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Lordsburg To Kalispell

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Mature Content: Possible

With: Tyrell Thornton and Unknown NPCs for the thread.
Location: Lordsburg, New Mexico
When: June 1875
Time of Day: Mid-morning




Lordsburg, hot, dusty, some bigger than a wide spot on the trail. Home to rattlesnakes, Gila Monsters, Apaches, pimas, Mexican Banditos, heat, and drought. Home also to the Lazy S Ranch. A place some sixteen miles from what was town at the time. There were a couple of other spreads run by equally as hardy men as Alvarado Muncy, half Mexican, half French-English.


On this particular day, the monthly trip to Lordsburg set out, Alvardo remainging at the ranch, sending his foreman, Tyrell Thornton instead. With the wagon and Thornton were five armed riders because one could never be certain of the trail in those days. But, supplies had to be procured, so men had to go in after them. For Thornton any trip to town was rare as he felt his place was on the ranch, but no one argued with Alvarado Muncy. So he rode along, reluctantly, as he had no interest in going to town since the passing of his wife Gracie Marie in 1870. She was strong willed and determined, but Gracie for all her determination was not built for the hard life in Southern New Mexico. She contracted pneumonia and passed quickly, but that changed Tyrell, it hardened him.


When they arrived in town the first stop was the general store where they filled the list with what was available, including bulk ammunition with the food stuffs. Once the wagon was loaded and covered to keep the dust out, they went to the saloon, which might have had a name, but no one seemed to know it. They stepped up to the bar for drinks, as with Alvarado, there would be two, and then back to the ranch. That was the standing rule and every man knew it.


Harvey Ledbetter, who handled the singing wire, came in and walked up to Tyrell. "You got a telegram." He said shoving the paper at him.


Tyrell took the paper, fished out a dime and handed it to the boy.


Next: The Telegram

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"Well now, Sade Thornton. Ain't heard from him since we were boys." Tyrell said more to himself than the others. Of course, the men gathered around to see the paper, not that most of them could read, it just wasn't common place for a telegram to come for one of the men on the Lazy S, not even Alvarado Muncy, himself.


"Where'd this wire come from, it don't say." Tyrell asked.


"No sir, it don't. The sender wanted it blocked, left out." Ledbetter informed him. "Guess he wants his privacy for one reason 'er another. Didn't ask, just did what I was told to do. You got yer message, any reply?"


Tyrell stood looking out the window at nothing as he mulled it over. "Tell him to rest easy, I'm on my way." It was family, there was no choice in the matter. One Thornton was in trouble, all of them were. And the Steelgraves, whoever they were, they had bit off more than they could chew, no matter how it was divvied up. And, Montana? That would be a ride.


"Drink up men. We need to get back to the ranch, we'll be runnin' short of daylight!" He ordered, and drinks were downed, men turning and starting for the door, spurs jingling blending with the sound of boots on the wood plank floor.


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Ty was a man that did plan, did think things through, and this was certainly no exception. Planning would happen as they rode back to the ranch. The trip would take the better part of three months, something Shade must have realized when he wired him.  The trip, near as he could figure was near fourteen hundred miles, most of which would require riding. He might catch a train to Utah territory, if there was one, or maybe Denver , but where would he catch it if there was one? There were rumors of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway has in fact, built a road to Denver City from  Albuquerque, near three hundred miles.


He was beginning to believe he had bit off a large chunk, because that was a good three days ride just to start. The train with eat up a portion maybe four or five hundred miles, then it would be by horse again. Maybe not a year, then it dawned on him, winter. Somewhere along the way winter would set in and really slow or stop progress, so thinking he would get him a good start might make little difference to the time it would actually take. All thoughts of how far he could ride in a day depended on a whole lot of things going right, and nothing going wrong. 'Fat chance of that!' He thought.


He'd ride out at first light, while it was still cool. Maybe he could talk Alvardo out of at least one, if not two horses, one a pack animal and the other a remount. The man had several mules, and a large remuda, because there had been no trouble with the Apaches, and they had a truce of sorts. Apaches love mule meat, and stealing horses.  He would ask. And, he had wages coming.


Might not be so bad after all.

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The ride back to the ranch had been quiet and uneventful, which was always good. Though there was a truce with San Juan, often called Yellow Boy, that did not mean other Apaches might not raid outlaying ranches, or an escorted wagon like Tyrell and his men had. But the trip was uneventful.


Alvarado was in the yard to welcome them back as he always did. Counting heads to ensure thay had all made it back safely. Ty stepped down, trailing the reins of his horse and walked over to  his employer. This would not be easy, he had been on the Lazy S a long while,.


"Patron, I have this wire that came from my cousin who needs my help." He said and offered the message to his boss and long time friend.


"Family?" Alvarado asked taking the message. He fished out his glasses and read the telegram, looking up then, "No question, you have to go." It was blunt, it was the way Alvarado was, direct and to the point. " You'll take a spare mount and a pack mule. Extra ammunition, which you may need. The boys will pack supplies for the journey."


Alvarado need say nothing to the men that were standing there, they went right to the job of unloading the wagon while one man went to get the horse and the mule to be loaded. Alvarado motioned him to follow into the house.


"I had hoped we would finish our time here on the ranch together, that one day you would take over for me and run this place more than you do already. Maybe that will come to pass when whatever it is you have to do is finished." The man said, "Your place here will be waiting, if you can make it back."


"Hell, I dunno what lies ahead. I do know that I will miss this place and you. You have always treated me well. Family is family, and I have so few that I even know of out there." He responded, "I've not seen Shade in years, since we were boys, but we were close."


"Blood cannot be denied, Ty, whatever he did not say is more important than what he did say, and he said he needed you. Which tells me of your relationship. He trusts you will see this through, as do I." He walked to the safe that stood behind his desk and fiddled with the combination. He hauled out a money belt then tossed it to Ty. "You'll need money for the trip. Maybe eight hundred in that. Be cautious, as I know you will be." Then the big man walked over and hugged Tyrell. "Go with God, Ty."


As the sun faded from the New Mexico sky, there was more conversation, and a couple of whiskeys, before Ty headed to the bunk house to sleep. It would be a long day tomorrow.


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The long ride ahead would begin with riding off of the ranch, and possible the hardest part of the ride north. Dawn was a ways off yet, but Alvarado stood in the door watching as Ty mounted his horse, the spare and the pack mule on lead ropes. He moved forward slowly looking at the place, touching the brim of his hat to the man in the doorway, and turned his mount toward what served as a gate.


Before he went much further, he looked back at the ranch house for what would be the final time, The door was closed, there were no lights in the windows, he exhaled heavily in the pale predawn light. The cloudy sky might have a promise of rain, most likely not. It would be blistering hot within the next hour. Too many memories.


He looked then to the trail ahead, touched a spur to his animal, who broke into a brisk trot to put some distance between him and the ranch. This had proved to be much harder than he thought it would be. Ty had never given much thought to ever leaving New Mexico and the Lazy S. It had been home for far too long to consider what he was doing in the name of family.


And so it began, a journey of almost four thousand miles, to a place he did not know, to deal with people he did not know. But, it was to him to see it through. He had Alvarado Muncy to thank for that. The man had taught the twenty year old drifter responsibility, respect, and gave him a work ethic that made him into the man he had before his twenty-second birthday. Now, that thirty four year old man was answering a call, because he was man enough to.


The trail ahead may well have trials and tribulations along the way. He would ride into winter snows that would stop him, or at least slow him. There might well be Indians, or bad men to contend with, but he would deal with that if and when it happened. The weather? He would handle it. Rain, heat, snow, thunder and lightning. He'd driven cattle north to the rail head more than once, and farther before there was a rail head. They had been caught in storms, so he was no stranger to them, snow on the other hand, not so much.


They had lost sight of the Lazy S, he and the horse, and so he slowed his horse to a walk. Quite a ways to go yet before Albuquerque and the railroad to Denver City.

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A man heads out to answer a call he's mindful of the need to get there, so taking chances was not one of the things Ty Thornton ever did, let alone in that particular instance. He was also mindful that a man wearing two pistols would attract a good deal of attention in certain circles. It would be assumed he was a gun hand, a gun for hire, or any number of other possibilities a man armed that way might be taken.


Law abiding was not one of the first thoughts to come to mind.


For Ty, he carried two Colts from his days fighting Apaches or other hostiles, especially the border crossing banditos that threatened the ranch. He had never pulled on a man that did not threaten him, and no one, other than the afore mentioned, ever had. He had been fortunate in that way. He was even tempered, was not much for whiskey or cards when in town. He gave no one reason to brace him. When that happened, and it had from time to time, he settled it with his fists.


Now he was a long way from the Lazy S and from Lordsburg, mounting the train for Denver City some four hundred ninety-nine miles north. With stops along the route, the trip would take thirty to thirty-six hours. After that, it would be on horse back the rest of the way.

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A trip of the magnitude Tyrell Thornton had embarked upon was filled with risk and dangers from animal and man. It was, as so many are of that period, a trip of solitude, where a man would have to rely solely on himself and his abilities to survive. There were towns scattered long the way, sometimes near his route, other times a ways off. Either way, he would be a stranger which didn't sit well with him. But supplies needed to be bought, sometimes canteens filled.


The rail to Denver City had been the last comfort he would have on his trail. In the settlements and towns he did stop in, he was in early and out as soon as his business there was finished. He never carried all of his money, and settled on what he could afford if he misjudged the costs involved. Te size of Denver City was a bit unsettling, he had never been to a city before, towns of all sizes, yes, but never a city. He was out of there as fast as he could. Of course, partly because he wanted to be on the trail as quickly as possible, and partly because he just didn't like the size of the place.


Summer had eased into fall. Heavy rains had slowed him several times. Forcing Ty to hastily build a shelter and huddle over a what could be described as a hat full of fire in his slicker waiting out the storm. His animals close by. He had been fortunate in that he had avoided the red man, even though he had see both sign and them at a distance. In a running battle he would have lost his mule and the spare horse, along with his hair.


The country in Colorado Territory and this Wyoming country were breathtaking! Tall trees, virgin forests, rivers and streams abounding. Teaming with wildlife, all manner creatures, both harmful and harmless. Fall was beginning to wane, and then, the first feel of winter set in of a morning. Crisp and clear, he pulled on his coat for the first time. He pushed on, well, as far as Gilbert's Trading Post where he could go no further.


Come morning the blinding snow was gone and he pushed on again, under clear skies, wearing a newly bought buffalo robe and mittens, and directions to a place called Atlantic City which would become the high point of his trip.

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It would be a hard hundred miles to reach Atlantic City, He had heard that over and over as there was no trail now that the snow, sometimes breast high to a horse, had cover them and some of the landmarks along the way, And, as Jed Gilbert had asked, "What's the hurry Thornton?" He had given his word to a cousin he had not seen since the early teen years. Shade needed him there, and that was enough.


The weather was holding as he and his mule and the spare left a trail a blind man could follow, wide and deep. Though the mule and his horse, once he shifted to the spare, fell more or less into line, following Ty and his mount. Made it easier going for both.


It was three days in all, two were clear, the third offered up snow, heavy at times as Ty pushed on. Finally there was a jumble of buildings ahead, and smoke rolling up from half a dozen or more stove pipes. Ty allowed for a smile, but held his pace. His animals were tired, as tired as he was from the fight of getting there.


He reached what was Atlantic City Wyoming. There was a cluster of wagon, their wagon bows bare, the canvas bonnets now covering the belongings in the wagon beds. Atlantic city sported two barns, which were probably filled now with the stock from the wagon train Hopefully there might be room for his animals. He dismounted at a building with a sigh that read Saloon, Rooms and Food. He stepped down and climbed the two steps to the door which he opened and stepped quickly inside, closing it immediately.


"Howdy Mister. Bartholomew Quinlan proprietor. Reckon a hot meal might be what you're lookin' for." The large barrel chested man suggested.


"I'd like to put my animals up." He said.


The big man smiled. "Well sir, all that's left is a lean to. It'll keep 'em out of the weather alright. Plenty of hay, you'll have to fork it down yourself. Be two dollars for the lot, if it's no more'n four."


Ty took out  some coins, "An' I'll need me a place to wait out the weather."


"Gimmie another two, that'll be room an' board such as it is." Quinlin said. "Got me thirty odd folks here, but, there's room."

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The room was almost filled with folks from the wagon train, he surmised. He smiled at the man, "Now what I just paid, how long's that good for?"


Quinlan smiled, "A month, now you can pitch in around here as time goes by, doubt you'd be for ridin' back the way you come, that'd lower what I'd charge. Up to you of course. You're welcome, help or not." Then he laughed, "Cash money is some useless up here, til the thaw. I get me several folks every winter thinkin' they'll make the passes afore the heavy snow. Don't work out that way most times. That's what happened to these folks, and their kin."


"Injun trouble, rustlers hit 'em once't, thinned their heard a mite. I got plenty of hay to feed all these critters, usually have a few folks, like I said, but not this many, an' not with cows. Their beef'll help with food, an' that'll save 'em money, an us from starvin'."


Ty looked about at the people in the room. He was no mountain man, but it was plain to see these folks were nowhere near plainsmen, or drovers, and certainly not mountain men. "And their wagon master? He here?"


"Killed they said. Where you headed?"


"Kalispell Montana." It was then that the door opened and she walked in.

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The sight of her was like a shot to the solar plexus, nearly took him back a step. Big strapping man like Tyrell Thornton to be taken so.


"That'd be Molly McGuire, widowed. Travelin' with her Pa, Nate, but he ain't doin' so well. Laid up with the fever. I'm hopin' it don't spread ta the rest."


"Handsome woman. Depends on what he's got. Could be it won't be the spreadable kind." Ty observed, not taking his eyes from her. "But you can count on me, Mister Quinlan. Seems like the weather's got me stopped here, at least for a spell. When do ya think a body could get through?"


"Maybe May sometime the passes'll open. These folks here are goin' on to Oregon, they might be gone afrore you, less you got time to sashay on around a couple hunderd miles. How the hell they got here, I mean it's makeable if the passes are open."


"A man get himself a cup of coffee?" Ty asked, grateful Quinlan was the friendly type. Now this McGuire woman, she required some study, that was for sure. Ty was not easy captivated, in fact since Gracie Marie passed on he had little to know interest in women. So this Miss McGuire was quite the exception. An this would bare some thought. He had a job to do, that was true, but the snow had stopped his progress. Stopped it cold. He would ride on as soon as possible, although as Quinlan set the cup of coffee before him, he would need to figure whether to wait out his current route, or leave with them and ride the extra miles.


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