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The Old Ranger

Well, What Have We Here?

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Dorothy gave Elias Steelgrave the same once over that he gave her.  He had the look of a gentlemen at first glance, but there was something about him that suggested he wasn’t someone to under estimate.  Power, wealth, enough wisdom, if she had to venture a guess, to have kept both through the years.  This gave him a certain attractiveness right away. 

 

“Ever kill a man?”

 

Billy hadn’t wanted to come right out and said the Steelgraves weren’t exactly upright citizens, but he’d implied it enough that Dorothy was ready for such a question, even if she was surprised that it came before introductions.

 

“I like a man who gets right to the point,” Dorothy said, taking the offered seat before actually answering the question.  The truth was a gamble here, but this Steelgrave fella didn’t seem the type to sneak one past too easy.  “Maybe an injun.  I shot one, but I din’t stick round to find out iffn I killed him or not.”  She thought she’d got him through the shoulder, so most likely she hadn’t actually killed him, at least not outright.

 

 

@Flip

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894584767_LaytonHarris.jpg.264df16e7b30ef39de7a6557443a2038.jpgLayton Harris came back into the study bearing a tray with two cups and an ornate silver pot. He set it on a table and proceeded to pour both cups, the stood erect waiting on the next instruction.

 

Elias looked his way, "Layton, see to the men that brought her here and find out how the search for strays is going."

 

"Yes sir." Came the crisp reply and with that he turned on a heel and was gone. All were trained that when Elias Steelgrave was interviewing, hired hands were not welcome, no matter the interviewee.

 

"Now then, about you and your desire to work for the Evergreen Ranch." He began, a thoughtful look on his face. "I'm not quite sure just where you might fit in, but there is something that tells me you could be quite useful where others could not." Pausing again. "Of course we'll have to get you cleaned up, and see how you would appear as a lady...of sorts."

 

Tag @JulieS

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The coffee smelled good and once the cups were poured, Dorothy picked one up without waiting for further invitation.  It might have been polite to await the host to offer, but manners in a formal setting were certainly not her strong suit.  He’d poured two cups, so one was obviously for her, right?  “Ain’t had a cuppa coffee in a week…” she said appreciatively, breathing in the aroma while she listened to Elias.

 

If she was catching his drift right, he was already thinking about using her much as the Baker’s Hounds had used her: as a distraction when needed.  Or as a spy to get close to certain men and gather information.

 

“Mister, guess it depens what kinda lady you’re talkin’ ‘bout.  I draw the line at whorin,” she stated rather bluntly, wanting to take that idea off the table immediately.  Those days, she’d promised herself, were behind her.  If that was a deal breaker, then so be it.   “But I clean up alright,” she said.  “A woman can move in some circles easier than a man.  Spec-ly when she bats her eyes at the menfolk.”

 

She restrained herself from demonstrating.  Even without a mirror, she knew her dirt smudges, various small scratches from brambles, even a few bug bites, would dramatically reduce the intended effect.

 

 

@Flip   

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“But I clean up alright,” she said.  “A woman can move in some circles easier than a man.  Spec-ly when she bats her eyes at the menfolk.”

 

"Exactly my point. There are some situations where you could be most useful to me." Elias said taking up his cup of coffee. "Whoring is not what I had in mind, to set your mind at ease. Those pistols of yours may well come in handy, but for the most part it will be your charms that will come into play. How far you are willing to take those charms is of no concern to me, but I would expect you to complete the task at hand." He paused for effect. "Since I am married and have an adult daughter living here I am not able to offer you lodging, and I certainly wouldn't expect you to  live in the bunk house. So, I will have one of my men escort you to Whitefish, my son is marshal there, and with a note from me, he'll set you up with whatever is needed."

 

Tag @Juls

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This seemed to be going better than expected.  This boss man was even married so maybe he wouldn’t be wanting any of the extras that Bobby had expected. 

 

“I can do that,” she said and took a sip of the coffee, glad for how well this seemed to be working out in her favor.  

 

Until… 

 

Dorothy sat up a bit straighter in the seat, her smile faltering momentarily.  “A marshal?”  Billy and Greer hadn’t mentioned that little tidbit of information.  She forced the smile back in place.  No one this far north would know who she was, she reasoned to herself.  Nothing to worry about.  Of course, had she known there was a detective so close, she’d have been a good deal more worried.

 

“That’ll be good.  I’m Dotty Jackson, by the way.  I look forward to bein’ a help to you, Mister Steelgrave,” she said, ready to prove her worth.  Suddenly, the future was looking a little brighter.   

 

 

@Flip

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 Dorothy sat up a bit straighter in the seat, her smile faltering momentarily.  “A marshal?”  Billy and Greer hadn’t mentioned that little tidbit of information.  She forced the smile back in place.  No one this far north would know who she was, she reasoned to herself.  Nothing to worry about.  Of course, had she known there was a detective so close, she’d have been a good deal more worried.


Elias smiled, “Nothing for you to worry about Miss, the Marshal is my son Case Steelgrave, and you’ll fit right in with his Whitefish crowd.
 

“That’ll be good.  I’m Dotty Jackson, by the way.  I look forward to bein’ a help to you, Mister Steelgrave,” she said, ready to prove her worth.  Suddenly, the future was looking a little brighter.    


“Yes Miss Jackson, I’m sure you will be, and not to worry about any wants or warrants, Case will see that they are quashed, and if not him, we have other legal remedies to resolve unpleasant situations.” There was a brief pause, “you’ll be sure to let the Marshal know of any pending problems so they can be mitigated quickly.”

 

There would be many things for her to do, and perhaps the best use of this young lady rested with Case in Whitefish. With the expansion of the Evergreen holdings and the pending withdrawal from Flathead County, he was sure that she would be an asset going forward.

 

Tag @Juls

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Had Dorothy given herself a chance to contemplate the price she might pay for favors such as erasing warrants, perhaps she would have considered the fact that she was going from something akin to indentured servitude to Robert Baker to the same thing for Elias Steelgrave.

 

But it was hard to see past the gift in the moment and the sudden weight lifted from her shoulders.  Imagine her allied with a marshal!

 

“Why, Mister Steelgrave, if you weren’t a married man, I might kiss you,” she said, not bothering to try to hide the fact that she felt relief at his statement.  Though despite being overly forward with her words, she tried no such thing.  Hell, he probably wouldn’t even want to shake her unwashed hand right now.

 

Instead, she drained her coffee and set the empty cup back down on the tray.  “I’m sure I’ll get ‘long just fine with your son,” she said.

 

She wasn’t quite sure if that was the end of the interview, but decided it was probably best to hold her request for a place to wash up until she met whoever would be her escort to Whitefish.  Hopefully it was Billy or that handsome man that had answered the door.  But even suffering Greer’s company wouldn’t dampen her mood now.

 

"Whitefish pretty close to here?" 

 

@Flip

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“Why, Mister Steelgrave, if you weren’t a married man, I might kiss you,” she said, not bothering to try to hide the fact that she felt relief at his statement.  Though despite being overly forward with her words, she tried no such thing.  Hell, he probably wouldn’t even want to shake her unwashed hand right now.

 

Elias gave here a quizical look but changed it to a slight smile.

 

Instead, she drained her coffee and set the empty cup back down on the tray.  “I’m sure I’ll get ‘long just fine with your son,” she said.


“Let’s count on that. Case is...well sometimes hard to get to know, but we should get you cleaned up before sending you off. I’ll have a bath drawn, see if we can’t locate some clean clothes that will fit and you’ll be set.”

 

"Whitefish pretty close to here?"  

 

“Yes, fairly, as the crow flies, so to say, perhaps an hour east.” Was his response as he pulled the tapestry panel that rang a bell elsewhere in the house, followed by the sound of scurrying, padded feet. A demure Chinese appeared. “Prepare a bath and locate something for here to wear on her way to Whitefish.” The Chinese merely bowed and disappeared in the direction he had come from.

 

Tag @Juls

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“Let’s count on that. Case is...well sometimes hard to get to know, but we should get you cleaned up before sending you off. I’ll have a bath drawn, see if we can’t locate some clean clothes that will fit and you’ll be set.”

 

Something about Mr. Steelgrave’s response regarding his son made Dorothy wonder if she’d prematurely discounted the possibility that she’d be expected to be more than just another hired hand.   But she wasn’t sure and didn’t want to sour the relationship before it really had a chance to get started by calling him out on that.  She’d just wait and see what vibe she got from this Case fellow.  

 

“Yes, fairly, as the crow flies, so to say, perhaps an hour east.”

 

“Ain’t too bad then,” she commented as her eyes followed the Chinese man.  She certainly wasn’t used to having servants to draw her a bath and the Chinese man’s presence only served to strengthen the perception that Mr. Steelgrave was rich and powerful and worthy of trying to get into his good graces.

 

“A warsh’ll do me a world a good,” she said as she waited for servant to return, some of her Pittsburgh accent slipping out.  “Got pretty turned round out there.  Mighta gone clear to California if I hadn’t run into Billy and Greer.”

 

 

@Flip

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“A warsh’ll do me a world a good,” she said as she waited for servant to return, some of her Pittsburgh accent slipping out.  “Got pretty turned round out there.  Mighta gone clear to California if I hadn’t run into Billy and Greer.”

 

“Fortuitous that you did, California’s a long way.” Elias said. “Now, before we get much further along in this deal of ours. You’ll be hired same as the rest, forty a month, plus keep. Can’t expect you to bunk with the boys, so the hotel in Whitefish will be arranged in a letter I’ll send with you.” he gave pause to formulate his next words and decided to be frank. “You’ll be no whore for the Whitefish bunch, Case included, it’ll be plain in the letter. Any romantical situations you find yourself into will have to be of your own making. I’ll not have those men there prey upon you. Is that clear?”

 

Tag @Juls

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With the wad of stolen cash sitting in her saddle bags, it hadn’t even crossed Dorothy’s mind to ask what she’d actually be paid.  It seemed incredibly secondary to the idea of having outstanding warrants erased.  Though it was probably best not to let Mr. Steelgrave know he could have bought her for just that. 

 

“Clear and ‘ppreciated, Mr. Steelgave,” she answered, relaxing again.  It was almost hard to fathom… from Billy’s hints, she’d been expecting … well, she wasn’t exactly sure what she’d been expecting… more of a hard-ass.  Not this gentleman of the first water that seemed to be looking out for her.  Fatherly, almost?  Maybe it was because he had a daughter about her age.  Dorothy found herself warming to him more, even if his sense of humor seemed a bit lacking.  “Ain’t plannin’ on no romantic situations, sir.”  

 

She picked at a bit of dirt under her thumbnail as she considered what else he’d just said.  “When you say a bunch, you mean the deputies?”

 

@Flip

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The word 'Deputies' actually got a chuckle out of Elias. "No, I'm afraid not,, though when put upon they serve in that capacity from time to time. Let me be clear, I surmise that you are on the run, and those in my employ are a hairs breath from being on the run. So you have no worries about the law, unless it is my law!" His last words forceful to make the point.

 

"My son holds a tight rein over the town of Whitefish so that people such as yourself are welcome there, without worry. " He explained. "Get to the bath so you can head out for Whitefish before it gets a whole lot later."

 

Tag @Juls

 

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Sagas of the WIld West is a roleplaying game set in a fictionalized version of the town of Kalispell in Montana territory. Our stories begin in 1875 and are set against the backdrop of actual historical events.Sagas was inspired by the classic television and movie westerns. Our focus is on writing, storytelling and character development.

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