A New Life and a New Problem

The journey from Modesties Retreat to Stubborn Mount takes the three Watch Dogs past Glenn’s Oasis once more.  They give the town a rest and do not venture too near, leaving that for another day.  From there they eventually ride out in to the open wilds again, with nothing to see for miles except for hardy wild bushes, riding around or through ravines once more.

After what is probably about three weeks travelling, the Dogs come upon the stream the town is situated upon.  They are glad to come upon this stream as their water rations were becoming a little low, and it is welcoming to take in the fresh cold water.

The town they can begin to see from a distance, it still looking very temporary, with a scattering of buildings all looking in a various state of repair.  They can’t from this distance, make out any building that would house the town steward.  A couple of men can be made out working on the stream away from the settlement, working on paths the stream takes to help with irrigation.  The crops here look like they are yielding rather late in the season, and look almost due to harvest.

Coming from a similar direction, the Dogs spy a large open wagon travelling towards the settlement, several large sacks are stacked in the back.  A smiling old man with a long grey beard, a shotgun resting over his lap, as he drives the two horses.  As he draws near to the three Dogs he tips his large Stetson hat towards them in greeting, his smile widening.  The old man pulls the horse to a halt next to the Dogs.  He greets them with a frail sounding squeal of a voice, asking if they would like to ride in the back of the wagon for the last part of their journey.  Joshua assures the old man that he is fine on his own horse, but thanks him anyway.  Jesse thanks the old man as he dismounts, tying his horse to the back of the wagon then climbs on.  After the old man tells Jesse that it is a pleasure to meet him, and asking if his friend, as he looks at Ambrose, would like to join him on the wagon, Ambrose thanks the guy and joins them.  The old wagon driver holds out an old withered and scared hand, pumping their hands in a friendly manner introducing himself as Micajah, but people call him Mick.  “Well I wondered why I wasn’t get’in bothered by any bandits around ere.  Should’a known there be Watch Dogs n’ town.  Me an ol’ Betsy ere aven’t ad much ta do.” Micajah looks down and pats his gun several times.  Jesse introduces himself to Micajah, and upon being asked what brings them to Stubborn Mount he tells him that they are stopping off for a break from the trail.  Micajah tells how much of an appeal it is, being out on the trail where a man is his own master.  Jesse informs him that the King of Life is their master.

Jesse asks Micajah if he often goes out to get supplies for the town.  He tells him that he has been going around to the local towns, doing a bit of trading and finding supplies that he can bring back to the folk at Stubborn Mount.  Jesse checks with him, stating if he would call himself a merchant for the town.  Micajah agrees with that description.  Jesse asks him how often he spends away from the town.  He is told that Micajah spends most of his time away, only coming back for a few days, to see the working men and the pretty young ladies, talk with the steward to make sure he hasn’t lost his way.  Jesse asks Micajah how long he has been away this time, and is told that it has been probably a couple of months since his last confession.  Jesse also asks him about the steward, saying that he could not make out a chapel or anything.  Micajah tells them that they kind of have a place that it is more of a make do community.  He also asks the Dogs if they are there to talk with the young men, and is told that they will be checking in on the steward too to make sure everything is alright and pass on the news that he needs to be informed of.  Jesse asks the name of the town steward, and is told that it is Gabriel.  “He be a good man, but when da King of Life was givin’ out hair he chose to give ‘im some’ut less shockin’.  If ya knows what I mean?”  The old man laughs to himself.  “The poor boy, he got such a ribbing when he was growin’ up.”

Micajah looks at the other two Dogs and states that the other two don’t talk much.  Silence.  He then looks at Joshua and says, “I’m a guess that boys da sharp shoot’r in ya unit, ain’t he?”  Ambrose nods and agrees with his assessment.  Jesse asks him how far he often goes on his travels, and is told that it is no more than usually a couple of weeks journey in either direction.

As they draw in to town Micajah tells them that they have arrived and should drop them off, informing them that if they need to see him he will be around for a few days.  Jesse thanks him for his friendly company.  Now within town the buildings can be seen to have been roughly put together, with vast amounts of building materials scattered around.  The place is probably roughly the same size as Glenn’s Oasis, just not as well put together.  A few of the central buildings look like they are built from a wagon or two, using some of the material and timber.  None of the buildings look very well secured against bad weather, luckily it is usually very clement out here.

A few of the young men working in the fields look up and shield their eyes as the new visitors enter, one looks at the old man with a smile.  Micajah give a wink or two at the ladies as he goes by.  However a fairly young man looks out, he is standing in the street and just been talking with a relatively elderly lady.  He glances at the three Dogs with his piercing blue eyes, as he stands in his simple but fine cut black clothes, the skin that is visible is of a chestnut tan.  A frown crosses his face in thought then smiles and raises his hand in greeting to the Watch Dogs.

Brother Ambrose nods to the man in black, then after a moments pause walks up to him.  The guy walks forward, his hand still held out.  Ambrose takes the guy hand and shakes it.  Guy says hello in a gravely voice asks who he has here.  Ambrose tells him that he was about to ask the same.  The guy introduces himself as Angelo, and Ambrose introduces himself.  Jesse nods towards him and states a greeting.  “I can probably guess what brings you here.  Little trouble we been having all those months ago.”

“Really! What trouble is this?”  Ambrose asks not wishing Angelo to know that they know.

“You have not heard!? Oh…well, I don’t like to gossip out on the street.  Listen, been trying to make this place better, as you may have noticed.  The far end on opposite side of the stream I have been getting some new buildings up.  Been getting me self some lumber from ‘ol Mick.  So, how about we go over to one of them, be a bit more private.  What do you say, you know, out of respect for other people feelings.”  Jesse agrees and so does Ambrose.

As they walk over, Ambrose talks some more with Angelo.  “You’re quite the man about town here.”

“Getting that way.”  He smiles.  “I don’t want to sound, um…you know above my station.  You know we got a nice little settlement here, and frankly if we get any massive flood down from the mountains then most of it is going to be washed away.  So just trying to build up some houses, you know I been…. Probably about five years as a child apprentice craftsman, woodworker.  Did a couple of years after I got through that in a couple other town, decided to come here where I could do some good.  Finding it a fine place, fine place.  It got its problems of course, obviously, but I am sure you’re going to sort that out.  Its nice you know, good people, deep hearts, deep hearts here.”  Angelo smiles at the young men as he walks the Dogs past them.  One of the young lads is a pale, short red headed man, who is knee deep in the mud, wearing loose dungarees, a happy glint in his eye as he looks at the four people passing by.  The other guy doesn’t look so happy there, he is a lot thinner in a smart but cheap looking clothes, he also has a small patch of cloth covering his head, which in this day and age as being considered a bit conservative.  He has his trousers lift up his leg as he walks through the mud, and from all appearances he is doing his bit but doesn’t look comfortable there.  Angelo greets them as he goes by.

The Dogs do notice now they are walking among the builds, that there are two that look in a better condition up on stilts.  The builds are very plain compared to the others, with no decoration or personalisation to them, like trinkets hanging or carvings of the Tree of Life etc.  Also it is noticeable that here on the other side of the stream, nothing can be heard of the noises from the town, only the water rushing along the stream, creating an isolated peacefulness.

Angelo takes the three Watch Dogs to a house, pulls a neat little key from his belt and unlocks the door.  He leads them inside.  It is very plainly furnished.  Three simple boxes upturned and used as seats.  He sits down and begins to talk about the problems in town, saying that they have probably seen similar things before.  He explains that about eight months ago, two young ladies, here he pauses trying to find the correct words, are bringing in joyous life to the town.  He says that it would be even more joyous if they knew who the father was, however the young ladies will not say, but Angelo states that he has an idea who it is.  He carries on that there was a guy who turned up a couple of months before.  “Spent some time here in town, a charming fellow, really charming.  He seemed to settle in well, said all the right things.  Josiah his name was.  Anyway disappeared, went on his way.”  He explains that he noticed the girls were upset, but then a couple of months later it was obvious that they are with child.  Angelo shares with the Watch Dogs that he has put two and two together, being that it was obvious.  The guy had been taking advantage.

The Watch Dogs listen to Angelo and when he finished Ambrose asks him what the girls have said about the situation.  Angelo confirms that the girls have not been talking, even though people have tried to find out from them.  He also explains that they have even tried to keep up appearances, but none of the lads want anything to do with it.  What with being with a girl with no virtue.  He also confesses that he doesn’t know what has happened lately, but the crops have been hard work of late.  Angelo tells them that they have even got stuff from other towns to try and help with the soil.

Angelo asks them if they had not come because of hearing about the problem, then it must have been the King of Life who had sent them.  That he will do whatever he can to help them, so that they can be on their way.  Jesse states to Angelo whether he is trying to get rid of them.  Angelo laughs and admits that people can get nervous when Dogs are around.

“People are only nervous if they got things to hide.”  Jesse replies.  But Angelo carries on with his argument, telling them that he needs his people to concentrate on getting the crops in.  He tells them that they can be there as long as they like to get the problems done.

Jesse asks Angelo how the steward is dealing with the problem with the girls.  Angelo shares that the steward blames himself for the situation, that he hadn’t done his job correctly.  “You do what you can, people gotta make their own choices.  We were given the ability to choose right or wrong.  Its each of our choice, he just puts us on the right path, and it is up to us to walk it.”  Angelo goes on to tell the Dogs that he has a hope to get a third building up and ready for when the ‘kids drop’, so they can live away from the others.  Ambrose asks if Angelo knows where this Josiah guy had left to go, but he doesn’t know.  The guy just disappeared one day, but tells them it would be nice to know.  Ambrose asks him what he would like them to do, and is told that it would be best to help out the girls where they can as they have taken a deep sin.

Ambrose checks with Angelo how long he has known the girls, and he tells them again that he didn’t grow up in this town but elsewhere.  From the conversation he has had with Angelo, Ambrose gets the impression that he wants them to help the girls out and leave, sooner the better.  Ambrose thanks Angelo for his time, and asks where the girls are kept.  Angelo tells him that the steward houses them in a couple of spares rooms of his for now, until they have a place of their own.  Ambrose asks where the steward lives and is told that they need to look for the house with a small branch attached to the roof.

As they leave the building, Ambrose and Jesse thank him for his time and Jesse offers his hand in a handshake, and this time Jesse does his customary pressured handshake.  “Oh a solid handshake, I like that.”  As they leave Angelo tells them, “I’ll just stay around here for a bit longer, if thats alright by you.”  Ambrose tells him that it is no problem.  Angelo informs them that if they need him then to get one of the people in town to go fetch him.

As they leave the building where they were talking with Angelo and head to see the steward, Joshua notices that the door on the other building is open a crack and someone is watching them.  However as soon as Joshua notices, the door is quickly and quietly closed.  All that Joshua saw was a reflection of light from an eye peering out.  Joshua makes no reaction for now and takes a mental note of it for later.

Now aware of what to look for, the Dogs now see the little signs of other buildings, like a horse shoe nailed to a building.  They soon arrive at the humble building with a branch on the roof.  There are some simple metal sheets on the outside.  The three Watch Dogs stand out side taking in the scene for a moment before knocking on the door.

“Just hold on a moment okay.  Hold on, just one moment.  Okay.  I am going to be….p..perfectly fine.  In fact if any of you happen, happen to know anyone who is good at midwifery.  They can turn up real quick now.  If you can get them for me now. Please!”  A voice shouts back from within the house, somewhat sound all out of sorts.  Ambrose hammers on the door even louder.  “I said I’ll just be a moment.  Please if you know anyone.  If you’re out there could you go in to town and get someone.  I’m up to my arms right now.”  Ambrose runs back in to town, stopping the first person he sees.  He tells them that someone is giving birth in the steward’s house, and they need a midwife now.  The person blinks a few times, a blank expression on their face.  Once it sinks in the person tells Ambrose that they will get straight on it and then runs off.

Eventually a quite elderly woman, her hair tied back and dragging a bag as she runs up to the door.  The Dogs are still stood outside respectfully waiting.  She excuses herself to the Watch Dogs as she passes them by, and struggles with the door.  As she struggles she states that the man has locked it from the inside again.  Ambrose shouts out to the steward that they have a midwife outside, and could he open the door.  The steward Gabriel shouts back, “Just let yourself in thank you.  I don’t really want to stop doing this here.”  Jesse casually walks up to the door, lifts his legs aiming his boot at the lock, and then thrust it directly at the door.

The door slams open, the lock flying of the door frame and door, splinters of wood flying in the air.  Within the opening can be seen the steward knelt down on the floor of the hallway blood covering his arms, almost as red as his flaming hair.  He is dressed in loose black robes.  The midwife rushes in.  “Thank goodness you’re here.  I have been trying my best.  But I am never quite sure what I am doing.”  The steward Gabriel then turns to the three Watch Dogs and asks if any of them can help out in a pinch.  Jesse quickly turns to look at Joshua, and Ambrose follows saying that he has got more experience than any of them.  Joshua looks back at them both then mutters something as he kneels down beside Gabriel.

The girl lead on the floor is barely out of her teenage years.  Her swollen belly rising up and down franticly as she tries to breath past the pain.  Every few seconds she screams out with the pain, her eyes rolling in her head.  As Joshua touches her hand it feels deathly cold, almost as if demons are trying to take control and force a severe outcome.  With his other hand Joshua pulls out his Book of Life, flicks it open to a random page, knowing that the King of Life will guide him, and starts reading from a passage, urging her to focus on his words and not the pain, to calm her, her breathing and distress.  Soon warmth slowly passes through the girl’s body starting at her hand.

After a couple of hours of labour a crying wrinkled baby covered in blood and mater pops in to the world.  The midwife looks up and announces that it is a boy.  “Azubah, it’s a boy.” The midwife addresses the girl.  The girl just moans to her self not looking to the midwife or baby.  “Don’t you want to see him?”

“It doesn’t matter.” Comes a frail voice from the girl. “Just doesn’t matter.”  The midwife places the baby down upon the girl, telling her to just hold him for a moment.  The steward leans against the wall, busy washing his hands with a sigh.  “Well I’ll have to say it’s a fine thing that you turned up when you did Watch Dogs. A fine thing.  I was getting slightly worried there.  Didn’t realise you boys were in town.”  Ambrose tells him that they have only just arrived.  Gabriel explains that it was a good thing that they were there as he had forgotten he had put the latch on the door, which he does for the girls privacy, otherwise the midwife would never have got in.

Gabriel puts his hand upon Azubah’s head, “You’re gonna be just well no girl, just well.  Trust me on this one.”

“It wont be.  Nothings gonna be well.”  Replies Azubah.  Ambrose takes the midwife to one side and asks her if Azubah will be strong enough to talk, or should they leave her for a while.  The midwife tells him that she had better be left for a while, “Shes been takin’ this whole thing very badly.  I mean… just she used ta be such a lively girl and its just gone out of her.  I treated her, she brought a life in to this world.  How it started didn’t matter.  I’m worried about her.”  Ambrose asks if she is upset because the father abandoned her, and the midwife agrees.

Now able to take the scene in with more detail, it can be seen that at the end of the hallway they are in, is a small image of a Tree, and what looks like a very small table in front of it, and also looks like a bed sheet laid out beneath.  There are two rooms to the side of the hallway, one with the door open and blood marks coming from it, from the looks it must be Azubah’s room.  The room looks like it is big enough to only just lay out within.  The door to the other room is pushed open slightly, a pale face with blonde hair looks out, a shocked look upon the girl’s young face as she sees all the blood, a thin white scar on her chin from possibly a birth mark.  Gabriel quickly step in front of the door upon seeing her looking out, “Don’t be worrying about that now girl, you be resting.  Don’t, don’t be worrying about it.”  He stutters as he tries to block the view for the girl.  He eventually manages to close the door, telling the Watch Dogs that it is not an easy life being a steward.

Ambrose asks if they could go somewhere more private to talk, seeing that the size of his house is little more than maybe four meters either way.  Gabriel informs him that they could go out near the stream, which is where most go as the sound of the stream blocks most voices.  Ambrose agrees with this suggestion, and Gabriel asks the midwife to stay a little longer with Azubah while he goes to talk with the Watch Dogs.  He also kneels down beside the girl and reassures her that he will only be gone for a while, and that she has brought a wonderful life in to this world, and for her not to forget it.  “Its not like he’s even mine.” Her frail voice states, but Gabriel assures her that that is one thing they definitely know.  “He’s gonna be taken away anyway.  I shouldn’t even get close, they’re gonna take him off me.”  Again Gabriel keeps reassuring her, telling her that they can work something out.

Ambrose checks with Gabriel how long it has been since the situation had started, and whether the girls have said anything about who the father is.  Gabriel tells them that it has probably been just over six months now since it was obvious, but they will not say anything about the father.  He tells them that they have had some spats together leading him to think it could be the same guy.  “I tell you Watch Dogs, there is something wrong with this town.  People always stop talking about it when I come around, you know.  They think I don’t notice these things, think I am a fool.  But I have been watching, just can’t find out what it is.  People are whispering and laughing, they don’t want the steward to know.”  Jesse asks him if the people come along to the ceremony regular, to which Gabriel assures him that they do, ‘as right as rain’.  Gabriel explains that people talk about what bothers them, but not what really bothers them.  He tells them that he thought they had a good thing here, “When Lavina’s husband passed away after a horrid accident so young.  The young lads and Angelo stepped in and sorted her out with a house, a good place to stay.  But then these bad things started to happen, you know.  First the girls with child, and they wont tell me who it is.  Even before that I was trying to get that boy Hiram and Azubah together, but now matter what I tried, you know, it just wasn’t happening.  It didn’t matter how much I pushed those two together it just wouldn’t happen.  I don’t know what I am doing wrong.”  Ambrose tells him that he doesn’t know what is wrong with the town, and assures him that it isn’t anything he is doing, and that their main concern is with the young ladies.  Gabriel tells the Dogs that poor Azubah has given up on life, no matter how much he assures her.  Ambrose asks what exactly the girls have said about the situation, even though they will not say who the father is.  Gabriel informs them that they have openly admitted that they have been with a man, but otherwise nothing.  He tells them that Azubah expects something of the man, not to stand by her but to do something, she keeps planning something.  Jesse asks him if it might have been this Josiah guy, but Gabriel doesn’t believe either way, all he knows is that he did disappear.  That he was a really nice friendly guy, he had spent so much time with Lavina, he and Angelo went up there all the time, he really helped out and well educated.  Gabriel shows his concern for the girls and asks that if the Dogs find anything out around town, to let him know.  He is worried that if he doesn’t find out it can only get worse.  Ambrose agrees that they will let him know.

The steward Gabriel shakes each of the Watch Dogs hands before leaving them alone by the stream.  The stream can be seen almost to the horizon either way, as this area is very open and flat.  Water running through the stream is clear and fresh looking, but creates quite a noise as it travels through town.  However the spot where they stand is a peaceful spot.

The three Watch Dogs decide to spend the rest of the day taking a walk around the town, listening to the general chit chat and gossip, seeing what they can pick up on the state of the town.  They go shaking hands with some people and mostly hear talk about the new child in town.  There are some whisperings that ‘the girl Azubah is so pale and that she may have suckled at the breast of a demon, it seeped within her and made her with child, and that is why she will not say anything of the father.’  When asked they are told that ‘once the boys had gone courting them, the girls became more flagrant, showing off their ankles, claiming it was accidental but obviously trying to get attention.  And anyone that showed them any attention then they would have leaped in.  Probably a demon came in human form, and possibly had them both together.  Otherwise how do you explain the closeness of their pregnancy?’  When asked if they were close friend, the Dogs are told that they are ‘both of the same age, and both looking for men.  They were both competing.  They were both very sinful girls.  The girls were both innocent to begin with, but when the steward tried to get them with a boy and he wasn’t interested they just went wild.  The steward even tried again after they were pregnant.’

The talk also mentions ‘Lavina never coming down to the town, ever since her Bo had died.  Everyone goes up to visit her, and those fine young boys always go up to make sure she is well. Hiram and Joseph make sure she is fine of a night, not passed away.  They must also take food up for her.  Angelo lets her stay there, which is very nice of him.  Especially since her husband passed away she can’t be making any money, just living on the good grace of other people.  She really should be ashamed.  Sign of morale failing that she hasn’t tried to do more.’

Joshua now finds it time to share with the other Dogs that he saw someone watching them when they left the building with Angelo, and that he believes it to be this Lavina woman.  They all agree that it may be worth going to have a talk with her so head off to visit.

As the three Watch Dogs head back over to the stilted buildings once more, the sun begins to set on the horizon, and a chill air lifts up.  When they walk by the muddy fields close to the crops, they notice they look all wilted, and it is almost as if there is a sort of frost around them.  But as they take another look they see no sign of the frost.  In the house they can see a single flickering light from within.

Ambrose knocks on the door, and after a pause they hear footsteps.  “Well I wasn’t anticipating anyone tonight.  Who’s there, out there?”  A woman’s voice can be heard coming from within.  Ambrose announces himself to her.  “Brother Ambrose…..” she seems to think on this, “..oh I..um, um, a…..just hold on a sec.  Um I just need to make myself decent.  I’ll just be a moment.”  She can be heard scuttling about within.

A young, about in her mid twenties, open the door to the three Watch Dogs.  She is in a long black dress, with the tiniest trim of yellow along the bottom.  There is also a small red flower in her hair.  Everything looks in order.  She has a beautiful smile on her face as she opens the door, however her eyes look out un-smiling, looking hollow even.

“Lavina isn’t it.  May we come in?”  Ambrose announces.  She stutters and welcomes them in, telling them that she wasn’t expecting any company.  “No one visits me on this night.  They bring up food and such like.”  She takes them through to a room deferent to the one that has the candle within.  Lavina quickly lights a candle in the room chasing away the shadows that lie within.  A simple wooden table sits in the middle of the room, with more up-turned boxes for sitting upon.  Lavina sits herself down upon one, and then proceed to open a small box and takes out a pinch of chewing leaf.  As she begins to chew on the tobacco nervously a mint aroma permeates from her mouth.

Ambrose introduces the other two Watch Dogs to Lavina.  Jesse nods a greeting to her, and Joshua just leans against her door frame with his arms folded.  Lavina mentions that she has heard about ‘the poor girls down in the town’.  Ambrose asks her what she had heard.  “A boy took advantage and left.”  After this Ambrose explains to her that they are not saying much about the situation.  “Watch Dogs, I….You got to help me.” Her hand begins to tremble, “Please! I don’t know how to say this.”  Ambrose asks her what the problem is.  “It….its that A…Angelo. He was here.  I was there alone.  He made this house and.  He was all…making suggestions.  He threatened.  When he said things….I tried to say no.  But I was frightened.  Please.  I am afraid he is going to come back again.  Please you have got to do something about him.”  Ambrose waits a few seconds, giving her a chance to catch her breath before he replies to her accusations.  He tells her that this is a serious situation she is claiming, and he wants to know exactly when this had happened.  Anger can be seen written upon her face, “He keeps coming every week, same nights every week.  He would be here, right here in this room.”  Again Ambrose asks her when exactly all of this happened.  Lavina adds the same argument, her eyes becoming watery and anger still very much present.  Ambrose gets the impression that she doesn’t seem to be lying to them, that all her sentiments are real.  “Please I beg you, I can’t live with this fear anymore.”  Lavina drops to her knees, clasping her hands together before them.  “With the shame.  Please Watch Dogs.  Please if there is any mercy in your hearts.  Please. Help me here.”

“Until we know what’s happened, we will not. I will not be committing to anybody.”  He tells her bluntly.  “The next time Angelo tries to do something improper.  Let us know.  Until then we will continue to try and find out what is happening in this town.”

“So you would leave the one sinned against.  Please he has wronged me.  He has taken something from me that cannot be replaced.  Even if he comes never again, what he has taken cannot be restored.  Should he not be punished Watch Dog?”

“We are Watch Dogs with more responsibility than that.  We are not going to decide who needs punishment in only one conversation, on one person’s say so.  But we are not going anywhere.”  At this point Lavina just collapses on to the floor, “You disbelieve me, I see.  What he has taken can never be put back.”  She huddles up on the floor, tears within her voice.  “Please, just be gone.  Be gone and leave me here in the dark.”

Ambrose rises from one of the box/chairs and marches out of the room and house, not looking back or saying another word, leaving Jesse and Joshua with the crestfallen Lavina.  She looks up at them both and asks them to please leave.  “He has soiled me, and you do not care.  So go.”  Jesse tells her that he is sorry that she feels this way, reminding her that the King of Life cares for all his children, and that they do not judge people without proof.  “I hope we can talk again soon.”  Lavina spits on the ground before the Watch Dogs, “So much for justice. Be gone.  Leave!”  As Jesse ups and leaves the room he mutters for her to hear, “Perhaps people should give more details in the help they need.”

“I need him to be punished for coming here….”  But Jesse carries on walking from the room.  “Go FUCK OFF then!  Go!”  As the Watch Dogs walk out from Lavina’s house the door slams behind them, the bolts being slammed in to place.

Standing outside Joshua suggests going after Ambrose, but talking from experience Jesse tells him that it is best to leave him, let him cool down as he got worked up over this.  Jesse then suggests that they had better find somewhere to sleep for the night as it is getting late, suggesting that they go see the steward once more to see if he can recommend anywhere.

Gabriel welcomes them once again, happy to see them.  He apologises for not being able to put them up himself.  Jesse tells him that he understands and wasn’t expecting him to do so, especially in the current circumstance.  Gabriel suggests that anyone would be more than willing to help them out and put them up, they just need to go out and talk to them.  Jesse tells him that they do not want to put anyone out, especially if they are in need of the space, and asks if there is anyone that may have more space, a bigger place than any of the others.  Gabriel thinks for a moment then suggests that they go have a word with a guy called Jamison.  Joshua asks him where in town they could find the Jamison house.  They leave the steward bidding him a peaceful night, and telling him that they will be by in the morning in hope to have a word with the girls.

At Jamison’s house the Watch Dogs are poured a warm thick drink.  They are welcomed in and given a little supper before turning in for the night.  Early the following morning Ambrose walks back in, returning after spending a long time cooling his head, trying to sort out what had happened with Lavina.  The morning sun shines through the window, and even through cracks in the wall greeting the waking Dogs.  Ambrose is stood before them, big dark black bag under his eyes and stubble on his chin.  Jamison pushes a bowl of muesli in front of Ambrose, “Here ‘ave that, it’ll ‘elp ya through the day.  Ya obviously been on da King of Life’s duties.”  Ambrose thanks him for his hospitality, and small talks with the guy.

Ambrose asks Jamison how things are, and is told that he can’t complain, only that he wonders if they have angered the King of Life due to the problems with the crops of late.  And that they should have taken better care of the girls, they should have done more.  Perhaps they could have got ‘ol Micajah to kept a look out for any possible suitors, but they didn’t think of it.  Ambrose asks what he knows of Lavina.  “Oh poor Lavina, she was so close to her husband, she was just shattered when he died.  T’was a horrid accident as well.  They was by da banks.  None of us saw.  Da ground broke n’ he tripped n’ fell.  Barely a couple a inches a water, but he knocked ‘imself cold.  N’ when we found ‘im he was with da King of Life.  Horrid thing ya know.”  Jamison pauses for a breath and takes a sip of his brew.  “T’is very nice ya know, Angelo ‘as been very good, keeping ‘er up there.  N’ the boys ya know, Hiram n’ Joseph keep taking food up to look after ‘er.  Without a man to look after ‘er, she got nothing.  Good to nothing that people still follow da teachings n’ look after those in need.”  He explains to Ambrose questions that to the best of his knowledge Angelo gets nothing for his trouble, he built her a house and houses her, “He is such a kind fellow.  I wish I could be half the man he is.”  Jesse asks Jamison if the boys are Lavina’s sons, “They are just looking after ‘er, that’s da thing ya know, no relation to ‘er what so ever.  T’is enough to make a man weep with joy to see.”  Ambrose carries on with his small talk, telling Jamison what a fine house he has etc.

Jamison sounds very concerned for the girls, explaining that they are being punished enough, and that if someone could tell them that it wasn’t their fault, he is sure it would be a weight of their minds.  He assures the Watch Dogs that they know they have done wrong and blame themselves.  Ambrose assures Jamison that they will be going to see the girls today.

The three Watch Dogs head over to see the steward Gabriel after they finish their breakfast.  He greets them telling how much of a fine morning it is.  He admits to them that he is absolutely ‘shattered’, “Poor girl.  Azubah just doesn’t connect to the child.  It must be ‘cause it was conceived in such sin.  She just can’t look past and see the beauty she has.  It is enough to bring tears to my eye, even on a morning such as this. That she can look upon it and see only shadows.”

The Dogs decide to visit Azubah, the girl with the newly born child, leaving Waitstill who is still pregnant for now.  They feel that they need to settle her mind first.  They asks the steward if they may see Azubah, and where she would be.  Gabriel informs them that she is still within her room with her child, and that she still hasn’t named the boy yet.  He suggests that they speak with her in the chapel area as it has more space.  The Dogs feel that it may be better for her not to move, but will leave it up to her to decide what is best for her.

The little room at the end of the hall within Gabriel’s house, with the table in the centre back for its Alter.  Gabriel has laid out a cloth for the Watch Dogs to sit upon.  Soon Azubah shuffles in to meet with the Dogs, her eyes have long shadows under them, the baby held loosely within her arms, as she drags he legs.

Azubah just stands there and looks down at the Watch Dogs.  “Just tell me what the punishment is already, I don’t care anymore.”  Ambrose explains to her that they are not there to punish her.  Azubah holds the baby out towards Ambrose, “Then will you take it off me?”  He tells her that the baby is her responsibility, and that they are there to find out what had happened.  They need her to tell them what had happened.  Again she pleads with them to take the baby, to take it somewhere where it can be looked after.  Telling them that she cannot deal with it.  “Take it.”

“Well no.  The baby is your responsibility.”

“You made your bed now lay in it.”  Jesse adds.  She tells them that she can’t, and Ambrose asks her why not.  She explains that she has no one, no one to look after her, no husband, no parents, they left because of this, the shame.  There is no way to get any food.  The steward looks after her, but she has got nothing.  Jesse suggests that she should look on the bright side of life, and she asks what bright side.  He explains to her that with her down trodden attitude she is scaring any possible suitor.  Also the fact she now has this miracle of life within her arms, another being, a gift from the King of Life, to look after and raise in this world.

“There was no suitors before this.  Why would they come now?”  The Dogs just look at her.  “We tried, but no one was interested.  They just didn’t care.  It just got so much that people talked about us.  They just didn’t care.”  Jesse asks her if that is why she did what she did.  “I just didn’t want him to leave me.  I thought….When he suggested we would stay together.”  Jesse asks her if the guy had suggested that she become pregnant.  “No.  He suggested that we would be together.  Together you know.  I thought if I did that then he would stay.”

“So you gave him your body in the hope he would stay.”  She explains that she was worried.  That he was charming and lovely, smart and paid attention, none of the others had.  That she was worried because Wait still like him, and that he may choose her instead.  Ambrose asks her who the man was that she was with, what his name is.  Azubah closes her mouth and remains silent.

“Azubah, was it Angelo?”  Ambrose looks to see if Gabriel is around before asking this.

“Angelo?  Why would you think it was Angelo?”  A slight confusion on her face.  Ambrose explains that he knows that people gossip in town, and that it is not a very endearing characteristic.  “What will happen?  I can’t get a suitor.  I can’t look after this baby.  I just can’t.”  Ambrose explains to her that they are not there just to hand out punishment, but they are there to make sure justice is done.  “And we can not do you justice unless you tell us what had happened.”

“I didn’t want to tell anyone else, but….he actually told me his real name.  He didn’t tell anyone else that.  Everyone else just called him Josiah but that wasn’t his real name, he told me his real name, his name is Elijah.  He didn’t tell anyone else.  That is why I thought we were special.”  After a pause of thought Ambrose asks her if this Elijah had played the same trick on Waitstill.  Azubah thinks he did, but Waitstill will not say.  She explains that when she is angry she shouts at her, blaming her for him leaving.  But then she sometimes thinks that it was her fault.  Or that it was someone else for her, she just will not say.

One thought on “A New Life and a New Problem

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