Arthur's Original Journal, Date: March 1899 - Strawberry
"The spring is here, I can smell it on the wind. The rain is warm now since winter has passed. I decided to take a ride out of Blackwater on my own for a while. Hosea has been riding me all week about getting into trouble back at the saloon again, guess I shouldn't have had that third bottle of whiskey. I thought it best to disappear until things calm down, Dutch has his eye on some property and I don't want to mess it up for everyone because I can't handle a drink. I feel like I'm walking on eggshells since Hosea and Dutch are trying to cook up some big plan to afford it. I don't have the details yet. Anyways, I'm heading up to Mount Shann where a family bald eagles has nested. I have never seen one before, so if I get lucky, I'll see one for myself."
Arthur Morgan was travelling along the trail of New Hanover scribbling into his leatherback journal on horseback. He had stopped on the edge of the road to draw the scene in front of him. The welcome gate to the town of Strawberry. His long blonde hair stuck to his face as the rain seeped through his hat and dripped on to page. Arthur took off his hat and combed his hair back, shaking the water out before putting the green gambler back on. He looked down at his drawing and groaned, dusting away the water droplets only to smudge the charcoal. He closed the journal and looked up to see the storm was picking up and it was time to find shelter. He pulled up the reins of his horse, who was a young white Arabian which grazed in the grass peacefully sheltered from the rain by a tree. At the horses' side was a dark brown Mule carrying the burden of their journey tied by a rope to Arthur's saddle
Arthur waited as the crowd of people walked by, the pause in action convincing the horse nothing was happening so she returned to grazing. The common folk of Strawberry paid Arthur little mind as they scurried for the train whose bell chimed behind him. His white bison leather coat with a wolf pelt draped over his shoulders catching the eye of some of the ladies, who studied his image. He greeted them with proud little smile on his lips and a tilt of the hat. One of the ladies waking by was a rather young girl giggling from his attention.
"Momma look, he looks like a real cowboy." She whispered.
"Shhh, Child he could be dangerous." The elder scolded and pulled her daughter away quickly. Arthur sighed.
"Sour puss." He grumbled under his breath as he shook out his fur cowl of any last remaining water droplets. Then dusted his sleeves before taking up the reigns to continue his journey towards shelter. "Come on." He called for the beautiful horse who ignored him. He tugged the reigns to back the horse away from the grass on the ground, and she honked disapprovingly at him for interrupting her snack.
"Hey. Now Princess there will be better food once we arrive at the stable." He said, patting the horse's neck as she pranced in the spot, shaking her wet mane. Arthur eased her to turn around slowly where the sound of a honk startled Princess into making her jump. The mule standing behind them chasing after the horse to nip at her tail. Arthur clicked his tongue on his teeth to calm Princess as she pushed forward heading up the hill. The long ride to this point had exhausted the two beasts of burden, the extra weight of a pair of buck's hanging off their rears slowing their stride. The mule may have been smaller than the Arabian, but was carrying the larger buck. Happily trotting along behind as he honked for Arthur attention. When Arthur looked back, he smiled.
"Come on you jealous boy?" He asked and tugged the rope so the mule would follow closer on his left and leave Princess alone.
Beautiful trees surrounded the carpenter's village, many of the buildings in the middle of being constructed. There was also a flowing river that had a bridge erected over it and on a sunny day, it would have been a gorgeous place to visit. Unfortunately, like most poorly laid out towns, the weather had swept chaos through and wreaked havoc. Carts and horses had gotten stuck in the mud, and some people were even knee-deep trying to recover their things. The main thoroughfare was dangerous for how many people in panic were trying to pull their stuck horses from the mud pits. Arthur dodged his two mammals around the long way and through the shallow mud avoiding the populated areas by keeping to the grass, and brought them to the closest hitch he could find to the butcher. The cowboy dismounted and tied them together on the post. As he approached the butcher counter, no one was attending as the majority of people in the area were gathered around some commotion by a black and blue fancy carriage. He walked towards the crowd curiously and heard two women fighting, their shrill screams echoing from the foot of the carriage door. Arthur got closer by weaving through the crowd as the people cheered loudly. Sheer morbid curiosity enticed him to see why there was a cheering section to the fight.
Once Arthur pushed past the group, a smash sounded followed by flying wood splintered. The crowd cheered watching one of the aggressors in the conflict, hit across the face with a bucket. Arthur dodged a projectile which smacked the man behind him in the front, making him yelp and cover his nose — quickly Arthur turned back to see the two women. They were in a pit of the mud-covered head to toe and wrestling one another. One woman was ankle-deep in the dirt wearing a red dress and heels. She was tall with broad shoulders and muscular arms. Her red hair hung in wet, tangled curls which she flipped back with a swing in her neck. She wore jewellery and beautiful clothes drenched in mud and easily restrained the poorly dressed bum. Current pulling the second aggressor's hair.
"You lying, bitch! That was my momma's ring, and I'll be damned if I see it on your whore of a finger!" Victim to the strength of the broad woman A girl of sixteen screamed like a banshee as she struggled to break free. Her dark brown hair a muddy mess tangled up on her head like a lasso the lady in red used to control her. The ragged clothing she wore revealed her figure to the crowd. The Brunette was unfortunately helpless and currently at the mercy of the lady in red.
"Take it up with the jeweller! I paid for it!" The Lady in Red had a malicious tone but spoke calmly. She had control of the fight to the sacrifice of her expensive clothes. She was, however, struggling under the constraints of the wet skirt. The broken bucket on the ground and the redhead had splintered wood in her hair and blood dripping out her nose.
"What happened?" Arthur asked witnessing the fight and taking in the scene. He felt his chest tighten for some reason as the crowd just stood there and watched as these two rather lovely ladies fought like animals to their amusement.
"That little bitch there just smashed the Devil in the face with a bucket Hooheey! Hit her again!" A balding drunk chanted along with the others encouraging the fight.
"Disgusting, you just sit there and watch!?" Arthur shouted and marched into the centre of the crowd towards the two brawling women. He entered the mud pit and without hesitation joined in. As the redhead slipped in her heels, the Brunette swung her foot up in an attempt to kick her, but Arthur slapped it down and grabbed the redhead's hand and pried it free from the Brunette's hair.
"That's enough!" He shouted and forced them apart.
The redhead barely fought against him as he pried her hand away. Once he threw her hand down, she pulled it to her chest panting trying to regain herself. Dizzy from the head injury she looked at the strange, handsome man who decided the fight needed to stop with blurred vision. The Brunette, however, took this moment to attempt and tackle through Arthur, but he stopped her quickly and picked her up. The teen started kicking and screaming splashing mud over Arthur trying to get past him to attack the redhead again. He carried her a few steps away and set her down while she freaked out.
"Let me go they're Nuttin but a who-Augh!" Amid her tantrum, Arthur pushed her back, and she slipped in the mud and fell onto her butt in a large paddy of thick mud.
"Shut up and go home." He barked loudly. It was clear she was the one who started the fight as the redhead merely stood there trying to regain her breath. She was suffering a bad injury.
"The fact you have anything to say about me Henrietta is a laugh! You've slept with every man from here to New York for free!" The redhead shouted after she brushed mud-soaked curly hair back off her face. There was a fury in her eyes as she tried to move but had gotten stuck in the mud. Dazed and unable to escape her heels, she sounded tough but looked somewhat helpless. Arthur saw she in distress and left the Brunette to flounder in the muck to assist. He reached out, giving her his hand, and she took it. Arthur gripped her firmly, but with her strength, she pulled her self free as he kept her balanced and guided her to solid ground.
"Are you alright m' am?" Arthur asked. He noticed the matching red coat to her dress was trampled in the mud. Once she was standing on her own Arthur retrieved it for her and handed it back. She took it and collected it under her arm with a sigh. Arthur studied her for a moment, her face half smeared with the mud which she was trying to clean off using her coat. He could scarcely see the freckles which crested her shallow nose and the scar on her chin which had healed poorly. However, Her eyes were a stunning emerald shade of green fit inside perfectly almond-shaped lids which could not be masked by the dirt. For a brief moment, she glanced back and mouthed a thank you to him, and he felt his heart skip a beat.
"I should be alright." She said and touched her nose and winced. Arthur approached her to get a better look at her injury, but before he was able to say anything, Henrietta interrupted.
"I'll kill you!" Henrietta screamed after she finally scrambled up off the ground. She had gotten to her feet and grabbed a piece of splintered wood heading back for the woman in red. She stopped in her tracks as all the attention turned at the sound of a gun being cocked. Arthur had a surprised look on his face as he watched the redhead lightning-quick drew his silver-plated volcanic pistol from his belt and pointed it at the Brunette. He looked down to his empty holster and back to her somewhat intrigued on how she was able to stealthily and speedily draw his pistol. The crowd stood still as everyone froze waiting for the snap of a bullet to fire. Only silence followed. After a quiet minute of blood-curdling tension, A second click of another gun sounded behind him. This time everyone eyes turned towards the carriage where the fight took place.
"Excuse me. I think it's time you got back into the carriage, Isabella." A third woman stated in a soft, elegant voice with a British accent. She was wearing a large white hat with plums of coloured feathers and flowers with blonde curly hair tumbling out from under it. Her royal blue and the well-tailored corseted dress fit her curves snugly, and something about her struck Arthur as familiar as if he had seen her before. She was enchanting to witness, but her excellent look was contrasted by long-barreled high-velocity rifle firm in her grip. Standing in the door, her boot stepped up on the frame as she rested the barrel of the gun on her thigh. The tip of the barrel pointed it at Henrietta. Since his pistol was no longer in his hands, Arthur started to feel the sweat dripping down his neck as the situation he found himself in had gotten sticky.
"May I suggest," Arthur spoke and put his hand on the redheads and lowered her gun in a gentle motion. "You give her a ring?" He asked in which the red woman glared at him in response.
"If she can pay for it. She sold that ring, Izzy bought it fair and square." The blonde woman from the carriage said.
"I can't pay for it... but it's mine." Henrietta had tears in her eyes, she was full spirited and ready to fight, but the two guns pointed at her left her scared and nervous.
"Is it worth dying over if you sold it in the first place?" Arthur asked her, kindly.
"...Yes," Henrietta replied as her eyes swelled up. Whatever the ring meant to her. It was surely something important since her face was red with rage.
"Ugh! Fine!" The redhead let out with a growl as she lowered the pistol and shoved it into Arthur's hands. He eased her rash actions and took the weapon once more. Holding it more confident now the situation was calming down. The redhead pulled off her gloves and removed a small gold ring from her finger.
"Take it, but you need to clean my clothes, and do my chores for the next three weeks. Don't forget the gentleman too. He didn't need to get messy over your stupidity but here we are." She said and made her way over to Henrietta as the hem of her dress dragged through the mud. Once she approached the miserable girl, and the lady in red handed the ring over abruptly. As Henrietta gripped the splintered weapon tight in her grip, she wanted to swing, but the blonde woman in the carriage still had her at gunpoint. Surrendering to them, she dropped the chunk of wood and took the ring back, shaking her head silently in agreement.
"Now that's the end of that! Everyone can go right fuck off then eh!" The redhead yelled at the crowd who groaned seeing such an anticlimactic end to the argument. They started to move on as the blonde released Henrietta from gunpoint.
"I will pick up your clothes tomorrow at noon for cleaning," Henrietta said and slipped the ring on her finger and held it to her chest with a small smile on her lips.
"I'm fine no need to worry about me," Arthur said and quickly left the situation.
"Nonsense. A Gentlemen like yourself does not get to leave so suddenly. You stepped in the middle of a fight that is not your own to protect ladies from their own squabble. We have to thank you." The blonde spoke up and shouldered her weapon.
"I merely did not want to see bloodshed today. I'm glad I could assist, good day mam." He said and tipped his hat to them and walked away. The ladies started discussing things amongst themselves, and Arthur exited the crowd and headed back to the butchers counter.
"No one's going to buy you a drink for stopping that show partner." The butcher said as Arthur removed his wet wolf pelt and threw it on the saddle of his horse.
"Hm Howdy to you too. I got a catch for you or would you rather I haul this off to someone else?"
"Oh, hold on there. I only kid show me what you got." The Butcher said. Arthur paused for a moment leaving the butcher to wait as he patiently thought out his next steps. Luckily his handcrafted jacket he got after hunting a rare Bison in the snowy mountains, was only lightly splattered with mud. The wolf pelt, however, did not survive so well and shooting a new one would be more practical than getting it cleaned. The weather in the distance started to darken as the thunder clouds began to grow above. His thoughts on selling it unwise as what was a freak downpour was about to become a storm. If he needed to stay warm, it was the best thing to keep. He looked to his horse and mule and started to untie the carcasses from their backs while his thoughts were stirring deeper. Hiking up a mountain trail with two mammals was hard enough, and Princess was an extraordinarily skittish girl. Even while Arthur lifted the buck off the Arabian's back, she danced and swayed in spot huffing heavily and shaking her mane. Princess would not fare well in a thunderstorm even with all of Arthur's attention, and he could not ignore his mule.
"Ah, I sell em too ya, what can you give me?" Arthur shouted to the butcher as he hauled it over and hung it on the rack.
"Pretty good shot here mister, right through the heart with... a rifle?" The butcher inspected the creature as Arthur returned to the happy mule who neighed with joy when Arthur came near and stroked his neck.
"No! An arrow! …." Arthur shouts behind before he turned to the mule. "Who's a good boy?" He soothed and flopped his goofy eared back and forth. The butcher busy investigating the carcass with an impressed look. Arthur ruffled the mules fur as he huffed and shivered, nudging Arthur's chest with his nose and began to nibble at his bandana, tugging it gently. The entire time Arthur scratching behind his ears absent minded with a smile on his face.
"He's cute. What's his name?" A familiar female voice spoke up from behind him. It was the blonde Englishwoman from the carriage. She must have followed him across the road.
"I call him the Duke," Arthur said, giving him a few massive pats.
"I'm in love with how sweet he is on you." She said and folded her hands over her heart, watching the Duke fawned over his owner.
"He's a handful though, always wanting attention, but he is a good boy," Arthur replied when the Duke snatched the bandana from his neck and ripped two buttons off his shirt at the same time — trying to eat it while he was distracted. "Hey! No no no give it back." Arthur scrambled to pull the fabric out of the Duke's teeth before he swallowed it, as a cackle of giggles burst from the blonde beauty who watched in amusement. Arthur stepped back away from the mule who extended himself to the maximum range he could on his lead, his teeth still desperately reaching for Arthur as he looked at the slobbery bandana now torn in two.
"I'm glad I can entertain you," Arthur said and pocketed it as she finally overcame her giggle fit.
"My apologies, but I had to come over and talk to you myself, and I'm not here to tease I promise." She said and stepped back, allowing Arthur the space he needed so he could finish unloading his kill to the butcher. Arthur returned to his task and started to unstrap the second buck from the Duke once he distracted him with a sugar cube.
"What did you want to talk to me about?" Arthur asked as he hauled the buck onto his shoulder with ease. She was beautiful all right with her bright blue eyes and plump pink lips, but the smell of trouble was on her, and it was as strong as her perfume.
"If you would allow myself and the girls to buy you dinner, as a thank you. Izzy is too proud to ask for help, let alone thank someone herself. She doesn't like being a damsel in distress, but you stepped in when we needed someone to step in." The mysterious blonde stood and watched him work, and Arthur could feel her gaze as he hulled the second buck onto the table. The butcher took his hat off and made a loud whooping sound checking out the second carcass.
"My lord! You are one good shot! Through the heart again! I bet the taxidermist would want this one look at the size of him!" The butcher started fishing out cash from his apron and collected it into a clip. A sly little grin on Arthur's face and he puffed his chest out a little bit when he stood back up. He took off his gamblers hat to comb his hair back with his fingers, the butcher handed him the handful of cash which he took with a thank you and walked back to the girl. Who was watching, biting her index finger and eyeing him.
"Well, I was going to ride north and camp in the mountains outside of town, but with this storm coming in. And an invitation as welcoming like that. I'm still going to decline." Arthur said bluntly walking up to her to be direct. Her mouth was agape as she gasped, but there was a massive smile on her face in response to the grin on Arthur's.
"You are something else. Well, maybe this will change your mind, My name is Lady Rosalyn Bush, and I suggest you reconsider. "She said and cocked an eyebrow at him.
"Well, now that is a familiar name, where have I heard it before?" Arthur asked, looking at her curiously. Her face brought a sense of nostalgia to him; he definitely had seen it before.
Lady Rosalyn stood tall and hiked up her skirt and stuck a pose like she was having her photo taken. "A man who enjoys camping must have a can of beans or two in his satchel. Nothing less than the best for the strong men who built our country. Perhaps you should take one out and look a little closer." She spoke with an American accent, and it was her voice which sang the song that buzzed his nostalgia. Perhaps from a film reel he saw at the theatre once. Rosalyn rocked her hips and held her head up with an air of pride. Arthur, now curiously enchanted by her, did indeed have a can of beans on him and flipped open his bag and took it out without taking his eyes off her. He pursed his lips and studied her image before looking at the can.
"Well, I'll be damned. Is this you?" He asked, turning the label towards her. The image of a lady painted beside the company brand, she had long braided blonde hair and big blue eyes wearing revealing clothes and body proportions slightly elongated, but there was no doubt in his mind it was her.
"Yes sir, and that is my recipe too." She said with a smile and struck the pose on the side label. Her brilliant smile was what brought that nostalgic feeling to him. Many years were spent staring at her face on the side of the can beside campfires and dirty ditches.
"Then I must be dreaming if I am in the presence of someone truly famous because I sure do enjoy your beans very much," Arthur said and gave her a bow. A little guilt behind his eyes.
"Most cowboys do, but I don't very much like all the cowboys. Or girls for that matter, ever since we arrived the people here have been nothing but hostile towards me and my caravan. It's been a while since a kind soul has crossed our path. I do not wish to risk bad luck on the rest of our journey. By not taking care of those who show my girls and I kindness. So I ask you to please reconsider and let me spoil you." Rosalyn said returning to her natural voice. She was stern but sweet as the same time. Rosalyn spoke as Dutch would while addressing him. A fierce intensity in her eyes and power behind her voice. He fell victim to her gaze once again, this time unable to decline.
"Oh, alright, you can buy me dinner. Though I'm probably going to need a bath as well to clean up after that little fight your girls started." Arthur added and unhitched his two companions from their post. If he played his cards right, she might even cover all his costs to stay in town for the night and perhaps he could leave with his pockets a little heavier then when he came.
"My girls start no fights, but we do finish them. I'll explain later. The carriage got stuck in the mud, so everyone already went on foot to the hotel. Why don't you get those two cuties stabled and meet me there?" Rosalyn said and hiked her skirt up to ready herself to trek through the mud. Her boots already stained with two inches of dirt, and they didn't look like functional boots to stomp around in through the mud.
"Get on." Arthur gestured to Princess.
"Really?" She asked, gazing at the beautiful white Arabian.
"You're wearing expensive clothes. I'll give you a ride." He said and held the lead for Princess towards her.
"Is it friendly?" Rosalyn asked and approached the horse.
"She's skittish, but with me here she will be alright." He said as Rosalyn walked up to her and took the lead before approaching cautiously. Princess swayed away from her at first but relaxed as the Lady pet her neck gently.
"She is beautiful. What's her name."
"Ah, I get it." She pointed between the two animals and chuckled. "Very cute. Am I to be right to assume this is a rare horse? I don't see many albino white horses roaming around" She asked and hoisted herself up and sat side-saddle on the Arabian and held the horn to keep herself steady. Arthur got up onto the Duke who honked very loudly when he was mounted since Arthur was rather heavy. Once Arthur was seated, the Duke's tail started to wag like a dog.
"You could say so, hard to tame. Probably won't be able to sell her for much if I can't get her to relax." He clicked his teeth and gave the command, and the pair started towards the stable beside the hotel. Most of the ride was spent giving Rosalyn instructions on how to keep Princess settled, with a stranger riding and her attempts to ride all ladylike. The horse was agitated and almost bucked Rosalyn off twice when she tried to lead to roughly.
"You can't yank on the reins like that." Arthur suggested.
"Okay, I think it's time I got off now." Rosalyn's voice was shaky as she struggled to lead Princess to the stable. One of the stable hands had to run out and grab Princess before she reared as Rosalyn hopped off. The horse prancing wildly as she escaped early across the fence.
"I should have told you to sit properly, or else she won't respect you." Arthur said chuckling the whole way. Riding gracefully on the mule who marched with pride now that the love of his life was with him.
"Well, it's a good thing the hotel isn't far from here. I think walking will be safer." Rosalyn ran out of the stable, leaving the horse hand and Arthur to take care of locking them up for the night.
They were de-saddled, housed and fed before Arthur left them and headed back out to meet Rosalyn who was in the middle of paying the Stableman.
"Give them some extra treats and a bath for me please." She said and gave the gent a kiss on the cheek and an extra 5 dollars.
"Yes, indeed my lady." He said and tipped his hat to her running off as Arthur approached.
"Would you like to meet my girls now?" Rosalyn asked.
"Sure!" Arthur said and took his hat off as they headed into the hotel. He didn't have to rob her; she was already throwing money around. What was once a hunting trip to escape the societal noose, was going to turn into a pretty hefty score if he played his cards right.