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    • "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.
    • The single shot was loud, even with the traffic, the jingle of the trace chains and the people on the boardwalks conversing. It had been some time since that had been gunfire in town,  especially in the middle of the day, he was up, pad in hand and heading for the door. "That was a gunshot!" He said to Sarah. "I have no idea what it's about, but I intend to find out!"   He stepped out the door to see a crowd gathered and Marshal Guyer leading a man away, a man who looked familiar, but one he could not identify right off. He started down the street to see who belonged to the body laying on the boardwalk. There should be a story in this, it would appear someone had been murdered in broad daylight!   When he arrived at the body, it was of a man he did not recognize, not that he was aware of every drifter that passed through town, but the one being led off was familiar enough, he just could not place him at the moment. But clearly Chester and  Myrtle McIneery stood close behind the body, Chester steadying his wife who splattered with blood, no doubt from the dead man.   He then saw Arabella Mudd scurrying across the the street to the Municipal Building. He would be over there in a few moments himself but just then, the slower moving Mister Jolly and young Raymond, his other assistant, arrived on the scene. "Mister Jolly." He greeted, "Raymond. I see Miss Mudd is already at the Marshals office." @Javia

Wednesday Afternoon in Kalispell


Matt Wentworth
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Walking down the main street of town, Matt took his time to look around.  He had just finished lunch and was on his way back to the hotel.  The pastor's wife had cooked a very generous meal and the pastor had regaled with many stories about some of Kalispell's more colourful citizens.  The pastor also warned him about choosing his friends wisely which Matt took as a veiled reference to the Steelgraves.

 

As he continued down the street, he contemplated on going into the Stardust Saloon to apologise to Miss Devereau for not taking up her invitation of free drink on Monday.  With the weather like it was at the moment, a beer would go down nicely.  Maybe he would drop by after he finished work as he had almost finished going through all of the books.

 

The hotel books had been kept in reasonable order, so it wasn't hard to work out what the state of the hotel's finances were.  Thankfully, the hotel was turning a small profit, but it could be better.  He also needed to do some staff assessments and decide who going to stay and who wasn't.  Most of the staff seemed to be competent so he probably wouldn't be firing any one soon.

 

Pausing for a moment, he caught sight of some boys running down the street and smiled.  From what he had encountered so far, Kalispell seemed like a pleasant town on the surface.  Unfortunately, it was laid beneath that concerned him.

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The sun blazed down with all the fury typical of an August afternoon in northwest Montana. There was a good chance that the temperatures would reach the mid-to-high nineties before day's end. Deputy Marshal Hannah Cory paused in her progress along the street and looked longingly over at the Stardust Saloon. Then she shook her head, sending the unruly mass of golden-brown hair. Although she entered the saloons in the course of her patrols or in response to trouble, she rarely went in at any other time. Hannah was aware that there was only so much she could do without causing more of a stir amongst the town's old biddies than her job already caused.


Hannah called out to a group of boys racing down the street, warning them to watch out for horses and wagons. Racing down the town's main street was not as dangerous as it could be. There were town ordinances regarding speed. Hannah supposed having the boys running down the street was better than them running down pedestrians on the sidewalk.


The deputy marshal had just taken note of a tall, well-dressed man strolling along the boardwalk when the clatter of hooves going faster than was allowed got her attention. At the same time as Hannah spotted a group of rowdy riders galloping down the main street, she saw a smaller boy dart out of an alley, intent on catching up to his friends.


Hannah reacted without conscious thought, dropping her rifle and running into the street. She screamed at the riders to slow down and leaped into the street to snatch up the boy. Clutching his small frame to hers, Hannah dove toward the sidewalk and safety, landing hard, but managing to cushion the boy as they fell. She lay there panting, hearing the sound of laughter as the cowboys galloped north along Kalispell's normally peaceful Main Street.

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A shout from across the street bought Matt out his reverie.  He could see a bunch of cowboys riding their horse at breakneck speed but before he could work out what was going on, two people landed in heap a few feet in front of him.  Running up to offer assistance, he could see one was a small child and the other was an adult, quite possibly a woman judging by the mass of hair cascading around her head and shoulders.

 

By the time he had reached the pair, the child, although a bit dazed was already in the process of getting up.  He knelt down and helped the boy get up the rest of the way.  Asking the boy if he was okay, the body nodded.  Satisfied with the response, Matt turned his attention to the woman.  "And ma'am, how about you?"

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Quentin looked up at the sound. He folded the paper and set it on the table while sliding his chair back and moving through the dining room and out onto the wooden sidewalk. He watched the flurry of screaming cowboys and charging horses race past where he stood. Quentin's eyes widened as he looked past them and saw the boy. He broke into a run but knew he could never pass the horses.

 

The running form of the deputy came into his view and Quentin slowed. He let out a sigh of relief at the close save. He was still moving but not at the desperate speed he had been. He saw another man arrive a few steps ahead. Quentin came to a stop and looked down at Hannah as the newcomer helped the boy to his feet. "Good job, Hannah..." He extended a hand to help the deputy up, his gaze lifting to look at the milling group of riders at the end of the street.

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Matt looked up at the man who had just spoke and acknowledged him with a quick nod.  Seeing that woman - Hannah -  was still catching her breath, he smiled as he got up.

 

Returning his attention to the man, he gestured to Hannah, "I supposed that since you are acquainted with the lady, you won't mind giving me a hand and help her up?"

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Quentin broke his gaze from the cowboys and then nodded at the stranger.

 

"I would be happy to...but be careful. The good deputy can bite, sometimes..." Quentin knelt and slipped an arm under Hannah's closer arm and waited for the stranger to take the other side. "We best get back from the street...I don't care for the fact that those boys haven't kept on going."

 

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Hannah shot Quentin a narrow-eyed look as the two men assisted her to her feet. Honestly, despite his teasing comment, she was grateful for the help. The fall had not hurt her but the boy had landed hard on her midriff, knocking the air out of lungs. Once on her feet, Hannah dusted off the seat of her britches and pushed tendrils of hair out of her eyes. Leaning down, she retrieved her rifle and settled it in the crook of her arm with the muzzle pointed safely down and away from her companions.

 

Following Quentin's gaze, she looked at the milling riders at the far end of the street. No doubt they would be heading for the Stardust soon. They were a little rough to be allowed in at the Belle-St. Regis' bar. Hannah also surreptitiously glanced around to see if Quentin's shadow, Shade Thornton, was anywhere nearby. He had a penchant for mixing it up with men like those cowboys which, in turn, made Hannah's work harder.

 

"Those scoundrels are with the Circle Y outfit. They come through a couple of times a year heading for the stockyards in Missoula. I'll pass on the fines to their trail boss. Thank you, Quentin," Hannah said to Cantrell and then turned her blue-green gaze to the other man. "Thank you also. I'm Hannah Cory - Deputy Marshal.

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Matt smiled at Hannah.  It was not often that he would meet a woman doing a man's job.  He had come across a few in his line of work, so he wasn't surprised or shocked. He had already heard about her from a few people, so it was good to finally meet her.  It didn't matter to him what she did for a living but that she deserved to be treated like a lady.  He tipped his hat and said, "A pleasure ma'am.  The name's Matt Wentworth."

 

He glanced in the direction towards the riders, "Let's hope that they behave themselves.  I'm sure Miss Devereau won't appreciate any rough housing during her first week as the owner."  Turning his attention back to Hannah, he half-smiled, "If the truth be told I would rather have them wreck the saloon than the bar in the hotel."

 

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Hannah eyed the cowboys, "I really don't think they will be a problem," she said. Rolling her shoulders to ease the tension, she glanced at the two men, "Pleasure to meet you, Mr. Wentworth." The fact that the man was willing to treat her respectfully despite her appearance and the work she had chosen to do was a pleasant change. It was a far cry from the usual attitude that seemed to be that if she wanted to dress in a man's clothes and do a man's job, there was something wrong with her. "I believe you are the new owner of the Belle?" She shot Quentin a quick look. The Belle-St. Regis would be a good ally if the range and business war with the Steelgraves continued escalating.

 

Matt nodded, "Yes I am.  I was just on my way back to the hotel."  He paused for a moment before continuing, "It's not often I get to rescue a woman as lovely as yourself.  I know that the law can't show any favouritism to a particular business but if you are ever in the mind to come by for lunch or dinner, it will be my honour to receive you as my guest."

 

Hannah was not sure if the man was delusional or just being polite when he referred to how lovely she was. Either way, the unexpected compliment made her blush lightly. "I am not always on-duty," she murmured in reply to the luncheon invitation although her voice faded in light of Quentin's look in her direction. No doubt Shade had by now told him of their past history. She was rapidly getting out of her depth with the two men.

 

Quentin arched an eyebrow at the gentleman's words to Hannah. He looked between the two of them and was glad Shade had not come into town with him today.  He cleared his throat and stuck a hand out toward the newcomer. "Well, it's a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Wentworth. I am Quentin Cantrell..."

 

Turning his attention from Hannah and held out his hand. "Mr. Cantrell.  Judging by Deputy Cory's familiarity to you, I take it that you live locally?"  Matt had heard Cantrell's name a few times during his initial investigation of the town.  He wasn't sure what was the truth and what had been lies.  Now he had the opportunity to find out.

 

Quentin nodded. "I am part of the Lost Lake Ranch just outside of town. I used to pass through here quite a lot when visiting my sister and now live here permanently..."

 

Matt nodded, "I've heard some about your ranch.  I remember coming across the name in the hotel's accounts a few times." He also knew a lot more from his briefings about the Steelgraves but he knew that would be best kept to himself.  Having a newcomer knowing a lot more than most residents would take a lot of explaining.

 

Hannah shifted her stance slightly, a thought occurring to her and she looked up at Quentin, "Heard that Lost Lake has had a couple of steers killed?" She wanted to make sure that Cantrell and Thornton were not about to blame the Steelgraves for these losses. "Randall Hannity said that something killed his entire herd of goats."

 

Shaking his head, Matt said "For something to kill a whole herd it would have to be big.  I've heard that mountain lions can do a lot of damage.  Do you suppose it was a pack of them?"

 

Toby, the young boy Hannah had saved was listening to the conversion.  He had recovered from the scare of being tackled by the deputy sheriff and was about to go off to find his friends.  In his opinion, the grown-ups weren't saying anything interesting but at the mention of steers and goats getting killed his ears perked up.  "Weedy says that it was a grizzly.  It killed one of Miss Addy's horses last night when she was comin' back to town with some fella named Speed."

 

Hannah gave the boy a sharp look, "Are you sure about that, Toby?" In her opinion, Weedy was not the most reliable source of information in the world. If this was true, she needed to find Adelaide Chappel and talk to her. A rogue grizzly was bad news.

 

@JulieS (for Matt and Toby - thanks for the NPCing),  @Longshot (for Quentin)

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  • 1 month later...

Toby was taken aback by her question.  Why was it that grown-ups never believed him?  Maybe it was 'cause he was only seven years old and they probably thought that he was still a baby.  Maybe if he got a job liked Weedy did then they would listen to him.

 

Not knowing quite what to do next, he looked at the two men standing there.  He knew the one from the Lost Lake Ranch and the other was the stranger who he had seen hanging around the hotel over the last few days.  They seemed to be okay fellas and they both probably knew a thing or two about bears.  Returning his gaze to the deputy, he nodded.  "Sure enough.  Weedy said that it had to be a biggun to kill a horse like that."

 

Quentin smiled. "I believe you, Toby, and you and your friend are both right...It's a biggun..." Quentin fished a hand around in a pocket and came out with some coins and handed them to the boy. "Good information should be rewarded. If you see or hear about anything else the deputy should know about the bear, you be sure and tell her right away, got it?"

 

The boy nodded and raced off to join his friends and share his unexpected bounty. Hannah grinned, "You just made a new best friend," she said to Quentin. Her stomach chose that moment to rumble quietly and the deputy blushed. "If you gentlemen will excuse me - I missed breakfast and lunch. I'm going to head over to the cafe for a bite to eat." Hannah stumbled a bit over the words. She was not exactly adept at the social niceties. No doubt both men were used to ladies with a more refined set of manners. "Uh...you're welcome to join me, of course." Hannah sighed inwardly. No doubt her father was right about why she did not have many (any) gentlemen callers.

 

After briefly watching young Toby run off, Matt turned his attention to Hannah and smiled.  "As much as I would like to join you, I was just returning from having lunch with Pastor Evans and his wife."  His voice took on a light-hearted manner, "I'm afraid Mrs. Evans might have thought I was a bit on the thin side and fed me enough food to feed a small army."

 

He paused for a moment before continuing, "However, Deputy Cory, I would like to take you up on the offer of lunch on another day...at your convenience."

 

Hannah felt herself blink at Mr. Wentworth's words. It was unexpected. Most people preferred to avoid spending much time with local law enforcement and men never asked her to lunch. Well alright! So, technically she had done the asking because she was not sure of the niceties for telling the men that she needed to move on. Hannah took a deep breath and decided she was going to have to find someone to talk to about how a lady should behave in such situations. "I-I would enjoy that, Mr. Wentworth." She stepped backward, preparing to go around the men and head for the cafe at the White Rose.

 

Before leaving, Hannah gave Quentin a long stare, "You and Shade are taking precautions at the ranch, right? Reports say that bear seems like it could be dangerous to people too. Wouldn't want anyone hurt, especially the twins."

 

Quentin nodded and smiled as he glanced between the two. "Most definitely, Deputy Cory. I have all the hands on the lookout and no one is allowed to go off on their own..." He coughed lightly and then extended a hand to the stranger. "Mr. Wentworth, a pleasure...Deputy..." Quentin tipped his head a bit and raised a hand to lightly tug the front of his hat before he turned and headed off down the sidewalk.

 

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Matt watched for a moment as both the deputy and Quentin left before continuing on his way back to the hotel.  The deputy seemed to be taken a little aback by his invitation and he wasn't quite sure what it meant.  A lady as pretty as the deputy was bound to receive plenty offers.  He didn't mind that she dressed in men's clothes as he was quite used to it.  Some of the female agents he had worked with in the past had thought that wearing trousers was more practical for certain work and he didn't doubt the deputy felt the same.

 

Perhaps men around here weren't used to a woman dressing the same as they did.  Whatever it was it was of no consequence.  Part of his plan was to get to know the law better, so he could determine what side of the fence they were on the feud between the Steelgraves and the Thorntons.  What a lawman did in public could differ greatly to what they did in private.  Besides, if all deputies were like Deputy Cory, then it would be more a pleasure than a chore.

 

As for Quentin, he hadn't had enough time to work out his character.  The man seemed to be okay, but he needed to know more.  However, finally being introduced to someone connected to the Lost Lake Ranch had now given him an opportunity to get to know the people there more.  The hotel needed beef for the restaurant and as the new owner, it was a good excuse to go and visit them one day to offer to buy some or maybe even negotiate a contract.

 

Upon reaching, the hotel Matt took another look up and down the street before entering and heading back to work.

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