Meeting The Neighbors


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Meeting more of the neighbors than desired

December 23, 1883

Meeting The Neighbors

Epona Ranch, Southwest of town

The bull was huge, even for a Galloway. Covered in shaggy fur, it stepped back, regarding the woman with large, placid eyes, chewing on it's cud before lowing mournfully in a deep basso rumble.


The beast made no attempt to charge, but after observing the woman for a moment, it stepped forward, as if to go into the house.

A face is seen behind a lacy curtain at the front window. With much trepidation, Lady Teagan slips from the homestead, a look of horror on her face as she moves towards the bull, unaffected by the size or temperament of the said livestock. In her hand, rather than a long gun is an equally lacy tea towel being waved towards the beast, a most auspicious warning to depart without a doubt, "Shoo! Shoo! Return to your home at once, else I shall seek out your owner and…and…why I shall bid someone to turn you in to steaks! Go now!" Teagan's garnet flavored gown adds to the affect of being less than impressive.

The bull, unflustered, merely nibbled at the waving tea towel, and nosed the woman with it's wet nose, huffing loudly.

From far up the road came a small voice calling, "Brutus! Brutus, where are you? followed by a choked sob. Another voice, this one girlish, said, "Dinna be fashin' so, Finn, I just know Da won't skin you for leaving the gate open. We'll find the great baby, I promise.

Hearing the youngsters, Teagon waves her towel, circumventing the animal, one eye on the nearing children and the other on the placid beast, "Hooroo! Here! Your animal is with me and eating whatever green it can find!" Mud cakes the delicate boots and stains the hem of her gown.

A flame haired boy, perhaps eight, followed by an equally fiery tressed girl, a year younger, runs up, panting. "He won't hurt you, Ma'am" the girl says, with a pretty curtsey, as the boy grabs the bull's nose ring, and bobbing a quick bow, before hauling the animal backwards.

The boy, breathing hard, apologizes profusely, "twas all me Ma'am, I left the gate unlatched and he wandered off." The girl reached into her coat and pulled out a chunk of stale bread, coaxign the bull off the porch easily.

I am terribly sorry if he caused ye any trouble."

Teagan looks carefully at the youngsters, her hands moving to settle on her hips as she peruses first one and then the other before offering a succinct nod, "Yes. Well, should he escape from his home again, I shall…I shall…" She ponders what dire circumstances may occur should that ever happen again, "Well, I shall do something horrific, I assure of that my young lordling and lady. Make sure that mass of livestock does not wander off again!" She wags her finger, the light towel now waving like a limp flag. Seeing it, she quickly places it behind her back.

The girl looks at the muddy hoof prints on the porch and says, "We'd be glad if ye would allow us to clean your porch, Ma'am. And Finn, he is good with blacking boots, even our Da says so, and gives him a nickel every time he does!"

The boy, tying the bull to a tree nods vigorously and adds, "O' course, I'd nae be asking for a nickel from ye, 'cause brutus muddied them for you."

Teagan purses her lips slightly, trying desperately to maintain her aloof attitude. "Yes. Well, it reflects well upon your parents that you are so willing to set things to rights."

Both children smile bashfully, scuffing their toes on the ground, then Finn breaks the silence, "Da said we should always do what is right, and to no' fib if we did wrong. He's a laird and oughta know!" The girl agrees, and adds, 'Brutus is a Champion Galloway, Da had him sent over from Eire last year." She feeds the bull another chunk of bread. 'Shall we clean your porch then, at least, Ma'am?" she prods, "Twould be a great favor if we do."

You say, "Well, then it is a good thing he will not be eaten this day. And yes," her hand waves towards the porch, the gesture delicate and soft, "A porch cleaning is in order, I believe. And when you are through, I have a tin of biscuits and tea you may share with me once your chores are accomplished."

Both freckled faces break out in wide grins, and the two of them make short work of the muddy porch, and soon it is sparkling clean. Finn whispers sotto voce to the girl, "Collie, do ye wonder if Mam and Da know we have a new neighbor? I wonder does she have kids our age? She's pretty, and talks like Da's friends back in Eire, aye?"

Teagan has returned to the homestead with the bid to wipe off their feet before entering and then awaits their arrival. Once the tea is brewed, she peeks out between the curtains, watching their efforts with an anxious eye.

After giving Brutus another piece of stale bread, the children wipe their feet off, very thoroughly, and tap gently on the door, before stopping just inside, hands clasped in front of them, "All done, Ma'am," Finn says, cheerfully, 'If ye have bootblack, I can make your boots look like new, if ye wish." Collie punches him lightly in the arm, "Shush, " she scolds, "If the lady wishes you to black her boots, she'll say so!"

Teagan has set a spread worthy of the Queen herself. A delicate pot is settled on a makeshift table, lace covering the cherrywood table. Fresh teacakes and tiny sandwiches are placed on matching china as well as shortened biscuits. In two small pitchers are cream and another for honey.

Was pacing slowly, her hands smoothing down her gown after attempting to remove the traces of mud, her shoes now residing by the fire. As the door opens, she lifts her fingers to smooth her hair, rather unnecessarily it seems, as each lock is in precise place. "Do come in."

"Thank you, Ma'am", both children chime together and quietly, respectfully enter, the girl offering another curtsey, and the boy making a proper bow, "I am Finnegan Llewellyn," he announces, then indicates his sister, "And this is Colleen."

The girl smiles at him, then, as he seems to have forgotten, adds, "Our Mam and Da are Tess and Adrian Llewellyn, and we live just over there," and points vaguely out of the window to the southwest. "Thank ye for having us into your home, Ma'am."

Teagan listens carefully, committing the names to memory and then she seats herself on the opposite side of the table, pulling her napkin from the ring with a snap. A brief smile as she lifts the cozied tea pot to pour the freshly brewed tea, "It is a pleasure to meet you, Master and Mistress Llewellyn. I am Lady Fitzgerald and shall respond with kindly praise to your parents at the conclusion of our meeting." A gentle hand is placed over the top as the liquid is poured into the dainty cups. "Do bid your parents to visit at their convenience, as I am most certain there are few who avail themselves of traveling to the ranch lands."

Colleen's mouth makes a round 'O' of surprise and she blurts, without thinking, "A Lady? Like me Da is a Lord, or like a real princess?", then blushes and apologizes for her outburst.

Finn, on the other hand, sits prim and proper while the tea is being poured and the teacakes offered, then, with great civility and restraint, sips, then nibbles a cake. "I am sure they will wish to make your acquaintance, Lady Fitzgerald," he says, then nudges Colleen, whispering, "Sit up straight, or Mam'll have it out o' ye!"

Teagan lifts her napkin to prevent the visibility of a smile. With a gentle clearing of her throat, she proceeds, once the napkin resides once more in her lap. "It is most doubtful I am as high as royalty, Mistress Llewellyn, though it was my late husband with whom bequeathed me his title." She lifts the cup to her lips, holding the tea cup plate beneath, a quiet moment as she partakes. "And you my young lordling and lady? Are you being schooled in the propriety of your titles?"

The children glance at each other, not wishing to be the first to speak, then Finn, being older, replies, "Da is no' in such good graces with the Queen," he finally says, "And he gave Ian and Liam the two estates, but nae the titles, if ye ken. He says tis in America where we live now, and that titles here are so much fol..fol..fol-de-rol", he beams, getting the word out.

Colleen adds, "But he insists we learn all that we should know, in case the Queen comes here for him, or we go back to visit."

Teagan lowers her cup to settle on the laced surface, "And learn you must. Do remember, you represent your father in all you do." (Had she but listened to her own advice…) "And it is always a possibility her Majesty will come to this country, seeking your father's wisdom and reinstate him to the good graces whom her subjects enjoy in such abundance." A soft dab of her napkin to her mouth before declaring the tea party's conclusion.

"Now, my Lord and Lady Llewellyn, I must return to my own duties. Do not forget your beast in my front yard and inquire from your father if he knows of someone suitable to be my foreman here on the ranch. I shall, of course, defer to his wisdom in such a matter."

Automatically, both children rise, and make their farewells and thanking her for her hospitality. Finn assures her as well that he will never leave the gate open, while Colleen offers to carry the tea service to the kitchen.

"And we'll be sure to tell Da you need a foreman too! but you'd do better to ask Mister Marlowe, he knows people better." Colleen giggles, 'But don't let him scare you, he's awful ugly, but it's all on the outside."

Teagan concern creases her brow, though she keeps her thoughts to herself. Offering and delicate hand to each in turn, she curtsies lightly, "A pleasure."

Surprisingly, Finn bends over her hand, kissing the back of it, like some young knight, while Collie merely squeezes her fingers lightly before they turn to go.


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