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    • "Ain't hardly nothin' to do but hunker down till she blows herself out." The man squatted, "Rance, is the name. Been watchin' you, doin' a fine job. You'll do Wheeler, you'll do. Try and get some rest, might end up bein' a long night. Least you won't be ridin' drag come daylight, there's a plus for ya."   He stood and made his way to his shelter to await the grub that was coming.   @Bongo
    • Meanwhile, in the main house, Reb Culverson was visiting with his old friend Fightin' Joe Hooker, who was the ramrod for the fledgling Montana Territory Stockgrowers Association, Northern District. He was there to convince ranchers to join and support the organization, hoping it would take root.   "And just what good is this here association ya got started?" Reb asked.   "It'll give us a voice in the territorial government, Reb, that's what it'll do. Once that happens we'll be able to git us some sortta range police to protect the herds, and the ranchers." Hooker responded. "Rustlin' might not be the threat it was, but you know as well as me, it can come back."   "You get anywhere with Lost Lake, 'er that cow thief on the Evergreen?" Reb asked.   "Can't say as I have, startin' with the smaller spreads an' workin' my way up to them two. I'm well aware of both spreads, and the men that own 'em."   -------------0------------   They swept down out of the trees whooping and hollering and firing off a couple of shots as they closed on both sides of a big group of cattle, just as they had planned. The  lone night hawk knew he had no chance of stopping the raiders, or of saving the cattle while he watched the chunk of the herd moving toward and then into the trees at a run.  He emptied his Colt at the raiders, the whipped out his Winchester  and levered several shots in the area where they had disappeared.   He could not know that one of his shots had found its mark. A man that had just joined took a slug in his back and toppled from his horse. Toole and the men continued to drive the cattle toward the dry riverbed as planned. It was an acceptable loss.   The sound of the shots, mere pops at the distance to the main house and the bunk house alerted everyone, and men boiled out of the bunk house guns in hand, only to watch the night man shooting after the rustlers.
    • Out on the boardwalk they stopped, "So we managed ta git a deal right off, thet's good, it is. Now all we gotta do is convince ol' Wentworth to free up the money so's ya don't have ta use yers right off." Amos commented, "Seems a fair deal but like you say, minin's not no sure thing."   "John and Mary are good folks. It's not a sure thing, but you saw the vein, went to the floor and it looks rich," Speed responded. "And it looks to be wider where they stopped digging. I can't wait to get it assayed to see what we've really got our hands on."   "And it should assay out pretty good from the looks of it, though I know so little about copper ore." Alice admitted.   "Well, you saw the copper ore, which is clearly distinguishable from the surrounding rock due to its reddish, mottled appearance. And that surrounding rock is granite which is not easy to work, but it can be done, and, if we have hit it, the veins could be as much as a mile long, a mile wide, and a mile deep!" Speed explained with a grin. "With that equipment we'll be able to not only dig deeper, we'll be able to tunnel, and we have the property to do just that."   "Jumpin' Jehoshaphat!" Amos exclaimed. Might oughtta buy up what ground ya can aound 'er, jest ta be certain!"   "First things first, let get on up to the bank." Speed suggested.
    • Justus was more than happy to have a chance to get out of the bulk of the wind, although he knew this was far from over.  And he knew they'd be hacking up dirt for days.     With the picket lines set, he moved over to help put up the shelters for the night, pretty quickly deciding that it was a fool's errand...they were all going to be miserable until this let up.   Squinting, he looked out toward the herd, not able to see but a few in the dust, it looked like they had been swallowed by the big, dirty cloud, and weren't even there.  In fact, he had the eerie sensation that all that was left in the world was this small circle of men and horses.   "Ya need me ta do anythin' else?" he called over the din of the wind.   @Flip
    • Doc Gilcrest walked into the bunck house to see Carson on his feet, dressed. "I may not be able to ride, but I can darn sure walk some. Tired of layin' in that bed."   "I reckon you kin do thet, sure 'nough. No body said ya had ta lie there if'n ya didn't want to. Yer stitched up plenty good. Jest leave thet hog leg where she's hangin' fer now, don't need the weight in thet wound."   "So anybody come sniffin' around?" He asked.   "Not so's you'd notice. There's four men down there keepin' watch, but it don't look like Lost Lake's lost any sleep over their man, that is if'n they even know he's gone." Gilcrest offered.   "He seen that brand an' went ta shootin'!" Carson reflected. "I jest shot straighter. Had no choice in the matter. Fool could'a rode on, but, well, that just ain't what happened. Hell of a mess."   "Oh I dunno. So far nobodies come huntin', the boss ain't upset over it, neither's Granger, so you got nothin' ta worry on 'cept gettin' better."   "I should'a been more careful, but maybe there just wasn't no way to be more careful. Up on the side of that mountain is the purdiest view a man could look at. You can see fer miles, see right where they got them cows of theirs. Now that ain't gonna be no easy matter to get to any of 'em. They're deep on Lost Lake range. Gonna be hard to get at, an' worse to get out. We'll lose some men tryin' this one, that's for sure!'   Gilcrest rubbed his chin. It wasn't like Carson to go on about the prospects of a job.

A Fair to Remember

The Old Ranger

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The old man pulled his equally aged horse to a stop beside the picket line. The line was actually a heavy chain strung between two posts that had been set firmly into the ground. Large metal rings had been welded along the chain's length, providing a place to tie a horse's reins or lead line. There were four such picket lines set up allowing a large number of horses to be secured for the day's festivities without crowding the beasts. For those that planned on being at the event all day, there was a large corral and a shed for tack. Several horses were already milling around the enclosure.

The man was not planning on spending the entire day on the meadow, so he gave a cheerful faced teenager the required five cents to look after his horse for a few hours. The boy grinned and led the horse toward an open slot, made sure to offer it water before loosening the girth to let the horse relax. Not a bad way to make a little money.

The day was absolutely glorious! It was still very early morning, so there was a nip to the wind that blew off the Chogun Mountains. The grass, clipped short for the festivities, rippled as the wind caressed it. Copses of trees dotted the meadow, and the old man could hear the wind rattling their branches even over the racket of vendors setting up and children playing. Colorful pennants and banners snapped in the breeze, inviting people to stop by the booths and look over the wares. Livestock of all descriptions was being led to the show tents while ladies bustled around with their own goods and wares while trying to keep an eye on their children.

In the three short years of its existence, the Founders Day Celebration had become a staple, a Kalispell tradition that everyone looked forward to. Even the men that had worked hard all week to put up booths, tents, arenas, and the bandstand and dance floor and grumbled each and every day were arriving with their families to take part in the day's festivities. Come one, come all! It was time celebrate and have a good time. With luck, the Mayor's speech that officially opened the festivities would once again be short and sweet.

Nothing bad ever happened on Founders Day!




Deep in a tangle of brush, at the eastern edge of the meadow where a deep gully widened into a narrow arroyo, he stirred. A fence ran along the top of the embankment making him go a long way out of his way to cross between the two properties that bordered one another. In fact, the little farm to the east of the meadow had probably noticed some missing chickens. They had been easy prey, but winter was coming. He would soon need something bigger and more substantial to maintain and increase his bulk.

There had been more noise than usual over the last many days. He growled low in his chest, sounding like the rumble of thunder beyond the mountains. The scent of man pervaded his waking and sleeping hours, and he hated that smell! Hated and feared it. It would be hard to sleep with them so near. Faint, fevered memories of heat and pain flamed through his being.

It would soon be time to hunt, but not yet. He lay his massive head back down on his paws. The briars and brambles of his nest would protect him until it was time to feed...and to take his revenge.

Edited by Stormwolfe (see edit history)
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Time: Early Morning, Drover's Meadow

Place: Vendor's Ally (where the vendor booths are set up)

Characters: Shade Thornton, Adelaide Chappel, Cody and Nettie Thornton



It was still very early in the morning. The day's festivities had not been officially kicked-off by the mayor. Shade had ridden down from the ranch with the wagon carrying the ladies and their entries in the various events. He had also helped Ezra and Sage Miller wrangle the livestock that was being entered in the various shows. They also had a group of yearlings and heifers for the sales which was where Ezra Hale would spend the bulk of his day.

After helping offload the wagon, Kate implored Shade to take the rambunctious twins for a walk around the meadow to work off some of their energy. They were understandably wildly excited and driving Kate and Mary nuts with their questions and getting into things they had been warned to stay away from. Obligingly, Shade took them out to look at the preparations for the day's rodeo events and to browse the booths that were being set up.

He had just bought them both a packet of beef jerky, having been warned by Kate not to buy them sweets as there would be plenty of that sort of thing later when a movement caught his eyes. Without warning and before Shade could catch hold of him, Cody dashed toward where a woman stood looking over the wares displayed by the leather shop.

In a few strides, Shade caught up with his nephew, tugging the protesting Nettie along after him. Cody was standing very close to the woman, far closer than usual with strangers. He stared up at her, his small face lit with a smile and his blue eyes sparkling.

"Hey, Tiger," Shade dropped his free hand to the boy's shoulder, "don't run off like that." He looked at the woman and said apologetically, "I'm sorry if the boy bothered you, ma'am."


While she still had some work to do setting up her quarters in the small shed behind the Milligan Company barn, Addy was going to take advantage of a day off and enjoy the fair.  Besides, with all the booths set up, there might be something she needed, so she was more than happy to rummage and have a good time until her next run with the stage.


It was shaping up to be a nice day, and Addy had chosen a bluish-grey wool skirt and simple grey cotton shirt, her hat plopped on her head.  It was nicer than what she normally wore, practical, but not by any means glamorous.  Never in her life had Addy worn hoops, bustles or corsets of any kind, and she planned to keep it that way.


She was looking over some jars of preserves and rows of pie when she  realized that there boy was beside her, staring up at her, just as a man spoke.  Shaking her head, she gave the lad a smile, then  looked up at the man.  "Nah, ain't no bother.  Fine lookin' boy."  Familiar...why was the boy familiar?  "Ya'll live here in town or just passin' by fer th' festivities?"


"We're from Lost Lake Ranch. I'm Shade Thornton. This is my nephew and ward, Cody Thornton," Shade introduced himself and the boy. Cody continued standing close to the young woman, gazing up at her with a quiet adulation. Shade nodded down at the little girl by his side, "This is my niece and Cody's twin, Nettie." He figured there was no need pointing out that the meadow where the fair events were being held was owned by the ranch. That information was not important and seemed to be very self-serving and somewhat arrogant.


Cody...so that was it!  While he looked completely different now, she could still see the terrified little boy that she had found among the carnage of an Indian attack.  She'd not known his name then, or where he belonged, but had found out some of the details of his life much later from Mr. Millegan.  And she had heard that he had kin in the area who had taken him in, but she hadn't expected to see him here. 


It was a welcome sight, to see that he was being well cared for.


Squatting down to the children's  level, she smiled and nodded.  "Cody, is it?  I'm Miss Addy Chappel, good ta meet ya proper."  Nodding to the girl, she tipped her hat, then frowned.  "Twins, is it?  Now, ya don't look nothin' alike!"


With a grin, she looked up at the man.  "I'm a driver with th' Millegan Stage Company."  She wasn't sure he would make the connection, but that was something she wasn't keen to discuss in front of the lad.


"Millegan?" The name sounded familiar to Shade. At first, he could not place it. Then, looking down at Cody, it came to him. That was the name of the stage line that ran the route from Missoula to Kalispell. Was this woman the driver that had found the bodies of his brother and his family, saved Cody? For the moment Shade was saved from responding as Nettie spoke up.


"It's because I'm a girl and he's a boy," Nettie informed the woman with all the knowledge bequeathed to her five-year-old self. "We was borned at the same time though."


"We were born..." Shade corrected automatically. "I think maybe I have you to thank for rescuing my nephew, Miss Chappel?" He tried to bring it up casually and indirectly. He did not want to upset Cody with the memories. After all, it had not been that long ago.


"Oh....boy an' gal..."  Addy smiled and nodded knowingly as she smiled at the young girl, then looked up as the man asked about finding Cody.  "Yes, sir, that'd be me."  The question dredged up sore memories, pictures she would just as soon forget, but more than the horrific treatment of the victims had been the terror that had engulfed the boy.  No child should be that way, and she was glad she'd had a chance to help him.


"He looks good."  Smiling, she turned her attention back to Cody.  "You been behavin'?  Ya know, Mike an' Duke been askin' about ya."  The lad had seemed intrigued by the big Belgian draft horses that had been the lead team that day, likely because, as animals, they were 'safe'.   "Ya oughta come visit some time."


Cody returned Adelaide's smile, "I try to behave, ma'am, but Nettie gets us into trouble." The little boy's voice was quiet and calm. His eyes lit up at her next words and he looked up, "Could we go see Mike and Duke one day, Uncle Shade?"


Since the boy rarely asked to leave the ranch, Shade nodded, "Sure. We'll find out when it is convenient for Miss Chappel. You can ride in with me one day when we go to town for supplies." He grinned at the woman, "Truthfully, I'd like to see them for myself. I worked for a stage line in Wyoming for five years - before coming back here this summer. Mainly rode shotgun, but drove a little too. Really enjoyed the work."


"Has it's moments," Addy commented with a grin.  "Nothin' like bein' out in th' air, so long as it ain't overly hot nor cold...nor wet, fer that matter."  She chuckled, then glanced at the kids before squatting again to their level.  "So, Master Cody, might I ask a favor of ya?  Ya see, I'm here all by myself, an' I was wonderin' if you an' Miz Nettie here might escort me?"  She looked up at Shade, "If that's all right with you, sir?"


"How about if we all walk together?" Shade suggested affably. He appreciated Miss Chappel's request, and he seriously doubted she was a threat to the children. On the other hand, there were more questions than answers regarding the deaths of the twins' parents and older siblings. It was a good opportunity for Cody to interact with someone that was not related to him or a member of the Thornton's extended household. For that matter, it gave Shade the same opportunity as well.


"Where should we start?" Shade asked the twins and laughed when both pointed to a sweets vendor several stalls down the row.


"Ah, well, that's right after my own heart!"  Grinning, Addy started out with the children, then asked, "There gonna be ice cream here, too, do ya think?  I had some once in Kansas City, had strawberries on it, real good on a hot day."  It was good to see that Cody was acting more like a kid should and that he had someone who was looking out for him, it gave him a far better chance at having a good life than if he'd had to go to an orphanage.   "I hope they got peppermints, th' horses like those, an I'm runnin' out."


"I believe they are setting up an ice cream tent later in the day," Shade replied with a grin. He was not care for sweets much - beyond the occasional slice of apple pie with melted cheese on it. However, the kids would really enjoy it and it was good seeing Cody more relaxed around people than he had been since Shade arrived home. "How about we stop at the sweets stand and then go look at the list of events at the sign-up booth?"


"Sounds like fun."  Addy nodded and started walking alongside the man with the kids between them.  "But dang, I fergot my famous cherry an' onion pie!"  Laughing, she glanced down at the children.  "Ya'll got somethin' you can sign up for?  I'll root for ya!"  Then she looked over at Shade.  "They got any horse races or shootin' contests?"


"Yes ma'am," Shade grinned, "There will be rodeo events, foot races, horse races, and a couple of shooting contests. Something for everyone."

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



Earlier that morning, Clara had dutifully dropped off her entry, a laboriously prepared apple pie, at the baking event stand. An elderly woman greeted her with a smile and took down all the necessary information about entry and contestant.  Clara made it a point to insist that if her entry did not win she expected to be able to reclaim the remains of it so that it would not simply be tossed away. Food was precious and the woman actually agreed with her on that matter.  Both of them had no doubt gone thru some hard times to gain that realization.


Clara was there at noon when the announcement was to be made about the winners of the various baking events, Aurelian accompanied her but Wyatt was off somewhere else with a few boys he had met.  Neither Redmond begrudged him a chance to mix with boys his own age group. Aury actually wished Clara would find a few girls her age too but Clara seemed to have zero interest in such social things. The two stood right up in the front row of the small crowd assembled to hear the announcements.  First off was bread baking, the Redmonds clapped politely at the declaration of the winner and a stout middle aged woman proudly stepped forward to claim her prize. Next was cakes.....Clara was beside herself with impatient nervousness. Then came the pie contest.


"First place in the pie baking contest goes to a......Clara Redmond!" the tall well dressed announcer boomed out in a stentorian tone of voice that all might hear.


True-_Grit-2-006.jpgClara did not cry out or squeal but the grin on her youthful features said it all as she then gave her father a quick embrace. Soaking in the applause, Clara took the few steps forward needed to be handed a small envelope with the cash prize within, $5!


"Congratulations, young lady. You're new to Kalispell are you not?" the man smiled as he handed it over.


"Thank you!" Clara snatched it perhaps a bit too forcefully, "Yes, we are. Thank you."


Triumphantly she returned to her doting father then held it out to him, "Here."


"Clara, it's your victory, your money," Aurelian pointed out, yes the family could use it but Clara hadn't had a lot of good things happen to her at all these past couple of years and yet never complained but soldiered on.


"No, it is for all of us. We have much we can spend on it........I insist," she declared solemnly holding it in front of him til he accepted it.


"I'm so proud of you, Clara," Aurelian once again gave her a fatherly hug. They did not do that much, mostly Clara's preference, she wasn't that sort of a person even though the two of them were close.



OOC:  Just in case anyone is wondering, I actually used our Discord Della bot to do a die roll to see if she would win. I figured there would be 8 entries then said to Stormie Clara's pie will be #2. I then activated the dice roller and luckily it came up as #2 - that is a 12% chance to win but it happened.  Now you know the rest of the story.....................


~ Wayfarer


Edited by Stormwolfe (see edit history)
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