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    • It was long, tedious work, even though, for the most part, it was just plodding along with the cows, making sure they all stayed together and went the right way they were supposed to.  Even after the wind picked up, there were only a few mavericks who tried to wander off on their own, but the drag riders managed to coax them back to the herd.   As the day progressed, Annie became less jiggy, and Justus could tell she was getting tired.  "It's all right, Miz Annie."  He patted the horse's neck, then tightened the bandanna that was keeping his hat from blowing away.   "Ya think this is just a dry wind?" Justus called to Loredo, "or somethin' more movin' in?"  There wasn't the smell of rain in the air yet, nor clouds, but he knew that the weather could change quickly.  "Will they try ta settle in camp early?"  It seemed to him that if there was 'weather' moving in, it was better to have the cattle settled than moving, but what did he know? He just hoped it didn't impact supper!   @Flip
    • "Wonderful!"  Jonah almost clapped, for this had been going on for so long, that he really expected that this would be some sort of new setback, and Leah certainly didn't need any more complications.  "I'm sure it's going to be a huge relief when they finally break ground.  It's going to be rewarding to watch it take shape, and for you to know you are responsible for it."   He hoped, for her sake more than anything, that the weather cooperated, and that the progress was swift and without complications.    "You'll be overseeing the project?"  He couldn't imagine that she'd step back now, and not assure that every detail was right.   @Flip
    • "Boss, we found us a herd ripe for the pluckin'. Maybe we oughtta move on it afore they change where they're grazin' 'em, an make it more difficult." Toole suggested. "We can take close to a hunderd head easy enough, they move 'em, thet might not be the way of it."   "'Scuse me men, but Toole here is on to something, and cattle is our other business. We've customers waiting up north." Case said, not happy at being interrupted, yet realizing that what he said was true. It was why they were there, and it was what the did. "So go on and make yourselves to home while I get this job situated."   "Oh sure thing, Case, an thanks for the offer. We appreciate it, 'mon boys." Shannon said, and with that they walked outside to find the other building Case was talking about.   "Alright Toole what did you have in mind?" Case asked.   "The place is just at the foothills where they have their cattle. Now any buildin's 'er maybe a mile, mile'n a half away. What we saw was just maybe four riders wit the cattle, may not hav'ta kill any of 'em. We just filter down through the trees and then rush 'em. Maybe eight 'er ten of us, circle the heard an' push 'em back the way we come which was the long way around , and shore they'll be tracks alomst all the way to the dry river bed, maybe  whot, two mile from the tree line. Hard ground to river bed, but they won't catch us, not seein's they're out numbered."   Case gave it some thought, but Toole had been plotting how they would steal a herd for quite a while, and he knew what he was doing. Besides, no County Sheriff, no problem!   "Pick your men, Toole and get it done." Case said, knowing if they got a hundred head, that would be enough to drive north, once the brands were altered.
    • Having a second thought, to bolster the findings he sent for Fairchild before he could leave for New Orleans, and in the vicinity of Elinor Steelgrave, that could be done at another time after this meeting with Elias himself.   It was like hedging his bet on the situation. He wanted Elias to meet the man who could explain what was in the file in detail, much better than he himself.  might be able to. Nothing like being prepared. Elias could be unpredictable when upset, if a man like Fairchild explaining what he had found could manage to keep Steelgrave manage-ably clam then the expense was worth it to all concerned.   He had to congratulate himself on the idea. It just might work!
    • List in hand, they made their way back to town and to the Anderson's Mercantile where they laid out their list of needs. John and Mary Agnes looked over the list and began adding prices, plus shipping where it was warranted.   "So, you're in the mining business Marshal?" John asked.   "We are." Alice replied with a wide proud smile on her face. Speed just looked at her.   "Amos here found a property to good to pass up, so I bought it myself." Speed said, "Actually two properties, the other on is off to the west, but this one is just north of the Evergreen Ranch a couple of miles."   "Ah that would be the Henshaw mine. Sad about his wife passing on so suddenly. Life can be hard out here, it was just too hard for Martha Henshaw, though she tried as hard as anyone could." Mary Agnes said. "Most all of what you have here we have in stock. Most all of this was on Henshaw's list as well, he just quit before he paid for it. I believe we can give you a good price on the machinery out back. Right John?"   "Yes we can, The fact is Speed I'll let you have it at our cost, plus the shipping expenses, of course. Be good to free up that room back there. Let me see here at my cost, yes, well, it looks to be just under three thousand dollars, without the things we have in stock that wasn't Henshaw's."   Fair enough John, and we appreciate it. Now, if you'll let me get up to the bank, we want to use their money until we get started, and then we'll settle up."   "Makes sense to me, it's what we did. Hated those monthly payments, but it worked for us." John agreed.   "We'll be back." Speed promised.

Into Every Life...


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Just her luck that it would be raining...


Even clad in her long oil slicker, Addy wasn't much protected from the rain, and water sheeted off her hat, down her long coat, soaking the hem of her wool skirt, not that it mattered much, the muddy ground was doing a fine job of weighing the skirts down as she checked over the harness that secured the four huge draft horses to the red Concord coach that she was about to drive to Kailspell.   It wasn't that she didn't trust the man who had hitched the team, but ultimately, it was her responsibility to see to the safety of the coach and the passengers it carried, so here she was, running her hands over the polished leather,  her eyes following the path of her fingers.


As she was doing that, Hank, the station manager, was loading trunks on top of the coach -- those would be covered with an oil cloth to keep them dry -- while the passengers waited in the relative protection of the station overhang.  There was a couple...together,  but not attached, from the way they spoke quietly to each other, and a young woman with a babe in arms who was going to meet up with her husband, as well as a middle-aged man with a satchel that he insisted on keeping with him...a light load, less fuss...


Finally, the luggage was loaded and the stage checked over, so Addy opened the door.  "All right, folks, climb on in, best get this goin'."


"Very well then," Matilda nodded then glanced over to the bearded man sitting next to her, looking quite bored about it all. All the passengers got up at the same time.


"Hold the door for the young lady," Matilda directed Ralph who complied with a nod even giving her a smile as the young miss hurried for the stagecoach door.


Meanwhile Matilda adjusted a waterproofed cape , leastwise her fine Eastern boardwalk dress wouldn't get wet...make that too wet as she headed out the, her shoes splattering in the mud. Traveling by stage was unpleasant enough but then to make it worse they have to get this godawful weather. The downpour did function to hurry the foursome along and very soon all of them were seated inside the confines of the coach. On the side closest to the driver sat the two women, opposite them both men.


"Ready!" Ralph called on out for the sake of the driver who had looked and sounded for all the world like a woman?


"There's buffalo robes under th' seats if ya need 'em," Addy announced as she shut the door.  Sure, it was middle of Summer, but this was Montana, and anything could happen!  She climbed into the driver's seat then gathered the ribbons and clucked to the big animals, who threw their chests into the harness and in a moment the coach was moving.  Tethered behind was her own mount, a little bay mare...this was Addy's last run out of this particular station, she was going to relocate to Kalispell and run the swing station there, so she had her possessions, such as they were, with her.


In the coach, the young woman let out a little gasp as the coach started moving, then blushed.  "I'll never get used to that," she muttered by way of apology, adjusting the infant in her lap.  "At least this is the last leg.  I'll be glad to done with any sort of travel!"


"Can't blame you there."  The man chuckled, then nodded to the pair across from them.  "I'm Jonah Danforth.  Pleased to be traveling with you."


"Long trip then, not many would try it with a babe to also tend to I'd venture?" Matilda nodded acknowledgement to the young mother.


Ralph eyed the amused other male passenger like he was sizing him up for...well, something.  Then with a barely noticeable shrug he decided to reply.


"Mr. Danforth, I'm Ralph Flandry late of Chicago and this is my business associate, Miss Matilda Devereau, " he got right to the introductions.


Matilda flashed a well practiced smile, "Pleased to make your acquaintance."


"Sir, Ma'am."  Danforth tipped his hat, then glanced at the young woman.  "Miss Devereau is right, this is daunting enough without a babe to tend to...and they say that women are the 'weaker' sex."  He chuckled.  "Women are quite hardy, more than most men, I believe!"


Lucky for him, he included that last line or Matilda would have given him an earful.


"Thank you."  The woman blushed, adjusting her hold on the baby slightly.  "I'm Mrs. Ernest Ford.  My husband works in Kalispell...he went ahead to make certain everything was set up for us." 


"Your baby is beautiful," Matilda smiled more at the infant than the woman. She could not help but recall her own baby.


"I'm sure you'll be happy to see him."  Danforth smiled, then glanced at Ralph.  "Might I inquire as to your business?"


"You might. We bought the saloon in Kalispell. It's going to be the Stardust Saloon once we get there, even got a brand new painted sign for up on the stage roof," Ralph declared.


"Ah, a saloon."  Danforth smiled and patted the bag at his side.  "That will keep me in business as well...I'm a doctor, you see, and saloons, well..." 


Ralph wasn't sure he liked that comment much but he was determined to be on his best behavior here in the close confines of a long already uncomfortable ride. Besides it wouldn't do to punch the man out with a sleeping baby a couple feet away.


"Doctor, every town needs at least one," Matilda smiled.  She'd let him ponder if she meant doctors or saloons.



Danforth shrugged, then glanced at Mrs. Ford.  "And if you ever need anything for your beautiful daughter there, I am at your disposal."



As the stage rolled on, the wheels splattered up mud on the pretty red paint, the going was actually fairly smooth, and Addy hunkered down, resigned to the rain.  At least it was better than snow, and she hoped that they would drive out of it as they descended from the mountains, although judging from the warmth in the air, it was likely to be on the hot side farther down. 


Resigned to the rain, and all the trouble and clean-up that was going to come along with it, Addy started hum a little ditty -- no sense in pining -- and her mood lightened.  After all, she was doing what she loved, wasn't tied down by the constraints of family and home, out in nature...


Well, all right, she conceded in her mind as she rounded a bend only to find the road blocked by a downed branch.  It really wasn't much, just enough to be in the way so that she'd have to move it.


They had stopped for some reason, there was no town out there and not even a way station? Ralph peered out the window, now what and his hand went to grip his revolver handle though he did not pull it.


Sighing, she set the brake, then clamored down from the seat.  "Gonna be just a minnet, folks," she called.  "Rain's let up, mostly, if any of ya need a pee break!" 


"I am fine," Matilda let the group know, Ralph shook his head in the negative also.


Her boots squashes as she mucked through the thick mud and once the suction threatened to keep her boot, and she had to reach out a hand against the rump of the nearest horse to stop herself from falling.  "Sorry, Mike," she muttered to the horse, but that didn't stop him from swatting his tail around, the bristly ends catching her in the face!  "No oats fer you tanight," she grumbled, pushing away and shaking her head.


Matilda glanced out to see what the driver was doing then spoke to Ralph, "Get out there and help her. Road's blocked with some tree branch."


"Me?" Ralph blinked.


"No...the baby....of course you. Get out there, I'm not getting this dress dirty," Tildy prodded him with a glare.


Ralph sighed, knowing arguing with that woman was futile but so sooner had opened the door when he noticed she was basically finished with the wet muddy task. He sat back down and then reached for a cigar.


"She's done it already. Think I'll have a smoke to celebrate," he reached for his matches box.


While he was of a mind with Ralph and had no desire to get out and wallow in mud, Jonah was a gentleman and would have gone to help of the driver had needed it.  But then Ralph announced that she had cleared the problem and he settled back.


Moving the debris took a few minutes, and it wasn't too difficult, in fact, Addy was feeling pretty proud of herself when gravity intervened and her boot stuck again, only this time she was too far away to grab anything for support and she pitched forward into the mud.


"Dang nabbit!  Now, there just weren't no call fer that!"  Struggling to her feet, she stomped back to the coach, climbed back to the box and continued on.



Addy had been right, as the coach descended from the mountains, the sky cleared and the weather warmed, although even after shrugging out of the muddy slicker, Addy was still pretty much drenched, especially around her shoulders and neck where water had dripped from the brim of her hat.  But it was getting warmer, so that would dry, and what didn't now could be laid out in front of the fire at the station stop in a couple hours.


Inside the coach, it was starting to get a bit stuffy, but the passengers were fortunate, they could open the curtains without being choked by dust since the road was still damp.  Tall trees provided shade, so for now, the journey had become rather pleasant.


"I will be glad to get to this...Kalispell," Jonah muttered, "even though it's smaller than what I'm accustomed to, I'm looking forward to the change...Omaha was getting to be...stifling."


"Never been there," Matilda shrugged. If Ralph had been he would have said so.


The baby had started to fuss, even after being discretely fed, and he reached in his bag, pulling out a peppermint stick.   "Here, Ma'am, try this." 


As Mrs. Ford smiled and muttered her thanks, he held the small paper bag to the other passengers.  "There are lemon drops, peppermints, licorice...the best medicine of all!"


Matilda reached for the bag, "I will have a lemon drop, thank you, Doctor."


"No thanks, unless you got some whiskey flavored candy in there," Ralph waved it off.


Danforth chuckled and shook his head.  "Short of butter rum, and I don't have any of those."  Actually, he was a little surprised that the man didn't have a flask, and had there not been ladies present, he would have offered his own.  Once they reached the station, if there wasn't the offer of liquor...


"And Ma'am," He turned his attention to Matilda, "you have not missed a thing by never going to Omaha, and if you had the urge to roam, I'd suggest San Francisco, or even Sacramento."


It was only a few minutes later that the stage slowed to a stop and the driver called down, "This is fer th' night, folks!"

Edited by Stormwolfe (see edit history)
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Title: Slumber Party
Scene Rating: PG
Scene Type: Joint Scene
Characters: Addy Chappel, Ralph Flandry, Matilda Devereau
Location: Fairview Swing Station

The Fairview station wasn't much to look at, just a simple log building with a sod roof, a corral and a small barn.  Normally, there would be a station master to switch out a fresh hitch and offer food to the passengers, but since this was an overnight stay the horses would be able to rest, so the man had just stayed home.


"This is fer th' night, folks!" Addy called as she set the brake then hopped down from the box and opened the door.  "Go on inside an' I'll get things goin' in a minnet.   There's a pump out front here if ya wanna wash up or get a drink." 


Ralph opened the door and held it for the women to exit first, Matilda also waiting on the the lady with the infant. Once she was two feet on the ground, she went next. She was stiff from all that sitting and jostling, her butt hurt.  She would have said something aloud about that except she knew Ralph would then remark that was because she was way too skinny and needed to eat more.  Ralph on the other hand groaned as he hit the ground, "Damn, I liked trains better."


The small party entered the station building, the light was good enough instead from the fire to get a reasonable look at their accommodations, it would do.  One positive though -  there was the smell of food in the air.


At least Old Man had started a fire and left a pot of stew, so there would be a little less work for her, and it made the interior of the building warm and inviting.  Besides a long table surrounded by eight chairs, there was the pot-bellied stove, a sink and cabinets and a rocker.  A doorway led to a small bedroom with two twin beds and some mattresses stacked along the wall.  Basic accommodations, but clean and orderly.


"If you want to wash up first, Mrs. Ford, I can hold the baby," volunteered Matilda, she treasured the memories of when she used to hold her own daughter.


Ralph suddenly decided he needed to relieve himself and announced, "I am going to go visit a ditch, be back in a few minutes. Leave me some stew, folks."


"Oh," Mrs Ford looked at Matilda, then smiled and held out the baby.  "Thank you, her name is Rose.  She's a good girl, putting up with all of this."  She was grateful for the chance to freshen up, and then she'd give Rose a proper cleaning.  "I can't wait to be in a proper home.  We hadn't exactly planned this well."


"My pleasure, I had a baby girl once but she passed before her first birthday," Matilda explained, able to talk about it now though she doubted the hurt would ever go away, "We too are excited about our new home."


Once she got the infant she cooed, "Hi there, Rose. Aren't you the pretty one?"


As the ladies chatted, Jonah wandered to the stove, and after washing up, started dishing out stew.  He was being helpful, yes, but his motive was that he was hungry and ready to eat, so the sooner that was done, the sooner they could eat.  And the stew smelled great, not only that, he found a batch of biscuits that were light and flaky.  Supper might make the trip worth while!


Outside, Addy nodded to Ralph as she unhitched the horses.  "If yer lookin', there's a outhouse out back.   When ya go back in, ya'll can eat, I gotta git th' horses an' coach settled."  Hopefully, no one would be asking for anything that was secured to the roof of the Concord, there was enough to do without crawling around up there!


If the woman was expecting an offer for help, that wasn't Ralph, least not without Matilda there to prod him but he nodded acknowledgement of her information, "Alright. It's stew....smells good too. I'll make sure we leave ya some."


Besides he was suddenly in a hurry to do his business.


"Thank ya fer that."  Addy smiled and nodded.  She didn't expect help, this was her job and her responsibility, so she was fine with that.  But it would take the better part of an hour and she didn't want the passengers to have to wait on her to eat.  Of course, if they were too lazy to dish up supper themselves, well, their choice!


Inside, Mrs. Ford watched Matilda with the infant and she shook her head in sympathy.  "I'm so sorry about your baby," she murmured softly, "I can't imagine..."  Yes, death was a fact, especially for little ones, so it was bound to touch everyone eventually, but nothing ever made it any easier,


"Thank you, I mostly have gotten used to it by now...mostly," Matilda spoke to the woman but her eyes were all on the cherubic infant's face. It so reminded her of her own baby's.


As she moved off to wash up, Jonah called out that food was on.  There was plenty of room around the crude-hewn table where the bowls of steaming stew were set, and he'd even found a jar of peach preserves to go with the bread.


Ever the gentleman, he held a chair for Mrs. Ford and then nodded to Matilda.  "Ma'am.  If the food is good, I will take full credit...if not, then I had nothing to do with it."  He gave her a charming smile.


"No matter, Doctor, I will blame you anyways," she smiled as she carefully sat down, still with the baby in her arms. Eating could wait until the actual mother got a chance to down a bowl of stew, she would in the meantime enjoy the infant.


Ralph then re-entered, "Ahh, smells great. Promised our driver we'd save her some."


He sat down and tasted the stew in front of him, "Damn good stuff. We should hire this cook for our saloon. "


"Wouldn't your saloon have a cook?" Jonah asked, dipping a biscuit in he stew, then taking a bite.  "Although I do admit, this is by far the best I've had since Omaha!  If you hire the man, I'll be there every night!  I'm a bachelor, I don't cook myself."  He didn't know if there was a boarding house in town or if he'd have to stay at a hotel, which really was a lot more fuss than having a place that served meals right there.


"It might....we'll find out when we get there. Not every saloon does, some only serve drinks," Ralph answered.


"So....doctor is it....any special reason you picked Kalispell to renew your practice? Relatives, friends, old ties?" Matilda asked basically to make some conversation while she held the baby.


"More of a dart at a map sort of thing."  Jonah grinned as he sopped up some broth with a biscuit.  "Just felt the need to get away from the big cities, find a place more..." he shrugged, "simple.  Got tired of hoity-toity types thinking that they were more important and I should drop everything for their sniffles." 


"Don't run into too many of those kind in my line of work," Ralph commented with amusement at the term, "One thing a doctor is always in demand.  That's to your advantage alright. Fortunately menfolk like to drink ...that's to mine."


Jonah grinned.  "I've always thought that your business and mine are similar...men seeking medicinal relief from their ailments." 


He paused as the door opened, letting in a surge of cool air, as well as the stage driver, who propped  her shotgun by the door, plopped her hat on a peg by the door,  then strode to the fire and hung up her slicker that looked to have been rinsed out.


"How ya'll doin'?" Addy asked, pleased to see that everyone seemed content.  "That Lester Jones sure can cook up a good stew!"  Nodding to the group at the table, she filled a bowl then settled into an empty chair, glad for a chance to rest...and eat!


"My ass is worse off'n than the rest of me," Ralph answered then ate some more stew.


"An' a fine ass it is," Addy muttered with a teasing grin, meaning nothing by it.  She tucked in as Mrs Ford took the baby and retreated to the rocker by the fire to discretely feed the little girl.


"Well, it's big enough," quipped Matilda then smiled at Ralph who feigned indignation. They teased each other like this on a regular basis though.


"Mr. Jones cooks a fine stew, that's for certain," Matilda nodded, she had given the baby back to it's mother and now was eating from the bowl in front of her.


"So....ummm...how much longer we got to go on this leg of the journey?" Matilda was tired of all the bumping and jostling endured as the stage rumbled along and couldn't wait for their destination.


"Should be there before noon," Addy commented, "barrin' any complications, an' an early start." 


"Sounds good..." Matilda stopped as there was noise at the door.


The door swung open and Addy was up in an instant, her hand instinctively dropping to the pistol at her side...


Of the many things that can happen on the trail, weather can be a life saver.  Perhaps a mile, mile and a half back Henry Speed Guyer had a bad feeling and soon left what appeared to be open country, though it was not, and paused in the cover of a stand of pine trees.  That decision had perhaps saved his scalp. A party of what he recognized as Blackfoot passed, scouting for sign, but the rain played hob with the tracks of Speeds paint.


Of the things a man from the east either learns quickly or not at all, is to trust his feelings.  Speed felt that someone or something was following behind him, so leaving his path and concealing himself as best he could in the trees was a prudent course of action.  His hand was under his slicker grasping the butt of his pistol. There were four of them, only two carried rifles. Breach loading Springfield 1873 "Trapdoor" carbines.  One suddenly pointed off to the north and the party veered off in that direction.


Speed waited sometime before moving on, sticking to the trees and ever ready, but the Indians did not return.  His destination lay ahead, a stage stop which lay in his path to Kalispell Montana. He was hopeful of a hot meal and found for his horse, the third of his trip west.  As he came in sight of the station, he could see the bright red coach standing in the yard and smoke could be seen snaking upward from the chimney.  He spurred the paint to a trot and closed the gap in minutes.  Pulling up he swung down, looping his reins over the crossbar of the hitch rail and stepped up onto the porch, then through the door.


“Speak with the driver?” He asked, closing the door behind him.   


"That'd be me."  Warily, Addy eyed the man, but he didn't look to be trouble...if he had ill intentions he would have a weapon in hand.  She stepped around the table to intersperse herself between him and the passengers, her hand still resting lightly on the butt of her pistol.  "What can I do for ya?"


Ralph frowned when the driver stepped in front of the table, it put her in the way of his line of fire on the stranger, Ralph had his hand on his own revolver under the table but hadn't pulled it yet.  Should this newcomer be troublesome though, he would back the woman driver alright.


"Figure you to be headed to Kallispell and I'm looking to hitch a ride."  He said, keeping his hand away from his gun. " Henry Speed Guyer, aim to pay full fare, even ride on the box if need be.  Thought to catch a bite an' some coffee if I can. I can catch up to you."


Edited by Stormwolfe (see edit history)
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  • 3 weeks later...

"Catch me up?"  Addy grinned, relaxing and moving off a little to the side.  "Well, I reckon if ya feel there's catchin' up ta do, may as well hear ya out."  After all, he wouldn't mention it unless there was something particular on his mind, right.


"I meant I could catch up to you since I figure you've a schedule to keep." Speed responded.  "Planned on something to eat, get some for the horse.


Nodding to the table, she said, "Have a seat, I'll get ya some stew."  As she turned toward the stove, she gave Ralph a slight nod -- although there had been no overt action, she'd seen that particular tension that indicated he was prepared to act, as opposed to the doctor, who was tense as well, but in a more dive-under-the-table-to-protect-the-wemmen way!


"How'd ya get here, anyway?" she asked the newcomer, "Long walk from anyplace."  Except maybe Jones' place, and sometimes the old man did have folks stop by who were waiting on a stage, after all, the station wasn't operational when the stage wasn't actually there.


Speed sat down, pulling off his hat. "I'm from New York. A speculator of minerals and such. So yes it's been a long ride." Was the reply. Looking into timber, that's why I'm headed to Kalispell."

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Ralph caught the nod from the driver and by that time had himself figured the man was not there for trouble, so he relaxed and reached for another biscuit. He had long ago finished off his bowl of stew. For a moment he listened to the jasper but couldn't keep quiet at the jasper's last statement.


"You mean to tell us you rode a horse all the way from New York to here ? Mister, I lived in New York some years so I know how far it is from Montana.  Me n' Matilda here, we took a train to Chicago. Took a train out here too least as far as the Dakotas."


"Yes sir, left New York some time back." Speed replied. "I've taken a long, slow,  trek west looking for mineral rights and such."




Matilda gave the newcomer a nod of acknowledgement. "Poor horse," as all she said rather dryly. Then she gave a little shrug and figured since he gave his name, a few introductions were in order.


"Where are my manners? I am Miss Matilda Devereau and this is Mr. Ralph Flandry, we own the saloon in Kalispell. This gentleman is Doctor Danforth and the woman with the babe is Mrs. Ford and little Rose."




"A pleasure Ma'am, sir. Trust I've not ridden a single horse this long. Far from it. The paint out here is the third mount I've procured since I started." Speed explained. "I have taken the train, where available, coaches as well. Though I've done a sight of riding over the years since the close of the war."


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"New York?"  Addy, as well, raised an eyebrow, although it wasn't so much at the distance as the fact that the West was a far cry from the overly-civilized East, and not suited to all people.  Still, there were plenty of folks who got out here and found that it was where they belonged and just never left.


"So long's ya pace yerself an' got a good mount..."  Hell, you could ride a horse from hither to yon all day long if you took care of it, and if you didn't, you ended up on foot.  "Got my own mare I'm ponyin' behind th' stage," she commented, setting out a meal for the man then setting down to her own food.  "So long's yer horse don't mind some company, I think we're all good."


"Now this looks to be a hardy meal. Abliged." Speed stated. "A man tires of his own cooking." He took a spoonful of the stew. "Lost my mule and such gear as he was toating back two days ago. Been foraging and eating up the last of the jerked meat and hard tack." The took another bite of the steaming stew.


There was certainly room, and the man was right, if needs be, someone could sit on the box with her, although precedence would go to existing passengers if they chose.


"Saw a small party of Blackfeet, but they were headed north last I saw of them.  Not wearing paint and only two rifles amongst the four of them. Doubt they'd be trouble, but, one never knows, Indians being notional and all."

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"From what I read in one of the papers coming on out here, seems like the government is more worried about the Sioux and Cheyenne tribes  not being willing to leave the Black Hills.  What with reports of gold found in those hills, seems folks will be swarming over the whole territory.  The Indian Bureau cannot guarantee the tribes' cooperation so the army is going to have to handle it," Matilda announced.


"I have little doubt that won't go well," she smirked, the cynic in here openly demonstrated for all.


"No Ma'am, it won't go well at all, but with the gold discovery, it'll be difficult to keep the seekers from the territory no matter what the government, Indians or the Army says. Affraidthere'll be hell to pay and lots of blood spilled on either side." Speed agreed. It would be all out war from what he had seen and heard, but they were a long way from the Black Hills.


At that moment a sturdy fellow dressed in buckskins with a weathered look to all his accouterments stepped inside.  He walked directly to Guyer.  "Been trailing you, dun yerself a fine job of leaving as little a trail as possible. Been behind you a day and a half with yer mule. Took it back from them what took it from you.  Left 'er tied up next to yer paint."


"Thanks. They covered their tracks really good." Speed said extending his hand. "Lost they almost immediately. Appreciate you bringing the mule back. Carrying tools of my trade that would be hard to replace." The man shook his hand.


"Luck to you fella. Best be on my way, I'm running a mite behind. The man said turning on a heel. "You folks take care." And with that, he strode out the door.


"Suppose we'll need to tie the mule on as well. That work for you Addy?" Speed asked.

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Addy nodded.  "Where there's one, there's likely more," she observed, "best ta have a head's up an' stay alert."  She'd be sure the barn was sealed up, might even sleep out with the horses, just in case, since the animals were prized by the savages.  "Don't mean they're lookin' fer trouble, an' there's enough of us here it like won't be a problem."  It was hard to tell what, if anything, the Indians might be thinking...sometimes they left well enough alone, others they straight out attacked, and others they just dropped by for a friendly visit.


She noticed that the young mother was looking positively pale and offered, "We can all sleep in th' room here ta'night, stay close, be safer."


Rising, Jonah agreed.  "Good idea, I'll get the mattresses and blankets from the bedroom, we can let the ladies have those."  Of course, they would have had the beds regardless, it was just the way things worked, but there might be enough blankets to provide decent mats for the men.  He just hoped that this  was alarm over nothing...he had no desire for any excitement so far from town!

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Ralph agreed with the newcomer, once gold was involved there was bound to be war. Of course the Indians would lose, they always did but he had to wonder how many lives they'd take with them.  He had no great liking for the red man but if one thought on it, they were ..or should be entitled to some land they could call their own. However he had no say on such weighty matters however he could influence the situation here.


Preparations were being made just in case those Blackfeet might make a hostile visit. Too bad the fellow who returned Guyer's mule had left so quickly, they might have asked him to stay to augment their numbers.  Ralph let the doc worry about sleeping arrangments, he spoke to the stage driver.


"Say, you got a shotgun on that rig of yers? We should bring it inside. I can use it if any redskins make an attack."


Speed watched the man ride away, crossing open ground at a trot, then, as the man disappeared into the tree line, he looked to the pack on the mule only to find everything was there. Now, the problem was where would the animals be the safest as they would be a prime target for theft, a favorite sport of most Indian tribes.  He heard Flandry ask Addy about a shotgun, and decided to wait on the animal question as she would certainly have concerns about her team and the the coach.

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"Got th' shotgun by th' door," Addy commented, nodding to the weapon that was propped there, "and there should be an extra by th' stove."  Going over that way, she side-stepped the doctor, who was doing a fine job of setting up the main room for the night.  "Yeah, here..."  Grabbing the shotgun, she checked to see it was loaded, then handed it to Ralph, assuming he knew what to do with it.    And so long as they only had a couple Indians to deal with, she was fairly confident they'd be fine.


Then she glanced at Speed.  "I'll stay out with th' animals, can make a nice bed outta th' hay."  She was accustomed to sleeping here and there and would be comfortable wherever she was.  "That way I won't disturb ya when I get up ta hitch th' team." 


Hopefully, this was a lot of fuss over nothing, but it didn't hurt to be prepared.

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Then she glanced at Speed.  "I'll stay out with th' animals, can make a nice bed outta th' hay."  She was accustomed to sleeping here and there and would be comfortable wherever she was.  "That way I won't disturb ya when I get up ta hitch th' team."


Speed smiled as the stage driver handed the shotgun to Mister Flandry. Push come to shove, she'd be a handful. "Best take my animals and put them with the rest. Strip off the saddle and the pack."  He started for the door and continued; "Won't bother me none to be woken up. I'll need time to re-saddle . And I sort of doubt we'll have Indian trouble. Can't be sure of course, but then that goes both ways." He paused, "Maybe bed down out here as well, you know, just in case." He'd not slept in a room with people since Kearny Nebraska, and that hadn't been all that favorable of an experience.

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The stage driver handed over one shotgun then gave them the favorable news there was even a second one on the premises. Sure enough she located another weapon. He already had his own revolver. The newcomer was armed. Yeah, they should be fine against a handful of bucks, long as it wasn't a major war party.  No sense worrying about you can't control though.


Everyone seemed finished eating so Ralph put the second shotgun down onto the table where it was in plain sight and easy enough reach should an attack come and someone else wished to arm themself.  Hell, Matilda knew how to use a gun and at close quarters it didn't take a marksman to hit with a shotgun just had to have sand to be willing to use it.


"I don't need both shotguns, so putting this one here for the taking," he announced.


The driver was wanting to sleep in the barn with the stock, she gave another reason but he believed it more likely she wanted to protect the animals if the injuns came round to steal them. The newcomer started to accompany her.


"Hey, you two....if you do hear firing in the middle of the night, don't just rush out and head for here. Might be folks waiting on ya.....look around first. We'll be fine in here," he warned.


Actually he had heard many times injuns didn't fight at night, something about their spirits not finding their heaven or whatever they called it?

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Speed laughed. "Not likely I'd do that. Too many skirmishes when we were supposed to be in a safe area." Shaking his head. "I suppose being in the infantry will do that to a man. Granted, it's been a while now, but you know,  it sticks with you. "Likely as not they'll be after the stock, so it'll be us shooting, less' we can't."

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"Infantry eh? I was in the late war too. Mind if I ask what unit were you in?" Ralph was curious, he didn't bother asking what side, the answer would certainly tell him that.


And just so the man knew he himself was willing to identify his own personal experience in that unpleasantness, "I was in the 165th New York....we were Zouaves. I was young and dumb....joined because of that fancy uniform, wanted to see how I looked in it."

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"Got it,  then."  Addy nodded, pointing out a few more things for the passengers, although the extra firewood was evident, and the good doctor had set out all the blankets, there was water and some biscuits still left from supper if anyone got hungry. 


She glanced over at Mrs. Ford, who was decidedly pale, and grinned.  "Not ta worry, Ma'am, we'll be fine."  Then she looked at Matilda.  "You can shoot, huh?"  She did look like she had backbone and wouldn't shrink from a fight.  "I can give ya one'a my pistols if ya prefer.  Unless ya got yer own?"  She seemed like the sort to have a derringer hidden away somewhere.





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Matilda turned away from Mrs. Ford and her infant at the sound of the driver's voice. Fair enough question.


"I can shoot. If you can spare the pistol, yes. I own a derringer but that's not exactly a weapon useful past a few feet," she answered.


She quickly turned back to the mother though, who no doubt was worried about all this talk and preparations for an attack.


"Don't you worry none, the driver is right. Everyone is just fussing so we can be ready just in case but I highly doubt any Indians will visit us tonight. They have an aversion to taking losses and attacking buildings just isn't something they normally do," she smiled sympathetically.

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On 4/21/2018 at 10:57 AM, Ralph Flandry said:

"Infantry eh? I was in the late war too. Mind if I ask what unit were you in?" Ralph was curious, he didn't bother asking what side, the answer would certainly tell him that.


And just so the man knew he himself was willing to identify his own personal experience in that unpleasantness, "I was in the 165th New York....we were Zouaves. I was young and dumb....joined because of that fancy uniform, wanted to see how I looked in it."


"I was a Captain in the 13th New Jersey Volunteer Infantry, F Troop." Speed replied. "Harrowing experience. Saw action in every major battle of the conflict. You boys got your fill as well." Though the war was ten years past, it was something that hung with the men who were survivors of it.

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"Miz Devereau is right," Jonah tried to reassure the young mother, "there's little reason to worry, and all the preparations just make it all the more safe."  He smiled and nodded to a mattress that was well-padded.  "Now, Mrs. Ford, you just lay there and don't worry a bit.  And if you need anything, you just let Miz Devereau or me know."


"Thank you."  The woman nodded thanks, obviously exhausted and grateful to settle down with her child.  "I'll be so glad to be in town," she commented, sighing.  The trip had been long and grueling.


"I think we all will," Jonah chuckled, "even the horses!"  He glanced at Miranda.  "I have no doubt we'll be fine, but I agree that I'd feel better once we're in town."  Then he chuckled.  "And just another complex of inconveniences to see to...finding a place to live and set up practice, buying a horse and buggy..."  Seemed like it never got easier!


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  • 2 weeks later...

Early Morning, Cabin


After the long day, Jonah managed to sleep well, despite the less than ideal situation.  Still, he'd slept in worse, it was warm and dry, no one snored too loudly, and the baby had only fussed a little, its irritable cries quickly comforted her mother.


The first hints of dawn were just starting to come through the windows when he finally decided to extricate himself from his blankets and go out to see to business, but when he got to the door what he saw stopped him in his tracks.


"Um...folks," he murmured, quietly closing the door and dropping down the latch, "we might have a bit of trouble..."

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Early Morning

The night had been uneventful, and while it had been a bit chilly, Addy had been warm and comfortable in the barn, content with the nest in the hay and the familiar sounds that the horses made as they munched on grain or occasionally stamped a foot.  There had been nothing out of the ordinary -- the horses would have warned her -- and now it was time to roll out and get things going for the day.


Breakfast would be coffee, cold biscuits and canned fruit, so the first order of the day would be getting the fire in the cabin stoked to heat water, then she'd come back out and start harnessing the horses.


Moving as quietly as possible so that she didn't awaken Speed, she pulled on her boots then got up and headed for the door, but stopped just as she started to pull open the heavy door.


Out in the yard between the barn and the house, was a group of Cree, four men and a woman, approaching the house.


"Speed," Addy hissed, moving back from the door, "hey, Speed, we got comp'ny."

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He was on his feet in an instant bringing up his Henry rifle, earing the hammer back as he padded to the door. “What the . . . with a woman? Some sort of trick to draw the folks inside out to them?” Speed was no expert on Indians, that was for sure. He had learned to dodge them well enough, perhaps from his military training and experiences.


A fight with so few seemed unlikely so he whispered; “You see any weapons?” His head said they were either begging, something that was not uncommon, or, they were a diversion while others tried for the horses. Either way, he was prepared, except he wished for his boots which lay by where he had slept.

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Inside the station house, Ralph jumped up and grabbed the shotgun next to his cot as he did so joining the doctor.


"What's the fuss? Got us some visitors?" he asked.


Matilda had woke up too at the doctor's voice, she was normally a light sleeper anyhow but had passed the night with some reasonable comfort. Sitting up she glanced at the young mother and babe, both asleep. She spoke in a whisper then.


"Is everything alright?"

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"Oh, they got weapons, all right." Addy drew her Colt slowly, cocking it as it cleared the holster.  "Just gotta keep an eye...for more..."  The small group seemed focused on the cabin and didn't seem to be aggressive...yet, but they could be unpredictable.  "Let's go out th' back window, make sure there ain't more hidin' in th' woods.'


Where there were a few there were likely more, it paid to be wary, but also to hold back  so you didn't trigger something. 


"Ya think you can make it out that."  She nodded to the window that was large enough for her to shimmy out, but might be a tight squeeze for the man.  "Might wanna get yer boots, too."

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"Depends on what 'all right' is."  Peering out the gap in the shutters, Jonah frowned, then backed up a few steps, bringing his gun up at the door.  "Yes, visitors of the Native ilk..."


And the door opened, three of the men walking in as though it was nothing, followed by the woman and the last man.  There were no visible weapons and they didn't move any farther into the small building.  But the lead man gestured to Mrs. Ford, who was just  waking up. 


It didn't take the groggy woman long to come around and realize what was going on, and she let out a small cry, sitting up, her infant clutched to her chest as she scooted to the back wall.

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Speed eased the hammer down on the Henry, looking at the window. "Yah, that one I can make." He rushed to where he'd slept and laid his rifle aside, pulling on his boots. Then deftly dropping his spurs, as the jingle-bobs would certainly make too much noise. He scooped up his gunbelt and slung it around his waist. Buckling it, he looked toward Addy. "Okay, ready." and moved to the window.

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Indians? That tensed up both Ralph and Matilda. The woman scrambled to her feet to and secured the pistol the stage driver had lent her, cocking back the hammer. Ralph did the same with both barrels of the shotgun. Then the door opened and in walked first three male Indians, then a squaw and a fourth man. They seemed to be unarmed, which was lucky for them or Ralph might not have even waited for any of them to try something, he'd have blasted them with both barrels. None of the Indians seemed surprised by the sight that greeted them with the group of whites within. One simply pointed to the young mother and her babe, much to her chagrin.


"Alright...any of you speak English? We don't know any Indian words. If you can understand me, why are you here?" Ralph decided to be the spokesman for those in the cabin for now.


Meanwhile Matilda deliberately stepped between Mrs. Ford and the Indians in case any of them had an idea to close that distance, she let them see the cocked revolver in her hand too.

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