1861/08/01 You're Not An Elk
Scene You're Not An Elk
Characters Finn and Kitty
Place Forrest Outside of Town
Date Afternoon, August 1

The sun blazes high in the blue Colorado sky. Today find the towns New Sherriff, and his horse at the edge of the woods. Finn has his Sharps ,50 laid over the saddle as he draws a bead on a bull elk grazing more than a hundred yards out.

There’s a crackle somewhere in the wood. A sound of snapping twigs, rustling leaves. Finn likely hears it, and the elk likely hears it too. The beast lifts it’s head to the sound, and its nostrils flare, trying to trace the source of the noise that’s likely to spook it in a few more moments. That sound, somewhere off to the left, is Miss Kitty Morton, dressed simply — for her — without her crinoline today. It’s a pink skirt with an ivory blouse, and a cameo brooch pinned at her throat, with her hair pulled up high. She has over her torso the same brown leather satchel box she always carries, and today she seems to be filling it with clippings of bushes.

Finn frowns as the elk lifts his head and snorts, rushing the shot, a thunderous *CRACK* echo’s the Elk jerks as the slug tares through his shoulder, he takes a step then falls to his knees, the animal tries to rise, but only crashes to the ground once more. Finn watches, holding his place, praying quietly that the animal lays down to quietly bleed out. He looks back toward to kitty and her tromping about the brush..

Kitty’s not tromping now. Just as she had no idea there was an elk nearby, so too had she no notion of a man and his gun, either. At least Kitty has the presence of mind not to scream — she does drop what she’s collecting though, the little branches and leaves fluttering about her. Some land atop her too, since she beats them to the ground — falling forward into the brush immediately in a knee-jerk gesture seeking safety. Her hands too have come up and are clamped over her ears, as though that was some sort of defense for the noise. So now she waits, her breathing shallow, daring not even to look up, lest she’s seen.

Finn frowns, a look to the elk, than the woman crawling to the bushes, and back again. Finn reloads the Sharps, then walks toward where Kitty has hit the dirt, “Beggin yer pardon Darlin…but whatch ya doin down there?” Finn tips his hat to Kitty. “I hear tell there are hostile injuns aboot…might want to keep an eye oot.”

At first, Kitty only sees the man’s feet. But when he stops in front of her, she arches her back to look up, squinting against the sun. “Sheriff Burke,” she heaves a sigh. “Yessir, indians, sir,” she agrees in that southern drawl of hers, remaining where she is on the ground. “I’ve had the misfortune of witnessing them up close. But that’s not for now, Sheriff. I heard a shot.” What a good little nurse, reporting it to the authorities!

Finn holds up his Sharps, “loud shot?” he asks, then nods toward the open space, “I shot an elk.” he smiles, “maybe you an tha doc kin use some fresh meat, in exchange fer sewn me up when I get holed next?” He grins an offers out his hand, “but you shouldn’t be out here by your lonesome darlin..t‘aint safe.”

“Oh,” Kitty says, once the man explains the source of all her anxiety. “Well. Now I feel quite a bit foolish, Sheriff,” the auburned-haired woman says, somewhat sheepishly. “But I’m sure we could come to some sort of arrangement, though I’ll admit I’ve never had anyone purchase medical care on credit, before.” She puts her own gloved hand in his and uses him to pull herself upright to her knees, but she doesn’t rise yet. Instead, from this position, she begins to gather the little branches of leaves she’d cut and dropped, tucking them into her satchel. “Isn’t it? The only place I’ve ever truly found danger thus far out here was in town, when those indians raided the church. Or I should say the Sister, since they had little interest in the church itself, near as I could tell. My first arrow-wound, that was.”

Finn glances to be sure his elk hasn’t wandered off, or worse claimed be a bear. “Never net a nun with a coach gun before” he admits, “this town has some intresting folks, that certain, a Chinaman for a Doctor? A nun with a gun…” he shrugs. “Whatch ya got there?”

Kitty finishes collecting what she’s dropped, and has a little bouquet of leaves when she rises. She does take the time to dust her skirts off though, if for no other reason than despite being plain, they are fine. The day clothes of a rich young southern belle. “Doctah Yin may be a Chinaman, but he’s educated in medicine, and a good Christian besides. You’re in good hands with him,” Kitty quickly points out. She lifts her eyes to him and considers the larger man a moment before looking back to her bouquet. “Eucalyptus,” Kitty says, plucking off a leaf from the stem and crushing it lightly in her hand. She holds it up in front of the Sheriff’s nose in the flat of her palm.

Finn takes a sniff of the pungent leaf, his nose wrinkles just a bit, “and it wouldn’t be credit” he points out, “I’d be kinda paying my debts in advance…and who doesn’t like fresh elk?” he grins as he shoulders the cannon he refers to as a rifle. It is different from the one he had in town, this one looks older.

Kitty likely would barely know the difference anyway. She tucks the leaves into her pouch, latching it securely. “Well I don’t know exactly how much elk I’ve had in my time, Sheriff. I just mean that … well I’ve never accepted payment before a medical need before. Before there was a wound or a sickness. But then … I suppose it makes sense. Folks pay what they can when they can, to make sure that if there is a need, they aren’t left in the cold….” she taps her chin thoughtfully. “I suppose Dr. Yin would agree.”

“If you are aboot done out here…we can claim my prize and I’ll offer you a ride back to town?” Finn grins, “you sound southern, Tennesee?” he asks, “Virginia?” he takes hold of the reins of his horse holding the animal steady. “I am sure your Doctor is a good man…feels odd, used to run a rail laying crew made up o coolies…Chinamen…” he admits. “When I worked for Central Rail and Telegragh.”

“I have enough for now,” Kitty acknowledges with a nod. She checks her pouch again and makes sure it’s latched. “Did you bring a wagon out here for your kill?” she asks, moving along beside him but making a point to stay clear of the horse. “Charleston, sir,” she says, her city pride being enough that she can equate it to a state — and with such a city as Charleston, that doesn’t seem terribly odd. “It’s where I met Dr. Yin. I suppose Chinamen are like other men in such respects — some lay rail, others heal the sick.” She smiles a touch at that, dimples touching her cheeks.

Finn nods to the horse “No Ma’am, you’ll be sharing the horse with the elk.” he says, another look to where the animal lay, still no sign of bears. “Well a chinaman tendin me will feel off, like wearing someone elses hat…” he laughs “but I am sure we can figure it out.”

“The elk?” Kitty starts, looking at the horse and then to the dead creature off in the distance. But she’s a proper lady, who doesn’t show her displeasure or distaste. Ladies have no opinions! So she smiles, a bit more softly. “Thank you, Sheriff.” Gulp. She will stand back though, for when he goes to load the beast up. “If it’s a small wound or something similar, Sheriff, I’m sure I can see to it. But it would do you well to become accustomed to Dr. Yin. He is, after all, the town doctor now. And what better way to see what a right fine one he is than to watch his work up close?” And feel it.

Finn leads the horse, and Kitty to the dead elk, he must have been an impressive animal in life, Finn draws a bowie knife and sets to work field dressing, then quartering the animal, he cuts the rack ad the skull plate where it is anchored from the animals skull. It is bloody work. When done, the meat is wrapped in the hide and slung over the horses back. “That wasn’t such a chore” he laughs, “Oh…I’ll get friendly with tha good Doctor, rest assured ma’am, Just feels funny is all.”

And it takes longer than Kitty likely thought. She ends up seated, back and away and on a rock, while Finn does his work. Only once he’s done and the animal cast atop the horse does Kitty rise, dusting off her hands and her skirt as she does so. “Are you sure that poor horse can carry us both? I walked out here with my own two legs, Sheriff. I daresay they can carry me back.” She looks skeptically at the horse and the meat. “I daresay you ought to get friendly with Mistah O’Connell, the pub owner as well, Sheriff. I’ve stitched him up for a knife wound once already from one of his patrons. And Pastor Bishop, too. Why he’s a violent man for such sweet sermons that he gives.”

Finn grins a bit, “Oh I met Mister O’Connel, an tha Snakebite he makes will raise a blister on an old boot” he laughs, “I’ll be brewin me dad’s own recipe, God protect him and me mum” Finn crosses himself, then looks skyward, “the earth took me dad, me mom joined him not long after…church wouldn’t let me burry her near Dad…said she couldn’t be burried in hallowed ground…”

“I’m sorry for that, sir,” Kitty says respectfully, chosing to walk along with the horse and the man than to try and squeeze between meat and horseflesh. She walks with her hands lightly clasped before her, as a lady ought. “I can’t speak to Mistah O’Connell’s drink choices, nor anything brewed truly. I do intend to speak to him at some point though about a bottle of port, or something of the like, to keep in my home.” she walks a few more steps. “You’re Catholic then, sir?” she asks, curiously.

“I am” he smiles “born and bred a catholic, I fear I aint what you would call a good son oh the church, but I have done the rites save marriage and last rites…haven’t had a confession heard in more years than I can recall,,,might do tha if a new preist finds his way to town.” Finn grins, “I tink we’ll be awhile if he does.”

“I’m sure I cannot speak to what constitutes a good son of the Church, sir. I’m Christian, myself,” Kitty says, with the appropriate amount of reverence. “May I ask, is it possible to give confession to Sister Mercy? She’s taken on most of the former priest’s duties, in her time here, I daresay one more wouldn’t be of much harm.”

“It is not” Finn says shaking his head, “I am pretty sure Mother church will not allow her to be a confessor.” Finn leads the horse, “I need a new suit…” he admits, “and I am not…” he frowns, “good at picking clothing?” he tries, “I wonder if you know anything about how to do..tha?”

“Well, I don’t mean to be contradictory, Sheriff,” Heaven forbid a woman be contradictory. There are fates worse than death such as a contradictory female, but not many. “But I wonder what they might have to say with a half-Cherokee nun warring with some of the local Indians, savages though they may be,” Kitty admits, discreetly offering a touch of gossip. At the question of a new suit, she looks up at him. “You’re in luck there, sir. Mister Schneider, at the general store, I believe he is a tailor, and can likely assist as to what might be appropriate. I myself cannot say that I know the fashions out here, for men.” She continues to walk along beside the man and the horse, every now and again bringing a gloved hand to her nose to inhale the scent of the leaves she’d been picking earlier.

The horse stomps along, trooper that she is. Finn listens as the southern bell speaks, noding just a bit, “As long as the Good Sister minds her manners in me town, and leaves her troubles with the injuns well outside it we will git along just fine.” he says, his irish accent coloring the words “She breaks the law in Grimmwood and Nun or no she’ll see the inside o me jail” Finn gives a meaningful look to Kitty. “I am just looking to be a respectable looking law man…look at me…” Finn stops and turns a slow circle “I look like a right fine trail bum fresh off tha rails…I wouldn’t respect me lookin like this.”

Kitty can’t help but chuckle when the man does a turn. Of course, being the good belle that she is, she only glances when he tries to make his point. Just glances. “Mister Schneider should see you through. I do hope he has access to some good quality southern cotton, though, or linen. I’ve been up North several times, and the suites they wear! I’m sure you’d wither away to nothing in mere moments in the heat of this place in such a thing,” she says, turning her eyes to the horizons around them. Just in case. “Makes you wonder though if it’s her war, sir. Seeing as the old priest did vanish … but then I suppose it’s never been proven where he’s vanished to.”

“Wool suits are a bit warm ma’am, I hail from Pennsylvania…the coal fields” he takes a look about as they continue their journey. “So Southern Cotton would be just fine by me…” he frowns a bit, “felt a bit guilty not heading back…things are looking pretty tense back east, Lincoln might put an end to the slave trade…don’t imagine those southern cotton farms will like that much.”

“They’d like it about as much as northern laborers would,” Kitty points out, easily and conversationally. She’s certainly no Southern Belle at all if she can’t talk her way around difficult issues. “Immediate and widespread emancipation? You’d have millions of negroes flooding every industry, working for half what a man like you could expect to work for. In your coal mines as much as factories and the rest, I’d expect.” She nods a little at that point. “God willing, it’ll all come to pass as peacefully as it ought to have passed already.”

“I don’t care.” Finn says earnestly, “We got Negro’s and Chinamen stealing jobs from good irish lads laying track…” he shrugs “tha whole worlds gonnin ta hell and it’s the owners driving it there ta line their own pockets” Finn is a true son of his culture, Hates the rich more that the minorities!
“But taint my buisness no more…here in tha territories a man can make his own fortune and answers only to himself.”

“Answers to you, you mean,” Kitty points out with a touch of an easygoing smile. “Not the first Irish sheriff, and certainly not the last I imagine. For don’t we all know answer to you and the law, in this particular land? Quite a position of power, that,” she muses, pausing a few steps to smooth out her skirts and remove her gloves. It’s hot, out here.

“It’s good tha town found I good honest man like meself then no?” Finn laughs easily, “So far the worse lawbreaker i’ve met was drunk in public…he was a good lad, said he was sorry for the rukus he caused an i turned him loose in tha mornin…” he looks over Kitty again, “Ya don’t mind me saying Miss Kitty…you shouldn’t be out here alone…an unarmed…those injuns would like nothin better then takin a pretty lady such as yerself back to his lodge an calling her wife.”

“Are you an honest man, Sheriff? It’s a difficult thing to answer. For an honest man would answer yes and it would be true, but a dishonest one would also answer yes, and yet it would not be so honest a description. I suppose your actions shall have to be the proof of it,” Kitty points out. She looks at him when he starts to speak about what she may or may not mind him saying, and what he does say causes her cheeks to flush a touch, and she glances forward again. “I … well perhaps not. But the new array of opportunities out here is too much to pass up. I do promise that I am careful, Sheriff. I certainly wouldn’t wish to cause a bother.” Because that’s what getting kidnapped by Indians is. A bother.

Finn smirks just a bit, “Miss Kitty, I am on the side o the angels against tha powers of darkness” he offers her a bold wink, “fact is I am a terrible liar, I don’t even play poker because of it…can’t bluff.” he shrugs, “Tell you what Miss Kitty…ya wanna come out here and pick your leaves an sticks, I’ll come with you?” he tips his hat forward, “My rifle will keep Navajo bucks from sniffin around ya”

“By the sound of it, you and Sister Mercy shall be quite the best of friends, I should think,” Kitty says with an easy grin. “With that outlook on life, at any rate.” His offer, however, gives her pause for a moment as she considers. “I really ought to say no, Sheriff,” she admits, honestly. “It wouldn’t do for the town’s lawman to be away from town all that often, and if it’s protecting you ought to be doing, there’s more people in town than out here, by my count.”

Finn pats the meat over the back of his horse, “Well Miss Kitty, I like ta hunt, I might even do some trapping…so I’d be out here anyway…as long as you can learn to step lightly you could come along.” Finn pats his horses flank. “And so far the town has been pretty quiet.”

“Well….” Kitty says unsurely. She takes time to weigh his argument, but then does assent to it. “That would be most gracious of you, Sheriff, and I am sure I shall be better off under your care. If my steps are light enough not to be a burden,” she adds. “Hopefully the shootout by the Church will be the last of it, and you’ll have a quiet time of drunks and accidents to see to. God willing.”

Finn frowns, “Tha good Sister thinks her steps are guided by the Holy Father in Rome. or tha Almighty hisself” Finn shakes his head “tha makes her a dangerous person…an she is packing a coach gun that’d take a man in half if she got hold of ‘im right.” Finn shakes his head, “as you say let’s hope tha’s the last o that…I want my town ta be a quiet town.”

“Are all Catholics not guided by the Pope?” Kitty asks, though she likely knows well-enough enough about papists to know they are, in fact, papists. She sighs again, shaking her head a little. “I’m still not quite accustomed to the heat of this town…” she mutters, though it’s really as an aside. The topic at hand is more of interest. “Does the Sister believe the violence is done, with those six or seven men dead?”

“I can’t speak for what the good sister thinks” Finn admits, “An all good sons and daughters of the church follow the Holy father in Rome.” he smiles “just like those who are not catholic follow their preachers…a shepard leads his flock no?” Finn shrugs “The Holy Mother Church is just a bigger flock.”

“Surely you’ll have some knowledge of what she thinks, if you attend her services,” Kitty says as they walk. She lifts her head when the town comes into view along the little dirt path they currently walk. Kitty seems relieved. “She hosts them in the church in lieu of a priest, for the time being. Myself and the other protestants of town convene in a tent just outside the town with Pastor Bishop. I ….” some thought occurs to her and she bites her lower lip for a moment. “Have you met Pastor Bishop yet, sir?”

“I have not set a foot in a church in years Miss Kitty…I am more of a heratic than the heathen savages she killed.” He frowns, “tha church an I had a bit of a falling out…I speak to the almighty directly these days…tha’s what led me out of the coal fields ta start with.”

“Well then, sir, perhaps a protestant way might be more suited to you. For we meet under the sky, not a church, and are often encouraged to speak to God through our prayers,” the woman says with a small, reassuring smile. Her dimples flash again at the gesture. “Especially if your falling out is with the church, which is different from the Almighty himself.” Kitty glances away then, shaking her head. “I do not mean to pry or … insert myself where I don’t belong, of course. My father was keenly religious, and sometimes I forget that it’s not quite so sightly to be so forward on such topics with others.”

“The church would no let me lay my mother ta rest near my Da in the church yard” he says, to those with a knowledge of the church that means one thing, suicide. “The company nicely let me inherit my parrents debt when they passed…mine owners are the right hand of Lucifer hisself.” Finn spits, “train owners are nae much better.”

“I admit, I’ve never known a mine or a train owner, so I cannot speak to it myself,” Kitty admits, softly. “As for the church, well I cannot say that I particularly can speak to them or their business either. Still …. Perhaps you might come, one Sunday. Such a quarrel with the church does not have to be a quarrel with God.”

Finn smiles “The almighty watches over me, tha’s sure Miss Kitty, might be some Sunday you will see me…might be some Sunday they will see me in tha church…iffin they find a proper preist tha is…I have alot to confess whrn tha time comes ta give up me burdens.”

“Well, I’m sure you’re always welcome, sir, and at the very least I’m sure the Pastor would be glad to advise you as he can until a new priest can be found. But…” now that they’re on the edge of town, before they walk onto the street, Kitty stops. She twists her index fingers on either hand together a little, shyly. “Sheriff. Before we go into town and go our seperate ways …. I did want to make sure that you were aware of the fight at the church, even before the one involving Sister Mercy. Some men came in and tried to start an altercation with Pastor Bishop, but he …. Well in a violent fashion he rather concluded that altercation. I saw to the men, no one was seriously injured, but I thought it best you be made aware. I don’t know the nature of any of it but … well law is your business, not mine.”

Finn pauses “The pastor injured several men…tha right?” He asks, just to be clear, “I may have me work cut out for me…tha’s sure.” he frowns a bit, “Thanks to ya for the information Miss Kitty, I will look into it.”

“Yes, Sheriff. That’s correct.” Kitty nods, relaxing as her task is completed. “I shall leave you here then, sir, to see to your kill.” Her smile returns, and she lowers her head in his direction in a respectful nod. “And of course I do thank you for the escort, and for your diligence on behalf of my well-being. Hopefully, with what I’ve gotten, I can make a few poultices to ease the pain of some of the … how are they called here? Lungers.”

Finn shudders at lungers “Anything that would ease their pain…would be a blessin from heaven Miss Kitty” he tips his hat and leads his horse toward the Sheriffs office, a tip of his hat as he departs, “May the road rise ta meet your feet, and the sun be at your back.”

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