Disclaimer: I did not invent these characters, and do not own them. I derive no profit from them. I just like to make up stories.
This episode make reference to a Gunsmoke episode that was called "Kitty's Love Affair."
It was a warm and sunny spring afternoon in St. Louis, and Kitty was sitting alone in an outdoor café waiting for her cousin Anna to join her. They had spent the morning shopping, and after spending quite a long time in a ladies' shoe store, Anna had told Kitty to go ahead and get a table for them at the Café Venata, one of the more popular cafés in the city. Anna had just wanted to try on one more pair of shoes before deciding which to buy.
Kitty and Anna had not seen each other since they were young girls. Anna's family had moved to London, England when she was 10. Kitty remembered their teary goodbyes as they hugged and promised to write each other a long, long letter every day for the rest of their lives. That ambition quickly fell by the wayside, but they had always stayed in touch. Recently, Anna had written that she was coming to the States and would be staying St. Louis for a week before traveling on to Chicago. She suggested that they meet in St. Louis, and Kitty was delighted.
As planned, Kitty had arrived the day before knowing that Anna had been scheduled to arrive a few hours earlier. Anna was going to secure a room for them at the St. Louis Royale Hotel, and the plan was for Kitty to meet her there. Kitty was as nervous as a schoolgirl as she walked into the hotel, but when she entered the lobby she immediately recognized Anna. Anna had obvious recognized her too because they simultaneously ran to each other and hugged hard.
After quickly settling in the room they headed out to shop and see some sights. Then they talked long into the night in their shared room. Kitty was looking forward to 6 more enjoyable days.
At the moment, Kitty was drinking coffee and enjoying the pleasant weather. She was wearing a new, lovely dark blue hat that Anna had helped her select, and was wondering idly what shoes Anna had chosen. A voice pulled her out of her thoughts. "Kitty Russell, you look more beautiful today that the last time I saw you, 6 months ago."
Kitty looked up and saw Will Stambridge standing there smiling at her, he had removed his hat and looked quite dapper in a fine black suit.
After getting over her momentary shock, Kitty's innate good manners took over and she extended her hand, "Why, it's Will Stambridge. What brings you to St. Louis?"
"Oh, I'm here on a little business. What about you? Don't tell me that that Marshal finally found time to take you someplace."
Kitty was taken aback by the words. In fact, Matt hadn't been able to go on the trip with her as she had hoped.
Will saw the look on her face and couldn't resist commenting, "Oh, I see. Well I guess there are things that just don't change, aren't there?"
Kitty regained her composure, "Actually, I'm here to spend time with my cousin, Anna. We haven't seen each other in years and we are having a wonderful time getting re-acquainted." Kitty pointed down the street, "There she is now."
A pretty, slightly plump, dark haired woman approached, walking briskly and bursting with energy. When she reached the café she looked at Kitty and then at the well-dressed gentleman standing by the table, "Well Kitty, you seem to have a friend. Care to introduce us?"
Kitty smiled, "Anna this is Will Stambridge. He and I met briefly about six months ago. Will, this is my cousin Anna."
Kitty could see that Will bristled at the words – met briefly - but they were true. Their encounter, if you want to call it that, had only lasted days really, even though they were days of turmoil for her.
Will took Anna's hand and kissed it, "Well, I can see that beauty runs in the family."
Anna was clearly charmed, "Thank you, Mr. Stambridge. Please, will you join us for lunch?"
"I'd be delighted, and please call me Will."
Lunch was quite pleasant. Will was nothing if not charming and easy to talk to. They rose to leave, and of course Will insisted on paying the bill saying, "Would you ladies do me the honor of accompanying me to the theater tonight?"
Kitty started to say no thank you, but Anna quickly chimed in, "We'd be happy to. We are staying at the St. Louis Royale Hotel. What time should we be ready?"
"I'll pick you up at 7:30. I'll be waiting in the lobby of your hotel."
Kitty nodded, "We'll be ready Will. We've made plans for the rest of the afternoon, so we should be going. We'll see you tonight."
Kitty took Anna by the arm and led her away.
Later that evening in the Hotel
"Kitty, Will is an attractive and personable man. What went on between the two of you - and don't you dare say nothing."
Kitty sighed. "Six months ago Matt and I were on our way to a vacation, a vacation in St. Louis in fact. He was called back to Dodge and I got angry that our plans were ruined. I mean very, very angry and upset. I didn't go back with him. Instead I got back on the stage. Will was there. I didn't really notice him, but then the stagecoach was robbed and he protected me, and was wounded as a result. I was grateful, and I tended to his wounds. It was two days before we could get a stage back to Dodge, so we got to know each other. You've seen for yourself that he's likable and easy to talk to. When we got back, I was still angry so I continued to see Will, making sure that Matt and everyone else noticed."
Kitty stopped and thought for a second, Anna took her arm, looking excited, "Kitty, this is so romantic. Don't stop there."
Kitty sighed and continued, "I wouldn't exactly characterized it as romantic. Anyway after a few days of dinners, carriage rides and long talks, Will offered me a home and a chance to have family."
"Kitty you mean he wanted to marry you?"
Kitty nodded, "I knew I couldn't say yes to him, because I couldn't leave Matt. I love Matt, with the kind of love that can't be denied. Yet, there was a part of me that was reluctant to say no, because I didn't want to let go of the things that Will was offering me."
Anna was almost clapping her hands in anticipation, "What happened?"
Kitty smiled slightly, "What happened was reality. The reality of how much I love Matt, and the reality that I couldn't let things drag on without giving Will an answer. In the midst of all that, I got a reminder of how important Matt's job is. I said no to Will, and he left Dodge."
Anna shook her head in amazement, "Well I've never met your Matt. He must be something, because this Will fellow seems quite fine to me."
Kitty heard Anna's response but barely answered. She was missing Matt so much at that moment that she just whispered, "Matt, yes he is something, really something."
Kitty stood up, "Anna, I am getting a headache. I think I should stay in this evening. You go ahead to the theater with Will."
Something about the look on Kitty's face told Anna not to argue. "All right Kitty. You just stay in and rest."
Will was in the lobby of the St. Louis Royale hotel at the appointed time. Anna came down the stairs wearing an elegant black dress and walking slowly with what she hoped was a mysterious smile on her face. Will succeeded in hiding his disappointment at not seeing Kitty.
"Hello Will." Anna said rather flirtatiously. "I hope attending the theater with one woman is exciting enough for you. Kitty is not feeling well and decided she'd better stay in this evening."
Will took her hand, "It is my pleasure to be able to accompany one such lovely woman anywhere."
They saw, Under the Gaslight, a melodrama which ended with the hero, who was lashed to train tracks by the villain, being saved by the heroine in the nick of time. Anna loved the play and stood and applauded enthusiastically when the lead actress, Rose Massey, took her bows. Anna had seen the actress perform in London, and thought that tonight she was more wonderful than ever.
As she and Will left the theater, Anna talked excitedly about Rose Massey and the play. Will didn't say very much, in fact he hadn't really paid attention to the performance. He plastered on a smile and looked at his companion, "Anna, I'd be delighted if you would join me for some wine before I escort you back to your hotel." He extended his arm gallantly.
Anna took his arm with a flourish, "I'd enjoy that Will. I don't often drink alcohol, but seeing that wonderful show and having such a gracious escort makes this a special occasion."
As Will lead her to a restaurant that was known for it's fine wine, Anna chattered on about the play, and other plays that she had seen in London.
Once seated, the waiter quickly brought over two glasses and the sweet red wine that Will had ordered. He poured a glass for each of them, and lifted his glass in a toast, "To a lovely lady." Anna blushed, not realizing that Will was thinking of Kitty.
After drinking the toast, Will gave Anna a winning smile, "As delighted with your company as I am, I'm sorry Kitty isn't well. I hope it's nothing serious."
Anna took a long sip from her wine glass, "I'm sure it's not. Just a bad headache – she'll be fine after a good night's sleep."
Will replenished Anna's half empty glass. She immediately took another long sip, enjoying its sweet, rich flavor.
"Did Kitty happen to mention to you how we met?'
"In fact she did. She said she was on a stagecoach that was robbed, and you protected her. You were wounded as a result. That was very brave of you. I drink to you." Anna raised her glass with a smile and drank the rest of her wine.
She held out her empty wine glass, "My dear sir, would you be a gentleman and refill a lady's glass?"
Will smiled, "Of course, particularly the glass of such a lovely lady."
Anna was drinking her wine more and more quickly, while Will was still on his first glass.
Will continued, "Did Kitty mention what happened when we got back to Dodge?"
"Why yes, she did." Anna took another long sip of wine and added teasingly, "Do you want to know what she said?"
Will tried to hide his impatience, "Only if you wish to tell, lovely lady."
Anna finished her glass and had it refilled, before answering.
With a rather silly grin on her face she spoke more rapidly than she ordinarily would, "She said she was mad at Mash – sorry Matt - and she went around with you. She liked you. Then you offered her good stuff but she didn't take it because she loved Matt. Always has - always will, end of story."
Anna giggled again and finished yet another glass of wine. She didn't notice that Will wasn't laughing.