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    • Barnabas listened, understanding the young mans desire to venture out, and also his hesitance to leave his sister behind. Life has those twists and turns that are possible blocks to what feels like their calling. "Well, you know, there are ways that you could manage that education, and there are ways that Lillian here could go with you." Then he cautioned, "I would certainly hesitate to travel to the Dakotas until the Indians are pacified. I'm sure they are filled with the power of their defeat of George Custer."   "Then again, should you attend the university, things could be settled before you graduated and ventured out. Education is a fine thing, Tom, whether you use it here, or the Dakotas, or wherever  you might venture forth. I only wished I had had the luxury of education beyond what I managed at my mothers knee and that one room school house in Texas." But fortune had smiled on him, the poker hand and what he had brought him, and then Em. His life was good, all things considered.
    • Their cab driver was waiting for them, he'd stayed close, alert to when they would return, and he was content, having had a wonderful lunch that Mrs. Pike had had packed for him.  Now, he helped get the remains of their picnic loaded, then made sure everyone was settled, with blankets in case they needed them, and started back for town.   "That was a wonderful outing!" Emeline declared, chuckling.  "Although I think I ended up with half the beach in my shoes!"  That had been something she hadn't thought about when going barefoot...putting the shoes and socks back on had been a challenge, especially with no way to keep the sand out!   She settled in, wrapping a blanket around her knees, since the hem of her skirt was damp, then rested her head against Barnabas' shoulder and was soon asleep.  Across from them, Lillian was also dozing.   "Thank you for letting us come with you, sir," Tom murmured quietly, "my sister works too hard and it's good for her to have some fun.  And I appreciate the advice.  College sounds like a good plan, if we can afford it.  I'd love to go to Montana or the Dakotas, but I don't want to leave Lillian."   @Flip
    • "Guess you're right about just showin' up at the ranch like that." He agree, and that is kind of you, but I've cash put by for this trip I've made. The hotel does sound good. And the local fare? Which is the best place to eat. Lookin' for big steak dinner I am. Been sometime since I was able to get somethin' like that. It was a trip to remember, long, hard, and with every temperature you could imagine."   It had been that and a bit more. There had been Molly McGuire, he was missing her, but Kalispell would not be the place for her if all that had been said came to fruition between Lost Lake and the Evergreen. He had waltzed in on what could be a real corpse and cartridge affair, and one that went on an on til they forgot what it was about, or who started it.   "I appreciate your offer, and your council about town and holdin' off till the ranch hands were in town. I'll do just that. @JulieS    
    • Benjamin gave up on the fruitless pursuit of the surviving war party, they were down a six or so anyhow and more than likely just heading back to their home village. If it was one thing the US cavalry learned about chasing Indians, you didn't catch 'em.  Best horsemen in the world maybe. So he ordered his scouts and troopers to turn back and then spent the better part of a few hours just getting back to the rest of his command. It being dark did not help at all but the scouts were up to the task.   Once back he found out that a lot had happened - almost all good too, well except another trooper had been killed. But Lt. Greene found (had lucked into it really but no criticism there - it was the great Napoleon who had said  'better a lucky general than a good one') the women and they were alive. Looking a bit worse for wear but no dangerous wounds, the saloon girl was already wearing trousers and a bluecoat lent her by eager troopers. And Greene had a face to face encounter with an Arapaho brave looking to kill the ladies. That Indian was dead. Barlow didn't press the young officer on the details, that he could read in the report Greene would have to write out later back in the fort, for the young man was wounded and in considerable discomfort. They didn't have a doctor with this detachment but one of the troopers who knew something about wound treatment assured Benjamin the boy would live and keep his leg. Well unless he didn't take care of it properly and get gangrene.   The stage driver was quite the tough gal too. She was sporting a large bruise from where the Arapaho had belted her with his gun butt but in good humor and even told him that the two women had killed their guard and escaped on their own.  Barlow was impressed.   "Well, it's a pity we don't allow women in the army, we could use a couple more like you and your friend," Benjamin remarked to Addy.   It was a tough call to make - normally traveling at night was not the wise thing to do but they had the wounded to think of and the sooner they got them back to better medical care at the fort or even town, the better. He decided darkness or not, they would head back and issued the appropriate orders.   They kept the pace deliberately slow but steady. He wasn't worried about Indian attack - Plains Indians did not attack at night and besides that war party was good as destroyed and definitely dispersed.  No, the bigger danger was loss of a horse or horses to prairie dog holes or god knows what else whilst traveling in the darkness.   Then there was a holler from ahead.   @MD  @Bongo @Flip @Javia
    • Both men had agreed, it had been a hell of a day. That Bannister came to them had been unexpected, but welcomed.  As they walked to the hotel after stabling their mounts they paused on the porch, taking up seats on the porch. Both men silent as they turned over the events of the day. Neither weary as they should be after a long hard ride back to Kalispell.   "This shapes up different than I was thinking it would. I mean hell, this is father against daughter." Cook said, "Seen a few that was father-son, never father-daughter."   "Odd one, that's fer shore. Now This Elias Steelgrave, you know much about him?" McNue asked, wonder what type of man is a threat to his own flesh and blood.   "Some, none of it good, and none of it arrestable, if that's even a word. The man skirts the law in a way he gets what he's after without consequence. Though I've heard there's a dark past with some bodies, but again, no real proof. Well, we'll check in with Guyer in the morning, see what we can do."   "Sounds to be a good idea, as dos gettin' our fair share 'o shuteye." McNue agreed. Both men got to their feet and entered the hotel. On this night their prospective of what was happening had changed.
Franklin Fortner

Big Talk at the Star Dust

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Posted (edited)

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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About Sagas

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

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