The meeting had been a shambles! her father could not have done a better job of ruining what she had tried to convey to the 'supposed' ladies of Kalispell. Yet even as she thought of the what had happened, and was still happening around her.
The bright spot had been the support of Anaesthesia Orr. She began to gather her things realizing that all was certainly not lost. They could proceed without any support from the community, perhaps it would be a bit more difficult, but with the grants she retained, that were in her name, it would be possible to proceed.
Still she was saddened by what had gone so horribly wrong. Causing Matthew to fire his pistol inside the room, what had been deafening, and certainly caused some damage that would need to be repaired. This had definitely been a day!
It was as she started for the door that she saw both Jonah and Josiah waiting in the lobby, and that was reason enough to smile. A hand touched her arm.
"Miss Steel, Phinias G. McVay, editor of the Union. The paper supports your efforts, Ma'am. Terribly sorry for, for whatever this was supposed to be."
"Thank you sir, you're support is highly valued." Leah replied with a smile , "please excuse me." She wanted away from the room and to confer with her partners.
"Certainly." Phinias replied as he got to his feet. There was type to set and a Special Edition to get out!
"Gentlemen." She greet the Doctors. Shall we step into the dining room?"
The Hotel Bell Boy, not wanting to miss out, ran into the mêlée too. His actions were not entirely altruistic: he picked the prettiest girl he could see to try and carry out, and the most obvious one of those was the golden haired, white frocked Miss Anaesthesia Orr, standing at the front of the large room, brandishing a gavel. Being a couple of inches shorter than she, it was with some effort that he rushed her from behind and grasping his hands around to any parts he could get a grip on, lifted her from the ground with a grunt.
On feeling this midget strongman lift her so, she gave a rather breathless and excited “Oh!” and kicked her little white boots in the air, whist keeping a tight grip on her gavel.
Both of them looked a little disappointed when Mr Wentworth’s gunplay brough the whole fracas to an end, and he lowered her back to the carpet. Not sure what to say in such a circumstance, the bell boy went with his usual “Will that be all, Miss?” and she, on a reflex, managed to find a copper or two which she placed in his hand with pink cheeked and slightly panting “Something for your trouble, boy.”
She then moved to Miss Steelgrave’s side.
“Oh, the nerve of that beastly boy, putting his sticky hands all over me!” she puffed indignantly, yet somehow looking as pleased as punch about the whole affair. She gazed benignly, perhaps a little sadly, at Leah.
Leah couldn’t help but smile, which quickly dissolved when Anaesthesia looked to her. Boys will be boys, whether right or wrong, and she remembered the first time she was touched in just such a manner. So she understood.
“I am sorry that this did not go as planned, I am afraid that my attempts to help only made things worse.” She said, fishing for compliments.
“I doubt the punch was a good idea, but whatever damage is done, hopefully your kind words were heard, and will be remembered by those who had imbibed of the punch.” Leah offered. “ I truly appreciate your coming to my aide, very well spoken, Anaesthesia, very gratifying indeed. We should have ea sometime soon.” It was then she saw Jonah coming through the crowd, and she smiled.
Then something caught her eye and she nodded to Leah: the mysterious woman on the front row was scribbling furiously in a notebook. Outraged, Anaesthesia stomped right up to Sarah for the second time today.
“Madame, I hope you will permit me to ask a question, for I have ever dealt with you with the utmost candor! … Are you ... spying upon us?!” she asked, in no uncertain terms.
As the scene dissolved into chaos, yet again, Leah was exasperated by the display. She had come to share her plans for the hospital, and found costumed characters, spiked punch and now a brawl. Yet she had to smile at the young Miss Orr who bravely shouted, “Have no fear Miss Steelgrave, I shall protect you with my life from this unruly mob!”
That might have been the only smile she could offer. He anger rose and then subsided. This was not the meeting she had seen on other occasions, no, far from it. This was the work of an individual to upend the affair, and whomever it was, the plan was succeeding splendidly.
At that moment, in the hotel foyer Doc Boone stepped quickly to the desk as three of Leah's men came through the door ready for whatever was happening, well, almost. Boone spoke loudly over the noise from the other room, "Wentwoth! Do something about these women before your place is wrecked!"
Leah, seeing her men, simply held up her had, this was not their affair, though she appreciated their presence on her behalf, but a cat fight would not be anything they would want to take part in. She, despondent as she felt, hoped that she had made her case with the women who were still clear headed. She hoped that once sober others would rally to the cause as it was not just her cause, it was theirs.
“Then please, most respected Madame, will you not join me in asking her? I am young and silly and know so little of the world, but I do know that I must learn. For although our affairs may be so often in the hands of men, are not we, their wives, daughters, mothers and sisters, most often in the position to influence them so very strongly for what is good and right?”
"Ladies please, I realize that what I have to say in my own defense of this project may seem to you as if Elias Steelgrave has a hand in this. Perhaps I must be more forthright with you." She began, " Elias Steelgrave, the man who reared me, who trained me in his style of business which is to be ruthless, to take advantage, to exploit any weakness. But that is not who I am, now how I conduct business. " She paused a moment,
"This young lady does not know me, nor has she had time to form the prejudices that accompany the Steelgrave name. I thank her for her kind words. And thus I say to you, one and all, I did not have to present the right of ways to Judge Ben Robertson. They were given to the town of Kalispell, not to one man, not to the Town Council, but to the citizens of Kalispell, and that ladies is how the this Steelgrave conducts business! Elias Steelgrave will have nothing, absolutely nothing to do with this project in any way shape or form, so help me God."
Leah was all but stunned by the young lady's eloquence, followed by that of Missus Thornton-Carlton, neither of the ladies were personally known to her, still, she appreciated their common sense approach to what was happening, as well as what appeared to be support for the hospital plan.
Though it seemed to her that her name, not the project per se was at the crux of the objections. Yet, for that there was also a plan of action she could and would take. First, to preserve the grants, which were vital, and secondly to stop the anti-Steelgrave assault on the projects. She could see that being her fathers daughter was having an ill effect on the project tho she would stand at the forefront as long as it served a purpose.
The Town Council would never let the project go forward with their prejudice where the Steelgrave name was included. That would be far and away too much to overcome.
“Ladies! Ladies please!” Leah shouted. “I would expect this from the bar room crowd, but not the ladies of Kalispell. Do you even know what you’re haranguing one another about? Is it someone’s idea that a hospital is as bad a thing as the cribs on the back streets of this town?” He eyes were ablaze. “I came her today to share a dream with you, a dream that is nearly a reality!
“The men worry that taxes will be necessary for this structure when nothing could be further from the truth. The men worry that a hospital will need to be subsidized by their profits, again ladies, fallacy! In time when the demands n the hospital will be much greater, because the population will be much larger, then, there may be cause for the concern of the profit minded.”
“I have with me a rendering of what the hospital will look like. Only a drawing but a vision of what will stand in this town, IF, if it is built. If you and your families have it available for your use when you need it. And let me tell you this, the right of ways for the coming railroad, are you aware of how those would have been paid for? By the railroad, yes, and who would have gained? Why whoever owned the land required.”
“Do the men of this town understand what having the only hospital in this part of Montana will mean to the community of Kalispell, or, are they worried their names will not appear as those who created it, whenever they decide to do it? Now, please ladies, have a look and feel free to ask more questions, should you have any.”
First there was agreement from Addy Chapple, "Right fine idea, I say." Leah nodded with a smile.
Not knowing how her question would be taken, Sarah took a deep breath and stood up. "Excuse me Miss Steelgrave, you said the Steelgrave name would not be any part of this project. Am I right in assuming that you will be handing over all control to an elected board or committee and stepping aside if your plan is approved by the town council?"
But before she could respond, Nellie Miggens in her ridiculous attire, jumped to her feet, too, and hollered “Yeah, what she said! Mrs Carlton-Thornton-Whatever. And also, who’s payin’ fer the upkeep of this here hospital shebang? The poor taxpayer? Or is one of them deals where you pay through the nose and poor folks can’t afford it? A hospital for the rich folks! The Steelgraves and Carlton-Thornton-Whatevers of the world! Answer me that Miss Leah Fancypants Steelgrave!”
But before a somewhat stunned Leah Steelgrave could respond, Arabella Mudd was on her feet yelling at Granny Miggins. “You sit down and shut up you nasty old witch! Miss Steelgrave’s beautiful and clever and she knows what’s best for this town!” Whatever else she was saying was lost in a barrage of questions from some of the other ladies present, if they were even lady-like at this point. She started to speak when the secretary of the meeting banged the gavel on the table, shouting “Order ladies order!” but then the chairwoman cried “Hey you! That’s MY gavel, give it here!” and there was an undignified tussle at the top table for possession of the little wooden hammer.
Leah stood the model of composure, now waiting on order, and determined to wait as long as it took for that to happen. Within minutes of the gavel banging, and the ensuring tussle over it’s ownership rights, the room fell quiet.
“Yes Ma’am, to answer your questions, there is already plans for such a committee, however, we are still waiting on the Town Council to find time to convene on this matter, which seems to be of little importance to them.” She responded pleasantly.
“At the present time there are no plans for any of us to step aside as a concession to the Town Council, or anyone for that matter. You’ll forgive me madam, what I said was, that the Steelgrave name will not be any part of this project. Doctor’s Danforth, Boone and I, plan to see this project through to completion.”
“There are adequate grant funds already held in trust in Helena. Those funds will see the construction of the building, as well as the equipment that will be required and, is gathering interest as it has since the winter. What remains will be used to maintain the building and it’s equipment over the next several years. But of course, with the continual delay from the Town Council on this simple matter, they are delaying the project unnecessarily, as for the taxation question, at some point I would think that yes, if it is publicly owned, then the public would need to support the hospital.” Her eyes narrowed. "At the moment it is privately owned, and will remain so for the foreseeable future." Looking up from his pad, Phinn smiled.
“The indigent will be cared for, regardless of their ability to pay.” Then, "Miss Mudd, I do not pretend to know what is best for anything, much less this town. @JulieS@Bongo@Javia
The pompous and crabby chairwoman then took a quick slurp of the laced punch to clear her throat and announced the next item on the Agenda, with a quick rap of her gavel.
“Order, Ladies, order!” she barked.
“Item number two, an Address by Miss. L. Steelgrave.” She announced to a stunning round of ... silence. The only applause was from the front row, who presumably didn’t know that they were meant to disapprove of the speaker.
Hardly ill prepared for the silence that followed her introduction, in a way she had expected such. In fact, truth be told, she had expected far worse. But no matter, she was here about the hospital and perhaps a bit about the orphanage plans.
“Ladies, thank you so much for inviting me to share our idea for a hospital, which of course will be first and foremost in our plans.” She began. “I fully understand that there are several stories circulating in regard to our plans, so I am here in part to clarify what those plans are, what the cost to the town would be, and how we intend to proceed.”
”And, before you ask, the we are Doctors Danforth and Boone, as well as myself. Perhaps the biggest controversy is the name for the hospital. We have a couple of names already, Kalispell Hospital, Flathead County Hospital, or perhaps publishing a contest in the Union to name the facility. The Steelgrave name will not be any part of this project.” She saw Phinias McVay enter the room, pad and pencil in hand, and in the lobby, Danforth and Boone within earshot of the proceedings.
“What is it that we are requesting from the town? A plot of land to build on. That would be in exchange for the right of ways that were procured for the coming railroad which are currently in the custody of Judge Ben Robinson. You should know, those right of ways belong to the town Kalispell, not to any individual.” She paused, expecting questions or accusations.
Matt nodded, "I hope I can and I hope the ladies waiting to you speak can too. From what I've heard, there are a lot of people in favour of your plan but not in favour of you being behind it. You know this already so be prepared to hear no...this time around."
“I am fully aware that I am not the one they would like to have done this, unfortunately for them, I am the one. What most in this world do not understand, Matthew, is the word no is a complete sentence. One I have heard far too many times in my life, and one I will hear too many more times before I am finished.”
He took a moment to look at Leah. In a way he felt sorry for her and he wanted to help her. "If you really want to do this, then you may have to go a few rounds before you get a yes. I don't recommend you going ahead and start building without the town behind you either as that may cause more animosity. This is just my opinion but you have prove that you are not your father's daughter. I know some people see what you have done already by going ahead and procuring the land without the blessing of the town as something your father would do and that they are being railroaded into something they might regret in the future."
“I can understand that, I truly can. Not proceeding with the plan, but before too long the snow will fly again, and those in need of what the hospital will represent will continue to do without proper medical care.” She paused, “it’s not as if I expected the citizens of Kalispell to fall all over themselves congratulating me.” It almost made her laugh.
Leaning forward a little, he smiled apologetically, "I know this is probably something you don't want to hear but I thought it would be fair to warn that it could be a long fight before they say yes. My advice is, don't give up and make the people of Kalispell see you in a different light. As I said before...prove to them you're not your father's daughter."
“I do understand, honestly I do.” Was her response, but after all, she was in fact her fathers daughter. It may take some effort, and it may take time she did not have, to convince people that the very last thing Elias Steelgrave would do would be to benefit anyone other than himself.
Standing up, he gazed down at her, "I have to go now and check with the kitchen to make sure everything is running well. If you wish to ignore anything I've said, then that is fine I won't hold it against you. I just hope you will consider what I've said before making your next move. I wish you the best of luck with the ladies this afternoon, Miss Steelgrave."
“Thank you Matthew, you have always been a good friend.” She said. Probably not what he had intended, but it had always come across that way, and it seemed genuine to her.
"If you don't mind me asking, but why Kalispell? As you said I am well aware of your family. So is the whole town and every ranch and farm within one hundred miles of here. Even if the town council approves your plan it will always be an uphill battle for you. Maybe it would've been wiser to try this sort of thing in a place where they don't know you or your family."
“Oh, I suppose it would be the wise thing to do, leaving Kalispell. Yes, that would be the easy thing for me to do, however Mathew, the point of making my mark, or whatever the proper term might be, Kalispell is my home." She began.
"This family is known in every major city in the state. So that leaves me the choice of leaving Montana or, as I have chosen, to make my stand here, right in my gathers face, so to speak. I know it sounds like I am being the spoiled little rich girl having a meaningless tantrum. Far from it. He has his own problems of which I am not a party to."
"Kalispell has been kind to me, at least to this point. I realized that my father has been slow to act about the coming of the railroad, so I moved on it. Went to the provisional capitol, met with those in power, those that I know, and secured rights ahead of Elias , which would be his plan. Those rights are now in the hands of Judge Robertson and the Town Council, where they belong. Hopefully they will meet soon and approve my request for land to build the hospital and orphanage."
She smiled at him. "I know they are suspicious of anything with the Steelgrave name attached to it, and well they should be, Rest assured I am not an agent for my father. You may trust in that."
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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