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Preston

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  1. "Afternoon. Mister Fortner wanted to see me?" He announced. as he waited for his eyes to adjust in the dimness of the saloon. By then, Hiram Priest, had made his way to stand beside Fortner and Hannaberry, mouth full of tobacco. "Why yes," Fortner answered. "Mr. Hannaberry here says he was out at the Potee place and found Potee's missus hanging inside their cabin, and Potee a'sittin' on the porch in a drunken stupor. I sent some of the boys out to help cut her down, seein' that it was the Christian thing to do." Hannaberry nodded his agreement while Fortner spoke. "I figured that you oughta know about it. You see, some of the boys think that maybe Potee had something to do with it. The last we saw of his missus, they were yellin' at each other, right here in the Star Dust. She lit outta here like her hair was on fire, and he was so drunk he could hardly sit upright at the card table. So, I've done my civic duty by callin' you in on it." "A terrible business," intoned Priest, gravely.
  2. "And we never did find that steer!" laughed Fortner, delivering the punchline to one of his tales from his Kansas days. Hannaberry slapped his knee and laughed loudly, his worry over the Potee situation salved by three whiskeys. "You got more tales than the Good Book has, Mr. Fortner!" Hannaberry managed to say after the laughter. Fortner had as many drinks as Hannaberry, but it had no affect on his mental acuity. He was capable of downing copious amounts of liquor with very little change in speech or movement. His face froze in its pleasant configuration as the saloon doors swung open and the Marshall walked in, Arabella trailing behind, eyes bloodshot. "Good Afternoon, Marshall," he greeted.
  3. What can I do for you, Mr Fortner?" she asked, smiling brightly and fluttering her eyelashes. Hannaberry, wiped his mouth with his sleeve. "Just what I needed," he said, setting his empty glass on the bar. "Ooooh, do you want me to fetch you another one, Mister Hannaberry?" Arabella asked proactively. She deliberately avoided the subject that had brought the odd looking man in here. "No no," Fortner said. "You seem to know your way around town. And, I'm wondering if you'd run down to the Marshall's office for us and tell him to hustle over here 'cause we got some news for him. I'd go down there myself but ... Well, I've already sent some of the boys out to Potee's place, and I've got a business to run." He smiled at her. "Whaddya say?"
  4. "Sheriff Pike? No one has seen him for a long time now. He and his wife left for California or someplace after gettin' married. Ain't been back since. You want law in this town, yer gonna have to go the Marshal, he's got a place, down the street." "Thanks, Ralph." Fortner began to appreciate his bartender's reticence. It was good to know that the man could keep his mouth shut. He raised his voice. "Arabella!" She was still tickling the ivories, but he could put her to better use. "Come here. Will you?" Hannaberry, wiped his mouth with his sleeve. "Just what I needed," he said, setting his empty glass on the bar.
  5. Fortner and Hannaberry stayed leaning against the bar. "Thanks," he said to Ralph when he set the whiskey's down on the bar. With glass in hand, he turned to Lukas. "That must have been an awful sight," he confessed to Lukas. "No one deserves to leave this Earth that way." Lukas took a quick swig then answered. "Awful. I'm glad you sent some of the fellas out there to cut her down. That husband of hers is as useless as tits on bacon. And I guess we'll get the sheriff involved in it. He's gotta write up some kind of report. Don't he?" Another sip. Frank nodded. "I guess so, but I don't know where the Hell he is." "Hey Ralph," he called. "Do you know where the Sheriff keeps himself? I mean where would he be if not at the jailhouse? Any guesses?"
  6. Coward that she was, she immediately backed down: and a pathetic sight it was too, she was nearly grovelling on her knees to the mean old man. "Oh! A...A...I wasn't saying nothin' about no-one, honest I wasn't ... and I won't, I mean, I... I'm never ever gonna talk about this to anyone else ever again, mister Priest. You don't have to worry about that! And, 'sides, I 'm just a silly little girl, no one cares what I say anyway." she assured him, eyes saucer wide and brimming with fear. "That's a better attitude," Priest said with a smile. "Much better." He rummaged in his vest pocket, and as he was rummaging, he said, "I know how this tragedy hurt you, Miss. You are too young and innocent to worry 'bout such things." Out came a shiny, newly minted Silver Dollar which he set on the piano, on the wooden edge just to the right of the 8th octave of "C" -- the last key of the keyboard. "This is for you. And every time you see it, and hold it, think of that sweet Mrs. Potee and how you loved her. And also think of our friendly chat about her." With that, he ambled over to the bar where Fortner and Hannaberry were drinking. "Watch out for that one," he whispered as he walked by. Fortner nodded.
  7. Mayor Hiram Priest was a politician and he could read people with exacting accuracy. "I spect' no one knew anything like this woulda happened today," he ruminated sadly. "Oh, do you think?" she spat, not even turning to look at the man. "Sorry you're takin' it all so bad," he said with a certain Grandfatherly sincerity. "All of us show sadness in different ways. And if you'd ever like to talk about it, maybe I can help." He tugged at his chin sagely. "You know, some men are just not suited for being married. Now take this Potee fella. Look how he lashed out as his poor, upright, religious wife he had. You saw how she came in here and begged him to leave the Star Dust and come home with her. It was a pitiful sight. Why I had to wipe a tear off my cheek. He chased her out of here with harsh words, evil words, and you know what they say; Idle hands are the devil's workshop and his first tool is a vicious tongue." He sighed. "And what did that poor woman do? She went back to their place, a place she'd dreamed of making a life in, and hung herself straight away." He bent a little closer to her and spoke confidentially. "Seems to me, there's only one person responsible for that tragedy, and it ain't him," he pointed to Fortner at the bar, and it ain't you, and it ain't me. It's that man sittin' on his porch with his head in his hands and trying to squeeze the liquor out of his brain. --- that's who." He got even more confidential. "And I'd be careful who you start makin' accusations about. Be real careful. Real careful."
  8. Arabella gulped when she heard the news and, of course, stopped playing the piano. But she didn't move from the piano stool, she was frozen to the spot. And when anyone had flown out of the swing doors who was going to fly out: whether from concern, duty or just plain old curiosity, she started right back in playing. It was a happy, jangling tune that jangled along with her nerves, and every beat of the tempo hammered in heavily her inner resolve to get out of there and out of the entanglements of working along side Mister Franklin and his geriatric henchman 'Judge' Hiram Priest. As if the good Lord could read her thoughts, the venerable, old, Judge, made his way over to the piano. This, after he stopped by where Lukas had blathered the fate of Maude Potee to every cowpoke and gambler in Kalispell. He nodded sagely as Franklin suggested some men go out and help with the undertaking, and moved his wad of chaw from one cheek to the other. "Sounds right," he gurgled through tobacco. Once Hiram got over to Arabella, he bent down to her moving head (she sometimes swayed whilst playing tunes, especially those played allegro). "Why don't you play Amazing Grace? Wouldn't it be more fittin'?" The Judge and mayor had officiated many funerals, weddings, and civic events. "I spect' no one knew anything like this woulda happened today," he ruminated sadly.
  9. "Is the Sheriff around here? Anywhere? He needs to come out to the Potee place, right away!!" "What the Hell?" uttered Frank. "What now? God damn it!" Frank stood on the catwalk, high above the saloon floor and watched as some man was wringing his hands. Caroline stood at an angle behind him. 'We need the Sheriff! It's his missus. She done hanged herself" "Oh shit!" Caroline snapped, "Well, at least she won't be homeless, now it's just a drunk and a little girl. Thanks to us." "Enough!" snapped Fortner. "Let's wait and see what really happened before jumping to conclusions." With a fierce glare directed at Frank, she spun about and went back to her room, slamming the door behind her. Frank walked down the stairs without rushing. When he got to the bottom, the man with the tragic news rushed up to him. "Where's the Sheriff?" asked the distraught man, Lukas Hannaberry. "Potee's missus done hanged herself. Horace was sitting on the front steps, head in his hands. She was that way when he got back home, he said. She left a note saying she couldn't live with a drunken gambler who cursed at his wife in a public place, especially in the Devil's playground. I guess that's what she called the Star Dust." A very light smile creased Franklin's lips, and he turned his vision upward to where Caroline's door remained shut. So, It had nothing to do with the card game or the deed, he thought with some satisfaction. "What were YOU doing out there?" asked Fortner. Hannaberry instantly felt liked he'd been named some kind of accomplice. "I was just comin' over to lend Horace some smithy tools. THAT'S ALL!" "Ah, don't get your back up," Fortner cautioned. Anyway, these are questions the Sheriff will probably ask anyway." Hannaberry rubbed his face with frustration. "And there she was, still hanging .. all in her black dress. Horrible. Just horrible!" Franklin raised his voice, "Maybe some of you men will want to head out the homestead and cut her down if she's still hanging." There was a grumble and some of the men stood up. "Figure you're right," one of them said as a spokesman. As the men headed out, Fortner put his hand on Hannaberry's shoulder and said, "Can I get you a drink on the house?" It sounded good to Lukas. He darted a smile, and Franklin walked him over the bar. "Set 'em up, Ralph! Two whiskies."
  10. Caroline remained as icy as before. So, Frank just shrugged and then abandoned any hope of coming to terms with her. It really didn't matter; He owned the saloon, and she worked at the saloon. He was convinced that she'd keep her mouth shut about the card game and the coffee. He brought up one more point. "I would think that a good singer and entertainer such as yourself ought to have a better dressing table. Tell you what. The next time my people head to Cheyenne for supplies, I'll have them look for a new table and mirror for you. How's that? It's just a capital investment -- nothing more." "That mirror was only recently busted....my fault too. Maybe that means I'll have seven years bad luck. Buy what you want.............just remember this - I never asked for it," she pointed out. "Duly noted," Frank agreed. He opened the door to leave and, as he did, a current of noise rushed through it and into the room. Then,.. ""Is the Sheriff around here? Anywhere? He needs to come out to the Potee place, right away!!" "What the Hell?" uttered Frank. "What now? God damn it!" Frank stood on the catwalk, high above the saloon floor and watched as some man was ringing his hands. 'We need the Sheriff! It's his missus. She done hanged herself"
  11. Arabella could see from the look on old McGregor's face that she had maybe pitched a little high. She quickly took remedial action. "I mean, just think, a shave and a haircut costs two bits, so that's six days worth of shaves: why if you just grow a beard, that'll pay fer it!" Micah smiled wide. The girl was a caution. "Oh, and who can put a price anyway, on the wonderful memories that hearing dear little Ruth playing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star on her dear departed mother's ivories will bring to one and all!?" she further bleated. Departed? Micah stirred. "He needs must think of her once more, how in the grave she lies, and with his hard, rough hand, he wiped a tear from his eyes." He nodded slowly and said, "All right. And you'll pay your page turner out of your proceeds? "Oh, we won't need to pay her anything, she don't even know what day of the week it is. Dumb as a stump, our Bridget." Arabella assured him breezily. "She will be requiring of the cookies, though, and plenty of 'em." "Ohhh!" Micah chided. He never spoke ill of anyone. That was the way he'd been raised. "I can have Senora Alvarez, bake up a batch of cookies for you. She's a good cook who we keep on here. She was first hired to help my ailing Missus, but she's stayed on." Ah! The old 'hired housekeeper' routine, eh? Arabella immediately imagined the dark eyed Spanish beauty slipping strychnine into old Mrs McGregor's 'strengthening broth' and then seducing the poor old devil until he became the wreck they saw today, and then getting herself written into his will while the names of dear little Ruth and her brothers were struck out!! Ooh, she liked a bit of melodrama! Of course, it wouldn't be one of Arabella's fantasies if she didn't feature in it strongly herself: yes, that was it, she was the beautiful and clever piano teacher who uncovered Señora Alvarez's evil plan. The Señora would try and poison her with arsenic coated cookies, but luckily Bridget would eat them all first, thus uncovering the plot. Arabella would go to watch Señora Alvarez hang, then... then the fantasy started going a little strange with the dark eyed Spanish beauty for some reason giving her nemesis a passionate kiss on the scaffold and the pair of them shooting their way out of there and escaping in Bridget's pony and trap. "Hey!" Where'd you go to?" asked McGregor after some time had passed. Arabella seemed catatonic. Arabella shook her head and was suddenly back in the room. "She sounds nice, I can practice my Spanish on her!" she beamed. "You are not only a wonderful piano player," Micah began. "... but also one smart cookie. My little Ruth is going to take a shine to you." He reached across the table with his big paw and asked, "Shake on it?" The Clinch Mountain girl jumped to her feet, spat generously onto her palm and smacked her hand into Micah's. "It's a deal!" she grinned. Micah returned the gesture and the two had become good friends. Then, suddenly, the doors to the Star Dust burst open and Leland Bowerchek came running in all a'stumble. "Is the Sheriff around here? Anywhere? He needs to come out to the Potee place, right away!!"
  12. Caroline was determined not to be appreciated, or so thought Frank. "Good businessman like yerself and you don't check yer books? I'm a bit surprised by that. Tildy kept the books daily," the saloon girl commented dryly. "Well, it hasn't been only about 24 hours since I bought this place, so I need a chance to catch up." But she was unrelenting. "Look, boss........hear me out. I don't need no raise. I don't stay here and do this job for the money. I love what I do. I love singing and dancing in front of all those men. It's quite a feeling up there, bein' ogled and hearing their whoops and applause. I'm good at it...and I know it." "But to me my fellow employees.....Ralph and Ara and Mammy .....they're my family. Since I don't have no folks no more and never had any brothers or sisters, they're it. I stay for them. We look out for each other. This is my whole life. And whether you believe me or not - I'm happy here, doing this." "So.....I don't need no...I don't want no raise. Hope that's clear now," she stopped then, having had her say. "Fair enough, but I always try to treat my people, meaning my workers, well. It's the only way to that I've ever found to attract and keep good people." He leaned back against her door until it clicked shut. "This wasn't an offer for blood money. I've planned on giving everyone, Ralph, Mammy and Arabella a hike in pay. You're just the first person I've raised the subject with. But I hear what you're saying and, for God's sake, I don't want to be on your bad side forever, so just know that the offer stands open." He looked across at her dressing table and the mirror that rose up the back of it. It was a poor mirror, not ever clear, and it had a crack that ran across the right bottom corner. I would think that a good singer and entertainer such as yourself ought to have a better dressing table. Tell you what. The next time my people head to Cheyenne for supplies, I'll have them look for a new table and mirror for you. How's that? It's just a capital investment -- nothing more."
  13. The issue was put squarely in front of Arabella. How much would she charge for piano lessons? "An hour lesson costs One Dollar, a two hour lesson is One Dollar Fifty. Plus milk and cookies for myself and my page-turner, Miss Monahan." She had to rope Bridget into it somehow, as she would need the ginger-haired girl's little pony and trap to get her out to McGregor's place and back. She did not come cheap! That was Micah McGregor's first thought. After all, he was thinking more like 25 cents per hour. But, then again, a young girl has to live, and giving piano lessons was one of the nicest ways for a such a girl to make some money. It was better than taking in wash or baking pies for neighbors. He nodded slowly and said, "All right. And you'll pay your page turner out of your proceeds? Oh, and I can have Senora Alvarez, bake up a batch of cookies for you. She's a good cook who we keep on here. She was first hired to help my ailing Missus, but she's stayed on." Senora Alvarez was actually part Mexican and part Apache. The McGregor's insisted she be called Senora to draw attention away from her Apache roots. "I shall come on Sunday's after Church and I will supply manuscript paper and exercises for dear little Ruth to practice on during the week." She was making all of this up, but it sounded pretty good, she reckoned. She waited to see if this struck the old timer as too exorbitant. "You are not only a wonderful piano player," Micah began. "... but also one smart cookie. My little Ruth is going to take a shine to you." He reached across the table with his big paw and asked, "Shake on it?"
  14. "Caroline? Can you come to the door?" he asked. It was Fortner. Now what? Was he going to tell her he was firing her? "Gimme a minute," she answered and slipped out of bed to put on her robe, as she lightly tied it she then called out, "Come on in, it ain't locked." Frank slowly opened the door, and entered. "Is it safe?" he joked, holding up his arm as if to block an incoming brickbat. He look around her room. Could use a bit of fixing up, he thought. "I appreciated your help earlier and your discretion. Someday maybe you'll come to realize that, but .. look. How much do you get paid here? I haven't looked through the books yet, so I don't know." He kept his professionalism in check, though he had to admit that she was a "looker". But, in his experience, it was not a good idea to fraternize with the hired help. One could get his tit in a wringer if not.
  15. "Well,..." he paused to take off his hat and set it on the table. "I don't know where my manners have gone. Anyways, we got us a piano in the ranch house, but, since my wife died, it's just agin the wall, collectin' dust." Phew! he was trying to sell her a piano! Hold on, where was she going to keep a piano? "I was a'wonderin' if'n you'd consider givin' my darlin' Rachel some piano lessons. I'd pay you well," he rushed to add. Ohhhhhhhhh!! That was it. Well that was different. "Oh, Mr McGregor" she cooed "... the idea of being able to nurture the talents of your wonderful little girl and fill your household again with the happy sound of music, and rekindle those happy hours spent with the beautiful and much lamented Mrs McGregor, why, that would be an honor and a privilege!" she smiled. The old fella was bowled over by her eagerness to take him up on his offer. "Yer right about that!" He agreed. "The place is way too quiet, and there's nothing that'd bring a smile to everyone's face like hearing "Buffalo Gal" or "Listen To The Mockingbird" or even "My Old Kentucky Home". He was so pleased she'd that a liking to the idea. "So, er, how much exactly are we talking here? I mean, if your place is where I think it is, well, that's quite a space to go." she added. Arabella wasn't really a mercenary soul, but she and Miriam were saving up to get to New York, they needed every dollar they could get. Micah smiled, a smile as warm and inviting as the territory he lived in. In truth, McGregor Ranch ran between one hundred and one hundred and fifty head of cattle at any given time. So, he had means. "What would you say, darlin'?" he asked .. the words coming out sincere and not condescending at all.

About Sagas

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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