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    • "We'll have to get on over to the dinning room them. Afraid it's liable to be a bit more like Kalispell than Frisco." He said. "But it'll be good food, just not what we've been used too. Will be up on the hill, for sure.  I was told this is the best hotel because it was a ways out across the river from town, and it was solid built."   "The wealth on the hill is such that all most everything around it is growing at a fast pace. You'll really see that when we visit the Capitol, Carson City. Supposedly discovered by Kit Carson and General John Freemont on their way to Sacramento in. At least Freemont named the river after him back in '43 or '44. Nothin' was there then."   "All that made me hungry too, let's go eat an then take us a walk across the river, or along it, which ever you want." @Bongo
    • That did not take long. Cookie rang the triangle and shouted his best but in the end he sent the kid to roust all but the closest to him. Rance joined young Wheeler in the line, a bit out of the wind, but mostly in it for the moment. It seemed calmer up by the wagon.   "That had ta be bad back there. The wind drivin' the dust an' the smell, but should this wind let up you'll be on flank, left flank, then right, then back to the drag. It'll be me, Dallas, an' Dixie. eatin' dust tomorrow. But at least we got hot grub, won't always be that'a way out here though, every trip is different."   And they moved up steadily. @Bongo
    • "Nothing to discuss? I am surprised, Jonah. Why, if we have time for breakfast, there will be much to discuss regarding the hospital as well as the start of the orphanage. Hopefully that the railroad will be completed, or close to it by then." She smiled brightly. "Things will be different by then."   "My hope is that we get through all of this without my fathers interference causing delays, or real problems with the builders. You know we could get well into October before the snow flies, but I'm not counting on that. The winter will stop construction until the thaw." She stated, but the smile was still there, "But it will be well underway!" @Bongo
    • "Pleased ta meet ya, Rance."  Justus gave the man a nod, then lined up with the others for grub.  Maybe he could get some sleep despite the wind.  He surely was tired enough, and until there was something that concerned him, he didn't need to be concerned.   First, though, a full belly!  As the line progressed, he he nodded to the kid who was the cook's help.  "Times like this, I bet yer glad ya don't have ta be on th' downwind end of a herd'a cows!"   @Flip
    • "It's good to know you'll have the best working on the project, you've come this far, you don't need to risk the quality with less than the best working on it."  Even though he had no doubt that the crew would be excellent, it was reassuring to know that the man hand picked for the job would actually be on site overseeing it.  That way, too, he'd be there if Leah needed to discuss anything with him, and Jonah had a good feeling that was going to happen!   He grinned and took a sip of coffee.  "Just think, this time next year it will all be over!  We'll have a fine hospital with the best equipment...and nothing to discuss over breakfast!"   @Flip  

Morning In Kalispel

Barnabas Pike

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Pronto Pike stepped out of the bathhouse as clean as a whistle. There we a couple of things he meant to accomplish before the day was out, report in with the Marshal. Men that have been in gun trouble, be they right or wrong get known by all manner of lawmen. He would be no exception.


The owl-hoot wearing a badge in Whitefish may or may not have placed him. May not have heard of him at all, but Pronto was certainly aware of Case Steelgrave. He mounted his horse and walked it down the street to the building with the sign reading U.S. Marshal, stepping down he flipped the reins over the hitch rail and stepped up onto the board walking three steps he was at the door, turned the white porcelain knob and stepped inside.


“Mornin’.” He greeted.


Hannah looked up at the greeting. She was sporting a shiner from the brawl but despite that, she had had her share of dance partners the night before. She was, therefore, somewhat bleary-eyed from the late night. It had been a relief to volunteer for Sunday morning duty, leaving her father free to go to sleep in and go to church. Hannah recognized the man from the brawl and the dinner. He had come in on the side of Shade Thornton and Lost Lake Ranch.


"Good morning. May I help you?" Hannah spoke clearly and politely, raising one eyebrow in inquiry. Although they now officially shared the town marshal's office with the new regional U.S. Marshal, McCallister had not put in an appearance that morning so far. Perhaps he was at church or getting himself settled since he'd only arrived the day before.


Pronto smiled in spite of himself. "See you were in the beer tent. Name's Pike, Pronto Pike." He said, noticing the Deputy Marshal badge. "No wants as far as I know. Been known to use these a time or two." Referring to his pistols. "So I'm checkin' in, proper thing to do." He studied her a moment. "Marshal about at all?" It was nothing against her, he'd just as soon deal with both of them at the same time, rather than have the Marshal come hunting him.


"I haven't seen the new U.S. Marshal this morning. Marshal Cory is at church and will be here later today," Hannah replied as she studied the stranger. She touched the bruising around her eye lightly, "Yes," she added dryly, "I was there. Leave it to the Steelgrave outfit and Shade Thornton to ruin a perfectly good fair. Care for a coffee?" She added as she rose to her feet and moved toward the stove set in a niche at the back of the room while keeping the man in her peripheral view. "I am Hannah Cory, by the way."


"A pleasure Hannah Cory. Coffee sounds real good," He replied. "Steelgrave, that name just keeps on poppin' up. What sortta outfit is it this man's runnin'? Don't sound like he's real popular hereabouts."


Hannah poured two cups of coffee and carried them back to the desk she shared with the other deputies. Indicating a chair for Pike, she settled into the one behind the old walnut desk. She would go through the wanted sheets they had later although she figured since the man was stopping into the office of his own accord, she would not find anything.


"Overall acreage, the Steelgrave place does not hold a candle to the other big spread in the area, but old Elias is out to change that anyway he can," Hannah told the man after taking a sip of her coffee. "So far, it hasn't come to an all-out range war. It likely will sooner or later. Been bad blood between the Thorntons and Steelgraves going back more than a generation. The family pretty much owns Whitefish. Getting warrants on any of them - well - hasn't happened so far."


Pike accepted the cup and the offered seat. "Met the Marshal up that way. Steelegrave, sortta pushy." He took a sip. "Now a range war, that's a pretty ugly matter. Both spreads will be needin' gun hands, not punchers, so I'd be one to keep an eye out for that sort. Why I could be mistaken for one my own self. Bein' honest, I've drawn fightin' wages afore, but I ain't here to side up with either outfit. Me, I'm lookin' to maybe find a place, a small place to raise a little beef. Live quiet like." Now that was all true enough, he was always on the hunt for a place of his own, and he had no interest in a shooting war for anybody. "Good coffee Ma'am-er Deputy."


"Ma'am or Deputy works, Mr. Pike," Hannah's lips twitched into a slight smile. "Despite some issues with Shade Thornton, I feel sure that if hostilities escalate, it won't be Lost Lake that fires the first shot. With the Indian troubles and the influx of settlers that have no idea what they are getting into, you'd think people would have more than enough to keep them busy." She took another sip of her coffee and her eyes glinted. "Marshal Steelgrave is probably the most predictable member of the family. It is an open secret that he doesn't kill unless the money is already in the bank."


"That' be him alright. Bein' there a U.S. Marshal about, he might outta check down Texas way. Rangers got 'em a passel of infermation on him. 'spose you could wire 'em yer own self." He took a  swallow of coffee. "Seems ol' Case Steelgrave killed the wrong man and lit out with the Rangers on his trail. Why he's here an' not there. Comes ta trouble betwixt them spreads, Case'll be in the thick of it."


"I'll pass the information on to Marshal McCallister and my father," Hannah said, "Thank you, Mr. Pike. I am honestly not sure why we have not received a wanted on him or why Texas has chosen not to pursue him into Montana," she mused. "No doubt," she said, a sardonic note in her voice, "Elias has something on the Texas governor or the Rangers' head honcho."


"I kinda doubt that Ma'am." Pronto disagreed. "Rangers got enough on their plate what with their own outlaws, Comancheros, Comanches, Apaches and such like. They might send one Ranger up to fetch him. It's a long trail Texas to Montana if they even know he's here. He did kill the wrong man, sure enough, but how important bringing him in is to the state of Texas? Hard to say." He paused. "The problem is likely to be right here when it comes."


"He may've killed the wrong man," Hannah said, "but it's unlikely he drew first. Not the way Case does things." She tilted her head, "You said you were looking to find a place and settle in the area, Mr. Pike. What brings you all the way to northwest Montana?" Hannah was always curious about the reasons people had for settling in Kalispell. Admittedly, her travel had been limited. She had been to San Francisco once to visit relatives and to Seattle. The rest of her travels had been in and around Montana, escorting prisoners, serving on posses. Overall, she didn't mind it. She loved Montana and the spirit of its people.


“Make the man drag iron first, that’d be Case Steelgrave’s way,” Pike agreed. ‘cept when the man he’s killin’ is a contract deal, then it’s all bets off. Aside to him not many have seen.” Then he smiled. “Visitin’ a friend north'a here an’ sortta follered my horse's nose this way. A man has that idea of just ridin’ the grub line an’ seein’ what’s what. Then he get’s ta thinkin’ of a place of his own. Reckon that’s where I’m at, considerin’ a place of my own.”


Unable to resist showing her pride in her hometown, Hannah said, "This is an amazing place. Making a go of it out here can be challengin' but if you're willing to work hard, the rewards are worth the effort." She turned her blue-green eyes toward the window where the locals were getting on with their day, some to work, some to church. "Between the night raiders, renegades, and Indian unrest, it's apt to get even more dangerous," she added because Hannah was nothing if not honest...about most things.


"Ain't known much else but hard work and trouble of one kind or another most of my life." Pike responded. "Be it injuns, 'er outlaws, 'er the war. So I figger I can jest about handle whatever this country has ta offer a man." He nodded at his own statement. "I'll be fer lookin' around and seein' what's what. Maybe find that patch o' dirt and sink some roots. Donno jest yet."


"The bank has a few properties where people decided this life wasn't for them," Hannah said helpfully. "There's also undeveloped land up for grabs too. Montana's been pushin' for settlers. It's got its problems like anywhere else, but it's a good place to live."


Considering what the Deputy had said, Pronto smiled. "You know, I jest might oughtta stop in at the bank an' see what's available. Maybe ride out an' see the places. That's good information deputy. I'll be fer followerin' up on it." He got to his feet, "Abliged for the coffee Ma'am. Been pleasant."


Hannah rose as well, "I am glad you stopped in, Mr. Pike." Her eyes danced with humor, "Instead of making us hunt you down. I will let my father and the U.S. Marshal know you're in the territory. Good day and good luck, sir," she added and politely offered her hand.


Pronto took her hand and shook it gently but firmly. "Yes Ma'am. Luck's always good ta have." He released her hand and made his way to the door and out onto the boardwalk.


Edited by Stormwolfe (see edit history)
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