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    • "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.
    • The single shot was loud, even with the traffic, the jingle of the trace chains and the people on the boardwalks conversing. It had been some time since that had been gunfire in town,  especially in the middle of the day, he was up, pad in hand and heading for the door. "That was a gunshot!" He said to Sarah. "I have no idea what it's about, but I intend to find out!"   He stepped out the door to see a crowd gathered and Marshal Guyer leading a man away, a man who looked familiar, but one he could not identify right off. He started down the street to see who belonged to the body laying on the boardwalk. There should be a story in this, it would appear someone had been murdered in broad daylight!   When he arrived at the body, it was of a man he did not recognize, not that he was aware of every drifter that passed through town, but the one being led off was familiar enough, he just could not place him at the moment. But clearly Chester and  Myrtle McIneery stood close behind the body, Chester steadying his wife who splattered with blood, no doubt from the dead man.   He then saw Arabella Mudd scurrying across the the street to the Municipal Building. He would be over there in a few moments himself but just then, the slower moving Mister Jolly and young Raymond, his other assistant, arrived on the scene. "Mister Jolly." He greeted, "Raymond. I see Miss Mudd is already at the Marshals office." @Javia

Bracing for the Storm


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Mature Content: No

With: Matt Wentworth and Leah Steelgrave
Location: Belle-St Regis Hotel first then Leah's house
When:  The day after "A Gathering of Storm Clouds" and "The Property Question 2" (1876)
Time of Day: Morning (before 9am)

 

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Matt had just finished his breakfast and was making his way back to his office to do some hotel paperwork before the meeting at nine o'clock when his day desk clerk, Walter Simpson stopped him.

 

"Mr. Wentworth, a young boy just dropped this off," Walter said as he handed Matt and envelope, "The boy said he was sorry and he would have delivered it earlier if it weren't for his mother making sure he finished his breakfast.  He also said something about being told that he had to wait until this morning to give it to you."

 

"Thank you, Walter," Matt replied before continuing on his way.  When he got to his office he sat down and briefly looked at the envelope to try to determine who it came from before opening it.

 

As he read the letter his emotions ranged from surprise to dismay.  It from Ben Robertson informing him that he and his wife would be gone by the time Matt had received the letter. Ben apologised saying that he thought it best to leave as he didn't want to go into the reasons why he had delayed the hospital contract.  Whatever those reasons were, they must be big to make a man like Ben Robertson to just up and go, Matt surmised.

 

The rest of the letter dealt with a matter that Matt and probably nobody else didn't know about.  According to Ben, there was a town ordinance that stated that any contracts or deals the town council makes on behalf of the town must be signed in writing by all standing members.  Ben mentioned that it was an obscure ordinance that had never really be enacted upon.  The deal with Leah Steelgrave would be the first time that it would be enacted.

 

After reading the letter again, Matt stood up and began to pace the room a little.  Ben was still delaying the hospital deal by leaving town but maybe there was a way around it.  The only thing he could count was that this unknown ordinance remained unknown.  There was already a plan formulating in his head but he would need to talk to Leah about it.

 

Looking at the clock in his office he noted that there was still plenty of time to work something out before the nine o'clock meeting.  Without hesitating, he made left the hotel and headed to Leah's house.  When he arrived there, he started to go towards the front door.

 

@Flip

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""scuse me Mister Wentworth, you have business with Miss Steelgrave?" Bannister asked as he stepped across the street. Everyone knew Matthew Wentworth, so calling him by name was hardly unusual. The other two had stepped into the street looking in both directions. Tensions were high.

 

"Bannister? Marshal's comin'!" McKinney called out. With the Marshal in sight, both men retreated to the porch of their cottage.

 

As he approached, Speed was surprised to see Matt there, red flags shot up immediately, something was wrong!

 

"Marshal." Bannister greeted as he too stepped away.

 

"Bannister, Matthew, something wrong Matt?" He asked ushering him to the door of Leah dwelling.

@JulieS

 

 

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Matt had expected one of Leah's men to approach him but what he didn't expect was the Marshall to turn up so soon.  He was hoping to have a private chat with Leah about the situation they were now in.  For his plan to succeed, the less people who knew about the problem with the town ordinance the better.

 

"Good morning, Marshall," Matt said with a hint of joviality in his voice, "I thought I might escort Miss Steelgrave personally to the courthouse as a sign of goodwill from the town council.  I see that you had the same idea.  Shall we?"

 

Without waiting for answer, Matt knocked on the front door.

 

@Flip

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It actually did not strike Speed as odd that Matthew was there, any news was something, and this was good news. He looked back at the three men sitting on what served as a porch across the street. As Matt knocked Speed smiled. "I need to have words with Bannister and his men, let Leah know I'll be back."

 

"Be back Marshal?" Leah asked as she opened the door for them.

 

"Yes Ma'am. Need a few words with the men across the street, best strike while the iron's hot. I'll over shortly." He said and stepped across the street and Matt went inside. It had struck Speed that perhaps Matt wanted some time with Leah.

 

"Boys, I've news that Case has a number of men and they are headed this way." He said flatly.

 

"Zat so?" Bannister asked. "How many you expectin'?"

 

"Who saw 'em?" McKinney asked before Speed could respond.

 

He held up his hand, "Young Jacob Lutz. Spotted them sometime say a week ago, south of here an said there were better than a dozen with him. Not askin' for your help, just lettin' you know there might be trouble for Miss Steelgrave."

 

Damn sure ta be trouble for you! Santee stated. "Case'll have a score ta settle with you an' that won't come to words, Marshal."

 

"No, I recon you're right about that." Speed acknowledged. "You boys help pull me and Pike outta fire once, an' I'll not forget that. So speaking as a friend, you need me, I'm there. Pike would be too, if he were here, and I surely wish he was. Might want to be prepared, just in case."

image.jpeg.65f6453dbde6d2053aee8de2259fe744.jpegimage.jpeg.ea463987fab41f28a1bd0bb62c97a363.jpegimage.jpeg.d9ebff3823b37d944c7f0be868da77d4.jpegimage.jpeg.1e3f26302fafdb62e23b5fe384bc21df.jpeg

@JulieS(with Matthew)

 

 

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Matt was relieved when the Marshall went off to speak Leah's men.  What he had to say was best done in private to give Leah a chance to decide what she wanted to do next.

 

Looking at Leah, he smiled and tipped his hat, "Good morning.  I'm sorry about this unexpected visit but there is something we need to discuss."

 

As he went inside, he tried to work out a way to tell her the news.  Seeing that there was no way to soften it, he took off his hat and went ahead, "I received a letter this morning from Judge Robertson.  It seems he and his wife have left for parts unknown.  In the letter he advised me of a town ordinance which up until now had no reason to be acted upon.  It  was written back when Kalispell was first settled and declared a town."

 

After placing his hat on the side table, he continued, "The town ordinance states that all land as well as all other official dealings done by on behalf of the town of Kalispell by the town council must be in written down.  This explains why the judge had to draw up a contract and why he sent it Helena to be scrutinised.  What he explain in the letter was that this contract as well as the temporary one we were planning to sign this morning must be signed by all sitting members of the town council.  Ben Robertson, by leaving town, has now put an end to any plans you may have."

 

@Flip

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She blinked a couple of times before dropping her head. Then it came back up. "All sitting members, well then, you can't be a sitting member if you've town. Can you? Has he moved, or simply ran out on his duty to the town?" There was a renewed fire in her eyes.

 

"So what you're saying amounts to, the man made a plan to meet within the hour, this morning, and has left town in a personal effort to prevent the transfer of the property as he said he would." She continued. She laughed. "And you all were afraid of my fathers involvement, well, I can tell you this Ben Robertson has abandoned his duties and should, no, must be removed from the Town Council. That seems fair."

 

"I now have yet another option I did not have before, Matthew, he has given me cause to wire Helena and bring down this entire charade! Robinson will have to leave Montana when I finish with him. If I were you, I would be at the Municipal Building at nine o'clock as arranged with a plan to over ride, or just ignore this preposterous ordinance!" Then she paused.

 

"I know it is not you, Matthew, nor any of the others, so why would Ben Robertson risk everything to block a simple land transaction, which benefits the town?"

@JulieS

 

 

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Matt smiled, "I've already got a plan and I'm glad that you think that something should be done."

 

He showed Leah to a nearby chair and motioned for a her to sit on it.  After she had, he took another which was opposite.  "What I have in mind will involved a lot risk but if it works out the payment will be worth it.  Ben Robertson went looking for some way to make sure you stopped on purpose.  I had no idea it existed and I'm pretty sure no-one else would as the original town ordinances would be buried somewhere deep in the town records and it would take a lot of looking to find each one of them."

 

"Now, Ben wouldn't have done this out of spite or even because he doesn't like the Steelgrave name.  I believe he was pushed into doing it and leaving town was just a last ditch effort to stop the hospital.  I suspect that whoever is behind all of this knows something about the judge that he doesn't want to get out.  My years of experience in dealing with this sort thing tells me that it has to be big in order for the judge to throw away everything like this."

 

He sighed, "What I am counting on for this plan to work is that nobody goes digging around in the town records.  Essentially, my plan is that we go ahead with signing the temporary contract as if there is nothing wrong.  The mayoral election is in a couple of months and by then the official contract should be back.  The new mayor and the town council he appoints will sign it and by then what we do now won't matter."

 

@Flip

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"Yes! Yesterday Marshal Guyer told me you and he had spoken to the Judge, and things were worked out on the contract. I had no idea he would do such a thing. Leave town? What is the man thinking, Matt? If it has to be done quietly then so be it, but a motion to remove him at this point seems to solve any future problems he might pose." She stated angrily.

 

I have no idea what the man's problem is, none at all. I should have known better than to allow him to get his hands on the right of ways, but I trusted him. Damn him! " She blurted out. "Well Matt, you do what you think is best in this case. I think," She exhaled as if regrouping.

 

"I think removing him may well happen after the election, and I think you have a good plan. So I will follow your lead. We'll sign the temporary contact and begin construction. Stopping it might be a real problem for whoever is behind this."

@JulieS

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"Yes, going ahead with the hospital is the only thing we can do.  Hopefully, by the time or if somebody bothers to check the town records, construction will be too far gone to stop it.  The only thing we have to worry about any future repercussions."

 

Pausing, he leaned back in the chair a little, "At the moment, I can control the situation but after the mayoral election, I won't be able to.  The new mayor will appoint his own town council and I may not be on it.  Your father is already ahead of us in the matter with Cole Latham nominating as one of the contenders. If Latham gets in, then you can be sure that he will find out about our ruse."

 

@Flip

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Leah sat almost emotionless, the news of the ordinance not crushing, as so much of this business had been, However, it rekindled the fire of her drive to see this though, no matter what the cost. "Cole Latham is a snake, pure and simple, but besides you, who might the others be? Surely it's not just Latham running, is it? I mean there has to be others interested in the job."

 

Cole Latham, Elias' lap dog of a lawyer, and tattletale of all things going on in Kalispell, especially with her and she supposed anything she was doing or not doing. Latham would be a monumental problem, more so than Richard Orr had been, or, for that matter, ever could be. He would be doing what he was told by her father! She knew that Elias could give a damn about a hospital, she also knew that he would likely stop at nothing to prevent her from being successful in any venture.

(Not sure she knows he is running.)

@JulieS

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Matt smiled at Leah's faux pas.  It was true he had been thinking about running for mayor but he hadn't made a decision.  There was a lot to consider, especially what he would do about his other job here in Kalispell.  Becoming mayor would mean giving up his job with the Secret Service.  He couldn't run a hotel, run a town and keep up with his responsibilities as an agent. Something would have to go.

 

However, there was also something else.  This problem with Ben Robertson and the delay he caused in the hospital project, wasn't something that just happened.  Ben would have to go digging through the town records to find this ordinance and he wouldn't have done it unless he had a good reason to.  Whatever that reason was, Matt had a feeling that Elias Steelgrave was somehow behind it all.  Elias was the only person he could think of who would want to see Leah and the hospital fail.

 

The main reason for his coming to Kalispell was to keep an eye on Elias.  The Secret Service suspected the Steelgrave patriach to be involved in a number of illegal deals, but they had no evidence.  Having someone here watching Elias was the only way they might be able to get the proof they need to convict him.  However, it was something he would have to think about later.

 

"I agree with you about Latham.  As for myself, I'm still haven't quite decided if I want to run for mayor.  It's a big responsibility. However, there's one thing I am sure of.  Getting this hospital project going will not be to your father's liking and he will try his best to stop it."

 

@Flip

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"But you must Matthew. You simply must." Leah pleaded. "I know that it's asking a lot, but Cole Latham? Really? My fathers local attorney? Do you have any idea what that would mean, and not just the hospital, but to the town itself if my father and his minions should gain that kind of control here."

 

"You know, of course, that the current Postmaster, Nolan Ashworth is one of my fathers henchmen. And, not only that, he is already on the Town Council." Leah could see not just her plans, but the future of Kalispell hanging in the balance. "Robinson has run off, you say? Is there a way, a good way we can get around this, slip it by them, because if anyone would do some digging in the records, it would be Latham!"

 

She hated asking about getting around the law, but for this? Yes, she would whatever it took to see the project through to completion, and that could mean possibly being charged, tried, and sent to prison. How did it come to this? How did trying to help the community place her in a position of doing something illegal? And then, there was the possibility of facing her father, at extreme odds with one another, more so than ever before!

@JulieS

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"Yes, I know what will happen if your father gains control of not just Kalispell but the whole region.  In fact, it could even affect Montana's chances of becoming a state.  I have it on good authority that your father has been very active in other parts of the territory as well not just here."

 

Matt stood up and took a deep breath.  The Service would approve of him running for mayor as it would disrupt Steelgrave's plans, especially if he won.  The chances of him winning, however, were good but not great.  He was going to need all the help he could get to win this.

 

"All right, I'll run for mayor, however there's a lot of risk involved. If manage this right, we should be fine, but I will be needing your help and influence.  I probably have some support, but I will be needing a whole lot more if I am going to win this.  Latham will have all of your father's resources behind him, both legal and not so legal."

 

@Flip

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"Yes, I know what will happen if your father gains control of not just Kalispell but the whole region.  In fact, it could even affect Montana's chances of becoming a state.  I have it on good authority that your father has been very active in other parts of the territory as well not just here."

 

"Oh yes, and he still is. His candidate for Governor failed, but he has other irons in the fire. He is after control, possibly a run for Governor is a part of whatever plan he has. I don't know, much has changed in the past months since I was last at the ranch." Leah divulged.

 

"All right, I'll run for mayor, however there's a lot of risk involved. If manage this right, we should be fine, but I will be needing your help and influence.  I probably have some support, but I will be needing a whole lot more if I am going to win this.  Latham will have all of your father's resources behind him, both legal and not so legal."

 

"Wonderful! Anything to stop the number of Mayoral candidates, or possible candidates. The dress maker, of course Cole Latham, and there are rumors of a couple more, I believe. But you know how rumors spread. And Matthew, seriously, my father will put some assets behind Latham, but it is just a Mayor, his eyes would be Governor or Territorial senate. Those would be the controllers he wants. Kalispell? To a degree, but not enough to get what he wants. Try the man that brought statehood!"

@JulieS

 

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"All right, as long as we keep the truth about the ordinance just between the two of us, we shouldn't have a problem where that is concerned," he said warmly.

 

A thought then occurred to him. "I know that we both have people who we would like to tell about this but we will have to use some discretion.  The preference is that the less people who the better but if either of us must tell we have to be sure that won't say anything or that they can't be easily influenced. We might have to bring the marshall into this at some point but I'm hoping we can avoid it.  Marshall Guyer is a good man, but he won't tolerate anything that is underhanded even if the intentions are honourable."

 

For a moment, he debated what to say next.  Keeping Elias occupied with stopping his daughter would serve a number of purposes, especially where the investigation into his holdings was concerned.  Running for mayor would require him to retire from the Service, but he was aware that there was someone else he could call on to take his place.  Having just told Leah to be discrete and then not to do it himself would look contradictory.  If was going to trust her in keeping the ordinance a secret, then he would have to trust on this.

 

"There's one more thing I need you to do for me," he said solemnly, "I have something to tell you that you must keep to yourself as well."

 

@Flip

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The situation had at first been a crushing blow after the evenings celebration with Jonah. Once more her spirits had been lifted to the heavens, only to be dashed against the rocks, as it were. Now, now there was a way to culminate all of her hard work, and that of Jonah, and even Doc Boone, and all those that had done what they could where and when they could to see this project through. Now, with just a bit of underhandedness, she and all of Kalispell could finally get the hospital and eventually the orphanage that they wanted. Well, most of them anyway.

 

She looked at Matt with new eyes, as she realized whatever he was about to tell her, he was far more than he had appeared to be, and that could be either good or bad, depending.

 

She smiled, looking at him, "Well Matt, fire away. You have my word I'll say nothing." Yes, a secret, no matter how bad, she would honor his wishes, and her given word.

@JulieS

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"That's what I was hoping you would say."

 

Matt grabbed the chair he had been sitting on and pulled it closer to Leah.  It was his way of showing that he trusted her and that he was keeping her at arms length.  Once he was seated he leaned forward.  "There's no way of putting this lightly so I will just tell.  Shortly after the war finished I was recruited into the Secret Service.  I am still working for them."

 

He paused as he let Leah take in what he had just said, "An opportunity arose here in Kalispell for me to be sent here to keep an eye on your father and to gather any evidence I can find in order to bring charges against him.  As you know your father has a hand in a great deal of things.  We don't know how many or who is on his payroll.   Keeping him occupied with trying to interfere with your plans may give us a chance to get what we need."

 

"The problem is that if I become mayor, I can't run the hotel or continue my duties as an agent.  If you're wondering, I do own the hotel.   Being a businessman has helped me get into a few places to carry out my duties.  The main reason why I am telling you this is that I know of someone who is taking a break from the Service that I would like to bring in to help run the hotel.  Outside the two of us he will be the only one who knows."

 

He smiled warmly, "I know I said that you shouldn't tell anyone but I am hoping you won't mind that I am bringing in someone else.  As far as you're concerned, he will be only a hotel employee and will act as such.  You won't have to speak to him unless you have to and vice versa."

 

@Flip

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  • 1 month later...

"you aren't the first to be assigned to take down my father." She said. "It has been something we have lived with for years, as you probably are well aware. I believe it is part of the reason my brothers, with the exception of Case have left the ranch and simply moved on with their lives."

 

"You have my word your secret is safe with me, I could care less if he's arrested and goes to prison. He has that coming if he's not killed first. And please, bring in who you like should you win, and I have full faith that you will." She knew that sooner or later someone would come. First it had been the local Law, then the Pinkerton's, now, the Secret Service. Moving to the Territories kept Government Law at bay, but only for so long it would seem.

 

"My only concern is the swift start to building the Hospital and it's timely completion so it can be of use to the territory. You do what you have to, Matthew, I'll support you in that."

@JulieS

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Matt smiled, "That's all I wanted to hear.  You can trust me to help to get this hospital up and going.  If all goes to plan and I do become mayor then what we are doing now won't matter.  The only thing, we have to worry about is if Cole Latham gets in but I think that is something that won't happen especially as most people know that he works for your father."

 

He went over to pick up his hat, and turned to Leah, "Now, how we go sign those papers and get that first lot of soiled turned over before the day is out."

 

@Flip

 

OOC: I think we can head over to the court house now and get the formalities done.

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Her smile could not have been broader, her eyes could not have sparkled more with the forming tears of absolute joy at hearing Matt suggest they go and sign the papers that would give her the land she needed and had fought for for so long, it was now, minutes away from being a reality. "I don't know what to say, I mean I know where the vacant plots are, but I've not presented that information. I suppose we can do that at the signing. Oh Matt, really, I, I truly don't know what to say, other than this is a dream come true. We should hurry before something happens that changes everything!"

 

It was a rare thing to behold, Leah Steelgrave joyfull, Happy and excited. There were wires to send, local folke to rally to begin the process. A trip to the bank to receive funds that would be forwarded from Helena. So much to do, but in reality, plenty of time to do it.

@JulieS

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