Ralph Johnson

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 42: A Reproachful Chat with a Cat | Scryer's Gulch

John and Annabelle reached the Hopewell Hotel's front door, both aware they might be overheard now that they stood somewhat out of the bustle of the road. "I think we should leave the topic of...our man until a more private moment," said John.

"I completely agree," said Annabelle. "Well, then, Mr Runnels. Until tomorrow, dinner? Good night." She shook his hand. He kept it in his just a hair longer than necessary, their eyes met just a hair longer than was proper, and they parted just a hair before more might be revealed one to the other.

Episode 38: Escort Service

Tony Bonham walked into the Hopewell Hotel like a man walking into a garbage dump. He looked around the stolid building, built for utility not gentility, and didn't bother to repress a sneer in the direction of the front desk.

Julian Hopewell caught the sneer and its meaning, and came around the desk in a hurry. "What do you want, Bonham? What are you doin' here?"

"I am only here to escort Miss Duniway to dinner at my father's house." He sniffed at Ralph, hovering in the door of the dining room. "I hope to escort her soon to better company and lodgings at the LeFay to boot. Rest assured I will leave this...place as soon as possible." Hopewell gave him the evil eye, but stomped upstairs to get the schoolteacher.

Episode 30: Sucker | Scryer's Gulch

"All right," said John once he'd recovered from his shock, "you've convinced me you're a great shot and a great wielder with access to some pretty fancy hardware. Now convince me you're Treasury and tell me why you're here."

"Only Treasury would care about the reason," she answered as she stowed her etheric pistols in their case. "Someone is corrupting ore coming out of Scryer's Gulch."

Icy prickles came over John's skin. "Corrupting--you mean like that nugget you found on Jamie? Someone did that on purpose? It's not natural?"

Annabelle shook her head. "Engineered. The best, our men tell me. Like nothing they've ever seen before."

John's temper rose hand in hand with fear for his son. "And you didn't see fit to take this to local authorities why, exactly?"

"I didn't know who was involved. I still don't. I don't know who the spellcaster is, and I don't know who if anyone is running him."


"Meaning," she said as if explaining to one of her slower students, "that you could have been in on it for all I knew. I'm taking a risk as it is that you don't turn that rifle on me and leave me in some gully for the coyotes."

Episode 23: Cleaning Up Messes | Scryer's Gulch

When Annabelle returned to her rooms, Misi got up from a patch of sunlight in the bedroom window and stretched. "What's up, cutie? Where you been?" he said. "Good Joyful Noise this Sunday, or did stage fright get the better of you?"

"It's not a performance, kitty, it's a worship service," snapped Annabelle, throwing her best straw on the bed long enough to fetch her hatbox down from the wardrobe. She stopped abruptly; several small traps she'd left had been triggered. The small clean streak in the dust on the nightstand was gone, for one. "Someone's been in here, Misi."

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."

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