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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.

Let Me At 'em !


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Clara had good reason to be very happy with the town festival thus far. She had won the baking contest and with Shade finished second in the three legged race whereupon the man generously bestowed upon her those winnings. So it had not only been a fun day but a profitable one and the Redmond family could certainly use the money. So it was that she could hardly say 'no' when she was asked if she could watch the Thornton twins, Cody and Nettie. She was used to taking care of Wyatt sometimes much to his chagrin so what was a couple more? Clara was not always so sober and even grim, she softened her personality when dealing with young ones such as these children and soon had the pair of them following her about easily enough, the little girl at least chattering like a magpie. With Wyatt along too, the foursome wandered about the grounds watching various goings on of interest.


Late July and sunny so the heat wore down on everyone and soon the twins expressed an interest in getting something to drink, Wyatt jumped on that bandwagon immediately also.


"Fair enough, let us see what we can find," Clara agreed finding their requests quite reasonable, she herself could do with something to quench her own now dry throat.


There did not seem to be a well on the property, least not on the festival grounds but her eyes came upon the large tent erected to serve drinks for the adults, beer naturally enough though no doubt liquor too. Now Clara had tasted beer and, for the life of her, wondered why anyone could like that swill but menfolk it seemed never tired of it. Even her father enjoyed it on occasion, not that he was a saloon going man. Still they would have glasses in there and maybe water too? Or even better, just maybe they were serving sarsaparilla? She could splurge, just a little and buy the children a round of that carbonated beverage.


"Hold up," she stopped their progress as she faced the tent, "You three stay here and don't go anywhere. I will march in there and see what I can get for you that's wet."


"You mean whiskey?" Wyatt was wide eyed, this was a totally new Clara.


"Of course not," Clara rolled her eyes, "Just leave it to me. I shall be back forthwith."


Eying the twins first and seeing them both nod in agreement she poked Wyatt, "You are in charge. Do as I said. Wait."




In a moment Clara was poking her head inside the big tent, the place was already fairly crowded with an almost completely male population milling about talking, laughing, and of course drinking. There was a homemade bar stretching almost the length of the tent made of long flat boards placed upon an impressive row of barrels. Some gents were serving drinks from behind that and looked quite busy. No matter, Clara ignored what looks she did get, many paid no attention to the girl, and she approached the so called bar, silently rehearsing her order. She never quite got there.


Clare came to a sudden halt as if she had run full tilt into some invisible barrier, her eyes widened first in surprise but then narrowed as it sunk in exactly what...or rather WHO she was looking it. She had no doubt whatsoever, it was THEM! Surprise faded, became anger. Sarsparilla was instantly forgotten replaced by a real thirst for justice.

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Perhaps with a moment of calm reflection the girl might have decided to go summon the authorities or at the very least her father or somebody she knew would see it her way like Shade, but Clara's temper got the best of her. She had been humiliated that day at the lake, she had robbed of her clothing and her father's Colt Dragoon. It had festered ever since especially since none of the authorities had been able to locate the malefactors. Well right here they were, right in front of her grinning and drinking. Without hesitation she marched straight up to those two scum.


"You! Where is my clothing and my gun?" she demanded, hands on hips, glaring at the pair who turned to see what this was all about.




Billy blinked in surprise but then chuckled at the sight of her, "Oh lordy, you're the lake girl."



The other one, a good deal older and looking rough for wear, did not smile though it was plain to Clara the man recognized her, she could see it in his eyes and the way he tensed.


"And you are a thief and a bounder," she addressed the younger amused one, she had been right when she had guessed him to be close to her age back when she had only saw him at a distance. Did not excuse his behavior in the slightest though.


"And you are rather full of wild accusations I'd say. We didn't take nothin of yers, girl," Billy denied everything suddenly and with a smirk of a smile too, it was infuriating.


"Liar! I will take this up with the local law," Clara declared as she now clenched her fists at her side in a bid for self control.


The older cowboy glanced around, this confrontation had drawn the attention of half the tent, staring at this scene with mixed looks of confusion, amusement, and also disapproval. At the mere mention of authorities though, he grew angry and reached out to grab the girl by one of her upper arms.


"You'll do no such thing, girl. Don't go makin' trouble here!" he snarled.


Clara was not about to be manhandled by this odorous cur and with her free hand, she swung hard and smacked the man right in his face. That caused a reaction both in the crowd and from the man. He now held onto her arm all the more tightly and then grabbed her by her hair, easy enough with those pigtails of hers and the struggle was on.


"I've half a mind ta give you a spankin'!" he threatened, smarting from the blow but also upset at this brat's resistance.


"You are a half wit!" Clara tried pulling away and flailing with her free hand too then it came to her, she had another weapon at her availability. She gave him a swift kick right in his shin, "Let me go!"


"Owww! You little bitch!" the man lost his temper and punched her right in the face hard then threw her to the floor.


That brought a mixed reaction alright from the assembled onlookers, there were a bunch of Evergreen hands there, the two cowpokes Clara had approached worked for that ranch but there were others too and at least some of them were quite conflicted or even uncomfortable with the way the man had roughed up a girl of all things.


If Clara was hurt, and it did sting alright, she did not let on but scrambled to her feet and launched herself toward her attacker. Billy stepped in the way this time.


"Hey now! Calm down, you wildcat! You don' wanna git hurt here," he now tried to hold her back.

Edited by Wayfarer (see edit history)
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Location: Just outside the Belle-St. Regis Saloon Tent

Shade felt sure that they would find Hannah near the saloon tent. The Belle-St. Regis was a high-end establishment - in town - but the fair was open to all and sundry. If trouble were going to start anywhere, it would be there although it had been a close call at the end of the horse race. Shade had really wanted to beat the living daylights out of the rider of the Evergreen horse. Cooler heads had prevailed, and he had worked off some of his ire by helping to mend the dance floor.


He had been right about where to find Hannah Cory. They spotted her standing a few feet from the tent talking with another cowboy. From her hand motions, she was providing directions to the man. Shade nudged Quentin and Pronto and picked up his pace slightly, angling them toward where Hannah was standing. Shade called out to the Deputy Marshal, "Hey, Deputy, someone here wants to make your acquaintance...." Before he could say more and introduce Mr. Pike, three small bundles of energy hurled themselves at him and Quentin.


In unison, Wyatt Redmond, Nettie, and even Cody were shouting, talking, and tugging at him to come with them. All Shade could catch in their babble was that Clara was in trouble...in the saloon. He realized that they were talking about the Belle-St. Regis tent. Throwing a look at his companions to get them to follow, he took off for the tent.

Edited by Shade Thornton (see edit history)
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"Well, there he is," Aurelian spotted his son and the boy was still with the Thornton twins....but where was Clara? She was supposed to be watching over the younger ones and it was not like Clara to shirk her responsibilities. It took only a second or two to see there was some big commotion going on as the children were frantically gesturing Shade, Quentin, and a man he did not recognize to follow them. He decided to break into a lope, heat or not, to catch up and see what all the excitement was about.  Had Clara hurt herself in some freak accident? He hoped not.


It was the big beer tent set up by the local hotel that drew the children and adults to it? The kids were jabbering away so rapidly he could barely make out a few words but one of them was Clara! He looked to Shade since he knew that one of the adult trio the best.


"Now what?"


But none of the men stopped for a discussion, instead they continued on parting the tent flap and entering the interior. It was filled with men many of them with drinks in their hands but most of all of them were standing there gawking at ..................


"Clara?" Aurelian stopped dead in his tracks.


Billy was still trying to get the girl under control, she wouldn't stop struggling but looking up there were now four men who had just entered the place, two of them he knew..........Shade Thornton and Quentin Cantrell. The Evergreens rivals.


Clara squirmed enough to turn, "Pa! These are the men who robbed me!"


One of the bystanders, who had been standing there with a frown, chimed in, "And that big ape Greer slugged the girl, there was no call for that!"


The older of the two, Greer, had now been named and didn't like it. This was building up into more and more trouble.


"Shut up! This girl has no right comin' in here like some harpy and making up lies. We didn't do nothin!" Greer protested.


Behind him and Billy, some of the Evergreen hands began to set down their drinks and form up. Looked like a fight brewing and they needed to stick together...if for no other reason their boss would fire any shirker.



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Shade did not hesitate! With the horse race fresh on his mind and his sense of decency outraged by Clara's treatment, he moved forward as fast as a striking snake to knock Billy away from Clara. Grabbing the girl around the waist, he set her up on a table and said firmly, "Stay there!" Anything else he might  have said was cut off as a heavy hand landed on his shoulder, spun him around, and a massive fist cracked into the side of his face.


The last thing he heard clearly as fury took over was Hannah ordering him to stand down and then her muffled yelp.


Hannah had been too slow to stop Shade from hurtling into the man holding onto Clara Redmond. As she tried to grab for his arm, his momentum spun her into another man who reacted instinctively to seeing the badge and landed a right-cross to her jaw. Now Hannah's green-blue eyes sparked with pure rage as well. Hit the law, would he! Never mind that he was striking a woman.


As the man  Greer was named for hitting the child, Pronto Pike made a quick decision. This was none of his affair, but, he being who he was, bolted past the others heading directly for the bald man and when in range launched a powerful right hand to the man's jaw, lifting him off his feet and plopping him on the floor, raising a cloud of dust.


Pike stepped toward the man, fist balled up and his body leaning toward the fallen bully. "Git up! We ain't done by a longshot!" 


Quentin blinked as the tent erupted into chaos. They had just walked in and hardly had a chance to figure out what was happening before the fight started. Quentin saw Shade and his opponent engage and then saw Hannah get involved in her own fight. The newcomer waded in as Quentin felt motion from his side. He ducked in reflex and felt the fist pass over his shoulder and his opponent's momentum carried both of them to the side and against a table. Quentin held on and went with the impact, rolling across a table and both men fell a few feet to the floor. Quentin ended up on top and drove a quick right into his opponent's stomach. The burst of alcohol laced breath let him know his shot hit home. Quentin grabbed a handful of the other man's shirt and swung a straight left into the man's jaw. The impact stung his fist but the other man's eyes unfocused and rolled back. Quentin let him go and scrambled to his feet just in time to hear the sound of the other men advancing as a group. "Oh, dammit..." He said to himself before taking a breath and letting out an ear piercing rebel yell, taking a few steps and then launching himself into the air to body block the front of the group, sending the entire bunch staggering backward in the crowded tent, hoping to give some time and space to his friends.

Edited by Shade Thornton (see edit history)
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In the wake of the race, Addy just wanted a drink, then she'd hunt down the conniving rattlesnake who had tried to throw the race.  Fortunately, the man whose horse had been tripped up by the Steelegrave man hadn't been too badly injured, and the horse was fine, but Addy had let the man ride on Arabesque while she walked along with them, leading his horse that had a slight limp.  Once she'd made sure the rider was in the doctor's care she had checked out his horse and put cold compresses on its leg, so it was late into the festivities that she headed to the tent where drinks were being served.


Grumbling, she shook her head as she heard the shouting...just her luck that the minute she was able to grab a wiskey all hell was breaking loose.  But maybe it wouldn't be that bad, or she could slip by and get to the bar...


Then she saw the kids, Cody, Nettie and some boy she didn't recognize, peering anxiously in at the action, letting their curiosity get the better of them as they strayed a bit close...


"Woah, there, young'ns," she chuckled, stepping beside them, attempting to herd them back without blocking their view, "stay outta harm's way...that yer pa in there?"  She chuckled, then noticing Speed as well, and she shook her head.  "This is truly gonna be some spectacle," she observed, "but let's stay back." 




"Yeah, that's Pa....oh and Clara's in there too. She's the girl. She's my sister, " Wyatt said excitedly.


Dropping to a knee so she was closer to the kids' level, she asked, "So, we know yer pa's gonna win, but which of them others ya think'll go down first?"  Never too young to learn about betting!  "I say it's that big, ugly brute...I'm right, ya'll can muck stalls for me fer a day, if one'a you picks right, I'll buy ya all ice cream!"


Wyatt did not share the woman's confidence in his father, "I don't know. Pa doesn't really do this kinda thing ...that I ever saw. Wow, did you see that fancy lady stick that man with a pin?"  He then laughed.


He did want to finish answering the woman though, "Which big ugly one? Seems like there is a few of those kind." Truth was a lot of those looked pretty big to him.



Edited by Bongo (see edit history)
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Aurelian stepped in with the others, saw some young cowpoke hanging on to Clara as she did her best to resist and his eyes narrowed in anger. A voice rang out too saying some man named Greer had actually slugged the girl - HIS daughter! He took a step forward but one of the other men with him was faster, striding forward and decking that jasper. Shade was rescuing Clara from that other weedy cowboy only to get decked by a punch. It seemed the Evergreen crew was going to make this a full out fight. Aurelian was a reluctant brawler but he had a parent's anger right now so he plowed right in.


Someone actually took a swing at the deputy too, wrong on two levels, Hannah represented the law and she was of course a woman. He stepped up, blocked a wild swing then jabbed hard, planting a fist right in the nose of the opponent who let him know it hurt with a sharp cry of pain. He would have followed up but there had been a big collision or tackle or something and more than one fighter tumbled to the floor, also taking the legs out from under him and down he went.

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Finally help arrived and they wasted no time with such niceties as reasoned discussion but charged right in. Billy was shoved aside and Clara was at last free of his grip. Lucky for him too as she had fixing to kick him right between the legs, see how he liked that, might erase that smile from his face. Just then Shade literally picked her up much to her surprise and deposited her onto a table top with a very clear and simple command.


"Umm, Shade," she started as one of those cowboys was coming at him from the side.


"Stay there!" Shade demanded but then got punched a good one from the man she had been trying to warn him about.


Clara was not about to listen to Shade anyhow, despite the fact he only meant the best for her. She wasn't done yet with that beanpole Billy. But first she launched a hard kick at the very man who had punched Shade. She landed a glancing blow on the man's hip enough to jolt him and get his attention. With a growl he grabbed for her leg and yanked her right off the table landing onto the floor on her butt with a thud.



Edited by Wayfarer (see edit history)
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Shade had a peripheral impression of Quentin plowing into a bunch of Evergreen's hands. By now, the brawl was in full-force as several Lost Lake cowpokes were leaping into the fray, ready to defend the ranch's honor if it killed them. Though still reeling a bit from the blow, Shade saw Clara land a hit on the man that had sucker-punched him. He rolled his eyes and scooped the girl off the floor, once again setting her on the table, supposedly out of harm's way.


"Stay!" Shade growled at her in his dusty voice, whirling as he sense another man trying to come at him.


He had never known how to fight clean. Shade had learned his tricks and fighting style from a variety of teachers from the army to Indian warriors. He also put the force of his entire body into his blows, often using the back of his fist with his other hand adding leverage. Shade fought to win and he did not care how he won. As he ducked another blow, he caught sight of Hannah. She was holding her own and he pitied the man that had tangled with the wild-haired lady deputy. Hannah had always been a scrapper.

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Harriet had enjoyed the horse race, especially when Shade brought Morning Glory into first place. She had had a friendly wager on the race with Ezra and Kate, not much since she did not approve of gambling. She had also noticed Ezra step between Shade and the rider of the Evergreen horse, a big, flashy chestnut that seemed too skittish to be of much use. Fortunately, the older man obviously remembered the judge's warning regarding Shade keeping himself out of trouble or risk losing custody of the twins.

After the race, she had wandered the fairgrounds for a while before deciding she was thirsty. As a general rule, Harriet did not care for beer, but she wanted something more than water and sarsparilla sounded way too sweet. Decision made, she headed for the Belle-St. Regis saloon tent that had been set up on the outskirts of the vendor's alley.

She arrived to find the Thornton twins and a boy she did not know crouched near the entrance of the tent with a woman she did not know. The lady seemed to be looking out for the children which made Harriet wonder where their usual guardians were. She headed toward the tent, and by the time she was close enough to speak, she could also hear the ruckus inside.

"Oh no!" Her gray eyes widened, and she stepped inside, waving a hand at the twins to stay with the unknown woman.

The interior was chaos! Men, and Hannah, pushed and shoved at one another, blows were landing without much regard for whom was being hit, and profanity-laced shouts followed many of the punches that landed. She was not surprised to see Quentin and Shade in the midst of the melee. Harriet had secured her Spanish-style hat with a couple of pins earlier, and now she reached up and pulled one free. She intended to get Shade's attention with it. However, within a few steps, she found herself under assault by a tall, lanky, very drunk and dirty cowhand. Since she did not recognize him as one of Lost Lake's, she reached around and sank the hatpin into his hip. His yelp of agony made her smile.

Clearly, this fight needed another woman involved! Harriet waded in, wielding her hatpin against friend and foe alike.

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Greer shook his head to clear it from the initial punch. Using both hands to steady himself he launched himself at Pikes legs, sending the gunfighter to the floor with the bald man on top of him suddenly diving punches with both hands, wildly striking Pronto with both fists in the head and face. Struggling to keep his sense the Texan did the only thing he could, which way to block what punches he could as Greer struggled to better his position atop Pike, and that was a mistake. The moment the opening appeared, Pronto need him in the groin.


Greer fell off of Pike with a loud groan. Pronto sprang to a crouch but before he could do any more damage to his opponent, a chair splinted as it smashed across his back sending shards of wood flying and Pronto sprawling, quickly rolling aside as the remains of the chair descended, but missed its mark. Pronto lashing out with a boot to the aggressors kneecap resulting in a howl of pain as yet another man punched the chair wielder hard in the nose, crushing bone and sending blood flying as the man crumpled to the floor.


Pronto shook his battered head and pushed himself up to his feet only to be hit square on the jaw by a female. Everything went dark as Pronto collapsed in a heap.

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Quentin slowly clawed his way to his feet, laying about with his fists amidst the Evergreen hands. He made good progress with a few well placed punches and knees, even grabbing one hand and using him to plow an opening so he got some space after several breathless seconds. Quentin stood, panting hard, one hand on a knee as he was buffeted by the random struggling men. Suddenly a sharp pain lanced into his buttock and Quentin roared with pain at the unsuspected injury. He spun and grabbed a handful of fabric, fist coming back to deliver a blow before his eyes registered the identity of his assailant. "HARRIET?" Quentin said, voice still up from the pain.


Harriet blinked at Quentin as the brawl raged around them. Surreptitiously, she hid the hand holding the dagger-like hatpin in the folds of her gaucho-style riding skirt. "Quentin," she said sternly, attempting to take charge, as usual, "you and Shade should not be fighting. Remember the judge's warning!" After a moment, she added, an innocent look of inquiry on her face, "Did something bite you?"


Quentin blinked as the crowd swirled. "We did not start this! We're trying to help Clara!..." Quentin had to pause to catch a stumbling Evergreen hand. He spun the man and then gave him a push, helping him along with a boot back into the crowd of struggling men. He then looked back at Harriet while one hand rubbed back along his rear. "Yes, something did...it felt suspiciously like a needle..." Quentin's eyes narrowed suspiciously. "...or maybe a hatpin."


With her free hand, Harriet reached up, pulled her other hatpin free and displayed it to Quentin, "See, my hatpins are in place. Mosquitoes are really bad this year." For a moment, the fact they were having a civil conversation amidst a brawl seemed quite surreal. "Perhaps a particularly large one bit you? Or a bee?"


Quentin inhaled and swung a finger up between them to explode in response to her thin defense but was interrupted by noise and motion different than the fight swirling around the two of them...



Edited by Quentin Cantrell (see edit history)
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While Quentin and Harriet were having their little conversation amongst the mayhem, suddenly Clara went charging right past the pair of them hurtling herself at a gangly young cowpoke who had been an act of trying to worm his way past the fighting toward the exit. She gave no warning but tackled him from behind around his waist, and the two of them crashed onto the tent floor.


"Dammit girl, yer tetched! Get offa me, I don' wanna hit ya!" Billy squawked as he struggled to get her off him but she having none of it.


"You stole my stuff!" Clara verbally accosted him even as she flailed wild punches toward his face, forcing the young man to block them with his arms.


She didn't tag him with any good shots, but on the other hand, he wasn't getting her off of him either.


Quentin heard the squawking by the young man on the floor and then saw Clara on top of him. He stepped over and bent down, catching Billy under his armpits and dragging him up to his feet, catching a handful of his shirt to keep him from running while keeping himself between Clara and her target. He looked over at Harriet. "Grab her!"

Harriet looked at the angry face of the teenager and was on the verge of declining Quentin's order when Shade brushed past her. Once again, he grasped the girl by the waist and firmly set her on a table out of harm's way. In a move almost too fast for Harriet's eyes to follow, Shade then whirled around and took advantage of Quentin holding onto Billy to lay into him with a backhanded blow that rocked the man backward. Shade was beyond enraged, "You...will...hand...the...girl's things...over." This was said in a guttural snarl and punctuated by blows.

Backing closer to the table where Clara was, Harriet watched in fascinated horror as Shade worked the man over. It seemed that he intended to beat the confession out of him.

There was another flurry of movement, and Hannah threw herself into the mix, trying to catch Shade's arm and stop him, only to be shaken off. She looked at Quentin and Aurelian for help.

Edited by Wayfarer (see edit history)
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Slowly Pronto came around, his vision somewhat blurry, began to clear. He lifted himself to one side, a bit of a struggle, but he was close to being back to normal. Before he could push himself back to his feet, Greer took aim and lashed out with a boot toward Pronto’s head. Pike grabbed the boot and pulled his assailant to the floor, spring atop of him and delivering a barrage of blows to the man's face and head.


He leaped to his feet and ducked a punch, grabbing a chair and smashing it across the wrangler's face and chest. Then, turning to see that Shade and Quentin appeared to have the situation well in hand. But just to make sure he moved toward them as added insurance against interruption.

Edited by Flip (see edit history)
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Shade's friend pulled up the young cowpoke just as she was beginning to get in some decent hits and Clara fell backward for a minute, "He is mine!"


No sooner did she get to her feet when none other than Shade once more - for a third time - seized her about the waist and plopped her right back on a table.


"Stop doing that!" she was doing just fine she felt.


Aurelian reached her then putting a fatherly hand, a firm fatherly hand, upon her upper shoulder, "No you don't. Enough, Clara.  This brawling needs to stop before someone gets seriously injured..........or goes for a gun."


Meanwhile Billy found himself up but restrained by some man pinning his arms, "Lemme go!"


Shade then turned his fury on the young man, first giving him a hard backhand, snapping Billy's head to the side. Suddenly Billy could taste blood inside his mouth. But that was just the beginning, his attacker followed up with some hard punches to both his face and his body. The man was yelling angrily at him too but he was too stunned and pained to comprehend.


Aurelian now stepped in the way, "Alright, enough! You wanna kill him? Stop, Shade. For god's sake."


So this was one of the two who humiliated and stole from his daughter.........well, this jasper wasn't that much older than Clara by the look of him. Being a father, he wouldn't want his son beaten like this. If Shade didn't stop, Aurelian would try and physically restrain him though he had no wish to fight the man who had been so supportive of his daughter.

Edited by Wayfarer (see edit history)
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Sanity returned as Aurelian's quiet voice penetrated Shade's rage. He was still quivering with fury and within a hair of attacking again, but for now he stopped. Before he could turn to help Pronto or involve himself in the brawl again, the sharp report of a pistol brought him up short. Standing in the doorway of the tent was Marshal Scott Cory, his steel gray eyes daring anyone to continue the fight. In his hand was the pistol he had used to start the various events. It was loaded with blanks and had served the purpose of getting everyone's attention.


Cory's voice cracked almost as loud and sharp as the pistol, a distinct contract to the man's usually quiet, albeit stern, tones, "Just what in Sam Hill is going on in here? Deputy?" He turned his gaze on his daughter whose wild hair was wilder than usual.


Hannah could feel the cut along her cheekbone where a fist had impacted her face stinging and an ache around her left eye, the result of another blow landing before the man realized he was hitting a woman and an officer of the law. "The Evergreen man hit Miss Redmond," Hannah figured she would start with the incident that had launched the wholesale brawl. The decent men of Kalispell defending a girl from a brute might ameliorate her father's ire.


Scott Cory nodded to two of his deputies, "Who hit the girl?" His gaze followed Hannah as she nodded to where Greer stood, held firmly by the stranger that had arrived with Shade and Quentin. "He goes to jail and if the rest of you don't want to end up in the same place, disperse now."


Shade was still panting, fury in his eyes, but he was being still - for the moment. Scott Cory gave him one of his steely eyed looks, "Back down or you will spend the night in jail." That got through and Shade began to relax although still on alert. The marshal nodded at the boy who had been the recipient of Shade's angry attack, "What's your story, boy?"


Gradually, the whole story came out. Clara Redmond had spotted the two men that had allegedly accosted her at the lake and stole her father's gun and her clothing. Right now, there was only her word against theirs and the older man, Greer, was having none of it, claiming the girl was crazy and had made it all up. Cory was more inclined to believe the Redmond girl, but the lack of evidence was not in her favor. However, he did have the law on his side for this incident. Several witnesses spoke up and stated they had seen Greer hit the girl. That was enough to lock him up for now.


Scott Cory now had to sort everything else out. He looked at Redmond and Clara, his eyes still stern but kindness in their depths, "I believe you, Miss Clara, but there's not enough evidence to lock both of them up for theft right now. I can hold Greer for assault, but we need to come to an amicable agreement on the rest. Although," he looked at Billy, "I would not want to be you." His gaze slid over to where Shade stood, quiet now, but still vibrating with rage. Shade had always had an intense sense of right and wrong.

Edited by Shade Thornton (see edit history)
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