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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 Property Question - Part 2


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Mature Content: No

With: Speed Guyer and Judge Robertson
When: Mid-July 1876
Time of Day: Afternoon

 

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As Matt made his way with Marshall Guyer to the courthouse, his mind turned to the current situation with the town council.  With the death of Richard Orr, he was now temporary chair and would remain so until the mayoral elections which were scheduled for early October.  The current mayor, Scott Cory, for reasons unknown had tended his resignation only two days ago.  Coupled with the events at the last town meeting and the resignation, Matt was now contemplating running for mayor himself.  Taking on more civic duties meant that his job with the Secret Service would have to go but thankfully there was someone else in the area who had recently arrived in the region that could take over from him.  This would all be dependent on him winning the election...if he decided to run.

 

There was little talk between him and the Marshall until they reached the door of Robertson's office.  Before he knocked on the door, he turned to Guyer, "Marshall, I would like to know how you want this handled?  What I mean to say is that would you like to ask the Judge about the delay first before I say something?"

 

@Flip

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"Hadn't given that much thought, really. It's not like I've decided to accuse him of anything. Frankly, Matt, I just want to get this project underway. I guess the fact that Miss Steelgrave has yet to fully confront the situation, or leave, as she has suggested has me here on her behalf." Speed explained.

 

"Clearly, she does not want conflict, not that she would back down from a fight if presented with one, but this seems to be a delay tactic for whatever reason. Be it the Judge or others, it really doesn't matter much. I have no qualms at all asking about this delay." He added. "After you Matt. let's see how this goes."

@JulieS

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Judge Ben Robertson was reading through a contract that a local businessman wanted him to go over.  The knock on the door wasn't unusual as people came to see him about all sorts of things.  Even though he was semi-retired there will still enough civil law matters to keep him busy.  He was thankful that he had Harland Bryant looking after the criminal matters which was few and far between in Kalispell.

 

He got up and opened the door.  The look of surprise was evident on his face.  It wasn't seeing Matt Wentworth that surprised him but that the Marshall was with him.  He showed both men and directed them to the two chairs that were near his desk.  Taking his own seat, he smiled, "Gentlemen, it's a pleasure to see you both.  What brings you here today?"

 

Matt turned to the Marshall first before looking at the judge, "Ben, I don't how to say this but the Marshall came to see me on behalf of Miss Steelgrave.  There seems to be a problem."

 

Yes, there was a problem, Ben thought but he wasn't ready to go into it.  What he needed was some time to think about his answer, "Well, if the Marshall would be so kind to tell me about it, I might be able to help in some way."

 

@Flip

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"Actually Judge, it's a simple question that I have. Yes, I am here in support of Miss Steelgrave, but not at here request." Speed began, making sure he cleared the air. "Now I sure you don't know that Miss Steelgrave has been invited to move to Columbia Falls and build the hospital there since she can't seem to get the promised land here. So my question is a simple one, why?"

 

The news that Leah would consider the move to Columbia Falls, and to build the hospital there would not be without ramifications for Kalispell. County seat or not, losing the hospital could well change things, regardless that the railroad would stop there. The town had the right of ways, her gift to them, and that word would spread throughout the state.

 

"As I said, Judge, it's a simple question, and it requires a simple answer, which I am sure there is." He concluded.

@JulieS

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Judge Robertson nodded, "I wish I had a simple answer for you.  The fact is that I've sent the draft agreement between the town of Kalispell and Miss Steelgrave to Helena."

 

Knowing that there would be a protest or at least confusion about why he did so, the Judge went on, "I know that Miss Steelgrave has very good intentions and her relationship with the town is pleasant at the moment.  However, I want to be sure of the future.  That is, I want to make sure that if Miss Steelgrave changes her mind or hands her interests to another party that there will no legal litigation or disputes about any aspects of this."

 

He paused for a moment to work out what to say next.  There was one major reason why he had to delay the hospital project for as long as he could and he couldn't tell anyone why.  Elias Steelgrave had made that clear.

 

"What I mean to say is that as a lawyer and judge, I've seen a few good intentions turn bad and those involved suffered greatly.  Something that I do not wish for Kalispell or the people in it.  You probably think I'm being over cautious, and I reserve the right to be.  So, I wanted some legal representatives who have no vested interest in Kalispell to go over the agreement to make sure that we are covered for any eventuality."

 

As he waited for a response, the Judge thought about why he had no choice but to do Elias' bidding.  If word got out of what happened all those years ago, both he and his wife would pay the price.  Besides, no-one would trust a judge that had a murder charge hanging over his head.

 

@Flip

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"Then I suppose since the entire situation is tied up in Helena, and likely to be for the foreseeable future, I can let Miss Steelgrave know that perhaps Columbia Falls is well worth considering. You know the woman went to considerable lengths to obtain the right of ways, which she presented to Kalispell, through you I might mention, only to be thwarted at every turn in a bid to erect a hospital here. A hospital to serve the people of not only Kalispell, but most all of Flathead county and the surrounding area."

 

He paused a long moment as he was beginning lose control. "There is something more here. Some reason beyond this legal mumbo-jumbo and shenanigans that have been mounted to defeat her, and why, Judge? Why would this town turn on a benefactor? You say it's because of her father, and the fear of his involvement in the project, when it feels more like Elias Steelgrave is orchestrating this entire affair from the Evergreen. How do you explain that?"

@JulieS

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Matt frowned as he listened to the Judge.  This was totally unexpected...as far as he knew there would be no legal worries about the handover of the rights or with land the town council was going to give for the project.  A part of him suspected the reason behind this delaying tactic had nothing to do with the legalities of the transaction.  Years of working in the Secret Service had taught him that sometimes the least likely cause was in fact the most likely.  The most likely in this case would be that Elias Steelgrave had somehow gotten to the Judge but that meant the Judge had something to hide.  As far as Matt, knew Judge Ben Robertson was an upright and honest man.  If there was something that Elias could use, then it must be big to make the Judge do his bidding.

 

"Ben, I have to agree with the Marshall.  I'm also inclined to think that Elias Steelgrave's mark is very much on this.  Are you sure that there is no way to proceed with this project while we wait for the papers to come back from Helena?"
 

The judge looked solemnly at both men.  "I'm afraid not.  The main reason I'm doing this is because of Elias Steelgrave.  We must make sure that this deal is airtight just in case he tries to something.  We all know that the man is can do a lot of things and he has the resources to do a lot of damage if he sets his mind to it. We all know that there is no love lost between Elias and his daughter."

 

Ben sighed.  What he just said was the truth but what they didn't know was the real reason why he was delaying the project for as long as he could.  Elias had used the resources he had to dig up the truth about that duel he was in all those years ago. If what happened back then came out, it would cast a lot of doubt on his whole career and the backlash would be bad.

 

Knowing that he had no choice but to do Elias' bidding, Ben continued, "So, as you see gentlemen, my main concern is to protect Kalispell from any future plans that Elias Steelgrave may have."

 

@Flip

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"I'm not sure I understand what you're getting at." Speed confessed, "Elias Steelgrave, to my knowledge, has no holdings here in town, therefor I have a hard time with the idea he would interfere in such a simple matter as the transfer of  plot of land to Miss Steelgrave." He paused, but did not take his eyes from the Judge.

 

"I have a difficult time justifying Elias Steelgrave can hold sway in the affairs of this town and what it does with property he has no control over, or ownership rights to. I might agree that there is some unknown reasoning for his involvement with this project that requires Helena's involvement. The Governor said nothing about that when he was here."

@JulieS

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"I'm not sure I understand what you're getting at." Speed confessed, "Elias Steelgrave, to my knowledge, has no holdings here in town, therefore I have a hard time with the idea he would interfere in such a simple matter as the transfer of  plot of land to Miss Steelgrave." He paused, but did not take his eyes from the Judge.

 

Judge Robertson nodded, "Yes, he has no holdings in Kalispell but he has other ways and means of getting what he wants when he wants to.  If there is a legal loophole, he'll find it.  That's why I want this agreement between the town and Leah to be as airtight as it can be.  As I said there is no love lost between Elias and his daughter.  If he wants to ruin her plans he will."

 

"I have a difficult time justifying Elias Steelgrave can hold sway in the affairs of this town and what it does with property he has no control over, or ownership rights to. I might agree that there is some unknown reasoning for his involvement with this project that requires Helena's involvement. The Governor said nothing about that when he was here."

 

"Of course the Governor would say nothing.  He has to show impartiality in these things and he certainly isn't privy to what Elias does do or is going to do...unless you know something we don't.  As for Elias or anybody else for that matter want to interfere in the affairs of this town, they can, especially if they have good reason to do so.  People can be swayed quite easily given the right motivation whether it be financially or something else."

 

Ben sighed.  What he had just said about the closest he could to get to telling the real reason why he was delaying the project.  He looked at both men intensely, "In all of my years as a lawyer and judge, I've seen a lot of men do things you would never expect them to do.  I, for one, do not want to underestimate what Elias Steelgrave can do given the right motivation and I suggest that you two shouldn't either."

 

@Flip

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"Probably the last thing that I would be guilty of is underestimating Elias Steelgrave, or Case for that matter." Speed said in response. "I agree that whatever the man has in mind, whatever it is he wants, within reason, he will acquire. He falls short of outright criminality so far as I can tell, in his dealings here, I can't speak to his past. But his lackeys, the men that ride for him, they are apt to do just about anything for him."

 

But something just didn't sit right with this conversation for Henry S. Guyer. There was just something, a nagging feeling he was not getting the truth. The idea that sending off this draft of the agreement to Helena smacked of a delaying tactic more than review by legal minds to ensure that is was, as the Judge said, 'air tight.'

 

"I have to tell you Judge, I'm just not buying the need for state intervention on this agreement matter. The Governor did come here in support of this matter, granted, at Dutton Peabody's behest, and he left two Marshals behind as a result. So why don't we get down to brass tacks on this deal?" He looked to Matthew, and then back to the Judge. Something had to give.

@JulieS

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As Matt listened to the judge, he began wondering what was really going on.  Usually Ben Robertson was an honest man and not one to dawdle over things that concern the town.  Whatever reason, the judge had for dragging this out would have to be a good one.

 

"Ben,  once again I have to agree with the Marshall. If all we are waiting for is confirmation that the agreement we have already drawn up will withstand any legal disputes, then we should go ahead.  Anything new can be added to the existing contract and signed if necessary by all parties."

 

Turning to the Marshall, he nodded, "Unless, there's anything else that you would like to go over, I suggest we go and see Miss Steelgrave to make a time when she can come here to sign the papers.  It would a great honour, if you could also be one of the witnesses."

 

@Flip

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"Well sure, I mean, I'd be proud to witness this and put an end to the wait, unless," He looked at Robertson, "there's some reason to continually delay this project any further." This was all too contrived, in his opinion. The delay by sending what had been simple almost iron clad agreement to the capitol where it would become lost in the shuffle of papers for review, or approval or even a simple signature.

 

"I assume, Judge, that you have a copy of this agreement, if not the original for signatures?" He asked. That way we can have Miss Steelgrave appear and sign in the morning. Then we can get this thing started and not have her take the project to Columbia Falls after all. How does that sound?"

 

Speed smiled, any further delay and he would begin investigating the Judge, and get to the bottom of these senseless delays. There was something afoot here, something he suspected as dirty. He looked to both the judge and Matthew for their replies.

@JulieS

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"Well sure, I mean, I'd be proud to witness this and put an end to the wait, unless," He looked at Robertson, "there's some reason to continually delay this project any further."

 

"No, no reason to delay it other for those that I have already stated," the Judge answered slowly.

 

"I assume, Judge, that you have a copy of this agreement, if not the original for signatures?" He asked. That way we can have Miss Steelgrave appear and sign in the morning. Then we can get this thing started and not have her take the project to Columbia Falls after all. How does that sound?"

 

"Yes, of course I have a copy.  It will be waiting for Miss Steelgrave and all town council to sign it here tomorrow morning.  Would nine o'clock be fine?"

 

Ben smiled and hoped that his answer would be enough for the Marshall and Matt.  If they agreed, then he would have the time he needed to do what he had to do next in order to delay the project as long as he could.

@Flip

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Nine AM, an end to the delays would happen, then the hospital could begin construction while the weather was still good. Mid-July meant it might be up, but not ready to open by the first expected snowfall, in October. Then again that might be a lot to hope for. Rain delays and such like could hold up progress. However, it would be a start on the project.

 

"That sounds fine Your Honor. Nine o'clock it is, then." Speed agreed, he would get back over to tell Leah the good news. "I trust that this will end all of these delays and the town will get it's hospital and end the threat of a move to Columbia Falls?" He smiled at Matt.

@JulieS

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