Retired Judge Ben Robertson, looked over at the clock on the wall of his dining room. Whoever it was, they were disturbing his breakfast. Getting up, he went over to the front door and opened. A look of surprise came on his face when he saw who it was.
"Cole Latham," Ben exclaimed, "What have I done to deserve the pleasure of an early morning visit from you?"
From inside Wyatt heard the horse's approach before Weedy even let a yell out. He had been sitting at the kitchen table working on his arithmetic problems. He hated numbers. Clara helped him with it sometimes but his big sister had this annoying habit of saying "you need to do this yourself too, I am not about to do it all for you". And yet some folks thought she was such a good sister. She had her faults.
Dropping his pencil he scrambled to the door then opened it. Sure enough, it was Weedy and on a fine horse too! Wyatt stepped out, he was barefooted but didn't pay that no mind.
"Hey, so you made it!" he stated the obvious.
"How long can you stay for?" he absolutely needed to know this important detail.
Billy was happy to get his gun back, a man wasn't a man without one of those. Though granted, he had never shot anybody, he had never even aimed at anyone. But hell, there were snakes and possible Injuns who might attack.
"Thanks," he wrapped the gunbelt around his waist but did not pull out the pistol, he trusted the law didn't empty the cartridges on him.
"Well, you take care Billy."
"I try and you too, marshal. You've been real fair. And...." Billy leaned in closer then lowered the volume of his voice for the next part, "Don't tell Case but if I could vote, I'd vote for you in the election."
And once out the door, Billy headed straight toward the Lickskillet for that free meal.
"Yessir, I'm followin', " Billy nodded and did as he was instructed whereupon he was told to sit down in this man's office. So of course he complied.
The lawman poured himself some coffee and offered him some too.
"No thank ya," Billy remembered to be polite about it. He needed to be on his best behavior.
"Now, Billy, you spent a night in custody with some real outlaws. Don't know or care what they might have said to you, but I know this, you can work on the Evergreen and keep your nose clean, or you can partner up with the likes of Greer and end up spending time behind bars. That choice is up to you. Where you go, what you do, what you say, it's up to you."
Billy had to grin a bit about the part about working at Evergreen and keeping his nose clean. That whole ranch and especially it's owner were a bunch of crooks. Almost every one of those jaspers had done far worse things than he had ever done.
"Actually, marshal, it was the ranch foreman who paired me up with Greer," he just wanted to throw that little tidbit of info out there for the man.
"You're free to go. You can head on up to the Lickskillet and have a meal on the city or not, as you choose." Speed said.
Billy blinked, "Really? I can just up and leave? Ummm, thanks."
Plus a free meal, that joint had good food. Plus it had that Redmond girl working there. Still she could hardly kick him out when he was sent by the marshal and paid for by the law. He stood up then.
"I'll take you up on that then. I might not look like it but I'm always hungry," he declared.
“She don’t limp about!” the strange girl countered weakly “That was just one time when her wooden leg got kinda broke!”
"Wooden leg too? And wooden head I'm thinkin' too," smirked Billy, not exactly all that tolerant of those folks afflicted with addled brains.
Billy lied and said he was tempted by the free bath offer but really he wasn't. He had been serious before, he did not want to get shot for trespassing in private quarters...especially using someone's bathtub! Hell, it's not like he took very many baths ever in a year, definitely not worth dying over. But then - she said something which altered the whole situation.
"Listen, it ain’t even in her room, it’s in Caroline’s … Miss Mundee’s … and Ol’ Devereau’ll be locked in her room for two hours now getting herself all done up like a dog’s dinner. Then she’ll sashay down them stairs, check that me an’, Mr Flandry and Caroline and the cook are working like dogs for her, then sashay right on out again, ‘fore she has to do any hard work herself!”
"Miss Mundee's room? That's the singer, right?" he perked up suddenly.
“So you just go on up there and lose yer toggery and I’ll go fetch some nice pipin' hot toppin’ up water; and think of all that money you’ll save.”
For the first time Billy truely considered the offer and , besides, a saved dime was still a savings. It would buy him a good beer if nothing else. He paused.
She started to guide him toward the bottom of the stairs. “And just think, you’ll be able to tell all them simpletons y’work with that you’ve been in the private boudoir of the allurin’ and beautiful Miss Caroline Mundee!”
Well, the girl had a good point. He bet he would be the only cowboy on the Evergreen ranch to be able to have bragging rights like that. Might improve his reputation some, that!
"Umm, alright...I'll do it. But if I get caught by your boss, I am gonna blame it all on you," a part of him said he should not trust this strange girl but hell, he was going to take a chance. Just maybe he'd even meet this Caroline Mundee.
Billy didn't need a second shout, he was more than ready to get out of that cell. He hastily pulled his boots on then stood waiting for the man to open the door for him. It looked like he was getting released. Well unless, they were going to do something else to him? Like question him or rough him up? No, they wouldn't do that. He had not actually done anything but stand there in the street and watch Greer make an idiot of himself. And now once inside the jail cell, he had behaved himself too. Been quiet and respectful, the model prisoner one might say.
"Yes sir, I'm ready. So are you releasin' me then?" he asked hopefully.
“Well, yeah, she is. She’s nineteen now, getting to be an old maid, and what with bein’ too attractive for men to dare to ask her out, she’s scared she’ll miss the boat; she’ll just be left there to sit, all alone, on that big pile of money she’s goin’ to inherit when her rich old uncle dies.”
The way this odd girl was gushing on about this enchanting and soon to be rich gal was simply too good to be true. All that going for her and yet she was supposedly available and just waiting for some dirt poor young cowpoke she never met come and sweep her up? It was all a load of bull shit, Billy scoffed.
"Don't believe you for a minute, besides............."
He then came up with what he thought a brilliant excuse to get away from her and her madwoman schemes. Surely even this girl would not follow him into a bath house. Not to mention the owner would definitely kick her right out. Well, Billy did not reckon with Arabella alright.
“What d’ya want to do throwing away money on bathhouses for? You can have a bath for free, right now, right here!” she jerked a thumb toward the stairs. “Ms Deverau’ll have just finished hers. Water’ll still be nice warm and I can top it up with that kettle I just boiled for the plates. And she don’t tiddle in the water like some folks do.”
"Deverau? Ain't that the lady who owns this place? Like I am gonna go jump in her bathtub without a by your leave? She might well shoot me or have that bartender of hers do it. Word has it that man is a real killer too. I'm not taking that risk," Billy protested.
“Listen, I was watchin’ you playin’ cards in there, and you looked to me like a feller who was just about to have a winnin’ streak. So, you go have a bath, first door on the right…” she frowned down at his hand and then tugged at his right sleeve “… that’s that side, and then go back in there, get in the game, win a whole bunch of money, and you can buy Bridget Monahan a nice bunch of flowers when you take her for a promenade after church tomorrow. I’ll get Mundee to come and stand next to you at the card table and put her hand on yer shoulder, blondes are good luck for gamblers, y'know!”
"Bridget Monahan? That's this beautiful rich lady friend of yers? I know of her. She is some sort of a half-wit who wanders the streets all the time. Somethin's wrong with one of her legs too, limping about like she does," he frowned.
"Well no thanks, not to mention the fact i don't ever go to any church services. As for that bath, I was almost tempted but only a fool would trespass onto that woman's private quarters. I already got one of the Lost Lake owners wantin' to shoot me first chance he gets, don't need a big shot woman lookin' to do the same," once more he started to try his escape.
"I ain't sniffing, " Billy snapped back. Indeed after a long day's work at the ranch, Billy was quite certain he smelled a whole lot worse but then you got used to it.
The conversation went downhill from there. Why in the devil would this little tart want to know all that about Greer? This little idiot didn't know it but any female would get about as far with Greer as they would with a bear. He didn't cooperate of course. It meant nothing to him, Billy decided. This young gal was just plain strange.
“Hey, I thought you was his friend! I’m just trying to invent up a petition for him, see, to be let out of jail. It’s an ‘arrogant-miss carriage of justice’ and, hey hold up…”
"I told ya, I'm busy. I got plans and they don't include being bothered by a child," Billy dismissed her again.
She ran after him and sort of skidded in front of him, holding up her hands imploringly.
“Hold up, hold up… I need to ask you something else!” she yelped. “Are you courtin’ anybody?!”
"What?" now Billy was really confused, the skinny gal didn't seem drunk but she was talking like it.
“See, I got this friend…” she explained “… she’s reeeal pretty, much prettier than me, don’t worry on that score; reeeeal nicely dressed, not like me in these old rags; an’ she don’t talk too much, again not like people say I go and on and on like a chatterbox; an she’s got this real knack of makin’ anyone who do talk to her feel all kinda clever and oooh, real intelligent. And guess what? The lucky feller as marries this rare flame hair beauty, why it’s gonna cost him half as much in the price of shoes as any other wife!”
"Marry her? You askin' me if I wanna marry someone I don't even know their name? On yer say so?" Billy snorted in derision.
“Anyhow… she’s lookin’ fer a feller and I thought you’d do. You’re handsome and good lookin’, good at playin’ jokes, urm, got your own horse. Pretty nicely set up young feller, all round. When would you like to meet her?” she wasn't giving up.
But Billy could be just as stubborn, "If this friend of yers is such a fine catch how come some jasper hasn't already grabbed her. What with there bein' more men than women here in the territory."
And just before he was about to continue walking away, he had to add, "And yeah, I'm handsome. Most ladies think so. But I ain't stupid and I ain't gullible. That friend of yers must really be desperate if she is letting you round her up a husband."
Hmmmm, she wouldn't follow him into the bathhouse? Yeah that was it!
"Besides I wanna go take a bath if they're still open and while I still have a dime to my name," he had been losing what little money he had at cards back in the saloon.
It had actually been somewhat of a relief to go into town without the overweight albatross that was Greer hanging around his neck. They had been paired up purely by luck when the two of them had joined the Evergreen ranch at the same time but they had not known each other previously. For some reason, once the ranch foreman found out how ornery (yes and stupid) Greer was he then began partnering up the two of them for a lot of ranch duties like watching the herd and so on. The good natured Billy had seemed to be able to handle the man. It was a strange partnership but to say they were good friends, not hardly.
One other ranchhand made the mistake one day of hinting Greer was using young Billy for certain ...well rather sordid things and when Greer found out, he thrashed the man but good. No one else ever said anything then. Billy, on the other hand, obviously liked to think of himself as a ladies man though his success with women had been pretty well absent since his arrival in the territory, leastwise that anyone knew of.
The story was he apparently stole the clothes off of the back of that Redmond farm girl and there had even been a now famous brawl over it at the last fall festival. Another young lady had slapped his face on the boardwalk once. Billy told all who would listen it was an honest mixup, she hadn't understood what he meant but he didn't reveal the details.
So this evening he was sitting at a table playing a friendly game of cards (for low stakes) and enjoying a few beers, oh and ogling the pretty blonde entertainer the place had, he approved of the upgrade from previous entertainment. Well until he had to make a visit to the outdoor privy, he folded his current hand and headed on out.
Upon exiting the plan was to head right back in but he didn't quite make it.
“Psssst! Bill! Over here!!! … No! Here!!!”
Some female but who? And no one called him Bill, leastwise who knew him. But he ambled over only to literally get pulled into the shadows!
“C’m’ere! Closer” she hissed hoarsely.
"Im plenty close," now he recognized her, that skinny little scrub girl who also played piano, what the hell did she want?
“Listen Bill. I gotta ask you something, I been desperately wantin’ to ask you all week, ever since I saw you get hauled off to jail...”
"That weren't my fault..." he started to explain.
“… what’s Mr Greer’s first name, has he ever been married and what’s his favourite flower?”
"Huh? If yer so damn interested in that ....man, then you ask him. I got important business to do I'll have you know," he turned to leave.
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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