Part One

I looked for an opportunity to address the shorter, gray-haired woman when we reached our evening stopping point, a wayside inn, and at last found her out of hearing distance of her younger companion just before our small group entered the dining room for dinner. "I apologize for...earlier. I do not mean any harm," I quietly said at her side.

She turned to face me, and her eyes boldly searched my facial features, looking for I'm not sure what, but I must have passed inspection. She nodded curtly and her features softened somewhat. I noticed that her full cheeks matched that of The Green-Cloaked-Lady (as I had taken to calling the young woman in my mind).

I surmised that they were relations, possibly mother and daughter, and I also amused myself by deciding the nose must have been passed down to the daughter from her absent father as it certainly was not present on the mother's face. With these new observations tucked into my mind, I strode across the wooden boards into the dining room and towards my dinner.

In satisfaction, I took note of the ten people seated on benches flanking the long table, only four of them familiar: the mother and daughter (as I had decided they were), the fidgety school teacher (as I had dubbed the young lady who'd been seated beside me during the ride) and "The Kid" the young boy about twelve-ish (whose role I still puzzled over) - these four had ridden in the stage coach with me all day. The other five came from a second stage coach driving Northward in tandem with ours which supplied for my pleasure new faces to observe, new personalities to enjoy. An aristocratic older woman with head held properly erect and silver hair immaculately pinned atop sat proudly at the wooden table awaiting her turn to be served. I decided the middle-aged woman with a quiet face, plainly gowned and seated beside the lady must be her maid-servant. Three men also traveled in that carriage. One full-bodied in every aspect - a head full of disheveled dark hair, face full of disheveled dark beard, deep, boisterously-toned voice, thick, muscular body. Amused, I noted that even the clothing he wore appeared thicker than the average man's. Made of home-woven cloth, the ensemble appeared to be designed to outlast the man's energetic activity level. The second man gave the impression of honesty and nose-to-the-books attention to detail. I immediately decided he worked with numbers, most likely a financier or accountant. His acorn brown hair slicked back from a thin face on which thin glasses spanned the bridge of his impossibly thin nose. I unintentionally breathed a low laugh as I compared the two men, Thick and Thin. The third male had chosen the seat next to mine, so my observations of him could not be as thorough, but he apparently had heard my chuckle.

He turned to me with an easy grin on his slightly freckled face, "Share the joke, Chap?"

I hesitated to share, for the joke would be at the expense of our table-mates, but something in his open, ready-to laugh expression eased my caution. I nodded towards the two men across the table, "I've named them Thick and Thin." I left it at that, thinking to myself, If I have to explain, he's not as humorously astute as I thought him.

The auburn-haired young man grinned knowingly, "You didn't ride with them. I've named them Flam and Clam." At my wrinkled brow he elaborated, "Flamboyant and Clammed Up."

I easily guessed which was which and smothered a short guffaw. I stuck out a hand, "I'm Matt." The grinning man next to me gripped my hand in his and shook quickly, "Jedidiah." Just over my new friend's shoulder I could see The Kid's face in profile. While his head bent towards his plate, his eyes had flicked upward to view Flam and Clam, a fleeting grin pulled at his full lips, and I was certain he had overheard our conversation.

Although I had tried earlier that day with poor results, I leaned over Jedidiah and addressed The Kid, "Son, I like your sense of humor." My outstretched hand was ignored, but I did receive a brief nod to acknowledge my words. Instead of his face, I could view only the top of his hat. After a second or two, I shrugged at Jedidiah and put my body back in its ready to eat position.

"Young man, remove your hat as befits a proper gentleman at the table." The high-pitched, authoritative voice belonged to the silver-haired woman across from me. Her stern gray eyes fixed on the top of The Kid's hat as she waited for his acquiescence. The clatter of knives and forks against stoneware continued all around, and Flam's rollicking tale of a friend's recent fishing adventure boomed over us. I kept my eyes on my newly filled plate, not wanting to risk glancing up and seeing Jedidiah grin.

I felt for The Kid. No boy trusted with journeying on his own wants to be bossed and reminded of etiquette by a stranger in front of strangers, but his next action surprised me. With a muttered "Excuse me," he quickly and quietly stepped backward over the bench and slipped out of the room. His exit was so smooth, I believe only Jedidiah, Lady Silver and myself even noticed it. I considered going after him, but on second thought realized how embarrassed I might have felt at his age. Twelve-ish is hard for a boy, I remembered. Better to let him work it out on his own.

Besides, the roast in front of me had reached the perfect temperature and tenderness, and it wouldn't stay that way for long. I hungrily shoved a forkful into my mouth.

Part 3
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3 Responses
  1. Suanna Says:

    Missy, is this the preview to the novel or murder mystery that you are writing. It reminds me of a Georgette Heyer novel I once heard on tape. It's intriguing.

  2. No, it's not anything. Last week, I had people in my head again, so instead of purging them into my notebook, I wrote the scene onto my blog. I thought that would be the end of it, but after typing them out, they didn't leave me. Instead, I've spent a week listening to them telling me stories.

    I'm really glad you like them. :-)

  3. Amy H Says:

    hhhmmmm, voices in your head? We shall speak:)
    JK, love to read your writing!

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