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    • James smiled back, forgetting again that she could not see it.  Truthfully he would be hard pressed to stop himself from doing such things even in her presence but for those who had sight, they would struggle to imagine how she lived as well as she did without it.  It was as ingrained in him as it was for her doing without.  Because he’d been raised at all-male boarding schools, the young British man had very limited experience with the fairer sex, this was simply a fact, one that James had no trouble acknowledging.   When she joked with the Marshall regarding being weighed down with metal coins, James chuckled at her jest, stopping suddenly as something occurred to him.  “I say!”  He exclaimed, then rushed on, “Have you ever given thought to folding each kind of bill in a different way so that you can tell which is which?”  He caught his breath then, waiting to see what she or the Marshall thought of his latest idea.  If she needed his assistance in the folding, he'd be happy to help her.   As she suspected, James was obvious to the fact that she was gently flirting with him, taking everything at face value, his inexperience with the fairer sex once again rearing it’s head.  He caught something of the heat that colored her cheeks, and the errant thought passed through his mind that she might be falling ill.  Not uncommon so soon after the passing of a loved one.
    • He tried to make it sound important enough that she should be interested in local politics but really what good did being interested do her? She could not change anything. She could not vote so to hell with it. The people she lived with, worked with were what was important to her. But she wasn't going to argue with him about it.   "Sure, I reckon," Caroline shrugged.   Then handsome young soldier...correction, officer now launched into a nice long tale of his family roots. It was fascinating really he knew all that much about his family history and those who came before. She didn't know a damn thing about such things in her own life. She was pretty damn sure the woman she called Ma had been the one to give birth to her but she was not positive. And there was even more doubt about her father or step father. No matter, they had been a family and stuck together til two out of three died. So now it was just her. Well, her and her saloon family.   "Interestin'," she nodded, enjoying the way he told the story as much as the actual story.   "So you see, in a hundred years time... the president of the United States will be tracing his roots back to a beautiful saloon singer in old Kalispell and a tramp in the street'll be vaguely aware that he is descended from the once great Greenes of Vermont." He shrugged. "Who cares, rich man, poor man, beggar man thief." he looked into the depths of her blue eyes "... or lady, baby, gypsy, queen."   "Not gonna happen that way. I'm never gonna get married and I ain't gonna have any children so no one is descendin' from me, hon. But I liked yer tellin' of it," she liked him, this dinner date had turned out better than she had figured it would.          
    • "Ah yeah, the mayor's election. Why should I care who wins? I can't even vote in it, "Caroline waved it off. Oh she would clap for and cheer on Mr. Priest whom her boss was pushing to win but she personally did not give a damn.   Greene shrugged. "Maybe not, but the person who's elected could make your life a lot better or a whole lot worse. You ever hear of a abomination that goes by the name of a 'dry county'? The poor b... er, denizens of a place like that probably didn't realise until too late what they were voting in." he laughed, although it was no laughing matter: reformers and prohibitionists were even in these early decades starting to make their voices heard.    He then mentioned being interested in listening to her and Ara perform.   "Please do. I don't want to sound like I'm braggin' but most folks say I've got a real nice singing voice. I admit my dancing is not that special but I just show them a little leg.......or more than a little...and they clap alright," she informed him.   "I can imagine!" he smiled. But it was a nice smile. A friendly smile. Not the sort of lascivious smile that indicated that he already had been imagining... frequently.    They talked of the famous Dance.   "Yeah, must have been before I arrived in town. No local dances for me yet...besides I got a feelin' my sort would not be welcomed at any such town affair. Those things are for proper folks."   Greene frowned. He didn't like to think of this beautiful woman being denigrated in any way: though he was not unaware of the snobby often hypocritical attitude of those who felt them selves a cut above the type of folks who worked in certain professions, including soldiers - at least the non-commissioned kind. Sometimes with good reason, often times not.   "You know, one of my aunts once had our family tree drawn up, just like the noble families of Europe. The fellow who did it even drew it like a tree, leaves, and apples, and all. We're real Vermont blue-bloods, you see, despite the green name. Aunt Mary-Anne expected our forefathers to have come across on the Mayflower, or with Captain Smith to Jamestown."   He smiled happily at the memory of it.   "Imagine her delight when the feller delivered our family tree and revealed that the first Greene to set foot on American soil was an indentured servant, a virtual slave, who'd been transported here for, get this, stealing apples from some rich lord's orchard!"    He enjoyed the memory of his snobby aunt's discomfort for a moment then returned to the present.   "So you see, in a hundred years time... the president of the United States will be tracing his roots back to a beautiful saloon singer in old Kalispell and a tramp in the street'll be vaguely aware that he is descended from the once great Greenes of Vermont." He shrugged. "Who cares, rich man, poor man, beggar man thief." he looked into the depths of her blue eyes "... or lady, baby, gypsy, queen."   @Wayfarer        
    • "Debate, you dumb bitch, it's called a debate," Caroline mumbled under her breath but the woman figured it out just then too.   Priest wasn't going to be rushed though. He would reveal all later was all he would promise. In that way the man was a true politician, promises a whole lot, she'd see if he actually delivered on anything. The politicians in Chicago had been crooked, the mayor of Helena had been well meaning but a bumbling fool, and the one here in Kalispell was ......well, she didn't even know who the hell that was, he was pretty much invisible. The town seemingly had been run by that one council member before he lit himself on fire.   Just then they got themselves a trio of new customers, rough looking lot but a customer was a customer. Fortner invited them to have a drink and they promptly bellied up to the bar. Of course Ralph was there, waiting to hear what they'd like.   "Three whiskies," one of the men said, after reaching into his coat and putting down some coinage.   "Sure nuff, comin' right up," Ralph nodded and reached for one of the cheap bottles, he was a pretty good judge of customers' taste and proclivities. He poured three shots of the powerful liquor.   Caroline swung into saloon girl mode too, sashaying up to the one lined up at the bar closest to her, gifting him with a bright smile, "Welcome! Have a long ride, did ya, hon?"    
    • He gazed up at the domed ceiling and was awe struck at it's beauty. He was taken aback by the obvious talent that it took to create such a beautiful thing. "Dang near as pretty as you, Em." was his comment. "Took 'em a while to get that done. Never seen the like."   And that was a fact. There had been nothing that he had seen before to compare to the glass domed ceiling, nothing. He suddenly felt out of place, something odd for him to feel, at any time, in any place, but it struck him here in this place. The sheer beauty of it touched him. What man could accomplish given the opportunity   "Now 'at's somethin'. Best we see what other marvels they got in this place. May not have time ta see everything." He pointed out. @Bongo

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Mature Content: Definitely!  Violence, possible gore.

With: Addy, Caroline and a bunch of NPCs
Location: Somewhere between Kalispell and Helena
When: Month  Aug.29, 1876
Time of Day: Mid day

 

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Caroline hadn't been on a stagecoach since her arrival many months ago not that she missed it. These contraptions gave a bone jarring bumpy ride, the only good thing about it had been that was when she first met Addy Chappell. That woman worked as a driver for the Millegan Stage company and she was pretty certain Addy still did. They had gotten along well that time but since had sorta lost touch. Not surprising really as both of them lived very different lives.  Well just maybe Addy would driving this trip. Caroline was on the way to Helena.

 

As she stood by the stage office boardwalk, she held a smallish carpet bag. It was going to be a short stay in Helena, she was to attend a funeral of an old friend. They had worked in a Helena saloon for a time before a major fire wrecked the building. Caroline had left soon after and lucked out to find a job quickly in Kalispell thanks to a tip from another friend who lived there. She had always figured she would never go back to Helena but this here was different.

 

****

Rebecca Honeycutt was sitting on a bench not far from Caroline, both ignoring the other as they did not know each other.  Next to her sat her boy, her only child, Byron. The name had been chosen by her husband, the boy himself hated it and much preferred being called Buck or Bucky. A doting mother, she humored him. Byron...errr, Bucky was a good son. Unlike his father who was not with the two. For he had abandoned Rebecca in the pursuit of fortune. Finding gold in Montana had been the death knell of their marriage, he was off to prospect and strike it rich. But he had also made it quite clear to her even if he struck it rich he would not be coming back. 

 

womanpassenger.jpg                                  stagepassenger1.jpg

 

****

 

Ross Hampton was still inside the stage office, he was helping himself to one of the double barreled shotguns on a rack behind the counter. He had already secured a box of shells. Ross was a Millegan employee, mostly he rode shotgun if the stage might be carrying something deemed valuable enough to warrant it. Other times he drove stage or filled in at times for caring for the horses in the stable. Today though it was obviously 'shotgun'.  What with all the Indian troubles this summer....my god, the damn redskins wiped out Custer even, the company decided all stages needed an armed guard on board. While it made sense and also made the passengers maybe feel a bit safer, Ross knew better. Hell, if a war party of those devils attacked the stage, he wasn't going to make a hell of a lot of difference. Least he had confidence in the driver's ability to do her part. Addy knew her stuff, she had earned his respect over the years.

 

Soon as she came walking in that back door, it would be time to get a moving. The passengers waiting out front, they had three - no menfolk - had already paid for their tickets. Helena here they come!

 

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@Bongo

 

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It was shaping up to be a warm day, but at least there were no signs of rain, and for that, Addy was grateful.  Not only did rain make the roads slippery and miserable, but mud got splattered over horses and coach, making clean-up lengthy and tedious.  And Addy hated being soggy!

 

As she strode into the office, she nodded to Ross, grinning.  "Mornin'.  Good ta have ya aboard."  While she wasn't particularly paranoid about attacks, it never hurt to have someone else on the box with her, if for nothing more than to have someone to chat with.  "Lemme check th' hitch, then we'll be off.  Reckon ya can get th' gear loaded."

 

Even though she trusted the men who hitched the team, it was ultimately her responsibility, so she made a point of going over everything before they headed out.

 

Stepping into the morning sunshine, she glanced at the woman and boy on the bench, giving them a nod and tip of her hat.  "We'll be off in just a spell, ma'am.  If ya need ta use th' outhouse, now's a good time."  Once they were on the road, she'd see if the lad wanted to ride up top with her and Ross for a spell...he reminded her of Weedy, and she knew boys liked sitting behind the driver.

 

Then she noticed Caroline and broke into a grin. "You goin' on this trip, too?  Givin' up on Kalispell so soon?  How ya been?"

 

@Wayfarer

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Glancing up from her seat, Mrs. Honeycutt saw the driver. She had first been surprised to hear the stage lines had a woman driver but while she did not understand why any lady would even desire such a job, it was none of her affair.

 

  "We'll be off in just a spell, ma'am.  If ya need ta use th' outhouse, now's a good time."

 

"Oh no, that's quite alright. We are already prepared to leave, thank you," Mrs. Honeycutt smiled back.

Bucky just squirmed a little in his seat on the bench, he was very excited for the adventure of a stage coach ride! Plus no school.

 

Then Addy noticed Caroline and broke into a grin. "You goin' on this trip, too?  Givin' up on Kalispell so soon?  How ya been?"

 

"Howdy! Good ta see you again, hon" Caroline beamed, "No, I love it here. But I'm heading to Helena to attend the funeral of an old friend."

 

"I been good, Star Dust is a good place to work, good people, and you might have heard ? I am regarded as the best singer in the place."

 

She let that sink in only for a brief instant then added, "Also their only singer but...hey!"

 

"So how you been? How's that boy of yers?"

 

@Bongo

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"Glad ta hear yer stayin'."  Nodding, Addy grinned as she started to run her fingers quickly over the harness, feeling for imperfections and checking that the buckles were secure.  "Weedy's doin' real good, boy's too smart for you own good!"  Laughing, she added, "I'm learnin' ta read, though, an' Perfesser Brown, who lives right behind us keeps th' boy busy with all manner'a science an' whatnot." 

 

Straightening, she grinned.  "An' my brother come out ta visit, brought his boy...good ta have family around.  Sorry ta hear ya lost a friend, though.  That's rough."

 

She glanced over as Ross started tossing luggage into the boot.  "Leastways'll be a nice ride."

 

@Wayfarer

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"Glad to hear about the boy," Caroline smiled, "And good for you too, learnin' ta read I mean. I sure was glad my Ma taught me that time. Never been in a schoolhouse in my life."

 

So she had a brother then too, now Caroline never had siblings but it was plain Addy was quite pleased to reacquaint with him. As for her deceased friend....

 

"Oh we sort drifted apart. But I was sad to hear about her sudden death so thought I would go pay my respects," Caroline explained.

 

Caroline did have to take issue with Addy's opinion on the upcoming ride.

 

"Nice ride? Not if it's like every other stagecoach ride I been on. It's bumpy and cramped and my ass hurts by the end of one," Caroline begged to differ, but with a grin.

 

At that point though the shotgun guard was loading luggage onto the stage, it was time to get going. Rebecca Honeycutt motioned for Byron to get up and the pair proceeded to enter the passenger compartment. Caroline let them pick their seats then clambered on in herself.

 

"Later hon, try to miss at least a few of the bumps in the road."

 

Ross now joined Addy up top, shoving the now loaded shotgun into it's topside sheath.  He turned to Addy, "Least the passenger load is nice and light. So you know that saloon whore, do ya?  I heard the joint got a new owner, some out of towner jasper."

 

@Bongo

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"Nice ride? Not if it's like every other stagecoach ride I been on. It's bumpy and cramped and my ass hurts by the end of one," Caroline begged to differ, but with a grin.

 

"Once ya gotta enough hours on th' seat, yer ass goes plumb numb, don't feel a thing!"  Addy laughed.

 

"Later hon, try to miss at least a few of the bumps in the road."

 

"We'll find 'em all!"  Checking that the door was secure, she climbed onto the box beside Ross, then gathered the lines.

 

"Least the passenger load is nice and light. So you know that saloon whore, do ya?  I heard the joint got a new owner, some out of towner jasper."

 

"She's a singer," Addy declared, snapping the lines, causing the four horses to lurch forward into their harness.  "An' yep, I heard somethin' 'bout th' owner, but I ain't had cause ta go over there much since me an' Weedy  got a place'a our own.  I'm tryin' ta be more diligent, but that takes a derned site more work'n I thought it would!  What about you?   What's good in yer life?  'Sides me, a'course!"

 

@Wayfarer

 

 

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"Yeah, never raised me any kids myself. I think I told ya, I was married once when I was a young man but she up and died on me. Got some fever and went quick like. I reckoned it was an omen I was never meant to be hitched," Ross explained.

 

Addy asked about his current situation, in that jokey way of hers. Ross liked that she didn't seem to take things too seriously. He liked easy going folk.

 

"Not much, the usual. I been working on fixin' my leaky roof on my place. Figure I better do it now before winter sets in."

 

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The stage soon cleared Kalispell and headed on down the winding road that would eventually lead to Helena. It was scenic territory  what with mountains and plenty of woods. The dirt road sufficed during good weather but could be a might tricky in the rain or early snows. Midwinter the passes were usually completely closed down by huge snowfalls made worse by drifts.

 

 

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"It surely is beautiful this time'a year," Addy observed, "makes th' rest worth while.  Well, not really, could well do without th' mud an' slush, an' cold an' wet, but ya know that!"  Heck, Ross had been doing this longer than she'd been alive, he'd seen the worst the job could offer, yet he still appreciated the beauty around them.

 

"Got th' swing station comin' up in an hour or so, be good ta see ol' Swede again.  Been a time, since he broke his leg, an' I don't got nothin' bad ta say 'bout that Ray, but he's just...kinda sour, ya know?  Don't got Swede's sense'a humor."

 

The station master at the swing stations was responsible for hitching a fresh team of horses, and having them waiting to switch out with the old team.  It didn't usually take but a few minutes, and it gave the passengers a chance to stretch their legs and use the outhouse.  Most of the stations had hot coffee and tea as well, and depending on the time of day, some form of meal...and, on occasion, the station master would have treats.

 

An accident in early Winter had laid up Swede, but he was reportedly going to be back on the job today, and Addy was looking forward to his coffee!

 

"I'll ask th' missus if she'll let her boy ride up with us fer a spell when we leave, might give him a bit of a thrill."

 

@Wayfarer

 

 

 

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"I knew Ray since he was knee high to a grasshopper - he was a gloomy kid even then. And he ain't gotten any better. But yep, Swede is a good ol' horse," Ross opined.

 

"Well, he ain't an actual horse lucky fer him, if he was they'd have shot him," he then laughed at his own joke.

 

Ross knew company policy frowned on passengers riding up top but it happened with a fair amount of regularity so he said nothing about Addy's comment about the lad. Besides, if a stage crashed the boy would be no more safe in the stage passenger compartment than up on top. He himself had only been in more accident in his years with the stage and there had been just one fatality that time - this woman broke her neck. But then she had been ninety-three, might have had something to do with it.

 

***

 

Pulling into the station, things continued to go smoothly. Sure enough, Swede was there and took the teasing Ross gave him with good natured toleration. He also informed Addy there was a warm pot on the stove of his famous coffee.

 

Caroline alighted just to stretch her legs, she did pull out a small flask from within her clothing and took a quick swig of its contents. Ralph had kindly let her fill it with some of the expensive stuff so it went down nice n' smooth.

 

The mother and son also got out, the boy racing to use the outhouse. She simply waited for his return. Neither woman said a word to each other. They had already chatted for just a bit on the trip but when the topic came up as to what Caroline did for a living, Rebecca was then reluctant to engage further. Mostly because she did not want Byron to hear anything ...well which might make him curious or ask questions. Saloons were not proper topics for a young lad. But the women had remained quite civil.

 

Caroline understood her reluctance really, she had been treated far worse so many times, that this was not really offensive. The boy was very well behaved and she could see the bond was close. She liked that. She herself had been close to her mother.

@Bongo

 

 

 

 

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It was good to get down to stretch, and Addy was happy when the feeling returned to her backside!  After quickly checking the harness on the new team, she went into the station to grab some coffee, opting to stand while she was savoring it...there was going to be plenty of sitting!

 

They were there perhaps fifteen minutes before everyone was loaded up and they were on the road again.  The day was beautiful, warm with a nice breeze, and they were making good time, and even the questions from little Byron, sitting between Addy and Ross (if his mom said okay), weren't too annoying.  Maybe Addy could inspire the lad to drive stage when he got older!

 

@Wayfarer

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This was not a trip Byron had really wanted to make. They were leaving Kalispell for good and really that was the only home he knew. He had friends in school, he had had to leave behind his dog and his father's horse. Well, Ma had sold the horse and the dog got given away to another farmer. Still, he'd never see either of them again. His mother said he needed to see this as a big adventure and she promised he would learn to like their new home. When they made one.

 

But sitting up with the lady driver and the big bearded man was a whole lot more fun than being down in the passenger cabin. Oh he had been curious about the pretty young woman passenger but his mother said it was best not to talk with strangers unless spoken to.  He wasn't stupid, he could tell his mother seemed just a bit nervous about that lady. No matter, girls were kinda boring.

 

"So....you ever been held up by robbers?" he now asked, just like what happened in those penny westerns.

 

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Ross chuckled, "Well, not sure about Addy here but I was robbed once. Not on a stage though but in a back alley in Helena. I mighta had a few too many drinks though cuz I didn't even remember their faces."

 

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"Oh yeah? How many of em?" the boy was fascinated.

 

"About thirty I think," Ross replied in a straight face, not sure just gullible the kid might be.

 

Byron gave him a look, "Now you're fibbin'."

 

"Yeah, son, supposin' I am. But hey, you want a true story of adventure, Addy here 'll tell ya one. She once killed a huge bear that had the whole territory scared. And she just did it with her knife. Tell the boy, Addy," Ross was grinning.

 

@Bongo

 

 

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Meanwhile, while the stage coach followed the winding road, unknown to those on it they were being watched. Up on the crest of a wooded ridgeline, a party of mounted men had a grandstand view of down below and they had spotted the stage clattering along.

 

There were almost a dozen of them, an Arapaho war party. They were fresh from a successful ambush of another white mans' wagon. They had struck hard and fast, kiling it's occupants, two wasi'chu*   wearing the blue coats. It brought them a pair of scalps but more importantly two more rifles and revolvers. One of the warriors had decided to keep a blue coat and was now wearing that ignoring the blood on it.

 

Teestou (Strikes on Top) was the warrior who had organized this war party, a warrior of some renown in his village, he had strongly disagreed with the elders' decision not to join some of the other Arapahos who now fought alongside Sitting Bull and the Sioux. Even the great victory of the Sioux, Cheyenne, and others over the wasi'chu Yellow Hair at the Little Big Horn had not convinced the elders. So Teestou decided to go to war without their blessings and convinced the other members of the warband, a mix of men in their prime and a few older boys, to accompany him.

 

Teestou was a bitter man, his sqaw and his two children had been killed by the wasi'chu last hunting season and he had burned for vengeance ever since. Now he would make them pay and bring glory to his name and all who rode with him.

 

Indianforsagas.jpg

@Bongo

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"Was a shotgun, ya ol' rascal!"  Addy laughed.  "But I did kill me a bear after he kilt one'a my horses.  Look't him right in th' eyes an' sent him ta his maker.  Give his carcass t' th' local Utes, that bear was big enough ta feed that tribe fer a week, an' his hide'd give some warmth come Winter!"

 

This part of the trail took a bit more concentration, there were numerous turns, and hills both up and down, so that the horses had to break stride and change pace, but Addy enjoyed the challenge, and the team was up to the task.

 

"I been robbed a time'er two," she continued, "but come ta no harm, an' had nothin' worth stealin'."  Not very exciting, but life seldom measured up to expectations.

 

@Wayfarer

 

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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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