Frontier General Store




Thank Goodness for the good weather and the additional dryer that Zander built for us. The nights are growing cool and Gia showed us how to hook a small fire to the dryer so that the heat is constant throughout the night. While the days are long and warm, most things take a couple of days in the dryer and would take even longer if not for the fire. Gia is curious about the cold box idea. She wonders if the cold boxes can intensify the sun's rays in the earliest days of spring... what would they do now to dry the produce of fall. I think she has a point.
I check on Gia daily, I think she tires of my vigilance. But it seems only right since Mr. Marcus and Flo have both left her in charge of the property to sell our wares. I believe the Spencer's have done the same. Gia says Mr. Spencer is harvesting his corn. Zander says the Cassadines are keeping an eye to the west knowing the Quartermaines may return with their herd at any time. His prompting has Elizabeth concerned. Each morning after chores she and her dog walk the fence line checking for any sign of damage.
It's so nice and cool in the root cellar. There is many a night I think of sleeping in there especially after a long afternoon of canning. The cabin holds the heat. I suppose I will be grateful for that when the snows come.

Audrey Hardy, Sept 21, 1883

Audrey sets aside her journal.





The first couple of nights Bobbie had slept over at the Taggart's, but there just didn't seem to be much point. Gia had a way of doing things. And anything she tried to help with... well Gia said she appreciated it but Bobbie just got a feeling it was making work. Gia has the same head down and push on thru quality that Carly has but she's more polite about it.

Bobbie strips both cows of their morning milk and sets them out to the back pasture then takes the milk down to the cold box. By the time she is done, Laura has breakfast ready. The division of labor has already been set: Laura and Bobbie to the kitchen garden and Luke and Lucky to the cornfield. Most of the remaining crops would be cellared although when Carly got back with the pickle barrels Bobbie would pickle up some cabbage and beets.

After a second cup of coffee, Lucky and Luke head out to the corn field both wear totes made from flour bags and have a wagon set on the side of the field to empty them into. Methodically they work through the field harvesting corn: chopping the stalks short and then binding them together so that they stand like indian tipis in the field. It would be easier with the team... course the team is with the Taggart's.
It would be even easier with a mechanical harvester drawn by the team. Course a mechanical harvester cost cash money. Money in short supply. So they were doing it the old fashioned way... The back breaking, hot, sweaty, time consuming way. A mechanical harvester would not only harvest the corn but bundle it up on to a wagon to be taken back to the cabin. Saving them time and steps. And also allowing them to put even more acreage under the till. So maybe not so much time saved after all.

Lulu takes care of her chickens, making sure they have plenty of water and grain before robbing the nests of eggs. She collects them carefully carrying them into Laura in the kitchen. Laura hands her a rag to clean the shell and put them away. They'd been building back up their supply after sending all but a few eggs with Carly.

Laura finishes up the breakfast dishes and starts the bread to rise. She sets Lulu up on the porch within sight of the kitchen garden with the butter churn before grabbing her broad brim hat to join Bobbie in the garden.





After caring for his animals, Zander hauls water to the two apple trees. He can picture this whole lower pasture dotted with apple trees-- maybe pear, cherry and plum too. Mrs. Hardy said they were too far north for peach trees. Once that is done he works on the garden not bothering to water the potatoes. Water logged potatoes will rot in a root cellar rather than keeping.





Stefan cleans his rifle carefully and then puts it back together. Nikolas does the same. Thanks to the irrigation system that they'd put together the mornings were no longer spent putting out the barrels in the garden. The plan for the morning was to go out into the woods and start marking out where the herds of elk are. As soon as the first frost they'd be heading out.
Nikolas had informed him that the Taggart's smokehouse would not exactly be at their disposal but... it would be more convenient for the people of the valley if they didn't do their hunting in November when Taggart would be busy with his hogs. Thus the spirit of cooperation is pursued. And it would continue to be pursued. The hunting season would not end until all the people of the valley were ensured venison for the winter. It was a skill they had... perhaps others in the valley did too but they could focus on it.

Mrs. Lansbury comes into the front room. "Sir, a wagon is arriving."

"Zander?" Nikolas asks looking up.

"No, Master Nikolas, I believe it is a delivery from the town."

Stefan nods and goes out to greet the driver. There are three burly guys on the wagon that is weighted down by crates. "I have been expecting you."

"Where do you want it?"

"Mrs. Lansbury, will you show them where they can begin installation."

"Of course, sir." Mrs. Lansbury goes with the men to a sunny spot off of the house. There are four stakes set out as borders.

The men who'd received the job sight unseen from the manager of the general store start laughing their asses off as they see what they are building. "Well I guess this gives whole new meaning about folks in glass houses chucking rocks. Let's get going, boys." The foreman shakes his head. "Crazy Ruskies."

While the men busy themselves building a foundation, Mrs. Lansbury starts to unload the rest of the shipment and bring it into the house. More and more things were being delivered for the comforts of the family. The first shipment had been eyed with some curiosity from the others down the valley but now they'd gotten used to it and instead made use of the regular shipments for mail and such. This greenhouse project will take up to a week to finish with the hired men. They'd brought their own tent but it would but an additional strain dealing with the strangers on the property.

"Good morning, Mrs. Lansbury." Zander says cheerfully. "You have company. Not just dropping off this time I see."

"Master Stefan ordered the greenhouse months ago but the glass had be brought from France." Mrs. Lansbury lack of enthusiasm is evidenced by her tone.

"Let me guess... the hailstorm."

"I wouldn't want to be in a glass house when the sky starts raining chunks of ice."

"Been greenhouses for decades... hell for centuries. I figure there must be a way of protecting the glass during the summer storms just like you have shutters to protect the windows of the house."

Nikolas walks up on the house. "Exactly. And now there is finally something to interest Aunt Natasha rather than just her library. Of course she thinks we'll be growing oranges, pineapples or flowers-- exotic ones of course like we saw in the conservatories in England. Rather then starts for the kitchen garden. Zander, Uncle and I were about to go into the woods to investigate good hunting sites. Would you care to accompany us?"

"Sounds good." Zander nods. "Lets just get these things in for Mrs. Lansbury. Would feel totally guilty if I left her with the lifting."

"Mr. Zander, that isn't necessary." Mrs. Lansbury protests.

"Necessary or not." Zander grabs some of the crates from the back. "Now where do you want these."

Nikolas grabs some as well. Mrs. Lansbury looks from one to the other. "Right this way."





Watering takes up most of her day after getting the morning milking and eggs collected. The kitchen garden, Marcus' tobacco, the field of corn. As soon as the watering is done Gia goes thru the kitchen garden trying to determine if there is enough to put up or just enough to eat. So far it's looking like the onions and garlic are the best bet. Plucking them carefully from the earth she shakes the dirt off of them and then hangs them in bunches in the limbs of a tree to air dry. Once they are thoroughly dry she'll be able to braid them and put them up.
The little cabin is getting a little crowded with all the supplies that have been put up so far. There are supplies hanging from the rafters, tucked under the beds, stored away on shelves. Marcus had put shelves and such in the root cellar but they wouldn't start filling that until hopefully the last of the month giving the produce in the ground plenty of time to grow. Grow right up until the last minute.

"Hello Gia!" Mrs. Hardy walks up to the girl standing hands on hips under a tree having hung the last of the stalks of garlic in it to dry, "What an amazing crop of garlic and onions. Your mother is going to be very pleased."

"Mama kinda went overboard on them and the peppers too. But then with hopefully a few hogs to season come November and February... she does like a spicy sausage."

"My late husband always believed in the healthful qualities of garlic. Of course I had to wonder if garlic stopped the spread of germs because nobody could stand being around a person who used it to excess." Audrey adds wryly.

Gia laughs at that one. "You got a point, Mrs. Hardy." She gives Audrey a glance like what is she doing here but is too polite to ask.

"You know when Sarah went to town the first time... I realized how closely we ride a balance out here."

"Excuse me?"

"How much milk are you ending up taking out to the pig trough? I figure with Florence and Mr. Marcus gone... quite a bit."

"That's not going to waste." Gia says defensively.

"No, it's surely not." Audrey agrees. "I just thought perhaps I could assist you in making some cheese... I've always been rather fond of sausage and cheese with nice fresh bread. Especially on a cold November day."

"And I'm sure it will be even more delicious in February." Gia nods.

"Shall we then?"






Lulu and Foster head out to the cornfield when the sun is high overhead. Lulu carries wears two totes crossing her body. They'd tried to put them on Foster but he kept trying to eat the contents. "Daddy! Lucky!" Lulu calls out as she reaches the wagon. "Lucky! Daddy!"

The two men come out of the corn field. "Hey Princess."

"Mama sent lunch." Lulu pulls the totes off of her and sets them up on the back of the wagon.

"Sounds like a good time for a break." Lucky takes off his hat and wipes his forehead against his sleeve. "What did she send, Ladybug?"

"This and that." Lulu shrugs. "When is Carly going to be home? I wanna go foraging. It's no fun when Carly isn't home."

"Any day now." Luke shakes his head. The little one had been asking the same question every day, multiple times a day. "Should be on the way back from the mining camp by now."

"I wish I could have gone too. I could have helped." Lulu declares.

"Next time Carly goes. I'll suggest that." Lucky snorts. "What are Mom and Aunt Bobbie doing?"

"Raking potatoes." Lulu sighs. "Momma says they have to be out of the dirt for a week before you can put them in the root cellar. And she says I have to keep the chickens out of the garden. She doesn't want them poking the potatoes. She liked it when they were eating all the bugs but now she doesn't."





The trip back to the valley is made much more quickly than the trip up. They'd sold out of produce while up at the Quartermaine mine. Thus it had taken less than a day to get back down the creek. Marcus had half rolled up the canvas leaving a shady area in the back. Florence and Carly drive the team back letting Marcus try to catch some sleep in the back. He'd been vigilant ever since they left the valley and it had worn on him. "I figure meet at your place to do the dividing." Carly suggests.

"That sounds fine." Florence agrees keeping a firm but easy hand on the reins.

"It was definitely more profitable than going to Charlestown." Carly declares. "Not that I would know since I haven't been back since we first moved to the valley. It's always someone else."

"You handled yourself well and I'll tell your mother so." Flo nods.

"What do you think of those bandits?"

"I don't think we'll have any worries off of them. They are more interested in the claims than the cash or crops. Didn't that Mr. Quartermaine say that he was going to call in the Pinkertons?"

Carly nods. "Nobody would want to do what we're doing. They're going for the quick buck."

"Someone is profiting but I don't see it being the miners. Not really. Land is the power in this country. We'll hold fast and they'll head on to the next way to make a dollar."

"I'm kinda surprised that Uncle Luke hasn't tried his hand at it." Carly muses. "Seems up his alley. He's done a bit of this and a bit of that and never sticks long to much. It's Aunt Laura who wants to have roots. And Mama well she's always been more of a townie as have I. But they've gotten all high minded about the evils of the cities."

"I'm not one to say." Flo answers. "Always lived in the country. Like being able to look out my porch to see my neighbors in the distance and my garden up close. Heard tales of the city though. Filthy places covered in clouds of smoke, disease infested. Can't keep your clothes clean they get dirty hanging on the line. Nothing will grow."

"Some of the cities are like that I guess." Carly has to agree. "The ones with all the factories. But there has to be a middle point."

"What happened to going into town and putting in your own claim for 160 acres?" Flo reminds Carly of one of the conversations they'd had.

"Still might. I don't know. I got options."

"Like that Mr. Quartermaine? He seemed rather smitten."

Carly makes a face. "He's not my type."

"Rich, good looking, well dressed, with soft hands. But he's not your type."

"Nope." Carly gets a kinda dreamy expression but keeps her thoughts to herself.

Flo shakes her head. Looking back over her shoulder, she calls out. "Marcus, we're about to the valley."

"I'm awake. I'm awake." Marcus rises with a yawn. "You want me to take over the team?"

"I think I can finish it up." Flo shakes her head. "Feel like I could sleep a week when I get back. And you know we won't be able to."

"Nope, everyone is gonna want news. Don't think they'll even wait for tomorrow." Marcus agrees.

"There is the Hardy place!" Carly points. "Almost home."

It's going on twilight by the time they reach the Hardy's. Liz had just arrived back from the pasture with the flock. Leaving riley with the sheep she goes down to the gate. "Welcome back. How did it go?"

"Excellent." Carly leans down. "We'll meet up at the Taggart's tomorrow for an accounting."

Liz nods. "Great to have you back."

"Hope Gia was no trouble." Flo worries.

"Oh heck no. Haven't heard a word." Liz waves and steps back from the gate and the wagon continues on.

When it gets to their gate, Carly jumps down and opens the gate so it can pull right up to by the house. By the time she closes the gate and walks up to the house, Marcus is already working on unhitching the team. "I can keep them overnight if you like." He offers. "You can pick them up tomorrow when you come and get the rest of your stuff."

"Thanks. I appreciate it." Carly rubs the back of her neck. "I'll see you tomorrow." Gathering up her tote she starts walking toward the Spencer's.





Bobbie rises early not wanting to wake Carly. She'd stumbled in near on dark the day before. Excited by the trip but also exhausted and crashed out early which was strange enough for her girl who had the Spencer night owl genes. She and Laura had looked at each other and agreed to not wake Carly until she woke up on her own the next day. For once, the household seems in agreement, and the start of the day is kept to a hush... but it can't last for long.

Lulu crawls into Bobbie and Carly's bed and stares at her sleeping cousin. Quickly and secretively she gives her a good poke. Carly rolls over. Looking around to see if anyone is watching, Lulu gives her another poke in the side and then holds her breath waiting for the reaction.

Carly rolls onto her back and opens one eye. "What?"

"You gonna sleep all day or are you gonna tell me about the miners? Are they big and hairy like the stories Daddy tells about the 49ers?"

"They're just guys." Carly shakes her head. "Everyday guys like your daddy, Lucky and Zander."

"Does that mean that they miss home?"

Carly thinks on that one a bit. "Yes, I think they do. They want to make a lot of money but they really don't want to stay. They want to go home with their pockets lined with gold and show everyone what big shots they are. But in the mean time they're lonely. They were really happy to see Miz Flo cause they missed having a woman to tell them to watch their manners, and they had a button missing and such."

"They should come live in the valley with us. That way they won't be all alone. Even Mr. Zander always has company."

"I think your Mama wants people with families to move into the valley. So there will be children your age to play with you."

Lulu shrugs. "That'd be okay I guess. But I like playing with you the best." She curls up next to Carly resting her head on Carly's arm. "Next time you go see the miners I want to go too. Do you think they'd let me pan for gold?"

"Don't know, Ladybug. But I don't know that we'll be going back this year. It sorta all depends on the weather and how much stuff gets put up. But you made lots of money."

"I did?!"

"Yep, I charged them ten cents an egg and we sold out. Might have even made enough for you to buy Christmas presents you can hide the next time we go to the store. But I don't know. Maybe you'll want to buy more chickens. That way you can make even more money next time."

Lulu gets a greedy look in her eye. She has zero concept of money really only what she overhears everyone else talking about so she knows it's important to make money. "I want more chickens. I can take care of lots more." She brags.

"Then you better save your money until spring and talk to your mama about letting some of those eggs raise up to chicks. Got to wait until after the winter though." Carly reminds quickly otherwise Lulu would be off to talk to Laura right now. Carly yawns but sits up in the bed dislodging Lulu from her arm. "You want to go with me over to the Taggart's to get our horses?"

"Sure! Lets go now."

"Go find out if there is any coffee left in the pot. I'll get dressed. I'm not going anywhere until I get at least one cup."





Marcus is the first to rise over at the Taggart place. He brings in some firewood for the woodstove but then he starts walking his fields updating himself on everything he'd missed. He and Gia didn't do things quite the same way. Which isn't a bad thing. It's a good thing. She'd catch things he missed and he'd catch hers.

Gia beats her mother awake for once and gets water heating for coffee and breakfast before going out to do the milking. Flo still isn't awake when Gia gets back from dealing with that. So she starts making breakfast. Marcus would be back soon. And the rest of the valley would be showing up soon enough wanting to know the results of the trip. Flo finally rises and with a sigh, dresses and fixes her hair. She comes over to relieve Gia by the stove. Gia gives her a quick hug and kiss. "Missed you."

"Missed you too." Flo gives her a strong one armed hug.

"Was it better than going to Charlestown?"

"It was different. Still took a week away from what needed to get done around here." Flo can sees the differences already. "You've been busy."

Gia nods. "I put up a few pints of this and that. Got garlic and onions hanging. They'll be ready to braid probably tomorrow. I was using the spare milk for the hogs in the woods but Miz Hardy came over yesterday and we made some cheese too."

"Miz Bobbie..."

"Stayed over the first few nights. But she figured I knew what was what and then just started checking on me same as Miz Hardy."

"Miz Bobbie doesn't like that hired man of the Cassadines..."

"Oh I know. She said something. But Mr. Roscoe has been kept busy enough on their end of the valley. There was another wagon that went thru day before yesterday. Haven't seen them coming back thru so the Cassadines must be building something."

Flo nods her agreement then changes the subject. "I brought in the book and money last night. You and Carly will need to go over it and sort everything out with an accounting to each of the families. We could have been back a day early but the Quartermaine running their mine wanted us to stay an extra day."

"He must have tried your cooking."

"Might have been that. Or it might have been all those long looks he was giving Caroline." Flo shakes her head. "That girl was kind to all but there were more than a few who were hoping for more. She could have been married off a half dozen times but she kept saying no."

Gia raises an eye at that one. "And how many were asking you?"

Flo waves her hand at that one denying all. "Been there done that, child. It's up to you and your brother now to give me some grandbabies."

"Lets not rush anything, Mama. Let's get thru the winter before we start casting around for additions to the family."





The Taggart's are done with breakfast when Carly and Lulu arrive at the Taggart's place. Carly and Gia set up at the table with clean pieces of paper. They create an inventory sheet for each family along with a price list. Since the Hardy's, Zander and Mrs. Lansbury are the easiest they do them first. The money is folded into envelopes made from the inventory sheet. Finally all that is left to sort out is the Taggart/Spencer portions-- this was a bit more complicated cause it wasn't just goods but services-- the cooking and laundry.

"How much did I make, Carly?" Lulu asks impatiently.

"Well you sent 18 eggs didn't you? Two broke on the way." Carly replies waiting for Lulu to figure it out. "And I told you Miz Flo and I charged ten cents each for them. So how much did you make?"

"16 dimes!" Lulu says triumphantly after counting it out on her fingers.

"Well that's one way of looking at it." Carly laughs. "You know your Mama is going to hang onto this money for you right? Cause if you think you're going to be hanging on to it then Uncle Luke is gonna be chargin ya for that candy he always brings back or for the grain you feed the chickens. You made the money... but you made it for the Spencer's. Just like I made money doing laundry but I couldn't have done it without your mama's soap."

"Y'all did real well on the things we salvaged." Gia looks over the inventory book.

"Carly could sell ice in Alaska." Flo brings over the tea pot and pours some for everyone cept Lulu who gets a cup of milk. "specially to men. She sold a comb to a bald man."

Carly laughs. "He could use it on his beard. He needed to use it on his beard." Carly turns to Lulu. "His beard was all the way down to here." Carly indicates a point in the middle of her chest. Lulu's eyes go wide at that. "And afore I sold him that comb you could tell what he had for breakfast that morning just by looking at that beard."

Lulu wrinkles her nose and says what everyone is thinking. "Ewwww."

"Everything straight?" Carly asks Gia who is double checking the math.

"Looks fine." Gia agrees. She hands over the Spencer share of the money and an inventory sheet.

"I'll take Zander and Mrs. Lansbury their portions." Flo volunteers. "I know you're closer, honey." Flo tells Carly. "But your mother doesn't like that Mr. Roscoe."

Lulu nods seriously and puts in her two cents. "He's got shifty eyes and Foster don't like him either."

"Good enough for me." Carly shrugs. She takes the money and stuffs it in her purse tightening down and then stringing it over her wrist. "So now all that is left is getting the washtubs and the team back to the house."

Flo puts on her bonnet and takes the envelopes for Zander and Mrs. Lansbury and heads down the road. Gia and Carly rig up one of the horses to carry the washtubs and the harnesses. Carly climbs up on the other bareback and holds out an arm to Lulu. Gia picks her up and using Carly's arm Lulu swings up behind her. "Talk to you later."

"Bye!" Lulu waves as she and Carly head back across the field to the Spencer place. As soon as they are gone, Gia goes back into the house and counts the Taggart portion again disbelievingly. Over a hundred dollars. For one week. Less than a week. That extra thirty dollars from the Quartermaine's had put them over the top even after giving Carly part for helping with the cooking and the extra day. Now she just needed to hide it until they could figure out what they were going to do with it-- a boar for sure, probably a cast iron hand pump for when Marcus put in the well. They'd have to go thru the Montgomery Ward to see if there was anything else they needed.





When Flo gets to Zander's place, he isn't there. She frowns at that but continues up the road to the Cassadine place. She finds Mrs. Lansbury right where she expects her-- in the kitchen garden. "No hide nor hair of Mr. Zander down at his place."

"He's off with Master Stefan and Master Nikolas scouting hunting sights." Mrs. Lansbury crosses the plank bridge from her garden to the rest of the property. "It is good to see you. How was your trip?"

"It's good to be home." Flo sighs. "Although I can tell that Gia kept up on things while we were gone." She reaches into her small purse and pulls out the envelope with Mrs. Lansbury's portion. "We could have sold more if we had it. The wagon sold out up at the Quartermaine Mine. We could have sold even more on the way back down if we would have had it. What is going on here?" She looks to the commotion on the far side of the house.

Mrs. Lansbury tucks the money into her apron pocket. "Master Stefan is putting in a greenhouse so that plants will be able to be grown all winter long."

"Now that does sound smart." Flo looks at the construction process from a distance. They are still working on a foundation and she can't picture what it will look like when they are done. "If there is any left over windows I'm sure they can be used down in the valley."

"I'll tell Master Nikolas." Mrs. Lansbury nods. "He will bring it up to Master Stefan I'm sure."

"'nother thing you might be bringing up to the younger Mr. Cassadine when you get a minute..." Flo hedges wondering if she should mention anything.

"What's that?" Mrs. Lansbury asks curiously.

"You notice this valley is missing a bull?"

"I didn't think anyone in the valley had a... Oh!" Mrs. Lansbury gets that, that is exactly the point. "Oh dear. That is a problem, isn't it?"





Zander squats down to examine a hoof print in the dirt. "Definitely elk."

Stefan examines the prints as well. "And more than one."

Nikolas looks down the trail. "Just need to find the sheltered spot where they are staying. A shady hollow. Something protected from the elements."

"Let us continue on." Stefan stands back up. He shoulders his gun. It wasn't loaded for big game but with bird shot. If they should come across a nice pheasant or turkey they would bring it back to Mrs. Lansbury for their dinner. They were off the Cassadine property now and up above the valley in a heavily wooded area but stay within hearing range of the river to use it as a guide back down to the valley.





Liz is the first to spot Marcus. "Hello again!" She calls out to him.

"Miss Elizabeth." Marcus says politely tipping his hat. "Your grandmother about?"

"Down at the cabin." Elizabeth and Riley fall into step with their neighbor. "The mining trip, I know it went well. You said as much last night on the way home but what was it really like?"

"They've got their problems." Marcus shrugs.


"They got claim jumpers up there. Somebody causing trouble."

Elizabeth frowns at that one. She's heard enough stories and then again with the way that the Quartermaines thought they owned the whole valley too. "The Quartermaines?"

"Probably not. They been hit too. Miss Carly spoke to the boss man up there. He's calling in the Pinkertons."

Liz's eyes go wide at that. "Then it must be a big problem. Oh dear."

"And everything your Grandmother's said about getting ready for the winter... the independent's are no where ready. They spend all day every day panning and little time at all preparing for the coming winter. My barn is better protection than their shacks. Having us there was an excuse to take a break and socialize. The Quartermaines have a bunkhouse built for their miners and a goodly amount of supplies set up... but I figure the rest well they'll end up wintering down at the rooming houses down in Charlestown."

"Poor Miz Hannah. She probably figured she'd get a break for the winter and not have to deal with a bunch of strangers." The two of them reach the cabin but don't stop there having spotted Audrey working in her herb garden.

"Miz Hardy, I have your portion from the trip." Marcus reaches into his pocket and pulls out the envelope, handing it over.

Audrey opens the envelope and deposits the money in her apron pocket reading the note carefully. "I can't believe that you sold out. I'd hoped of course but I didn't know."

Marcus nods. "Probably could have done twice as much in the same amount of time. All the time was eaten up on the way to the Quartermaine Mine. We didn't make any stops on the way back cause there was nothing to sell. Spread the word around some. So it wouldn't surprise me if you started getting some callers."


"They know now that we're here. That you grow a good garden, make a fine cheese, and have two marriage age granddaughters and that you are a widow yourself. It's a lonely bunch up there."

"Oh dear." Audrey bites her lip and frowns. "I don't know what to make of that."

"Anyone makes a nuisance and I'll help them on their way." Marcus nods. "Much appreciate you keeping an eye on Gia while we were gone."

"It's nothing that you haven't done for us, Mr. Taggart." Audrey counters.

"Just being neighborly." Marcus shrugs. He tips his hat. "I'll be getting back to my place now."

"Thank you for taking the time, Mr. Taggart." Audrey calls out to his back. He answers with a wave.

"Maybe I'm being suspicious, darling." Audrey tells Elizabeth. "But I want you to be keeping an eye out for not only the Quartermaines coming back thru but for any sign of strangers."


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