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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 State of Play

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Mature Content: No

With: Matt Wentworth and Kurt Albrecht
When: Early August 1876
Time of Day: Afternoon




Kurt looked around the hotel lobby as he waited for the desk clerk to return.  It was nicely furnished but not opulent like hotels in San Francisco or New York.  As the only hotel in town that so-called respectable citizens could stay at, it served its purpose and that of its owner.


Matt Wentworth had left a letter addressed to him at the Post Office requesting a meeting.  He had known Matt through the Secret Service, but they only worked together a few times.  Neither man could acknowledge that they knew each other as that would raise questions as to where and when they met.  The Secret Service wasn't called that for nothing.  Still, he had to wonder why Matt wanted to see him. Maybe it had something to do with his own situation.


Even now he didn't really want to think about what happened on his last assignment.  There were still so many questions to answer, not to mention the raw emotions it still bought out in him whenever he thought about.  The rawest of those emotions was the confusion, hurt, and sorrow he felt regarding her.


The door closing to the office door, alerted Kurt that Walter, the desk clerk had returned.  He went up to the desk and was instructed to go right on in.  With that, he thanked the man and made his way into the office.



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  • 2 months later...

One week later, Kurt was unloading the wagon in front of a small two-bedroom house located in the residential area on the southern end of Kalispell.  Matt Wentworth had bought the house and was letting him live in it rent free as part of his new job as assistant manager of the Belle-St. Regis Hotel.


On his last visit to Kalispell to meet with Matt, Kurt was offered the job.  It wasn't the only job he was offered but it was the one that he was accepting publicly.  The other job was once again with the Secret Service, as Matt's replacement.  It was basically being an agent in the area and keeping an eye on Elias Steelgrave, who the Service was very interested in.  Steelgrave had dealings all over the country and most of them were very shifty.


There were many reasons why he decided to accept the job.  Mainly, it was because he wasn't cut-out to be a sheepherder like his brothers and partly because he felt the need to be doing something useful again.  Even though his last assignment with the Service hadn't ended well, he wanted to give the job one more try.  Besides, at this point there wasn't much to do except send in a report every now and then.  Maybe that would change one day but it didn't look it would in the foreseeable future.  From what he knew already, Elias Steelgrave was a cautious and unless he made a huge mistake, it could be a while before they could get any evidence to convict him.


A noise alerted him to the fact that he wasn't alone.  He had made the trip to Kalispell with his brother Bernhard and sister Anna.  Bernhard would be heading back to the farm alone tomorrow, as Anna was going to stay in town for a little while.  Kurt smiled as he remembered how Anna with a little help from Ella had convinced their parents to let Anna go to Kalispell to find work.  In a way it made sense, as there would be two less mouths to feed...not that there was any worry of having not enough to eat.


The only real problem the farm would have to face in the future, was the trouble that would come when people found out about the sheep.  Thankfully, they had been able to keep it a secret so far but that was more than likely to end at any time.  The only outsiders who knew were Sam Wentworth, who was a ranch hand at the neighbouring Lost Lake Ranch.  The fact that Sam was spending more and more time at the farm, was probably due to Ella more than anything else.


Other than Sam, the only people who had come by were Judge Robertson and his wife.  It was a few weeks ago, when the Judge turned up unexpectedly.  The Judge was just as surprised as they were.   However, the Judge was more interested in getting to a remote cabin he had not far from the farm and had asked that they keep his visit quiet.  His father, Wilhelm was more than happy to do so.


A shout from Bernhard, brought him out of his thoughts.  It was time to get back to the unpacking.



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