Nellie Miggins had seen enough, she needed to tell someone this exciting gossip and get it off her bony chest, so she went across to Mrs Wigfall's guest house and rapped on the door.
"Mary. Mary! Open up, you'll never believe what's happened now!!" The door was opened by the girl Jemima and Granny pushed past her and into the front parlour to regain Mrs Wigfall and some of the boardinghouse guests, who had no idea who the dramatis personae involved even were, about what had happened or, at least, her version of it.
Jemima, standing in the the doorway to the parlour, drank all this in and thought of Arabella: she had worked for Crabbe: Jemima had better let her know that he'd been murdered in cold blood after discovering his ward being molested by a drunken cowboy. At least, that was the way Granny had reported it.
The frowsy girl didn't waste time telling her mother where she was going, she hot-footed it down the street to the back kitchen door of the saloon. Mrs McMahon, the big cook, didn't have a clue where Arabella was. She knew where she should be, right there, helping her! She gave Jemima quite an in depth diatribe upon the matter. When she could get a word in Jemima just asked Cookie to let Arabella know that something had happened to Mr Crabbe.
The cook went to look for the missing girl. She wasn't in her room. On the off chance she knocked and popped her head into Caroline's room. "You seen that girl, Miss Caroline?" she asked "That feller Crabbe's had something happen to him. Her friend, that plain looking girl with the..." she motioned toward her upper lip "She just done came over to tell her."
Thus the rumour made its rounds of the town: growing, shrinking, growing again, changing, evolving, mutating. it was a pity Mr Fa had moved on, he would have felt at home amongst these Chinese whispers.
"Alright now Nellie Miggins, there'll be no lynchings in this town while I'm Marshal, and I'd appreciate it if you'd not spread such half truths about town!" Speed decried the woman.
"Hmm! Well, someone's gotta do it: that newspaper we got ain't worth a damn." the old battleaxe reasoned.
"Maybe it's best if you just run along while I conduct this investigation, or, you quit stirring it up with your wild accusations when no one knows what has happened."
"Well, git on and ask him! Oh, this should be good, he's had time to think of a tall tale by now." the old woman opined, peering at Brendan through her spectacles. He was a fine figure of a man, she'd give him that, even smeared with Crabbe's blood. If she'd been a couple years younger, she might have gone for him herself; but even if he was a looker, a cold blooded murderer was due an invitation to a neck-tie party.
He turned back to Brendan, "Now, maybe you'll tell me exactly what happened in that house. In fact, lets you and I go on inside and I can see what you're talking about."
Granny Miggins started forward, too, but the Marshall retarded her progress.
"And Nellie, you can wait out here." That was not a request. Of course he did run the risk of her heading back into town and spreading the news wherever she could, which would most likely be to the saloon crowd. A risk worth taking, he felt.
The Septuagenarian Nellie Miggins just gave the young whippersnapper Henry S. Guyer II and baleful look of distain and, as soon as they were inside, got into position where she could look through the window and see what was going on. There was no sign of the idiot girl or Charlie Wentworth (who wasn't much better in the mental department in Granny's not-so-humble opinion).
"Alright, you can lower them hands. Seems you are always turning up with dead folks. Not a good habit." Speed remarked, mentioning Connolly's habit of turning up with dead people.
Granny Miggins was appalled at the Marshall's soft attitude to the obvious murderer. "That's true! He murdered that poor boy Billy, it's all around the town, and now he's plugged Crabbe! Look at all that blood! Don't let him put his hands down Marshall - desperate character like that'll have a secret weapon someplace!" she exclaimed excitedly.
But the, to Granny's mind, much too forgiving Guyer was all ears for some feeble, cobbled together excuse for this carnage from the clearly shifty looking (and allegedly Catholic) Connolly.
"So, I reckon there's a story to go with this and rather than haul you in for a Judge to sort this out,...
"I agree about not botherin' a Judge!" Granny carped, "let's get a lynch mob together!" but tender-hearted Henry S. ignored her and carried on his careful examination of the handsome cowboy.
"... I'll be willing to hear your side of this one. First though, Miss Monahan, she see what happened, and second, where's the Chinaman, Fa?"
A 'Chink'? Mrs Miggins peered into the house, expecting any second to hear the screams of Charlie Wentworth as the furtive yellow-peril gave him the 'death by a 1000 cuts'!
"Well Charlie, I guess we best have us a look-see. Sounds like maybe an accident, or maybe a shooting." Speed considered that perhaps it was as simple as a gun accidentally discharging and a reactionary scream. That was what he hoped.
"Well, 'bout time! You fellers sure take your time!" grumbled the old curmudgeon.
"So Granny, best you lead the way then, and we'll see what all this is about."
"What, don't you know the way?!" she replied, cantankerously.
"You didn't hear anything other than the shot and the scream, right? I mean to say there was not yelling, arguing before the shot?" Speed asked as he got up and put on his hat.
"I don't know! D'ya think I go around listening at people's doors? What d'ya take me for, some kind of nosey old bat? I just heard a shot and a scream, that's all. Now come on!"
She led them down Main Street to the old funeral parlour, long out of business and used by the suspiciously easy-living Crabbe.
"Look!" gasped Granny "There's a lamp still lit in there! Now, don't forget to send Charlie to cover the back door!" she whispered, telling the veteran lawman how to do his job. "And make sure they don't shoot you through the front door!" she added, just to be sure.
"I heard a shot and a scream I tell ya! Inside the Old Funeral Parlour! If I'd had mah shotgun with me I'd have gone in there m'self: but even I can't fight a gunman with just my knitting needles!" Granny Miggins barked at the Marshall.
"And if you don't want to stir your stumps, at least send yer Deputy; or lend me a gun! A sawn off job if you've got one, I ain't got mah proper shootin' glasses on!" she offered.
"Ohhh, them folks there are trouble, i always knew it. That feller Crabbe ain't any better than he ought to be; and that cripple girl can't be as simple as she makes out, I reckon she's up to something no good. And a Chinaman livin' with them, a Chinaman! Trouble waiting to happen, that's what I call it. Yes, you mark my words, there's some mighty queer business going on in that place!" she chuntered at the Marshall.
@Flip ( & @JulieS if you'd like Charlie Wentworth to be involved)
Virgil snorted, “Be glad your nose still works at all, I heard things don’t work right anymore after someone’s older than dirt.” He had to say something back, but when her back was turned, he looked down at himself and had to admit he looked rough, and to be fair, probably smelled it too. It wouldn’t hurt to get cleaned up a bit, he supposed.
"Well, you won't live long enough to find out fer yerself if you keep on cheekin' your elders like that!" snapped back Granny, who was enjoying the slightly flirtatious undercurrent of their little spat on the road.
They rode most of the way in silence until they came to a large farmstead and Nellie said, "Having second thoughts about becoming the next Mr. Miggins?"
“Wouldn’t that be you bein’ missus Adams?” But he knew what she meant.
"What, you askin'?!" she pretended to misunderstand "Wait till you kin aford a ring and got room to git down on one knee 'fore you asks me that!" she cackled, before pulling up the horse with a "Whoooaaaa, Neddy!".
It was a nice spread. He took a moment to take it all in. “I think there’re too many fences. The land is better when it ain’t fenced off.” He said, then shrugged as if to say ‘I don’t like to be fenced in,’ and he jumped down.
"Huh, wait 'til you've had a herd o' cattle stomp all over your corn and barley before you say that!" she admonished him, and sounded more serious this time. "I prefer the open prairie, too. But a family's gotta eat. 'Member that!" Family? That seemed to lead Virgil to his next question.
“You take care of this place by yourself?” he asked.
"I might as well, all the help I get! If you see an old darkie paradin' around hereabouts, lookin' like he owns the place and not workin' a lick - that's our Tom, hired hand. And my granddaughter's at home, too, but she can't work, on account of her weak heart. And my no good Grandson, Jacob, he went and got hitched a month or two ago and now he's tearin' round the country workin' fer Western Union instead of coming home once in a while to help his poor sweet old grandmother, the selfish little bastard!"
“I didn’t do nothing to that tree but I’ll help you get this buggy around it, for a ride into town."
"Deal!" snapped back the old lady. "Except we'll stop at my place on the way and tidy you up a little. I ain't bein' seen ridin' into town with a dirty smelly tramp!" She'd give him a square meal, too, the poor lad looked half starved, but he also looked like he had enough pride about him not to accept charity, so she didn't mention that right now.
But,” he added narrowing his eyes at her, “you gotta keep your hands to yourself. I ain’t gonna be one of your husbands; you got that?”
Nellie gave him a querying look. "You should be so lucky!" she frowned. They might have gotten off to a shaky start, but she liked the boy, somehow: not just because he was handsome or because he reminded her of her boy what died a long, long time ago. She just had a feeling about him.
"Might have to strip you off and give you a bath mind! Phew, are you ripe!" she chided playfully, though she never cracked a smile.
Getting the trap through the trees at the side of the fallen stump was not actually too much of a problem with the two them working on it, and Mrs Miggins noticed that the young man was not only deceptively strong for his slight figure, but extraordinarily good with Neddy who, to be honest, was not so much a mare as a nightmare, when it came to getting her to do anything off of the beaten track.
Soon they were on their way and nearing the sturdy and large Miggins place, which was not too far off the direct route to Kalispell. The land around was rich in crops and well fenced off from the wandering cattle from the ranches that ruined and trampled corn if not kept out. It was a nice spread all right, and Granny couldn't help saying to the slim lad beside her on the box seat "Having second thoughts about becoming the next Mr. Miggins?"
He scrambled under the trap and in a move that owed everything to the litheness of youth, he vaulted up to the seat beside her and snatched the gun from her hands. To be fair, she’d gotten that part right, he was a slippery little bastard. “What in tarnation do you think you’re doing, you crazy old bat?” he yelled. He held the gun by the barrel, and stretched out his arm, keeping it out of her reach.
"Who you callin' crazy?!" she spat back, reaching for the gun that the young man kept safe away from her talon-like grasp. "Dammit, I must be gettin' old. Last time a feller surprised me from behind like that was back in '15 and I ended up havin' to marry the big galoot!" she cried.
"Why ya bein' so mean an' nasty to a sweet old lady anyway, Slim? What'd I ever do to you?" she asked plaintively, hoping to lull him into letting her get close enough to either grab the gun back, or at the very least, push him off the wagon: with any luck he'd break his neck!
“You ain’t got no call to point that cannon at me, ya old coot!”
"Ain't I?" she countered gamely "You're a bushwhacker ain't ya?! And didn't even have the decency to bring your own shootin' irons along to the party!"
"Well, I guess you'd better get on robbin' me or ravishin' me or whatever you've got planned. I ain't got all day, sonny. Gotta get this here trap round that there tree what you pushed over!" she declared.
“You sure you wanna do that,” Virgil warned from behind the little cart. Ironically, he hadn’t meant to sneak up on the old woman, after living a few years out in the woods, hunting daily, he moved quietly without thinking about it now. You’ll end up with a passel more problems than just a tree in the road.”
Bushwhacked, by crikey! You must be gettin' old, Nellie girl she told herself. She narrowed her eyes and scanned the woods and scrub in front of her; no sign of any confederates there; must just be this one feller, but he probably had a rifle levelled straight at her white haired head. She turned slowly with her hands a little in the air, but not too high: after all, she might still have a chance to snatch for the shotgun and part this varmint's hair for him.
"Oh please Mister, don't go hurting a poor little old lady..." she started to plead in a sickly sweet voice. "What would your own poor mother think if she knew you was goin' around..."
She blinked. He hadn't even got a gun!
But a split second later she did, and it was pointing in his direction.
"Stick 'em up ya damn blasted bum!" she snarled, cocking the hammer on one of her barrels. "Hold me up without a gun would ya?! I'll teach you, ya egg-sucking hound dog! ya... hey, where'd you go?!" she barked: for the dirty looking scamp had disappeared without a trace! Where was he? Behind a tree? Under the wagon? He'd disappeared like a ghost.
"Come out, ya slippery little bastard!" she ordered, but reply there came not any.
The birds twittered, and a breeze wafted through the leaves of the trees above, but of the elflike youth there was no sound.
Mature Content: ? [Have you seen Harold & Maude?]
With: Virgil Adams Location: In the bush When: Late July 1876 Time of Day: 11.48am
The hard earth trail that led from the ruined ghost town of Whitefish to Kalispell was starting to get overgrown these days, to sink back into the landscape. And nowhere was this more apparent than in the section of tangled wildwood where Granny Miggins' pony and trap had come to a grinding halt.
"What in Tarnation's wrong now?!" she growled as she stood up on the footrest of the box seat to peer over Neddy's twitching ears: the woman was so tiny. Many, many years ago, decades ago, she had reached the towering height of five feet and three inches: but she had shrunk a deal since then.
An enormous old tree that had survived this world even longer than the gnarled woman, had even managed to stand up against the howling unprecedented gales of last winter, had suddenly decided to up and die, to topple helplessly over, rotted to its ancient core, and lie, a lifeless mass of timber, across the road.
There was, perhaps, a poignant symmetry between the great, withered Ponderosa Pine, and the tough septuagenarian woman: both had seen the seasons pass; the nation grow and see off British and Mexican armies and Indian Tribes, only to finally pit itself against itself, brother ag'in brother. They had both seen all of that pass. A poet, had he been there, might have found something moving to say about the woman's wrinkled face and the flaky, rutted bark of the dead tree.
Nellie Miggins had her own comment on the situation.
She started to clamber down from the trap but something made her pause. Not even a noise. Not even a rustle in the bushes. Just a tingle up her spine, a tremor of the hair that grew out of the wart on the back of her neck....
she reached slowly... ever so slowly.... for the double-barrelled shotgun propped up on the seat beside her...
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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