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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  

Paint the Town


Jonah Danforth
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While his demeanor appeared to be easy and relaxed as he leaned against a post in front of the Belle-St. Regis Hotel, Jonah was actually a bit nervous.  Not that he particularly was intimidated or enamored by the lady he was waiting for, but still, the 'date' was important to him getting settled in town here.  And he was interested in making a good impression where a lady was involved!

 

Having just come from Sunday services at the Methodist church, he was in the best clothes he had -- dark slacks, white linen shirt with onyx cufflinks, a black and maroon brocade vest under a maroon jacket and a narrow black bowtie.  His flat-brimmed hat sat on his head at a bit of a cocky angle.  (Think Ezra Standish!).  Unlike many people, though, he was comfortable in the clothes, and quite honestly would dress dapper all the time if he could afford it.

 

As he waited for Miz Harriet, he looked over the town, allowing as how it seemed like it was going to be the change of pace that he really needed!

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Harriet guided the buggy along the main road through Kalispell. She was giving her team a rest and using one of Lost Lake's high-stepping carriage horses. The big gray gelding had a gentle disposition and good mouth. The day promised to be gorgeous, so she had chosen the light carriage with a folding top. If it got too hot, they could raise the top for shade. The vehicle only had two seats, but there was a small well behind them where she had stored a parasol, blankets and a picnic basket.


She had chosen to dress practically for the day since she had no idea how comfortable the good doctor would be with managing the carriage. Her deep blue skirt was full-length with a cleverly concealed split in case she needed to ride the gray for any reason. Her tailored blouse with its long cuffs and full sleeves was a crisp white. A matching jacket lay folded in the well behind the seats. Although she had worn her hair up for Mass, afterward she had pulled the pins out and let it fall down her back. As usual, she wore a jaunty driving hat, gloves, and boots made of leather dyed to match the skirt and jacket. Harriet wanted to make a good impression.


"Whoa, Rory," Harriet called out to the big gray. Flashing a smile at Jonah, she said, "Dr. Danforth! Mrs. Hale provided us with a substantial picnic lunch. I thought we could check the property at the edge of town I was telling you about? Then maybe find a cool spot along the river?"

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As the small buggy approached, Jonas stepped off the boardwalk, tipping his hat to Harriet as she stopped.  She sure was a striking woman, and he suspected she was strong of spirit as well.

 

"Miz Mercer, a fine rig you have here, and a fine day for a drive."  He climbed in and sat next to her, smiling.  "I look forward to seeing the property and to whatever treats Mrs. Hale has prepared for us.  Honestly, I appreciate the chance to have a relaxing day before I have to get to business.  I trust you've had a good day so far?"

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"Please call me Harriet or even my business name of H.G. in private," Harriet said as the doctor settled himself in the buggy. She shot the man a mischievous grin, "Mass was blessedly short today. I believe the good Father was more interested in getting to the Hembree ranch for his Sunday dinner than saving our souls."

 

Surreptitiously, hidden below the sweep of her long eyelashes as she guided the buggy away from the sidewalk, she looked the man over. He had certainly dressed well for their outing. He was handsome, obviously well-educated, and genuinely interesting. She was looking forward to her day out with him. Still, after making sure the road was clear, Harriet turned the rig and started the gray out of town at a slow trot, mindful of the town's speed laws. Kalispell had had a spate of cowboys galloping full speed through the streets and freight wagons going way too fast. Two people had been badly injured as a result.

 

"The buggy is mine, but Rory belongs to the ranch. I love driving," Harriet told Jonas, deciding to keep her penchant for buggy and sulky racing to herself. Most men did not approve of women having such pursuits. "However, if you'd prefer to take the reins, Rory has a good mouth and a wonderfully gentle temperament."

 

@Bongo (Jonah)

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"Please call me Harriet or even my business name of H.G. in private," Harriet said as the doctor settled himself in the buggy. She shot the man a mischievous grin, "Mass was blessedly short today. I believe the good Father was more interested in getting to the Hembree ranch for his Sunday dinner than saving our souls."

 

"Harriet... and of course you can call me Jonah."  He smiled and nodded to her, then quipped, "Well, blessings come in all forms, right?  Besides, I think sometimes short and sweet is better than risking losing your audience to tedium."  This was going to be an enjoyable ride, he mused, and certainly a change from the norm!

 

"The buggy is mine, but Rory belongs to the ranch. I love driving," Harriet told Jonas, deciding to keep her penchant for buggy and sulky racing to herself. Most men did not approve of women having such pursuits. "However, if you'd prefer to take the reins, Rory has a good mouth and a wonderfully gentle temperament."

 

"Oh, no, you know him and his quirks."  Glancing at her with a cheeky grin, he added, "And I'll never turn down a chance to let someone else do the work!"  It would give him an opportunity to really look around at this new place and see what he'd gotten into.  "And you know your way around, so I will concede to your expertise.  This is a beautiful setting, though.  Is there much trouble with the natives?"

 

@Shade Thornton

 

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Harriet picked the buggy whip out of the holder and flicked Rory's haunches while clucking at him to come up. The horse settled into the harness and eased away from the sidewalk, settling into a jaunty jog-trot.


"The natives..." Harriet murmured as they turned toward the end of town where the property was that she had told Jonah about. "The trouble is more in the eastern part of the territory...right now. The Blackfoot tribe, hereabouts, are not our friends. They are also not our enemies." She sighed and shook her head, "It will get worse, I am afraid."

 

@Bongo (Jonah)

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Jonah glanced over at her with a raised eyebrow.  "Worse?  Why do you say that?"  He'd heard tales, of course, all sorts of them, and picking truth from exaggeration four all-out lies was sometimes difficult.  "And who do you think will be responsible.  I know the savages can be...well, savage and unreasonable, but the same could be said of any man or race.  And they've done the same to each other.  But, I'm sorry, this is supposed to be a day of pleasure!"

 

He chuckled, looking out at the scenery.  "Men fight for beauty and wealth...what is it you ladies fight for?"

 

@Shade Thornton

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Harriet considered Jonah's statements and questions for a few moments. She was not an alarmist by nature, but she preferred to be straight-forward with those she chose as friends. She shook her head to his comments regarding the Natives.


"The Natives I have met have been intelligent and peaceable. Their culture is quite different, often hard for us to understand. I also do not think many people make an effort. They fight for the same things that we do - their lives, their culture, their lands, their families."


"As more and more white settlers invade their lands, the more violence there will be. It is sad but inevitable. Too many lives will be lost on both sides. In the end, the Indians will lose the battle. Perhaps even be completely exterminated which is sad also. There is much they can teach us about the land and living peaceably with it."


Harriet shook her head and laughed ruefully, "I sound as if I am putting forth the summation at a trial. I've spent too much time in the courtroom and not enough talking to ... people." She arched an eyebrow at Jonah, "You said that men fight for beauty and wealth. Some women do the same, most women fight for themselves and their families as that is what they are raised to do. I fight for justice in the courtroom. I think women and men, white or redskin fight to survive and see that their legacy survives."

 

@Bongo (Jonah)

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"I'm sure you made an excellent attorney," Jonas chuckled, "although I must say, it's refreshing to speak with a woman who..."  Well, there was no delicate way to say that, so why bother...she knew.

 

"I'm not implying that I don't think that ladies aren't intelligent or have capacity for critical thinking and independent thought, it's just that they are seldom encouraged or taught to use their minds, if not downright suppressed!"

 

There was another good-natured chuckle.  "Whether or not that's a pity is a man's opinion, I suppose."

 

@Stormwolfe

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Harriet's laugh rippled from her throat, a pleasant and lovely sound. "I had no choice but to learn to fend for myself and my sister." She decided it was unnecessary to share the details of those circumstances. "Women should have more choices in life beyond marriage or prostituting themselves to survive. I made a choice."


Shrugging her slender shoulders, she darted Jonah a smile as she tugged the reins bringing the carriage to a stop. "Needless to say, more men find me annoying than alluring." Her smoky gray eyes danced, inviting him to be as amused by it as she was.


Harriet had been told by the banker that it would be open for inspection. She had seen him after Mass. He was not Catholic, but he and his wife spent one Sunday a month at the orphanage run by the nuns. Now, she turned her eyes to the property as she set the break and looped the reins over the holder at the front of the buggy. Alighting from the carriage, she looked to Jonah, "We have permission to go inside."


The house appeared to be in good repair despite having been vacant for some time. Other than a loose shutter and needing a coat of paint, the exterior seemed solid. "Mr. Croft said that it had good bones. Should not take a great deal of effort to make it habitable. If you choose it, I can represent you in the negotiations if you like."

 

@Bongo (Jonah)

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Jonah found it sad that women were not valued for the fascinating creatures that they were, but then he supposed that there were plenty of women who were happy and content to run a household and have children, and they were brilliant at it, and that was all right.

 

As they approached the house, he looked it over with an assessing eye -- he'd never actually bought a property or had more than a rented office and an apartment, so he wasn't too sure what he needed or how much it should cost.

 

"It's nice," he observed.  Two stories, surrounded by a picket fence that needed some mending, a small yard of grass and some flowers, and a big tree that provided shade.  "I can hang my shingle from the tree."

 

And he suddenly had the crazy notion that this could be real, be permanent, a place to actually settle and become a part of the community, so long as the mayor didn't have a teenage daughter with a wild streak!

 

"I need a reception area, exam room, perhaps one or two rooms for overnight patients..."  He could have his private quarters upstairs, he didn't really need much.  But he'd need a nurse, too, and a housekeeper...this was getting complicated!

 

@Stormwolfe

 

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Harriet had been examining the lawn with its neat white picket fence.  Something in Jonah's tone of voice brought her attention back to the doctor. It was not quite panic, more like a sudden realization of something she could not immediately define. Perhaps the thought of buying a place and setting up a more permanent place of business was suddenly overwhelming. Had it been the same for her? No. When Harriet had placed the sign for her business on her first office door, it had been with a sense of accomplishment and defiance. What about when the first... She gave a mental shake of her head. Some things needed to stay buried.


"I think the house should provide you with all of that, Jonah. It is larger than I thought it to be," Harriet assured the man. "Why not go inside and see how much space there actually is?" She turned toward the steps that led up toward the front porch. "You should consider having a ramp built to make it easier to carry those that are incapacitated inside..."

 

@Bongo (Go for Jonah!)

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"Oh, good idea.  It will make it easier to get equipment in, too."  Jonah smiled and nodded as he got out of the buggy then went around to help Harriet down. 

 

The place looked even more intimidating from the ground, although it was fairly straightforward and simple.  Still, it was two stories and had a small porch, and, well, it was a real house!  He looked up at it, then finally mounted the stairs and stepped onto the porch.

 

"Well, this is nice, I suppose.  I could put a rocker out here and watch the town go by!"  He chuckled then opened the door, standing back to let her enter first, then followed, leaving the door open.  The foyer was open, with a parlor to the right and a smaller room on the left, both with some furnishings -- a sofa, desk, chairs, cases with books...

 

"Ah, some furniture, that will make it easier."  He moved down the hall past the staircase and to the kitchen at the back of the lower floor.  "Looks....adequate."

 

He was a guy, this was a house...what more was there?

 

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@Stormwolfe

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Harriet looked around the house, walking through the parlor and sizing up the furnishings that had been left. The things that had been left behind were in good repair. Although it had been abandoned, the home was relatively clean. Croft had informed Harriet that he sent one of his daughters to clean it on a regular basis just in case someone became interested in purchasing the place.

 

The main floor was well-designed for a doctor's office. The parlor could easily serve as a waiting room and the smaller room across from it would work quite nicely for a receptionist. Harriet followed the hallway and found two more rooms, empty of furnishings. They could serve as examination rooms or an exam room and an overnight room. There was also a large kitchen, a dining room, and a privy.

 

Returning to the kitchen with Jonah in tow, Harriet noted a second set of stairs that led to the second floor. That would be handy if the doctor was going to make his living quarters on the upper floor. Large windows in the kitchen looked out on a small backyard, what appeared to be a chicken coop and stabling for a horse. There was also a space that had been used as a kitchen garden.

 

Turning to Jonah, Harriet waved a hand at the kitchen, "Someone loved this home once upon a time. I think you could do quite well here. We should see what is upstairs too. With luck, there is a place for a small stove. You would not have to come downstairs just for heating coffee or soup." She offered a saucy smile, "If you decide not to take it, I might put in an offer. Sooner or later, I will have to find a permanent place to live here. I do not see myself returning to San Francisco." Montana, particularly Kalispell, and its residents had taken hold of her heart. Harriet was seriously considering signing the house in San Francisco over to her sister. It was a big change for the lady attorney, but it was time to consider making those changes.

 

@Bongo

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"Oh, well, then I'll have to put in an offer quickly!"  Jonah grinned, leading the way to the stairs.  His hand ran over the smooth, finely carved wood or the banister in appreciation as he started up.  "It certainly seems some expert craftsmen worked on this place, so it should be standing for a good long while yet."

 

The stairs opened to a wide landing off which were four doors.  Each of these opened to bedrooms, and the front two had small balconies that overlooked the street.

 

"This really is nice," he commented, "I can use one room as an office, and, of course, the bedroom.  The other two, whatever I need...."  Again, there were some furnishings, two of the bedrooms had beds, one had a wardrobe...and that gave him a thought...

 

"This is going to be more complicated than I'd thought," he added with a chuckle, "I'll need all those...domestic things....linens, pots, pans...dishes, if I expect civilized company..."  He'd definitely have to hire help.

 

@Stormwolfe

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Harriet wandered down the hall, opening and closing doors. She was listening for squeaks and noises from the flooring that might hint at needed repairs. So far, like Jonah, she was quite impressed. At the end of the hall, where the back of the house would be, she saw a small indentation with a curtain over it. The curtain revealed a door which opened into a tiny alcove.

 

Giving a squeal of laughter and delight, she looked back at Jonah, "An upstairs privy! This home is a miracle!" Moving back to where he stood, she slanted a look up at him, "As far as needing help and household goods...you will have all that you need once word gets out, which it will...that a good-looking, single man - and a doctor at that! has moved to town." Harriet's eyes sparkled with humor, "Your kind is a bit rare in these parts."

 

@Bongo (Jonah)

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"Oh, well, I suppose I can trade goods for care," Jonah agreed, then he frowned.  "Good-looking?  Do you mean to say that I'm going to have to stave off the attentions of the town's unattached spinsters?  I suppose a steady supply of baked goods can't hurt!"   Well, if it made life easier, he supposed that would be all right, so long as they didn't get fancy notions.

 

"Well, as soon as we can get the paperwork on this going, I can send for my equipment and get business going properly.  This should prove...interesting."  He smiled at the woman.  "And an upstairs privy, luxury at its best!  I do thank you greatly for your assistance.  I owe you, once I have some chickens, I'll pay you back!"

 

@Stormwolfe

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Harriet shook her head, "You do not owe me anything, Jonah...especially not chickens! I promise you, the ranch has more than enough."


She turned to make her way back down the stairs, noting again that loving care had gone into the woodwork on the banisters and railings. Harriet always found it sad when a well-loved home was abandoned. "I will stop by the Croft's home on the way back to the ranch after our outing. They will not conduct business on a Sunday, but I can make arrangements for an appointment tomorrow morning."


Turning to face Jonah, Harriet's gray eyes sparkled with mild amusement, "You realize this is the frontier, yes? It will not only be spinsters setting their caps at you. We have our fair share of young women. Their mothers will be seeking suitable husbands for their daughters."

 

@Bongo

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"Ah, 'suitable', there's the clinch!"  Jonah laughed and shook his head.  "Although I suppose that 'MD' in front of my name immediately implies 'suitable', if not 'amazingly rich and respectable'!"  Grinning, he headed back down the stairs.  "Not that I mind the ladies, mind you, but at the moment I don't need that sort of complication, until I get settled at least."

 

While he appreciated the ladies, he certainly didn't want to live with one, and brave all the moods and rules, nope, not for him!  "At any rate, I am going to need some help around here, but then, that might be better trade than chickens!"  He laughed, although there was a large bit of truth in that!  He'd much prefer cleaning and cooking to a menagerie of more things to keep up.

 

"So, I'll make an offer and get this started."  He gave her a genuine smile, starting to actually look forward to this.  "I'll send to Oakdale for my supplies."

 

 

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Harriet felt herself relax completely at Jonah's words regarding not wanting the complications that a romantic relationship would entail. She had had a tiny niggling fear that he had asked her out that day due to some attraction. Harriet had had a couple of romantic entanglements in her life as well as a would-be suitor still residing in California. The suitor was a former client that Harriet had finally requested that he find another firm to represent him in his business dealings. Looking into his flat dark eyes had given her cold chills.


Perhaps Jonah could become another good friend? He was an enjoyable companion, handsome, and very intelligent. Harriet enjoyed his company. However, despite being at the age that was considered well past marriageable age, Harriet was not interested in setting her cap at him.


"Since the house is suitable, I will make a totally unladylike confession...I am starved!" Harriet flashed Jonah a smile and laughed. "I suggest I show you some of our spectacular landscape and we have lunch by the river?"

 

@Bongo

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"A wonderful suggestion."  Smiling, Jonah offered his arm as they headed for the buggy.  "Now that you mention it, I do find that I am craving lovely scenery!"  He laughed.  "And a good picnic would be welcome as well." 

 

He helped her up, then climbed in beside her.  "I do look forward to seeing more of the environs, I'll need to know my way around some, and I can't think of anyone better to show me."

 

Honestly, the scenery didn't mean much, a tree was a tree, but it was true that he needed to at least have a passing knowledge of the roads and what was where so he had some orientation when he was needed.  Besides, the company was charming!

 

@Stormwolfe

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When they reached the buggy, Harriet stepped up and settled on the passenger side. "The best way to learn your way around is to walk it, ride it, or drive it yourself." She confidently handed him the reins. Rory was a well-mannered horse and not the handful to drive that her teams were.

 

"This home is just south of the town proper and on the west side of Main Street. Its location is one of the many reasons that I thought it might suit you." Harriet pointed at the road, "Kalispell's Main Street is also the main trail south to Missoula and north to Whitefish." It was hard to keep the disdain from her voice when mentioning Whitefish. Her dislike of the Thorntons was tightly linked to her loathing of their pet lawyer.

 

"Jonah, I am going to offer an unsolicited piece of advice," Harriet turned to look at him. "If you are ever in need of legal help, come to me or go to anyone other than Carson Tyndall. He is a very well-known and powerful attorney, but he is on the Steelgraves' payroll. He represents their interests, not his client's." Jonah might as well learn about some of the undersides of the region as well. Sooner or later, Jonah would find himself treating the victims of Steelgrave justice. It was best that he be made aware of some of the local tensions before getting comfortable in the town.

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Jonah wasn't too good on keeping his souths from his wests, but he did know where Missoula was from here, so that would give him a frame of reference, and she was right, being on the edge of town kept the building from the main bustle while still being close to the action. 

 

"Well, I don't plan in needing an attorney any time soon, unless you know something I don't?"  He snapped the lines and the horse moved out at a brisk pace.  "Tell me about this 'Steelgrave?  I've heard the name, but it seems to be requisite to spit it out.  I take it the man isn't well-liked in town?"  That wasn't uncommon, especially in these smaller towns.  Some puffed-up blowhard had the notion that he was the be-all to end-all, and just made life miserable for everyone.

 

@Stormwolfe

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Harriet pointed toward where the road split and continued to the west of town. It also led to the boundary of Lost Lake Ranch which was her destination. She wanted to show Jonah one of her favorite places, a quiet forest glade next to the Chogun River. Giving the driving directions also let her consider how much to tell him about the Steelgraves.


"Two of the largest ranches in the area are Lost Lake Ranch which is owned by the Thornton family and Evergreen Ranch, owned by the Elias Steelgrave." Harriet made the distinction in the ownership on purpose. "There are other large spreads, but those two are the biggest and share a border."


How could she explain Elias Steelgrave without bringing the volatile history of both families into the conversation? Unconsciously, Harriet settled into her court-presentation voice. "The Steelgrave family started out in Missouri. They were and still are quite prominent in the northeast. Elias settled in Missoula in the early 1860s and established the family's western headquarters there. I have heard rumors of illicitly trafficked goods with various Indian tribes. How he did it is unclear, but he quadrupled the family's holdings and fortunes."


"Elias' goal was - or is - to take over this territory. He has stated a willingness to do whatever it takes to expand his empire. Right now, there are some obstacles to his plans here in Kalispell. Scott Cory, our town marshal, is an honest and upstanding man who believes in the rule of law. However, Elias' son, Case Steelgrave, has made himself town marshal in Whitefish - not a good situation." Harriet paused in her narrative. "The bad blood between the Thorntons and Steelgraves started from the moment Elias set his sites on the Chogun Valley. It certainly worsened when Shade Thornton killed Calvin Steelgrave in a gunfight thirteen years ago." Her voice trailed off, "Elias is not a man to cross swords with lightly. He and his entire family feel they have a right to run this region."

 

@Bongo (Jonah)

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"No one has the right to run anything he doesn't own," Jonah observed, shaking his head.  "I try to steer clear of politics, but sometimes that just isn't possible."  At least he was forewarned, although he'd never let politics or disagreements stand in the way of caring for a patient.  "Never did understand the lust for so much power...takes too much effort to get it and even more to keep it.  And it makes everyone around you miserable.  I just want to be comfortable with what I have and not worry about someone wanting to kill me to get it!"

 

Of course, the less work it took to get what you wanted, the better!  "I'll mind myself if I go to Whitefish, or just steer clear altogether.  It's pretty enough here to keep a man in place!"

 

@Stormwolfe

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