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* None.

Summary: Arden and Jesse get to work repairing the church and the manse.

Date: 21 February, 1884


Silver Creek Church and the Manse

Jesse is in the church at the foyer. Talking to a butcher who's appaarently delivering food for the house next door, along with the grocer. "Thanks," the preacher says with a smile, shaking hands and rising, showing the two men out. "Just next door, on the kitchen table, thank you," he calls to them, brushing his hands and pushing his chair into the small table in the foyer.

Just as the two men are heading out to make their delivery, the blacksmith comes up the walk, a crate with cutouts for her hands hefted as she walks. She waits for the two men to clear the walkway, before she approaches the church, "Jesse, you about to have services?"

"Nope. Just finished an hour ago. I was just having some food delivered. How are you doing Arden?" the ex-officer says with a smile, clapping the last departing man on the back and tilting his head to regard her. "What's that?" he asks as he reaches for the crate.

I came around a few days ago, to check on the Sackett's wagon, see if they needed any other repairs, and I noticed that the locks around the church and on the house are pretty badly damaged from disuse and the weather we've been having. So I thought I might put my day off to good use and get them changed out for you."

Jesse looks surprised. "Well thank you. But you can't do that for free, I can't let you do that - at the very least I'll owe you food or something!" the preacher says with a smile. "God bless you though, thank you for all your help. I know the congregation - and I - will really appreciate it."

Arden shakes her head, "It was no trouble, honestly. I've been working on another order from a shopowner who wanted security bars and such for her doors and windows, and I got the metal from the old train station. It was no trouble to make a few more." Actually, considering how many locks and latches need to be changed out on both house and church, it was quite a few, but she doesn't seem to much mind the extra work, "If you're free now, we can get started. I brought my tools."

Jesse smiles, "That's good. And I sitll want to pay you, somehow. Sure, I can help," he says as he finishes closing the outside door, pulling off his suitcoat and his coat, rolling his sleeves up to reveal his forearms. "JHow can I help?" he asks.

"We can discuss payment another time. Why don't we start on the doors, and then we can do the windows. Do you have a ladder we can use?" Arden sets down the crate on a bench near the front door of the church, pulling out the first small bundle. She's bundled each of the locks together with the hardware for it. She keeps that, and the hammer, offering you the metal prybar to help work out the nails, "Start pulling the lock on the front door? You do the door, I'll see if we need to replace the fitting in the frame."

Jesse takes the prybar and nods, "I think so," he says, and steps out, moving to the small shed behind the church. He comes back with a toolbelt and a ladder, laying it against the wall, "There we go," he says as he leans over to start working on the nails with the prybar and the lock, humming to himself.

Arden leaves you to work on the front door, leaving the lock as well, as she moves to check the rest of the church. "The inside latch look alright," she calls back, as she uses the ladder to climb up to the first window, of the four large ones providing light to the small church, "But of rust, but I can clean that off." She uses the hammer to remove the latch, pulling out a small strip of sandpaper and beginning to work on the metal, sanding down the bits of rust and rough bits. "I left some grease for the joints, if you need them." It won't take her long to clean up the latch, and replace it, hammering it in with new nails, to sill and window, and then to lubricate the fittings that open and close the window.

"There," he says with a grunt, pulling the lock off. "There we go. The inside and outside lock is off," he says as he glances up with a smile. "Thank you so much. This door was creaking," he admits as he adds some grease to the inside latches and outside ones, and the door leading to his private home.

"The frame looked alright, but if it doesn't fit with the lock, I included a new one in with it." Arden, having finished the first window, moves on to the second, climbing up and beginning to repeat the process. She may not know everything that there is to know about carpenting, but a good blacksmith knows not only how to make metal bits for buildings, but also how to install and service them, so these she can manage, "The front door's the only door that leads outside, yes? The other one just goes to your house?"

Jesse nods, "The other one just leads to the manse. That's it. There's no backdoor leading to the garden and shed." he says as he moves to work on removing the lock from the inner and outter half of the door that leads to his private home. "You doing okay up there?"

"I'm fine, thankfully, I'm tall enough to be able to reach." Yes, being what might be considered abnormally tall for a woman makes life that much easier in her line of work. She comes back down off the ladder, carrying them over to the other side of the church, starting on the window closest to the altar next, "How have they been managing, since they came to work for you? You find them a place to stay?"

Jesse shakes his head, "They've been alright. Hard workers, but very sad. There was an abandoned place on the edge of town, I helped them find room there, and they'll stay there until they decide what to do. The wife is still helping out here cleaning the church, with her children, and picking up my place from time to time." he admits as he rubs his face.

"Seems like the church and the manse could use a full-time housekeeper, unless you plan to be bringing a wife home sometime soon. Why not keep them on permanently? It's honest work, and if you bring her husband on as well, as a handyman, they could both bring in a decent wage. And you've a garden you said? They could help with that. I know there might not be much to do now, with the weather, but come spring, you'll likely be gone from dawn until dusk traveling around town and to the farms and ranches outlying. Would be good to have someone here watching the church and your personal quarters. Not to mention there'll be work to do when repairs start in the spring. The train station will be being rebuilt, I think, at some point, and all of the buildings that were burned down during the fire."

"I have thought the exact same thing. Just trying to convince them of that," Jesse admits with a smile. "Convincing them that it's not jsut a handout," he says as he moves to a corner, pulling out a cool canteen of water and offering it to her. "I'm working on them slowly but surely," he adds. "They are pretty spooked and pretty scared over all."

Arden finishes the third window, and pauses, coming over, and with a thank you, takes a sip of water, before she sets it back down. "I'm certain you'll be able to convince them to stay. After all, don't they teach you that sort of thing in minister school?" Arden steps back to finish the fourth window, pulling the ladder back over.

"They do," he says with a grin. He walks over to the ladder, helping hold it in place and looking up at her as she works. "They do. Convincing and all that. All that sort of charismatic stuff, and negotiation and persuasion of God's plan," he adds.

"Sounds like the sort of thing you'd need," Arden offers, as she looks down, before she returns to work, "You haven't recieved a visit from the marshal yet, have you, or from William Franklin? He came to the shop asking after the Sackett's a handful of days ago." Arden finishes replacing the latch, and then pushes the window open to grease the joints. Once that's done, she starts back down.

Jesse shakes his head, "I haven't. I sent word to the sheriff about that young man that came to see you and his threats against the Army. Otherwise I haven't talked to anyone and they haven't come to see me," he says, holding the ladder steady as you begin to walk your way down.

Arden steps down off of the ladder, again, with a thank you, before she puts her tools back into her belt, and makes for the door and the crate, "Ah, yes, Sheriff Reynolds asked about the letter, and I told him what happened that night, but I haven't heard anything else about it. But something's not right, this new prohibition against guns inside town. I have a feeling things will get much worse before they get better." She looks over, "Want the toolshed redone also, or just the manse?"

Jesse nods and smiles, "Sure. Why not," he says as he looks around, "I really appreciate this. I really do. And as for the prohibition … laws against guns in town really isn't all that unusual, you know," he says as he reaches for his canteen to take a small sip from it. "Yes, please. The toolshed I guess for the tools and the manse," he adds.

"I know they're not. My concern is the timing of doing it. Why now? Why not when he first came? I think he's trying to bring things to a head, and my fear…is that innocent people are going to get caught in the crossfire, people like Marie Ramirez." A shake of her head, as Arden picks the crate back up with one hand, and after opening the door, takes it in both and heads back towards the shed, "You hunt, minister?"

"Not much since the war, but now and then," he says with a smile. He grabs the toolbelt and canteen nad moves to follow you out to the shed, a stout shed with a heavy lock that's pretty rusty. "Why do you ask, do you need to go hunting?" he asks.

"Abigail and I are nearly through the venison I brought back a while ago, and I enjoy the peacefulness of being out, especially in winter. And I've seen some pretty impressive elk ranging up near the mountain pass." She sets the crate down in the hardened snowpack near the door and starts working at prying off the lock, using the claw on the back of the hammer, "Thought if you were interested, you might want to come with me." She laughs, "I know, you're probably wondering why I bother when there's two perfectly good butchers in town." One would be the normal butcher, the other the kosher butcher, "But I prefer to catch my own, and the skin and the carcass can have many uses."

Jesse grins as he glances over. "We could use the elk in the church," he admits, "There are some families that could use the extra meat. And I do like venison, venison stew and steaks and chili," he says as he takes a long sip from the canteen. "A day trip, or a several day trip, how far is it?" he asks. "I have wagon, for the carcass I imagine," he adds.

"Not more than half a day to get from here to the mountain pass, it's just north of town. As for how long it would take the track and catch them, maybe a day or two, depending on how many you wanted to bring back. I'd say one, for now, if we can get a nice bull. Figure…600 pounds for one with a full rack, that's about, probably close to 250 pounds of meat alone. That's not including the head, or the internal organs."

Jesse nods, "Sounds worth it. Things are still quiet here. I could take the time," he says with another nod. "And the meat would be good. And maybe a new blanket out of it," he says with a wry grin, "When the winter comes and it's so damn cold out here, pardon my French so to speak."

Arden nods, sanding down the fittings for the shed and after rummaging through the crate, coming out with a new lock and starting work on it, "I have a shed set up for dressing it in the yard by the shop, we could do it there, if you didn't want to do it in the field. I'm not picky either way, I've done both, in my time." Arden works smoothly and carefully, but long practice makes it an easy process. "Anything else, before we move on to the house?"

Jesse watches the work and shakes his head with a smile. "No, but you will let me pay you for your time and your effort and your supplies," he says. "Dressing in the field is fine with me. That's the best way to make sure that the meat is good, right?" he says. "The house next. Should be easy enough. Front door, back door," he adds.

"Well, it's the best way to make certain it's cooled down as quickly as possible, yes. we can load up the wagon with crates and pack them with snow and ice to keep the meat cool, until we can get it back to town. Strip the carcass and leave the bones for the animals to eat, so that everything can be used." A bit of grease and the door to the shed is done, and Arden heads towards the back door, as it's closest, ignoring the comment about work and paying.

Jesse grins and glances over, "That's the third time you've ignored me saying I'll pay," he says as he walks over to the house, opening the back door after unlocking it and working some grease into the hinges there, helping pry off the old lock before you install the new one.

Arden glances up from her work, "Then perhaps you should take inference from that and stop saying it." There's amusement in her voice, as she works in sync with you to get the work done as quickly as possible, "What about the windows, have you gone through and checked all of them including the top story?"

Jesse admits, "I haven't. I checked the structural members under the house, checked the roof, checked the walls. I hadn't checked the windows yet," he adds with a smile. "But if you want to, I don't mind that at all, I should be safe from those burgulars and bandits, right?"

Arden finishes the back door, and rather than trek snowy, muddy shoes through the house, she starts to walk around to the front. "These are desperate times, Minister, and I don't think I have to tell you that people often get the impression that if anyone is going to have money, it'll be a minister with his collection box waiting to be broken into." Again, the crate is set down, this time on the front verandah of the house as she waits for you to unlock the door.

Jesse unlocks the door and takes off his boots, stepping in to work on the hinges there as well, and the hinges on each door on the inside, working carefully. "I guess you are right," he adds. "They would come for me. And if I'm sleeping - old man, remember - I can't really defend myself," he adds.

Arden leaves the inside lock to you, turning her attention to the outside, and it doesn't take long before the last lock has been replaced, leaving only the windows to finish, "I would hardly call you old, Jesse. You're what, barely more than a decade older than I am?" Once Arden's finishes, she steps down to the snowbank, to clean off her boots, before she steps into the house, wiping her soles on the thick rug outside the door.

"Decade can be a long time," he says with a slow smile as he works on the lock. He finishes putting it in place - not exceptional work, but passable. "When do you want to leave for the trip?" he asks as he pads socked into the living room and then kitchen to wash his hands. "Do you want something to drink, a cool cloth?" he asks.

Arden steps into the house, having cleaned off her boots, and takes them off, setting them inside the door, out of the way of foot traffic, "I suppose it can. And no, I'm fine, I'd like to get the house finished before I lose momentum. I hope you don't mind." Thankfully, the windows are at a more manageable level, and in better condition than the church, and so they only need a few touchups, and a bit of grease.

Jesse grins, "Alright. I know how that goes," he says as he steps further into the house. He washes his hands again and grabs some cool water, sipping it as he points to one window. "I think that one isn't quite flush, at some point I'll pull it out and put it back in again with a good enough shim," he adds. "But that can wait for a bit." he adds.

Arden works her way diligently through the downstairs windows, pausing as she gets to the one you indicate, in the dining room, and nodding, as she has to hit it a few times to get it to open out, "Looks like there's some warping in the frame. Doesn't feel rotten, but might need to replace the entire thing, when the weather gets better." She continues working, "Looks like the house might have been being used by that traveling minister. It doesn't look as abandoned as the church did when you first arrived."

Jesse nods, "Someone was here at least," he says with a smile as he checks the window frame in question. "It'll hold until the warmer weather," he says as he glances over. "The house was in good shape. The church may need a good new roof next winter, but it can wait at least that long," he adds as he sdratches his jawline. "How has your workload been?" he asks.

"Busy, as a matter of fact. I received that order from the shopkeep, and i've been working on producing pieces for the undertaker, and samples of work for the gunsmith for the new house he hopes to build. That, on top of the normal shoeing, repairs and such. A full day's work most days. But I take time off when I can."

You say, "What about you?"

Jesse smiles, "The church is slow. People are tucked away for winter. Once that changes, I'll have more people, once word passes. For now things are quiet. It gives me a chance to get throguh refitting the house and getting the church up to snuff. Otherwise .. plenty of time to read I suppose, and rest. And learn the town and about all the people," he adds.

"You should come over in the evenings, when you're free. I've been teaching Abigail Cree, and we've been using a copy of the bible written in the language for her to practice reading out of. You might enjoy it." Arden finishes with the windows in the downstairs, and heads up to finish the second floor, "This house have an attic space?"

Jesse nods and points up, "It does. No basement beyond a small pantry with a cool space to store food. BUt an attic up there, I haven't gone exploring up there much," he says. "I think I might like that, learning along with her. A man can never learn enough, or so I've been told. And I have many free evenings," he admits with a full smile, heading along with her.

"You would be welcome. And it helps me, to have someone to speak with, besides Seg, who hasn't yet learned how to answer me back. I'm not due for my next trip back to Quebec for quite a few months, and I don't want to lose what I know from lack of use." Arden starts systematically moving from one room to the other, paying little mind to what's inside the rooms, respecting your privacy, as she always does.

Jesse grins, "I imagine he hasn't learned how to talk yet. If so, you'll end up making a ton of money and never having to work, ever again," he adds. The house is simple - an office for him, a guest room, his bedroom, living room, so on. "You have family back in Quebec?" he asks.

"My mother's family. Grandmother and father, uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews, the whole of the clan, extended, I suppose. I have never met my father's family, I would not even know where to begin looking for them if they exist at all. We used to go back at least once a year, when he was alive. I try to go back when I can. But it is a long journey, being this far out. even by train."

Jesse nods, "I imagine to imagine it's weeks to get tehre and get back. But getting faily time is important. It helps ground you. It helps remind you of what is important and what you care about," he says with an easy smile. "So I'm glad that you go back from time to time. A smile at her as he points to the attic door, 'Why did you wonder?" he asks.

Having finished the second floor, Arden moves to the trapdoor of the attic, sticking the things she might need into her belt, before she pulls on the cord that will bring the stairs down, "Because that will need to be done too." She pulls down the ladder and locks it in place, before she starts climbing up, We'll need a lamp, I think." A beat, before she continues, "So when was the last time you went back to see your family?"

Jesse looks up - unfortunately - or fortunately - right at the moment he can get the very best view. "WEll," he says slowly. "It's been a long time. My father and mother are retired. They live in NEw York. I think my father was disappointed when I left the military and confused when I became a soldier for god," he says with a laugh. "My mother has always been supportive."

"Seems like you don't take some of the advice you give." Arden makes it into the attic without too much trouble, a hand reaching up to brush away at cobwebs, "There's some light from two small windows, one towards the front of the house and one towards the back, but can you get a lamp?"

"Sure,' he says as he drops back down. Lighting a lamp and grabbing a brush to clear away cobwebs he climbs up, pushing the lamp ahead of him with a smile, "There we go. ANd there's a brush here. ANd I suppose you're right. I"m not really following that, am I."

Arden makes her way through the attic, moving aside what looks like trunks and boxes, and a few rolled up tarps? carpets? Who can tell in the gloom, as she heads towards the front window first, and it's a tight fit to try to find a comfortable working position. A hard jab of the heel of her hand pushes the window open, snow and wind swirling in to set the dust and cobwebs dancing. "I imagine how often you go back has a lot to do with how much reason you have to get there, and how much work you need to leave behind."

"WEll, you're pretty smart," he says with a smile. "I guess that's true. I should get back though. You're right on that. I just haven't made the time to do it just yet. I'll work on that. ANd that wind feels good," he says as he moves the lamp slightly, providing better light. "The window up here will suck air out of downstairs.

"Should work nicely to circulate the warm air from the lower level through the house and bring in cooler air in the warmer months." Arden finishes work on the window, and then moves to try to scoot past you to finish off the last, ignoring the dust and grime that's accumulating on her clothes and in her hair. She's looked worse after a day in the shop. She starts, instead, for the rear window, "A bit of work needs to be done on the house, but it's not as bad as it could have been."

Jesse nods, moving aside to let you get past to the rer window. "True enough. BUt you're getting all dirty and nasty from the dirt," he says. "I think the house'll do fine. IT's stout, made of stout stuff," he says. "It'll work out just fine. Get a garden going in the spring, get vegetables and potatoes and tomatoes and onions. Maybe some greens."

"Believe me, I've looked worse after a day of work, dirt and grime doesn't bother me much." Arden manages to make it to the back window, and this one opens a bit easier, having been protected from the worst of the winter weather by the lower roof at the rear of the house. A bit of grease a bit of sandpaper and the window is as good as new, though she leaves it open to let some of the wind blow out the stale, musty air of the attic. "I've been doing the same, planning it anyway, in the yard attached to my house."

"Fresh food is so good to cook with. And it means not having to go to the general store," he admits as he pulls back to the door, scooting himself down with a smile as he climbs down the stairs. "You want something to drink now?" he asks with a grin.

Arden follows after, letting you go down first, "Don't like going to the store?" She takes a moment to wipe off her face as best she can, but that's more for convenience, than for appearances. At the question, she nods, "Water would be nice, thank you." She makes a double check, to make certain she hasn't left anything, but she leaves the stairs down to let the attic continue to air out.

"Well, it's more money. The more money I can save, the more money that I can give out to others," he notes with a grin. he steps into the kitchen and grabs cool cloths, wet, and he moves to offer them to her, taking one to wipe off his face and his neck.

"Thank you," Arden offers as she accepts the clothes, wiping her hands and her face clean of most of the dust and the remnants of cobwebs. "And here I thought you were trying to avoid the gossips that like to idle away their time in the store."

Jesse grins, "Well. There is that. I don't particularly care for those men and women. People do what people do, and what people do is their business, and God's business," he says with an easy smile. "That's all there is to that. Very simple."

Arden goes to rinse off the cloths, pumping water into the sink, after she puts in the stopper. "And yet your job, as a minister -IS- to know everyone's business, after all, how else could you give them advice on it and counsel them on how to correct the mistakes in their lives?"

Jesse grins, "WEll. I suppose so. But those gossips want to know things that people don't want them to know. I get toknow things that people choose to share with me - it's a sharing of trust, you know?" he says.

"But you also need to b able to know what is going on in someone's life that might need your help, but hasn't asked for it. Or is too afraid to ask. And you have to figure that out somehow. Usually by hearing it from someone else. Interventions…isn't that what you call it?" Arden finishes washing out the clothes, stepping back from the sink, "Well, I think that's everything we can do with the house today."


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