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    • It was long, tedious work, even though, for the most part, it was just plodding along with the cows, making sure they all stayed together and went the right way they were supposed to.  Even after the wind picked up, there were only a few mavericks who tried to wander off on their own, but the drag riders managed to coax them back to the herd.   As the day progressed, Annie became less jiggy, and Justus could tell she was getting tired.  "It's all right, Miz Annie."  He patted the horse's neck, then tightened the bandanna that was keeping his hat from blowing away.   "Ya think this is just a dry wind?" Justus called to Loredo, "or somethin' more movin' in?"  There wasn't the smell of rain in the air yet, nor clouds, but he knew that the weather could change quickly.  "Will they try ta settle in camp early?"  It seemed to him that if there was 'weather' moving in, it was better to have the cattle settled than moving, but what did he know? He just hoped it didn't impact supper!   @Flip
    • "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.

Moving Forward


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With: McVay,  Worcester Pettigrew, Cole Latham, Matt Wentworth & Hon. Hiram Priest esq.
Location: Various
When: Late July 1876
Time of Day: Variable

Formerly: The Interviews

 

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And so Phinias McVay felt it only fair that each of the known candidat6es should have equal opportunity to expound on their platform for the fair town of Kalispell, hoping one day to be a city. The first attempt with the Honorable Hiram Priest Esquire had been an utter failure, but the a saloon is not conducive place ti=o conduct such an interview. However, Mister Priest could find Phin most days at the newspaper office, there were others on the list of challengers to approach for such an interview and space available was never a problem for the Union.

 

Cole Latham, well he was moved down leaving this dressmaker, Worcester Pettigrew and Matthew Wentworth whom he had announced a bit prematurely as a candidate. It was how the local rumor mill worked. You listened and took your chances on what was true and what was not. He had not even had time to apologize before a reliable source stated that in fact, Matthew was in the running.

 

He would hold off on that request for interview since there was to be a Town Council meeting that morning, which would encumber his time, having no way off knowing that it would be, in fact, more important than any interview. On to Mister Pettigrew at his dress shop. He arrived there just after the store was open and walked in, the bell over the door giving a pleasant announcement of his arrival.

@Javia

Edited by Flip
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Pettigrew & Packham (Deceased) Milliner, Ladies Outfitting Emporium and Corsetry Store was looking as spick and spam as usual when the veteran reporter entered it. Miss Miriam Kaufmann and Miss Jemima Wigfall both in attendance at the counter helping customers with what they needed. It seemed that the Wigfall girl had been specially posted as a sort of outlying vedette, or sentinel, to pounce upon Mr McVey when he made his appearance and conduct him swiftly upstairs to Pettigrew's private quarters. 

 

After a cursory knock at the finely wrought door, she opened it and giving a clumsy curtsey officially announcing him "Mr McVey of the Kalispell Union."

 

Pettigrew knew McVey, of course, and quickly rose and took him firmly by the hand "Hello Phin, hello!" he beamed, although he did look a little uncomfortable for some reason, perhaps the this might be explained by the presence of another man there, a young, well dressed, very handsome man at that. Pettigrew gave McVey precedence: introducing the stranger to him, first. 

 

"Phin, this is Lewis Cass Reeve, out of Virginia City. One of the gentlemen who persuaded me to stand for this confounded Mayoral election!" he grumped.

 

The dapper Mr Reeve offered his hand "It's a real pleasure to meet you, Mr McVey. I have some small literary pretensions myself: it is an honour to make the acquaintance of one who has made such a success out of the newspaper business in the cultural wilderness of the Territories without stooping to the vulgarities so often associated with big sales out here."  

 

"Be careful of this one's oily tongue, Phin, or he'll have you standing for mayor, too!" frowned Pettigrew, slumping his ungainly form back into an overstuffed armchair. "Jemima, a drink for Mr McVey and you can refill Mr Reeve and myself." 

 

The plain girl did so, before curtsying again and retreating. 

 

"Well, be seated gentlemen, be seated, let's get this farce over with!" Pettigrew wheezed. Reeve laughed. "I've assured Whus that he's got a ninty-nine percent chance of losing this election. The whole thing is really just a puff for the Democratic platform in the national elections in September. No point in trying to pull the wool over the eyes of a seasoned newspaper man like yourself, Mr. McVey."

 

"It's that damn one percent I'm worried about!" said Pettigrew, his jowls shaking as he shook his head ruefully.

 

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@Flip

 

 

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After a cursory knock at the finely wrought door, she opened it and giving a clumsy curtsey officially announcing him "Mr McVey of the Kalispell Union."

 

"Thank you, Miss Wigfall." Phin acknowledged, then, "Good morning, Whus."

 

Pettigrew knew McVey, of course, and quickly rose and took him firmly by the hand "Hello Phin, hello!" he beamed, although he did look a little uncomfortable for some reason, perhaps the this might be explained by the presence of another man there, a young, well dressed, very handsome man at that. Pettigrew gave McVey precedence: introducing the stranger to him, first. 

 

"Phin, this is Lewis Cass Reeve, out of Virginia City. One of the gentlemen who persuaded me to stand for this confounded Mayoral election!" he grumped.

 

"Hello, a pleasure to meet you, Virginia City Montana I presume. Odd two mining cities of the same name. Oh well." Phin greeted, "Welcome to our speck of a town."

 

The dapper Mr Reeve offered his hand "It's a real pleasure to meet you, Mr McVey. I have some small literary pretensions myself: it is an honour to make the acquaintance of one who has made such a success out of the newspaper business in the cultural wilderness of the Territories without stooping to the vulgarities so often associated with big sales out here."  

 

Shaking the mans hand Phin went on, "Oh, I can't say I've not use my fair share, no sir Mister Reeve, when challenged I've some years experience at slinging and ducking of the mud when necessary." Though he did appreciate the compliments, Phinias G. McVay could wade into it with the best of them. You did or you did not survive, but Phin would not make up anything on anyone. It was either fact or not at all

 

"Be careful of this one's oily tongue, Phin, or he'll have you standing for mayor, too!" frowned Pettigrew, slumping his ungainly form back into an overstuffed armchair. "Jemima, a drink for Mr McVey and you can refill Mr Reeve and myself." 

 

The plain girl did so, before curtsying again and retreating. 

 

"The hell you say, sir, politics is a subject, just not my game. I see no future in lying to people and pretending I'm in their service." Phin objected.

 

"Well, be seated gentlemen, be seated, let's get this farce over with!" Pettigrew wheezed. Reeve laughed. "I've assured Whus that he's got a ninty-nine percent chance of losing this election. The whole thing is really just a puff for the Democratic platform in the national elections in September. No point in trying to pull the wool over the eyes of a seasoned newspaper man like yourself, Mr. McVey."

 

"It's that damn one percent I'm worried about!" said Pettigrew, his jowls shaking as he shook his head ruefully.

 

"Relax my friend, one percent won't carry the day no matter how one cuts it. And that is what I am here for, your platform, basically I want to print what Worcester Pettigrew believes he can do for the community. If that's the democratic platform, then I'll print that, but Whus, it has to be in your own words." He smiled, "So there are at least four of you vying for the office, something to keep in mind when worrying about this one percent."

@Javia

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"Hello, a pleasure to meet you, Virginia City Montana I presume. Odd two mining cities of the same name. Oh well."

 

"Yes, our poor tired old ex-capital." Reeve laughed, that honour having transferred to Helena just last year. 

 

Phin greeted, "Welcome to our speck of a town."

 

"Out of tiny acorns are mighty oak trees grown, Mr McVey." Reeve replied smoothly. 

 

There followed a nice little verbal dance between the two men where each got the measure of the other, Pettigrew finally throwing his own 2 cents worth in:

 

"Be careful of this one's oily tongue, Phin, or he'll have you standing for mayor, too!" frowned Pettigrew, slumping his ungainly form back into an overstuffed armchair. "Jemima, a drink for Mr McVey and you can refill Mr Reeve and myself." 

 

"The hell you say, sir, politics is a subject, just not my game. I see no future in lying to people and pretending I'm in their service." Phin objected.

 

"Why, Mr McVey - you're a cynic!" laughed Reeve. He had a nice, pleasant, light, boyish laugh. 

 

Then they talked about poor tubby Pettigrew's fear of winning the competition that three other men were going to be pulling out all the stops to win. McVey certainly didn't disagree about his chances though he still wanted to know the details of his campaign.

 

"Relax my friend, one percent won't carry the day no matter how one cuts it. And that is what I am here for, your platform, basically I want to print what Worcester Pettigrew believes he can do for the community."

 

"His chances are 1%, but his share of the vote will be about 20% in these parts, on his platform." opined Reeve blandly, acting like Pettigrew couldn't speak for himself. 

 

"If that's the democratic platform, then I'll print that, but Whus, it has to be in your own words." He smiled.

 

Reeve smiled and nodded. He'd keep his big mouth out of it for a while.

 

"So there are at least four of you vying for the office, something to keep in mind when worrying about this one percent."

 

"Oh, I consider Matt the only sensible candidate, Republican though he be, if he stands. Must be mad if he does! He's like me, a busy man: he'll have a Hell of a job running that big hotel and the mayoral office. But like they say, if you've got an important job that needs doing, who do you ask to do it? You ask a busy person! Now, this feller, er, Priest: stranger in town, no discernible policies, just sits in the saloon all day playing solitaire. As for Steelgrave's stooge... can't even remember his name!"

 

"Cole Latham" Reeve prompted subtly. 

 

"Oh sure, Latham. Well, you might as well vote Steelgrave in as Mayor himself, who in their right mind's going to do that?!" he exclaimed. 

 

"Unless someone fixes the ballot." Reeve suggested. 

 

@Flip

 

 

 

 

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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"Ah yes, putting the fix in. An age old tactic to ensure victory for the least qualified on the ballot. A blessing that Speed Guyer will be at that box to oversee the process." Phin pointed out. "The Evergreen will vote his way, it's like riding for the brand, it is what is expected of them."

 

"As we talk on it, yes, I agree that Wentworth is  the best choice for the people of  Kalispell, not to slight you Whus, however he has two things on his side, youth and energy, things you and I don not share. Latham shall be the problem in this matter." Phin continued on.

 

"Then there is this Priest fellow who only the saloon crowd knows. I'm not sure how that will go, even with them. I'm not sure quite what to make of the fellow, but being the unknown, that can be either good or bad, depending. I would almost say, the race will be between Wentworth and Latham, not to slight you, so, let's get down to brass tacks, shall we? Just what is your platform?"

@Javia

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"Ah yes, putting the fix in. An age old tactic to ensure victory for the least qualified on the ballot. A blessing that Speed Guyer will be at that box to oversee the process." Phin pointed out. "The Evergreen will vote his way, it's like riding for the brand, it is what is expected of them."

 

"Are the Evergreen hands even entitled to vote? Do they pay rates?" asked Reeve.

 

"Academic, who's going to stop them?" put in Pettigrew. 

 

"As we talk on it, yes, I agree that Wentworth is  the best choice for the people of  Kalispell, not to slight you Whus, however he has two things on his side, youth and energy, things you and I don not share. Latham shall be the problem in this matter." Phin continued on.

 

"Three things: he has the press on his side, too." put in Reeve. 

 

Pettigrew laughed "Now, now, Cass, I'm on trial here not Phin! I mean, being interviewed. No, no, no, Matt's a good man."  Reeve shrugged and McVey carried on.

 

"Then there is this Priest fellow who only the saloon crowd knows." 

 

"That's right." agreed Pettigrew, but again the slick Lewis Cass Reeve had something to point out. "They know him, but do they like him?" "Hmmm, that's true!" agreed Pettigrew. Whus didn't like conflict or making waves, it was a good job Reeve was there to do it for him, although Whus found it all a little uncomfortable. 

 

"I'm not sure how that will go, even with them. I'm not sure quite what to make of the fellow, but being the unknown, that can be either good or bad, depending. I would almost say, the race will be between Wentworth and Latham, not to slight you..."

 

Pettigrew looked  little put out at this comment and glanced at Reeve, she just smiled a little and shook his head, as if to say, let it slide, it doesn't matter. 

 

"...so, let's get down to brass tacks, shall we? Just what is your platform?"

 

"Well..." said the portly pattern cutter and launched into a well prepared dissertation on what Mayor Pettigrew would do "... I would commence by putting the whole running of the town into a systematic order with efficient appointed rather than elected civil servants. The speculation in land pertaining to the building of the railroad would be stamped out and the building of amenities would be passed into the hands of an independent and prompt acting civic body : all this fuss and nonsense about 'who's building what hospital where' and orphanages and what not would be ended: family feuds have no place in civic governance." he droned on. 

 

Reeve was watching McVey more than Pettigrew. His old mentor Richard Orr had been right, the Democratic cause could never prosper in Kalispell until there was a Democratic voice in the town, an organ that would portray the news in a manner more sympathetic to the great cause. 

 

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@Flip

 

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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"...so, let's get down to brass tacks, shall we? Just what is your platform?"

 

"Well..." said the portly pattern cutter and launched into a well prepared dissertation on what Mayor Pettigrew would do "... I would commence by putting the whole running of the town into a systematic order with efficient appointed rather than elected civil servants. The speculation in land pertaining to the building of the railroad would be stamped out and the building of amenities would be passed into the hands of an independent and prompt acting civic body : all this fuss and nonsense about 'who's building what hospital where' and orphanages and what not would be ended: family feuds have no place in civic governance." he droned on

 

McVay winced at the idea of Kalispell scraping democracy in favor of what seemed to be something akin to a monarchy, or one person calling the shots. The idea of a 'prompt acting civic body' sounded fine in one breath, but in another?

 

Reeve was watching McVey more than Pettigrew. His old mentor Richard Orr had been right, the Democratic cause could never prosper in Kalispell until there was a Democratic voice in the town, an organ that would portray the news in a manner more sympathetic to the great cause.

 

“So, let me get this straight, the Mayor appoints his people, or what? People he selects for this 'civic body' get total control over what construction takes place?” He asked, “And land speculation, all that ends because this civil body decides? Maybe I got this all wrong, but it sounds like some totalitarian style government which, incidentally flies in the face of democracy? Is that what I'm hearing?” He paused, “Oh, and I've nothing against removing family feuds from government. The sooner the better, but what family are you talking about in Kalispell?”

@Javia

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“So, let me get this straight, the Mayor appoints his people, or what? People he selects for this 'civic body' get total control over what construction takes place?” He asked.

 

"Why certainly" answered Pettigrew easily "They will be non-partisan civil servants under the direction of the mayor. The current Town Council might be a fine symbol of the citizens of Kalispell's democratic power, but I'm afraid that in practice they represent a stumbling block to the effective growth of this community: as you have so often pointed out in the pages of your own paper, Phin!" 

 

“And land speculation, all that ends because this civil body decides? Maybe I got this all wrong, but it sounds like some totalitarian style government which, incidentally flies in the face of democracy? Is that what I'm hearing?” He paused.

 

"Not all land speculation, just around the railroads." put in Reeve quickly. "Yes, the Federal Government already interferes in that anyway, to a degree, appropriating or forcing sales of land for the purposes of spreading the network of railroads. That's one point where we local Democrats agree with the Government and diverge from the official Democrat party-line." added Pettigrew, managing to call it 'the Government' for once, rather than 'The Grant Tyranny'. 

 

"We're strong for States' Rights, as you know, Mr McVey. We think that applies for the Territories, too. Your readers can be sure that we don't just tow the Party line when it's to the advantage of the local community to do something different."

 

“Oh, and I've nothing against removing family feuds from government. The sooner the better, but what family are you talking about in Kalispell?”

 

"Families, Phin, families. It takes two to dance, you know. Steelgrave might be the be the obvious problem, but Thornton and his crew are just as bad. You know poor Mrs Miggins has had to put up barbed wire to protect her crops from their wandering steers - on both sides. Now, these two large holdings have been considered a factor in local politics for a long time now, but they are withering on the vine, I'd just like to speed up their demise." Pettigrew said.

 

Reeve then put in his two penn'th: "Their goose is cooked as soon as the railroad arrives anyway. The age of the big powerful ranchers is coming to a close, just like the age of the Indian. They're not our biggest problem right now anyway. Since I came to town I've heard nothing but Steelgrave this and Thornton that, but it just sounds like big talk to me; maybe I've missed something, but what have these two feuding kingdoms actually done to each other or to the town in the last year or two?" he asked, sounding genuinely curious.

 

@Flip

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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Phin would have laughed, but the man was dead serious about his plans for Kalispell, and the young man with him seemed to have no real understanding of life in the west, nor it's customs. He did not understand the Montana beef was revered in the east as opposed to Texas cattle which were leaner and tougher, and it was clear that he fully underestimated the men that grew those beef.

 

"Mister Reeve, what exactly is it you do here in Kalispell, I'm afraid I've not heard about you before today." Phin asked, then went on. "Seems to me you have no idea about either of the men  whom you berated as if they have done nothing for the community. Hell Mister Reeve, they ARE the community, without the Thornton's and the Steelgrave's there would be no Kalispell."

 

He shook his head, easterners at their uneducated finest. "You said," he referred to his notes, "'They will be non-partisan civil servants under the direction of the mayor. The current Town Council might be a fine symbol of the citizens of Kalispell's democratic power, but I'm afraid that in practice they represent a stumbling block to the effective growth of this community: as you have so often pointed out in the pages of your own paper!' Now supposing that were true, and to a degree it is, with one rather large exception, that would be Judge Ben Robertson, and to a degree the dearly departed Richard T. Orr. Not to speak ill of the deceased, but facts are facts. Both men with designs, it would appear, to control in the manner of your all powerful mayor." He paused, looking to each man in turn.

@Javia

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"Mister Reeve, what exactly is it you do here in Kalispell, I'm afraid I've not heard about you before today." Phin asked.

 

"Oh, I'm from Virginia City, lived there most of my life. I came over last month for the reading of Mr Orr's Last Will and Testament. He was kind enough to leave me a rather generous bequest." the young man answered, brushing some lint from his trousers. "I'm rather taken with the place, I found Miss Orr charming" [charmingly rich, perhaps?] ".. and Mr Pettigrew here has introduced me to some surprisingly refined company: Mr Vaughn, Miss Mudd..."

 

Then McVey went on. "Seems to me you have no idea about either of the men  whom you berated as if they have done nothing for the community. Hell Mister Reeve, they ARE the community, without the Thornton's and the Steelgrave's there would be no Kalispell."

 

"Maybe in the early days, Mr McVey, but what are they doing right now?!" Reeve asked pointedly. "Their influence seems more disruptive than anything."

 

He shook his head, easterners at their uneducated finest. "You said," he referred to his notes, "'They will be non-partisan civil servants under the direction of the mayor. The current Town Council might be a fine symbol of the citizens of Kalispell's democratic power, but I'm afraid that in practice they represent a stumbling block to the effective growth of this community: as you have so often pointed out in the pages of your own paper!'

 

"I admire your note-taking skills, Mr McVey. Is it the Pitman shorthand method?" asked Reeve superciliously, but the veteran reporter was not to be swerved:

 

"Now supposing that were true, and to a degree it is, with one rather large exception, that would be Judge Ben Robertson, and to a degree the dearly departed Richard T. Orr. Not to speak ill of the deceased, but facts are facts. Both men with designs, it would appear, to control in the manner of your all powerful mayor." He paused, looking to each man in turn.

 

Poor Pettigrew was starting to feel like something of a spare part at his own interview as McVey and Reeve engaged like a pair of bulls locking horns. 

 

"Now gentlemen, gentlemen, please! You said yourself, Cass, I don't have a snowball in Hell's chance of winning: there's no need for all this unpleasant arguing." Whus declared, holding up his hands in supplication to his two more fiery companions. 

 

"No! Let him finish. I'm interested in what Mr McVey has to say - what he sees as the ideal solution to Kalispell's woes!" Reeve glared feverishly at the editor of the Union. 

 

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@Flip

 

 

 

 

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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Phin laughed, "Mister Reeve, Virginia City is a mining town plain and simple. Now Kalispell, for all it's faults, and by God it has 'em, that's plain to see, derives much from the fact that we have some mining, cattle ranching, farming, and recently, pig . Now here's the thing, we do all of this by democratic rule. Folks vote for what they want. I need to tell you this, you go poking the bear that's the ranchers, and there'll be hell to pay!'

 

"What I'm hearing from you both is you want the implementation of an authoritarian form of town government, am I correct here? You want one person to have control of all that is done here in Kalispell. One man, say who decides what he thinks is good for the community as opposed to the will of the people. Sounds a whole lot like Mister Orr and his designs for our little town. So, as fer as cattlemen being on their way out sir, I'm afraid that theory just don't hold water. No more than your miners down south are on their way out. No sir, Kalispell will never put up with an authoritarian style of government. Better to learn from the mistakes on makes than be subjugated."

 

 "Mister Pettigrew, I'll not print any of this because you seem to be welcomed by the ladies of our fair community, and an inflammatory article would see you run out of town, or worse. Your views of cattlemen, gentlemen, will result in trouble, I assure you."

@Javia

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Phin laughed, "Mister Reeve, Virginia City is a mining town plain and simple. Now Kalispell, for all it's faults, and by God it has 'em, that's plain to see, derives much from the fact that we have some mining, cattle ranching, farming, and recently, pig . Now here's the thing, we do all of this by democratic rule. Folks vote for what they want. I need to tell you this, you go poking the bear that's the ranchers, and there'll be hell to pay!'

 

Reeve listened to this dissertation politely, the only comment that caused him any comment was that about pig farming apparently being big in the region. "Pig? Oh,  that's interesting. I saw a whole bunch of sheep on the way in, over to the west, gnawing the grass short and spreading the scab. Didn't see much by the way of pork farming." he nodded, noting the intelligence.

 

"What I'm hearing from you both is you want the implementation of an authoritarian form of town government, am I correct here? You want one person to have control of all that is done here in Kalispell. One man, say who decides what he thinks is good for the community as opposed to the will of the people. Sounds a whole lot like Mister Orr and his designs for our little town. So, as fer as cattlemen being on their way out sir, I'm afraid that theory just don't hold water. No more than your miners down south are on their way out. No sir, Kalispell will never put up with an authoritarian style of government. Better to learn from the mistakes one makes than be subjugated."

 

It took a second for Reeve to realise that McVey had stopped talking, he jumped a little "Oh, I'm sorry, Mr McVey, I lost track a little there as to whether you're asking me what I think, or telling me what to think. I was under the impression that journalists were supposed to do the former."

 

"Well, perhaps you could just print that we, er, I am for strong Government and down on filibustering and petty squabbles standing in the way of real progress. And that I strongly support Samuel J. Tilden for the presidency!" said Pettigrew hopefully. But it was Reeve's hair-raising rhetoric that had struck home, apparently.

 

 "Mister Pettigrew, I'll not print any of this because you seem to be welcomed by the ladies of our fair community, and an inflammatory article would see you run out of town, or worse. Your views of cattlemen, gentlemen, will result in trouble, I assure you."

 

Surprisingly, it was now the normally placid Mr Pettigrew who had stream coming out of his ears: he shot up out of his seat like a jack-in-the box and started to berate McVey!

 

"Are you implying, Suh, that I am unable to defend myself! You print every word of what I said and if any man has an issue with it, well I'm not too long in the tooth to..."

 

Reeve was now on his feet calming the plump old fellow down.

 

"Now, now, Whus, steady! Steady I say. Mr McVey didn't mean to insult you. All that stuff about protecting you is just an excuse: he daren't print our platform, he's scared it might swing the vote our way! Isn't that right, Mr McVey?" he asked archly.

 

@Flip

Edited by Flip (see edit history)
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"Well, he's right about one thing, Mister Pettigrew," dropping the nick-name, "I didn't mean to insult you, no, I meant to warn you. This is cattle country, run by cattlemen. I realize your political views, well, those I've heard anyway, do not look favorably on the men that built this country. Not America, but Montana. Mining, certainly, but cattle, sir, cattle is what built this territory."

 

"I certainly could print every word you have uttered today, you and Mister Reeve here, that would not be a problem, and would certainly sell a lot of papers, but what I would print is your statement, let's see here, oh, yes 'I am for strong Government and down on filibustering and petty squabbles standing in the way of real progress. And that I strongly support Samuel J. Tilden for the presidency!' That should state your views adequately."

 

This had gone off the rails loang ago, and continuing to hammer at one another was not going to come to a resolution. And then it came roaring back to him, 'I'm interested in what Mr McVey has to say - what he sees as the ideal solution to Kalispell's woes!' "An idea solution to Kalispell's woes, Mister Reeve, is not to found in some iron fisted power grab by some 'appointed' individual who will no doubt do the bidding of only a segment of the population, that being the upper class in town. No, the 'ideal' solution can be found in the election results, and then in the lessons men learn from their mistakes while doing their best for the people of Kalispell, all the people of Kalispell!"

@Javia

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"Well, he's right about one thing, Mister Pettigrew," dropping the nick-name, "I didn't mean to insult you, no, I meant to warn you. This is cattle country, run by cattlemen. I realize your political views, well, those I've heard anyway, do not look favorably on the men that built this country. Not America, but Montana. Mining, certainly, but cattle, sir, cattle is what built this territory."

 

"I do not deny that, Mr McVey, but we cannot live in the past! And the situation is changing. Why, beef prices have been depressed for the last three years and no sign of things improving any time soon. Why if..." Pettigrew started, his use of the journalist's more formal appellation reflecting the frostiness of the argumentative McVey's invective.

 

But then Reeve jumped in "... I'm not criticising the product, just the means of production. Cattle raising needs to be done on a more restricted basis, like the smaller ranches down in the  Madison Valley... they bring 'em out of winter feed much later, and...

 

"I certainly could print every word you have uttered today, you and Mister Reeve here, that would not be a problem, and would certainly sell a lot of papers, but what I would print is your statement, let's see here, oh, yes 'I am for strong Government and down on filibustering and petty squabbles standing in the way of real progress. And that I strongly support Samuel J. Tilden for the presidency!' That should state your views adequately."

 

"Print what you like... you usually do! That newspaper is just a expression of your own personal views on everything, anyway..." Pettigrew had his dander up now: the remains of his fiery red mane standing up on end almost with ire.

 

This had gone off the rails loang ago, and continuing to hammer at one another was not going to come to a resolution. And then it came roaring back to him, 'I'm interested in what Mr McVey has to say - what he sees as the ideal solution to Kalispell's woes!'

 

Uh? Oh, he was drawing on something Reeve had said a while back before the conversation got nasty.

 

"An idea solution to Kalispell's woes, Mister Reeve, is not to found in some iron fisted power grab by some 'appointed' individual who will no doubt do the bidding of only a segment of the population, that being the upper class in town. No, the 'ideal' solution can be found in the election results, and then in the lessons men learn from their mistakes while doing their best for the people of Kalispell, all the people of Kalispell!"

 

"Oh what sanctimonious clap-trap!" bellowed Whus "If you know so much about it all, why don't you stand for Mayor, McVey?!" Oh dear: it wasn't even Mr McVey, now. "Oh, he wouldn't put his money where his mouth is!" Reeve hissed, serpent-like.

 

"Sure! Shut up or put up!" shouted the dressmaker, and was just about to give Phin a nice juicy poke in the chest to drive home his point when the door cracked open and Jemima poked her head in and looked at the three of them undecidedly. She'd been told to come in with coffee and cigars for the three men after a certain amount of time, but with all the heated arguing discernible from outside the door, she wasn't so sure what to do now.

 

"What d'you want me to fetch, Mister Pettigrew, the cigars or the shooting irons?" the plain girl asked. She herself usually carried a Smith & Wesson Schofield revolver chambering a short .45 round in her apron pocket; but that was for her own personal use, in case a band of redskins happened to come to town. 

 

"Neither, Mr McVey was just leaving!!" huffed the insulted ladies' outfitter indignantly.

 

@Flip

 

 

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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"Oh what sanctimonious clap-trap!" bellowed Whus "If you know so much about it all, why don't you stand for Mayor, McVey?!" Oh dear: it wasn't even Mr McVey, now. "Oh, he wouldn't put his money where his mouth is!" Reeve hissed, serpent-like.

 

Phin simply shook his head at the notion he would even consider running for office, any office. If he did, that would end his situation with the Union being viable, and, as much as posisble, unbiased.

 

"Sure! Shut up or put up!" shouted the dressmaker, and was just about to give Phin a nice juicy poke in the chest to drive home his point when the door cracked open and Jemima poked her head in and looked at the three of them undecidedly. She'd been told to come in with coffee and cigars for the three men after a certain amount of time, but with all the heated arguing discernible from outside the door, she wasn't so sure what to do now.

 

"What d'you want me to fetch, Mister Pettigrew, the cigars or the shooting irons?" the plain girl asked. She herself usually carried a Smith & Wesson Schofield revolver chambering a short .45 round in her apron pocket; but that was for her own personal use, in case a band of redskins happened to come to town. 

 

"Hello Jemima." Phin greeted the woman pleasantly.

 

"Neither, Mr McVey was just leaving!!" huffed the insulted ladies' outfitter indignantly.

 

"Whus, ah, Mister Pettigrew, excuse me, first I must say to run for Mayor of Kalispell I would have to forfeit my life's work, being the newspaper business. That I do not agree with you or young Mister Reeve here's political views, is no reason to stop doing what I love. You may say what you will, sir about how I go about that job. That is your right. Rights, gentlemen, it is the foundation of the democracy we live in." He paused. "Freedom of the press and freedom of speech." He smiled.

 

"You are correct sir, I am leaving, and what you point out about my not putting my money where my mouth is, well, I intend to do exactly that! You may continue to espouse your totalitarian rhetoric until the cows come home, oh, forgive me, the reference to the despised beef, what was I thinking? Good Day gentlemen. And, good hunting."

@Javia

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That had been an utter disaster!

 

What should have been a quick, easy interview with Worcester Pettigrew had become an unfortunate discourse of raised voices and blood pressures, which more than one doctor had advised Phin to stay away from. And the fellow, Reeve, what was his game. There was something odd, at least to Phin, about the man. Something he couldn't quite put his finger on, but it was there alright.

 

So far his attempts at interviews had fallen short of the desired result. This Priest fellow simply offered nothing in the way of a platform, Pettigrew, at least a paragraph he could print without repercussion. He certainly was not going to print the whole of their disagreement. Now there were two, that he knew of, Cole Latham and Matthew Wentworth.

 

He would save Wentworth for last, reasoning that at least he would get a actual interview with him. As for Latham, well, that would be interesting, but hardly forthright. No, the pettifogger would simply tell him what Latham thought he wanted to hear, and let it go at that.

 

Phin returned to his office, reheated the coffee and sipped a cup as he thought over the next interview, how that one might go, assured it would be civil, dishonest from a smiling snake. That would be next on the agenda.

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After this final broadside, Jemima showed McVey out. She looked at him sideways when they reached the bottom of the stairs. "So, is that how these newspaper interviews usually go, Mr McVey?" she asked, curiously.

 

She'd heard every word through the door, of course. Mr Pettigrew she knew well, of course, working for him day in day out. He was usually a kind and considerate employer; but she had, too, witnessed his explosions of anger: the catalyst never being anything she or Miriam did wrong, the odd little mistakes that might be expected in the running of any business. No, it was sometimes the slightest of things that customers or their husbands said or did, anything that impugned his honour as a gentleman. As far as Jemima Wigfall was concerned, Worchester Pettigrew had acted completely to type in the last half hour. 

 

No, it was the man Reeve who was an enigma to her.

 

She peeped at McVey sideways as she pulled apart the curtain and let the reporter into the front of the shop, which was empty now. "What do you think of that Reeve feller?" she suddenly asked, blurted it out loud. "There's something funny about him!" she intoned, narrowing her piggy little black eyes and turning her plain features to McVey "He keeps being nice to me!"

 

@Flip

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Just prior to leaving Pettigrews shop...

After this final broadside, Jemima showed McVey out. She looked at him sideways when they reached the bottom of the stairs. "So, is that how these newspaper interviews usually go, Mr McVey?" she asked, curiously.

 

"No, not usually, of course politics can raise the dander." Phin replied. "In fact I was surprised at Mister Pettigrews upset over the subject. I had hoped to garner his thoughts on what he would do for the town, it just went in a different direction."

 

No, it was the man Reeve who was an enigma to her.

 

She peeped at McVey sideways as she pulled apart the curtain and let the reporter into the front of the shop, which was empty now. "What do you think of that Reeve feller?" she suddenly asked, blurted it out loud. "There's something funny about him!" she intoned, narrowing her piggy little black eyes and turning her plain features to McVey "He keeps being nice to me!"

 

"He does, well, Miss Wigfall, why wouldn't he be nice to you? I mean, is he staying here? Not that it's any of my business. I can't say my first impression is a good one, and yes, there seems an undercurrent with him, funny would be an apt description, to be sure." There was something about the man that just didn't set right.

@Javia

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"He does, well, Miss Wigfall, why wouldn't he be nice to you?

 

She shook her head. "I don't mean just polite, like you're being right now. I mean..." she was so unused to anyone, especially handsome young men, being this to her that it took her a second to fish around for the exact word, but it came to her presently  "... attentive."

 

"Mr Pettigrew had a, what he called a soiree, the other night. He had Mister Vaughn there and Mr Reeve was being attentive to the girls, and I can understand that, like Anaesthesia Orr, because she's pretty and sorta rich now, and Arabella Mudd because, well for all her faults, she can play the piano nicely, but I was just there to wait on and take their coats and hats, but that Reeve feller was all sorts of attentive to me too!" she said with an undisguised frown of confusion. 

 

She had actually checked in the mirror when she got home afterwards,  to see if she'd miraculously turned pretty all of a sudden, but it was still the same old frowsy face looking back at her. 

 

"I mean, is he staying here? Not that it's any of my business. I can't say my first impression is a good one, and yes, there seems an undercurrent with him, funny would be an apt description, to be sure." There was something about the man that just didn't set right.

 

"He stays over at the Orr's" Jemima shrugged "That cockroach Mister Orr left him some money and property in his will, Reeve was at the reading last week. Left me some, too, for some reason. Don't know why: I hated that dirty great snake!" she spat quite vehemently. 

 

Her piggy little black eyes suddenly burned intensely and she hissed to McVey as they reached the front door "I'm glad he burned to death!!" Then she opened it for the journalist and said pleasantly "Well, evening Mr McVey. Nice talking with you." 

 

@Flip

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"And to you, Miss Wigfall, Jemima. And yes indeed there is something not quite right, heir to the Orr estate or not. But you have a pleasant rest of your day, and enjoy the mans attentiveness while you have it." He placed his top hat on his head as he stepped outside, then turned. "And should you have any new information concerning our Mister Reeve, I would enjoy hearing it. Not to worry, Mister Pettigrew's  mention in the paper will not reflect what was said her today."

@Javia or?

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"And to you, Miss Wigfall, Jemima. And yes indeed there is something not quite right, heir to the Orr estate or not. But you have a pleasant rest of your day, and enjoy the mans attentiveness while you have it."

 

Jemima wrinkled her nose at the last part and gave a non-committal grunt.

 

He placed his top hat on his head as he stepped outside, then turned. "And should you have any new information concerning our Mister Reeve, I would enjoy hearing it. Not to worry, Mister Pettigrew's  mention in the paper will not reflect what was said her today."

 

She gave him a nod. She didn't care too much what Mr McVey printed about her boss, as long as it didn't materially affect her job. But talking to someone about her suspicions who was actually interested in what she had to say was an appealing concept to the usually ignored drudge.

 

"I'll let you know what I hear. I'm wide awake." she assured him.  

 

@Flip

 

[OOC: I think that's it, until she makes her first report!]

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Well, he had sat reminiscing long enough, though he was looking forward to any more information Miss Wigfall could provide about the dashing Mister Reeve, and that brought to mind a wire to his colleague, James Wright at The Montanian newspaper, in Virginia City. If anyone would know who and what this Reeve character was, it would be James, unless of course it was the law in town. A stop by the telegraph office was in order.

 

The interview with Cole Latham could wait, besides it would be like taking to Elias Steelgrave and that was not a joyous prospect, and the longer it could be delayed, the better. Yes, a wire to James Wright might just shed a good deal of light on why Reeve was prodding Pettigrew, what was in it for him, because there was something to gain.

 

His stride picked up and he traveled the boardwalk toward the telegraph office. He greeted, and was greeted by the people he passed, tipping his hat as he moved along, relishing the fact that not everyone in town despised him as some did. Those loyal to the Orr and Latham types, but for the moment they were in the minority.

 

He opened the office door and stepped inside, "Good day, Mister Wigfall, I'd like to send a wire."

@Javia

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It was pretty quiet in the telegraph office. Hector had just finished sending off Lieutenant Greene's latest weather readings to Washington: they were usually his toughest job of the week because they were just meaningless letters and numbers, a little like the odd times he'd had to send off messages in cypher for Colonel MacKenzie. It was easy to keep a sentence, even a staccato one, in your head to translate into Morse, but hard to do something meaningless. 

 

He'd just got off the last set of numbers when Mr. McVey came in. He sometimes leaked news to Mr. McVey so he could get a story printed off before it became common knowledge, although he hadn't been able to resist being the first to blurt out the news of the Custer massacre when he'd gotten that over the wires. He had, rather ludicrously, In retrospect, stumbled into the Stardust and demanded a stiff drink and then gasped out the news to all the drinkers there, almost as if he were a survivor of the battle itself. 

 

He wondered if the newspaper man had come in to gather any interesting stories that had come in to fill a few columns in tomorrow's Union.

 

"Howdy, Mr McVey. Slim pickin's today, I'm afraid. Everybody's still just talking about Colorado. It' been a state for a week now, you'd think people'd be bored of it by now." 

 

@Flip

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"Ah yes, Colorado, beat us into the Union." He acknowledged. "Not why I'm here, actually, I like to send a wire down to Virginia City, our Virginia City.

 

"Need for it to go to Mister James of the Virginia City Montanian newspaper. I'm after some information on a Mister Lewis Cass Reeve of that fair town. He is here, quite the young dandy but I suspect there's more to him that fine clothes and manners." He instructed, then though to add, "Seems to have an interest in Miss Anæsthesia Orr, anyway We best get on with this."

@Javia

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"Ah yes, Colorado, beat us into the Union." He acknowledged. "Not why I'm here, actually, I like to send a wire down to Virginia City, our Virginia City.

 

"Oh sure!" beamed Hector excitedly "We can wire direct to there now, no need to route through Helena!" Hector always got quite excited about new developments in the Western Union's service or in electro-telegraphy generally.

 

Maybe that was he had gone wrong with Miriam. After making love with her in the back of her father's butcher store, he should have talked to her about her, about him, about their future together; not described to her the workings of the new teleprinters using the five-bit sequential binary Baudot code. She hadn't even seemed interested in his detailed description of the special five-key keyboard that had been developed along with the system. Huh. Girls!

 

"Need for it to go to Mister James of the Virginia City Montanian newspaper. I'm after some information on a Mister Lewis Cass Reeve of that fair town. He is here, quite the young dandy but I suspect there's more to him that fine clothes and manners." He instructed, then though to add, "Seems to have an interest in Miss Anæsthesia Orr, anyway We best get on with this."

 

Hector looked around, even though he knew the two of them were alone in the office. 

 

"Listen, Mr McVey, I can save you the cost of a telegram, I know all about that feller." he said, leaning forward conspiratorially. "Take a seat." He clearly had a lot of details to impart. 

 

"He was at the reading of Mr Orr's will..." McVey already knew that part from the lad's twin sister "... I thought it was odd how he was left a lot of money and property by Orr an started chatting to the late evening operator at Virginia City. We kinda do that sometimes if the traffic's light. Anyhow, he knew an awful lot about Reeve: said he's a lawyer there and that Reeve was his mother's name, but she was never married, and how Orr used to visit her a lot when he was in the vicinity and, well, someone must've been paying the bills!"

 

The implication was clear: Hector, or at least his source, was implying that Reeve was Richard Orr's illegitimate son. 

 

"Now listen, Mr McVey: I know Mr Orr was no saint, and not exactly top of your Christmas List when he was alive, but he was always pretty nice to me and I don't like to speak ill of the dead anyhow. But he was kinda slippery in his business dealings and in his politics. He had to be or he'd have never become Postmaster here under a Republican Governor. But his son's a dyed in the wool copper-headed Democrat: he's basically their political agent in this part of the Territories. And with the next presidential election expected to be so close, well, he's a pretty powerful man for the time being, at least for those who like to hedge their bets."

 

@Flip

 

 

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  • Flip changed the title to Moving Forward

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