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Last week, as you'll recall, Doll and the others were claimed by Shaughnessey as being members of his troupe. Is he trying to fool the sheriff, and does he have an agenda of his own? And will Doll agree to the charade? Find out in this week's chapter of Trapped in Time II. Then be sure to check out the rest of the Briefers, whose links follow my tale. Enjoy!
Trapped in Time II: Chapter Eight
The sheriff seems less than impressed with this information. Almost as much as I am. “Is that so?” he grunts noncommittally. “And where are you all staying, if I might ask?”
“At the hotel.” Shaughnessey never skips a beat, standing his ground against the lawman. I suppose he is used to dealing with all manner of people wherever he goes. Still, he had no right to say what is not so. Before I can protest, or correct the sheriff’s mistaken impression, the sheriff spits a stream of something brown and smelly into the street, luckily missing our feet.
“How long you intend to stay?” is his next question.
Shaughessey grins. “Until the good people of Whistling Wind get tired of us. We’ll be performing at the hotel. You‘re invited to come see us. On the house, of course.”
“Of course. Might just do that. In the meantime—” He waves broadly, indicating all of us. “I’ll hold you responsible for your group, Mr. —are you Shaughnessey or Company?”
Shaughnessey obliges with a chuckle, although I see no humor in the situation or the words. “Flynn Shaughnessey. And yes, I shall be responsible for my troupe, naturally.”
“See that you are,” the sheriff grunts, and before I can get one word in to tell him that this mad Irishman is certainly not our keeper, he has walked off, leaving me with my mouth open. I close it abruptly, feeling foolish.
“Well, that’s settled!” Shaughnessey exclaims.
It is on the tip of my tongue to retort that nothing is settled, far from it, and that we do not need or wish his assistance, when my father motions to me to dismount, I manage to do so without losing any dignity. He nods to Charlie, who quickly takes the reins, as my father slides his arm through mine and draws me apart from the others.
“Adal, I understand that this is not what you might wish, but perhaps it is for the best.”
“How so?” I am perplexed by his words.
“It appears that strangers stand out in this place, so while we are here, better that we seem to fit in with this acting troupe, rather than draw attention to ourselves. Then we can find Vittorio and leave more quickly, ja?”
I suppose his words make sense. He pats my cheek softly. “Plus, we shall have somewhere to sleep that isn’t on the ground. I think it would be nice to sleep in a bed, don’t you?”
I feel selfish for not having considered my father’s comfort—and that of the others—sooner. It must have been hard on him all this time, first sleeping in a crude hut in a prehistoric jungle, and then on the hard ground here as we travel west. He is not quite as young as the rest of us, after all, and I should look out for him more. It is no excuse that my mind and heart are somewhere else.
“Ja, a bed will be good,” I agree, although I can’t help but think it will be better with Vittorio in it. Then a sudden thought strikes me. “But he was lying. We are not part of the troupe, so how can we stay at the hotel?”
Vati wrinkles his brow, but before we can consider the matter further, Shaughnessey intrudes upon our privacy, as if this were his cue to enter. “Pardon my interruption,” he says smoothly, “but you shall be part of my troupe.”
My face must show my displeasure at his statement, for he hastens to add, “Only for as long as you wish. And you need not go on stage, if you don’t want to, although I think that’d help us out. We could use a couple more people, and I think Doll would look good in a dress—”
I cannot have heard that annoying man correctly, surely. A dress? Me? I begin to mutter curse words in my native tongue, knowing very well he cannot understand me.
“We can discuss everything later, once we get settled,” Vati says diplomatically.
“I meant no harm, Doll,” Shaughnessey apologizes to me. “Or disrespect. If you’ve noticed, we’re an all male company, so that means we have to play both male and female parts. We’re used to it, I didn’t think before I spoke. C’mon, let’s get everyone settled in the hotel. Just follow me.” He turns his horse’s head and off he goes once more to the head of the wagons, while I find myself surrounded by Charlie, Myron, and Mary now, as well as my father.
“Did I hear him correctly? We’re going to act?” Myron’s eyes seem to be shining, as if he is excited at the idea. Perhaps he has an actual interest in being a thespian. As for myself, the idea has never occurred to me. Charlie smiles, but probably because Myron is happy, and Mary bounces up and done, softly chittering.
“Ja. Well, maybe,” my father concedes. I can see he is trying not to crush Myron’s hopes, so I reluctantly table my animosity and try to show some enthusiasm, although I am far from feeling excited at the prospect of wearing a dress. That will take a lot of convincing. Hopefully we’ll find Vittorio and be gone before the question arises once more.
In the meantime, we could use a place to sleep, I concede, so I give in at least that much. “To the hotel.”
Charlie leads Frederick, with Mary in the saddle, and Myron at his side, while Vati and I walk along behind them, following the wagon trains until we spy our destination. It is not hard to find as the faded wooden sign above the door simply reads Hotel. It is probably the only hotel in town, I surmise.
Shaugnessey dismounts and ties up his horse, and then Frederick, before he turns to us with a big smile.
“Home sweet home!” And then he winks at me.
to be continued
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