Mrs Smith

Episode 44: Friendship | Scryer's Gulch

Mrs Smith was some cook all right. Annabelle had tried to be ladylike, but sitting through services on an unusually empty tummy had taken the restraint right out of her; she'd eaten herself to within a pinch of her stays.

After dinner Mrs Smith retired to the washing-up, Jamie was sent in to help her, and Rabbit excused himself to the jail: "My, uh, my monthly troubles are coming due. Time I got ready for 'em."

"Going up into the mountains, brother?" said John.

"No," said Rabbit reluctantly. "No, I'm stayin in town. Maybe next month."

His departure left Annabelle and John alone before the front parlor stove. "He goes up into the mountains when he changes? Is that safe?" she whispered.

"No need to whisper, everyone here already knows. Yes. Uh, sometimes he goes hunting then."

Annabelle crinkled her nose. "I am uncertain as to how that might work, I fear. A werewolf, or a mountain lion, yes, but a hare?"

Episode 43: A Prognostification | Scryer's Gulch

Emmy Parsons stood in the Hopewell kitchen doorway, pulling bristles out of the scrub brush in her hand as she stared after the couple going through the front door. She did not like the schoolmarm's visiting over to the Runnels house one bit. But what could she do about it? She knew only one thing. She had that letter the Duniway woman wrote to that other man. John Runnels needed to see it before he did something stupid, "stupid" in Emmy's mind being anything that didn't end up with his loving her.

He saw her back in the day twice--never saw another girl as far as she knew--and was almost the kindest a man had ever been to her in that way, treated her like a real girl and not a girl for hire. Only one nicer was his brother Rabbit, but she didn't want any of that buck-toothed gawk. She wished he'd stop hanging around, and John would start. Why shouldn't he? Emmy wasn't so hard on the eye. Had most of her teeth, was a real hard worker--harder than that Duniway ever worked, she reckoned--and she liked kids enough not to pester them about history and such. She'd make the Sheriff a real good wife. She'd even settle for being his woman if he didn't want to marry again. He'd taken the death of Missus Runnels awful hard. Emmy wondered again what she'd been like; she died before Emmy'd come to the Gulch.

What was the best way to approach him? How should she give him that letter?

A great crash jerked Emmy around. Ralph stood in the middle of the kitchen, slack-jawed; at his feet lay the pot he'd been about to put by the wash sink. He stared off at nothing with eyes as white and cloudy as milk.

"Emmy Parsons," said Ralph, "I have a warnin fer you."

Episode 24: On Fair Authority | Scryer's Gulch

"Well, now, Runnels, out on a night like this!" said Mayor Prake, rising from his chair. "Is there cause for alarm? Amelia, fill the kettle please, perhaps the Sheriff might like some tea. Perhaps a wee bit of bourbon in the cup?" he added in an undertone.

Amelia lugged the kettle in, put it on the stove, and took her reluctant leave. "I'm not sleepy!" she insisted as her mother shooed her up the stairs.

Once they were alone, John settled back in his chair, a comfortable shot of bourbon in his tea. "No cause for immediate alarm, Anatole, though things are stranger than usual in this town. To begin with, I believe Georgie is innocent. You should let him go back to school."

"Innocent!" exclaimed Prake. "Why, his own brother believes he did it! You amaze me. What did Miss Duniway say to convince you?"

Episode 21: An Enthusiastic Hour | Scryer's Gulch

Annabelle preferred to sit in the back pew at church; despite her general self-confidence, church always made her feel exposed and vulnerable. She'd been raised both Methodic and Enthusiastic, the product of a rare mixed marriage and a childhood spent bouncing between one set of relatives and the next. She loved the clean formality of the Methodic Church and its emphasis on logic, but when it came down to it, she chose Enthusiasm: the brightly clanging bells, the incense wafting over everything, the exuberantly decorated altar, the music so loud it shook her bones, the shouts of the faithful in response to a good sermon. And the sermons were much shorter.

Her mind was Methodic, but her soul was Enthusiastic.

Episode 13: Messages | Scryer's Gulch

The wretched Rabbit woke up at dawn inside the wire cage, naked and shivering. "John?" he called weakly.

"Sheriff's asleepin," said Aloysius. "Hey! Runnels! Wake up! Yer brother's lost his fur!"

John scrambled up from his cot, instantly awake. "Sorry, Rab, sorry! I'm coming." He opened the latch on the cage and helped Rabbit to stand; he wrapped his brother in the still-warm blanket from the cot. "Are you all right?"

"Did I scratch or bite?" said Rabbit. "I'm so afraid I'm going to bite you some day, Johnny--if I ever brought this on you, I'd throw myself in the river!"

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