss Wigfall now decided they'd wasted enough time talking about Arabella Mudd and her murky ways: there were other important fish to fry. 

 

"Say, have you met Mrs Dietrich yet?" she asked Clara baldly.

 

@Wayfarer

Edited by Javia (see edit history)

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Bridget has a handsome cowboy chasing after her? Clara found that hard to believe. Unless it was some one trying to take advantage of the poor thing. She wasn't all there. Who would do such a thing? Clara silently decided she might have to look the girl up and talk to her soon.

 

But for the moment she concentrated on the here and now which was making sure Jemima kept her further silence about Arabella. The girl seemed willing enough at least.

 

"Her secret's safe with me, besides, she knows my secrets too, so..I only told you because, well, I thought you had a right to know. Arabella reckons that you're thinking of naming the baby after her and making her Godmother. I told her I doubted that was true, but just in case, well, you might not want to do that with someone who's got something peculiar wrong with them."

 

"I have told Arabella very clearly I am not going...we are not going to name the baby after her but if it is a girl - after Emeline Pike. It is nothing against Arabella, it is a solemn promise I made to Emeline. She has been like a mother to me," Clara wanted that much to be clear.

 

"And regardless of her peculiarity I will not end my friendship with her. Friends do not abandon friends," she added.

 

Jemima suddenly changed the subject.

 

"Say, have you met Mrs Dietrich yet?" she asked Clara baldly.

 

"Who? No, I have not, I do not even know who that is," Clara answered.

 

 

 

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"I have told Arabella very clearly I am not going...we are not going to name the baby after her but if it is a girl - after Emeline Pike. It is nothing against Arabella, it is a solemn promise I made to Emeline. She has been like a mother to me," Clara wanted that much to be clear.

 

Jemima held her council, she wasn't Mrs Pike's greatest admirer after she had failed to get a job at the diner. She believed Clara had stars in her eyes about Mrs Pike  in the same way that Arabella idolised Clara.

 

Talking of Mrs Pike, though...

 

"Say, have you met Mrs Dietrich yet?" she asked Clara baldly.

 

"Who? No, I have not, I do not even know who that is," Clara answered.

 

"Widow Lady, just moved in at our's." The frowsy girl gave Clara a quick run down on Mrs Wigfall's latest lodger. "Seems all right apart from giving herself a few 'airs and graces'. I asked her if she was looking for work, and she reckoned that Mrs Pike had given her a job at the pie store."

 

This was all obviously news to Clara, and Jemima couldn't help adding in her sage opinion on the possible consequences.

 

"Now, if you and Jake're moving into the Diner and you're going to be running the place... well, I'd have thought you'd want to chose your own help and maybe not someone older than you; and maybe not someone who thinks that they're better than ordinary folks like you and me." she warned. "She might want to try and take over!"

 

"I hope I'm wrong , time will tell: but 'forewarned is forearmed'!" Jemima said all this with such a dry flat voice and stern and serious look that it was imbued with a gravitas that would have been lost if someone like Arabella had twittered it out. It was, after all, only gossip and opinion: even if Jemima's method of delivery was that of an Old Testament prophet, portending the doom of nations.

 

@Wayfarer

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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"Widow Lady, just moved in at our's." The frowsy girl gave Clara a quick run down on Mrs Wigfall's latest lodger. "Seems all right apart from giving herself a few 'airs and graces'. I asked her if she was looking for work, and she reckoned that Mrs Pike had given her a job at the pie store."

 

"She did? Oh I doubt that, I have not heard any of the sort from her," Clara frowned.

 

Jemima was hardly done,  "Now, if you and Jake're moving into the Diner and you're going to be running the place... well, I'd have thought you'd want to chose your own help and maybe not someone older than you; and maybe not someone who thinks that they're better than ordinary folks like you and me." she warned. "She might want to try and take over!"

 

"Nonsense, I think you must have got your information from an unreliable source. Or this woman is just saying that," Clara shook her head.

 

"I hope I'm wrong , time will tell: but 'forewarned is forearmed'!"

 

Well Clara was now warned at least, though so far she did put much credence in it. Emeline had certainly made it sound like once she was living on Pronto's newly purchased ranch out of town, she was leaving at least the running of the diner to her. She trusted the woman completely, this was not going to happen.

 

"I for one am not worried," Clara declared then sighed, "Say.....perhaps it is time for us to go to bed.......well, go to sleep anyways? I for one am quite worn out by the day's exertions."

 

 

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"I for one am not worried," Clara declared then sighed, "Say.....perhaps it is time for us to go to bed.......well, go to sleep anyways? I for one am quite worn out by the day's exertions."

 

Worn out? Jemima was still full of pent up energy. Maybe Clara just wanted to get out of this conversation about Mrs Dietrich and her, apparently, secret arrangements with Mrs Pike. Before they could retire for the night, there was one more thing Clara needed to know about the woman.

 

"There's something else." she said ominously.

 

"Now, this is from Arabella, so you can take it with a pinch of salt, but she was hoppin' mad last Sunday cause she said that Mrs Dietrich pretended to trip right next to your Pa and spilled the hymnbooks all on the floor. She said that it was all a ruse and your Daddy caught her and she was makin' cow eyes at him and, well, tryin' to work her wiles on him, like she wanted to be the next Mrs Redmond: and all in front of your little brother, too."

 

That poison sown...

 

"Well, I said 'Arabella, don't you fret: Mr Redmond is the most intelligent and sensible man I know, and from what you have told me, nobody could ever replace the late Mrs Redmond in the affections of his heart. If Mr Redmond were ever to remarry, it would be a purely domestic arrangement, that he might have a housekeeper of sorts decently about his place: perhaps a young, strong and hardworking girl of younger years who could cook and sew and mend and clean and work the farm and look after him in older age, that his daughter and son need not worry about him. He would much prefer a plain but hardworking girl over some parasite whose looks will fade and who will, no doubt, eventually ruin him financially." 

 

Her actual speech to Arabella at the time hadn't been quite so verbose, but had basically said the same thing.

 

@Wayfarer

 

 

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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Clara let Jemima tell her story, or rather relate Arabella's version of the encounter with her father and Mrs. Diedrich. However this was not news to her.

 

"Oh so that was who it was? Wyatt told me about this woman approaching Pa after church. He couldn't remember any name though. It must have been her," Clara now reasoned.

 

"Frankly, while I doubt any such thing would happen, if Father would decide to marry someone in the future, he would have my approval. I do not see it ever occurring but then who knows?" she shrugged.

 

"Now, if you do not mind, I honestly would like to sleep. It was a long active and eventful day and I am worn down considerably.  So excuse me while I change.....thank you," Clara declared.

 

"And thank you for coming today and doing all that hard work too, I appreciate it."

 

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"Oh so that was who it was? Wyatt told me about this woman approaching Pa after church. He couldn't remember any name though. It must have been her," Clara now reasoned.

 

"She must've been pretty brazen for him to remember it and tell you about it. Most boys that age are only interested in catapults, candy canes, catching tadpoles and pirate treasure." Jemima commented, laying the emphasis on Mrs Dietrich's supposed man-trapping, brassy lustre. 

 

"Frankly, while I doubt any such thing would happen, if Father would decide to marry someone in the future, he would have my approval. I do not see it ever occurring but then who knows?" she shrugged.

 

This made Jemima sit up! In her mind was a list of obstacles to her objective: most of which centred around her own unattractiveness, for she was a realist, but now the first one 'Daughter might object' could be crossed through.

 

She contented herself with a nod, before adding: "Well, meanwhile, if you want any little thing doing for him or taking out to him, you just let me know: I can usually get out and about most days, while you'll be pretty much tied to the diner most days, I reckon." So helpful.

 

"Now, if you do not mind, I honestly would like to sleep. It was a long active and eventful day and I am worn down considerably.  So excuse me while I change.....thank you," Clara declared.

 

"Sure, I'll just go bed Janella down for the night, then we can barricade ourselves in." agreed Jemima, getting up. She could really do with a smoke, but was trying to give it up: in case Mr Redmond or his daughter might think that unladylike in some way. "Tomorrow, we can fix that chimney."

 

"And thank you for coming today and doing all that hard work too, I appreciate it."

 

Jemima turned those piggy little eyes to Clara and gave her that sombre excuse for a smile and spoke in her flat contralto voice and said "That's all right, I liked it." and despite all her deficiencies and perhaps because she really meant it, for once came across a nice, normal young woman. 

 

@Wayfarer

 

[OOC or wrap it and come back in two days later when Jacob returns?]

 

Edited by Javia (see edit history)

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*******

Two days later

 

*******

 

He should have been back now, Clara tried not to fret but frankly all that was on her mind was Jacob's safe return. Yes, they needed the money and Jacob had just wanted to do his fair share to provide some but how could he risk himself like that, the father of a yet to be born child and a newly married wife. And to find out the exact nature of this job of his from a gossip of all things, instead of him leveling with her. That was highly disappointing.

 

Jemima and her....truthfully mostly Jemima had fixed up the chimney some, there was only so much one could do but at least smoke could come out of it safely now. The place still didn't look liveable long term without a whole lot more work, she simply was unwilling to put into it such as glass windows. It was not worth the effort as very soon they would be living above the Lick Skillet thanks to Emeline's kindness. Clara tried to put out of her mind Jemima's poisonous tale of this Diedrich woman sweeping into the diner and replacing her. Emeline just would not do such a thing. It was all some sort of exaggeration or outright mistake. As for the woman and her father. Well, that was up to him. After what Clara had done herself, suddenly becoming pregnant and marrying  hastily to help hide the fact (for awhile of course), she could hardly be critical if her father decided on a second marriage. He had been loyal to his wife, Clara's mother, even after her sudden violent death for some years now. Why should he spend the rest of his life all alone? Especially as Clara had done all the woman's work after her mother passed, now that was on him along with the farming and raising Wyatt.

 

Wait!  Was that the sound of a horse? Lunging for the Dragoon Colt lying upon the table, she then moved to the door and opened it enough just to peek out. Oh god, oh god, please no Indians.

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From without the cottage came an Indian war whoop: a woo-woo-woo! But then Jacob's unmistakable voice could be heard shouting "Shut up, Heck! That's not funny!" "Oh, she can take a joke!" "You won't be laughing when she blows your brains out, like you've got any!" 

 

They were climbing off their horses and Hector tied them both up while Jacob bounded to the door of the shack and felt himself veering to the right and tapping it from the side, in case she really did shoot him with her Pa's enormous Colt Dragoon through the door.

 

"It's all right, it's just me! Jacob!" he yelled. "I'm back!" he added, rather needlessly. 

 

"Clara?!" he asked, a note of panic in his voice when she didn't answer immediately, feeling a taste of what she had perhaps been going through the last few days.  

 

@Wayfarer

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ooc: I had her open the door wide enough to peek out so she would have seen them plus recognized Jacob's voice......

 

Clara spotted the young men, her Jacob and THAT disgusting Hector, just when that idiot let out some Indian war whoops. At least Jacob did not think it funny. He was in enough hot water with her already for lack of honesty.  She stepped back and of course lowered the gun, however much it was tempting to go on out there and shove it in Hector's face to scare him.

 

There was a light tap on the door then her husband's voice.

 

"It's all right, it's just me! Jacob!" he yelled. "I'm back!"

 

Setting the gun down on the table once more she then crossed her arms like many do when they are angry and glared at the door.

 

"Clara?!"

 

"What? You can gallivant all about Indian territory in the middle of the biggest uprising in years but you cannot open a simple door? I am not going to shoot you - I make no promises about Hector though."

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Setting the gun down on the table once more she then crossed her arms like many do when they are angry and glared at the door.

 

"Clara?!"

 

Jacob pushed the door open gingerly and popped his head around. The one thing that he really hadn't expected was to find Clara in a towering rage when he got home, as he hadn't even been there to annoy her!

 

"What? You can gallivant all about Indian territory in the middle of the biggest uprising in years but you cannot open a simple door? I am not going to shoot you - I make no promises about Hector though."

 

"Wha...?" he came inside and started to raise his arms to hug her, as he'd been looking forward to doing for the last two days, but hitting the frosty glare and forcefield emitted by the folded arms, sort of faltered back.

 

"What's wrong?" he asked puzzled and concerned for, like most men, when his wife turned frosty for no reason, there was a battery of sins somewhere out there that she might have found out about to haunt him! 

 

Then Hector either saved the day or made things worse by sticking his head around the door with a jolly shout of "Someone mention my name? Oh, howdy Clara, ain'tcha glad to see old Lutzy then?!" Even his socially inept brain couldn't fail to recognise the less than ecstatic reception the poor feller was receiving. 

 

 

@Wayfarer

 

Edited by Javia (see edit history)

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Oh Clara was glad enough to see he was alright, she had been worried sick about him but now that he was back, her frustration took over.

 

"What's wrong?" Jacob was oblivious of course. Just figures!

 

Well, since he asked, she was just about to educate him on the details when Hector popped in to temporarily derail the discussion. Not a good move on his part.

 

"Someone mention my name? Oh, howdy Clara, ain'tcha glad to see old Lutzy then?!"

 

Clara now stomped on straight over to the young man, he was a convenient lightning rod for her bad mood. With one finger she poked him hard twice in his chest as she spoke.

 

"And you! That was not funny! Not funny at all! Trying to give me such a scare. Indians indeed!  I will have you know that my mother was murdered by those savages. And I took an arrow right in the chest and almost died."

 

Oh she was mad about his attempted joke alright but mostly she was angry with him for having talked Jacob into risking his life out there in the first place. How dare he?

 

 

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Clara now stomped on straight over to the young man, he was a convenient lightning rod for her bad mood. With one finger she poked him hard twice in his chest as she spoke.

 

Wigfall threw his hands up in surrender, but that did not save him from the vicious double poking, which elicited an "Ow" and an "Oooh!" from him. He rubbed the place on his sternum where the two jabs had hit while Jacob sidled over to a rickety sideboard and filched an apple, which he ate quietly while Hector took a hit for him, for a change. 

 

"And you! That was not funny! Not funny at all! Trying to give me such a scare. Indians indeed!  I will have you know that my mother was murdered by those savages. And I took an arrow right in the chest and almost died."

 

"Oh! I... I'm sorry, I didn't realise!" he said in genuine shock. "I'm really sorry." he repeated taking off his cap as he was inside and trying to make amends.

 

"But... you oughten't be mad at Lutzy, he's been a real bear this trip. It's thanks to him the Indians this side of Lake Koocanusa are still friendly..." friendly to the Western Union company, at least, he might have added! 

 

"... when we got out there, the old boy we used to deal with, Chief Antelope Sits, well he'd upped sticks and gone off to the Happy Hunting Grounds, and the new Branch Manager, Chief Bald Eagle, he wa'nt too friendly at all, I thought the pair of us were gonna get our wigs lifted!" It was becoming clear that Hector Wigfall could have given Arabella Mudd a run for her money when it came to imparting breathless narratives. He now folded his arms and did a passible imitation of a stoic Indian Chief.

 

"'Western Union men not powerful. No have guns like Cavalry. No have guns like Settlers. Just have lines in sky!' and old Lutzy, he just pulls off his shirt and he says 'I'll fight any of your braves or beat 'em in a shooting contest, and then you're see the power of the Western Union men!' and that stern looking Chief was just about to agree when this pretty little Indian maid runs out from behind him and says she likes this white warrior and wants to marry him! And she was real pretty too, in her buckskins and braids, and I was thinking Oh Lord, how's he going to get out of this one!? and your husband looks at the Chief and says 'I already have a wife' and then the Chief says 'No matter, Indian brave can have more than one wife!' Say, Lutz, what was that pretty little girl called again?"

 

The sound of Jacob, speaking with a mouth full of apple, came from the corner "Possum Fat."

 

"That's it, Princess Possum Fat. Anyhow, now we're for it, I thought, Lutz is either going to have to refuse and the Chief'll be hoppin' mad an kill us, or he'll have to marry the squaw and Clara'll kill us instead! And then Lutz just stands there cool as a cucumber and says 'Chief, in my tribe, when two women are as beautiful as my wife and Princess Possum Fat are, they are deemed to deserve a husband of their very own!' And guess what? The old boy swallowed it, and more amazing yet, so did the Princess!"

 

@Wayfarer

 

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Hector started apologizing profusely. Now proper behavior required that one accept apologies so Clara bit her tongue and reluctantly did so, though honestly she doubted his sincerity.

 

"Very well.." she started but Hector was far from finished.

 

"But... you oughten't be mad at Lutzy, he's been a real bear this trip. It's thanks to him the Indians this side of Lake Koocanusa are still friendly..."

 

"Huh?" Clara blinked, so he - they had run into Indians! ?

 

"... when we got out there, the old boy we used to deal with, Chief Antelope Sits, well he'd upped sticks and gone off to the Happy Hunting Grounds, and the new Branch Manager, Chief Bald Eagle, he wa'nt too friendly at all, I thought the pair of us were gonna get our wigs lifted!"

 

"Branch manager..." the look on Clara's face showed she was not buying what he was selling.

 

Next Hector imitated this so-called chief and launched into this fantastic story where Jacob strips down and challenges these Indians to fighting and/or shooting.  All sixteen years of him against god knew how many warriors?  And let's face it, Jacob did not exactly have an intimidating build to say the least. Did Hector read one of those penny novels penned back East?

 

"Oh really?" Clara was back to folding her arms in a sure sign of doubt about this whole thing.

 

Wait,now a beautiful Indian 'princess (?)' (sure, why not, much more dramatic) races up and instantly wants to marry this skinny white boy? Clara already knew by then where this was going and just wondered if Jacob was in on this fantastic yarn?

 

"Just like that? Amazing..." muttered Clara but Hector was not finished yet, no way! There was more tripe coming.

 

Yep, she was right - Jacob declared his loyalty to his wife  (too bad he didn't believe in honesty with her) and when the Indian chief pointed out Indians could have more than one wife but of course Jacob was ready with not just a comment about the beauty of both women but a clever line about both only deserving one husband. And - no surprise of course - not just the chief......wait...branch manager....swallowed it hook line and sinker but so did the ardent princess.

 

"And not just the chief but this squaw spoke English? Because I know for a fact Jacob does not speak Indian," Clara only took time to point out one little flaw in a tale swollen with them. 

 

"Do you think I am a little child to believe that fairy tale? Get out of my house, Hector, leave right now - I am warning you!" even as Clara glared at the brazen story teller she backed up closer to the table and her father's Dragoon Colt then grabbed it.

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"And not just the chief but this squaw spoke English? Because I know for a fact Jacob does not speak Indian," Clara only took time to point out one little flaw in a tale swollen with them. 

 

"Are you sure about that?" asked Hector, his eyes twinkling with mischief.

 

"Do you think I am a little child to believe that fairy tale? Get out of my house, Hector, leave right now - I am warning you!" even as Clara glared at the brazen story teller she backed up closer to the table and her father's Dragoon Colt then grabbed it.

 

"Whoa whoa whoa!!!" yelled Hector shaking his hands and backing out the door "I'm going, I'm going! Hey, Jake, come by the office as soon as you can! I'm going to tell Pa how great you were, you'll be able to take you pick of the special delivery jobs! Deawagawik!!"

 

"Deawagawik, Diiawachisshik!" echoed Jake, grinning at Hector's unceremonious retreat from his wife. Boy she looked beautiful when she was on the war path. 

 

With the door slammed behind the Wigfall boy, Jacob threw down the apple core and approached Clara, arms wide.

 

"Thank goodness he's gone, huh? I can't wait to hold you!" he said, hoping she had exhausted her anger (about something! Who knew what?!) on poor old Hector.

Edited by Javia (see edit history)

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The look on Hector's face was pure terror as he first backed up then raced out of the wreck that was their temporary home and quickly mounted his horse. Clara knew that would work, there would have no way she would have actually shot him but then Hector didn't know that.  Anyhow he was out of their hair at least.

 

Her husband said some nonsense words as Hector left. Boys! Clara then turned to face him, holding the pistol but pointed down toward the floor. It wouldn't go off as she hadn't even pulled the hammer back and of course had no plans to do so.

 

"Thank goodness he's gone, huh? I can't wait to hold you!" Jacob came forward arms spread out.

 

Clara let him hug her then, she could only respond for the moment with one arm but she buried her face into his chest.

 

"Oh Jacob, I was so worried for you," she declared with a sniff, she had been determined not to get emotional but now that all fell aside as she began to sob into his shirt.

 

claragif2.gif

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Clara let him hug her then, she could only respond for the moment with one arm but she buried her face into his chest.

 

Jacob took Clara in his arms and sank into her warmth, kissed the top of her head and smelt her hair. Nothing else mattered, she was perfect: this was perfect, he could have stood like this forever. But she was sad all of a sudden instead of angry.

 

"Oh Jacob, I was so worried for you," she declared with a sniff, she had been determined not to get emotional but now that all fell aside as she began to sob into his shirt.

 

"Hey..." he cooed comfortingly "... didn't you just hear Wigfall tell you what a big brave hero you married?" he said ironically. "It was fine, it was you I was worried about: I asked Arabella to get Jemima to come out and stay with you, didn't she come?"

 

He half wondered if Jemima had come, but been sent away: he knew Clara didn't like such things to be foisted upon her unexpectedly.

 

@Wayfarer

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"Hey..." Jacob cooed comfortingly "... didn't you just hear Wigfall tell you what a big brave hero you married?"

 

"If that moron would tell me it is hot out, I would reach for my winter coat," Clara huffed between sniffles.

 

He tried to reassure her, "It was fine, it was you I was worried about: I asked Arabella to get Jemima to come out and stay with you, didn't she come?"

 

"Oh yes, Ara came with Jemima and also some new friend of hers. Some dark haired girl named Miriam. She seemed .....nice enough..." Clara answered though paused.

 

No, she was not going to bring up Jemima's revelations about Ara and this newcomer. She had just convinced Jemima to keep this all a secret for Ara's sake so she could not then go blathering such secrets, even to her own husband.

 

"They all worked very hard to help me fix the place up.  Probably rather unnecessary too, as I told them, since we will not be staying here long. But...look at the floor and the fireplace, see how much better it looks," Clara broke the embrace so he could look around more easily.

 

"Jemima even stayed the night while Ara and her........friend went back to town. It was all very kind of them. I will owe them."

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"Oh yes, Ara came with Jemima and also some new friend of hers. Some dark haired girl named Miriam. She seemed .....nice enough..." Clara answered though paused.

 

Jacob nodded, none too concerned about Arabella's ever-growing social circle, but just glad Clara had enjoyed some company and that the hefty and loyal Wigfall girl had been there to bolster his wife's defences if Indians or any other undesirables, had struck. From what he's seen of the country west of here, though, there wasn't too much to fear from Indian attack.

 

"They all worked very hard to help me fix the place up.  Probably rather unnecessary too, as I told them, since we will not be staying here long. But...look at the floor and the fireplace, see how much better it looks," Clara broke the embrace so he could look around more easily.

 

He looked around, it was true: the place looked completely transformed. If they had a mind to, they could do this place up completely in the future if necessary and actually live there: or have it as a place to stay when they needed to visit the farm or even... the mercurial star in Jacob's horoscope throbbed in the back of his mind... kick Lee and Granny out here while he and Clara and the kids took over the main house. He quickly put that idea into the back of his mind: but it would now be there as a future option.

 

"Jemima even stayed the night while Ara and her........friend went back to town. It was all very kind of them. I will owe them."

 

Jacob nodded, but a slight frown creased his brown, and not just because of the curious way Clara kept saying 'friend' when refering to this Miriam person. No, it was something else. He didn't know if what he was about to say would cause a shrug or a divorce, but he decided to say it now anyway.

 

"You and Jemima got along together all right, then? I mean... listen, Clara, there something I think I should tell you. It's not really important but, well, it just might sound a little funny if someone should mention it to you one time and you didn't already know about it..." he slouched a little, trying to look nonchalant. "It's just, er, well, me and Jemima... well, we kinda sorta used to be engaged, I mean, I asked her to marry me one time."

 

He realised that his face was suddenly very hot and probably looked very red indeed, despite his attempts to look casual.

 

@Wayfarer 

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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"You and Jemima got along together all right, then?" he asked.

 

"Yes, we did," Clara nodded.

 

"I mean... listen, Clara, there something I think I should tell you. It's not really important but, well, it just might sound a little funny if someone should mention it to you one time and you didn't already know about it..." he slouched a little, trying to look nonchalant.

 

"Oh?" Clara raised one eyebrow.

 

"It's just, er, well, me and Jemima... well, we kinda sorta used to be engaged, I mean, I asked her to marry me one time."

 

Now that was completely surprising. Not anger causing surprise, afterall it had happened before she and Jacob ever got together, she was quite certain of that since their own relationship was so short and rapid. But Jemima? Oh dear....

 

"Good heavens? Really? Wait...and she turned you down?" Clara found that even more surprising given Jemima admitted she was so desperate to find a man, boy...somebody male.

 

"May I inquire how old were you when you did this? I mean you are not 17 yet and I am the second person you already asked to marry?"

 

 

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"Good heavens? Really? Wait...and she turned you down?" Clara found that even more surprising given Jemima admitted she was so desperate to find a man, boy...somebody male.

 

"Oh no, she accepted!" he said simply . "But she... she let me off when I met you."

 

"May I inquire how old were you when you did this? I mean you are not 17 yet and I am the second person you already asked to marry?"

 

He was already seventeen. In fact he would be eighteen in September, but this was going a lot better than he had feared, so he didn't risk annoying Clara by correcting her on this minor matter.

 

"Guess I'd have been around fourteen" he said, doing a quick calculation in his head "I promised I'd marry her soon as I was sixteen. I was kinda, a little crazy at the time. I..." Oh Lord, how much of this sorry tale did she need to hear? 

 

"I'd been mean to her. Jemima used to get bullied something awful by the other kids at school: Hector, Amnesia, all those other bigger kids. One time they tricked her, said they were all going swimming at the water hole ... our lake. Once she was undressed they made fun of her and threw stones at her..." he gulped and looked down at the floor, ashamed. "I joined in. Wanned to impress the older kids, be like them." he peered at the floor, hating his former self, not able to look at Clara, imagining that she had never been a horrible little child.

 

"Well, a friend of mine, Quince Quarternight came along and saw me doing that and, well, God bless him, he not only rescued Jemima, he gave me a black eye." Jacob nodded in approval at the remembered punch.

 

"I went home that evening feeling pretty well chastened and ashamed of myself. When I got back, they told me my Mother had died that afternoon. I... well, after that I went a little crazy, like I say. I got it into my head that it was punishment for being mean to Jemima, I did everything I could think of to make it up to the poor girl, took her flowers, took her walking, wrote her poems, asked her to marry me, the whole shootin' match"

 

He sat for a second and then looked up finally at Clara.

 

"Pretty dumb, huh?"

 

@Wayfarer

 

 

Edited by Javia (see edit history)

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"Oh no, she accepted!" he said simply . "But she... she let me off when I met you."

 

"What? You approached me to dance when you had already were going to marry another gi- well, her?"  Clara definitely felt uncomfortable about that. Not that it was her fault in any of this, she had no idea until just now. Had she known that back then, she would have declined his bold offer.

 

She had more questions and proceeded to ask, that brought out the story behind Jacob and Jemima's strange secret relationship. It was not a pleasant story. Clara despised bullying and bullies, she had been furious that time when those boys had went after poor Bridgette and instantly took action, routing those brats.

 

"Oh Jacob....how could you?" she sighed, "You deserved that black eye too."

 

"I am sorry about your mother but she did not die because of your cruelty, I simply refuse to believe God works like that," Clara declared. Although she always felt guilty for her own mother's death, blaming it on herself. If she had not gotten wounded, her mother would not have gone back to save her and even take an arrow for her. And no, it wasn't logical, she had never wanted to be hit by that arrow, that had been beyond her control. It shook her though and yes, it shook her faith in the Almighty that he would allow such a thing.

 

" I did everything I could think of to make it up to the poor girl, took her flowers, took her walking, wrote her poems, asked her to marry me, the whole shootin' match" detailed Jacob.

 

"Well, I hope they were better poems than ...nevermind," it was an instance of her sarcastic humor but probably not the time for any levity so did not finish it.

 

He sat for a second and then looked up finally at Clara.

 

"Pretty dumb, huh?"

 

"It is ...a lot to take in. But in your favor, Jacob, you did feel guilty and you were trying to make atonement for your cruelty. You went overboard but..." again she did not finish.

 

"Jacob, did you bed her? And do not be offended that I am asking such a question. Afterall you deflowered me the first time you came out to see me at the farm. Not that I am blaming you for that, I wanted it as badly as you did. It was equally my sin. And remember, we are telling the truth here and now. As we had agreed to when he talked about marrying. Though I do not believe you told me the truth about this excursion you went on. I believe you withheld things about it from me and that is tantamount to lying," Clara spoke calmly enough.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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