Jane had stopped folding the napkins and was staring at Miss Bailey who was doing some bookkeeping at the Hotel desk.
"Miss Bailey," Jane started cautiously after an awkward while.
Rose looked up, acknowledging the interruption.
"So, I reckon' you got the most experience in this, so what's courtship all about, like how d'ya go about it?"
Rose took a moment to mark her place in the ledger and set her pen aside while she put together an answer to this out-of-the-blue question.
"Well...I suppose the most traditional answer would be to let the man come to you (assuming we're talking about man?). But Californians appear less traditional, to me," she stepped around in front of the desk. "Perhaps it can be a dual effort. I'd say spend some time together. Take walks by the river and learn about each other's interest. Or go someplace public, if you're not ready for one-on-one chats. Have a drink together at the saloon. Have tea together at Lottie's. Get to know each other, and keep it light-hearted and fun, at first. Maybe play some card games."
The soft smile at the last suggestion belied thoughts of Miss Bailey's own intended and their late night card games. She pulled her head from the clouds and took up a napkin to fold.
"And you don't have to spend all your time together, either. Just an hour or two, at first. Whatever makes you feel comfortable!"
Jane thought on this, getting back to work in the napkins herself. A minute passed in silence.
"An what about if we already done all that?"
Jane was refolding the napkins she had done in an attempt to make them as neat and crisp as the one Rose had folded.
Miss Bailey had given up on trying to do any accounting at this point and began neatly folding hand towels.
"Ah! It may still be too early to tell, but do you know how you feel about this person? You don't have to tell me your feelings, but assess how you feel and ask yourself where you want the relationship to go? Are you happy just being friends? Or do you want the relationship to 'progress,' as in, would you like for them to become your official sweetheart? It doesn't have to be right now. But it's good to at least get an idea of where you want to end up, eventually, because that can help with your decision-making."
Jane pursed her lips and furrowed her brow in thought. Rose continued hurriedly, "Or maybe you don't know what you want, yet, which is also okay," If Jane was thinking and doing chores, neither one would get done properly. This much, Rose had learned over the past months.
There was another pause, and Rose let out a soft sigh at the discordant stack of napkins on the table. Jane broke the silence one again, pressing both fists to the table and crumpling a napkin within them.
"But if ah DO wanna be sweethearts how do ah make sure HE knows it? He got 'bout as much 'xperience with this as me."
Rose folded the last hand towel and moved to take the poor crumpled napkin from Jane's hands.
"Ah! Well, now comes the question, do you think he feels the same way? Some people take longer than others to make that decision. Which is okay!" She smoothed the napkin on the table, pressing out the slight creases with her fingers, "One of the most direct ways to answer that question is just to ask him if he wants to be your sweetheart, or if he wants to eventually. "Jane's eyes lit up at that, giving Rose a moment of panic at what the wild girl might do. "I realize this can be intimidating and can take a lot of courage. If you feel too intimidated to ask the question right away, you might want to ask more subtle questions. Like, where does he picture himself in a few years? What does he want out of life?"
This last part, intended to dissuade immediate action, seemed to have the opposite effect. Jane's bright-eyed excitement became a fierce determination. Rose began flailing to talk Jane out of what might easily become heartbreak.
"Maybe start to get an idea of how he feels before you take the plunge and ask directly," the look Jane gave her at the suggestion made Rose glad that the woman was armed with napkins and not knives. "That's if you want to…" she finished timidly.
Jane brightened again and began folding with more gusto.
"Well hell! If ah'da known just askin' was okay ah'da done that already! You're real nice Miss Bailey. Ah'll get this sorted soon as chores are done!"
The remaining cores took little more than an hour and, to Rose's surprise, were completed passably well. Jane took three time to rebraid her hair and make sure the bell was still attached to her hat before leaving the hotel with purposeful strides.
Just up the path, Jane encountered Lyra carrying a small pack. Jane smiled. Lyra stopped frowning and waved.
"I am leaving town for a week and would appreciate a traveling companion. Care to join me?”
Jane stopped in her tracks, looking towards her destination, then back at the hotel, then at Lyra. Something in the slender woman's face convinced Jane.
"Lemme git mah stick."
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