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Tales From the West

San Miguel Saloon

a part of Tales From the West, by The Cherry Cow.

The saloon of San Miguel.

The Cherry Cow holds sovereignty over San Miguel Saloon, giving them the ability to make limited changes.
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San Miguel Saloon is a part of San Miguel.

There are no Places in San Miguel Saloon.

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San Miguel's drinking house and inn for travelers. Where gangs and bounty hunters come to relax and where most duels and fights start.

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Character Portrait: Nobody Character Portrait: Clementine Stanton
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The wanderer put his hands on his belt and leaned against the doorway. He had wanted to get his gold to the bank as soon as possible, but he supposed it wouldn’t be polite to simply walk away from the woman he’d almost knocked down. He adjusted his hat so it revealed his blue eyes, giving him what he hoped was a much less menacing approach despite the permanent almost-squint from his constant being outside in the blazing sun with the bright ball of flames reflecting off the desert sand.
“Well, I’d like to say it’s the call of adventure in faraway lands, Miz Stanton, but it would be much more to the point if I just said money. Gold, specifically.” He hadn’t spoken in days, weeks probably, and his voice was quiet but strong. His accent wasn’t quite placable because of the man’s rasp, and the man himself wouldn’t remember if he didn’t know better.
“If you’d seen me before, there’s a good chance you would’ve recognized me just now, so I guess this is hello.”

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Character Portrait: Nobody Character Portrait: Clementine Stanton
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The man adjusted his hat, and seemingly got comfortable in the doorframe. She took in his face again, analyzing the features of the stranger. With each syllable he spoke, his face seemed to soften slightly. It was as if conversation with another person was changing him, bringing him back to reality.
"An adventure, hm? Well, I hate to tell you, but the only adventure that goes on 'round these parts seems to be stick-ups or murders. What kinda business are you in, sir? I'm not meanin' to pry, but gold isn't the easiest to find in this small town." She raised a brow.
Was she speaking to a bandit? The only way gold made its way into San Miguel's bank was when bandits and gang members made their way into town and somehow threw their pieces into the mix. When the realization hit her that she could possibly be speaking to somebody dangerous, her eyes widened slightly.
"Now I don't mean to pry, sir. You don't have to answer that, it's better to be ignorant and safe rather than knowing and a target in this town."

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Character Portrait: Nobody Character Portrait: Miss Elizabeth Culpeper Character Portrait: Clementine Stanton
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San Miguel should have been a one horse town but the usually rift raft of bandits and thieves kept it in constant supply of the equine kind. Of course, that was not why Miss Elizabeth Culpeper and her band of merry men found themselves in the Saloon of that very town. No, the party came with an agenda. Some may call it noble but most . . . no doubt would think it down right criminal.

Yet, as Miss Elizabeth Culpeper put it so eloquently to her men, "Is it really thieving if you're thieving from a thief?" Naturally, no body could argue with that. That was how the folks of James River Farm found themselves chuckling along with the rest of the patrons of the Saloon as an out of place Miss almost found her face flattened by wood.

Miss Ellie Culpeper and some of her most trusted and loyal servants and farmhands soon turned back into their circle at the corner of the bar. All with whiskey in hand. A little courage before the almost impossible feet.

"Now, listen up boys." Ellie began in hushed tones. "The news is, there's a train coming in hot here in about thirty minutes or so. All that stinky fingered loot and dollars sitting there in that crooked bank across the way is being taken to an even bigger crooked back all the way to Washington. Now you all know what to do don't you?"

The four men nodded in unison. Concentration and the gravity of the situation upon their features as they listened carefully to the woman dressed as a man. Her corset hidden under her coat and those long legs covered in unlady like pants that could barely be seen beneath boots that came past knee high. She dirtied up good for a woman of fine breeding.

"Ya'll know why we need to do this-" She stopped and breathed in quickly. "Ya'll know I'd never ask any of you to risk your li-"

"Miss Ellie." Interrupted a tall obsidian farmhand. His voice gentle, in stark contrast to his fierce appearance. "I know we'd all do anythin, just anythin for ol' Mr Culpeper."

"That's right there girly." Added Bo Bedford leaning his sturdy frame back against the dirty bar; who did odd jobs on the farm for as long as Ellie could remember. He had scruffy blonde hair with an even scruffier beard that was turning ever so slightly silver these days and the man would never be caught short without a toothpick between his teeth. "I couldn't have said it better than Atticus here myself."

"I agree." Pipped up Sawyer, a young man in his twenties with golden blonde hair that framed his face, who also worked hard on the farm. No one knew much about Sawyer, only that he came to steal a cow about five years ago, Lord only knew why or what for but found himself working on the farm after Mr Culpeper caught him and spoke to him and never left. Sawyer didn't say much. He was as secretive as he was handsome and that was abundantly.

George, another black servant of the household nodded again heartily.

"Good men." Ellie smiled with renewed reassurance. She knew she could count on these men with their lives and her own, nevertheless, it was good to hear it. "Now, as soon as we leave this bar we're all strangers. We go our separate ways. However, as soon as that train rolls in . . ." The whiskey in her glass sloshed as she moved her hand like a train coming into station. "We all get on as fast. And as inconspicuously as we can. Real casual like. Old Billy's got horses waitin' on us in Bunkie, ready for us as soon as we disembark. Now, I don't need to go over what happens there on the train or after we get to Bunkie do I?"

The men shook their heads and Ellie breathed in deeply tipping her hat at them and they did the same in return. "Well boys, it's gonna be one hell of a ride." To which they all clinked glasses and downed the hard whiskey. A crocked grin on each of their face.

They were ready.

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Character Portrait: Nobody Character Portrait: Clementine Stanton
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The woman the traveler had been talking to seemed uncomfortable when he’d told her he’d been in town for gold. He could see she was contemplating who he was. He tried his hand at a grin.
“Don’t worry, ma’am. I’m selling, not taking. Picked up a tidy sum of gold from a... friend and hiked here. Figured farther I went, more valuable the gold’d be. Plan on using some of it to stay at the inn, get some supplies, then maybe a train ticket. That or I’ll just follow the railroad.” Suddenly the traveler frowned.
“Say, why’d you be a target just for asking my business?”

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Character Portrait: Nobody Character Portrait: Miss Elizabeth Culpeper Character Portrait: Clementine Stanton
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It seemed as though he was trying to make her feel more at ease with his half-smile. She appreciated his efforts, although Clementine did admit to herself that more than once had she been scared for her life in this town. She was fully aware that a woman of her stature was never truly safe on her own, but she was too stubborn to go back home and hear her father gloat. She had mulled over the idea of packing her bags and going so many times. On the nights that she could hear gunshots and screams, or the days that children would come to class with a black eye from their drunken fathers. Those kinds of images could chill a person to the bone.
But, Clementine was stubborn and unwilling to give up on herself or her students. She was only lucky she hadn't gone through something terrible yet. Perhaps it was her being stupid. In fact, it was probably her stupidity that kept her here. But Clementine was good at keeping her head down, and so she attempted to keep up whatever facade she had going.
She noted the unsure tone of the man's voice when referring to his friend. Was there a history there? She would probably never know.
"Well that sounds like a sturdy plan. Ah, you never know what makes you a target in this town. I've seen people killed for questionin' much less, and more than once for that matter. Where do you plan on headin' after this? Don't you have a family somewhere?"
Mentally, Clementine smacked herself. Do you have family somewhere? What kind of a stupid question was that? Of all people, this man looked like the least likely to have a family somewhere in the world. Or if he did, they weren't a part of his life anymore. Then again, she reminded herself that it is never very kind to judge someone based on their looks. What did people think when they looked at herself? TIny blonde southern belle, no doubt. Someone who isn't capable of sticking up for herself. They'd probably be right, but that wasn't the point.
In fact, Clem did have a derringer pocket-pistol hidden in her bosom at all times. She didn't quite trust her capability of using it, but it was comforting to know that in case she needed a gun, one was available to her.

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Character Portrait: Nobody Character Portrait: Clementine Stanton
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The traveler winced slightly when the schoolteacher asked if he had a family. He decided to ignore it, and pondered the previous question. He supposed he didn’t really know where he planned to go. He could go West to California, he’d heard there was a lot of opportunities there. On second thought, there were probably also a lot of Indian tribes, and he’d learned not to mess with the Natives. He figured he’d try and give the lady a vague answer that would still satisfy her.
“Well Miz Stanton, I guess I don’t have much of a plan. I’ll probably be staying here a week or so, and then I’ll most likely hit the road again. I figure the gold I picked up should be enough for food and board and, if I’m lucky, a horse. Maybe even some rounds to protect myself. I’m sure I’ll find some boom town or gold mine and before you know it I’ll be at another town making profit. That’s usually the plan.”

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Character Portrait: Nobody Character Portrait: Clementine Stanton
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She nodded in acknowledgment to his answer, thinking of her next move.
"It sounds like you're a pick-up-and-go kind of fellow. Well, I wish you the best. I'm sure I'll see you around for the next week or so. If you need anything, you can probably find me at the schoolhouse. It's right down the main road, on the edge of town. You can't miss it." She motioned with her small fingers in the direction of the schoolhouse.
Clementine really did hope that this man would swing by at some point. There was something about him that was interesting, the kind of aura that made her want to write a novel about him.

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Character Portrait: [NPC] Bartender
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It had been a long ride on the trail, dust, coupled with all the thorns he had ridden through on his way to San Miguel from home, had done little for his appearance, not to mention his smell. Still Jesse Banse, though battered and weary, did not stray from his usual swagger. Instead he sauntered through the dusty saloon, looking for the first sign of a bath and a place to sleep. Really, the sleep was more his concern at the moment, though a hot bath and a shave would have been slightly more than welcome as well. Come to think of it, someone doing a bit of laundry might have been a welcome sight as well. San Miguel was a dust bowl but it did have one thing going for it, the railroad. Yes sir, all that money riding in on those hot little rails, couldn't help but make a man see dollar signs. After a brief discussion with the bartender, Jesse made his way upstairs and towards a room. The saloon might have had drinks but at this point the outlaw really only cared about one thing, sleep and plenty of it. He had really only just laid his head down when he heard the all too familiar click of a pistol, as he turned over, he was face to face with a bounty hunter. His mouth sat agape as on instinct he began to reach for his gun belt only to be threatened silently with the barrel of a .45. The man pulled the trigger, Jesse closed his eyes bracing for the horror to come and... click, misfire!

Shortly after, the sound of a man whistling in a "yoohoo" kind of fashion, the man dropped like a sack of potatoes, falling in a heap to the floor. In the doorway stood a smiling, soul, it was his cousin Colt! Jesse jumped up from the bed wrapping his arms around the man as he exclaimed "Well I'll be damned! How's it buzzin' cousin?!" The man put his pistol away and began to embrace his cousin in a similar fashion as he retorted "Next time we meet somewhere, I'm pickin' the spot. I can't count the number of cactus and rattlers I've met comin' down this way." With a laugh Jesse retorted "At least you finally found a way you can hit somethin' with that pistol of yours." "Keep bein' funny idgit, next time I'll let him turn your head into a canoe. Anyway, imagine that post in the paper 'Devil Jesse Banse brought down by a farmer with a six gun.' might be a touch humblin' even to you." Jesse scoffed as he let his cousin go, dragging the palm of his hand down his face as he replied "What is it with you? You still sore about Siler City?" "Damn it Jess that was not a robbery, more like a chance for the locals to see how well they could shoot. They killed one of the Cooper boys, captured the other, word is he met with some lovely boys who had potato sacks pulled over their heads and did the dead man's dance from a tree. That could have been us." "But it ain't us.
Besides, no way that tree limb could hold all three of us."
As Jesse winked with a chuckle, Colt began his speech with a slow shake of his head "I see you're not just lacking in looks but brains too. Listen idgit what in the name of a lbue tick hound's butt am I doin' here? I didn't really see a bank worth robbin', this saloon ain't shit. Have you finally gone soft in the head? Or do you have a particular affection for sunburn and snake bites?" "No, no, cousin word is there's a train comin' she's full of cash, Union soldier pay to be exact." "Bullshit! Ain't a damn soul gonna tell you a damn thing about blue belly pay. You really are soft in the head."

"Ain't true! Now would you shut up before you tell everyone in the saloon?"Now Colt began to drag his fingers through his beard "Just where did you hear this from?" "Silky Jane heard from Bill Perkins and..." "Silky Jane is a two bit a trick whore and Bill Perkins?! Really? That man come out of the womb drunk, probably with a bottle of whiskey in each hand. Besides, he couldn't find his butt with both hands and a map. Who's your next source gonna be? School kids. Probably be more reliable and twice as damned accurate." Jesse now sighed as he replied "You know what your problem is? You're always so negative. Let a few black clouds gather on the horizon and you're off to start complainin' like there was some sort of race goin' on to see who could do the most. You have to believe Colt! You have to see your objective, believe you can take it, then make it happen son." Colt's hand now covered his face, he knew there was no way of talking Jesse out of this so he mumbled from under the palm of his hand "What's our crew look like? I tried the Culvers, they refuse to ride with you. Said they're tired of their wanted posters not comin' out right while yours is drawn to perfection." "Bob Culver really said that? Sounds like he needs to check his ego a little." "Yeah idgit, like yours is so small. Anyway, what about those Mexican fellers you knew?" "You mean the Dominguez brothers? Paco is crazier than a shit house rat his brother Juan...even worse." "I see, so the only person you want gettin' our asses shot off is you? Is that about right? We're going to take a train with a two man team? You and me against the world Jess? I'm good but I ain't that good and neither are you." "No, it's not like that, I'm just thinkin' is all. Besides anyone we bring in we have to divvy up shares with.
I don't want to do that!"
"Jess! It's a train! It's gonna be full of guards. We need a way to stop it and we need enough guns to keep them boys from gettin' itchy fingers. You and me alone ain't gonna get that done. Don't be thick your whole life!" "What's your plan then? Or is it to keep complainin' about everything I try to put together?" "You just keep thinkin' Jess,
it gets funnier and scarier by the second. Now let's go get a drink."
"What about the bounty hunter?" "We'll walk downstairs and tell people he tried to take advantage of your virtues. Make sure you have your hourly rate figured out first." "Funny, really funny and while I am easy, I'm not that easy." Colt then laughed as the pair walked down the stairs "Somehow Jess, I don't think I ever want to know where you draw the line." Jesse laughed as he retorted in a soft voice "Oh Colt..." "Don't start! You'll be the second thing I hit with a pistol today." "That'd be the second thing you hit with a pistol in your lifetime." "Oh shut up."

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Character Portrait: Nobody Character Portrait: Miss Elizabeth Culpeper Character Portrait: Clementine Stanton Character Portrait: Vivian Harris
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The heels of Vivian's black shoes clicked against the steps as she walked downstairs, mentally preparing herself for another long, grueling day of work. She had many responsibilities to tend to within the saloon - waiting on customers, bussing tables, and, when it got later in the day, dancing for entertainment. It had taken her a long time to learn how to dance well, but she'd eventually managed. After almost ten years working in the saloon, she liked to consider herself quite good at her job.

As she rounded the corner into the main area of the saloon, she was relieved to see that it wasn't too terribly busy. There was a pair of men who'd just come down the stairs ahead of her, a small group in a corner with drinks already served, and a man engaged in conversation with the local schoolteacher. Vivian didn't know the woman's name - they were around the same age, so she'd obviously never taught Vivian as a child. Had they gone to school together? Vivian couldn't be sure. Generally, the only people whose names she took care to learn were the male regulars who tipped well. Anyone else, even people who came in all the time, was just another face to her.

Vivian strolled over to the counter, glancing around again. There didn't seem to be anybody who needed their flagon topped up just yet, so she had some time to stand around and look pretty until someone called her over for service.

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Character Portrait: Clementine Stanton Character Portrait: Vivian Harris
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After her rather regular conversation with the man from before, Clementine realized she didn't even know his name. How could it completely slip her mind to get his name? Thinking back, she hadn't really asked for it, but he had skillfully avoided having to give a name. She decided to shrug off the strange conversation and complete the task that she had come for.
Clementine scooted her way through the crowd, searching for someone to hand off her payment to. That's when she saw Vivian the barmaid. She had heard about and seen Vivian before, but never spoken to or met her.
"Hiya ma'am, would you mind givin' this to your boss for me? If you would let him know it is from Clementine Stanton, you'd be my hero.
She held the basket out to the barmaid, a small smile on her face.

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Character Portrait: Clementine Stanton Character Portrait: Vivian Harris
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Vivian quirked a curious eyebrow as the schoolteacher approached her, but smiled nonetheless as she listened to what the woman had to say. Clementine. So that was her name. Wasn't a clementine some sort of fruit? The woman was holding out a basket, and a towel within was covering something that was suspiciously bread-shaped. Vivian reached out and gently took the basket from Clementine as she held it out. "Certainly, ma'am. I'm always up for a spot of heroism from time to time," Vivian responded with a soft laugh. "Dare I ask what it might be?" she added curiously.

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Character Portrait: Clementine Stanton Character Portrait: Vivian Harris
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She chuckled, realizing how awkward it may be to just be handed a random basket by a stranger.
"Oh dear me, I'm sorry. I probably look like a smuggler over here-" She laughed again, as if the idea was so ridiculously outrageous. "No, it is just some sweet bread I cooked up..."
An idea struck her, and it brought a smile to her face. Clementine didn't really have any female friends, something that she had always hated. She was always trying to make friends, but there was not necessarily an influx of young females in San Miguel.
"Say.. You should join me in my home one time and I'll treat you to some of my famous sweet bread an' iced tea. I could always use a friend. What do you say?"

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Character Portrait: Clementine Stanton Character Portrait: Vivian Harris
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Vivian laughed at Clementine's comment, shaking her head. "That wasn't my concern at all. I can handle smugglers," she joked in response. She was intrigued by Clementine saying that it was some sweet bread that she'd made. Vivian had no skill in the kitchen whatsoever. She could clean, and she could pour drinks, but she certainly couldn't cook. She'd tried a few times, but the kitchen staff in the back of the saloon had quickly kicked her out when they realized what a disaster it was becoming. Had she been a less honest woman, she'd have considered snagging a bite or two of the bread for herself, but she'd never dare steal from the kindly owner who'd taken pity on an orphaned teenager and given her a job and a room for all these years.

A smile came to Clementine's face suddenly, a more genuine smile from within than the friendly smile she'd given to Vivian in the first place. Then, the schoolteacher proposed that they should spend time together some day - she offered to treat Vivian to sweet bread and iced tea, and she said that they should be friends. It certainly wasn't a terrible idea. Vivian entertained male company whenever she could, but she had no female friends. A smile spread across her face now, a genuine one just as Clementine's had been. "I'd like that very much, M'z Stanton," she responded softly. "When d'you, y'know, not have the munchkins in the schoolhouse? I'm sure my schedule's got a good deal more flexibility than yours," she said with a light laugh.

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Character Portrait: Clementine Stanton Character Portrait: Vivian Harris
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The small blonde's heart soared when Vivian accepted her invitation. Would this be the beginning of a new friendship? Would she finally have an ally in this strange, constantly changing town that she resided in? Clementine grinned at the woman's laugh. And it was true, Clementine had a strict schedule to stick to with her children. The mothers of the town would certainly have her hide if they realized she was slacking on her duties. They had made it very clear to her when she was hired, she was here to teach their children everything they needed to know from school. She was not allowed to be killed, because it was insanely difficult to find a schoolteacher for this hell of a town. And she needed to teach the children without asking any personal questions. She had never really understood that last requirement, but she was willing to follow it if it meant she got to stay with her kids. Clementine had grown attached to the children she saw every day. It was as though they were her own kids, and the kids loved her in return.
"Well, we have school every Monday through Friday from nine o'clock to two thirty, with a thirty-minute lunch break at noon. Afterward, I usually stay 'till about three or four gradin' papers or workin' on plans, but I can be free whenever!"
She couldn't conceal the excitement from her voice, and while she understood that she may be coming across a bit strong, she didn't really seem to care. The last real interaction with a friend Clementine had had was back in her hometown of Houston. People were much better conversationalists over there, and society was most definitely more advanced. Murder was certainly less common.
Clementine thought back to what life was like before she left. She used to be worried about such trivial things as gloves or seating arrangements at brunch. In fact, she had been engaged to a man named Charles Bleaker before she went to college. Boy, were her parents angry with her for breaking that off.
In a snap, Clementine realized that she needed to stop herself from thinking about all of this. She wasn't able to change the past. And anyway, she needed good stories to tell Vivian when she came over.

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Character Portrait: Clementine Stanton Character Portrait: Vivian Harris
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Vivian lifted a hand to adjust her tight curls slightly as she listened to Clementine's words. She was excited by the prospect of having a friend. She just wasn't entirely sure what she'd do with a friend. Aside from going to Clementine's house for some sweet bread and iced tea, what would they do together? She knew what men did with their friends - they went out drinking, tried to pick up women, played cards, smoked cigars, went out hunting... None of those activities sounded terribly appealing to Vivian, though, except for maybe the cards, and she doubted they'd be appealing to Clementine. The woman was clearly intelligent and well-educated, and her fondness of children definitely indicated a layer of innocence that Vivian could only wish for.

Clementine's schedule sounded busy, and Vivian grinned slightly. "Well, I can tell ya for sure that nine o'clock's much too early," she said with a slight chuckle. "I work the evening tonight and tomorrow, but the next day I'm on the afternoon shift and should be done roughly five o'clock, maybe a bit early if it's slow. I could come 'round after then, if that'd suit you!" She remembered having friends when she was a little girl in the schoolhouse - they'd played tag and hide 'n' seek in the schoolyard, and bossy little Susie Robinson had always thrown a fit when she'd lost. They'd also played with Susie's dolls, except no one was allowed to touch them except Susie, so it was mostly just the girls all sitting in a circle watching Susie and her dolls. Of course, what kids did together was much different from what adult friends would do.

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Character Portrait: Clementine Stanton Character Portrait: Vivian Harris
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Clementine smiled at the plan.
"That sounds like a wonderful plan to me. I'll make sure I'm done grading by five the day after tomorrow. It was nice seein' you, but I really should get back home now. Lesson plans 'n all."
She smiled and said her salutations before turning and making her way toward the saloon doors, praying that this time she wouldn't almost have her face flattened. It was embarrassing enough once!
Clementine left the building and turned in the direction of the schoolhouse. She had some cleaning and organizing to do before school began again tomorrow.

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Character Portrait: Vivian Harris
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Vivian grinned, nodding as Clementine excused herself. "Of course. Have fun plannin' lessons and all," she chimed with a light laugh. She watched as her new friend left, and then she looked around the saloon. There was probably work to be done, and as much as she usually dreaded it, she actually didn't feel too badly about having to do work now. She had a new friend, and there was a renewed bounce in her step as she began to do a quick lap of the saloon, figuring she'd stop by each of the tables to see whether or not they needed anything at the moment.