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Everything posted by Preston

  1. Caroline's exited put a hoarfrost on the general good feeling emanating from the four men she left behind. "Brrrr!" muttered Mason Fink. Fortner shook his head. "She's alright,...just a little on edge lately." Priest hooked his thumbs in his suspenders and got down to business. "They way I see it is we get a banner made "Montana Mining and Mineral Company" And beneath that, in smaller letters, there's "Stock Sale". You two gentlemen can set up shop right here. We'll push a couple of tables together over there in the corner. You'll be speechifying about the opportunities that abound." He drew closer and lowered his voice. "We'll have a couple of plants seated at a table who'll hop up and ask you for more details -- all interested like. When you're done talkin' to them, they put their money down and you'll congratulate them as you sign the stock certificates in their names." "Sounds simple enough," Luther Cadwaller admitted. "You bet. Like takin' candy from babies," Priest assured them. And just think about how happy our prospective shareholders will be after we find the Kalispell Lode, and they start getting dividends." Fortner smiled with great self-satisfaction. Things were falling into place better than he'd ever imagined, and that's saying something because he had a canine hunger for riches and fame. He moved closer to the bar and motioned for Ralph to step closer. "I gotta question for you," he said to the careful barkeep.
  2. "No need, boss, I'm right here. Be right with you, Frances, just gimme a minute," Caroline announced. Then Caroline approached the man who had made the 'freak show ' remark until she stopped just short of him. "Now I don't know who you are, mister, but you certainly aren't a gentleman, making fun of a blind person. She's an employee here, she works with me. And if you ever make another crack like that, I will have to forget I'm a lady and you won't like what happens," Caroline spoke calmly and clearly and if the man made eye contact, she did not blink. "Well now," Mason Fink said softly. "That sorta puts me in my place. Don't it?" Fortner stepped forward. "Leave my crew alone, Mason, or they'll go on strike and leave me high and dry." "Ah sure, Frank," Mason said defensively. "I was just joshin'. That's all." He turned to Caroline. "Sorry miss, I didn't mean no harm." By now, Hiram Priest sidled over to the group. "You boys look like you're sellin' something," the old codger drawled. "The last time I saw fellers like you it was at an emporium in Chicago, and they were selling silk ascots." "Well," Cadwaller began. "You pegged us right, Mister. But we aren't selling ascots, silk or otherwise. We're selling an investment -- a sure thing." Hiram nodded. "Well if you can sell Miss Caroline your sure thing, you can sell it anybody in town. Cause she's no fool." Cadwaller turned to Caroline and removed his hat. "That right, Miss?"
  3. The Star Dust was unusually quiet that night. It was so much as it was vacant as the patrons were more quiet than usual. Maybe it was the weather? Summer storm clouds were gathering. "All right. Why are we here?" Began Franklin, rhetorically. "We are going to offer a great opportunity to townsfolk who wouldn't know opportunity if it knocked them on the head. That's where you guys come in." Cadwaller and Fink nodded. They knew the score. "So what do we have? We have 200 shares of stock authorized to be sold in the Montana Mining and Mineral Company. Of course I've got 2,000 shares. Hiram over there has 2,000, and each of you has 1,000. It's imperative that these people feel they're getting in on something big. Of course, we know it's big. And, do you know what? They'll all make money on it. Of course not as much as we will. But they won't know that." "We have the blank stock certificates back at the hotel," Cadwaller said. "They look very official." Fortner was please. "What I'll do tomorrow is wait until the saloon's packed, then I will introduce you guys and tell them to listen to you because it could be the start of something big. After all, you guys could sell an Eskimo and snowball in a blizzard. I'm counting on you to..." They stopped when that girl, Grimes came in, hesitantly. "Who the hell is THAT?" Mason Fink asked. "I thought Buffalo Bill's freak show's already left town." They all laughed. Tonight as she walked in, her stick click clacking as she felt out for obstacles inside the swing doors, she heard voices both familiar, Mr Fortner, her actual employer, and two strangers. The fact that they dropped a decibel or two as she came in (everybody assumed that, being blind, she had supersonic hearing) told her that they were probably up to no good. Unfortunately, that was a sad fact about working at the saloon. She couldn't help not seeing any evil; she tried, as ever, to do no evil; but it was very hard to hear no evil in a place like The Stardust. "She works here, --- sort of," Fortner said. "Just a minute." "Hey Frances? You want me to get Caroline for ya?" he called.
  4. Mature Content: No Author: Preston With: Franklin Fortner - Judge Priest for starters Location: Start Dust Saloon When: September 1876 Time of Day: Afternoon A couple of weeks had passed since the hubbub caused by Horace Potee's disastrous poker game and the subsequent loss of his homestead and the suicide of his wife, Maude. Arabella had left her employment but with a promise to come by from time to time to play the piano --- not too much evidence of that, yet. Business at the Star Dust was brisk. Franklin Fortner's ownership had not quelled the busy traffic of patrons. Just he opposite, business was brisker than usual. A card room had been created in one of the back rooms, -- less noisy interference from drunk cowboys. Then one day, something happened that would set the direction of things for some time to come. In through the swinging doors of the saloon came two gents -- city slickers, some would say. They were flinty and hard, not powder puffs. Loudmouth drunks shied away from them, wisely. One's name was Luther Cadwaller and the other was Mason Fink. Cadwaller was tall, chiseled, graying and impressive in his fancy big-city clothes. Fink was compact, with a close cropped beard and the clothes of a dandy from his shiny shoes to his derby hat. He proudly proclaimed that his ancestor was Mike Fink the famous roustabout and keel boatman from the dirtiest and most sinful and most dangerous town during the early 1800's: Natchez, Mississippi. They were businessmen, speculators and investors, to be specific. They were called to Kalispell by Franklin Fortner and Hiram Priest (soon to be running for Mayor). The men were acquaintances and had worked together in the past for "mutual advantages" as they liked to say. Though appearing friendly to one another in Kalispell, their relationship seemed subdued and not palsy-walsy, just all business. They had an opportunity for the people of Kalispell, an investment opportunity, and when the timing was right, they'd preach that evangel. Franklin Fortner met them at the bar. He greeted them as if they were important personages and, to Fortner's and Priest's thinking, they were. They were important because they had roles to play in this carefully crafted scheme. They were as important to this scheme as Judas was in the promise of mankind's salvation. He, some would say, that of all the Disciples, he was the most necessary and the most loyal. "What can I get you gentlemen?" Fortner asked the men, but immediately turned to Ralph. "A bottle of our best whiskey." Fink reached into his inside coat pocket and drew out some greenbacks. Two landed on the bar.
  5. Franklin was unmoved by his employee's apology. Far too much planning, law breaking and luck had gotten him and Priest this close to success to have a chatterbox split tail ruin it for them now. It was news to him that she was planning on working for the Undertaker, but he was glad. It saved him having to fire her and come off looking like a villain. "I hope you forgive me. And I'll never do it again." she finished, looking close to tears and wringing her hands. She though that was a nice touch, wringing her hands, though she'd rather be wringing his neck. "Just make sure you don't, he warned. _____________________________________________________________ That night, up in his office, Fortner and Hiram Priest were in close discussion about what their next steps would be. They came to a decision that neither of them could be seen as swooping in and finding the vein of gold. It would sure as Hell raise suspicions about the origins of their good luck. What they would do is form a Company as silent owners/partners. It would be the Montana Mining and Timber Consortium. They would sign up some people as investors, but the two conspirators would own all shares of stock, 50-50. "If we get some decent townsfolk in on it, they would appreciate the dividends if we hit a lode," Priest conjectured, as though there was any question that they'd hit a lode. "Who can we get to be the salesman? We can't be seen as having a hand in it," Fortner asked. Priest rubbed his chin before stuffing more tobacco in his cheeks. "We can get Addison Whitworth," he concluded once he could talk. "He's the perfect salesman, Franklin." It had been a long day. Priest went out the back to head to his hotel room, and Franklin headed back downstairs to finish things up. The place was deserted, it being 1 a.m.. Only Ralph was there, behind the counter, tidying things up. So, Franklin went over and leaned heavily on it. "Ralph. Why don't we have a nightcap? Break out the good stuff."
  6. Speak of the Devil, the girl from the mountains came back in right then, having been to Jolly's. She wanted to avoid Fortner and Priest if possible, but she needed to report in about Mrs Potee. She approached the pair with a disingenuous smile. When Priest saw her heading their way, he said headed back to his table and his cards. Fortner faced her, his hands clasping his coat lapels. "Howdy Mr F." she said, feigning a familiar affection for the snake. "I just been over to Jolly's, him and the boy Raymond were just setting off with their little cart. He asked if I can please go over there tonight and help wash and dress poor Mrs Potee." she asked on the undertaker's behalf. "Seein' as she ain't got no kinfolks what's ladies round here." Normally a female relative would do that task. "Look it," Fortner said icily. "I don't much give a damn what you do with that hag. I've got a business to run and you've been throwing wrenches in the works all day. Now I don't know what you saw or what you THINK you saw, but that stupid sodbuster got so drunk he drove his hag to the grave and then he lost his homestead." He turned and bolted back the remainder of his whiskey and continued. "I've been nothing but nice to you. I've let you have the run of the place. Hell! You did whatever you wanted; played the piano, sang, worked in the kitchen, whatever you did you didn't have anyone on your back about it. Hiram over there tells me you've been spinning tales and suppositions about what went on here today, and Mr. F don't like it."
  7. After the Marshall left, things at the Star Dust quieted down a bit. It was a good opportunity for Hiram Priest to make his way to the bar. "Think the Marshall will be any trouble?" Priest whispered in Fortner's ear once Hannaberry left. "I don't know. Seems like he won't make a big case out of it. Potee is small potatoes; not worth anyone's time. But who the Hell would have figured his missus would have stretched her own neck? That's a complication we could have done without." Hiram tugged at his chin. "We can't move too fast on the *you-know-what* or it'll raise suspicions for sure," the wily Priest added. Fortner nodded in agreement, then added, "In a couple of weeks we'll send one of our agents to Cheyenne to engage a mining engineer to give us an idea of what it'll cost to get an operation off the ground." Priest rolled some chaw from one cheek to another. "Yep" he finally said. "So where the Hell is Arabella?" Fortner asked. "She is one pain in the ass. I need to talk to her."
  8. At the very moment when Franklin Fortner and Marshall Guyer were in discussions, some of the men, dispatched from the Star Dust, arrived at the Potee homestead. They came upon Horace who was curled up in prenatal position in front of the cabin steps. The door was opened to the cabin's interior where the slowly twisting figure of Mrs. Potee hung. Within thirty minutes, the men had cut down the tragic figure of Maude Potee and loaded her on a buckboard. Rigor mortis had set in, and she was difficult to lay flat properly. When Horace finally had the strength to stand up, he staggered over the buckboard and saw Maude scornfully glaring at him. The men covered her up, but it was a vision that would never leave him. So, in the months and years ahead, whenever he thought of Maude, which was often, he always saw her stare of condemnation. Mounted, and ready to leave for town with the corpse, one of the men slapped the ass of the mare pulling the wagon. *********************************************************************************************************** Fortner slapped the empty whiskey glass on the bar and asked Guyer if there was anything else he needed to know. "I've got a business to run, so if we could wrap this up, I'd be obliged."
  9. "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." "Yes, as acting County Sheriff it would fall to me to investigate." Card table, and drunk as a lord? Now why would he be at the card table? So they were at each other in here, were they?" Again, the sneaky bar-owner was making himself sound like some kind of a saint! Arabella was too scared of Fortner, Priest and his cronies to say anything, though: she just hoped Jesus would forgive her for her pusillanimous behavior. "They certainly WERE at each other. All the patrons heard 'em," Fortner insisted. "From what I understand, Horace Potee was betting all his spring planting money in hopes of growing it bigger. And she, being a good Christian woman, was trying like Hell to pull him away from the table. Finally he ordered her out the saloon, and she went." "A terrible business," intoned Priest, gravely. "Yes sir, it is, now there's an orphan to be concerned about." Speed pointed out. "On top of everything else the child has no family, no parents, and, no home." Arabella reached the bar with the empties at this point and put them on a tray to take out back to the kitchen to wash. Listening to that old rattlesnake priest join in this chorus of hypocrisy was almost too much to bear: her own silence on the matter made her feel as dirty and unclean as the glasses. "Thanks Arabella for coming to fetch me." He called to her, then, "I'll be riding out to the Poteets, to have a look around. Did you say you brought the body in for Mister Jolly?"
  10. "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.
  11. "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.
  12. 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?"
  13. "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.
  14. 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?"
  15. 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.
  16. 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."
  17. 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.
  18. "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."
  19. 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"
  20. 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!!"
  21. 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."
  22. 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?"
  23. "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.
  24. "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.
  25. There was big talk in the office that lasted at least an hour. When it was over, the Honorable Hiram Priest quietly left the room, soon followed by Fortner. It was only about three in the afternoon, but so much had happened already that day. When he passed Caroline's door, he paused, then knocked three times -- not loudly. "Caroline? Can you come to the door?" he asked.

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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