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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.

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Posted (edited)

Mature Content: Some disturbing scenes in the funeral parlour .

With: Horace & Abigail Potee & Mr Jolly.
Location: Jolly's Funeral Services
When: Month  September 1, 1876
Time of Day: Morning & Midday




When Mr. Fortner had been so nice and kind about Arabella's decision to leave the saloon to work daylight hours with Mr Jolly in the undertakers, she had, just for a second there, wondered if she had been wrong about the man. Sure, it was fine for her to just come back in the evenings to play for Miss Mundee, nah, it didn't matter at all that they'd have to find some new drudge to take over the spittoon-emptying, floor scrubbing, latrine-cleansing part of her duties. Franklin had been charm itself.


However, the first 'customer' she had to deal with at the funeral parlour, lying there stark white and naked on the slab, reminded her of the other side of Fortner's personality: the grasping, single-minded, even murderous drive that had caused him to cheat Horace Potee out of his house and home and livelihood. 


Maude looked so small and thin and emaciated lying there, once Arabella had removed the clothing in which she had been delivered to them. Little things struck her as sad as she stripped the corpse that until two days ago had been a living breathing woman with whom she had spoken, laughed, struggled even, on the fateful night. A stocking darned with the wrong coloured wool, through want of the right tone. The pantalets, soiled beyond repair when she had hanged herself, a small brooch with an old, old tiny painted portrait in it of who knew whom? And the grisly marks around her throat where she had dangled, choking to death while her husband threw way their lives. 


"All right Maude, I reckon I'll wash your hair first, then that can be drying while I wash the rest of you. Now, don't you worry about Mr. Jolly or the boy Raymond coming in while you're all undressed like that, 'cause that's why Mr Jolly hired me, see, so there's no questions of impropriety with ladies in his care. He's very particular about that sorta thing. So you just rest there nice and mild and I'll make sure you're all nice and clean and dressed up in your best frock and you're just going to look so nice and pretty when Mr Potee and little Abigail come to see you later, y'hear?" she chattered kindly to the dead woman, placing a bowl of fresh water near her hair and undoing it gently. 


By the time she had finished, Maude truly was a work of art: best dress, Summer flowers in her hair: Arabella was hobbled by the fact that she couldn't use make-up on her (the puritanical Maude would have been horrified by the use of 'paint'), but otherwise, it was a pretty good job. Maude Potee probably looked prettier than she had done in life for the last ten years. Further, Arabella had eschewed the sickly stench of lilies, so redolent of the charnel house of nineteenth century mortuary practice and kept her on the slab rather than in the coffin. With a neat velvet band hiding her chaffed hanging injuries, it just looked like she had nodded off to sleep on one of the church pews after one of the Reverend Luke's more boring Sunday sermons. 




Mr Jolly, Raymond and herself had a quick lunch of pasties from the diner and then they were ready for the chime of the bell over the front door of the funeral parlour as Potee and his daughter made their appearance. 


Mr Jolly, as proprietor, greeted the widower, of course, but soon handed him over to Arabella.


"Miss Mudd has been attending to your dear wife all morning, Mister Potee, she will show you both through." Arabella gulped. This was the difficult part.



Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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