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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.

Well, What Have We Here?


The Old Ranger
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Mature Content: Not sure, we haven't written it all yet.

With: Dorothy Parsons, Greer, Billy (NPCs)
Location: On the fringes of the Steelgrave ranch property
When: Monday, September 13, 1875
Time of Day: Evening

 

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It was dark now and the campfire was crackling away as two men sat across from each other separated by the fire. They had spent much of the day tracking down some loose horses who had wandered away from the ranchhouse corral when a gate had been carelessly left open. Truth was they hadn't been trying all that hard to find the animals as if they had come back with them too fast they might have been assigned some other chore for the day. Neither of them had a lot of ambition . Yes, they were ranch hands but no one would label them all that good at their jobs. But they were kept on because they had the sort of loose morals necessary to work for people like the Steelgraves who flouted the laws at very convenience and needed cowhands who didn't mind that at all. That might include such things as a bit of bullying intimidation to rustling to if necessary bloodshed. Long as they got paid.

 

Their now unsaddled mounts were tethered to a horseline and three other horses roped next to them, so the job was done but they'd take their time getting back. Ride in again the next morning....maybe late next morning, so as to have a better chance to miss any new chores. Billy had taken a shot at a rabbit earlier but missed so they ended up settling for cooking up some beans and were eating those as they relaxed.

 

"Wish we coulda went on that bear hunt, instead the Lost Lake ranch gets credit for that," sighed the younger of the two.

Billy was seventeen but most folks didn't think he looked it.

 

"No, not what I heard happened. One of them got all torn up and it took some woman to go n' kill that bear. Talk about embarrassin'," chortled Greer in between shoveling in some more beans, he always ate like he was starving but that sizeable paunch above his belt showed that was definitely not the case.

 

billyforsaga1.jpg                  Greer.jpg

 

@Juls

 

 

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The normally high strung brown and white pinto gelding plodded along slowly, head hung down, his spirits seeming as low as those of his rider who slouched in the saddle.  

 

Dorothy had been lost for a week now.  She didn’t even know if she was in Idaho, Wyoming, or Montana at this point.  All she knew was that she’d run out of provisions 3 days ago and was so damn hungry that she was beginning to consider eating the horse.  But after running from Indians and being separated from Flinch and Smitty, the gelding named Pongo was all she had left.  She’d spent a day hiding, then two days looking for her companions.  Maybe they’d been killed.  Maybe they’d fled.  But she was no skilled tracker and had eventually come to the frightening realization she was on her own.

 

Yesterday, she’d run across something she thought was some kind of wild onion and had eaten several of them for her dinner only to heave them back up shortly after.  Today, she’d found a pear tree with a few gnarled pears the critters hadn’t gotten yet. The fruit was hard as a rock, but at least something to gnaw on and seemed to be staying down. She groaned in self-pity as she halted the horse and slid off Pongo's right side, intending to unsaddle and hobble him for the night so he could graze while she rested. “Wish I could eat grass…” she muttered.

 

And suddenly… she caught site of a fire, which simultaneously filled her with hope that perhaps she’d stumbled upon Flinch and Smitty after all and fear that it was Indians.  Hunger and hope outweighed caution and instead of unsaddling the pinto, she quickly looped his lead rope around a tree branch.  “You wait here,” she whispered to Pongo, then made her way as quietly as she could toward the camp site until the two men came into view.  Definitely NOT Flinch and Smitty.  5 horses though, which seemed to suggest there were three others around somewhere.

 

Dorothy crouched down behind a pine tree, eyes scanning the area in an attempt to locate the other 3 men before eventually returning her gaze to the two at the fire, warily eyeing whatever they were eating.  They looked… rough.  Not that she looked, or probably smelled, any better.  She hesitated, debating between just going out there and asking if they’d share their dinner versus waiting until they’d fallen asleep in order to scrounge through their saddle bags.  Either one was risky.  

 

But while she debated, Pongo must have caught sight or smell of the other horses, for he whinnied loudly in greeting.  Ding horse!  She should have known he’d do that! 

 

@Wayfarer

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Greer practically spilled his plate of beans on hearing the horse from closeby but not the direction where their horses were tethered. Then he froze in place and stared out into the darkness. Being so close to their fire, that only made vision past the blaze all the more difficult. He did manage a shout out though.

 

"Hey, anyone out there?"

 

Billy flinched but then recovered quickly to set his own plate aside and carefully place one hand on the handle of his holstered revolver but he did not draw it. For all he knew someone or several someones out there had aimed guns on them. He was no fool.  But if shooting did start he was ready to dive away from the fire and go prone while at the same time having his weapon out and firing at any possible target.

 

"Just show yourselves...we don't want no trouble," he smiled and his youthful voice sounded a whole lot more calming than his gruff older partner.

 

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"Hey, anyone out there?"

 

Dorothy’s heart rate shot up as the older of the two men called out in her direction, forcing her to decide on a course of action sooner than she’d planned.  Her left hand moved to rest on her revolver handle.  Bobby had gifted her a handsome matching pair of the Smith & Wessons and she wore one on each hip, but wasn’t yet good enough to effectively wield one on each hand.  

 

"Just show yourselves...we don't want no trouble."

 

What would Bobby do here?  Probably go be best buddies with these fellows and be eating their food and drinking their whiskey iffn they had any in no time flat.  He’d been the charismatic type.   

 

She was taking too long, probably making them a touch nervous.  Plus, the smell of the beans was making her stomach complain and her mouth water.  That alone was enough to rule out simply retreating into the darkness.

 

“Ain’t lookin’ for trouble, mister,” she called out finally, but didn’t yet move from the shelter of the pine tree. There was no disguising her feminine tone.  “Got separated from my … wagon,” she lied, hoping the idea that there might be people looking for her would be enough to deter any liberties either of them might have a notion to take.  'Course, just in case, that's what the gun was for.  “When my horse spooked and bolted.”  

 

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The two cowboys tensely waited for............well something to happen. A reply, gunfire, the sound of a horse galloping away...something. Suddenly there was a voice from the darkness, a female voice! That was a good thing....probably.

 

Billy glanced over to Greer, "It's a gal."

 

Alright, so that was belaboring the obvious. Greer nodded without reply. So even though Billy was by far the junior of the pair he assumed the spokesman role.

 

"That's good, neither do we. We're eating some supper, nothing fancy but you're welcome to have some. Course you're gonna have to come over to the fire then."

 

For just a moment he thought of that rabid wildcat farm girl but no, it definitely did not sound like her. He'd remember her voice alright.

 

"Sorry 'bout your horse. But maybe we can find it come daylight. Besides we got us some extra horses," he added.

 

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Some of Dorothy’s caution ebbed as the younger of the pair said she’d be welcome to supper.  Maybe they were just a couple honest cowboys.

 

“I already got the horse,” she said, easing herself slowly out from behind the pine tree, eyes flicking back and forth from Greer to Billy to the half-eaten meals several times as she took a few cautious steps toward the fire, slowly illuminating something that might indeed look like a rabid wildcat girl.

 

Her trousers and used-to-be-white shirt were both dirty and stained, there was dirt under her fingernails, knuckles and forearms scratched from briars.  A gunbelt with two revolvers hung on her hips.  Her blonde hair might have been braided a few days ago, but now it was a tangled mess sticking out from beneath her brown hat.  Her face was partially shadowed by the hat, but looked like it was a week overdue for a scrubbing, the remnants of some black eye liner smeared below her eyes as if she’d rubbed at it recently.

 

“Just got myself lost in the process…” she said.  At least that was the truth.

 

For a second, she rested her hands on her gun belt, then quickly realized what she was doing and crossed her arms instead.  No sense in giving them a reason to shoot her.  Least not yet.

 

“Wouldn’t say no to dinner though.”

 

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And then this mysterious woman finally appeared, emerging out of the darkness of the tree line as she approached the campfire. The woman replied that she already had her horse so that meant they wouldn't have to do a search when daylight came. That was a good bit of news because neither of the cowpokes had any ambition or desire to.

 

"Oh, that's a good thing then," Billy nodded as he studied the woman.

 

Definitely not that damn farm girl with her dark hair in pigtails....no this here was a grown woman. And looking a bit rough for wear but then if she had been wandering around in the wilds, small wonder. Billy wondered how old she was. He also wanted a closer look at her once she reached the fire so he could decided if she was pretty or not.

 

Now on the other hand Greer didn't pay attention to all that as his attention was drawn to the fact this woman had not just one but TWO guns in her holster. In all his years, he never could remember any woman heeled like that. Nope, this was no townie or ranch gal. Nobody like that would wear two six guns. This one could be real trouble.

 

The woman stated a willingness to partake in some dinner though. Afterall they had invited her to share their supper.

 

"Sure, it ain't fancy. Just beans though but we got plenty left," Greer invited her in then.

 

Billy kept his hand on the handle of his pistol but it remained inside it's holster, "Sure, you can use my plate, I'm done anyhow. Oh and we got some beef jerky too. Would you want a couple slices?"

 

As he was standing he waved with his free hand for her to have a seat by the fire, "Make yerself comfortable."

 

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Dorothy watched the two men’s reaction to her, both of which gave her reason to keep her guard up: the younger with his hand resting on his pistol and the older giving her own guns the stink eye.

 

Maybe she should have left the gun belt with Pongo.  It made the whole ‘damsel in distress’ act a little harder.  But she’d be damned if she was going to put herself at the complete mercy of two strangers in the middle of nowhere.  At least she’d left the wad of cash back in Pongo’s saddle bags.  That might prove more difficult to spin some yarn about.

 

“Beans’re okay,” she said, a bit of her rough Pittsburgh accent slipping through.  She’d picked up a little bit of a southern drawl during her time in Texas, but the northern habit of turning multiple words into one hadn’t completely gone away.   

 

She hesitated when Billy waved her toward the fire, as if he was just waiting for her to sit so that he’d have an easier time getting the drop on her.  But the plate of beans and the offer of beef jerky was compelling enough to let her stomach overrule her head and she sat, trying to force herself to relax.

 

“Jerky too?  I didn’t know no better, I’d say you boys were trying to butter me up,” she said, letting her voice soften to a tone she knew men tended to like and allowing a half-smile to erase her wary expression.  Though that trick might not work near so well when she was dressed like a tomboy that got dragged through a thicket.

 

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Billy figured it was in the end the food that drew her in as she made her up to the campfire then sat down. He now took his hand off his gun and relaxed a bit. He wasn't a trusting person, most of his life he had lived with and dealt with people you wouldn't want to trust. That included his current employers but they paid decent so he stayed on. The woman seemed quite content with beans then was rather pleasantly surprised with the tack on jerky offer.

 

"Alright, here use my plate and spoon, I'm done eatin' anyhow," he passed over the utensils then got up again to go pull the jerky out of his saddlebags. Those were piled with his saddle on top of the blanket he would be sleeping on.

 

While the young man did that, Greer just stared at the gal. She probably wouldn't want to know what his current thoughts were but whatever, he did not voice them. When Billy returned he had a few long sticks of jerky to give her.

 

"So what's yer name then? Oh, this here is Greer - he don't like his first name none. And I'm Billy...Billy Watlow. "

 

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It occurred to Dorothy that the young man probably wasn’t really done with his plate of food, but she sure wasn’t going to offer it back to him now.  Beans weren’t exactly her idea of a gourmet feast, but right now they were the best thing she’d ever eaten and she shoveled them in like somebody was about to steal it back off of her.

 

It was only after several bites that she felt Greer’s rather uncomfortable stare.  And her eyes moved back up to meet his with a challenge in her gaze as she scraped the plate with the spoon to get every last bean.

 

Looks bout as dull as dishwater, she thought, rather uncharitably.

 

“Dotty,” she said, taking the sticks of jerky and turning her gaze to Billy.  “Jackson,” she added.  She’d decided on that name at some point during the trek north.  Seemed easy enough to remember and there were plenty of Jacksons back where she was from.

 

Billy seemed the more likable of the two, even if she thought he was probably at least a couple years younger than herself.  So she looked at him as to ask, “We close to any towns?”

 

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Billy nodded as the woman identified herself. Dotty...Jackson. Now he knew a Jackson family over Billing's way but he didn't recall them having a Dotty. Still it was a very common family name, lots of Jacksons.

 

"Dotty. That's a right pretty name, " he lied thru his teeth, he actually didn't like it but he was trying hard to be friendly with this gal.

 

She turned to meet his gaze then even as she asked a question about towns.

 

"Oh yeah. Closest is Kalispell. Then probably Whitefish. You got family around?" he had his own questions.

 

So did Greer who was far less diplomatic, "Why in tarnation you wearing two sixguns? What kinda woman runs around with guns like that?"

 

Actually Billy thought that too but hadn't voiced it, leave it to his lummox partner.

 

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“None ‘round here,” she answered Billy about having family close by.  She’d never even heard of Kalispell or Whitefish, but didn’t want to ask which state she was actually in and reveal just how lost she really was.  Then they’d know for sure that there was no one within 100 miles or more who would miss her if she disappeared tonight.  Still, the young man’s friendly nature was beginning to put her at ease.  He reminded her a little of Flinch, who she'd always got on pretty well with.

 

It didn’t last long.

 

Dorothy bristled again at Greer’s questions.  As if he were accusing her of something.  Maybe something that happened to be true, but nonetheless, his tone put her back on edge.

 

“One that don’t plan on endin’ up at the mercy of some mud sill, Mister Greer,” she said pointedly as she set down the now empty plate, which might give the impression she was freeing up her hands to draw those guns.

 

 

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A little bit more progress, Billy thought, the gal didn't have any family locally. Still meant though a lot about her was a mystery. Then Greer went and was a bit too blunt with his questions, especially the second one. The woman bristled.

 

Greer was no gunslinger. Oh he had a gun and he'd used both a rifle and a revolver during his lifetime but he preferred the odds to be all stacked in his favor as he was both an indifferent shot and a bit of a coward.

 

"Well, don't have nothin' ta worry about with us. We are just plain law-abiding cowpokes. But mess with our employers and you could well wind up regrettin' it. The Steelgraves are hard folks," Greer replied.

 

Billy almost chuckled about the law-abiding part but let it go. You didn't work for the Steelgraves if you were fussy about breaking laws. The only law was do whatever the Steelgraves told you to do.

 

"Yeah, no need to get upset. You can't blame us for being at least a mite curious when some unknown woman comes inta our camp. Ain't we been welcoming though and proper gentlemen?" Billy added to their defense.

 

He decided to move on to a different topic to break the tension, "So you got a job already or maybe lookin' for one, Dotty?"

 

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Dorothy wasn’t sure if Greer’s statement about these Steelgraves was supposed to be a direct threat or just a fair warning.  It took her a moment to realize that maybe he thought she was here to do some cattle rustle or something.  Ha!  As if she knew anythin’ bout cows.  If he really thought that, then he probably thought she had some friends lurking nearby.  Good.  Let him worry about it.  Maybe that would help ensure he kept his hands to himself.

 

“Ain’t planning on messin’ with no one,” she commented, her eyes still lingering on Greer as Billy chimed in to try to smooth things over.  “And ain’t upset,” she added, despite the fact that she had most certainly been overly touchy about Greer’s comment.

 

Seeming satisfied that Ol’ Dishwater there got her message, she let her gaze slide back over to Billy and allowed the tension to subside again.  At first it seemed an odd question… after being lost for a week and with a wad of Wells Fargo cash in her saddle bags, employment wasn’t exactly forefront in her mind.  But that money wouldn’t last forever and now that she gave it a thought, maybe picking up an odd job or two would let her get reoriented.  Maybe figure out where she was going.

 

“Ya know anyone willin’ to hire a woman?” she asked.  It was worth a shot.  “I mean… anyone ‘sides the local saloon or the cat house?”

 

 

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The woman said she wasn't upset, well Billy had his doubts about that alright. She sounded upset. But he wasn't about to argue with her over it. Instead he gave a look toward Greer as if to silently say  'stop it' then instead spoke to her.

 

"Well, that's good then."

 

He then changed topics and asked about if she might possibly be looking for work. Turned out she seemed at least a bit interested given her return question.

 

"Not exactly....I just was curious but no, I didn't mean saloon or cat house. Still......you shoot those guns of yers pretty good? Can ya hit what ya aim at? Might just know a place or two where gunhands can get hired. Depends on how willing you are to actually use those?" Billy still wasn't wanting to come right out with it plainly.

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“I can use ‘em if I have to,” she replied.

 

Calling her a gunslinger would have been an outright lie, but she was fairly decent shot, at least with her left hand.  With the right … well, it depended how big the target was.   Flinch had taken the time to teach her and she’d been practicing and getting better little by little.   Usually by shooting at cans that had been hung from a tree.  Or sometimes having Flinch toss one in the air and seeing if she could hit it before it fell.

 

Bobby hadn’t liked to include her in the actual gunfighting though, always telling her it was too dangerous.  Stealing the Wells Fargo cash from the South Pacific Railroad line had been the first time he’d taken her on a job and it had been such a success that there’d been no need for trigger pullin’ at all.  

 

Still, there was some appeal to Billy’s suggestion.  She didn’t have a wide skillset and she certainly wasn’t keen to ever step foot in a whorehouse again.

 

“Maybe you can point ‘em out to me tomorra?” she suggested.  “Hey, you mind if I go get my horse and bring him up here?” she asked, standing up and gesturing to where the other horses were tied and then down toward where Pongo was.  “Left him down there and he’s still got his saddle on…”

 

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"Well, we damn well know how to use our guns too, just gotta be willin'. Some folk just freeze up," Greer remarked.

 

Billy smiled, "Greer when were you ever in a gunfight?"

 

"I killed Zeke Crowley back when," Greer defended himself.

 

"That wasn't no gunfight, that was an ambush," Billy pointed out.

 

"Life ain't always fair is it?" Greer smirked.

 

Billy figured he'd better get back to talking to their campfire guest though, "If you're still interested, sure I can bring you to the ranch and introduce you to the foreman. If he's of a mind to, he'll have you meet Mr. Steelgrave. He makes those kind of decisions afterall."

 

She wanted to bring in her horse, tied up somewhere out in the trees, a reasonable request.

 

"Sure go ahead, ain't like we're goin' anywhere," Billy nodded.

 

@Juls

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Dorothy didn’t reply to the back and forth between Greer and Billy, but she sure listened.  The name Zeke Crowley didn’t mean anything to her, but the idea that Greer had ambushed someone and killed him added some worry about just what kind of man he was.  Not that Bobby, Smitty, the Goller brothers, and the rest of the men she’d spent nearly 3 years with hadn’t done more than their fair share of ambushing and killing, but she KNEW what kind of men they were.  Ones that would take advantage of an outsider.  Someone came up to their camp in the dark alone, chances were good that man might soon be missing his horse, gun, wallet, and maybe even his boots.  There had never been a case of a woman coming upon their camp like that, but David Goller had given her enough grief that she didn’t doubt the woman would have been in trouble.  Probably the only thing that had kept Dave from trying to back Dorothy herself into a dark corner was the knowledge that Bobby might have shot him for it.

 

“Yeah, that’d be nice of ya, Billy.  Thanks,” Dorothy replied.  “Right back…”

 

She disappeared back the way she’d come, back toward where she’d left Pongo tethered.  With a little bit of food in her belly, maybe she’d best just high tail it out of here.  But, she reminded herself, she was still lost.   And she didn’t like her odds of making it to one of the towns Billy had mentioned on luck alone.

 

“Best sleep with one eye open tonight, girl,” she whispered to herself as she untied the lead rope and brought her pinto gelding back toward the campsite, securing him a short distance away from the other horses before beginning to untack him.

 

 

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As the woman left the camp temporarily to go fetch her horse, the two long time companions watched her backside til it disappeared into the dark. Greer spoke up first but only in a low tone of voice lest the woman hear him.

 

"Whaddya think?"

 

Billy frowned, "Whaddya think what?"

 

"About this here gun-toting gal....who the hell you think I'm referrin' to," Greer frowned right back.

 

"I don't know....maybe they'll hire her. Don't take a big strong man to pull a trigger ya know, females can do that too....I guess," Billy shrugged.

 

"Ya don't say, well yer proof of that, you so scrawny and all," Greer smiled, he often made fun of the younger man.

 

"Well, I damn well could outshoot you, we both know it," Billy snapped back.

 

She returned so enough leading a fine looking (leastwise in the poor light of evening) horse.

 

"So we are plannin' on turnin' in now. It's been a long hard day for us roundin' up these strays," Billy referred to the string of horses they had.

 

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The pinto gelding, while not top tier, was indeed a decent quality horse with flashy coloring and solid conformation.  He was mostly brown, but sported 3 white stockings and a large splotch of white that ran under his belly and wrapped up toward the bottom of the saddle on both sides.  He had a bald face that wrapped his whole nose and extended up over his blue eyes, giving him a ‘wild’ look to match his spirited personality.  Well, usually spirited.  Right now, he was as exhausted from their week of being lost as Dorothy was and seemed content to stand quietly while she removed his saddle and bridle.

 

Dorothy brought the saddle and gear closer to the fire and set them down.   Despite being from Pennsylvania, she’d been down in Texas long enough that the September night was already feeling chilly to her and the bit of heat from the fire was welcome.  She hadn’t dared build one the last few nights for fear of Indians spotting her.

 

“Fine with me,” she agreed, arranging the saddle so that she could use it as a pillow and the saddle blanket to keep her torso off the ground.    

 

She would TRY to stay awake longer than Billy or Greer, just in case either of them got a notion to be getting too close in the night.  But within 20 minutes or so, she was asleep and would probably go on sleeping until morning unless something interrupted her slumber.

 

@Wayfarer

Edited by Juls (see edit history)
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Dotty, if that was her real name, was willing enough to end the evening and go to sleep also. No doubt whatever else was true or false about her story, she had been traveling for some time and was as tired as that horse of hers looked. If Greer had some plans to very quietly sneak over to their newcomer and rifle her stuff looking for anything interesting, he was too tired to stay awake long enough. The trio slept soundly thru the night.

 

Next morning, it was decided to forego breakfast, they didn't have much to be honest anyhow except for a repeat of the beans last night. Instead the newcomer agreed with their idea to break camp and press straight on to the Evergreen spread, it wasn't that far a ride. Billy had promised the gal he would introduce her to the Steelgraves and , hell, they might just go and hire her. He had hinted pretty strongly though it wouldn't be for cowpoking but for her gun.

 

*****

 

The weather was good, air crisp, and the string of horses quite cooperative so it was about midday when the trio rode onto the ranch and Greer took the horses to the corral next to the barn. Billy meanwhile would handle the introductions between this gal and somebody with some real authority at the ranch. Soon enough he knocked on the main front door of the Steelgrave residence, something he almost never did. But then he had never found himself a possible recruit before either, especially a woman gunslinger. Whether the Steelgraves would think so, God only knew. Billy only hoped they still weren't mad at him for the big brawl at the town festival.

 

billyforsaga1.jpg

 

@Juls  @Flip

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894584767_LaytonHarris.jpg.264df16e7b30ef39de7a6557443a2038.jpgForeman Layton Harris was talking with Elias about range conditions and having men out rounding up strays when there was a rap on the front door. An odd sound as there were rare visitors to the ranch, and family simply walked in.

 

Elias looked up, brow furrowed at the sound. "Now what in tarnation is this about? Who'd be coming out here? Layton, get that."

 

"Yes sir." Harris said already heading for the door. He pulled the heavy oak door open to see young Billy and a woman. "What the- Billy you know you ain't supposed to bring your lady friends out here." He shook his head, well she wasn't bad looking, needed cleaning up, but not bad.

 

"What is it Layton?" Elias called out.

 

"Billy brought some female out here lookin' for work."

 

"Well? Bring her in."

 

"Miss, if you'll follow me. Billy, you get back to work." Layton Harris said, the last part an order.

 

Tag @JulieS@Wayfarer

 

 

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After his second knock the door suddenly opened and there was the ranch foreman, Mr. Layton. Billy forced a quick smile which faded when the man chided him for bringing a 'lady friend'? Hell, if he only was so lucky to have a lady friend, least the kind he figured Layton was talking about.

 

"No sir, it isn't what it looks like. I wouldn't do that none. We run into this here lady while we were out rounding up those strays. Bein' the sociable sorts we are, me n' Greer invited her to share our camp food and we talked a mite too. She is lookin' for a job and she mentioned she knows guns..." he paused, all Layton had to do is glance down at Dotty and see she was packing two revolvers. No typical woman did that.

 

"I told her that maybe..............now maybe....I couldn't make no promises after all as I just work here...but maybe she could get a job here for the Steelgraves. She was pleased to hear that. So ...well, here we are and..." Billy didn't get to finish.

 

The real boss, Elias Steelgrave called out from within the house asking what was going on. Layton promptly answered. So far so good, at least he would meet with Dotty.  That was something. Layton invited her in and then ordered him to go back to work. Billy was disappointed in a way, he had brought her this far and now he wouldn't even get to hear what would be going on.  But he wasn't stupid enough to argue. You didn't do that at Evergreen if you wanted to keep a job.

 

"Yessir, understood," Billy turned to Dotty then, "Well, I done all I could for ya. Wish you luck, hope you get the job. If you do, me n' you will have a chance to see each other again then."

 

@Juls @Flip

 

 

Edited by Wayfarer (see edit history)
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Dorothy hesitated slightly before allowing Greer to take her horse to the stable along with the others.  But she couldn’t come up with a good excuse why he shouldn’t, so handed him the reins and gave the horse a pat on his neck, silently hoping that the Greer left the saddle bags alone.   The money was further stashed in a small burlap sack, but that would only go so far to protect it from prying eyes.   

 

She followed Billy to the door, trying to smooth down her hair that desperately needed a brush before Layton opened the door.  If she was embarrassed to be thought of Billy’s ‘lady friend’, she gave no hint of it.  “I ‘ppreciate it, Billy,” she said to him before he left.  She meant it too.  She still wasn’t too sure about Grouchy Greer, but Billy seemed the sort that she could come to like.

 

Dorothy turned her smile toward Layton and stepped in after him.  No longer in fear for her life, she was a bit more relaxed for this meeting and she let her tone soften and even sweeten to something she’d learned that men tended to like.  Though whether that would play well when she was as dirty as she was right would remain to be seen.   “Don’t mean to intrude, mister.  I’d gotten myself pretty turned ‘round out there and was glad enough to run into Mister Greer and Mister Watlow.  Sure hope any job openin’s ain’t for navigatin’” she tried, taking a jab at herself.

 

 

@Wayfarer @Flip

Edited by Juls
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 “Don’t mean to intrude, mister.  I’d gotten myself pretty turned ‘round out there and was glad enough to run into Mister Greer and Mister Watlow.  Sure hope any job openin’s ain’t for navigatin’” she tried, taking a jab at herself.

 

“I don’t believe that’ll be much of a problem, miss.” Harris said as the walked into the study.

 

Before Harris could speak, Elias turned to face them, giving the pistol packing girl a long once over. His eyes narrowed at the guns. “Ever kill a man?” He asked casually, setting the paper in his hand on the desk. :Let’s begin with what type of work you’re prepared to do, and then we’ll move on to what I see as available.” He gestured to a cowhide covered chair. “Have a seat, Miss. Layton? Would you get us some coffee please?”

 

“Yes sir.” and he left the room.

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