By the time the youthful pair got the wooden chest off the flames, it sure was looking awfully blackened on the bottom? A second look and it was actually smoldering away, not good!
Before Wyatt could let out a cry of alarm, Weedy had come to the same alarmed conclusion and raced to get some water.
"Hurry!" Wyatt urged his friend on and the other boy soon returned with a bucket of well water.
"Throw it right on it!" Wyatt declared the obvious.
There was a splatter and a loud hiss but it seemed to have done the job. Now it was Wyatt's turn to spring into action. Using the axe they had borrowed, the boy first flipped the chest over so it's bottom was facing up into the sky. It sure looked blackened, like charcoal. Then he gave his a good whack with the axe.
It worked, the wood splintered as the axe blade sunk in. So much so it was now stuck in the chest. Oh durn it all!
"I like patience is more a girl thing...or woman. We men don't much go for it," Wyatt observed sagely, though in truth his father could be quite patient about a lot of things but that was because he was old.
"Even if it isn't pirates, why do you think someone would just leave it in the river?" Weedy was back on topic about the mysterious chest now smoking away in the fire.
"Well, it's a lake but I get what you mean. Maybe they wanted to leave their treasure out of sight so threw it in there with plans to come back and haul it back out. And maybe bad things happened to 'em and they never got a chance to recover it?" Wyatt thought that a perfectly possible reason.
He now took another hard look at the fire, the chest, the smoke and flames. Hmmm, he suddenly had a twinge of worry.
"I wonder....maybe we should get it out of the fire?" he suggested with a frown.
Together the boys hefted their treasure chest over to the now healthy fire then lowered it on top of the flames. They were lucky that it did not smother the flames but sure enough the fire lapped about all four sides of the thing. Then the pair stood back and watched and waited.
Now that was a good question though, just how long should they wait? Danged if he knew, Wyatt frowned. Still take the chest off too soon and it would be a waste of effort. Nope, it was all about timing. Well....ummm...
"How long do you think we should wait?" there was the big question alright.
"Hmmm, we probably should be patient. Pa and Clara always say I don't show enough patience," Wyatt reasoned.
Spring Creek Montana, a trading post of sorts, dependent on the local Flathead Indians and occasional white travelers, miners, and trappers for it's survival. There were no rooms, no saloon, no cafe, just a small trading post. There was plenty of ground to set up camp, plenty of game to hunt, and cold water from the creek. It would have to do.
Toole, who never seemed to have another name, either first or last, and Dyer Howe led the rest of the gang north to this spot knowing that Case would be along. For Toole, the destination was fixed, the hide out north-east of the remains of Whitefish, which had served as the gang's headquarters and base of operations. From there they could strike at the smaller ranches and rustle what cattle they could. And, there would be plenty available.
Guthrie was talking stagecoaches and banks but, it was clear, they would need a place to spend the money. They would be marked men in Kalispell unless Case took out the Marshal and his deputy, figuring the rest of the town would just roll over once that happened. Then too, there were the three that watched over Leah Steelgrave, Bannister, McKenny, and Santee. Three tough men, but they had all dealt with tough men before, it was simply part and parcel of the lifestyle.
Worst case scenario, hire on with old man Steelgrave's outfit. They would have a plan when Case joined them, and would be soon.
It took Wyatt a while to return, to the other boy it probably seemed a whole lot longer than it really was, but as the young Redmond boy approached, sure enough he had a burning torch in one hand.
"How bout this? Clara made it for me and said if we burn down the barn, she is gonna help Pa skin us alive," Wyatt grinned.
"She doesn't mean half the stuff she sez, I don't know if that's cuz she's a girl or cuz it's just Clara," he certainly did not seem worried.
"Alright then, we start us a smallish fire - not inside the barn - then set the chest onta the fire and let it toast til we see it's blackening. Then we pull it off and it should be much easier to break into the burnt part," Wyatt declared. This was sheer genius alright.
Before Hector could write anything, Judge Robertson put up his hand. "Now hang on a minute, Orr. Need I remind of the ordinance that states only the mayor can appoint commissioners. You'll be our representative for the time being but you're not giving yourself a grand title."
As the judge waited for Orr's response, an idea began to form. The elections were coming up and what they needed was a good man to be mayor...someone who would keep people like Orr in check. He glanced over at Matt and made a mental note to talk to him later about it.
Just six weeks later...
It is a fact that no two places are the same, no two places tolerate the same things that another place might just be fine with. Now Whitefish had been a town that Marshal Case Steelgrave could ride roughshod over, rule with an iron fist and do as he damn well pleased. Of course that was before Mother Nature decided she'd had enough of Whitefish and destroyed it!
Big Flat Montana was never destined to be another Whitefish, it was a mining camp more than a town. And like most mining camps of the day it would boom and go bust. Yet while it seemed to prosper under the Steelgrave rule, there was an undercurrent of anger and frustration with Case and his friends. An undercurrent that began to spread and to swell until by mid-August the unrest exploded on the streets of Big Flat, all four of them.
Dyer Howe and several of the gang could read the handwriting on the wall, the miners and business people had had enough and would take the law into their own hands. They mounted up and rode out as fast as their horses could ride!
Case, being no fool slipped out of Big Flat in the middle of the night, relieving the assay office of a dozen sacks of gold destined for the smelters in Virginia City. Gold he could sell off anywhere in the state. But he was not headed just anywhere, no, he had a score or two to settle up north. He would take his time, there was no rush, he would get there when he did, and then do what he had a mind to do. Simple as that.
With the gang already on the run, Billy Barnes, not the sharpest pencil in the box, stayed a bit to long before realizing the party was over. They came for him in broad daylight, drug him from the Buckhorn Saloon, and promptly, unceremoniously, hung him.
Wyatt winced as his friend dropped his sticks. This was not working out at all.
"Well, yeah...I think we need to give up on this way of making a fire. You know what, I'm gonna march right inta the house and ask Clara if I can make a torch or something from the fireplace. I'm pretty sure she has the fire goin'," it was time to swallow his pride and get some help from his sister.
"You wait right here and guard our treasure," he rose to his feet, like anyone was actually going to race up and grab the old chest then race off with it.
As he listened to Orr go on about the rules and regulations, Judge Robertson knew that there would be no chance to approach Leah or talk to the other council members about his idea. This snap meeting had killed whatever leeway the council had in the situation. Since the vote would be silent and having no guarantee that Elias Steelgrave wouldn't interfere, there was only he could go. The town didn't deserve to be caught in the middle.
"Very well, very well. A public motion has been put by Dr. Danforth that the Committee vote on the proposal to give permission to build a hospital in Kalispell. Such a demand requires seconding by a member of the Committee itself. Do any of you gentlemen second that proposal to vote upon the motion?" he turned to Wentworth, Anderson and now Robertson. It only needed one of them to say an unequivocal 'yes'.
Standing up, he answered, "Yes."
Sagas of the WIld West is a roleplaying game set in a fictionalized version of the town of Kalispell in Montana territory. Our stories begin in 1875 and are set against the backdrop of actual historical events.Sagas was inspired by the classic television and movie westerns. Our focus is on writing, storytelling and character development.
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