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Tell Me a Tale


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Mature Content: No

With: Addy, F. Falmer Browne Bear, et al
Location: Residence of F. Falmer B. B.
When: June 1876
Time of Day: Afternoon

 

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The letter had been sitting on her table for a few days, and while Addy knew it was for her, and from Jay, she hadn't read it, mostly because she couldn't read but a few words, and she had been pondering over who to read it.  Not, Weedy, of course, he was just a kid, and if there was something in it bad (she couldn't imagine what that might be, she loved Jay and he loved her), she didn't want him finding out that way. 

 

Work had kept her busy, although it had given her plenty of time to ponder on who she could ask to read it for her, and after miles of hemmin' an' hawin', and thinkin' on this one an' that, she settled on her neighbor, F. Falmer, so now she was standing on his porch, the letter stashed in the pocket of the blue wool skirt she was wearing, and after knocking, she took off her hat and scooped some stray hairs behind her ear as she waited.

 

@Javia

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A gentleman like Felix Falmer Browne never opened his own front door, of course, and with Mrs O'Hoolighan out at the stores, it fell to his part-time maid Jemima Wigfall to fulfil that role. The sight that greeted Addy's eyes, as the glossy green portal cracked open, was unusual: Jemima had on a dress that was tatty, even for her, and was covered from head to toe in soot. There were sheets along the floor of the hallway, leading into a back room.

 

Jemima looked Addy up and down, and surprise registered on her soot covered and usually inert features at her appearance, too. The Wagoneer was dressed as a woman! In a skirt! And with no slouch hat! There was one phrase that came to Jemima's mind: Femme Fatale! 

 

She gave a knowing sniff and invited the Professor's neighbor in with a curt "He's in the front" before traipsing back to her work. Before she disappeared,  the lugubrious girl turned and added "I'm sweeping the chimney." lest Addy thought that she was rehearsing for a mistral show. 

 

Falmer Browne was in his shirt sleeves, doing something immensely clever looking with a test tube of green liquid when Addy entered the front parlour. A look of delight crossed his face as he saw her enter, followed by one of confusion and no little embarrassment as he hadn't really seen her since the 'Painting' incident, when she had given him a good telling off. This was soon replaced by delight again as he noticed she wasn't dressed as a man for her visit: she was wearing a skirt! God, she looked ravishing! He nearly spilt the contents of his tube as he put it shakily into the test tube holder.

 

"My dear Miss Chappel, what a wonderful surprise!" he gushed as he quickly cleared a space for her on the chaise longue, which was scattered with papers, notes and formulae for his experiments. "Please be seated, allow me to get you some refreshment! To what do I owe this signal honour?" he asked as he searched the book shelves for a hidden bottle of 'Ald Smellie' whiskey.

 

 

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@Bongo

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Addy smiled and nodded to Miss Jemima.  "Reckon in a house this size that's a big project."  Her own modest place didn't need but a few sweepings of the ashes once a week, although that might change come Winter, when the fire would be blazing all the time.

 

She followed the young woman to the room where where F. Falmer was toiling over fancy equipment, and looked around curiously before reaching to sweep the old slouch hat off her head -- at least she'd taken time to knock the dust off before coming calling!

 

"Afternoon, F...Falmer....Mr. Browne..."  She wasn't sure what to call him...'F' seemed odd, 'Falmer' was his second name, and 'Mr. Browne' was awful formal for neighbors.

 

"Yes, sir, I'd more'n be happy with a bit'a fortification, can always do with that!"

 

Nothing like whisky to still the nerves, and it would be a sin to turn down the 'good stuff'.  "I was thinkin' ta ask a favor, if it ain't too much a imposition."

 

Maybe he was mad at her for giving him what-for that day?  Well, if she had to, she could ask Miss Jemima to read the letter to her.

 

@Javia

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"Afternoon, F...Falmer....Mr. Browne..."  She wasn't sure what to call him...'F' seemed odd, 'Falmer' was his second name, and 'Mr. Browne' was awful formal for neighbors.

 

"Oh, please, Miss Chappel, call me Felix: no formality between good neighbors, eh?" he replied jovially before waving the bottle of whiskey queryingly in her direction.

 

"Yes, sir, I'd more'n be happy with a bit'a fortification, can always do with that!"

 

"Fortification. Yes. Good word! I... too... shall fortify." he said as he carefully poured a generous bumper of the good stuff for each of them and handed the drink over with all the assiduous attention of a high class waiter in a fancy restaurant. 

 

"Now then..." he risked it "Adelaide, is this a purely social visit, or is there something that you would like to discuss?" Oooh, it felt so thrilling to use her Christian name.

 

Nothing like whisky to still the nerves, and it would be a sin to turn down the 'good stuff'.  "I was thinkin' ta ask a favor, if it ain't too much a imposition."

 

"I am entirely at your service." came the instant reply, Browne sweeping an arm and bowing slightly to further indicate his complete and utter willingness to render any aide that the entrancing diamond in the rough might desire.

 

@Bongo

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"Oh, well, now..." Addy took a sip of her drink, savoring the smooth amber liquid.  This caliber of quality was hard to find in the saloons, and if you could, it would be far too costly.

 

And now that she was here, she was having second thoughts.  What if Jay had more to confess and this was all about his nefarious past?  Would Felix understand and respect that he was reformed now, right?  And she was here, and whisky was flowing.

 

Sighing, she pulled the letter from her pocket and held it out to him.  "Jay left this fer me, but I can't make out but a few'a th' words.  I was wonderin' if ya could read it for me?"

 

My Dearest Adelaide,

I don't know any way to do this but just to do it.  I have to leave for a while, to set some things straight, things about my past that need to be cleared up before we get married.  I know you don't care, but I want to do this right, and the only way is for me to be sure that nothing will stand in our way, or come back to ruin things.  I only want the best for you and Weedy, I love you both so much.

Please don't worry about me, I'll be fine, and I should be back in a couple of months.  In the mean time, go ahead and plan the perfect wedding for us, whatever you want.

Remember I love you more than anything.

Jay

 

@Javia

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Sighing, she pulled the letter from her pocket and held it out to him.  "Jay left this fer me, but I can't make out but a few'a th' words.  I was wonderin' if ya could read it for me?"

 

"Oh, er, of course!" Falmer Browne replied with alacrity, but in truth, this put him in rather a difficult position. Read aloud a letter from his hated rival?! To the object of both their desires?! He looked at the letter and immediately saw its import from the clear, neat hand in which the  Englishman had penned the piece. 

 

If Addy couldn't read this writing, she must be completely illiterate! The idea did not put him off her at all: indeed, it only fuelled his passion for the earthy, almost barbaric and strong woman, he could just imagine her as some ancient warrior woman, her brawny skin displayed in a skimpy buckskin... OH! Where was he, ah yes... the letter. 

 

He held it this way and that, a frown creasing his already wrinkled face. "No, no, you are right. It is almost quite impossible to make out." he lied "I think it starts 'My Dear... Dearest? Adelaide." he shook his head again.  "Maybe a fresh pair of eyes: Miss Wigfall?! MISS WIGFALL?!" he shouted, and a sooty, disgruntled looking Jemima put her head around the door. 

 

"Ah, splendid!" Browne smiled amiably "I don't suppose you could try and read this letter for us? Neither of us can quite make out the handwriting!" and with that, he thrust the hot potato into her hands.

 

"Well, she can't read anyway." grumped Jemima, matter-of-factly. Everybody knew that. Not that Addy was alone in that particular handicap in this burgh. She looked at the letter and gave F. Flamer Browne a long hard stare - the handwriting was as clear as type! The amateur scientist stepped to the window and looked out, rather red faced as Jemima commenced to read in her flat toneless voice, making little comments and asides as she did so:

 

"My Dearest Adelaide, [that's you]

I don't know any way to do this but just to do it. [oh oh]  I have to leave for a while, to set some things straight, [huh!] things about my past that need to be cleared up before we get married. [I bet!]  I know you don't care, but I want to do this right, and the only way is for me to be sure that nothing will stand in our way, or come back to ruin things. [well what the Dickens has that feller been up to?] I only want the best for you and Weedy, [oh, Porter] I love you both so much. [huh! so why's he leaving?]

Please don't worry about me, [we won't!] I'll be fine, and I should be back in a couple of months. [believe that if you like!] In the mean time, go ahead and plan the perfect wedding for us, whatever you want.

Remember I love you more than anything.

Jay"

 

She folded the now rather sooty letter and handed it back to Addy with a big sniff. "Well Miss Addy, that's the last you seen of that feller!" she left the room and without turning back shouted "I'm halfway up the chimney, so don't call me again!" 

 

Browne tried to chuckle away Jemima's comments on the content of Ryker's missive.

 

"Oh, don't pay any mind to her, my dear Adelaide, the girl has been disappointed in love so many times, she has a rather pessimistic view of the whole... er... pastime!" he gushed, reaching for the whiskey bottle, figuring that they both needed a top-up after that display.

 

@Bongo

 

[OOC: Sorry, got a bit carried away there!]

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Addy's nose wrinkled up as Jemima was summoned...she really didn't want more people than necessary knowing her business, whatever it might be, but it was too late to protest.  As for F Falmer, she wasn't sure what he was about.  No, she couldn't read but a few words, but she could see that the writing was clear and precise, but for now, she'd let that go.

 

As Jemima read, she nodded slowly, understanding, not really surprised.  Jay wanted to make sure his past was as clear as could be going into marriage and taking on a family, so if there was something he could do, she knew he would.

 

"Well Miss Addy, that's the last you seen of that feller!" she left the room and without turning back shouted "I'm halfway up the chimney, so don't call me again!"

 

Addy nodded, more to the chimney part than the other, she knew Jay, knew he wasn't running out on her, and that he'd be back when he could.  Besides, if he'd changed his mind, he would have just told her to her face, right?

 

"Oh, don't pay any mind to her, my dear Adelaide, the girl has been disappointed in love so many times, she has a rather pessimistic view of the whole... er... pastime!"

 

"Don't reckon as I blame her."  Addy shrugged.  "S'why I don't put much stock in love."  She could do without Jay, she'd been fine before he'd shown up, and she'd be just fine...until he came back.  "Gonna be hard on Weedy, though.  He's got a fondness fer Jay, an' he'll miss him while he's gone."

 

She gladly accepted the second round of whisky!

 

@Javia

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"Don't reckon as I blame her."  Addy shrugged.  "S'why I don't put much stock in love."  She could do without Jay, she'd been fine before he'd shown up, and she'd be just fine...until he came back.

 

Falmer Browne found himself in something of an invidious position. On the one hand, he somewhat agreed with Jemima's assessment: that such a letter was possibly a comfortable way out for a man who was getting cold feet about marriage and settling down. He was also delighted to have a love rival out of the way, no matter how hopeless his own romantical plans were, even without competition.

 

On the other hand, he had the utmost sympathy for Addy, and for Weedy too, for that matter. And it seemed hard that Ryker had not even deigned to give an exact date for his return that Addy could at least pin her hopes on. 'Acouple of months' was vague, when did that become 'a few months'?

 

He tried to be comforting.

 

"I am sure that Mr Ryker will return very soon" he said somewhat stiffly "'Absence makes the heart grow fonder' and all that!" he added, though he could equally have repeated the old adage 'Out of sight, out of mind'.

 

 "Gonna be hard on Weedy, though.  He's got a fondness fer Jay, an' he'll miss him while he's gone."

 

"Well, we must occupy his mind, and your own, until Mr Ryker returns!" the scientist counselled breezily. "You and he are always welcome around here. Young Master Porter seemed to be quite interested in my small menagerie and, for all her strange ideas, Miss Wigfall seems to have an odd affinity with the lad." he offered. He felt a little guilty, for there was definitely  an element of selfish interest in his invitations.

 

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"Boy surely does have an affinity fer ya," Addy commented with a nod.  "I can teach him 'bout handlin' th' horses an' readin' trails, meetin' up with Injuns, shootin' an' whatnot, but there's a whole good deal you know that surely does elude me, an' it'll be good that he learns a curiosity fer science an' all."

 

She drank the last of her whisky, then set the glass down, maybe for a refill?

 

"Need someone ta show me once an' fer all how ta read an' write.  Can't go no longer not knowin' that.  Reckon I could talk to th' school marm."  She'd seemed a nice sort and had held her own against adversity.l

 

@Javia

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"Need someone ta show me once an' fer all how ta read an' write.  Can't go no longer not knowin' that.  Reckon I could talk to th' school marm."  She'd seemed a nice sort and had held her own against adversity.

 

Browne's blurted reply might well have been predicted: "Oh, my dear Miss Chappel, I myself would be only too happy to..."

 

He stopped himself at the precipice, and teetered at its edge.

 

Could he trust himself? Could he attempt to teach this beautiful young woman, this beautiful, engaged woman to read and write without falling hopelessly, foolishly further in love with her? The very idea was grotesque, silly. He was an old man; he had dedicated the remainder of his life to science, to relieving the suffering of mankind. No, he could not risk it. 

 

"... to arrange a private tutor for you." He heaved a secret sigh of relief. He had done it. He had resisted temptation.

 

"There is a young person of my acquaintance whom I believe has all the necessary literary qualifications for the task and, more importantly, the correct..." he struggled for the right phrase "... the right heart. There would be no cost involved..." he assumed that money might be tight around the Chappel household at the moment with Jay away and a growing boy to feed.

 

There was a clatter next door and Felix, deigning to read Addy's mind, quickly added.

 

"This is no silly girl like Jemima of whom I speak, Adelaide, but a very proper young woman only a few years younger than yourself." he claimed, rather generously, to the 29 year old. "We could arrange for a two week trial period, and then the two of you could let me know whether you both wish to continue. If not, then there will be no embarrassment on either side."

 

Falmer Browne said all this in as easy-going manner as possible: though he realised that when it came down to it, being taught by a younger woman might actually be quite an ordeal for the grown up, self reliant, independent woman who sat before him.

 

@Bongo

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