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Monday, October 31, 2016

Randle Chimes Chapter 12 - The Funeral and Jenny's sister Nell

Chapter twelve

A few months later we received the news that Jenny had passed in her sleep. This was difficult news to bear for all of us. They had contacted George and he sent the news on to the family. He said he would escort the coffin back home for the funeral.

George arrived two days later and brought my Ma with him. I was shocked and glad to see her at the same time. I didn’t know how grandpa would act to seeing her. She appeared well, in fact better than she had looked for a long while.

I put them up at the hotel for I didn’t dare take them out to the ranch. The funeral director picked up the coffin and the funeral was the next day. The preacher conducted the service grave side. The families gathered together and were in their own family groups.

It was when the casket was being lowered into the grave that Grandpa saw my Ma. He was visibly shaken when he saw her.

As the grave was being filled almost everyone was weeping.  My Ma was crying out loud along with most of the people for Jenny was loved by all. I couldn’t take it any longer and burst out crying so much my tears blurred my vision.

Someone came up behind me and placed their arms around me. I turned around and hugged the person tightly as I continued to weep. After a while I released whoever it was for I couldn’t see clearly.

Then I saw both my grandparents hugging my Ma.  Grandpa was saying under his breath; “I was wrong,” over and over and saying “Please forgive me.”

All grandma could say was; “My baby, my baby.”  We all went to the church and had a time of remembrance and dinner on the grounds.

I was surprised at myself crying like that.  I thought I had dealt with my loss and moved on but I still needed to express my grief that way.

Now things are different, the past is just the past and I’m moving on. My life is before me and I feel ready to think on having some female company. The only problem was there was no one I was interested in. I would meet new women but I wasn’t attracted to any of them.

My mind went back to the funeral and the person who comforted me. I didn’t know who it was but it was someone soft and kind. That was the only thing I could remember, she was soft and - - -.

I embarrassingly asked a couple of people if they knew who she was. If she was old or young and they said they didn’t know that any one consoled me.

I didn’t go over to Jenny’s folks anymore except for business.  On this last occasion Jenny’s dad Luke wasn’t there and her ma was busy cooking so Nell entertained me.  She said dinner will be ready soon and Dad should be back shortly.

This was the first time I had sat down with her and had a conversation. She was a year younger than Jenny and had wanted to go to a girl’s school instead of being stuck at the ranch. She talked about her time away from her folks and wondered if she had done the right thing.

As I listened to her I realized she was completely different from Jenny even though they were sisters. There was a reserve calmness about her that was a strong attraction to me.  Nell was a warm woman but without the boisterousness associated with most of the women I had met. She exuded confidence without being offensive.

As I was being mesmerized by her, Luke came in and broke the spell. I wanted to discuss once again the delivery of the cattle to the packing house. He and some of the others ranchers were part of the deal. We had to schedule when each rancher would have their steers at the rail head. After three hours we had everything sorted out and Luke said, “Well its supper time so let’s eat.”

I said, “I’m still full from dinner,” and he said, “Nonsense. A healthy growing boy like you could eat five times a day and still be hungry.”

I agreed to stay the night and ate a great meal. It had been some time since I had stayed overnight at Luke’s place. While Jenny was alive I stayed there often. This time it seemed strange for some reason. It was as if I was out of place although I knew I was welcome.

I talked with Luke for an hour after supper about the things relating to the coming winter; the selling of the saleable stock and getting the hay in to feed the stock through the winter.

Then all at once he said, “I’m going to join Ma in the bed,” and he got up and left with these words; “I’ll leave you young folks to discuss things that pertain to you.”

We just sat there for a minute looking at one another. Then I said, “What do you think he meant by that?”  Nell smiled and said, “I guess we should talk about things that pertain to us although I’m not sure what that means.”

I said, “I haven’t seen you at many of the doings going on in town, the dances and such.”

She said, “No I had enough of the social life while I was in school. Every week there was something you needed to attend.  I grew weary of what amounted to a lot of falseness.”

I said, ‘You must have a boyfriend.”

She said, “Well there a lot of want-a- bes but I found them boring.”

I said, “I was about to invite you to the dance on Saturday night but I guess that is out.”

She smiled and said, “Why don’t you ask and see what happens.”

I said, ‘No, there is a good chance I would be a lot more boring than the hot shots you met in school.”

She said, “Well if you didn’t mean it…”

I said, “Yes I did mean it, will you go?”

She kinda of looked out in space, waited, and then she smiled and said, “Yes it sounds like fun.”

After the dance I will stay at a friend’s house. I could see she was playing with me.

I went to bed and as I lay there waiting to go to sleep I wondered if I was doing the right thing dating Jenny’s sister. I concluded that after the dance Saturday I might be clued in as to whether I was on the right track.

Nell’s folks were going to the dance this Saturday which was something they didn’t always do.  It made me wonder if it had something to do with the fact I had a date with Nell.  Could that be the reason for them attending?

Luke kind of set the whole thing up but that meant she would be coming with them instead of me picking her up. I thought meeting her there made the date little less meaningful which was alright. I would be taking her to her friend’s house after the dance and that would be some time alone with her.

Saturday night came and I was ready for it. My grandparents decided to come for they still like to knock a step or two every once in a while.

But there again I wondered if it had something to do with Nell being my date for the night. I met her at the door when she arrived and as soon as we entered the ball room guys rushed over to us and was asking her for a dance as the evening wore on. She graciously said that she was with me for the evening and that I had asked for all her dances.

I received some hard looks and I said it would be alright if she wanted to dance with someone else. She said, “Only if you want me to, if you want to get rid of me for a while.”

That took the breath out of me and when I could speak I said; “Forget I said anything I was just being foolish. After all why should I share my pleasure with those yokels?”

She laughed at that and said; “No wonder Jenny loved you so, you are a very sweet boy.”

The very mention of Jenny’s name caused the pain of losing her rush to the surface again. It had only been a few months since we buried her.

After the first dance I came back to myself and put all my focus on Nellie. During the evening a couple of guys came and asked Nell to dance and her answer was always the same; no thank you, I’m with Randle. Those words gave me a boost in confidence; she was with me and didn’t have a roving eye looking for someone else as virtually every other girl was doing.

You could see games being played all over the room. Some trying to attract attention to trying to make their date jealous or get a fight started over them.

I noticed her father watching every move I was making and my grandpa had his eye on me also.  I felt like a fish swimming in a small pool of water.

Nell said for me to relax and not to be afraid to hold her a bit closer. She said, “You know I won’t break so loosen up.”

That helped a little but it also put a little more pressure on me for I knew her folks would see me doing that.

I thought if I was here with Jenny I would be squeezing her to me of course she and I had shared a lot of time getting to know each other.

After sweating it most of the evening I finally said to myself forget this and when the next slow dance began, I pulled her close to me so I could feel her body touching mine. She was a real live woman and I could begin to see me spending the rest of my life with her. That moment was a breakthrough for me and from that point on all my focus was on Nellie.

I could tell she had felt something also for she relaxed in my arms. After the dance I walked her to her friend’s house. We walked behind her friend and her date. I had become bold enough to put my arm around her as we walked and we didn’t talk.

When I felt like speaking some words to fill the silence I would pull her closer instead. When we arrived at the friend’s home her date said goodbye and Nell invited me in. Her friend said I’m worn out from being pushed around the whole evening so I’ll say good night.

I said perhaps I should go also, but Nell said, “Do you want to leave?”

I replied, “No, not yet.”

She said, “Well stay then.”

We just sat next to each other saying very little. Finally I got the nerve to speak some of what was going around in my mind.

I said, “I know you have dated a lot of guys who were pretty slick with words and I have only had one girl-friend so I am a bit clumsy with what some would consider to be courting but I have developed feeling for you. It isn’t something I’ve worked up it has just happened. I don’t know where this will lead to but it would be a good time to tell me you aren’t or couldn’t ever have feelings for me.”  

I went on and said; “Perhaps I shouldn’t have said this but there isn’t any sense wasting time on something that has no chance of amounting to something if you can understand what I mean.”

She just sat there and said nothing.

I thought to myself, “Boy I have made a fool out of myself.”

Then she looked directly into my eyes. I waited for her to speak and she just kept staring. I thought I don’t know if I could ever get used to her doing this. One thing that was encouraging she moved closer to me.  While still staring at me she leaned over, closed her eyes and kissed me.

Naturally I kissed her back… several times.

She said, ‘Did that answer your question?”  We embraced for some time until her friend came out and said, Perhaps  you better leave before this gets serious.”

I said, “Yes I better go.” I had to kiss her a couple of times while her friend watched.

As I left I heard her friend say; “Wow, you sure know how to get a man going, you need to teach me how to do that.

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