Announcements: Universe of the Month! » Finding Universes to Join (and making yours more visible!) » Guide To Universes On RPG » Starter Locations & Prompts for Newbies » RPG Chat — the official app » USERNAME CHANGES » Suggestions & Requests: THE MASTER THREAD »

Latest Discussions: Impending Pursuit Q&A » Eudaimonia » Loot! » Natural Kinds » I have a funny idea » Life in the 21st century. » Song of the Runes » Plato’s Beard » Clues » Nihilism » Strange Tales From Hadean » Art Gulag [ Come get this Commish! ] » Visibility of Private Universes & Profile Customisation » Presuppositionalism » Aphantasia » Skill Trees - Good, Bad & Ugly » In-Game Gods & Gameplay Impact » Cunningham's Law » The Tribalism of Religion » Lost Library »

Players Wanted: Looking For A New Partner » Hellboy characters » 18+ Writing Partner [Fantasy, Romance, Etc.] » 18+, Multi-Para to Novella Writers please! » Looking for roleplayers » Fun tale full of angels, demons, and humans » Looking for roleplayers » A Fairytale World in Need of Heroes & Villains! » Are You a Crime Addict? » Wuxia RP » Looking for roleplayers » New Realistic Roleplay - Small World Life ٩( ´・ш・)و » Mentors Wanted » MV Recruiting Drive: sci-fi players wanted! » Veilbrand: The Revolution » Gonna do this anyway. » Looking for Kamen Rider Players » Elysium » Looking for roleplayers for a dystopian past! » Revamping Fantasy Adventure RPG, need new players »

0
followers
follow

Araminta 'Minty' Moses

I turn to a black cat in moonlight and sour your milk

0 · 386 views · located in Splitcreek, Arizona

a character in “Westward Bound”, as played by Faith Fanon

Description

ImageGiven name: Araminta Moses

Nickname: Minty

Gender: Female

Age: 30, give or take. They didn't keep very close records down on the plantation.

Good guy or bad guy? Explain: 'Ah've met so many are bad, by the law of averages Ah reckon Ah must be one of the good. But Ah don't follow nobody's law of good and evil now, not even the Lord's; Ah am truly a free woman.

Position: Witch, healer, outcast

Personality: Wary and aloof, Minty nonetheless feels an obligation to use her healing powers on whoever asks for her help. She understands that some people have to treat her different in public than they do in private, and doesn't hold such behaviour against anyone.

Skills: Herbology, healing, foraging, trapping. Speaks Comanche

Personal relationships: Lives alone a few miles from Splitcreek, feared and ridiculed by townfolk as a witch, actively loathed by the local doctor, pharmacist, and priest, but gets secret visits from women from the town who need her knowledge of herbs and folk cures.



History: "Ah was born 30-some years ago. Ah 'member the end of the war on Mexico but not the start, an' Ah was bout a girl of five at that time. Ah 'member Daddy talkin bout the armies at Fort Gates an' the run on cotton for to make bandages.

"So Ah guess Ah was 15, 16, when Ah was married away to Thomas, he was Masser Epsom's whipman. That mean he still a slave like the rest of us, but he live in a real house an' have real shoes. You'd think Ah would like bein' a lady lady but Ah din't like bein' away from Daddy an my all brothers an' sisters. But he chose me, an' Ah had to. An' Ah had Thomas a babby real quick, an' Ah saw him but once before they took him away. To sell for a slave or to put in a stew, the Devil knows the difference.

"So when my belly cramps tell me my nex' babby is comin', this is round the time Jefferson Davis put himself up as President an' the big war start, Ah slip away to Brazos River. Ah tell you, friend, that rough ground is not easy when you're holdin' in your screams an holdin' in your babby tryin' to be born, but the river eased my pain. Ah swore to God and the Devil Ah would not bear another slave, and so when that babby came, I choked her dead with the cord that tied her to me still. Ah see Ah shocked you, friend. An' then Ah et her, while she still warm. Well, Ah was not gonna leave her there for the gators, now. Ah don't know which of God and the Devil cursed me, but since that day Ah have borne neither blood nor babe, nor aged a day. But birthin' that babby just bout broke my back, an' Ah crawled four days home.

"Losin' that babby turned Thomas meaner than mean, though he did not love the first enough to stop him bein' taken away, an' he got mighty jealous. Ev'ry time he thought Ah looked at another man, he would burn me here, under the eye. An' ev'ry time he thought Ah spoke to another man, he burn me here, under the mouth. Ah will not show you where he burn when he thought Ah lay with another man...

Image"Well now, the war was going hard on the greybacks, an' with near ev'ry man away, there was no-one to stop Thomas but he pulled on that whip harder an' harder. But the Comanche were comin' deeper an' deeper into Coryell County an' one day they come to Masser Epsom's farm. Thomas thrown down his whip an' ran but still they rode him down whoopin'. This big ol' black bastard land right in front of me, his back broke too an' helpless as a babby, an' Ah took up his whip an' choked him dead with it. A Comanche sees me an' straight away took me for his wife. Ah was a widow for 'bout six hours straight, hee hee hee!

"Those red people were better to me than black or white ever were. When Ah couldn't give my warrior husband a babby, he took a new wife and Ah joined the medicine women. Ah wasn't jealous, he'd done right by me, an Ah learnt bout herbs an' healin', poisons, fevers, what's good to eat, how to set a bone, an Ah learnt dances to relieve the pain of my back. The day Ah delivered my warrior husband's new wife of twins was the finest of all my days, an' they were good days, eatin' an' dancin' an' singin'.

"But after the Civil War, the Union Army had no fight, an' when there an army, there gotta be a fight, an' they came to take, take, take the Comanche land. My warrior husband was killed at Blanco Canyon an' most the tribe went to live in Fort Sill, not much better than slaves. Ah took one look at that an' Ah lit out. The twins and they mammy lit out. She wasn't gonna raise them under the whip of the white men killed they daddy. But the winter that came was a hard one on the plain, hard an' cold, an' first one an' then the the other of them babbies died for the hunger. Well, there ain't nuthin' medicine can do for an empty belly. Or a broken heart. Or a rope aroun' your neck, which is how that poor little Comanche mother choked out her last.

"So that was the end of the plains for me. Ah wandered an' Ah wandered all the way 'cross the country, stoppin here an' there til Ah found this ol' spot by the river. There was a deadman still lyin' here but he wasn't usin' that bed no more. So come lie yourself down, friend, an' tell Minty what ails ya."



Image Appearance: Minty is petite and frail, almost childlike, standing only 4'11", with wild, tangled, dark hair. Her large eyes and sultry lips are usually cast downwards in an unfriendly pout, but occasionally a flash of mischief disrupts her dour expression. There are black tattooed dots below her eyes and mouth. She moves slowly, sitting, standing and bending with obvious back pain. Her clothes are cast-offs given as gifts, meaning her wardrobe varies from shapeless, repurposed shawls to ragged ballgowns. She also wears an odd assortment of bangles, beads, and necklades that jangle softly as she moves. Her voice is high-pitched and strangely child-like, a strange contrast with her bedraggled appearance.

Her rough hut is surprisingly sturdy, and its interior is an Aladdin's cave of trinkets, candles, pots of salves and ointments, bushels of herbs, and a strange-smelling smoke.

So begins...

Araminta 'Minty' Moses's Story

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Araminta 'Minty' Moses
Tag Characters » Add to Arc »

0.00 INK

The clank, clank, clank of the silver mine, over on the other arm of the river, tapped like a mantra in Minty's subconsciousness. If she hadn't already been able to tell the time of day by the position of the sun, she still would have known it by the different phrases of the mine's machinery, from the coughing, hacking roar of the operation shuddering to life every morning that served as her alarm call to the muscular grumbling of the drills boring through shale sandstone, to the sighs and squeaks of the tortured metal cooling after operations finally shut down after the sudden desert sunset.

But while the sounds of industry and commerce were comfortingly predictable, the inhabitants were anything but, and Minty was glad of the steep, inhospitable bluff that jutted between what she thought of as her river and the mine's river. Exhausted from 15-hour days, exploring was the last thing on these troglodytes' minds. Fighting and fucking was all they were interested in, fighting and fucking and then sleeping, fueled by blindingly strong moonshine brewed up at the camp. To some extent, the camp was a fully functioning settlement; well, functioning on the very limits of what could be considered civilisation. There was a cook who boiled the weekly food deliveries into a seething mush and served it in his mess hall; there was a rough and ready police force, to guard the precious silver more than the miners; and there was an ex-Army doctor, himself a venal alcoholic whose main treatments comprised prescribing moonshine for all ailments, setting bones without any pain relief, and all-too-eager amputations and no aftercare. Deaths were frequent, but Stanley Silver, the mining company trading shamelessly on the Splitcreek founder's name, rarely reported them to the authorities in the town. Too much trouble. But Minty knew; she often saw the bloated bodies floating down the mine river when she foraged for herbs where the two branches met.

Rosie lay on the dead man's bed, waiting patiently as Minty ticked back and forth to the sounds of the mine. Long used to such quirks, she waited patiently for the diminutive medicine woman's to return to the same dimension the rest of the world inhabited. Eventually Minty's eyes flicked open again, and she swayed as her vision readjusted to the muggy gloom of the hut. Smoke swirled up from a brazier, where smouldering herbs filled the room with a tangy, sleepy scent. What little light there was came from a sputtering candle on the bedside table and from the doorway, where slivers of bright sunlight snuck past the heavy layers of burlap Minty substituted for a door.

Minty flashed a grin at the plump prostitute and tugged her ruffled skirts down to her knees again. "Good news, Miss Rosie, it not the clap again. It's only an infection in your bladder."

"Oh, sweet thing, you are an angel," Rosie cooed with relief, clambering upright. Minty grimaced as she turned to the darkest recesses of her hut, rattling through jars and pots by feel and smell as much as by sight. The grimace was only partly for the pain in her back. Rosie provided another vital service at the mine; she was the 'camp wife', and she spoke about the near-savages who used and abused her as if they were wayward children; 'my boys', she called them, even though the bruises and cuts Minty had to patch up told the true story. Not for the first time, Minty wondered whether the rich and powerful men and the high-society ladies who were the final customers for the precious metal dug out of the earth knew the true, sordid nature of its origins.

"A spoon of this, morning and night, Miss Rosie," said Minty, handing over an earthenware pot. Rosie popped off the lid and scrunched up her nose at the smell that emanated from within. "Til it all gone."

Rosie's good-time-gal smile popped back on her weathered face automatically, and she tucked the vial in among her voluminous skirts. From the same secret location, she drew out a leather pouch and handed it over to Minty. "Here y'are, precious." Then she turned to flounce from the dark hut, her dramatic exit spoiled by her flailing at the thick curtains over the door. Minty watched as the surly guard from the mine helped Rosie up on her mount and led her back up the ravine that hid Minty's hut. Rosie could only leave the mine accompanied by one of Stanley Silver's hired thugs, such was the company's paranoia about theft. In reality, she - and the miners themselves - were prisoners, even if they didn't know it.

The rich smell of fresh tobacco added to the potent mix of scents swirling around her hut as Minty opened Rosie's payment. Easing herself gingerly down onto the dead man's bed, she popped a wad of it into her cheek and chewed, sighing with satisfaction as the nicotine ricocheted through her veins.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Araminta 'Minty' Moses
Tag Characters » Add to Arc »

0.00 INK

Squatting on her haunches by the river's edge, Minty tore off a piece of the snake jerky, chewed a couple of times, and spat it out into her hand. Rattlesnake was chewy and a bit tasteless, but rubbed with enough garlic and chili before it was cured, it make a serviceable snack - and it already came in handy strip-like portions.

"Hee-hee, Mister Snake," she giggled to herself. "It your own fault you jerky-shaped."

She speared the sliver of snakemeat on a barbed fish-hook attached to a longer line and repeated the process several times until seven hooklines, attached at intervals to a main line, were baited. There was a deep pool on 'her' branch of the river here, just upstream from where the two streams came together in the famous 'split creek' for which the town a mile or so downstream was named, and the frothing, turbulent waters there kept more timid fish upstream in the slow-moving current of the pool. Nor did fish enjoy venturing into the pollution that washed down from the mine.

Bracing herself against a rocky outcrop lest the intractable current drag her slight frame away, Minty waded up to her waist in the river and cast out her fishing lines, one end looped around her left arm. She waited patiently for the ripples of her intrusion to fade away, and then waited some more. Hot, dusty air whistled down the canyon carved over millennia by the river and rustled her hair. By contrast, cooling water lapped at her waist, an occasional surge wetting her up to her chest. Wishing not to disturb any fish that might be present, she resisted the urge to wiggle her toes in the mud of the riverbed. Peering past the glare of the sun reflecting off the surface of the water, she thought she spied a pair of catfish - channels or flatheads, it was hard to tell - lolling lazily through the water a few yards from her bait. At least three feet long, they were too big for her lines. A pity, she thought; catfish made a tasty meal. But they could break her line or even pull her off her feet into deeper waters. Reluctantly, Minty smacked the surface of the water; the juicy catfish flicked their tails and disappeared into the murk.

Another hour passed. Minty let the sun bake her, occasionally scooping up a handful of water to quench her thirst. They originated from the same mountain range, so Minty thought of 'her' river and the mine river as equal but opposite twins. The breeze that accompanied this river was gentle and playful; on the other side of the massif, it was thick and thundery. The water in the mine river was sour and ill-tempered; here it was cool and refreshing. Helpful spirits inhabited this stretch, aiding the growth of the precious herbs for her medicines. There was a devil in the water on the other side; nothing but ragged scrub grew there.

Minty was shaken from her reverie by a sharp tug on the line. A stout roundtail chub, about a foot long, thrashed at the end of one of the hooklines about halfway up the line. Minty grinned and, after waiting a moment to make sure the chub was fully caught, began drawing him in, winding the line around her arm.

Suddenly the line drew taut and Minty was dragged off her feet, face-first into the water. She rose again, spluttering and gasping, before another savage tug pulled her down again. She kicked her feet, seeking the riverbed, and a tremor of panic ran through her when she kicked nothing but water. She could just make out the thick form of the catfish at the end of her line as it rolled and bent to try and escape the weight dragging on it. As the air began to burn in her lungs, she again turned her attention to the rope wrapped around her arm, and managed to shuck off a couple of loops. She could hear her pulse hammering in her ears, and purple lights flashed before her eyes as her oxygen-deprived brain struggled to function. The catfish jack-knifed again, and Minty was dimly aware from the murky green all around her that she must now be in the middle of the river, where the current was strongest. One last loop around her wrist tied her to her tormentor, and she fumbled at it with fingers that would barely obey her commands.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Araminta 'Minty' Moses
Tag Characters » Add to Arc »

0.00 INK

The devil of the mine river had Minty by the arm and roared into her face as he tried to drag her down to hell. Minty screamed but no sound came out. She twisted and jerked but found nothing to brace herself against. "Damnit if Ah ain't just a fish on the line," Minty muttered to herself as the devil's scaly grip bit into her wrist.

Minty knew she must be close to death; this was the first time she'd seen the devil's face - although there wasn't much to see bar a huge black beard, bristly as a cactus, and a battered miner's helmet pulled down low over his eyes. Another roar, making Minty recoil in fear, showed off his craggy rock teeth. She looked past the devil and saw the entrance to hell; it was shored up with rough-hewn logs like a mining tunnel, and the clank, clank, clank of machinery emanated from the pitch-black interior, undercut with moans and groans from the unseen souls within.

Throughout the many hardships of her life, Minty had never relied on anyone but herself. The shocking cheapness of life on the slave plantation, and the ease with which Mother Nature could snatch someone away on the plains, had given her an inner toughness that belied her size. But those moans and groans from the hellish mines made her feel brittle with panic at the thought of never feeling the sun on her skin or breathing fresh air.

"Help me, river, help me," she begged silently.

But she was in the mine's river now, and the beneficent spirits of her own river either couldn't hear her or couldn't reach her.

The devil's teeth snapped closer and closer. Minty flinched and scrunched her eyes shut, bracing for the worst. But suddenly a warm, almost maternal feeling washed over her, enveloping her, and the devil's chopping jaws, hell's clanking machinery, and the groans of torment were drowned out by a cooing voice: "My angel, my angel."

Minty awoke with a start, face down, spitting mud and sand. The pain in her back prompted her to run a hand behind herself and check she hadn't been impaled by something. With a groan, she rolled over on her side and vomited pints of riverwater. Her convulsions finally over, she blinked and shook her head to focus her groggy view and found she was on the mine side of the river just below the rapids where the two arms met. Her left wrist was chafed and swollen from the fishing rope that had eventually slipped free.

Gradually, wincing all the way, Minty got to her feet and looked back up the river. She had been dragged, by catfish or current, some 100 yards from her fishing pool, through the maelstrom where the rivers joined, to wind up on the opposite bank. She could just about make out the rock from which she began her fishing expeditions. She squinted further, trying to locate her little pack. Oh well, she sighed, it would have to wait til she found a way back across the river, which flowed twice as fast below the convergence. It's not like the jackals were going to take it.

Something further up the bank she'd just been deposited on caught her eye - a heap of coral pink that stood out pale and wan against the vibrant red stone of the desert. Minty squeezed the last drops of water out of her tangled mass of hair and trotted warily in its direction. From about 30 yards away, she could identify the shape - human, though sprawled uncomfortably, unnaturally - and slowed her pace, glancing around at the canyon walls for hidden watchers.

The bodice of Rosie's tattered ballgown had been yanked down to her waist, exposing white, pillowy breasts, lightly marbled with blueish veins. But the first thing Minty noticed was the sullen purple hue of the prostitute's swollen face. She crept forward, flicking her eyes around the river with every step, and knelt by the body.

"Oh Miss Rosie, what they do to you?" Minty whispered, even as she spied the dark bruises around her neck. There was no medicine for strangulation. A little fist of anger clenched in Minty's stomach. Rosie had been a fool, but she'd been one of Minty's patients, and that made Minty responsible for her. The miners she'd seen wash down the river had died from gunshot or stab wounds - injuries inflicted in a moment's drunken impulse - but to choke someone to death required determination, especially someone of Rosie's size. To bear down and squeeze the life out of someone, to ignore their flailing arms, to - Minty ran her hands lightly around the circumference of Rosie's neck... yep - to crush their windpipe and crack their vertebrae, took more than anger or drunkenness.

Dashing tears from the corners of her eyes, Minty struggled in vain to pull the ballgown up to cover Rosie's breasts. Her friend lay cold, bloated, unwanted and vulnerable on the bank of the river, murdered by some man who thought of her as just another piece of trash, as little more than property. Glancing up the mine river to where, when the wind blew right, Minty could still make out the hellish clank, clank, clank, she gritted her teeth.

"Ah spose this is a job for the city lawman, Miss Rosie. Ah ain't goin' up that mine by meself."

She patted her belt, looking for the knife she'd left on the bank of her slow-moving fishing pool. Silently cursing its absence, she studied the body before her, then turned Rosie's head to one side and bent down and bit off her earlobe. Chewing the cold, rubbery flesh, she struggled to her feet and set off in the direction of Splitcreek.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Araminta 'Minty' Moses Character Portrait: Nathaniel Clay
Tag Characters » Add to Arc »

0.00 INK

They morning at the Greene Ranch always ended in the same manner. After the horses that occupied their pen bordering on the small ranch house were fed and watered and cared for, Nathaniel Clay left to work at their store in town. Henrietta packed lunch in a small knapsack that sat between Nathaniel and the young Noah Greene as they left the ranch by buggy and horse. Nathaniel rarely said no more than two words on their rides into town. Noah would often try to get him to say something, otherwise all that occupied their time was the blistering heat and the unnerving quiet passing through the vacant dusty valley that not even a wind bothered to pick up on today. If Mr. Clay was in a good mood, he might get a huff single word response otherwise general silence. He supposed Mr. Clay used this time to his own thoughts or rather for a man who manages a store that works with a lot of folks every day he was no big fan of frivolous talking.

Still young Noah, balancing the flat cap currently on his head was just passing through the silence when he noticed a figure further up ahead lurching a little. Mr. Clay seemed to noticed it as well, the dapper bowler hat whiskered somber man quietly going for the rifle underneath the wagon seat resting it on his lap. “If I tell you to take the reins. You take them.” Noah immediately regretted wishing for some sort of excitement. He seemed scared, nervous. He would never guess that Nathaniel was feeling the same way at the moment. He couldn’t show it, the boy might lose his nerve entirely and do something foolish. The man’s beady eyes squinted, adjusting to the light. The figure up ahead was lurching her way forward in a long march.

Noah was almost surprised to see it was the wild witch woman who lived somewhere in the Bluffs! He had heard stories from all sorts of folks as he swept the shop. She could kill your crops if you crossed her. Make your babies still born! She danced with the devil every full moon and anyone who witness went insane! Mr. Clay stopped the horse. Noah couldn’t read his vacant expression as he looked at the woman further up ahead.

Nathaniel perhaps out of instinct put the firearm back into its place and without warning he gave the reins to Noah. “Wait here. Do nothing.” He told the young man. “And I don’t want you to say anything rude. You hear me?” He gruff up with an accusing finger. Wha-!? The lack of a response got Noah ‘the look’. Gah! “Yes sir!” he rung out. Good. Hm. Nathaniel chewed his cheek for a moment as he walked and attempted to approach the strangler looking woman wandering down the road looking like she lost the fight with Neptune show soaking wet she was and the look on her eyes registered something in Nathaniel.

“Excuse me ma’am.” He gruff up from behind. “You heading into town?” The General Store owner asked frankly and simply. He removed his hat off his aging head for a moment before he looked at the boy behind him. Noah looked confused for a moment before he shook the hat in his hand. OH! Uh! Noah did the same sort of shaking the mop of dark head growing on his head. That boy needed a haircut.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Araminta 'Minty' Moses Character Portrait: Nathaniel Clay
Tag Characters » Add to Arc »

0.00 INK

The red dust rose from Minty's feet as she shambled along the river road to Splitcreek. The pain in the small of her back barked with every step. She fancied she could hear the sizzling as the harsh Arizona sun gradually evaporating the riverwater from her clothes and hair, rising as steam. She sucked on a sleeve to quench her thirst, then spat, remembering that she'd been soaked in the foul miasma of the mine river as well as the clear waters of her own.

The dust rose. The sun burned and the steam sizzled. Her back ached, her feet dragged, and the dust rose. Minty swallowed dryly. A cluster of cacti momentarily offered the prospect of something to drink, but Minty had left her knife far behind. Her breath came in ragged little gasps and her feet thudded in the dust. The repetitive sounds lulled her until she was walking almost automatically. The cry of a buzzard circling overhead split the silence.

'Go 'way, mean ol' crow,' Minty slurred, half asleep. 'Ah'm not for you today.'

A new sound filtered into her subconscious - the proud trot of a well-tended horse, the jangle and creak of a buggy. As she staggered on, the sound neared to within 10 yard of her, then stopped. Someone alighted.

"Excuse me, ma'am," came a male voice. Despite his authoritarian tone, Minty fancied she could detect the tremor of uncertainty she so often elicited in strangers. She turned and glared balefully at the well-built, well-presented man who had addressed her.

"You heading into town?" he continued, seemingly unfazed by her doleful look or scarecrow appearance. Nathaniel regarded the ragged, uneven trail of footprints. Any rancher, or anyone with experience of animals, could tell this woman was lame.

Minty glared at the man, backing up a step or two like a wild animal at bay, caught between fight and flight. Over the man's shoulder, she caught sight of a nervous-looking teen with a shock of dark hair. She hissed between her teeth at him, and grinned her crooked smile as he flinched.

Nathaniel failed to utter a single word. He stood there reserved, patient, giving her a cool stare. She seemed to be in some sort of shock. His eyes squinted in this ungodly heat. Despite being a well put together man, it was apparent as the two were staring at each other that Nathaniel was getting old. The man grinded the back of his teeth and there was a dull twitch and ache, probably one or two of them rotting on the inside. He waited for a simple no or a yes. He figured if he imposed far too much it only frighten her off.

Minty looked him up and down, recognizing him now as the owner of the general store in Splitcreek. Clay, the merchant was named, and aptly so; he was slow-moving, solid, unyielding. A man who held such a respectable role in the town would not approve of her ways, she knew. But the sheriff was another such man; perhaps arriving with one respectable man would make another more willing to listen to her. She indicated her assent with a small nod of her head.

Nathaniel helped her into the buggy, momentarily caught off-guard by how light and fragile the witch woman was. He was used to hauling sacks of grain; this woman's bones were like a bird's. Frowning at Noah's unconcealed fear of the woman sitting between them, Nathaniel cracked the reins and sent them on their way. As much to hide his annoyance at Noah's unmanliness as anything else, Nathaniel went against his ingrained instincts and attempted conversation.

"You’ve got business in town, ma'am?"

"Why you call me 'ma'am', Mr Shopkeeper?" came Minty's reply, in a sing-song, childlike voice. "That ain't what you think."

“You don’t know what I think.” Nathaniel bristled back, his heavy moustache shaking. He looked down into the witch woman's face, and the pock-marked burns on her cheeks and wild light in her eyes gave him pause enough for her to interject: "Ah must see the sheriff, sir."

The horse whickered as Nathaniel pulled hard on the reins. He didn’t question her business with the sheriff. She was entitled to her private affairs and she looked like she could use the help of the law just about this moment. He scooted so that Minty could sit in the nice cushions between the two. He returned the dapper bowler hat on his head and began to move. If there was awkward silence before, it was damn horrible now.

Noah sat there, flat cap returning his head as he shifted eyes back to the Witch Woman. Nathaniel seemed to returned to his own little comfort place of not speaking and driving. “Well… uh. I’m Noah and this is Mr. Clay… but you might have known that.” He expressed for a moment “What do they call you-??” He asked her realizing what he just said “By I mean. What’s your name?”

"They calls me what they wants, Noah," Minty replied, fixing the boy with a piercing stare, "an' my name is what Ah wants."

And then a silent reaction piece from Noah would be a nice way to finish. Something like:

Noah swallowed deeply, nodding his head even though he didn't fully understand the witch woman's reply and wishing he hadn't wished for the day to get more interesting.

The wheels of the buggy constantly turning and bumping on the dirt below was the only real sound, besides the horse continuingly pulling them forward with the small jingle of bells attached to the animal. It was starting to get real dry these last couple of days. Hopefully it would rain soon as the dust kicking up was so bad that Nathaniel rolled a neckerchief over his face and saw that Noah did about the same.

Nathaniel gave the reins to Noah at the moment untying the knapsack that was their lunch - a few sandwiches, peas, potatoes, and some mustard. Putting the assorted things further down, Nathaniel offered the rag to help cover Minty’s face during this really dusty ride into town. The witch woman flinched at his gesture, but then the wary stare was replaced by a nod of understanding. She spat, then tied the rag over her mouth and nose.

Close to an hour later, they began to ride down Main Street. All three were caked in dust and dirt.