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Authors: Marcia Lynn McClure

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BOOK: The Touch of Sage
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Stuffin

?

he exclaimed, dr
opping her hand and clapping
.

I do love stuffin

!

he added, rubbing his hands together with delighted anticipation.


That

s nice,

Sage said.

Now…now why don

t you run along and enterta
in the ladies while I finish up?”
He made her far too nervous.
She was sure she would end up ruining supper somehow.


Well, all right,

he said.

But yer missin

out on all the fun.

With a quick wink and a smile
,
he turned and rather sauntered from the room.
Sage breathed a heavy sigh, relieved to have the kitchen to herself again.
Her respite was short-lived, however, for no sooner had she turned her attention back to the bread th
a
n she heard a knock at the front door.


Howdy, there
,
Reverend…Mrs. Tippetts,

she heard Reb say.

Afternoon
,
Winnery
.


Oh, for cryin

in the bucket,

she mumbled, quickly slathering the bread crusts with butter.

Doesn

t anybody have anythin

better to do today than to show up for supper half an hour early?

Reverend

Whipper

Tippetts, his wife
,
Scarlett,
and Joss
Winnery
joined the residents at Willows
’s
for supper every Tuesday evening.
Whipper Tippetts, a shorter man with light-colored hair, had been one of the greatest lawman in the territory until a bullet through his left leg had left him with more than just a limp.
However, to hear the r
everend tell the story, the w
ound to his body saved his soul—
fo
r it had given him a vision of h
eaven
,
and he had turned in a Texas Ranger

s star for a
Bible
.

His wife,
Scarlett
, had been a fair-haired dancehall girl before she met and married Whipper. In Mary Farthen

s opinion,
Scarlett
wore far too much red on her cheeks and in her clothing to be a proper preacher

s wife.
Still, she was genuinely kind and compassionate.
A woman would have to be to put up with Reverend Tippetts
’s
friend Joss
Winnery
.

Joss
Winnery
preferred to be called simply
“Winnery”
and was the tallest man in town. Dark-haired and broad-shouldered,
Winnery
hardly ever spoke a word.
He and the r
everend had been saddle pals for years
,
and when Whipper Tippetts became a preacher, Joss
Winnery
followed.
Oh, he wasn

t the type of
preacher Reverend Tippetts was—
fo
r Joss was shy and soft-spoken—
but he could raise the roof for any congregation with his fine scripture reading and nice singing voice.

Tuesday evenings at Willows
’s
were always something to look forward to.
Sage and her lady boarders thoroughly enjoyed sitting in the parlor after supper, swapping stories with Reverend Tippetts a
nd his companions. N
ormally
,
Sage enjoyed cooking supper on Tuesdays more than any other day.
But today was different because Reb Mitchell would be there too.

Arranging the stuffing in a pretty bowl, Sage hurried to finish preparing the meal.
What if Reb didn

t like her stuffing? What if he didn

t like her gravy or chicken or potatoes?
The thoughts caused a strange sort of trembling to begin in her bosom.
And why did she care so much?
He was just Eugenia

s nephew.
What did it matter whether or not he liked her cooking?


Hi there, Sage,

Scarlett
Tippets said, entering the kitchen.


Good evenin

, Mrs. Tippetts,

Sage greeted, smiling.


Anythin

I can do to help?

Scarlett
asked.

“Oh
no.
I

m nearly finished
,
and then we can sit down to supper,

Sage told her.


Mmmmm!
It all smells divine!

Scarlett
sighed.

I swear you

re the best cook in town, Sage.


Oh, I doubt that,

Sage told her.


Maybe that handsome nephew of Eugenia

s will be so smitten with your cookin

that he

ll just have to carry you away to his own kitchen,

the woman teased.
Sage couldn

t be angry at
Scarlett—
for
she knew her friend meant well—
even if Sage
did get terribly tired of the r
everend and his wife trying to marry her off to every new cowboy who rode through town.


Maybe,

Sage said, smiling.
She knew the subject would die off more quickly if she just appeared to encourage
Scarlett
rather than argue with her.

You can take that plate of chicken and the stuffin

out
to the table if you
’d like, Mrs. Tippetts.
I

ll herd everyone into the dinin

room.


You bet,

Scarlett
said, picking up the plate of chicken.

Mmmm! It really does smell delicious, Sage.

Sage smiled and untied her apron strings, tossing it onto the counter by the sink.
Smoothing her skirt and taking a deep breath, she walked to the parlor.

Even after seeing Reb fairly often over the past month, Sage still could not believe the entirely unsettling effect he had on her.
As she entered the parlor to see Reb sitting in a
chair on one side of the room—
Reverend Tippetts and Mr.
Winnery on the sofa across the way—
she shivered a little when he looked at he
r. It was a delightful shiver—
but a shiver all the same.

He

s so handsome!
she thought
,
releasing a heavy sigh.


Everyone ready for supper?

she asked.


Miss Sage,

Joss
Winnery
said, standing and offering his hand to her.

Thank ya for havin

me to supper.

Sage smiled and took his offered hand, shaking it firmly.

Thank you for comin

, Mr.
Winnery
,

she said.


I could smell that chicken when I stepped up to the porch outside, Sage,

Reverend Tippetts said, smiling and patting his belly.

And if I ain

t mistaken…yer blessin

us with some of that sage stuffin

I like so well.

Sage giggled, amused by the man

s smiling eyes.

Yes, sir,

she said.

Potatoes and gravy too.


Well then,

Reverend Tippetts said, patting his belly ag
ain with delighted anticipation, “l
et

s get to eatin

!


Cards facedown, girls,

Mary instructed as she stood.


Well, just remember…it

s my turn when we get back,

Livie said.

You

re always cheatin

me out of my turn, Mary.


I am not always cheatin

ya out
t
a yer turn!

Mary argued.


Supper smells wonderful, Sage,

Eugenia said, walking between Livie and Mary, thereby interrupting their argument.

Sage smiled and nodded as each person left the parlor for the dining room.
However, when it came Reb

s turn to exit, he politely motioned for her to precede him.
Sage nodded and stepped in front of him, walking into the dining room adjoining the kitchen.

Everyone sat down around the table
,
and Reverend Tippetts offered up a blessing before passing the food around.


I hear that new baby of Primrose Gilbert

s is just a tub of lard and cute as a bee

s bonnet,

Rose
said.

“Oh
yes!

Scarlett
exclaimed.

That little boy is just the sweetest thing you ever did see.
Whipper and I were out to the Gilbert place just this mornin

.
Isn

t that right, Whipper?


Yes, indeed,

Reverend Tippetts said.

That

s a darlin

little bundle they got out there.


And how

s your heifer doin

, Mr.
Winnery
?

Eugenia asked.
Everyone in town knew one of Joss
Winnery’
s favorite heifers had taken ill.

I hear she was bloatin

somethin

awful.


Yep, but she

s fine now,

came his answer.

Thank ya fer askin

.


Mmmm!
Mmm!
Mm!

Reb hummed, suddenly.
Everyone looked over at him as he said,

Sage Willows…this here

s the best stuffin

I ever tasted!

Sage felt herself blush with delight.


Thank you, Reb,

she said.


No…I mean it!

Reb continued,

It really is the best stuffin

I ever tasted…in my entire life!

BOOK: The Touch of Sage
11.38Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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