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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 Brothers Wentworth

The Old Ranger

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Sam Wentworth stood at the entrance of the saloon, partially dreading what he had to do next.  It wasn't going to be easy but they we're going to need his help for the next part of the journey.  He glanced over to his younger brother Charlie and told him to stay out of sight, while he smoothed things over.


Going inside, Sam looked around until he saw the man he was looking for.  As he walked over, he noticed that the man hadn't changed much but then it had only been about 18 months since he last saw him when he dropped in to North Platte and paid him a visit on his way back here.


Seeing a spot at the bar, he began to approach when the man turned around and saw him.  "Sam?"


Smiling, Sam moved closer, "Brother Mike!"


Mike's eyes narrowed as his brother came closer.  "I don't recall you writing and telling me that you were coming."


"Ahh...no I didn't.  This was kind of short notice."  When he reached the bar, Sam ordered a beer.


"Short notice?  You're not in any kind of trouble?"


Sam took a sip of his beer before answering.  "It depends on how you define trouble."


"Trouble as in the woman kind."


"No, no...nothing like that."  After taking a longer drink of his beer, Sam turned to his brother and half-smiled, "It's much worse than that."


Turning around to face the entrance, he shouted, "You can come in now."


Not knowing what to expect, Mike turned around to see who was coming in.  When he saw who it was, the anger on his face was evident, "What the heck is he doing here?'


Nodding, Sam replied, "That was the same thing I asked when he turned up in North Platte."


Charlie stepped up to Mike, "And I'm going to tell you what I told him.  This was my idea and nothing either you have to say on it, won't make me change it."


The initial anger, Mike had, faded away.  So, Charlie was just like the rest of them and that made him glad.  "You know the old man's not going to like it."


"Yeah, we know," Sam answered, "and that's why we came here.  Safety in numbers and that the fact the further we get away from the train line the better."


"Pa's going to be busy in Washington for a while with his work and with Mary having another baby.  He won't be leaving before she has it."  Charlie walked over to the bar and waited for Mike's response.


"I understand,"  Mike paused for a moment before continuing, "Pa's not going to like this."


While Sam ordered a beer for Charlie, Mike thought about what they should do next.  He knew that Sam in his own way had done the right thing by bringing Charlie to Medicine Bow.  Their father was a man you could confront on your own in minor matters but something like this would mean they would have to band together.  Sam, even though he hadn't said it must have given up the job he had in order to help Charlie and Mike would do the same.  Family loyality was more important than earning a living.  There would always be work for good, experienced, ranch hands like Sam and he was.


Motioning to his brothers, Mike led them to a table.  After taking their chairs, he sighed heavily, "Alright then, what we need to do is find someplace that will take a while to reach.  Some place far, far away."


Grinning, Sam nodded, "Somehow I thought that it was going to take a lot more to convince you to join us."


Mike raised an eyebrow, "Let's just say, we're all in the same boat.  Father still hasn't forgiven either of us for destroying his plans.  Now that Charlie is with us, it going to be a lot worse and I would rather be someplace else.  It's time we all gathered round the one who started this in the first place."


"How far is Kalispell from here? "Charlie asked.  He felt relieved that at least two of his brothers weren't going to send him back.


"It will take a few weeks to get there."  Mike stood up, "We leave at the end of the next week as I will need to give in my notice.  It'll give you two time to find decent mounts that will last the trip."


Sam got up and shook Mike's hand, "Thanks."


"I'll see you two later." Mike smiled, ruffling Charlie's hair as he walked passed him.


"Hey!"  Charlie said, "I'm not a kid anymore."


"No, you're not, " Mike replied " And when we reach Kalispell, one of the first things you'll be doing is getting a job."


Smiling, Charlie answered, "I can't wait and I also can't wait to see Matt's face when we turn up."


Mike and Sam looked at each other, both acknowledging the uncertainty that lay ahead.



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  • 2 weeks later...

One Week Later...


Mike checked his saddle and things to make that they were secured.  He hadn't accumulated much during his time in Medicine Bow - only enough to fit in the small carpet bag that was hooked onto the horn of his saddle.  It was a little bit sad to be leaving the place where he had finally settled down after a years of fighting in the war and then going from one ranch to another to learn his trade.  His family needed him and in a way he needed his family.  Maybe this was a good thing and in Kalispell they could find a ranch where all three of them could work together.


He smiled as he remembered his boss telling him that if he ever changed his mind there would be a place for him here.  Over the years, he had risen to the position of foreman and so going back to being just a normal ranch hand again was something  he was going to have to get used to.  Still, he kept going back to the thought that he would be with his family again, especially his older brother, Matt.


When Matt had gotten up the courage to tell their father no to being a lawyer, the relief he felt was immense.  He had dreaded the thought of going to college and ending up stuck in some stuffy job in a stuffy place like Washington.  His dream was to be out in the open air doing what he wanted to and not what his father wanted him to do.  So, he had gone through the motions of pleasing his father, so that he could be sent to Yale and out of his father's reach.  Within weeks of arriving, he had quit and joined the army.


Over the years, he had gone home a few times to see his mother, sister, and brothers but those visits didn't last long due to the fact that sooner or later his father would bring up his displeasure and contempt of the course that his son's life had taken.  The last time that they had all been together was Thanksgiving, five years ago and by then Sam had joined both him and Matt in the disobeying and rejection of their father's plans for each of them.


The last he had seen of Matt, was about six months ago when he was passing through Medicine Bow.  It had been a brief visit of only a few hours while he waited for a stage to take him north to Montana.  Matt had told him that he was heading up there to check out a few business prospects.  About a month ago, he had received a telegram from Matt saying that he had bought a hotel in Kalispell and planned on staying there for a while.  Thinking over the many places, Matt had been over the years, Mike hoped that this time his brother had finally found a place to make roots.  Maybe, Kalispell was a place where they all could settle down where each of them could have a place of their own.


Pulling out his pocket watch, he checked the time and then looked around.  In the distance, he could see his two brothers approaching.  Taking off his hat, he waved it at them until they waved in return.  After putting his hat back on his head and placing his watch back in his vest pocket, he got on his horse and made his way to them.

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  • 1 month later...

Sam stretched a little before getting down on the blanket he had laid out on the ground.  The night was clear, and he could hear an owl hooting in the distance. Thankfully the weather had been good for the last few days and he hoped that it would continue until they reached Kalispell.  He didn't particularly relish the idea of riding in the rain or sleeping in it either.


The journey had been uneventful so far and he reckoned that they must be getting close to Virginia City which was located in the southern end of the Montana Territory.  The trip from Medicine Bow had taken them along the Sweetwater River to South Pass.  From there they had headed northwest following the Green River until they had reached Fremont Peak.  Thinking that it was best to avoid the Crow Indians they headed over the mountains and into Idaho.  They had stopped at Eagle Rock to replenish their supplies and to rest for a couple of days before starting out for Montana.


So far, it had been a long trip and there was still some way to go and he was beginning to think that Mike had underestimated how long it would take them to get to Kalispell.  The mountains had slowed them down considerably and there were still more to come.  Still it was worth it as they wouldn't be going any for a while especially with winter only a few months away.


He wondered how Matt would react when he saw them.  Sure, he would be angry, but it wouldn't last.  Matt was the one who understood most of all the reason why Charlie wanted to quit school.  None of them wanted what their father had planned for them, but Matt had been the bravest of them all since he had been first to say no.  Even though, their father's contempt for them grew with each son afterwards, it had been a bit easier as Mike and he had someone leading the way.


As his eyes started to close, Sam thought about Kalispell and what he was going to do when he got there.  A smile crept slowly on his face as he drifted off.

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  • 4 weeks later...

As his horse slowly made its way up another hill, Charlie took a look around.  Montana was certainly an interesting place with and had a uniqueness all of its own.  He was not used to seeing so much open land with only a few homesteads along the way.  Growing up in the city hadn't prepared him for how big it was out here.


They had left Virginia City a little over a week ago and had been following various trails that were heading north to Helena.  From there it would only be short ride to Kalispell.  It would be good to have a break from all of this riding, he thought as his horse reached the hill's summit.


Going down the hill, his horse continued to follow the two up ahead.  Charlie could hear Sam and Mike arguing over whether or not to telegram Matt when they got to Helena.  He could understand Mike's point of view as he didn't like surprises either and their arrival would be that.  Sam was arguing that if they just turned up, Matt would have to just accept the fact that they were there, and it was too late for them to go back since winter would be not long off.


To Charlie, the argument was a bit on the silly side.  They were still going to Kalispell no matter what.  Matt would say something and then be okay with it, just like Mike and Sam had done.  Family was important and supporting each other was part of it.  All three of his older brothers knew and understood why he wanted to get out from under their father's control.  In a way, it was inevitable, and Mike had told them that Matt knew it was.  So their arrival would probably not be unexpected but more of inconvenience.


Matt was a kind of mystery to him.  He knew that his brother was a businessman who had bought a lot of places in the past, only to move on after a few months.  He hoped that Matt was planning to hang around Kalispell for a lot longer than usual.  Having the opportunity to get know Matt and his other brothers was something he was looking forward to.  As the youngest he had always admired his brothers and wondered at the stories they would tell of their adventures.  He wanted to be a part of their lives just as much as he wanted them to be a part of his.


A signal from Mike, indicated that he had found a place for them to rest overnight.  Charlie gently kicked his horse as he and his brothers made their way to the site.

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