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Continued from Cattle Drive [Part 1]

Mature Content: No

With: Quentin Cantrell, NPCs
Location: Kalispell to Fort Poison, south end of Flathead Lake.
When: Early September 1875
Time of Day: Varies

 

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Harriet sat astride Shade's big paint, Spirit, that had formerly belonged to Chance Thornton. She had ridden the horse before but never in the animal's capacity as a working cow pony. None of her string of horses had the training for the task at hand. The big gelding flicked his ears, and his body tensed. She could tell the horse was ready to follow the herd of cattle that meandered slowly past. Harriet put a gloved hand on the horse's neck and muttered a few soft words to calm him down.

Three days ago, the San Francisco attorney had been in the office of Lost Lake Ranch's co-owner, Shade Thornton, explaining about the contract and how it had gotten lost. Somehow, it had been misfiled in with completed contracts. The ranch was in the black, but due to a judge's ruling regarding the custody of the five-year-old Thornton twins, it had to show a clear six-percent increase in profits. Losing the contract for twenty-five head of cattle would not impact the ranch's wealth. However, it might cause problems with the custody of the children.

 

Another issue was the fact that the majority of the hands had ridden south to Missoula with Sage Miller, the ranch's night foreman, to deliver the fall herd to the stockyards. That left the ranch with a skeleton crew. They could not strip the remainder of the riders off the ranch, so she, Quentin Cantrell, and two of the younger hands were tasked with taking the herd to Fort Poison. Who knew that it would be Shade Thornton's sharp eyes that would see the codicil that stated the fort's commander would only take delivery from an owner or suitably high-ranking ranch employee, such as a foreman. The fort's commanding officer required the codicil as a means of preventing fraud and possibly the receipt of stolen cattle.

 

Harriet had ridden into town with a letter written by Shade and copies of the appropriate paperwork. She had sent the telegraph on Shade's behalf and put the envelope on the next mail wagon out. It should reach Fort Poison well ahead of the drive. Now, here she sat, wondering precisely what she was supposed to do. Harriet had watched her friend, Regina Thornton, deftly ride, rope, and cut with the best of them. She felt clueless. Harriet hated the feeling of not knowing what to do and of not being in control of her situation.

 

Suddenly a big red and white heifer broke from the meandering herd and shot toward where she was sitting. Before she could gather her wits and shout "Shoo, cow" at the creature, Spirit launched into action. Harriet uttered a soft shriek and hung on for dear life as the paint zigged and zagged after the heifer finally deftly turning it back to the herd.

 

Quentin sat Paladin nearby. He brought his gloved hand up and covered his mouth to hide his wide grin as he watched the shrieking woman atop the cow pony as it herded the stray. He quickly schooled his features as her horse steadied and she shot a look over at him. "Ahem...You're doing fine, Harriet!"

 

"At least I am doing something!" Harriet snapped. She glared at the big paint gelding she was riding. "Bad horse," she muttered under her breath. At least the two hands and wagon driver were pretending to be preoccupied with the herd...or the horizon.

 

Quentin reached up and tugged the brim of his hat, then spurred off along one side of the herd. His free hand swung a coil of rope back and forth. He gave an occasional yell to keep the mass moving in the same direction. Quentin lifted his eyes up to see the other hands, seeing that they both seemed to have a handle on their side of the herd. The supply wagon was on ahead, pulling off into the distance so he could find a good spot to stop and pitch camp for the night. Another series of shrieks and yelps behind him told Quentin that Shade's horse was doing its job again while Harriet valiantly tried not to fall off. Quentin decided that discretion was the better part of valor and he continued on, ignoring the sounds behind him so the only thing Harriet would be mad at would be the horse.

Edited by Stormwolfe (see edit history)

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Location: Trail from Kalispell to Fort Poison, south end of Flathead Lake.
When: Early September 1875
Time of Day: Evening

 

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Harriet felt as if she had been in the saddle for three days instead of just several hours. She was used to driving and managing a high-strung team of horses, not sitting on one for hours at a time. She guessed she was going to have to toughen up and get used to it. After all, Montana was the life she was choosing. She sat down a bit gingerly on the blanket she had spread earlier for dinner. The man driving the supply wagon agreed to do the after-dinner cleanup, but refused to cook. Surprisingly, she and Quentin had managed a good meal between the two of them. More surprising yet, no one had died. She leaned forward and grabbed the spare coffee pot that she had brought along for heating water to wash with and brew tea. She ladled tea leaves into two tea-balls, dropped them into cups, and poured hot water over them. Without asking, she handed one over  to Quentin.

 

"I don't see how Reggie did this. More than that, I don't see how she could love driving cattle!" Harriet glanced toward where the sounds of restless cows could be heard. "Stupid beasts!"

 

"Now, Harriet..." Quentin said as he took the cup of tea and sipped. "...We have spent most of the day chasing them around and wearing ourselves out...I'm not sure which is the stupid beast." Quentin shifted on his blanket as his leg muscles muttered in protest but he was not about to let on that he was sore as well. He had spent straight days in the saddle back in the war but admittedly straight riding with the occasional battle was not nearly as exhausting as herding cattle.

 

"I think Shade let that bear knock him about on purpose," Harriet stated emphatically. "He had best still be hobbling about when we get back."

 

"If he is walking around normally when we get back, you have my permission to return him to limping status." Quentin settled back more and rested his hat farther forward so it shaded his eyes as he settled back against the side of his saddle on the ground.

 

She carefully leaned back against the fallen log. "I wonder how far we got today? Do you think we will get to Poison tomorrow?"

 

The younger of the two hands had a sudden coughing fit while the wagon's driver, a much older gentleman's mustache twitched with amusement, "Ma'am, at this rate, we'll be lucky to get there within the week."

 

Quentin looked thoughtful then nodded. "That sounds about right, barring outside interference, although we might be a little slower each day if we feel like this at the end of each one..."

 

Tags @Stormwolfe

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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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