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    • "Wonderful!"  Jonah almost clapped, for this had been going on for so long, that he really expected that this would be some sort of new setback, and Leah certainly didn't need any more complications.  "I'm sure it's going to be a huge relief when they finally break ground.  It's going to be rewarding to watch it take shape, and for you to know you are responsible for it."   He hoped, for her sake more than anything, that the weather cooperated, and that the progress was swift and without complications.    "You'll be overseeing the project?"  He couldn't imagine that she'd step back now, and not assure that every detail was right.   @Flip
    • "Boss, we found us a herd ripe for the pluckin'. Maybe we oughtta move on it afore they change where they're grazin' 'em, an make it more difficult." Toole suggested. "We can take close to a hunderd head easy enough, they move 'em, thet might not be the way of it."   "'Scuse me men, but Toole here is on to something, and cattle is our other business. We've customers waiting up north." Case said, not happy at being interrupted, yet realizing that what he said was true. It was why they were there, and it was what the did. "So go on and make yourselves to home while I get this job situated."   "Oh sure thing, Case, an thanks for the offer. We appreciate it, 'mon boys." Shannon said, and with that they walked outside to find the other building Case was talking about.   "Alright Toole what did you have in mind?" Case asked.   "The place is just at the foothills where they have their cattle. Now any buildin's 'er maybe a mile, mile'n a half away. What we saw was just maybe four riders wit the cattle, may not hav'ta kill any of 'em. We just filter down through the trees and then rush 'em. Maybe eight 'er ten of us, circle the heard an' push 'em back the way we come which was the long way around , and shore they'll be tracks alomst all the way to the dry river bed, maybe  whot, two mile from the tree line. Hard ground to river bed, but they won't catch us, not seein's they're out numbered."   Case gave it some thought, but Toole had been plotting how they would steal a herd for quite a while, and he knew what he was doing. Besides, no County Sheriff, no problem!   "Pick your men, Toole and get it done." Case said, knowing if they got a hundred head, that would be enough to drive north, once the brands were altered.
    • Having a second thought, to bolster the findings he sent for Fairchild before he could leave for New Orleans, and in the vicinity of Elinor Steelgrave, that could be done at another time after this meeting with Elias himself.   It was like hedging his bet on the situation. He wanted Elias to meet the man who could explain what was in the file in detail, much better than he himself.  might be able to. Nothing like being prepared. Elias could be unpredictable when upset, if a man like Fairchild explaining what he had found could manage to keep Steelgrave manage-ably clam then the expense was worth it to all concerned.   He had to congratulate himself on the idea. It just might work!
    • List in hand, they made their way back to town and to the Anderson's Mercantile where they laid out their list of needs. John and Mary Agnes looked over the list and began adding prices, plus shipping where it was warranted.   "So, you're in the mining business Marshal?" John asked.   "We are." Alice replied with a wide proud smile on her face. Speed just looked at her.   "Amos here found a property to good to pass up, so I bought it myself." Speed said, "Actually two properties, the other on is off to the west, but this one is just north of the Evergreen Ranch a couple of miles."   "Ah that would be the Henshaw mine. Sad about his wife passing on so suddenly. Life can be hard out here, it was just too hard for Martha Henshaw, though she tried as hard as anyone could." Mary Agnes said. "Most all of what you have here we have in stock. Most all of this was on Henshaw's list as well, he just quit before he paid for it. I believe we can give you a good price on the machinery out back. Right John?"   "Yes we can, The fact is Speed I'll let you have it at our cost, plus the shipping expenses, of course. Be good to free up that room back there. Let me see here at my cost, yes, well, it looks to be just under three thousand dollars, without the things we have in stock that wasn't Henshaw's."   Fair enough John, and we appreciate it. Now, if you'll let me get up to the bank, we want to use their money until we get started, and then we'll settle up."   "Makes sense to me, it's what we did. Hated those monthly payments, but it worked for us." John agreed.   "We'll be back." Speed promised.
    • The single shot was loud, even with the traffic, the jingle of the trace chains and the people on the boardwalks conversing. It had been some time since that had been gunfire in town,  especially in the middle of the day, he was up, pad in hand and heading for the door. "That was a gunshot!" He said to Sarah. "I have no idea what it's about, but I intend to find out!"   He stepped out the door to see a crowd gathered and Marshal Guyer leading a man away, a man who looked familiar, but one he could not identify right off. He started down the street to see who belonged to the body laying on the boardwalk. There should be a story in this, it would appear someone had been murdered in broad daylight!   When he arrived at the body, it was of a man he did not recognize, not that he was aware of every drifter that passed through town, but the one being led off was familiar enough, he just could not place him at the moment. But clearly Chester and  Myrtle McIneery stood close behind the body, Chester steadying his wife who splattered with blood, no doubt from the dead man.   He then saw Arabella Mudd scurrying across the the street to the Municipal Building. He would be over there in a few moments himself but just then, the slower moving Mister Jolly and young Raymond, his other assistant, arrived on the scene. "Mister Jolly." He greeted, "Raymond. I see Miss Mudd is already at the Marshals office." @Javia

Home is Where the Heart Is


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Rating: PG-14
Content: N/A

With: Quentin
Location: Blackbird Lodge, Lost Lake Ranch
When: Late August / 1876
Time of Day: Mid-Morning




Harriet pulled the reins slightly, calling out to the high-stepping Hackney mare pulling the lightweight buggy she drove. For several moments, she simply sat and stared at the rambling timber and stone house in front of her. Blackbird Lodge, the main ranch house of Lost Lake Ranch had become her home. It was so good to be breathing the fresh Montana mountain air. She slumped against the padded back of the buggy's seat and sighed. Harriet was exhausted after her travels only rousing when a young man approached.

"Welcome home, Miss Harriet," he said, laying a gentle hand on the chestnut mare's nose.

"Thanks, Dwight, it's good to be home," Harriet said, allowing him to help down from the buggy. Leaning in, she picked up a large carryall. "My trunk is in the back. You might need help getting it inside."


"I'll take care of it and the rig, ma'am," Dwight settled the mare and called out for someone to come up from the nearby barn to help him.


Harriet had been in Boston for the last few months. Her younger sister had sent a request for Harriet to come visit and stay through the birth of her first child. Since Josephine's pregnancy was high-risk and she was mostly confined to her bed, Harriet had happily obliged. Oh, but how she missed Montana and....Quentin...as hard as that was to believe. 


Heading into the house, she dropped her carryall on the floor and began unpinning her hat while calling out, "I'm home! Anyone here?"



Edited by Stormwolfe (see edit history)
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Quentin stood in the middle of the Ranch house's gun room. He was finishing buckling on the black gun belt and adjusting it so it rested comfortably on his hips, then he tightened it snug so it didn't move and could hold the weight of the guns destined for it. The belt had been custom made for him by the saddle maker in town. With all the trouble that had been slowly building, Quentin had decided it was time to be ready for whatever might be coming. He had been wearing a gun for years, and had used them extensively back when he had lived in San Francisco...hiring himself out to help people who had made a choice not to live or die by the gun. When he had come back here after his sister had been killed, he had only used his guns for field work and self-defense.


Cantrell walked over to the small table and picked up the strangest looking of the weapons. The weapon had started life as a lever action rifle chambered in .45 Long Colt. Quentin had visited the town gunsmith and explained what he had in mind and the man had proven as good as his reputation. The shortened weapon was only a bit longer than a full size cavalry pistol. The barrel and magazine had been cut down right past the end of the wooden forearm and the shoulder stock had been trimmed off just past the lever. The gunsmith had taken off the front and rear sights and had braised a brass bead to the barrel band at the end of the weapon. Quentin had practiced and found the bead worked fine for fast sighting and, if he took just a moment to aim, it functioned perfectly fine for medium distances. The loading gate on the side meant that Quentin could feed shells into the weapon constantly without the cumbersome reload speed of most revolvers. He pulled some shells from a box on the table and thumbed them into the loading gate, putting six into the magazine and then he worked the action and slowly lowered the hammer and fed a seventh round into the magazine. Quentin held it to his side and hooked the upper end into the special made holster and rotated it into the spring steel clip at the bottom end.


Pin on Guns & Ammo


Quentin then reached and tugged a polished wooden box over in front of him. This box had come from San Francisco...pulled from a safe and shipped to him after a telegram he had sent to the place he had lived at for several years. A box representing a life he had figured was behind him, but the items inside had saved his life too many times not to make use of once more. He turned the catch and opened the lid, revealing a pair of revolvers. The pair of Colts inside were nickel plated with Bird's head grips. Both were identical...four inch barrels for a mix of speed and accuracy. The shorter barrels and bird's head grips made them smaller than normal Colts. Quentin had two holsters made for the belt. One was a cross draw forward of his left hip for right hand draw, and the other was angled behind his back so he could get at it with his left hand in an emergency. Both were also chambered for .45 Long Colt so one size round worked with all three weapons. Quentin had been practicing with all three for the past week after they had arrived. Quentin loaded both revolvers with five rounds so the hammers rested on an empty chamber. He slid one into the cross draw holster and the other behind his back, pushing both into the snug leather.


Documented Colt Single Action Army Bird's Head Grip Revolver | Rock Island  Auction


Quentin had already filled the belt loops with rounds and now he walked around in the gun room...feeling the weight and getting used to the sensation. The cut down Winchester was a novel feeling and Cantrell knew he would have to get used to it, but it was also reassuring in a lot of ways. There was a storm coming and one way or the other, Quentin was going to be standing after it passed.


The sound of the front door opening and then closing came faintly to Quentin but he only registered it peripherally while he was looking at himself in the wall mirror. Suddenly the familiar female voice called out and hit Quentin like lightning. His eyes widened and were matched by his reflection along with the sudden smile that washed across his face. He turned and ran out of the gun room and dashed toward the front foyer. Quentin slowed to a stop at the sight of Harriet and just stared at her for several heartbeats...he then gave himself a mental shake and ran closer, sweeping her up into a strong hug that lifted her feet off the floor and spun her in a full circle before he sat her down...



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Harriet gave a slight squeak of surprise as Quentin swept her off her feet, literally and figuratively. Her heartbeat quickened and her eyes brightened at the sight of him. Quentin's enthusiastic greeting left her breathless and very, very happy. She had not been sure of her reception after her months' long absence. Even though she had written to him regularly, almost all of her letters had ended with a variety of reasons for delaying her return to Montana. Now, she took a step back and looked at the man that had somehow managed to steal into her heart.


"You are looking well," Harriet said although she felt it was a lame statement and in no way conveyed  how happy she was to be home and to see him. She swayed a bit closer then, "I have missed seeing you...It is good to be home." Her twilight gray eyes glistened slightly, then she noted his attire, specifically the gun belt and a faint frown appeared, "I see you are ready for trouble. I think maybe we should have tea and you can catch me up," Harriet paused and then said again, "I have missed you."



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Quentin grinned at her greeting, and he stepped back and spread his arms to let her get a better look at him.


"Being a gentleman rancher seems to agree with me..." Quentin then leaned in as she stepped closer and gave her a quick kiss before straightening. He saw her eyes move down to his gun belt and his good humor faded a bit.


"Right, this...There's been some trouble brewing...so I figured I needed to be ready..." Quentin nodded at her suggestion of tea and conversation. "That sounds fine..." He walked with her into the kitchen and gestured to the table.


"Have a seat, I've learned to make a pretty decent cup of tea...it helped remind me of you." Quentin busied himself with making the kettle...filling it and then setting it on the stove so it could begin heating. He stepped over and began assembling the tray of tea accessories, laying out the full array instead of just his usual items. Quentin then moved over and set it down between them and settled into the other chair...noting he was able to sit comfortably with the belt and was pleased with that discovery.


"So...how was the trip back home?"


"It was long and tiring, but I enjoyed the view of the changing countryside from the train. Josephine and the baby are doing good although that child is, as the Scottish would say, a  lusty bairn," Harriet replied with a delicate shudder. She gestured to the tea tray and kettle, "It's good that you've learned to fend for yourself. Gives Mary a break."  She tilted her head and looked around. Very little had changed in the house although it seemed very quiet. She assumed the now six-year-old twins, Cody and Nettie, were up in the schoolroom with their nanny. The silence of the big house was almost deafening, "And  you," she added softly, "how have you been?"


Quentin gave a shrug. "Oh, you know...working to keep the ranch running...dealing with the Steelgraves..." Quentin glanced around to make sure none of the family was around, then back at Harriet. "You remember the gunfight I told you about from a while back?...Well, that was the good time...They have been building strength and they don't care who they hire or bring in, as long as they have guns and aren't afraid to use them..."


The kettle began to whistle and Quentin stood and grabbed the handle with a cloth and turned, pouring the hot water into both cups and placing the kettle back onto the stove before resuming his seat.


"Anyway...Elias and his kin have had a few setbacks of their own but mostly sideshows compared to their main goals. Things are going to get worse long before they get better. I know it deep down inside, and I think we're going to need help if we're going to keep the Steelgraves at bay. Marshal Guyer means well but he doesn't have the numbers to keep order in town and help us."


"Then, we find help," Harriet replied firmly, "and we do whatever it takes to protect this place and the twins' inheritance. You and Shade surely know men that will hire on. What about Hannah Cory? I heard she left the marshal's office. She is an excellent markswoman and fearless on top of that. She couldn't live in the bunkhouse, but we could house her in one of the unused family cabins."



Edited by Stormwolfe
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Quentin looked thoughtful, nodding slowly. "Hannah would definitely be an asset. If she's willing to help I would be happy to have her..." Quentin prepared his tea without thinking as he contemplated. "...We could use more than that for help. Even if everyone was here who would normally be here we would still be outnumbered. Problem is...we start hiring randomly, we chance maybe bringing in some of Steelgraves' own people in and end up with snakes within our own walls."


Quentin took a sip of his tea and then looked at Harriet. "You know of any gangs of hardened gunmen with a streak of goodness willing to help out a besieged ranch?" He chuckled at the very idea.


Harriet shook her head after taking a sip of the tea, "No. We cannot risk random hires. But you know people and I am certain Shade does also. Maybe Hannah as well." She tipped her head to one side, "And do not count me out in a fight Quentin Cantrell," she paused, "The tea is excellent, by the way."


Quentin smiled. "Thanks, I've had plenty of time to practice. My first attempts were pretty bad..." Quentin then straightened as if remembering something. "That reminds me, I want you to have my old hideaway pistol. It's in the gun room, and I think it would make a good protection for you, especially with the way things are going around here."


Harriet's eyes danced. She was accomplished with knives and throwing stars. Fang, her former guardian and more of a father figure than her actual father had been, had seen to that. He had also taught her some of his Far Eastern fighting styles, but more as a way for her to center herself when stressed which had been often in the olden days. Soon after arriving in Kalispell, Quentin had started teaching her to shoot. She had practiced on her own and even gotten some tips from Shade. While in Boston, she had continued her self-training by attending a new and somewhat outlandish shooter's club that actually allowed women clientele.


Rising to her feet, she nodded in the direction of the gun room, "Lead on. No time like now to show me the pistol and tell me more of what is going on around here," Harriet suggested, "I think you'll be proud of my progress with firearms."


Quentin gestured and fell in beside her as they headed in the direction of the gun room. "Progress? I seem to recall the police in a city like Boston would take a dim view of someone practicing shooting in their backyard...how did you manage that?"


Harriet waved a hand airily, "Oh yes, Boston's gun laws are very restrictive. Too much so, if you ask me," she said adamantly. "I took out a membership at a new shooting club that had an indoor range in town and property where they had an outdoor range and skeet shooting area. They also offered instruction. I learned as much as I could in the little time I had to spend at the club."


They walked into the gun room and Quentin moved to a nearby table. He picked up a cloth wrapped object and slowly unfolded the covering. He turned and showed the Colt revolver to Harriet, extending it toward her. This one was different than the two Quentin currently wore. It's barrel was even shorter and the sights were filed down a bit. Quentin watched her take the offered revolver


The Cimarron Firearms' Doc Holliday combo says “I'm Your Huckleberry!” -  GAT Daily (Guns Ammo Tactical)


Harriet took the proffered pistol and smiled. "It feels great in my hand." She confidently checked to make sure it was unloaded before holding it out and down, sighting down the barrel. "I love it. My Deringer has limited capacity and is really only good for a close up threat. Fortunately, I've kept up my knife practice too. Fang was able to join me in Boston and travel back to San Francisco with me." It had been good to spend time with her firm's troubleshooter, former guardian, and very dear friend.


Quentin grinned. "I have a practice area out back. I expanded the one Shade had..." Quentin looked a little abashed. "...I figured I needed to get back in practice."


Harriet shifted the pistol to her right hand and lay her left on his arm, "I understand, Quentin. I read your letters time and time again and found a newsstand that got in the Kalispell paper...out of date, but still news. We need for Shade to get home too. If necessary, I will travel to Arizona and track him down or send Fang."


Quentin shook his head and rested a hand on hers. "You just got here...you're not going anywhere. If we have to go hunt for Shade you can send word to Fang, but for now you're staying right here..." Quentin grinned wider. "...Now, what would you like to do, next?"





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Harriet almost blushed at Quentin's hand on hers and his question. She was no longer a schoolgirl though and not given to blushes and giggles even at the touch of his hand which she had longed for while away in Boston. 


Laughing, Harriet nodded at the pistol in her hand, "First, I want to go change into appropriate attire and then I want to go out to the practice field and try this out.  After that, a quiet dinner with you and the twins and catching up on all the news. Checking in at my office in town can wait until tomorrow. I have a ton of correspondence to go through, but not today."



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