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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.

Matt Wentworth
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With: Mike, Sam and Charlie Wentworth
Location: Belle-St Regis Hotel
When: Friday 10 September 1875
Time of Day: Mid-Afternoon

 

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After gazing up and down the street, Matt settled back down in the chair he had been occupying on and off for most of the day.  There was still no sign of them, and he wondered if Mike had under-estimated their time of arrival.

 

Pulling out his pocket watch, he noted that it getting towards the time he would have to be checking on tonight's menu for the restaurant.  Friday and Saturday nights were proving to be busiest times and he wanted to make everything was up to standard.  Even though he trusted his staff, he just felt better knowing that things were taken care of.  In business, he had always had a hands-on approach.

 

When Mike had sent word of his, Sam's and Charlie impending arrival, Matt had been initially angry.  Having his brothers around would make things a bit more difficult in his other line of work.  He would have to make sure he warned his brothers to steer well clear of the Steelgraves, especially Leah, and anyone who worked for them.

 

Thinking over his initial reaction to the news that all three brothers were headed to Kalispell, Matt smiled. In the end it didn't really surprise him that Charlie had followed them instead caving into their father's wishes.  After Mike had make the break, he knew it would only be a matter of time before Sam and Charlie did so too.  Charlie just did it earlier than he expected him to do.

 

If Matt was to be perfectly honest with himself, then he was glad that his brothers were coming.  It would be the first time in years that all four of them would be together in the one place.  Hopefully, they would all be able to find jobs nearby so he could see them on a regular basis.  He suddenly remembered that Shade Thornton was looking for some help over at the Lost Lake Ranch.  Maybe it would be worthwhile sending them over to find out after they had rested a bit.

 

The noise of the hotel's front door opening pulled him out his thoughts.  It was one guests, who sat down in the one of the other chairs out front.  Seeing this an opportunity to do something while he waited for brothers, he began to engage the man in a conversation.

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While approaching Kalispell from the south, Mike took the time to look around.  They had passed by some small farms but nothing that would be large enough to hire any ranchhands but might be big enough to hire someone inexperienced like Charlie.  He would prefer if he, Charlie and maybe Sam could all work on the same ranch but he knew that might not happen.  The best option was that Charlie could be with him or Sam at any ranch who would take them both.  The worst case scenario, was that Charlie could work for Matt.

 

A smile crept on his face at thought.  It had been a long time since Matt had to look after any of them but he would do it.  They were all the type to be there when family needed them and would come running at a moment's notice for any them, except, maybe for their father.  Charles Wentworth Senior was a man who could look after himself and didn't need any help.  To his father, his sons were a way and means to establish a stronghold in Washington, his own dynasty.  Now, that Charlie had rejected the plan, what would happen next would be anybody's guess.

 

As they got nearer, to the town, Mike noticed a few houses that formed the start of the main street in town.  Matt's hotel would be somewhere nearby and probably easy to spot.  Looking ahead, he could see a few large buildings indicating that they were about to enter the main part of town.  Turning around in the saddle, he saw his two brothers had slowed down and were admiring a couple of young ladies who were exiting one of the homes.

 

Shaking his head, he motioned to them, "C'mon, you two."

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  • 3 weeks later...

Matt had just finished talking to one of his guests out front, when he saw three men riding in from the south.  Immediately recognising them, he walked forward to the top of the stairs and waited for them to stop.

 

Mike was the first one to see Matt, since his other two brothers were still trailing back a little taking in the town and its scenery.  Getting off his horse, he walked up the few stairs and gave his brother a hug.

 

Taking a step back to look at his brother, Matt grinned, "Well, I see you've gained a couple of extra pounds since I last saw you.  Must be all that easy living since you became a ranch foreman."

 

Mike smiled, "And I see that life as a stuffed shirt has done likewise to you."

 

"Well, if you ask me, I think you both need to lay off the good stuff for a while."

 

Matt turned to see who had spoken and smiled, "And I suppose you young Charles will make sure we do."

 

Charlie nodded, "You bet I will."

 

"And I'll make doubly sure," Sam commented as he got off his horse.

 

Matt went down the stairs and greeted his other two brothers in the same way he had greeted Mike.  It was good to see his family again and he hoped it would be a long time before they parted ways again.  The job of keeping an eye on the Steelgraves would take a while but after that he didn't know what would happen.  Until then, he would enjoy what time he had with his family.

 

Looking at his three brothers, he smiled, "I expected you a few days ago but I'm glad you finally made it."

 

Glancing over to Sam, Charlie heaved a heavy sigh.  "We would have if hadn't been for ole brother Sam and that woman he met in Helena."

 

Sam put up hands in a stopping motion, "Hey, don't blame me.  How was I to know that she was engaged to the town's banker?"

 

"You could have taken the time to find out," Mike answered.

 

Matt frowned, "Let me guess, it's a long story."

 

"It sure is and I think I need a drink before I tell it."

 

"I think we all need a drink, " Mike turned to Matt, "Shall we?"

 

Waving his hand in the direction of the front door of the hotel, Matt smiled, "If you would like to follow me, I'm sure the owner won't mind giving out a few drinks on the house."

 

The other three voiced their approval and followed Matt into the hotel.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Sam leaned back in his chair and took a good look around the hotel bar.  "Well, I have to admit that you've got a real nice place here."

 

He smiled before continuing, "So... what's the competition like?"

 

Matt raised an eyebrow at the dig his brother was attempting.  "There's a saloon just down the street called The Stardust.  It's not too bad and I've met one of the owners, Matilda Devereau."

 

When he heard the name of the woman, Sam sat up straight, "Sounds like an interesting place.  I'll have to make sure I drop in sometime."

 

"If you do, you better watch out for her partner, Ralph Flandry.  As far as I know they aren't romantically linked but she is his friend.  Flandry can be a bit protective of those he likes."

 

Knowing what Matt was getting at Sam nodded, "No need to worry about that, I had good lesson a couple of years back."

 

Mike put down his whiskey after taking a sip, "I remember you telling me about that."  He turned to Matt, "I'm guessing that in town like this there would be a few people watching the back of others."

 

"There sure is."  Matt then began to tell his brothers about the town.

 

As he listened to his brother, Sam thought about how it could be possible to set down roots here.  The town as a whole sounded like a nice place and it was fairly new compared to other places he had been.  There was plenty of land out here to start his own ranch and maybe a family.  Even though he had flirted with many woman, one day he knew meet the right one and that would be that.  Until then, he thought it was solemn duty to at least get to know as many women as he could.  If he had some fun along the way, then that would just fine and dandy.

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After Matt had finished telling them about the town, he turned to another topic.  "There is one family you need to steer clear of."

 

Mike frowned, "Steer clear?  As in avoid as much as possible?"

 

Matt nodded, "Yes.  For your own health, it's best you keep away from the Steelgraves and anybody who works for them.  They can be a dangerous bunch and a lot of people have, well let's just say, disappeared, after tangling with them."

 

Sam and Charlie looked gave each other a concerned look.  Matt had been here long enough to know who was who and what was what.  If he was telling them to stay away from these Steelgraves, then they would.  Matt wasn't one give out orders lightly.

 

"Thanks for the warning," Mike answered.  He also knew that Matt was looking out for them and wanted to make sure his brothers stayed safe.  There was no need to go into in now because if they were as bad as Matt was implying, then there would be others around to tell them why.  Besides there was more pressing business to be sorted out.  He took a sip of his whiskey, before continuing, "So what's the work situation like around here?"

 

"There's a ranch just outside of town looking for a foreman and a couple of hands.  The previous foreman was mauled in a bear attack a few weeks back.  I also read in the newspaper that one of the owners of the ranch was attacked by the same bear while on a hunting party.  Thankfully, they got the bear and just in case you're interested, I hear that bear grease is going for two bucks a jar."

 

Smiling, Mike replied, "I'm guessing that it must have been some bear to sell grease at that price."

 

"Apparently, it was.  I heard that there will be no shortage over the coming winter and they're making a nice profit as well."  Pulling out his pocket watch, Matt looked at it and noted the time.  "I think I have time to have one more beer before I have to go back to work.  You can stay here until you find a place."

 

"Well I for one will be happy to have a nice, comfortable bed to sleep in tonight...and maybe a room of my own."  Sam winked at Matt.

 

"Maybe...  but first I better tell you about more about the jobs going at Lost Lake Ranch."  For the next few minutes, Matt filled his brothers in before helping them get settled in the hotel.

 

After they had gone upstairs, Matt made his way into the kitchen to see how tonight's meals were coming along.  If he was perfectly honest with himself, he would have to admit that he was happy to have his brothers around.  However, he knew that their presence here also brought one big problem.  Sooner or later, their father would find out that they were all together in place.  Since Charlie was his last hope, it wouldn't be long before he came to visit.  The thought of seeing of his father again, was something that Matt was not looking forward to.

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