Echo of Another Day (Part 3) [Moved]
Location: Blackbird Lodge, Lost Lake Ranch, Montana
Timeline: Early Evening, Sunday, July 11, 1875
Harriet had been grateful when Kate, with twins in tow, had told her that their bags were being taken upstairs. She'd quickly reached the conclusion that she was simply too dusty and dirty to clean up thoroughly in the washroom. There would not be enough time before dinner for a long, soaking bath, but she would be able to take a quick one and put on clean clothes. In the end, she had taken a bit more time and washed her hair, pulling it back into a thick braid afterward. Clad in a gaucho-style, calf-length riding skirt, a full-sleeved gray blouse, and boots, Harriet made her way back downstairs to the family room, nearly colliding with Shade as he passed by the main staircase.
He blinked and reached out to steady her, "Miss Mercer! I'm sorry, afraid I wasn't watching where I was goin'."
"That is quite alright, but - Shade - would you mind continuing to call me Harriet, H.G., or even Miss Harriet if you prefer?" Harriet smiled, "As I told Quentin last night, I am sure there will be ample opportunity for hostilities, but for now, we are on the same side." She still was not sure how she felt about the younger man, but it was best for everyone if they presented a united front - leastways, until after the judge's ruling on Wednesday.
They walked into the huge, open family room to find Ezra setting the table for dinner and the twins playing near the huge fireplace. Kate poked her head out of the kitchen, "Good, you two are here. Start ferrying in the food, will you?"
Shade grinned and winked, "Not home one full day and gettin' put to work!"
Quentin walked into the family room. He had just climbed out of his outfit of the last several days and left it on the floor. He planned to deal with it later after he got a good whiff. Quentin had showered and then poked through his closet. One advantage of staying at the ranch occasionally was that he had left a good selection of clothes because a lot of times he had been riding from one place to another. Quentin was wearing a hunter green shirt with the sleeves rolled back to his mid-forearm and a pair of dark black pants that came down over a pair of low cut boots. Quentin had walked in at the end of Shade' comment. "The secret is not to be caught standing around waiting for the food..."
Harriet shot a look at Quentin and said sweetly, "Which means you can help us." She smiled at Kate and headed into the kitchen.
Jo was also more than grateful for the chance to freshen up, to wash the dust from her skin and hair and to put on clean clothes, this time a dress in dark green with a light silver underlay. Having taken the offer given by Mrs. Hale for a guest bedroom, she'd been able to wash her hair quickly, allowing it to dry in neat little curls, which she pinned up off her face to cascade down her neck to below her shoulders. She didn't know how long they were going to be here in Montana, so she figured she'd just have to make the best of it. The bedroom itself was lovely; the furniture was hand-crafted and well made with cream colored linens, gently accented with a pale lilac. Jo was definitely looking forward to sleeping on an actual bed tonight, a bed that was quite soft and filled with feathers. She hadn't been able to resist laying back on it for a few moments after disrobing of her dusty travel clothes.
After a quick tending to her birds, a few treats, and fresh, cool water, Jo made her way through the halls toward the family room where the others were gathering. Stepping quietly over to Kate, she spoke gently. "May I help in any way?"
"No, dear, just go ahead and grab a seat. Save the far side of the table for me and the twins. They sometimes need supervision," Kate's eyes sparkled as she answered. She knew one or both of the twins would want to sit with Quentin. He'd been very popular with all four of the children. Now, he was a familiar face and family member in a sea of uncertainty. Kate also did a quick count to make sure there was enough room. Six adults and two children. Ezra had already secured the children's booster seats onto two of the chairs. Everything was as ready as possible.
Once all of the food had been set on the table, everyone was seated. Ezra said grace and then passed the first dish, a serving platter heaped with fried chicken. That was the signal for everyone to fill their plates. During dinner, the conversation was casual. Ezra and Kate filled everyone in on child-friendly local news and gossip. She made it clear by her choice of topics that everything else could wait until after dinner.
Continued in Part 4.