Monday, January 26, 2009

Blood is Thicker than Water: Post for Mr. Hyland

Chip Hyland was finishing off a pint of beer—dark, thick, not the kind they served at home. He backhanded the brew off his mustache and leaned back against the bar. Only two more days and he’d be back on the range, punching cows with his daddy. He was ready to get back home.

When he heard his name called, he wasn’t sure if the voice had really come from the old woman beside him. The voice was deep and powerful and had boomed, “William!” No one else in the room had heard it. Probably the beer. That was the safest assumption.

The woman held up a letter. “Yours,” she said, in a light French accent, “sent by a lady.”

Hyland took the letter. The writing was small and delicate. The envelope smelled like a boudoir. He blushed and found a coin for the woman who delivered the message. She took the coin and walked back through the patrons who refused to notice her.

Hyland opened the envelope. It was a letter from Juliet Armstrong.

My dear Mr. Hyland,

Having just met, I am rather reluctant to impose on you. But you are a man of action, and a man of action is exactly what I need. As a result of my foolishness of last evening, Abigail and her aunt have had a quarrel. Miss Raintree the elder is wandering the city in her ire, while I have managed to find Abigail a place to stay at the school she attends and where I work. No reconciliation appears forthcoming. For the elder Miss Raintree’s safety, I can only beg your help. Can you please help me find this esteemable woman? She is at the mercy of a city to which she is a stranger, and is probably subjecting herself to dangers no woman should be subjected to. I realize this is much to ask of you, and I also realize that you most likely have a poor opinion of me for my recent activities, but if you could help me, I would be eternally grateful. Not only would you come to my aid, but to the aid of two women who so desperately need your guiding hand. Please return your response to Miss May Pettijohn’s, asking for me. I remain your friend in hope.

Miss Juliet Armstrong

Hyland headed for the door, jauntily angling his hat on the way out. There was only one recourse to take when presented with a letter like this back where he came from, and although these three women were strange women, he could do no less that offer his aid. This course of action was the only decent course a real man could take.

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