Tuesday Teaser 3/14/17 Victoria’s Cat Part 11
I’m getting closer and closer to my moving date. Part of me is reluctant. I’ve been going through my stuff –and I have a LOT of stuff!– one room at a time and sorting things into Keep, Throw and Donate piles. No sense moving stuff I don’t need. But another part of me cannot wait. At this moment that kid upstairs is thumping. I don’t know what he’s doing, but I imagine him jumping with all his might at measured intervals of about 5 seconds. He can’t help it. He is autistic. But really, it will be wonderful to not have upstairs neighbors. I was going to write tonight (lord knows the move is putting me behind!) but I just can’t concentrate. So here is what I have. Like last week’s snip, this is a bit slow and draggy. Mainly, I want the reader to see what kinds of men are in Omaha, and especially Brother Saul. Things get a little more exciting in the next chapter when the Clan and the Madisons are at supper with the McGraths. 🙂
Victoria’s teeth ground together. I’m representing the Lakota Wolf Clan. The delegate from the Lakota Wolf Clan should not slap the other delegates. She forced a smile as she sat down. “Good morning. I am Victoria Wolfe.”
The other men introduced themselves. Mr. Finley came to their group and held out several sheets of paper and a pen. “Who will be taking notes for your group?” he asked politely.
Brother Saul pointed to her. “The woman can do it.” He raised an eyebrow at Victoria. “You do know how to write, don’t you?”
Instead of snapping out of any of the rude replies bouncing around inside her head, she nodded. “Yes, I know how to read and write.”
The other men in her group looked at her, some appearing almost embarrassed and others dismissive. Victoria wasn’t used to that. She was the daughter of the alpha of the Lakota Wolf Clan. No one treated her with even a hint of disrespect. She uncapped fountain pen and maintained her smile with some effort. She recalled her father’s words. He had said that she would learn more by listening than by speaking, so she kept her mouth shut and waited for the discussion to begin.
One said, “Look, I’m Hank Fuller from Chadron, way out west. This doesn’t really pertain to us.”
“Yeah, same here,” said another man. “This President Todd guy won’t have any interest in a little place like Mullen. Hell, most people have no idea where it is. I’m Gary Katt, by the way.”
Brother Saul leaned forward. Victoria took a moment to examine him. He had a bony frame with long arms and long legs, and a long, narrow face topped with thinning light brown hair worn in a ponytail. He would have looked nondescript, but his brown eyes were ferocious. She tilted her head to one side to look at him again. Maybe ferocious wasn’t the right word. Insane? Maybe that was going a little too far, but there was something mesmerizing about his eyes, something not quite normal.
“That’s all very well for you to say, but Falls City is only a few miles from President Todd’s territory.” Those brown eyes brightened with fervor. “Whatever decision we make, Falls City will be the first to feel it.”
A man on the opposite side of the circle nodded. “I’m Tom Valentine from Nebraska City, and I agree with Mister Allersen. Maybe those of you who don’t live on the river won’t feel the effects the way we will. Not right off, at least. From what I can see, Todd is a maniac. He’s like a grease stain on the ground, shiny and slippery and you can’t see below the surface.”
It was interesting that although Saul hadn’t introduced himself, this man knew who he was. Victoria shuffled the papers on her little desk. “Have you met President Todd, sir?”
Valentine jerked his chin in a half nod. “Once.”
Everyone in the group waited for him to elaborate. He didn’t. Brother Saul jabbed a finger in Victoria’s direction. “You writing any of this down, girl?”
“Was there a question you wanted me to record?” she asked in her sweetest voice.
He glowered. “What is your husband thinking to let you come here?”
Victoria noticed that a couple of the other men looked embarrassed again, but she directed her smile at Brother Saul. “I don’t have a husband.”
“Then your father.” There was a sneer in his voice. “What man would allow a woman to represent him? He must be a weak sister.”
Laughter snorted out of her before she could catch it. “You haven’t met my father, have you?”
The glare he raked over her screamed with derision. “And where are you from, Miss?”
“I am Victoria Wolfe, of the Lakota Wolf Clan.”
A few of the men drew audible breaths. Saul Allersen’s expression didn’t change. She lifted her pen and smiled genially around the circle. “What questions do you have for the mayor?”
For the next thirty minutes the group discussed and decided which questions they wanted to submit to the Mayor. Victoria faithfully recorded them on the paper she’d been given. She thought most of them were good questions. How soon did Todd expect Omaha’s answer? How much would the taxes to Todd be? How large was Todd’s army? Did the mayor believe Omaha could defeat Kansas-Missouri?
The mayor spoke from the stage. “Ten minutes, gentlemen. Ten more minutes and then we need to wrap this up.”
Victoria was glad to hand her paper to Mister Finley when he came to collect them. After everybody had dragged their seats back to their original places and sat down, the mayor spoke again.
“I want to thank everyone for coming. I will be spending the rest of today and tonight reading your questions, and the city council will join me in preparing answers. We will meet again tomorrow morning at nine o’clock and we will move forward with our deliberations at that point. Good day.”
It took a while for all of them to leave the room. Victoria waited with Quill and Hawk for the congestion to clear, but before they could leave, the mayor raised a hand to beckon them toward the stage. He jumped down easily and shook Quill’s hand with enthusiasm.
“I’m glad to see you,” McGrath said. “How is Mrs. Ellie? And Mrs. Sara? It’s been how long? Twenty years?”
Quill was smiling. “You’ve been mayor for nearly twenty years, so a little longer since you rescued my mate.” The smile dimmed a little. He was probably thinking about Aunt Ellie and how she had been stolen and abused by evil men before she was found and helped by Rye McGrath. “She’s doing well. So is Sara. I’ll let them know you asked.”
“And how is Miss Cayla?”
“My wife is doing great. She remembers you with a lot of affection. In fact, she’s insisting that you come to supper.” He aimed a small smile at Hawk and Victoria. “All of your party are invited. Are you free tonight?”
“Sure.” Quill smiled easily. “But you don’t want all of us. We’re quite a mob.”
“Yes, all of you,” the mayor insisted. “There’s only nine of you. We’re inviting the Madisons from Kearney too. Please come.” He gave a little chuckle. “Cayla insists. My wife has a way of getting what she wants, so don’t say no. Six o’clock.”
“You have the questions and answers to deal with tonight,” Hawk protested.
“Yeah, so I won’t be able to spend as much time with you as I’d like.” The mayor appeared sincere. “We’ll have all the representative for formal dinner parties over the next week, but we want you tonight. Just an informal supper. Please come.”
“Well, alright.” Quill shook hands again. “We’ll be there.”