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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.

Bear-ly There


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Whitefish, Blackbird Saloon and Chop House

 

The request had been last minute, and had it not been 'urgent', Addy would likely have told the man at the freight office to just wait until morning to fetch the freight waiting in Whitefish, since the trip there and back would take several hours and it was already past noon.  But with the bribe of a little bonus, Addy had agreed to the trip, and in no time she had her team hitched ad was headed out of town.  If her timing worked out, she could grab supper at the saloon there while her wagon was being loaded, and she'd be back in Kalispell before dark.

 

Of course, Summer and evening meant the possibility of fighting gnats and mosquitoes, but that was just something you had to contend with.  And at least she had company...she'd been stopped by Speed on her way out of town, and the man had asked if he could accompany her, as a means of seeing more of the territory.  She hadn't been disappointed...while she was more than happy to travel alone, Speed was an easy companion, fun and interesting to chat with, and the four-hour trip had gone by quickly.

 

Now, as they waited for the wagon to be loaded with Dr. Danforth's equipment, as well as some other sundries that had been waiting for transport, they were at the 'Blackbird Saloon and Chop House', grabbing a quick meal.

 

"Food here's pretty good," Addy commented as they settled at a table, "owner's from England, an' they got things called 'cottage pie' an' 'toad in a hole'."  She didn't mention the 'spotted dick!  "An' they got excellent steak!"

 

First, though, she'd start with a beer to wash away the heat and road dust.

 

@Speed Guyer

 

 

 

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"Food here's pretty good," Addy commented as they settled at a table, "owner's from England, an' they got things called 'cottage pie' an' 'toad in a hole'."  She didn't mention the 'spotted dick!  "An' they got excellent steak!

 

 

"Now I could use a good steak." Speed admitted. It had been a long stretch since breakfast at the White Rose Boarding Houses cafe. And, he knew, it would be a long time to get back  with a loaded wagon. The company was good, though it would be slow going.

 

First, though, she'd start with a beer to wash away the heat and road dust.

 

"Best get us something to wash this dust out of our throats if you'll allow me? He offered. "Seems like a couple of beers would go pretty good about now."

 

Tag @Bongo

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Sitting at his usual table down the street at the Silver Dollar, the news of Chapple's arrival had reached Town Marshal Case Steelgrave. Along with that news of a man with her that had not been seen in Whitefish before. It was clear though, that this stranger was not the gunman Case had interest in.

 

"Boss, you want I should go down and see what's what with 'em?" Pecos asked. "Sort 'em out right quick like. Her wagon's bein' loaded with freight of one sort or another." Pecos was a salty one. Eager for the fight, short on manners, hygiene and, intelligence. A deadly sort of man.

 

Case looked up at the man, appreciating his skill, and his faults. "Let 'em be, Pecos. I already know what the freight is, and I've got no interest in whoever this new fellow is. Besides, I kind of like Addie Chapple, so she gets a pass in Whitefish." He paused then looked coldly into Pecos' eyes. Nothing happens to Addy Chapple in town or on the trail. You might want to remember that. Go see about the Englishman's business tax. No trouble about it just ask."

 

Right boss, I'll ask politely." And with that, he turned and left.

 

Pecos.jpg.f684c4476737797a7c68ac5483377972.jpg

                     Pecos

 

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Addy grinned.  "I'd be more'n happy."  When the waitress came by she ordered beer and a steak, then asked Speed, "Whacha think of th' big city'a Whitefish?"  She laughed.  "There more wilderness around these parts than ya figured, or was that what you were hopin' fer?"

 

Some people couldn't handle the lack of 'civilization', others, like her, looked for it, and still others looked to exploit it.

 

 

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After matching Addy's order of a steak and a beer  Speed began, "Well, I wouldn't exactly call this a big city." Speed replied with a smile. "I've been in the big cities in the east, and trust me I much prefer Kalispell and Whitefish to them." He paused as the waitress delivered the beers. "Wilderness, well, it's freedom. After the war, I thought New York would be the end all be all for me. It wasn't. It was crowded, noisy, filthy. Worse than the war, and that was plenty bad enough." He raised his glass to her.  "The wilderness. So, tell me, Miss Chappel, how'd you come to be a teamster?"

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Raising her glass, Addy gave the man a nod, then downed a long swig.  "In m' blood," she explained, setting the mug on the table, her finger idly rubbing over the handle.  "Pa's a muleskinner an' drover, an' I just took to it natural.  'Course, I had a passel'a brothers, so I learnt more 'bout critters'n cookin'!"  She laughed.  "I like it better'n bein' in a house all day, an' I drove durin' th' war, when there wasn't no men ta do it...an' just kept right on."

 

Honestly, she couldn't really imagine doing anything else, except maybe making beer!

 

"What 'bout you?  Ya say yer out here prospectin' or somethin'?"

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"True, I'm looking for mineral deposits, timber, that sort of thing. Mosty minerals though." Speed began. "My partner and I have a firm in New York. I find the ore, he finds the buyers. Pretty simple. Except I don't have to be in New York and he, Davis Wood, doesn't have to leave the city. Works out beautifully for the both of us." He smiled. "Actually. I hate the cities. Too crowded. Out here a man can stretch out, make something of his own. Can't do that in the cities. Oh, you can start a business alright, but then one is trapped in it. I admire your outlook."

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Leaning forward, Addy raised an eyebrow, then whispered, "So, th' rumors 'bout gold are real?"  She was joshing, of course, and even if she wasn't she'd never say anything like that loud enough for anyone to overhear -- even an unfounded hint could bring a rush of insanity that could lead to massive destruction.

 

She sat back with a grin and took a sip of her beer.  "I've found that away from th' big, fancy cities folks take ya fer what ya are, so long as ya look out fer yerself an' mind God's law.

 

Few ever questioned her driving a stage or wearing britches out here, and if someone did, there always seemed to be another who would jump to her defense.

 

"'Cept maybe school marms," she observed, "folks are awfully particular 'bout who's teachin' their young'ins, no matter where they are...Nope, no drinkin' of marryin' fer them!"

 

@Speed Guyer

 

 

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 Leaning forward, Addy raised an eyebrow, then whispered, "So, th' rumors 'bout gold are real?"  She was joshing, of course, and even if she wasn't she'd never say anything like that loud enough for anyone to overhear -- even an unfounded hint could bring a rush of insanity that could lead to massive destruction.

 

 Knowing what that word could do, Speed leaned forward and in a low voice replied; “Gold?” He smiled. “That remains to be seen, I’ve yet to get out in the field. There could be.” Then he sat back.

 

She sat back with a grin and took a sip of her beer.  "I've found that away from th' big, fancy cities folks take ya fer what ya are, so long as ya look out fer yerself an' mind God's law.

 

“A major part of what I found so far. Oh, there are those that have abandoned the law and run roughshod over good people. But in the end, most are good God-fearing folks who mind their own affairs and are always ready to lend a hand.” Speed said seriously.

 

Few ever questioned her driving a stage or wearing britches out here, and if someone did, there always seemed to be another who would jump to her defense.
 
"'Cept maybe school marms," she observed, "folks are awfully particular 'bout who's teachin' their young'ins, no matter where they are...Nope, no drinkin' of marryin' fer them!"

 

“Yes, a sad thing. But it's the same in the east. Hopefully, that will change.” Speed responded. “It seemed to be loosening up before I left New York. I mean people have the right to be happy and be dedicated to their calling in life. Seems we just ten years past fought a war for reunification of this country, That was enough sorrow for one nation. Sorry, just an old soldier ranting here.” He took a sip of beer.

 

Tag @Adelaide Chappel

 

Edited by Flip (see edit history)
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Addy shrugged.  "No sorry, yer right, war took a heavy cost an' we ought not ta throw that away."  Even though she'd been with the 'losing' side, the War Between the States had been horrific and in all honesty no one had 'won'.  "Still an' all, can't abide havin' buildin's blockin' my sun an' fancy trolley cars cloggin' th' roads."

 

Leaning back, she nodded to the waitress as the food was delivered.  "Thank ya."  Then she glanced at Speed again.  "Can't say as I mind th' scenery 'round here, an' th' open...though I can do without th' snow.  Never good when ya get in a drift taller'n you are!"  She laughed, then dug into supper.

 

@Speed Guyer

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"Well," He began, "There's trolley cars all over in the east. And still one can find open country if you get out of the city. But honestly, you'd think there wasn't any room the way the buildings are jammed together." At that moment, the food arrived.  "Ah, thank you, this looks good." He attacked the steak with vigor, realizing how hungry he was. Between bites, he asked; "How long you figure to get back?"

 

Tag @Adelaide Chappel

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"Be pushin' dark," Addy answered his question, "but I know th' road good toward town, nothin' ta worry 'bout.  Heck, th' horses can drive theirselves!"  And the road, once it got closer to Kalispell, was well maintained, so using it in the dark wasn't too risky.  "So long's there's no rain!"  With a grin, she gave him a quick wink.

 

"Get a nice view of th' stars come dark."  That was something she'd never get tired of, and sure, you could see then in the town, but there was nothing like being out in the open away from lights.  "Grab us some pie ta eat on th' way."  Yum!

 

@Speed Guyer

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Speed finished his steak, then his beer. "Rain?" He asked. "Does it come on all of a sudden like? I've seen that in the east and in the south." He wasn't sure if she was joshing him, or if she was serious. "Starlight in open country, nothing like it! Been one of the best parts of the trip out here.

 

He sat back and agreed. "Yes, pie for the trip back sounds just capital."

 

@Adelaide Chappel

 

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"Well, then..."  Addy grinned, pushing her plate aside and motioning over the waitress so they could order their pie and settle the bill.  "I thank ya for th' meal," she told Speed, "right good decision!"

 

Chuckling, she stood and gathered the pie.  "Should be long enough time that they got th' wagon loaded."  That was the good thing about some of these runs...there was pretty much no work with it, just drive in, wait to get loaded, then head out.  Of course, back in Kalispell, she'd have to unload, but she'd find help for that if she needed it.

 

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"So when we get back, you have folks to unload for you?" Speed asked, laying a quarter dollar on the table. "If not, I'll lend a hand. So far this has been a great time. Fact is if I'm not out scouring for mineral deposits and the like, I'd be glad to ride with you anytime." And he meant that.  He followed her out of the place into the cool of the evening.

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"Might be, but some'a th' load's fer th' new Doc, an' I ain't so sure he'll be so helpful, so it depends on how big th' crates are."  She stood and followed Speed out.  It was rime to get moving if they were going to make it close to town before it was dark.

 

"I'd certainly appreciate any help," she declared, "be a fool ta turn that down, sooner done, sooner I can get ta unhitchin' th' team an' be done!"  She shrugged.  "That don't matter too much, I ain't got nothin' early tomorrow."

 

The wagon was loaded and waiting, the cargo covered with a tarp just in case a rain storm came up, and Addy climbed up to settle on the seat as she gathered the lines.  "I'd be happy ta have company any time, never know when ya might need an extra hand."  She grinned.  "An' in return I promise ta look out fer shiny rocks!

 

@Speed Guyer

 

 

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"Then it seems we have a deal." Speed said as he climbed aboard. "Loaded like this I would expect it'll take longer to get back. You're sure we'll make it by dark?" He asked, not that it would be a problem, it was clear and he knew that the moon and stars would sufficiently light their way, should darkness fall before they reached Kalispell.

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"Maybe not ta town proper, but we'll be back to th' bigger roads, so it won't be too hard.  Horses know where they're goin'."  Heck, they could likely even navigate the way home without her, so long as they knew the barn and supper were waiting!  "Course, they'll be eager ta get home so they'll step a little livelier!"

 

Addy relaxed back, holding the ribbons loosely, "Less likely ta run inta anyone else much, an' that's good.  On occasion, ya get behind a farmer movin' hay or takin' a load'a grain to th' mill...lumber, too, an' there's nowhere for 'em ta move outta yer way."  Of course, other people had a right to be on the roads and had to do their business, but it could be annoying, especially when she was on a schedule.

 

It wasn't long before the light was starting to fade and the waning Moon was brightening overhead, along with a few stars and a planet.  "Lookit there...Mars, right, th' red planet.  Folks say there's bein's living up there.  Ya reckon that's so?"

 

@Speed Guyer

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"Maybe not ta town proper, but we'll be back to th' bigger roads, so it won't be too hard.  Horses know where they're goin'."  Heck, they could likely even navigate the way home without her, so long as they knew the barn and supper were waiting!  "Course, they'll be eager ta get home so they'll step a little livelier!"

 

“Horses know. I agree. They can find their way over familiar terrain with few if any problems.” He agreed. “Most of the trip the animals I bought had been steady mounts that didn’t mind the picket pin. But one in Ohio jerked that pin and set me afoot. The trail had been simple to follow, right back home. Man was agreeable enough and swapped him out for another. But that was some walk.”

 

Addy relaxed back, holding the ribbons loosely, "Less likely ta run inta anyone else much, an' that's good.  On occasion, ya get behind a farmer movin' hay or takin' a load'a grain to th' mill...lumber, too, an' there's nowhere for 'em ta move outta yer way."  Of course, other people had a right to be on the roads and had to do their business, but it could be annoying, especially when she was on a schedule.

 

“Oh, I imagine so. One day though, the trails out here will become roads with room in both directions, like the wider roads you have already.” He predicted. “Seen it happen in the east already. Then some are covered with cobblestone and brick. Cobblestones have been with us since Revolutionary times.”

 

It wasn't long before the light was starting to fade and the waning Moon was brightening overhead, along with a few stars and a planet.  "Lookit there...Mars, right, th' red planet.  Folks say there's bein's living up there.  Ya reckon that's so?"

 

“Mars? I’ve heard some of that talk when I was in New York. I suppose if the Maker wanted to, there could be, though I’ve not heard a word on the religious front.” Speed speculated. “Looks to be a long ways away don’t it?”

 

@Adelaide Chappel

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"Is that, fer certain!" Addy nodded agreement as she glanced at the darkening sky.  A few of the more prominent stars were already standing out against the waning light of dusk, along with the planet and Moon.  "Reckon th' horses'd get tired before we got there...if they could fly!"

 

She chuckled, then gave the lines a jiggle as the horses broke stride.  They picked up again, but then the off lead balked and shied into his mate, throwing the whole team off balance...

 

In a heartbeat, several things happened...

 

Addy considered that whatever had spooked the animal could be about anything, snake, coyote, mountain cat...no matter, she needed to maintain control of the horses, and she could sense Speed beside her tensing and looking for the danger...

 

The lead horses straightened, then squealed and reared back, and the wheelers backed into the traces, trying to get out of the way, only there was nowhere to go...the wagon lurched under the shifting of weight, and before Addy could bring the horses in line, there was a might roar from the right, and a flurry of dark fur as some beast grabbed at the off lead...

 

And there was sheer panic as the other horses tried to break free, the wagon tilted crazily...

 

@Speed Guyer

 

 

 

 

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All thoughts of Mars or bricked roads were gone in a heartbeat as the wagon lurched precariously and the creature attacked the horse, the others panicking and fighting to get away from the danger. Speed drew his revolver and fired as he hung on for dear life.

 

The first shot went wide, the second creased the animal's head, the third grazed the thing's shoulder. But no real damage was done. Where was the shotgun? He continued to fire three more times but to no effect.

 

"Addy? Shotgun" He shouted trying to re-holster his pistol, finally tossing it in the back with the freight.

 

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With the forward momentum suddenly stopped, the wagon was at least relatively stable, if akimbo, and with Speed shooting at the bear, she was concentrating on the horses, but when he called for the shotgun, she nodded, bracing herself as she leaned down and probed for the weapon that was usually behind her feet on the floorboards.

 

""Spit an' tarnation!" she growled...there wasn't time for this!  But finally her fingers closed around stock and she managed to drag it closer then pick it up.  The chaos was disorienting, but Addy knew that panic would be deadly.  "Loaded...just don' shoot me!"

 

And with that, she jumped to the ground then pulled her Bowie knife and started to cut the harness from the near wheeler, no easy task considering the horse was trying to climb over her to get away from the bear!

 

@Speed Guyer

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The chaos was disorienting, but Addy knew that panic would be deadly.  "Loaded...just don' shoot me!"

 

“Not on your life” Speed responded fighting to hold on with one hand and taking the shotgun with the other. His intent was to kill the bear. The wagon was stopped, the cargo askew, the bear mauling the horse a Speed eared the hammers back and took aim.
 

And with that, she jumped to the ground then pulled her Bowie knife and started to cut? the harness from the near wheeler, no easy task considering the horse was trying to climb over her to get away from the bear! ?

 

As with all things in life, the unexpected happened just as Speed squeezed both triggers, the horse attempted to bolt throwing him off balance and both barrels sent buckshot into the night sky!

 

“Damn it!” Speed shouted.

 

Tag @Adelaide Chappel

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Addy heard the shout right after the shotgun went off and glanced toward Speed.  It was apparent that the shots hadn't hit the bear, but the noise had spooked it and it paused in its attack, looking toward the wagon, then turning and running off.

 

Still, the horses were struggling, and Addy managed to free the horse she was with, then move to the next,  the near lead.  The draft horse was trying to get away, still, from the smell of its mate's blood, and Addy tried to calm it at the same time as dodging flailing hooves.  Another slash of the knife on leather and the horse's big head swung around and caught her in the chest, knocking her back...

 

@Speed Guyer

 

 

 

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Speed leaped to grab the halter of the animal, though he knew he'd have a hard time of it holding the animal from bolting. The bear was lumbering off now in the distance. The threat appeared to be passed as the animal jerked free and bolted in the opposite direction of the bear.

 

The force generated by the horse drove Speed to the ground. He quickly regained his footing and turned, offering a hand to Addy. "You alright?" He asked, genuinely concerned. "How far you figure the horse will run?"

 

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