e-book Heart on His Sleeve (Novella)

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I did not expect to come close to it. As soon as it dropped down toward the sea my heart fell through a hole in my chest.

I looked for the bird all over the meadowy grass, crying miserable. The sun set my tears to boiling. I talked myself into the notion that I would find the seagull wounded through the wing and keep her and mend her and teach her to love humans and live in a house. She would help me and bring me fish and be my companion. She would sleep in my bed with her soft head against my shoulder. I found the poor bird down at the bottom of a green hill. I had put my bullet straight through her black eye. H paid wages to these folk, though I am not accounting for the men he employed in San Francisco, Sacramento, Chicago, and New York as I never met them.

Most all got some extra scratch for keeping quiet about my person. Thomas Button, Butler Mr. George Button, Valet Mr.

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Simon Paget, Hall Boy Mr. Garland Clague, Groundskeeper Mr. Linus Healy, Stablemaster Mr. Peter Fjelstad, Stablehand Mr. The wedding occurred at high summer in the castle by the sea. A whole mess of new people suddenly tramped all over my private kingdom, tying gardenias to every damn thing and building silk tents in the golden grass. The Mr. Buttons were so fussed I thought their heads would fly off and Mrs.

Kenny hollered something fierce at the sculleries. The cream was too feared to whip. The new Mrs. H was a stranger to me. I knew the following interesting items concerning her: Mr. M was a railroad baron and owned most everything Mr. She had grown up in Boston and gone to a fancy Paris school for girls. She knew French and Spanish and Latin. Some kind of scandal worried her back east. I heard the wedding people say Mr.

H was good to take her after all that business.

But I also heard them say the only reason she would marry a man with no family name at all was because of her lowered station. They all said she was beautiful. It hurt to look at her sometimes, if the wine stewards were to be believed and I did not. Who ever heard of a person so pretty it pinched to set eyes on them? Probably they were drunk, I reasoned. H told me to stay out of the way and I did. I stayed in my zoo while the wedding went up like a white circus.

I chewed licorice root while the red fox whom I had named Thompson curled in my lap and the big old raggedy bear snored away. Who, who? Elle, elle, answered the emerald parrots together as they did not hold forth separately. I thought on how excited Mr. H got over the idea of a wife. He kept a picture of her in his breast pocket but he would not let me see it. He barely looked at me at dinner, even if I wore my hair in two braids.

I did not see the appeal of a wife. We had never had one before. She would not be half as interesting as our buffalo. Miss Enger said a man required a helpmeet and a solace. She said a house like this cried out for a feminine hand. She said poor Mr. H longed for companionship and children of his own.

Two things settled into my brain upon listening to my governess philosophize on the marital condition. The first was that Mr.

MARIE ANGELA GILLIS [IRIS] 1947

H had lied upon the matter of me; Miss Enger believed I was his ward and not his daughter. The second was that Miss Enger nurtured hopes concerning my father that had recently been squashed flat. But she and the rest except Mr. Clague the groundskeeper had been let go and new souls brought in a year back. Miss Enger was prettier than Miss Bornay, but Miss Bornay could play the flute and Miss Enger could not so it all came out in the wash.

The fox wandered off into his little fox-house and I walked down to my empty saloon. Maybe the new Mrs. H would sit with me the way the fox did. Maybe she would come to my saloon and play cards around the table where no one else ever upped an ante or called. It might be good fun to play with another body. Maybe she would brush my hair and sing to me and that would be nice.

Maybe she liked to shoot. Maybe she would teach me Latin and French and dancing. Maybe she would love me the way I loved my gun. I spun the slot machine. Four winter trees whirled up, bare and heavy with ice.

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A silver dollar rolled into the pan. It echoed a good while. H arrived the night before the wedding. A white stagecoach brought her. The inside of the stagecoach was black. I wanted to pick flowers for her and practice a welcome speech. H told me no.

He said I would have plenty of time with her later. I was not to come down or bother her. I was not to bother Mr. M or his servants. I was not to pick flowers for anyone. I was to wait in my room and play with Miss Enger and my toys until the wedding was over, and then Mr. H would figure a way to present me. I did not apprehend before that moment that Mrs.

H did not know Mr. H for a widower with a child already on the ground. She did not think he had a ward, either.

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She did not know about me at all. If you ask me how I felt on that I will tell you nothing good. So I watched her come into the house from the window of my bedroom. I hid in the red curtains and peeped down on her. I gathered information. She wore a grey dress with embroidery and white boots. Her hair was braided up nice.