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    • "Well thank you Walter." He looked to Bradley Fairchild. "Interesting. Shall we put pour bags in the room and perhaps catch a bite and a drink or two? I have no idea what this could be but we'll know soon enough."   "Yes, let's, I could use a drink after that ride out here, maybe a couple, and something to eat, that sounds about right to me." The two men headed to their respective rooms to drop off their bags, then each headed toward the dining room, Tyndall clutching the mysterious envelope.   Each placed his order for an early dinner, and ordered drinks at the same time, those would be served right off so, without further ado, Carson Tydall opened the envelope and removed it's contents. A number of papers, on top a note of explanation. 'Mister Tyndall, Enclosed you will find a copy of a contract between the town of Kalispell and Leah Steelgrave. We believe that due to that absence of the signatures of myself, and Judge Benjamin Robertson there was no legal quorum, and therefor this contract is not valid. C. Latham'   There was the contract, a list of the council members and a copy of the minutes of the meeting where the contract was approved and a bank draft for five hundred dollars.   "Latham, he can be such a pain in the rump!" Tyndall stated.  
    • Rating: PG-14 Content: N/A With: Tully, Clara, maybe more? Location: Lickskillet Cafe When: September/ 1876 Time of Day: Night Tully had a good deal of patience, and could sit very still for hours, it was a skill she had learned at a young age, to stay hidden and unobserved.  Tonight, as she had a few times before, she was crouched at the end of the alley near the cafe, waiting for the last of the customers to leave.  After that, there was a short time when the young woman running the place would leave the kitchen to clean the dining area, and that was when Tully could sneak in the back and grab something...anything, she didn't care, so long as it was edible.   Finally, that last group left, and Tully quietly moved closer to the back door, waiting, listening, and when the lady left the kitchen, she slipped in the back door, grabbing a biscuit and stuffing it in her mouth, then reaching for more that disappeared into pockets.  There was some stew on the stove, but that would have to be put into something easier to carry than the large, hot kettle.   In her haste to pour the stew into a ceramic pitcher, Tully didn't consider that the kettle would still be as hot as it was, and as she picked it up, she let out a yelp, dropping the kettle as well as the pitcher.    Panicked, she looked toward the dining area as she scrambled for the back door, only managing to slip on the stew, tangle in a chair and fall to the floor...   @Wayfarer
    • "Well next time you're 'helpin' a friend', move the bed away from the wall: I had to darn near stuff cotton wool in my ears when I was sleeping next door!"   "You are being overly dramatic....as usual.....that was ONE time and one time only. It just happened, we are not in any sort of a romance," Caroline was annoyed at the very idea of that.   That's when Arabella informed her that Brendan had picked up a job.......at the town butcher shop recently opened by that Jewish man from the East. Very welcome news, that!   "Say, I'm just running to the stores now, look, I got my little basket with me - why don't you come with me and we can call in on him and say Howdy and have a good look at his meat."    Caroline made a face, "I do not cook, you know who does at the saloon by now. She also does the shopping for groceries. I have never been in a butcher shop in my life."   She had other plans in mind, she wanted to head over to the Wigfalls and see Lt. Greene.   Suddenly she had an idea, "But I'll make you a deal. I will accompany you there but in return you must promise me that you will not show up while Lt. Greene and I are dining. Like last time."
    • A perplexed look appeared on Walter's face. Even though he had been looking at the envelope, he hadn't bothered checking out who it was addressed to.  It had been in the slot where mail was dropped off for guests who hadn't checked in yet.  The hotel was busy at this time of year, that the mail slots were only for use for guests who were currently staying at the hotel.  The former occupants of the rooms where Mr. Tyndall and his friend were staying, had left only a few hours ago.  Thankfully, Mr. Wentworth had a hired maids who did their jobs well enough to have the room ready in time.   Reading the name on the envelope, he saw that it was indeed address to Tyndall.  Smiling sheepishly, he handed over to the man.   He hefted the envelope wondering what was inside, but there was time to look at it when he was in his room. "Who dropped this off for me? Mister Latham perhaps?"   "Sorry, Mr. Tyndall I have no idea.  It was probably dropped off some time during the night.  You could ask the night clerk when he comes on duty at 8 o'clock."   @Flip
    • They returned to the Marshal's office which doubled as the Copper Queen's office for the time being. And, as Town Marshal, he needed to be in town as much as possible, which was not fair either Alice or Amos, at least as far as Speed was concerned. Yes, there was Charlie, but heaping too much on him was not fair either. He was hired to protect the town, no his own personal interests, although that was common in some parts of the country.   But with Alice for company, that made sitting at his desk a whole lot more pleasant. Waiting for Amos, who might be days getting back to Kalispell, would be worry enough for the pair of them.   As Speed was about to ask Alice about the wedding plans a man stepped through the door. A man he had seen, and possibly talked to, wearing two guns.   "'scuse me Marshal, I can come back." He said.   "No, it's alright. What can I do for you?" Speed asked.   "I was wondering, could you use some help, or know where a man short on cash might find work?" Speed looked at the man, "Names Thornton, Tyrell Thornton."

Big Talk at the Star Dust


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Mature Content: No

Author: Preston

With: Franklin Fortner - Judge Priest for starters
Location: Start Dust Saloon
When: September 1876
Time of Day: Afternoon

 

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A couple of weeks had passed since the hubbub caused by Horace Potee's disastrous poker game and the subsequent loss of his homestead and the suicide of his wife, Maude. 

Arabella had left her employment but with a promise to come by from time to time to play the piano --- not too much evidence of that, yet.

 

Business at the Star Dust was brisk.  Franklin Fortner's ownership had not quelled the busy traffic of patrons.  Just he opposite, business was brisker than usual.  A card room had been created in one of the back rooms, -- less noisy interference from drunk cowboys. 

 

Then one day, something happened that would set the direction of things for some time to come.

 

In through the swinging doors of the saloon came two gents -- city slickers, some would say.  They were flinty and hard, not powder puffs.  Loudmouth drunks shied away from them, wisely.   One's name was Luther Cadwaller and the other was Mason Fink.  Cadwaller was tall, chiseled, graying and impressive in his fancy big-city clothes.   Fink was compact, with a close cropped beard and the clothes of a dandy from his shiny shoes to his derby hat.  He proudly proclaimed that his ancestor was Mike Fink the famous roustabout and keel boatman from the dirtiest and most sinful and most dangerous town during the early 1800's:  Natchez, Mississippi. 

 

They were businessmen, speculators and investors, to be specific.  They were called to Kalispell by Franklin Fortner and Hiram Priest (soon to be running for Mayor).  The men were acquaintances and had worked together in the past for "mutual advantages" as they liked to say.   Though appearing friendly to one another in Kalispell, their relationship seemed subdued and not palsy-walsy, just all business.

 

They had an opportunity for the people of Kalispell, an investment opportunity, and when the timing was right, they'd preach that evangel.

 

Franklin Fortner met them at the bar.  He greeted them as if they were important personages and, to Fortner's and Priest's thinking, they were.  They were important because they had roles to play in this carefully crafted scheme.  They were as important to this scheme as Judas was in the promise of mankind's salvation.  He, some would say, that of all the Disciples, he was the most necessary and the most loyal.

 

"What can I get you gentlemen?" Fortner asked the men, but immediately turned to Ralph.  "A bottle of our best whiskey." 

 

Fink reached into his inside coat pocket and drew out some greenbacks.  Two landed on the bar.

 

 

 

 

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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The original idea was for Arabella to come in every evening and play piano for Caroline, with Frances Grimes on the bench for any times she couldn't make it. In practice, it turned out the other way round. Arabella avoided the bar now: both through fear of Fortner and Priest and because of her increasing thespian activities, Mrs Wentworth finally getting her dramatic group off the ground with the help of the dashing Mr Lewis Cass Reeve offering to play any male juvenile leads that were required. 

 

In fact, Miss Mudd, once such an integral part of the Saloon staff, was now more likely to be seen propping up the bar with Mr Jolly and 'the boy' Raymond after a hard day's undertaking with their black garb and their inevitable order of "A double whiskey and two Sarsaparillas" than playing the piano.

 

Frances Grimes was no Arabella, but she had her own impact. For a start, she was the better pianist, who actually listened to Caroline's voice and found suitable keys for her to sing in, neither straining too high or forcing her to sing too low, with the consequent loss of volume. There were no more arguments or temper tantrums and 'tears before bedtime'. And, despite her blindness and her quiet dignity, the presence of Miss Grimes didn't put any kind of a dampener on the fun and high spirit of the place. 

 

Tonight as she walked in, her stick click clacking as she felt out for obstacles inside the swing doors, she heard voices both familiar, Mr Fortner, her actual employer, and two strangers. The fact that they dropped a decibel or two as she came in (everybody assumed that, being blind, she had supersonic hearing) told her that they were probably up to no good. Unfortunately, that was a sad fact about working at the saloon. She couldn't help not seeing any evil; she tried, as ever, to do no evil; but it was very hard to hear no evil in a place like The Stardust. 

 

If neither Fortner, Mr Flandry nor Caroline hailed her, she would make her way to the stairs and call on the singer in her room to see what songs she was planning to sing tonight.

 

@Preston @Wayfarer @Anyone?

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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The Star Dust was unusually quiet that night.  It was so much as it was vacant as the patrons were more quiet than usual.  Maybe it was the weather?  Summer storm clouds were gathering.

 

"All right.  Why are we here?" Began Franklin, rhetorically. "We are going to offer a great opportunity to townsfolk who wouldn't know opportunity if it knocked them on the head.  That's where you guys come in."   Cadwaller and Fink nodded.  They knew the score.   "So what do we have?  We have 200 shares of stock authorized to be sold in the Montana Mining and Mineral Company.  Of course I've got 2,000 shares.  Hiram over there has 2,000, and each of you has 1,000.  It's imperative that these people feel they're getting in on something big.  Of course, we know it's big.  And, do you know what?  They'll all make money on it.  Of course not as much as we will.  But they won't know that."

 

"We have the blank stock certificates back at the hotel," Cadwaller said.  "They look very official." 

 

Fortner was please.  "What I'll do tomorrow is wait until the saloon's packed, then I will introduce you guys and tell them to listen to you because it could be the start of something big.   After all, you guys could sell an Eskimo and snowball in a blizzard.  I'm counting on you to..."

 

They stopped when that girl, Grimes came in, hesitantly.

 

"Who the hell is THAT?" Mason Fink asked.  "I thought Buffalo Bill's freak show's already left town." 

 

They all laughed.

 

Tonight as she walked in, her stick click clacking as she felt out for obstacles inside the swing doors, she heard voices both familiar, Mr Fortner, her actual employer, and two strangers. The fact that they dropped a decibel or two as she came in (everybody assumed that, being blind, she had supersonic hearing) told her that they were probably up to no good. Unfortunately, that was a sad fact about working at the saloon. She couldn't help not seeing any evil; she tried, as ever, to do no evil; but it was very hard to hear no evil in a place like The Stardust. 

 

"She works here, --- sort of," Fortner said.  "Just a minute."

 

"Hey Frances?  You want me to get Caroline for ya?" he called.

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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Fortner would not need to summon Caroline, the entertainer was there, already on her work shift, sitting at a table with a old gent. He had been telling her all about his adventures in the Mexican War. Caroline didn't know if she believed it all but no matter he was in a good mood and had bought the saloon gal a few drinks already.

 

Caroline noticed her new piano player, the blind Frances, had just come into the saloon. The new men with Fortner also noticed and not in a good way.

 

"Who the hell is THAT?" Mason Fink asked.  "I thought Buffalo Bill's freak show's already left town." 

 

They all laughed.

 

Well not all, Caroline didn't laugh, in fact she glared in the speaker's direction. Patting the veteran on his hand, Caroline  thanked him for the drinks and the fascinating stories. Then stood up. 

 

"She works here, --- sort of," Fortner said.  "Just a minute."

 

"Hey Frances?  You want me to get Caroline for ya?" he called.

 

"No need, boss, I'm right here. Be right with you, Frances, just gimme a minute," Caroline announced. 

 

Then Caroline approached the man who had made the  'freak show ' remark  until she stopped just short of him.

 

"Now I don't know who you are, mister, but you certainly aren't a gentleman, making fun of a blind person. She's an employee here, she works with me. And if you ever make another crack like that, I will have to forget I'm a lady and you won't like what happens," Caroline spoke calmly and clearly and if the man made eye contact, she did not blink.

 

 

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"No need, boss, I'm right here. Be right with you, Frances, just gimme a minute," Caroline announced. 

 

Then Caroline approached the man who had made the  'freak show ' remark  until she stopped just short of him.

 

"Now I don't know who you are, mister, but you certainly aren't a gentleman, making fun of a blind person. She's an employee here, she works with me. And if you ever make another crack like that, I will have to forget I'm a lady and you won't like what happens," Caroline spoke calmly and clearly and if the man made eye contact, she did not blink.

 

"Well now," Mason Fink said softly.  "That sorta puts me in my place.  Don't it?"

 

Fortner stepped forward.  "Leave my crew alone, Mason, or they'll go on strike and leave me high and dry."

 

"Ah sure, Frank," Mason said defensively.  "I was just joshin'.  That's all."  He turned to Caroline.  "Sorry miss, I didn't mean no harm."

 

By now, Hiram Priest sidled over to the group.

 

"You boys look like you're sellin' something," the old codger drawled.  "The last time I saw fellers like you it was at an emporium in Chicago, and they were selling silk ascots."

 

"Well," Cadwaller began. "You pegged us right, Mister.  But we aren't selling ascots, silk or otherwise.  We're selling an investment -- a sure thing."

 

Hiram nodded.  "Well if you can sell Miss Caroline your sure thing, you can sell it anybody in town.  Cause she's no fool."

 

Cadwaller turned to Caroline and removed his hat.  "That right, Miss?"

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"No need, boss, I'm right here. Be right with you, Frances, just gimme a minute," Caroline announced. 

 

Frances smiled and nodded in the direction Caroline's kind voice came from. She took off her bonnet and shawl, there was a coat hook near the door that the customers never used where she could hang them, and leaned her stick to the wall there, where it wouldn't be disturbed. Then she felt for her piano stool and made sure it was close enough to the keyboard before taking her seat there, quietly running her fingers over the keys. 

 

She couldn't help but hear the conversation about her, Caroline bravely confronting the man who had insulted her, the patronising apology, then the sibilant snake like voice of Mr Priest joining the conversation. She said nothing, but joined the conversation in her own way, softly playing a sad little Chopin etude to stretch her fingers. Not exactly Saloon fayre, by now Arabella would have been plink-plonking out The Yellow Rose of Texas, but it was quiet and innocuous, and took her mind off the disturbing conversation at the bar.

 

 

@Wayfarer @Preston

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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"Well now," Mason Fink said softly.  "That sorta puts me in my place.  Don't it?"

 

Caroline just glared, she did not like this man. Not at all.

 

Fortner stepped forward.  "Leave my crew alone, Mason, or they'll go on strike and leave me high and dry."

 

Caroline glanced at her boss, if he'd have been a good boss, he'd have snapped at the man right off when the insult was made but Fortner had laughed too.  Caroline silently noted that.

 

"Ah sure, Frank," Mason said defensively.  "I was just joshin'.  That's all."  He turned to Caroline.  "Sorry miss, I didn't mean no harm."

 

"Should be apologizing to the girl," Caroline muttered but why bother, she didn't think his apology even sounded sincere.

 

By now, Hiram Priest sidled over to the group.

 

"You boys look like you're sellin' something," the old codger drawled.  "The last time I saw fellers like you it was at an emporium in Chicago, and they were selling silk ascots." 

 

Caroline decided to let them jabber away, she needed to discuss the night's song selection with Frances. She turned to leave.

 

"Well," Cadwaller began. "You pegged us right, Mister.  But we aren't selling ascots, silk or otherwise.  We're selling an investment -- a sure thing."

 

Hiram nodded.  "Well if you can sell Miss Caroline your sure thing, you can sell it anybody in town.  Cause she's no fool."

 

Cadwaller turned to Caroline and removed his hat,

"That right, Miss?"

 

"That's right. And a wise man I once knew told me that anyone who sez they got themselves a  ..... sure thing ...well, there is no such thing. So leave me outta this. I got a job to do, I'm workin. I gotta do my act so excuse me."

 

She then headed over to Frances.

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Caroline's exited put a hoarfrost on the general good feeling emanating from the four men she left behind.

 

"Brrrr!" muttered Mason Fink.

 

Fortner shook his head.  "She's alright,...just a little on edge lately."

 

Priest hooked his thumbs in his suspenders and got down to business.   "They way I see it is we get a banner made "Montana Mining and Mineral Company"   And beneath that, in smaller letters, there's "Stock Sale".  You two gentlemen can set up shop right here.  We'll push a couple of tables together over there in the corner.  You'll be speechifying about the opportunities that abound."  He drew closer and lowered his voice.  "We'll have a couple of plants seated at a table who'll hop up and ask you for more details -- all interested like.  When you're done talkin' to them, they put their money down and you'll congratulate them as you sign the stock certificates in their names."

 

"Sounds simple enough," Luther Cadwaller admitted.

 

"You bet.  Like takin' candy from babies," Priest assured them.  And just think about how happy our prospective shareholders will be after we find the Kalispell Lode, and they start getting dividends."

 

Fortner smiled with great self-satisfaction.  Things were falling into place better than he'd ever imagined, and that's saying something because he had a canine hunger for riches and fame.  He moved closer to the bar and motioned for Ralph to step closer.  "I gotta question for you," he said to the careful barkeep.
 

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Frances heard the distinctive tap of Caroline's heels as she approached and lowered the volume of her playing so she could speak with her in the hubbub of the saloon. 

 

"It was nice of you to stick up for me." she smiled up at where she imagined the singer was standing. "I'm used to it, though. What is it they say? 'Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me.'" She smiled gently again, displaying those funny cleated teeth as her eyes rolled in her head behind those green tinted glasses. 

 

"I can't imagine anybody's ever rude about you, Caroline. The customers here seem to admire you universally: but if anybody ever did say anything, I hope I would be brave enough to tell them off like you just did to those newcomers." she said "Of course, I'd probably berate totally the wrong person! But it would be the thought that counted." Frances had a gentle sense of humour and was in no way above laughing at herself a little, sometimes.

 

@Wayfarer

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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The next day, as planned, the two tables were pushed together and covered over with a white linen cloth.  Taped to the front of it was a banner that read, "Montana Mining and Mineral Company"  and below it, "Stock Offering".  The organizers pounded on every door in the town before they found a retired school teacher who used fancy, Olde English printing to give the advertisement as much gravitas as could expected such a rural spot Kalispell. 

 

Mason Fink and Luther Cadwaller were impressive in their fancy, back East suits;  watch fobs, cuff links, vests and shiny  shoes.  Luther had a large onyx ring, but not overdone.  Both men stood patiently behind the table, and their host, Franklin Fortner was standing by.  They were waiting for 1pm when they would begin their spiel. 

 

The crowd was so-so in size, but in the afternoon hours usually would up the patronage.  At least that was what they were hoping for.

 

Judge Priest or "Mayor", we answered to both, sat as his assigned table, slowly turning over cards in his perpetual game of Solitaire.  He looked over the top of his glasses at the crowd.  He would be called upon to support the effort to sell shares;   He had a way with words and the ability to inspire motion. 

 

Franklin looked for Caroline.  She had managed to avoid him so far that day.  It was a pattern that was troubling Fortner. 

 

 

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"It was nice of you to stick up for me." the blind girl smiled up at where she imagined the singer was standing. "I'm used to it, though. What is it they say? 'Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me.'"

 

"I will always stick up for you, hon, you are part of our saloon family. No one is gonna give you a hard time or they can deal with me. And if I can't handle it, Ralph will," Caroline was confident she always had the backup of the veteran bartender. Not true about her boss though, he didn't get it or just didn't care.

 

"I can't imagine anybody's ever rude about you, Caroline. The customers here seem to admire you universally: but if anybody ever did say anything, I hope I would be brave enough to tell them off like you just did to those newcomers." she said "Of course, I'd probably berate totally the wrong person! But it would be the thought that counted."

 

"Oh I'm popular enough with much of the menfolk. But not everyone likes me, it goes with the territory. A lot of the proper citizenry, the church goin' types look down on my sort. Oh well," Caroline shrugged.

 

"But please, kiddo, if someone insults me, just don't jump in, don't say a word. I can handle myself just fine. I'd feel terrible if you got hurt..........as a matter of fact, hon, it ever shootin' should break out in here, just as fast as you can, drop straight to the floor and stay there til the noise is over," she dispensed some hopefully never necessary advice.

 

"Now that we got settled, let's figure out what numbers I should do tonight." 

 

 

 

 

 

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Next day....

 

Fortner and his latest cronies had set up a table and were now preparing to sell stock offerings from this new company of theirs. The so called  'too good to be true' offer which Caroline did not believe when Frank' lackey tried to push it on her...right after he had dared to make fun of Frances. His timing couldn't have been worse.

 

Caroline had been in the kitchen, having just finished a bowl of stew which should hold her then for the rest of her work shift into the night. She now entered the main saloon and it didn't take more than a scant minute or two before she was chatting and laughing with some of the customers. It was her job and she was good at it too.

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"Oh I'm popular enough with much of the menfolk. But not everyone likes me, it goes with the territory. A lot of the proper citizenry, the church goin' types look down on my sort. Oh well," Caroline shrugged.

 

"I don't understand it." Frances looked genuinely confounded, not just using a turn of phrase. "Well, I'm a church going type and so is Arabella and we both love you" she added. 

 

"But please, kiddo, if someone insults me, just don't jump in, don't say a word. I can handle myself just fine. I'd feel terrible if you got hurt..........as a matter of fact, hon, it ever shootin' should break out in here, just as fast as you can, drop straight to the floor and stay there til the noise is over," she dispensed some hopefully never necessary advice.

 

"I promise, honest." the blind girl said "Cross my heart and hope to die, but not by getting shot."

 

"Now that we got settled, let's figure out what numbers I should do tonight." 

 

The other girl nodded. 

 

"How about trying that 'Gay as a Lark' number we rehearsed? You sing it so beautifully..." 

 

2352

 

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Fortner and his latest cronies had set up a table and were now preparing to sell stock offerings from this new company of theirs. The so called  'too good to be true' offer which Caroline did not believe when Frank' lackey tried to push it on her...right after he had dared to make fun of Frances. His timing couldn't have been worse.

 

The first man to approach the table where Fink and Cadwaller had ensconced themselves was a tall and somewhat intimidating looking bearded figure with a slightly wild look in his eyes and a whiff of last night's booze about him. He paid no mind to the attractive blonde, he only had eyes for the pieces of paper and their 'get rich quick' promise that the two blow-ins were peddling. 

 

"Fifty dollars! How many shares d'I get for fifty dollars?!!" he demanded, waving a fistful of greenback in the two shysters' faces. 

 

It was Abraham Matthews, the town's erstwhile barber, who had gone off the rails since his wife had got sick and recently died. Where he got the money from, who knew? He hardly opened the shop now, and even when he did, few men trusted those shaking hands holding a cut throat razor near their throats: his son and daughter basically worked to support the father and themselves. 

 

86a2daa95c36bde23c1f061749224727f1-08-th

 

 

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Frank, at last, saw Caroline visiting with their new piano player, now that Arabella had lit out to the Undertakers.  This never made sense to him.  Why in Hell would she prefer combing dead people's hair and arranging their hands in manners of prayer rather than mingling with living folk, drunk or not?  There would always be a place for her at the Star Dust if she ever decided to return.

 

As for Caroline, she was great at her job.  He'd have to look far and wide to find a replacement if she were ever to skip out.  Unfortunately, she hated him to his core, and he'd come to the conclusion that the gap between them would never be breached.

 

He returned his attention to the activity of the day when Hiram Priest moved beside him and spoke.  "See that feller sitting at the table in the corner by the window, the cowboy with the buckskin vest?"

 

"Yeah.  Sure."  Frank saw the new face come through the doors about an hour earlier.  He'd ordered a whiskey and had been nursing it ever since. "What about him?"

 

Before speaking, Priest spat out a wad of tobacco juice into a conveniently placed spittoon.  "That feller's the plant.  He came from Helena to do his part.  He's a friend of Cadwaller."

 

Franklin nodded.  "Well it's about time, so I guess you're about to say your piece."

 

With that, Hiram Priest stepped beside the two salesmen and began.

 

"Fellow Citizens of Kalispell!  May I please have a moment of your time because I want to share with you a golden opportunity that is being offered to all of us.  Now over here," he pointed to the two men behind the table, "we have Mister Luther Cadwaller and Mister Mason Fink.  They are agents for the Montana Mining and Mineral Company, and they have an offer that they want to propose to you good people.  It's a chance for you all to prosper, for all of us to prosper.  How do you do that?  You put some of your hard earned pay into an investment and not just piss it away like happens so often.  You invest it in M M & M."

 

The place had grown quiet.

 

Luther Cadwaller stepped beside Hiram who then moved away.

 

"Our company is looking for investors to aid in searching for wealth that will benefit all the shareholders.  Our mining engineers have spent months examining the Montana territory for ore producing veins, and we believe we have some good prospects.  But all this means the need for additional equipment and money to payroll some miners.  Now the investment isn't much.  All we.."

 

Before he could finish, there was movement.

 

The first man to approach the table where Fink and Cadwaller had ensconced themselves was a tall and somewhat intimidating looking bearded figure with a slightly wild look in his eyes and a whiff of last night's booze about him. He paid no mind to the attractive blonde, he only had eyes for the pieces of paper and their 'get rich quick' promise that the two blow-ins were peddling. 

 

"Fifty dollars! How many shares d'I get for fifty dollars?!!" he demanded, waving a fistful of greenback in the two shysters' faces. 

 

It was Abraham Matthews, the town's erstwhile barber, who had gone off the rails since his wife had got sick and recently died. Where he got the money from, who knew? He hardly opened the shop now, and even when he did, few men trusted those shaking hands holding a cut throat razor near their throats: his son and daughter basically worked to support the father and themselves. 

 

Mason Fink answered the call.

 

"Well sir, we are offering shares at two-dollars and fifty cents per."  If anything, Fink could calculate money.  "That means you would get 20 shares of Stock.  You would get a beautiful Certificate printed in gold-lettering with your name on it and the number of shares.  And I guarantee you that your original $50 will grow like a .."   he struggle to find an analogy the man might understand .."like a cow on alfalfa."

 

Edited by Preston (see edit history)
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"Well sir, we are offering shares at two-dollars and fifty cents per."  If anything, Fink could calculate money.  "That means you would get 20 shares of Stock.  You would get a beautiful Certificate printed in gold-lettering with your name on it and the number of shares.  And I guarantee you that your original $50 will grow like a .." he struggle to find an analogy the man might understand .."like a cow on alfalfa."

 

The wreck of a barber handed over the cash like it was poison and snatched at the nicely produced share certificates, looking longingly at them like a man in love. It was as if he expected them to start dripping gold coins as he held them in his hand. He walked out of the place as if in a dream, a look of rapture on his ill kempt features. Well, that was one satisfied customer. Well, satisfied for now.

 

When Matthews' daughter found out what her father had done, of course, there would be hell to pay, but that was another story for another day.

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"So two church goin' folks love me, huh? Maybe there's hope for my salvation yet," Caroline smiled but thinking of her part in that Potee affair....no, probably not. Besides, she was not truly convinced that Ara did really love her? That girl was complicated. Frances though was a sweet young thing and Caroline was determined that the girl was going to be safe while working in the saloon, if nothing else. And maybe even happy too? Something Arabella had no longer been it seemed.

 

The talk now focused on Caroline warning the girl not to do interfere if ever there was some sort of incident even if it was involving the saloon girl herself. She could take care of herself and besides, there was Ralph.

 

"I promise, honest." the blind girl said "Cross my heart and hope to die, but not by getting shot."

 

Caroline chuckled at that, the girl had a sense of dry humor. Good!

 

"Now that we got settled, let's figure out what numbers I should do tonight." 

 

The other girl nodded. 

 

"How about trying that 'Gay as a Lark' number we rehearsed? You sing it so beautifully..." 

 

"Compliments will get you everywhere," Caroline grinned, "So yeah, let's throw that in.  And then the usuals of course."

 

Meanwhile Fortner's lackeys had apparently made their first sales as the local barber handed over precious cash and got a couple of slips of paper in return. Seemed like a hoodwink scheme if you asked her but no one did. She just worked here she told herself.

 

 

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The wreck of a barber handed over the cash like it was poison and snatched at the nicely produced share certificates, looking longingly at them like a man in love. It was as if he expected them to start dripping gold coins as he held them in his hand. He walked out of the place as if in a dream, a look of rapture on his ill kempt features. Well, that was one satisfied customer. Well, satisfied for now.

 

Cadwaller and Fink stared at each other, mouths slack, then laughed.

 

"Hell! " Luther said.  "That was easy."   Then he raised his voice and spoke to the room in general.  "Now there's a man who knows a sound investment when he sees one.  Now are there any other men on-the-make who want to become shareholders in M M and M?

 

The plant stood up.   "Don't mind if I do," he announced as he walked toward the business table.  "I like doin' business with a big western outfit like yours.  I've been led up the garden path a couple of times by East Coast slickers, and they never pay off.  Tell me, do you fellas think there might be a new gold strike in this territory?"

 

The room fell  silent.

 

"Well sir," Fink began.  "Our engineers have some promising leads - very promising.  What we need is to do some exploration with the help of some backers .. er .. like you."

 

The plant reached into his pocket and produced $250 and slapped it down on the table.  "I'm purchasing 100 shares."

 

Cadwaller sat at the table and, with a quill pen and a year's calligraphy lessons, produced a beautiful Stock Certificate.  "Suitable for framing," Mason chimed in.

 

By now there was a new energy in the room.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Posted (edited)

By late afternoon the Company had raised a surprising amount of money, at least for a town like Kalispell.  As they removed the table and banner, Luther Cadwaller counted out $620 in cash and coin, and Mason Fink reviewed the stock ledger showing 248 shares. 

 

Hiram stood by, his face creased with a thin-lipped smile, and Frank Fortner sat with his highly varnished shoes up on the table top.

 

It had been a successful day.

 

At the end of the week, mining engineers were examining the gold vein on the banks of the stream that flowed through the former Potee Homestead.  They even were using the Potee cabin as a land office and the barn as an equipment shed.

 

It was all legal -- now.  An many citizens of Kalispell had a piece of the action.  Of course, 248 shares was nice, but others: Priest, Fortner, Cadwaller and Fink had the balance of 1,752 shares outstanding, spread between them.

 

"This calls for a celebration!" Fortner announced, and he, along with the three other members of the Montana Mining and Mineral Company, raised their glasses of whiskey and drank a toast.

 

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

At the same time the conspirators were bathing in congratulations, Horace Potee sat alone in the corner of the livery stable, a living arrangement he'd worked out with the stable owner.  In his poke was an old service revolver from the Civil War.  It was heavy, cold and dangerous.  Someday, those thieves who robbed him would pay for their transgressions.  Someday.

Edited by Preston
typo (see edit history)
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