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Something Diff'rent This Way Comes

VC: "Something Diff'rent This Way Comes"
Janeway216 — 6/5/00 6:06 PM

Miss Marguerite St. Claire had been in town just long enough for people to get used to her, when she disappeared. Checked out of her hotel room and didn't leave a forwarding address. No one saw her leave, and so even more rumors sprang up. Some were wild and outlandish, some were a little more down to earth, but none of them even remotely resembled what really happened to Marguerite St. Claire.

In the next few weeks, that became a most popular topic of conversation. People dubbed Miss Marguerite "Tornado St. Claire," because she came in, stayed a while, and wreaked a lot of havoc. When people weren't discussing the big race, they were discussing Miss Marguerite. The situation really hadn't changed much; people still talked about Miss Marguerite, but the tone of the conversation was different.

It even affected events out at the Delta Q. B'Elanna suddenly grew chilly, hardly speaking to anyone, and Tom sassed anyone who spoke to him. Frisco languished for a lack of work, and increasingly Kona was spending her time in the stable.

Finally things came to a head. One night, after dinner, Chakotay said to B'Elanna, "How things goin' with them horses of yers?"

"I don' know, Papa," B'Elanna growled.

"Well, why don' you know?" Chakotay asked.

"Cause I ain't been out t' work 'em."

"Why ain't you been out t' work 'em?"

"Cause I hate Tom Janeway."

Chakotay turned an interesting shade of red. "That ain't no d@mn reason t' stop workin' and ridin' Kona! After all the money we spent on her! And plus y'know Liberty needs the work! An' all because y'hate Tommy Janeway! That ain't no dad-blasted reason t' do anything! There ain't no way in hell you gonna do good in that race iffen you don' WORK YER D@MN HORSES!"

"I'M SORRY, PAPA!" B'Elanna screamed. "But part of t' deal is we work Frisco an' Kona an' Liberty an' Intrepid together. An' he ain't doin' his part."

"Then I'll have a talk with Miz Kate," Chakotay said, "an' I'll get her t' get that no-good lousy rotten son of hers to work his d@mn horses. But you do yer d@mn work, er I'm a-gonna bust yer butt! Never mind that yer a grown woman!"

"All right, Papa," B'Elanna said, and the two of them glared at each other for a minute or two. Then Chakotay blinked and looked away. He sighed and held his arms out to B'Elanna. She walked over and stepped into his hug. "Y'know I'm only doin' this cause I love y' so much," he said, holding B'Elanna close. "Well, I love them horses too, but I love y' more. Yer so much like yer mama, an' sometimes - well, yer jus' all I got. My pride an' my joy."

"Yes, Papa," B'Elanna said, but she wondered how much he meant it.


Chakotay evidently had his talk with Miss Kate, and Miss Kate evidently had a talk with Tom, because when B'Elanna went out to Ice Box Canyon two mornings later, Tom was there. With Frisco and Intrepid. "I couldn' decide which one-a 'em I wanted, so I brought 'em both," he said. "I'll take turns or sumpin so's they don' git jellous (sic)."

B'Elanna nodded silently. They rode a little ways before B'Elanna said, "Why'd y' stop comin' out here?"

"I thought you stopped comin' out here," Tom said. "Thought you was mad at me cause I flirted with Miz Marguerite a bit."

"Y' flirted with Miz Marguerite?" B'Elanna asked, incredulous. "Nah, I'm too stunned to be mad. What kind-a reception did y' get?"

Tom chuckled a bit. "She was chilly," Tom said. "'Bout as cold as you were the night y' sprained yer ankle. No, Miz Marguerite was worse." He looked reflective. "Nice eyes, though."

B'Elanna drew in her breath. "You actu'lly saw her eyes?" she asked.

"They were green," Tom said, "an' she squints."

B'Elanna shook her head. "I heard tell she din't have any eyes. Just sockets."

"How in he!! would she see?" Tom asked meditatively, and then shook his head. "No, an' I couldn't pry any information out of her either. She and Mama had a catfight."

Tom's story just kept getting stranger. B'Elanna shook her head again. "What all did she tell y', and why did she an' Miz Kate have a catfight?"

"She din't tell me nothin' that nobody din't already know. Well, actu'lly she tol' me that she was out here a-lookin' fer somepin. But she said that t' reason she wore them little glasses was because she'd had t' fever an' it ruined her eyesight, an' that she was from back East. T' same horse apples she fed Marsh and Dep'ty Neelix."

"Out here a-lookin' fer what? There ain't nothin' t' find out here."

"That's what I was a-thinkin', but maybe Miz Marguerite knows sumpin we don'."

"An' the catfight?" B'Elanna prompted.

"Not really much of anythin'," Tom reported, "but I swear Mama's hackles were raised, and Miz Marguerite looked ready to spit when she came out-a t' parlor."

"What'd they say to each other?"

"Nothin' much, really," Tom said. "Mama asked Miz Marguerite what she was doin' out at Ice Box, an' Marguerite gave her some horse apples, and y' know Mama's too smart for horse apples. Cause she sniffed Miz Marguerite right out, first cause Miz Marguerite said that she din't know Ice Box was ourn, and when Mama asked 'bout the cattle Miz Marguerite said that they coulda been free-range." Shifting his weight, Tom said, "An' that means Miz Marguerite knows more 'bout a farm than she looks like. So Mama called her on that, an' Miz Marguerite said sumpin 'bout her brudder bein' a farmer. Which, I don' know, could be true but sounds an awful lot like horse apples t' me."

"Something Diff'rent This Way Comes" part II
Janeway216 — 6/5/00 6:11 PM

"Huh," B'Elanna said. "She really din' say nothin'."

"Nope," Tom said. "Tol' ya so."

"Huh," B'Elanna said again. Looking up at the horizon, she stopped and pointed. "Wha's that?"

Tom looked where B'Elanna was pointing and saw, about a hundred-fifty yards away, what looked suspiciously like a campsite, tent, horse, fireplace, and all. "Squatter," he said. "Le's git Mama and yer papa."

The two of them rode back to the house at a pretty good clip, figuring that the horses wouldn't mind a little fast work. They didn't, and Tom and B'Elanna made it back to the house in less than fifteen minutes. As soon as they stopped, Tom hollered, "Mama?"

No answer. "I'll check inside," Tom said, and he dismounted and went inside the house. Not two minutes later, B'Elanna, sitting outside, on Liberty, heard Miss Kate bellow, "D@mn! Where's Betsy!"

Betsy being, of course, her trusty 12-gauge shotgun.

Thirty seconds later, Miss Kate barreled out of the house, toting Betsy. Tom followed closely behind her. Miss Kate swung herself up onto Intrepid and said, "Where's that squatter, son?"

"Lock and load," Tom murmured.

Their ride out to the campsite took less than ten minutes, mainly because Miss Kate was riding Intrepid as if her life depended on it. When they arrived again, a neat little fire was burning in the fireplace and a pot was suspended over it. This meant that the person was probably near, so the three of them rode up close to the tent. Tom heard a rustle. "Shhh!" he said. "They're in the tent."

More rustles from the tent, and then the flap opened and out came the mysterious squatter. They looked surprised, as well they had right to be, because they were staring up the barrel of Betsy . . .

"Fancy meetin' you here agin, Miz Marguerite," Miss Kate drawled.

"The pleasure's all mine," Marguerite said, caught off-guard but trying to recover.

"I guess you didn't know this land was Delta Q land?" Miss Kate said, dropping the drawl.

"I don't know what's what out here," Marguerite said. "This could easily be, ah . . . Kaze Ogla's land."

"Miss St. Claire, do give up all the posturing," Miss Kate said smoothly. "What in blazes do you want out of us? Because if you're looking for a place to stay, we've got guest rooms."

Marguerite sighed. "No, that's not it. It'll take a while to explain. I'll ride Sacajawea back to the house with you all and try to elaborate upon it. Give me a second." She inexpertly put the fire out, then walked over to Sacajawea and managed to mount on the third try. Sacajawea plodded over to where the other three stood. "Giddyup," Marguerite said weakly.

Something tugged at the corner of Miss Kate's mouth. "Saddle 'em up and move 'em out," she said.

It got a feeble laugh from Miss Marguerite. Tom, B'Elanna, and Miss Kate started back towards the house at an easy pace, but Miss Marguerite lagged behind. They dropped back to a pace that Miss Marguerite could handle, and Miss Kate said, conversationally, "So Miss Marguerite, where are you from?"

Miss Marguerite sighed. "You might as well know right now. Marguerite's not my name."

Genuinely shocked, Miss Kate said, "Well, what is it, then?"

"Margaret," Miss Marguerite said. "Margaret Andrews."

"Well, Miss Margaret, where are you from?"


"Anywhere I would know of?"

"Probably not."

"What's the nearest city?"


Miss Kate pondered. "No, it's not anywhere that I know. Who are your parents?"

"Robert and Mary Andrews."

"What does your dad do?"

"He's got three hundred acres."

"So you're a farm girl?"

"I guess you could say so. I might as well drop the charade." Miss Margaret shifted position on Sacajawea and moved into a trot. The other three sped up with her.

"So what's a nice farm girl like you doing out here on my ranch?" Miss Kate asked. She wasn't being friendly.

"Would you believe me if I told you I didn't know?"


Margaret sighed. "I don't know what I'm doing out here. I'll give it to you straight. The farm's in trouble. I thought maybe I could come out West and teach, earn a little money for Mama and Papa. But I got on the wrong train, and you all already have a schoolmarm. So I was up a creek without a paddle. Nobody here to take care of me, so I checked into the Ritz-Kradin. Then I heard about the gold in the Mountains of Venus and decided to take a chance at prospecting." Margaret sighed again. "I didn't figure that you all owned the land around as far as the eye can see. So now, here I am, and even without having stayed at the Ritz-Kradin for two weeks or someodd, I still don't have the money to get home, and I don't know where else to go."

Miss Kate considered. "I'm not saying as you can stay with us permanently. But we'll see about maybe finding you a place to stay until you can scare up the money for a train ride somewhere else. I heard they need a schoolma'am a few towns over."

"Thank you, ma'am," Miss Margaret said gratefully.

The posse continued riding towards the house.