Mamzelle

Episode 32: Hands All Around | Scryer's Gulch

In the hours after Miss Duniway's discovery of his perfidy, Simon suffered much and slept little. He longed for the chance to express the fullness of his regrets, but none came. It was left to him to make his own chance, and he took it the day after the horrible scene at the jail. He saw her on the street after school, threw on his coat, closed his office and hurried after her. "Miss Duniway!" he called, and she halted.

"Mr Prake, how can I be of assistance?" she replied, in tones warmer than he felt he deserved but cooler than he wished.

"I wonder if we might speak for a moment in my office? There are one or two things I wish to convey to you that I'd rather not say in the street."

Miss Duniway paused, and for a sickening moment Simon thought she might refuse. "Very well, Mr Prake, I have a short moment to give you, as long as it can be supposed I have business at your office," she added in a low tone. Simon gave her his humble thanks, and she followed him through his door and into his back office.

Episode 31: A Full-Blooded Evening | Scryer's Gulch

Julian Hopewell wasn't in the habit of visiting Mamzelle's Palace, at least not while the goodtime girls had been in residence at his place. But they were gone, all but Emmy. For a price, Emmy would do anything a man might want, from dishes to more personal services. But Julian preferred that girls at least pretend they liked him, and Emmy wouldn't do that for any amount. The occasional splurge on a visit to Mamzelle's became necessary.

The problem was affording it.

Luckily for Julian's libido, a hotel tenant with a big back bill and not much sense struck it rich on a claim everyone else had given up on. The greenhorn came back to town with one nugget the size of his fist and another the size of a hen's egg; he paid Julian with the smaller one, told him to keep his room open and keep the change--"Call it six months' interest and six more in advance"--and hightailed it back to his suddenly valuable claim.

As a result, tonight Julian was in funds. The first thing he did after hitting the assayer's office to cash in the nugget was to bespeak a dinner at the Palace, featuring a beefsteak the size of the table top.

Episode 18: Servitude | Scryer's Gulch

Mamzelle had a time of it under Charity's orders the next day.

She scrubbed the floors, beat all the rugs, bathed Charity's disgusting little pug dog, shined the copper weathervane atop the gingerbread-encrusted turret, mucked out the stables, and blacked every boot in the house as well as the stoves--all in her best silk dress, now tattered and stained. Blacking smudges covered her face, not all of them self-inflicted, and shoeprints stood out on her dress where the occasional kick had landed.

"Too bad about about the dress. It was so flattering on you, too. I bet you never affront me again!" smirked Charity as the housekeeper fidgeted behind her.

"Oh, no, madame, I wouldn't dream of eet!" said Mamzelle, face downcast; her eyes reflected a dangerous ruby color in the wooden floor she'd polished to a perfect finish; neither human noticed.

Episode 17: Evidence | Scryer's Gulch

"You look happy this morning," said Jed from the depths of a big tufted leather chair.

Mamzelle returned to her boudoir from the balcony. "I am always 'appy at the full moon," she said, settling on her chaise.

"Don't sit down. Bring me my coffee."

She narrowed her eyes to slits, but got up and poured him a cup. "I wonder, 'ow badly this would sting eef I threw it in your face?" she said.

"Go ahead. Then you'd find out how it feels to lose an eye."

"Eet's a rrrhetorical question. I can't hurt you anyway."

"Just remember that," he smiled over the cup's rim.

"I will, even as I eat your liver while you scream for mercy. That is not rrrhetorical."

Episode 16: Culling the Herd | Scryer's Gulch

The full moon crept over the town, slipping silver through the bars of the jail where John held Rabbit through his transformation; it glinted faint on Georgie Prake's tears as he sat in the darkened window he'd occupied almost continually since his disgrace; and it shone white on a woman's bare skin. The moon lit the woman only briefly. Her coloring dappled, and she blended into the surrounding shadows. Mamzelle prided herself on her camouflaging, especially chained as she was to the form of a human woman.

Episode 14: Waste Not the Hour | Scryer's Gulch

From the front window of the Hotel LeFay, Anthony Bonham watched Miss Duniway and John Runnels exchange pleasantries. He knew the look on the man's face; Miss Duniway had fallen afoul of the Sheriff's crime-fighting instincts. What could he suspect the schoolteacher of, besides being beautiful, and that was no suspicion. Outwardly, Tony eyed her dispassionately. But within him, he formulated plans. A young woman, all alone in a town like this--she was bound to be lonely. He could use that.

Episode 12: Creature of the Night, Pistol on the Right | Scryer's Gulch

John rushed to his brother's side, whipping off the bandanna around his neck. To Annabelle's astonishment, he stuffed it in the deputy's mouth and guided the gagged and sobbing man gently to the floor. "It hurts, Miss Duniway, and he screams a lot," said John. "I'm here, Rab, I won't let go, I promise!"

"'M srry!" whimpered Rabbit around the bandanna.

"Not your fault!" said John.

"What's happening, Sheriff Runnels?" demanded Annabelle. "Should I be going for the doctor?"

Episode 11: Moonrise | Scryer's Gulch

In Mamzelle's boudoir, the madam and the cat were still embroiled in their murderous heart-to-heart. "But I do not understand, chéri," she said. "Why would you not wish me to keel your master?"

"Two reasons," Misi answered loftily. "For one, I can't reciprocate. You'd have to maneuver your master into a situation where he became a direct threat to my master."

Mamzelle laughed. "You underestimate me."

"Oh, I doubt that. But for me the more important reason is the second. If anyone kills my master, it's going to be me," he growled. "I've been plotting it for eight years, and no one is going to deny me that pleasure."

Episode 9: Rabbit's Time of the Month | Scryer's Gulch

Misi had almost fallen asleep in Mamzelle’s lap, when she said, “Well?”

“Well what?” yawned the demon cat.

“‘Ow are we going to keel our masters?”

“Ah. That. Yes.” Think fast, old boy. “Yes. There’s a problem with that.”

“Eh?”

“I’m under orders...general orders...not to kill humans.” It’s even true! he thought, though it hurt his pride to confess to such a weakness. It’s so humilitating, being owned!

Episode 8: Plots | Scryer's Gulch

Annabelle felt the same tingle at her wrist the next day when Georgie and Jamie entered the schoolroom together. Jamie's grim face and Georgie's flushed one told her the boys had been arguing.

When it came time for the children to go home to lunch, she asked Georgie to stay behind. "I don't know anything about it!" he blurted as soon as the other children were gone.

"Don't know anything about what, Georgie?" she said, narrowing her eyes.

"The school, miss. That's why you wanted to talk to me, weren't it?"

"'Wasn't it,' Georgie, and no, that's not why I wanted to talk to you. But as long as we're on the subject, what is it about the school that you don't know?"

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