Just Business


ohls_icon.jpg colton_icon.jpg Abigail


* Segenam

Summary: Arden gets an interested party for an apprenticeship. 'smith and Sheriff have a difference of opinions. Thankfully, no gunfire is exchanged.

Date: 7 February, 1884.

Just Business

Blacksmith Shop and Yard

It seems that the new owner of the blacksmith's shop has not let the dust settle from her heels, since taking over the smithy, and the shop has been bustling ever since Jakes handed over the keys. At the moment, the darkened outline of her figure can be seen in the rear of the shop, as she adds a bit more coal to the forge, stoking it to get it up to working temperature. The wave of heat washing back from the forge is a welcome change from the bitter cold of the street outside, and more than a few people have been dropping in, as much to warm up as the say hello. Once the coal shovel is empty, it's set aside, and she moves off towards the tools and their shelves, a rag of some kind in hand.

Clack, clack, click, Abigail's low-heeled boots sound off her approach to the front of the blacksmith's shop before she makes to step within. There's a brief glance tossed out over a shoulder before she's turning her attention back forward and lifting a hand to steady the fabric of her lower garments, simple riding skirts, as she steps further in. "Hello?" It's a simple questioning, though her tones are nowhere near to the warmth of the fire deep within. She can try, though, be friendly-like, with a small smile accenting her features.

Colton steps inside, and blinks at the sudden blast of heat. He moves to one side of the entrance, and glances around. He looks over to Abigail, and touches the brim of his hat.

Arden looks over, at the sound of footsteps, though she continues working, as she picks up a hammer, applying what must be an oiled rag to the metal, polishing, or perhaps preserving it from rust damage. She steps further out into the main open area of the smithy, rag and hammer still in hand, the motions practiced enough to be autotmatic. An answering smile, as light as the one given her, "Evening, ma'am, welcome to the shop. What can I do for you?" Eyes flicker over as another figure darkens her door, and a second, warmer smile, "Sheriff Reynolds. Welcome."

Abigail inclines her head with a gasping breath, curious for a moment and taking the time to look around before she focuses back in the direction of the blacksmith. "Hello," now she's less questioning of the same introduction, clasping her hands together before her waist. The smile briefly sharpens. "I hear you're looking for appren-… -tices…" The woman trails off at the entrance of another and takes to stepping to the side, bowing her chin in greeting, "Sir." She looks between the two of them, but refrains from continuing.

Colton touches the brim of his hat, "Evenin Miss Ohls… I heard there was someone getting to work down here.. I didn't figure you'd be at it before nightfall."

Arden drops the rag over the hammer, to give her free hand a chance to sweep out over the shop, "Feel free to look around. I'm still cleaning out a good mess of dust and dirt, but the place is coming around nicely. I'm Arden Ohls, the blacksmith, as you've guessed, and you are?" Arden seamlessly handled both conversations, as she waves the sheriff in as well, "every day this place stays closed is one day I'm not earning money to pay off the bank. And I can't afford that. Come in and get warm, if you like. Seg's out back in the yard." And back to the woman, "What exactly are you interested in learning?"

"Hayes, Abigail Hayes," there's a pause and then she takes a handful of steps deeper, her boots whispering the trail she takes. With her curiosity holding her gaze, she speaks up quietly but with an idle confidence; "Farrier, specifically, though… I have all the time in the world at things, and am willing to learn anything. I've some experience with it, but meager."

Colton reaches up and unbuttons his coat, and moves are the forge staying well out of the way. He glances over at the pair, but doesn't say anything further.

"Good to meet you, Miss Hayes. I have indeed been hoping to find someone to apprentice with me. Come spring there will be more than enough work to keep a baker's dozen farriers busy, I have no doubt. What sort of experience precisely do you have? Cold and hot, or just trimming and hoof care?" Arden walks the hammer back to the bench, retrieving a pair of tongs next, and repeating the oiling, "There's a pot already filled with coffee and water over on the edge just there," she comments in Colton's direction, "if you wouldn't mind hanging it on the hook, it should be ready shortly." The hook is over the open coals, rather than inside the forge itself.

Colton silently over to the coffee pot. After a few moment of examination, he hangs the pot over on the indicated hook. He smiles, slightly, and nods over to the smith, before looking around some more.

Abigail slows down her inspecting of the blacksmith's shop to instead turn to face Ohls, her hands since having moved to her sides and posture relaxed. There's a friendly glance given in the direction of the sheriff before she begins to respond. "There was the horseshoeing, hoof trimming and general maintenance in keeping quality tools and supplies. I've touched upon veterinary medicine and handling as well, where it counts."

"What sort of shoeing have you done? Cold shoeing only, or have you ever done hot shoeing?" Arden continues working through the collection of tools, pausing only when she gets to a particularly badly rusted pair of clamps. These she carries over to the forge, and swinging the door open, tosses them inside. The heat, with the door open is ferocious, but she doesn't even seem to notice, before she's back working on her maintenance. "And your previous work, was this another apprenticeship? Or did you learn it on a family ranch?" A quirk of a smile, as she looks over at the Sheriff, "I'm sure you're large enough I'll see you before I run into you, you needn't stand in the back."

Colton smiles slightly, and holds up both hands as if she's drawn a gun on him, "Now now.. I know enough to stay out of the way while yer workin… You'd stay out of my way if'n are spots were reversed.

"Cold, and have never tried my hand at hot. I'm willing to try, but," she lifts her hands up before her as if to explain her lack of practice in this category. The gesture is tossed aside for more words and Abigail takes a few steps further to the side. "Ranch, mine, but that was a long time ago. Never took an apprenticeship before, up until trying for it now."

"Well, of course I would, but your job comes with a gun, mine doesn't. Although I have had cause to use a red hot iron against a particularly belligerent customer before." A hand waves away the comment made to the sheriff, before she turns to give the woman her full attention, "If we start you out, the first thing you'll do is learn every aspect of hoof care. Learning the proper way of trimming and clipping, treating disease and maintaining the horse's health. Then we start on cold shoeing. We will only begin hot shoeing when you have mastered everything else. And at any point, if I feel you are not working up to the standards that I set for my apprentices, your studies end." A pause, before she continues, "And as well, for you, if any any time you are unhappy with my tutelage, you are free to walk away." She sets down the rag, and moves to get the pot off coffee from the hook, using a clean piece of wool to protect her hand from the heat, "Have you done any work before the forge?" A glance back at Colton, "Would you like a cup?" And to Abigail, "And you?"

Colton nods once, "Yes Maam.. I coulds stand to coffee up."

Upon a slowed inhale, Abigail focuses in on listening to the other woman with nods done alongside Arden's words. "I can do it," she reassures with simple tones and another nod given. She starts to speak up further but then retains a momentary silence to instead head over to the others. "Please," is her initial response, with regards to the offer of coffee, "Not particularly, no, but I'm not shy of the work that'd be required of me."

Arden sets the pot down on the steel plate beside the coals, and goes to retrieve a trio of cups from a small cupboard set into the back wall. A holding table sits in for a regular serving table, and she pours three cups, before she sets down a jar of sugar cubes, "If you're wanting cream, it's in the pitcher just outside the window in the snowbank." See? Winter's good for something, "Sheriff," she hands the man the coffee black, being already familiar with his preference. "Well, we should probably give you something of a trial run." Arden sets aside the coffee fixings, and heads to the back door, the one opening out to the yard. Seg's shuffling and welcoming whinny break the stillness, before she leads the stallion back inside, having cleared a path for him already. They move to the interior hitching post, but she doesn't tie him up, instead, she simply speaks quietly to him in the dialect she normally uses with him and lets him stand, "When you are finished with your coffee, please put on one of the leather aprons and clean his hooves."

Colton smiles slightly, and takes the cup with a nod, "Thank ye Maam." He looks over to Abigail, "This woman don't waste no time.. She'll keep ye workin."

Abigail comes to a stand near to the two of them and inclines her head respectfully forward before turning to the coffee itself. She glances to the side, in the direction of the horse's calling and to Arden, and then turns back to the coffee now. "I don't mind, honestly," she replies. With that, she ignores the opportunity to take with the coffee and instead moves to find one of the leather aprons called for. Once secured, she's walking out and following the other woman's tracks, cleaning tools in tow. This is not her horse, which leads her to look after the stallion at a small distance away. She questions, "Just cleaning?"

"Well, that is part of the test, isn't it? Knowing what all the horse needs when he's brought to you." Arden moves over to the window, swinging it open to retrieve the milk, Seg's head turning to watch the new woman approaching him, snuffling a greeting, curious as always. But he's a good boy, and he stands perfectly still, otherwise, just as Arden asked. The milk is carried back and added to her coffee, before she turns to study the woman, quite intently, "Have you and Lady Fitzgerald decided on what type of shoeing you'll be wanting for your hoses, Sheriff?"

Colton nods, "We'll want to hot shoe 'em.. Might have a herd here.. in a month .. month and a half. If you can come out.. We'll get you a place set up, and you can tell us what to build for it."

"I have the setup drawn out for you, along with the proper dimensions and the equipment that you'll need. After," she indicates the woman getting her trial run, and the coffee, still being drunk, "I'll give them to you so that you can start getting the supplies together, but i'll come out myself to oversee the building. I want to make sure that it's done properly. But if you have anyone who'd wish to assist, make sure they're there with me so they can see what I'm doing."

Colton nods once, "Shouldn't be a problem Maam.. We'll see to it soon as the weather permits."

Arden continues to watch Abigail work, her eyes attentive, not only to the woman's movements, but to Seg's reactions to her. "He's a good boy…but he doesn't tolerate fools. Of course he'd never hurt anyone, unless he had to to protect himself, or me, but, he'd give her a very difficult time." A nod, before she glances back, "Approximately how many horses will you be having in the spring, that will need shoeing?"

Colton shrugs, "Two hundred to three hundred.. You won't have to shoe all of 'em of course…"

"I'd say shoe the ones that will be doing the most labour. If you have some which you'll just be raising or using for breeding, they will do just as well without shoes. especially if you have mustangs. The feral ones, and the ones that are just outside of it have hooves much harder than the domesticated horses, and shoes might actually be a detriment to them. But for even half that number, I'd be willing to cut the price to 2.50 a head, and that includes the cost of supplies. I'll start working on the stock shoes as soon as the forge is up to temperature, so that we'll have a good set to work with beforehand. if you can get me the approximate age ranges of the horses that will help as well, so I know what sizes to start with. And I'll need a count of approximately how many of your working horses will need caulkins on their shoes."

Colton nods, "We'll know more when the herd gets here.. If it does." He looks over to her, "If it comes in. I'll let you take a look at 'em. I reckon some of 'em will be broke for ridin…Some of 'em for breedin, and some of 'em are prolly glue."

A shake of her head, as Arden sets aside the coffee cup, moving to place the milk back into snow to keep cool, "Why would you kill them simply because you couldn't find a use for them, Sheriff? A horse that cannot be useful to you is still a living creature that can be of use to someone else. Even an old horse is useful to someone who does not have one at all. And they have done nothing to deserve death. Why not auction them off to the less affluent members of the community, who would be glad for a horse, even one that is not up to the Fitzgerald standard?"

Colton looks over to her, "Maam.. I'd save everyone of 'em if'n I could. Like it er not.. Its a business. You can't afford to feed the ones that won't be of value to ye all winter. If'n anyone would buy 'em.. Then they'd be worth somethen. As it stands.. I imagine some of 'em won't even make the trip."

"Those that do not make the journey, their deaths are on the hands of those who were bringing them, and did not care for them properly. But deaths do not have to be on your hands too. Sell those whom you do not want to keep, and let the others free to roam and die in their own time. Killing an animal…for what…a few measly cents at a factory? When it could have a good life outside of it? And I am quite certain you could find buyers for all of them, especially if you looked among the migrant workers and the poor, those for whom a horse would be a help, even in the little things, a horse that you would sell for its parts because it was not up to your standards." Arden finishes her coffee, moving over to the back door and tossing out the dregs, before she uses a bucket of clean water to rinse her cup.

Colton watches the smith quietly, and lifts his cup to drink, "Jest ain't enough folks out here to sell 'em all to.. If we were back east maybe Maam." He watches Abigail as he works on the horse, and falls silent again.

"So you would kill an animal for no other reason than to make a few dollars at the factory, rather than giving that animal its freedom, and allowing it to live its life?" She looks back towards Segenam, the appaloosa standing tall, and a soft sound brings the horse's head around to look in her direction, "Would you kill him, if he didn't suit you? If you felt he couldn't bring you the money you wanted?" Arden continues to watch her lazy boy, "He has a heart every bit as strong and brave as yours, Sheriff Reynolds. Every horse does, they ask only to be loved and to do good work, and if they cannot work, to be free. And you'd take that away from them?"

Colton shakes his head, "No Maam.. I wouldn't kill 'im for that.. but I won't turn 'em loose into these mountains in the dead of winter to slow starve 'em in the snow.. Freeze to death… Starve.. et by wolves.. Not after I took from their home and brung 'em here. I don't you don't much like to hear it, but Its a business. I ain't about to kill one I think I can sell, but I won't waste money on horseflesh that I can't make their feed back.. If I do that.. Then I'm out of work, and Lady Fitzgerald is out of a home. I love horses Maam. I can't see work I can't do from horseback, but I won't ruin someone to save the few head that won't turn money over.. I ain't got that luxury."

"It seems to me, that if you loved horses as much as you claim, then you would find a way to make back the money you might lose feeding them in winter. especially considering that there is enough forage in the spring and summer here that you hardly need to buy feed at all." Arden turns away, moving back to the forge, reopening the door to pull out the tool she placed in to heat a while back, pulling the iron out red hot, and carrying it to the slack bucket, the hiss loud in the room as she squenches it.

You say, "As you said, it was your hand that brought them out here to a place where they might die if they were not tended."

Abigail sniffs at the warmed air and then angles her gaze back towards the horse, Seg. She has to do this confidently, without pause and without trouble. She's done this before, too, and that helps, but she's no Goddess or otherwise impervious to anxiety. It's just her and the stallion, though the others be near to her. She breathes again and then forces out a good-natured smile. "I'm going to go about fixing you, in a good way, so don't go about breaking me, please," she's murmuring it, calmly, almost under her breath. It helps to steel her nerves while approaching. "I suppose I should begin by introducing myself."

The blonde's beginning to work into a more eased procedure, training and experience taking over her movements. Guided, she comes to stand beside the horse, facing the rear and looking briefly about before leaning forward. Her nearest hand comes down, smoothly, tracing over musculature until reaching fetlock. She pauses, the smooth touch briefly stiffening until the horse has raised the leg, allowing her to take a half-step forward and better position herself until she's holding up the hoof. "Like I said, I'm Abigail Cate Hayes." She lifts her pick and begins to clean from heel to toe. While out goes packed snow and dirt, even a stone, in comes her quieted words, "I'm from Missouri - well, originally, Pennsylvania. Philadephia, specifically — started out for here when my husband died, 'out west' in general. Same thing happened with the rest of my family though."

"But, they're in a better place." She continues, moving from rear right to rear left. It's an easy-going process for her. A few moments are worked through in silence but she has words for the horse and she'd like for Seg to listen to her murmuring ramblings. "Used to own a horse just like you, you know," this she adds matter-of-factly before glancing up and patting gently at her apron-covered thighs. She's finished and takes a slow step back, smiling. "You're healthy, you know. I'll have to see about removing these shoes though, if I'm lucky. I bet you'd like that. I'll be right back."

Balling her hands briefly into fists, Abigail turns her attention to the others now and is soon walking towards them. She takes her time though. She's in no rush, after all. Hands at her hips, she speaks up, "I miss something important?" She should have been paying more attention.

Colton says, "Well Maam.. If'n you find someone to buy 'em you can sure let me know. I'd be happy to sell 'em if I could." He shakes his head, "I ain't gonna hold out hope for 'em.." He looks over to Abigail, and shakes his head, "No Maam.. jest a difference in opionion I reckon." He lifts his cup to empty it, "Thank ye for the coffee Maam.. I sure do appreciate it.""

"The world is built on differences in opinion, Sheriff. I see no reason why we cannot work past them." And indeed, despite the fact that she feels so strongly in opposition to Colton's stance, her tone is, as it has always been, calm, and friendly. Because whatever else, he is a friend, even if a new one. But once Abigail finishes, she looks back to the woman, "That was a good eye to catch the shoeing. He is overdue to have them off. Now that he's got a place of his own, and I can keep him close, I'll be looking to have them off and put him in his boots." A smile, first to Abigail, and then to Colton, "You're quite welcome. There's always a meal on the table and a cup of coffee to go with it in my home for you, Sheriff." And a return to Abigail, "And you, I think, will do nicely. I think we will work quite well together. And Seg likes you, and if he does, then that's good enough for me." Indeed, the stallion, now being clean and proper, canters in a circle to face the trio, stepping forward to nose Abigail in the shoulderblade, "His treats. He gets them when he's been good." She pulls out a bag, handing it to the blond.

Colton touches the brim of his hat, "Much obliged Maam.. I better get back to it.. You all have a good evenin."

You say, "Good night, Sheriff. Safe journey."

Colton nods once, "Evenin Mamm."

"Ah, okay. You too, Sir," Abigail smiles and nods to Colton but she can't much say more on the conversation at hand, instead she's focusing back on the horse. The bag is taken and she peeks into it once before slipping her hand into it out of curiosity. A thoughtful murmur cracks her silence before she begins treat the horse to what he's earned. "Thank you, ma'am," is added, in response to Arden.

Arden watches the Sheriff exit the smithy, before she turns back to the coffee, washing out his cup as well, before she sets the rest of it aside to cool. Seg, for his part, sends a nicker in Colton's direction, before he starts nibbling at the carrots Abigail pulls out of the bag, "You'll need some changes of clothes, when you're working. Men's trousers, shirts, a leather vest if you can find it. I have extra aprons for you to use. But the amount of clothes you're wearing, all that fabric is bound to be a danger in the shop. Outside, you may dress as you please. Have you found a place to stay in town yet?"

Abigail herself takes a moment to regard the fleeting figure of the Sheriff before giving a glance over towards Arden. She looks between woman and entrance once more. Then, she turns her attention to Seg and pats just above the nose: no more treats. While she accepts the potential change of wardrobe she also offers the bag of carrots back. "I'll see what I can do about clothing. I'm sure I'll find something," she replies. "But, no, I haven't found anything, yet. I hope that isn't a problem."

"We disagreed on whether or not horses that might be unprofitable should be kept for the winter and then set free or sold to a processing factory." Catching the woman up on the conversation she missed. But she soon continues, "If you need money for your changes in clothes, I'll be more than happy to lend you what you need, and we can set up a suitable repayment schedule out of your wages at the shop. The hotel is close, and has some very nice rooms, but it's a bit pricy. There's also the boarding house, but it's a distance from the smithy. For the short term, if you would rather, you're welcome to stay at the house, until you find something that suits you better."

"Oh," Abigail would rather not comment on the conversation since both original parties are not here within the blacksmith anymore. It would be rude of her. She begins to wipe over her brow with the back of her right forearm while listening, nodding once before dropping the hand to her side. "No, no. I don't think I'll need the money. I'll come to you if I do, ma'am," she pauses and wrinkles the bridge of her nose. "So too expensive and too far a distance, but I'd hate myself if I were to impose upon you. You wouldn't allow me to my own devices, would you?"

"You are never as free in someone else's home as you are in your own. I have rules I live by, that might be unpalatable to you. And that is fine. I would say meet with the hotel manager and see what the long tern arrangement terms might be and you can also ask around town as to who might have a house or a room to let. The boarding house is where many of the unwed women live, and it is safe there. And if you have a horse, then the trip is not long. It is your choice."

Abigail looks on ruefully towards the entrance before making a face and turning away from it. In turning away, she comes to face after Arden. It's an executive decision on her part, to get rid of her uncertainty. "I've no horse to care for nowadays, but I'll look around. If I'm your apprentice, then I can offer my work around your house too, if you don't mind. I'm a fair cook, to the least."

"Then we will have to find you one. You will need one to travel as much as we will be. I have a few contacts I can speak with, and we will find you someone suitable. But I don't need a servant, in addition to an apprentice. if we are to live together, even in the short term, we can share the housekeeping duties." Arden looks to Seg, calling out to him in that soft, lilting foreign tongue, and the horse comes to her, as she moves to the door, "Let me show you the house, and then we can go to get whatever you brought with you." She opens the door, allowing the stallion to move out ahead of her, before she heads into the yard.

"What is that? The language?" Abigail's awfully curious about it, following after both Arden and the stallion. She's since removed the leather apron in the process of following and even disarmed herself of the previously borrowed tools. "I don't have much of anything, don't worry. There's just a small satchel of necessaries I bring along, the rest… well, the rest got me here." She pauses in step to actually look around before picking her pace back up to follow, gaze trailing along from point of interest to next point.

"Cree. The language of my mother's people." Arden waits until you've exited into the yard, before she directs Seg back to his stall, and the horse smoothly moves back in, and after a check to make sure he has food and water enough to last through the night, she locks him in. That done, she continues through the yard, and on towards the house, "I do for myself as much as I can, so that I do not forget the ways of my mother's people." She steps up onto the porch, and moves to open the door.

"I wish it sounded familiar…" She murmurs it aloud, to herself, while back-tracking through her mind to see if she's happened upon it before; yet, her past proclaims she hasn't, leading her to look after the other woman then turn her head to the nearby vegetable garden. At least to her, it's what remains of one in the middle of winter. Folding her hands over her stomach, Abigail moves to follow once again with boots clacking upon the porch and then guiding her within once allowed. "You're no stranger to help, though. You should take it more often."

"Most of my people live far to the north, in canada. It's not surprising that you don't recognize it. I have not met another Cree for many years. I can teach it to you, if you like. Or if you prefer, I also speak french, which might be more useful to you. Segenam speaks all three, and he minds me in all of them." Abigail opens the door, and holds it open for you to step inside first, "I take it when it is needed. When it is not, it is wasted, and is a sign of laziness."

<scene faded due to lateness>


Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License