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

The Lady Comes To Town


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827784302_1leahsteelgrave.jpg.6b43749fc26d486f46d1af11a12c4ebc.jpg

Leah Steelgrave had started the trip to Kalispell just at dawn, a possible four-hour drive. The buggy was to some degree more comfortable than riding sidesaddle for the sixteen miles from the ranch to Kalispell and Leah Steelgrave liked comfort.

Of course, she lifted her speed to a trot off and on, which cut her time just under three hours, putting her in town close to nine o’clock in the morning. She had had an escort of Steelgrave riders part of the way, but they turned back when Kalispell came into view. Elias had said Leah did not need a show of force.

 

The buggy eased down the main street at a walk and pulled up in front of the hotel. Leah stepped down, quickly attached the tetherweight to the halter and let it drop to the hard-packed street. She opened her parasol and stepped up onto the boardwalk moving fluidly toward the hotel doors, her silk bustle dress rustling as she moved inside closing her parasol with practiced ease. She moved across the lobby to the front desk where a man stood, smiling.

 

“Excuse me, could you inform Mister Conners that Leah Steelgrave is here to see him?” She requested softly.

 

TAG @Matt Wentworth

Edited by Stormwolfe (see edit history)
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The desk clerk stared for a moment, a bit dumbstruck by her beauty.  He knew who she was as he had found out all about her soon after he had started at the hotel.  A couple of his co-workers had warned him to stay away as it wouldn't be good for his health to get involved with her.  Guessing why she was here, he answered, "Just a moment, ma'am."

 

Entering the office, that was located behind the front desk, he cleared his throat.  "A lady here to see you, Mr. Wentworth."

 

Matt looked up from his paperwork and frowned.  The only lady he had made an acquaintance with was Miss Devereau and he doubt it was her as she would probably be getting her saloon ready for the day's trade.  Getting up from his desk, he acknowledged the desk clerk and made his way out.

 

The desk clerk followed quickly behind as he was eager to see how his new boss would handle Leah Steelgate.

 

Seeing a young lady, he smiled as he approached her.  "Good morning.  I understand that you want to see me."

 

@Elias Steelgrave

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Leah returned the smile and then said, "I'm afraid there has been some mistake. I am here to see the owner, Mister Conners, on business for my father." He was an attractive man, but not whom she wished to deal with. "If you could get him, please."

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Matt smiled.  He didn't expect many people to know that he was the new owner of the hotel as he only just told his employees less than an hour ago and he doubt that the news would get around that quick, even in a town as small as Kalispell.

 

"Mr. Conners is no longer the owner so if your father's business is with the hotel then he will have to deal with me.  If it is with Mr. Conners then I wish you luck in trying to find him."

 

@Elias Steelgrave

Edited by Matt Wentworth (see edit history)
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Leah was stunned. There was no talk or even a rumor of any other interested buyer for the hotel. "I am afraid sir, I don't understand. My father had been in negotiations with Harold Conners for the past two months and those negotiations were to close today." She was furious but did not allow the emotion to show instead she flashed a smile. Someone had undercut her father and he would not be happy. "Might inquire then, you are the new owner?"

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"Yes I am.  If your father was in negotiations with Conners then that is news to me."  He smiled, "In fact I got it cheaper than I expected and judging by the way Conners acted, he was very anxious to get rid of it."

 

"However, before I explain any further, I would like to introduce myself.  The name's Matt Wentworth and you are?"

 

"Leah, Leah Steelgrave, please to make your acquaintance." She responded with a smile which failed to match the anger she was feeling. "Odd, just last week he was driving a hard bargain. Oh well, his loss is your gain I suspect." She paused a moment. "And you are from?"

 

 

Tag @Matt Wentworth

Edited by Matt Wentworth (see edit history)
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  • 2 weeks later...

"I was originally from Washington, but I have lived in many places since then.  I tend to go where my money takes me."

 

Matt paused for a moment.  He had been briefed on all the Steelgrave family, but he hadn't expected meeting one so soon, especially the daughter.  It was clear she had come to her father's bidding and to soften up Conners.  No doubt she would be telling her father all about this latest development when she got home.  He would be surprised if he didn't see Elias Steelgrave before the end of the week.

 

Smiling apologetically, he continued on,  "All I can say is whatever your father was offering Conners, it was clearly not enough.  Conners told me that he had a previous offer but wasn't interested as the man was asking for too much.  I professed that this confused me a little but I'm not one to look a gift horse in the mouth when it comes to business and so I made a counter offer which Conners eagerly accepted."

 

Tag: @Elias Steelgrave

Edited by Matt Wentworth (see edit history)
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"A man makes the best deal he can, and clearly yours was the best offer," Leah said calmly, but inside she was raging. The old fool! "Well, thank you for your time, I've a few errands to run while I'm in town. It has been a pleasure Mister Wentworth, and I hope to see you again." Her father would not be happy, but there were other businesses that could be had, easily.

 

Tag @Matt Wentworth

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"The pleasure was all mine, ma'am. Maybe next time you can be my guest for lunch."  Matt smiled, "I hope the rest of your day is pleasant."

 

After escorting her out of the hotel, Matt went back to his office.  He thought about how he should handle Leah Steelgrave in the future.  Knowing what he knew about from the briefing he had been given on the family, he would have to be careful.  Thankfully, it wouldn't be hard as he already had plenty of experience in dealing with the likes of Leah.  Louisa and Leah were cut from the same cloth.  However, Louisa had been more experienced at using what God had given her to get what she wanted.

 

Shaking his head, he sat down at the desk.  Yes, Louisa knew what she was doing.  He had been young and too much in love...no it was lust that by the time he had found out what she was really like, it was too late.  There would have been no divorce as the scandal would have been too much for his mother and his father would have done anything to make sure the family's name was not tarnished.

 

Picking up his pencil, he turned his attention to the present and learning more about the hotel.

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1743735133_1leahsteelgrave-2.jpg.5f4211cc8b5f7aa003d2562ec5ecc2ff.jpg

 

'Lunch,' She thought. 'Perhaps it might be useful, then again, perhaps not as there was something about the man that disturbed her, though she could not identify the cause of the discomfort. Perhaps a bullet would be the better option.

 

She moved down the boardwalk and into the emporium where indeed, there was an assortment of ladies fashions on display. She wouldn't take long, her father needed to know of this new development.

 

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Edited by Flip (see edit history)
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