1861/07/17 Sunday Sermon
Scene Sunday Sermon
Characters John-Bishop Charlotte Kitty
Place Eastern Outskirts
Date July 17, Morning
Scene Theme

Out on the outskirts of town a sizeable tent has been erected, there's no comparing it to the enormity of the church within town, but there's something more personal about it. Inside the tent the chairs have been arranged into a square with John right in the middle of everything. The purpose of the formation, for those who were not already aware, became obvious when the singing began, a capella notes flooding into the southern part of the town. "Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord. Hebrews twelve fourteen." the preacher opens, attention shifting among those gathered to listen. "Some of you," his gaze stops on Kitty for a moment, "know that I myself struggle in this particular area. The Lord calls us towards the path he has set for us, be that tending to the sick, teaching our young," yes, he sees you too Charlotte, "or spreading His word. My father tried to light the flame of the Lord's love in my heart at a tender age, yet I resisted. You cannot force a man to see the light, and so I did what any rebellious youth would do. I fought, swore, spit, and before too long I was chasing outlaws across this great country of ours to collect bounties." He pauses, letting a slow breath out through his nose. "But you cannot fight your calling forever, and here I am before you, trying to atone for my sins and bring you all together in the light of our Lord."

The heat of the day is lessened by the canvas of the tent that's been set up and by the breeze that whispers across the plains to rustle through the gathered congregation for Pastor Bishop's sermon. Charlotte doesn't sit at the very front, but she doesn't sit at the very back, either. Her attention is stuck on the man in front, voice silenced from the introductory hymns that everyone had raised their voice to give life to. Silenced only for a little while, at least. His note of her and the mention of teaching leads her to a muttered amen and a brief diversion of her attention towards Miss Morton, who he seemed to take note of as well. Then it's back on him, and there's but the slightest adjustment of her fingers as she holds her bible between them. From the quiet murmurs, she can tell that she's not the only one surprised by his revelation of his past life, but none in the crowd judge him for it. They listen, perhaps even more closely, as he tells his own personal story.

Kitty is here, seated beside Charlotte. She's dressed for the Sunday in a dress that likely helps her stick out, in this crowd. For while Kitty Morton is but a local nurse with an (albiet large) room at the boarding house, she comes from money. Her accent and her day-to-day clothes likely show that. But Sunday showcases a bit more finery, with a ruffle of silk and crioline. The dress is ivory, hemmed and piped with navy. A cameo broach is pinned at her throat, keeping her collar high and modest. She has an ivory lace fan that she uses to continuously keep herself cool, even while she wears gloves. One must be proper, after all! She too glances to Charlotte when she is called out by the man, giving the woman a little smile. One hand reaches over to Charlotte's atop the bible, to give it a quick little reassuring squeeze. Then those hazel eyes flit back to the Pastor, looking … curious.

"And my past followed me here. Shortly after arriving and settling in to pray, one of them men I put away and his followers meant to rough me up in the church. Now I'm paying their medical bills." He sounds a little embarrassed about this, but it doesn't stop him from speaking. "But as for you, ye thought evil against me, but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. Genesis fifty-twenty. Where this would discourage some, it has strengthened my resolve, and showed me how much this town needs a guiding hand, especially after the death of the Padre. I have spent time in the saloon, amongst the drunks and courtesans, and rather than judge them I ask you extend a hand and encourage them to attend my sermons, or just pray." There is another brief pause, "See that none render evil for evil unto any man, but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men. One Thessalonians five-fifteen."

The physical gap between herself and Miss Morton might be so small that their elbows touch, but the financial gap between them is astounding. Her simple, one-piece dress is nothing like the fine layers the Belle is adorned in. That doesn't stop her from offering her own small, quick smile and a brief turn of her hand from planted down to facing up, allowing the woman's hand to rest there rather than return if it so desired. Their brief distraction with one another is replaced, however, by that dedicated focus to the sermon at hand, which sees Charlotte's face smooth into something more neutral before the slightest hints of knitted brows allows her ot take on a discerning look in line with carefully studying every word spoken for the greater meaning in it all. Another murmur of, "Amen."

So too do the belle's lips mutter the phrase, "Amen." She bows her head each time the bible is referened, in a moment of reverence for the most holy of books. Then she lifts her eyes again, her curiosity seeming to have relaxed into something more neutral or, Lord above protect us, something even positive. There's a small smile of approval as the sermon continues, and she seems now more interested than before.

"In closing," John starts to close, "Love thy neighbor. This town could use more love, and less hate. All it serves to breed is sloth, lustfulness, and wrath. I ask all of you to come together under the banner of Christ, and stand firm to repel whatever might try to tear us down and make us feel insignificant, for we are all brothers and sisters in faith."

Charlotte's nodding. Nodding and doesn't stop, as the words continue to flow and express a sentiment that everyone should feel towards their fellow folk, be it man or woman, in the pursuit of aiding them that they might avoid the pitfalls of such sin. The young woman sits up straighter and is almost leaning forward, spirit stirred by words that may be simple in their deliverance, but carry a powerful message and something to strive for inside of them. A testament to reformation stands in front of them, after all. Charlotte glances towards Kitty and leans over just the slightest to share a few words. "The inspiration of God is amazin'."

"Amen," Kitty joins in the chorus to end the sermon, then looking over to Charlotte for a moment, and even as she speaks to the other woman, her eyes flit back to the preacher. "Moreso than I anticipated, I must admit," Kitty tells the other woman. "I was there during the event he spoke of, the attack in the church. I have a hard time putting that man together with this one." Then she grins, speaking softer, just for Charlotte's ears. "I wonder what Sister Mercy would think of such a sermon." Then her voice returns to normal tones. "Have you met this Preacher, yet? If not, I'll take you up to speak with him. I'd like to share a few words with him myself, after that."

John turns to retrieve the various books and various hymnals that he provided for those who might not have his own, pausing to shake hands and wish people well.

"Oh, my," Charlotte murmurs, eyes lightly widened and eyebrows hiked in the face of Kitty's admission to being present for such violence as that. Charlotte's next look at Pastor Bishop is one filled with the same kind of discernment she'd reserved for his words, as if trying to see if she could see beyond some veil that hangs over him. It's in this turn that Charlotte clears her throat, and the twitches at the corners of her lips indicate she's trying her best not to allow herself a grin such as the one the Belle sports. "Let us not gossip about the good Sister in such ways, ma'am." There's some embarrassment in that tone, along with a measure of humor. "I have. Pastor Bishop and I spoke when I went to the church to prepare some things for the children for the next day of school. That's how I knew to be here this morning. He was speaking with another man, too, but I don't see him here. Shall I join you anyway, ma'am?" It would do good for appearances to avoid publically being seen talking alone with a man. Especially for someone of Miss Morton's stature.

"Oh, not gossip," Kitty chides, easily, with a smile. "An observation. And one I think that could be an interesting discussion, sometime. The differences in the views between two religious leaders in town, based on the same book, the same God. But that's the Protestant in me speaking, no doubt," the nurse admits, looping her arm in with Charlotte's as they rise. "I must hurry back to Dr. Yin's office, but a quick word will do no harm." And so they make their way to John, and Kitty lowers herself in a small nod of respect to one who is both male and a religious leader. "Pastor," she will say in greeting. "Thank you for the sermon. I must admit I was … quite pleasantly impressed, sir."

John inclines his head respectfully, offering a pleasant smile. "Well thank ya. I was worried I'd made ah terrible first impression." There's a grin offered, "I might not be tha best, but I'm tryin' ta work on that."

The young woman hums as a response as a sign of understanding now that Kitty clarifies the original intent of her statement. Charlotte can't help but feel there is still some small amount of mischief involved in it all, but she stays her tongue from suggesting it lest it create the wrong impression and humor turns to insult. It's rather awkward for her, that loop of one arm through hers, but she rises, anyway, and steps with as much grace as she can muster so that Miss Morton avoids looking diminished in any capacity more than she already is. Charlotte, too, provides that same nod, but remains silent as Kitty addresses him.

"I cannot speak to the first impression, sir, for surely you know how it all went as well as I." He was there, after all. But Kitty no longer seems to be taking a tone of chiding with him, as she did before. "I do thank you for this service, however, sir. Very much. I understand you're aquainted with Miss Wright, our new schoolteacher?" Kitty asks, looking then to the woman beside her with a smile, to make sure she too is included in the conversation.

"I cannot speak to the first impression, sir, for surely you know how it all went as well as I." He was there, after all. But Kitty no longer seems to be taking a tone of chiding with him, as she did before. "I do thank you for this service, however, sir. Very much. I understand you're aquainted with Miss Wright, our new schoolteacher?" Kitty asks, looking then to the woman beside her with a smile, to make sure she too is included in the conversation.

"It didn't go over as well as I woulda liked." John nods slightly, before offering Charlotte a smile. "I met her yesterdy. I hope you're both doin' well?" He asks, setting the items he's collected down to clasp his hands together in front of himself.

There is only a brief moment of flustered breathing and glancing back and forth between Kitty and John before Charlotte's eyes fix on the Pastor and she offers a kind smile. "Yes, the Pastor and I have met. I enjoyed your sermon, Pastor Bishop. Despite the fact we we may stray, we may always return to the right path. A very powerful message, and a wonderful way to start off the day. I feel uplifted by it."

"I entirely share Ms. Wright's feelings on the matter, Pastor," Kitty says in that sweet southern drawl of hers, looking back to the man with another nod. "Though I wonder, Pastor, if I might press you furhter on the matters you spoke on. Back home in Charleston, well, our Pastor's wife was quite helpful to the community in translating the feelings and ideas behind her husband's sermons into actions for the ladies of the town. I know you have no wife here with you, sir, but I wonder if you might offer some ruminations on how you would like to see this here flock bring your sermon into being."

"Well, I reckon you ladies are doin' a particular fine job ah that already. Tendin' to tha sick and children ah the town. I was really speaking towards those who might have ah hand at harmin' others. Long as you treat people with respect and patience, you're doin' the Lord's work." John explains, reaching up to rub at the back of his neck.

It's with some barely contained surprise that Charlotte glances over to Kitty, caught unawares by the true intent behind her wanting to speak to the Pastor after the sermon. Her exhale is slow, and a glance towards John leads her to add in. "I reckon we might also follow the words he mentioned in the sermon. Invitin' those who might not normally come or may not be invited by others for reasons of prejudice." Her arm slightly tightens around Kitty's, and it's there that her gaze goes to rest, studying the other woman's face a tad closer to see where this all goes.

Kitty bows her head. "Very well then. I suppose I ask because … well I am sure Dr. Yin is more than open to having all manner of patients come through our doors, and likewise I am sure Ms. Wright will not turn away children in need of an education, no matter their parentage," like a single-mother whore, "Well. I do not quite think either of us should be particularly welcome in Mr. O'connell's saloon, and in fact might do more harm than good there," she admits with a smile. "But perhaps I am just being overzealous, or over cautious."

"No, I'd steer clear unless you're lookin' to be groped by a drunk or confused for one of tha workin' girls." John cautions with a slight nod. "Regardless of how nice it'd be, our intentions don't shape those of the people around us. Can't promise I'd keep myself from sendin' ah couple more people to go get medical attention if anything happened to y'all because of me."

Charlotte balks at the words from the Pastor, to the point that she very nearly takes a step back, as if the words have slapped her in the face. There's utter surprise in her expression. The young woman is clearly taken-aback by the suggestion that she would be confused for one of the women employed there . It's far worse than the unpleasant talk of being groped, but there's no containing her offense, and it isn't softened by whatever sentiment he tries to share in regards to the idea of retaliation for such an absurd series of events, especially considering the only skin she has visible is that on her hands and above her neck. Her mouth is kept shut, however, and her gaze turns from him, steadied off in the direction she expects they'll leave in.

Kitty notes the man's words, and notes Charlotte's discomfort almost immediately. She manages a smile. "Well thank you again, Pastor. We'll leave you to the rest of your parishoners," she says, nodding once more and then turning to steer poor Charlotte away.

John sighs quietly, "Yeah." He heads off to finish collecting his things, brows furrowing. "I swear I'm ah idiot." he grumbles once everyone has left.

"Good day, Pastor." Charlotte says it all the same, offering the respectful nod that she did when they approached. Her voice remains even, lacking the heat of anger or the emptiness of deeper emotions associated with hurt. She does, however, allow herself to be led off by Kitty, even if she doesn't need it. There's no trembling lip for this situation, the nurse will no doubt be glad to see. Either way, she walks in silence next to Miss Morton, leaving the tent to go about the rest of their day.

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