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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.

The Middle of Nowhere


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Mature Content: No

With: Evelyn Hardy, Ben Simons and others...

When: Thursday 24 August 1876
Time of Day: Morning

 

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Evelyn stepped out of the hotel and looked up and down the street.  Nothing had changed since her arrival yesterday and she could swear that it was still the same people walking around.  Everyone was almost practically dressed the same way. No-one in particular stood out to her and that was the reason why she had chosen a plain and modest dark green dress.  If she had worn her usual garb, she would have gotten a lot of attention, which was something she didn't want...yet.

 

Even though her name was a familiar, it was rare that somebody recognised her at first glance as most people were used to seeing her from a distance.  It usually took the mention of her name for her to get the reaction that would be expected when one met a famous actress.  She smiled a little as she remembered some of those times.

 

However, there would be time for that sort of thing later.  Today, she was on scouting mission to find out what sort of town she was going to be stuck in for the next two months as she and her troop perform at Ben's Simons' theatre, which apparently was the only one in town.  Judging by the crowd in the street, she wondered what had gotten into Ben in the first place, as she surmised that there probably wouldn't be enough people to fill half of the seats.

 

Grimacing, she thought about why she was here at all.  It was bad luck that she happened to be in Helena at the same time, Ben was in town looking for some performers to appear in his theatre.  He hadn't forgetten the debt she owed him and he had come calling to collect it.  She wished she hadn't given her word all those years that he could have whatever he wanted as a repayment.  The other thing, she hadn't expected was that he still had that letter and contract, that she thought had been destroyed.

 

Heaving a heavy sigh, she acknowledged that she couldn't blame the man.  After all, he was a gambler and they always had a way out or in, as it was in this case.  Anyways, she would have time to try and get out of her obligation to Ben later this morning when she went to inspect the theatre with the rest of her troop.  Now, she was up for some exploring to find out what sort of one-horse town this really was.

 

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A young man, who had come out of the hotel shortly after Evelyn, ran up to her breathlessly.

 

"Miss Hardy? Miss Evelyn Hardy, the actress?" he panted, he was gripping a note tablet and pencil, probably an autograph hunter!

 

On learning that the beautiful lady was indeed the woman he sought, Raymond Matthews handed her a folded piece of paper. "Telegram, Miss!" he beamed. He had been to the hotel to deliver it, but they had told him that she had just walked out and given the lad a description of the glamourous stranger in town, so he could find her.

 

"Sign here, please!"

 

He knew she was an actress because the telegraph operator who had translated the wire, Hector Wigfall, had told him so! Of course, the contents of Western Union telegrams were completely secret and sacrosanct, so Hector had only told him that it was a telegram for Miss Evelyn Hardy, care of the Regis Hotel, and that she was an actress and that the telegram said "Good luck in Kalispell, Eve, the worst dead and alive hole I ever visited - regards Ted." and that when he checked with Operator 46 in Helena, he'd tapped back that the sender was the impresario Ted Cassidy and that she was actually a very famous star of the stage and that she must be in a half-forgotten place like Kalispell for personal reasons because she would never bother appearing in a play there.

 

But apart form that, Raymond was completely in the dark about who this mysterious woman was. 

 

"Are you going to be in a play here Miss Hardy?" Ray asked plaintively. Not that he was interested in such things really, but he wanted to be able to take some gossip back to the telegraph office: the boys there were bound to pump him for some news, especially where there was a glamourous young(-ish) actress involved. 

 

@JulieS

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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"Miss Hardy? Miss Evelyn Hardy, the actress?" he panted, he was gripping a note tablet and pencil, probably an autograph hunter!

 

Evelyn turned to see where the voice was coming from.  It was some kid waving a piece of paper and a pencil.  He had called out her name loud enough that anybody nearby would have heard it.  Well, so much for being able to check out the town icognito.

 

"Yes, that's me."

 

On learning that the beautiful lady was indeed the woman he sought, Raymond Matthews handed her a folded piece of paper. "Telegram, Miss!" he beamed. He had been to the hotel to deliver it, but they had told him that she had just walked out and given the lad a description of the glamourous stranger in town, so he could find her.

 

"Sign here, please!"

 

Telegram?  Who on earth would be trying to reach her out here?

 

Taking the telegram from the boy, she read it and half-smiled.  It was from Ted Cassidy, a friend and some time leading man.  There was a time she had contemplated getting involved with him on a romantic level but decided against.  If she was to keep her career going, she needed men like Ted. A bad breakup to any affairs she had with her leading men would only complicate things and possibly make it more difficult to secure roles in the future.

 

"Are you going to be in a play here Miss Hardy?" Ray asked plaintively.

 

Knowing that it was important to maintain a good reputation with the ticket-buying public, she nodded, "Yes, I'm planning to perform in a few plays at The White Rose Theater until the end of October."

 

@Javia

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Despite the import of the message, the telegram seemed to cheer the graceful but disgruntled looking lady momentarily.

 

"Are you going to be in a play here Miss Hardy?" Ray asked plaintively.

 

Knowing that it was important to maintain a good reputation with the ticket-buying public, she nodded, "Yes, I'm planning to perform in a few plays at The White Rose Theater until the end of October."

 

"Ooh!" If Raymond sounded impressed, it was because he was: big city folk hardly stayed around in this dead-and-alive hole for too long. "What plays do you think you'll be presenting Miss Hardy?" he asked, surreptitiously moving to a blank receipt form and readying his pencil to make notes. "Are they... whatdya call 'um? Tragedies or comedies?" he asked.

 

"Oh, and who else will be in the plays? or is it just you... er, reciting?!" He impressed himself with his repertory of theatrical terminology: like most folk who grew up round here, he'd never even been to a play. Hell, even the girl he worked with at the funeral parlour who described herself as "a resting actress" hadn't seen a play, let alone been in one. 

 

"Oh, and one last thing..." he was sounding like a reporter now, in fact, he might even hurry over to Mr McVey at the newspaper after this and tell him of this luminary who had descended from the heavens to grace the dusty streets of Kali' "... is there music and singing in these plays, like an Opera?"

 

Questions, questions, questions!

 

@JulieS

 

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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"Ooh!" If Raymond sounded impressed, it was because he was: big city folk hardly stayed around in this dead-and-alive hole for too long. "What plays do you think you'll be presenting Miss Hardy?" he asked, surreptitiously moving to a blank receipt form and readying his pencil to make notes. "Are they... whatdya call 'um? Tragedies or comedies?" he asked.

 

Part her wanted to say tragedies because it was tragic that she had to be here in the first place but she didn't.  "Mainly comedies and one or two dramas," she replied.

 

"Oh, and who else will be in the plays? or is it just you... er, reciting?!"

 

"I've bought my acting company along, so they will be performing alongside of me."

 

"Oh, and one last thing...is there music and singing in these plays, like an Opera?"

 

Eve frowned and wondered if the boy was also working for the local newspaper.  Most of the plays they would be performing would be well-known ones...actually she wasn't sure how many people in a backwater place like this would have heard of the plays she had chosen.  However, the plays were ones her company were familiar with having performed them on several occasions, so maybe the people here finally catch up with the rest of the world.

 

Smiling, she answered, "Why don't you come along and find out.  I believe tickets are already on sale.  Just go to the theatre and buy them there."

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"Oh, and who else will be in the plays? or is it just you... er, reciting?!"

 

"I've bought my acting company along, so they will be performing alongside of me."

 

An 'acting company'!? Ray was somewhat staggered. He wasn't sure how many people constituted a company (wasn't a company in the army about a 100 men or something like that?) but it sure sounded impressive. Miss Hardy was somehow suddenly elevated from the status of 'fascinating and exotic bauble' to 'Important General of an Invading Army' and Raymond had the urge to salute her. Still, he kept his head and carried on with his questions.

 

"Oh, and one last thing...is there music and singing in these plays, like an Opera?"

 

Smiling, she answered, "Why don't you come along and find out.  I believe tickets are already on sale.  Just go to the theatre and buy them there."

 

"I'll be sure to do that Miss Hardy!" he nodded, like a little lapdog. "Say, you've been mighty swell answering all of my silly questions, is there anything I can do for you in return: do you need any directions around town or can I fetch anything for you?" he asked, goggle eyed at this Madonna from the skies. To be honest, Raymond had never given much thought to girls before; they were usually just in the way: or annoying and spiteful like his sister. He worked with Arabella Mudd, but she wasn't like a real girl, she was more like another good-old-boy, but in a dress. 

 

This lady though, Miss Hardy or, he gulped... Evelyn! Why, despite her slightly snappy manner, or maybe because of it, there was something about her that made him come over all sorta like a slobbering, devoted hound dog.

 

Somehow, he didn't want to leave her side. Couldn't leave her side. Ever! 

 

Oh oh!

 

@JulieS

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"Hey, Ray!"

 

"Been looking everywhere for you. Hector said you were out delivering a telegram," he said quickly, not bothering to notice who his friend was with.

 

After the Whitefish disaster, Dobie Jefferson and his mother had moved into Kalispell.  Thankfully, his mother Maureen had found work after a few months, when Mr. Wentworth moved into town.  Dobie was grateful that the new job had given Ma some purpose, especially considering how bad it had been.  His Pa and two older sisters had been killed, a thought which briefly made him sad.  It was still hard to believe that they were gone but both he and Ma were determined to carry on.  Mr. Wentworth was also good enough that he even gave him a job looking after the horses and doing odd jobs around the house.  Ma had explained to Mr. Wentworth that she wanted him to go to school for one more year...something he was not looking forward to.  Most of the boys his age like Ray, had real jobs and he wished he could have one too.

 

Realising that Ray wasn't alone, he turned to see who he was talking to.  His eyes opened wide when he saw how pretty the lady was but he soon concluded that she was probably over thirty and thus too old for the likes of him.  Still, there was nothing wrong with admiring her.

 

Looking at Ray, he frowned.  Even though they had only been friends for about six months, Dobie noticed that there was something peculiar about him but he couldn't work out what it was.  It would probably come to him eventually.  Right now, he had something more important to do.

 

"Ray, I heard the fish are still biting down at Stillwater.  There's even a rumour that ol' Henry is still waiting to be caught.  How about we head down there on Saturday?"

 

dobiejefferson.jpg.b32a0b01c9de269a4e36c003218cc6b5.jpg

 

@Javia

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"Hey, Ray!"

 

Young Master Matthews was so agog at the beautiful actress that he didn't even hear his friend call. Or rather, he was vaguely aware of it, but it was drowned out by that chorus of Angels that was singing so loudly in his earhole as he gazed upon the equally angelic face of Miss Hardy. 

 

"Been looking everywhere for you. Hector said you were out delivering a telegram," he said quickly, not bothering to notice who his friend was with.

 

"Uh?" Raymond said turning, and then a vacant "Oh.... Howdy Dobie." 

 

"Ray, I heard the fish are still biting down at Stillwater.  There's even a rumour that ol' Henry is still waiting to be caught.  How about we head down there on Saturday?"

 

"Fish?" Raymond asked absently, and then turned back, but Miss Hardy was already off down the street. He looked back at his friend and then at Miss Hardy, smaller and more distant again, until she disappeared into the White Rose. He pushed back his hat and wiped his brow, before looking at the other lad and breaking the bad news. 

 

"I'm sorry Dobie old man, Old Henry's gonna have to wait. It's happened... Life's biggest moment. I'm in love!" he told the other teenager seriously. 

 

@JulieS

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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"In love?"

 

As he turned to see what Ray was looking at, Dobie frowned.  He knew that it wasn't the theatre as the building was nothing special.  Mr. Simons had paid him to help paint the outside walls but it was still white.  Surely it couldn't be that woman he was talking to?

 

Shaking his head in disbelief, Dobie looked at Ray again and he could see that he was serious.  Placing his hand on his friend's shoulder, he sighed, "Look, maybe it was something you ate.  You can't be in love.  My ma told that falling in love took some time.  Besides that woman is almost old enough to be our mother."

 

@Javia

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78ed4148900611d82ad45c3e1817007e6606d0e1

 

"In love?"

 

Ray nodded sadly. "I'm afraid so, old man." he said bravely, just like he had a short time before when he had reported the death of his mother to his friend.

 

Shaking his head in disbelief, Dobie looked at Ray again and he could see that he was serious.  Placing his hand on his friend's shoulder, he sighed, "Look, maybe it was something you ate."

 

 "Well, I do feel kinda funny in my tummy! Kinda like butterflies in there." Raymond admitted, rubbing his stomach. "D'ya think it might be indigestion?"

 

"You can't be in love.  My ma told that falling in love took some time.  Besides that woman is almost old enough to be our mother."

 

"Oh no, she's just a little older than us: that's just our perspective! She's, what? 21?" (Miss Hardy was 30 if she was a day!) "... and that seems a big difference from 16. But when I'm 26, she'll be 31 and that's not such a gap, is it? Gee, by the time I'm a hundred, we'll practically be the same age!" he expounded with tortuous logic. "And look Dobes, we need women of experience to teach us.... well, stuff. These little girls around here don't know nuthin'!"

 

"What are you two up to?! NO GOOD, I'll be bound!" 

 

A shrill voice from behind startled Ray as he extoled the talents of Miss Hardy, in fact he nearly jumped out of his pants! It was that of his sister, who always had the knack of sneaking up behind him unseen at the worst possible moments (and we mean the worst!)

 

"Agghhh! Nuthin!!" shot back a rattled Raymond.

 

"Well, what are you talking about?!" Zenobia demanded. 

 

"Nuthin!" relied Raymond defensively. 

 

"Well, if you're both doing nothing and talking about nothing, you can come and help me get the barber shop ready. He's left it like a pigsty!" she roundly declared, 'he' being the Matthews' dissolute father.

 

"And what's wrong with you, Dobie Jefferson? Cat got your tongue?!" she demanded, turning her search-light gaze toward her brother's friend. 

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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"No ma'am, I was just...I was just..."

 

Dobie gulped.  Why did Zenobia Matthews always make him feel like he had been caught with his hand in the cookie jar?  Ray was right about the girls around town and not just in that mushy romantic way.  If all the girls in Kalispell were like Zenobia, or for that matter, Arabella Mudd, then he and Ray stood no chance.  Maybe going to school was a good idea as it would widen his acquaintance and hopefully, he could meet some nice, normal girls.

 

Looking over Zenobia, he could see that she was still waiting for them to move.  However, helping out in the barber shop was the last thing he wanted to do.  Even though he would be helping Ray out and it would give him the opportunity to talk him out of this being in love thing, Dobie didn't want to spend any longer than it was necessary in Zenobia's presence.

 

"Ahh...I have to get back.  Mr. Wentworth wants me to clean the stable."

 

Turning to his friend, Dobie gave him a look of sympathy, "Sorry."

 

After patting Ray on the shoulder, he said, "You can tell me more about, you know what, next time."

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"No ma'am, I was just...I was just..."

 

"Just-just what?! Just about to offer to help me?!" Zenobia suggested. 

 

"Ahh...I have to get back.  Mr. Wentworth wants me to clean the stable."

 

"Oh really? How convenient!" said Zenobia, folding her arms over her chest and giving a withering look to he who, she was guessing, talked with forked tongue. 

 

Turning to his friend, Dobie gave him a look of sympathy, "Sorry." After patting Ray on the shoulder, he said, "You can tell me more about, you know what, next time."

 

"DOBIE JEFFERSON... COME HERE!!" Ray's sister suddenly commanded, in a voice that made nearby horses shy and whinny and caused the flimsy wooden buildings of Kalispell Main street rock on their very foundations. 

 

"I will not enquire what 'You know what' is meant to mean, as I have little doubt it is something quite disgusting and of a nature that only little boys would be interested in talking about. But tell me the truth: have you really to clean Mr Wentworth's stable and if so how much does he pay you to do it? And tell me the truth now..." her black-brown eyes with the slight turn bored into his "... and remember, I can always tell when a boy is lying!" she said, searching his face, making out that she was looking for some tell-tale sign of a fib. 

 

zenobia 1.jpg

 

@JulieS

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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Dobie felt a bit angry at the grilling Zenobia was giving him.  She was almost accusing of him of lying right now.  He knew he didn't have to tell her exactly what his job entailed but decided to do so as it might stop her from annoying him again.  "I get a wage as well as room and board.  The Wentworths were mighty kind to both me and my Ma after what happened to us in Whitefish.  So, if I say I got work to do for him, I got work.  Besides I don't think it's any business of yours what I do and what I don't do."

 

Even though going to clean up the stables had started out as an excuse, it wasn't now.  Cleaning up the stables was something he could do at any time but right now he really needed to get away from Zenobia.  No wonder she had no friends.

 

Turning back to Ray, he once again patted his friend on the shoulder, "I'm really sorry, Ray...real sorry."

 

With that, he headed back home.

 

@Javia

 

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"I get a wage as well as room and board.  The Wentworths were mighty kind to both me and my Ma after what happened to us in Whitefish.  So, if I say I got work to do for him, I got work.  Besides I don't think it's any business of yours what I do and what I don't do."

 

Zenobia gasped at the boy's effrontery. "How dare you talk to me like that Dobie Jefferson!! I was about to offer you a job because I felt sorry for you, well that charitable gesture was clearly a case of throwing pearls before swine. Go on then, go and clean out your smelly stables! But when you eventually grow up, and get some stubble on your chin, don't go coming to me for a shave!!" she chided him. 

 

Turning back to Ray, he once again patted his friend on the shoulder, "I'm really sorry, Ray...real sorry."

 

"Dobie Jefferson, come back here immediately, I haven't finished talking to you!!" Zenobia bellowed, but the lad was gone. 

 

The annoying young woman's shoulders sagged for a second, before the ire that came to her so naturally buoyed her up again and she turned on Raymond. "I forbid you to to talk to that boy ever again!!"

 

Ray just shook his head wearily. "Come on, let's clean up the shop" he said. 

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