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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.

Carson Tyndall

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Mature Content: A good possibility. 

With: Carson Tyndall (NCP)
Location: Tyndall, Jeneah, and Oakley Law Offices
When: Summer 1876
Time of Day: Mid-day






The message was concise and to the point, 'Elias needs you here.' It was signed simply Latham. So a visit that attorney Carson Tyndall had planned to make within the next month to six weeks now had it's time table moved up substantially. It would just be an inconvenience, he had a case pending that either Jeneah or Oakley could handle in his stead. But he hated having his schedule upended by anyone, especially Steelgrave.


The man had no concern for others or their lives, well he had a few things to tell Mister Steelgrave about his finances, and his wife. He suspected his daughter Leah, but proof was not so simple to come by as it was on Elinor Steelgrave and perhaps his son Zeke who handled the families non-ranching business interests, and and fate would have it, answers to his mother, Elinor.


From what he had reviewed, actually nailing down who had done what to Elias was no easy chore, even with the hired investigators, one of whom had been pulled from the Missouri River, a hole in his forehead, outside St. Louis. Of course there was no link to Elinor Steelgrave, she was in New Orleans at the time, and had been for some time, but Tyndall suspected that she had something to do with the killing, even if she was not present when the shot was fired. No killer was ever captured either.


The portfolio he had to present to Elias was not anything that would make him happy, and Elias in a rage, which would most likely be the result, was nothing he was looking forward to. The man was unpredictable when his temper was lost.


So coach reservations would need to be made post haste.


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The stage that would take him to Kalispell would not leave for two more days as it only made the trip once a week at present, with no thought of adding another trip any time soon, but that could always change with mining booms, not that one was expected in the Kalispell area. Other parts of the state were rich in minerals, but nothing so far in the remote town.


Carson Tyndall hated travel by stagecoach, and by horseback even more. He was a man of comfort, trains, that was the way to travel when absolutely necessary. A summons from Elias Steelgrave, unfortunately, was absolutely necessary and the stage was the only way to get there expeditiously. At least Kalispell had a very fine hotel , so his stay would be comfortable at least, as for the rest of the trip, that remained to be seen.


The amount of money that had disappeared was substantial. Upwards of fifty thousand dollars. But pinning the embezzlement on any one party was proving difficult. He had suspected Leah, but with her myriad of investments it was all but impossible to know where the money had come from.


Elinor, almost as difficult, but the dead investigator certainly cast a damning light in her direction, though it was clear she did have her own money, but hardly close to the amount that was missing, which left Zeke Steelgrave, yet, he was his fathers son, to be sure, yet there was always that chance that Zeke had been involved in skimming funds. All of it remained to be seen, and for Carson, Elinor and Zeke were the prime suspects.


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It was late afternoon, near the closing hour when former Pinkerton Agent Bradley Fairchild arrived at the office of Carson Tyndall. He was a tall man, well dressed, brown hair and eyes, and a smug look about him. But for Carson Tyndall, Fairchild was well worth his fee.


"I have reviewed all of Ezekiel Steelgrave's finances, unfortunately, unless he's burning the money, he is not taking it. Though I have yet to see if somehow cash is being funneled either to mother or back to his father. It's all here in the report."


"And Elinor? Anything new on the estranged Missus Steelgrave?"


"Yes Mister Tyndall, these is a bit of new information." Fairchild began, "She has relocated from St. Louis to New Orleans. She has accommodations at a hotel named 'The Cajun Queen' on the Mississippi. Almost adjacent, I might add, to the River Princess steamboat, which is docked close by. And which is quite convenient for the lady in question. There are men, but none like the gentleman in St. Louis, someone that is constant, in fact I have lost track of him, Ellisworth I believe was his name.


"Mister Jared Ellisworth, he was present when Elinor arrived in St. Louis, but he was not bankrolling her, it was she that paid the bills. So he is well in the clear. But that he has since disappeared, that is of some concern. Now, Thacher Speckman, the agent killed by parties unknown, left no trail. I had hoped to uncover notes, or reports, anything, but his place was clean as a newborn. Obviously whoever killed him cleaned the room." At this juncture he paused.


"I do not pretend to be a financial expert Mister Tyndall, but in review of Miss Leah Steelgrave's  financial transactions, there is nothing suspicious. She is one of the shrewdest of traders, sir. Her transactions are to date, above reproach. Profits are routinely reinvested and more profits earned. If there is an initial trail, it is long buried beneath transactions. She has outpaced her father several time over."


"And what now Bradley?" Tyndall asked.


"Keep at it, sir. For as long as you like. We might want to focus on Elinor, sir. She seems to most vulnerable if I can get closer to anything resembling financial records, not so much the current ones, but those from the time in St. Louis."


"Thank you, yes, please do keep on, we need to know where Mister Steelgrave's money went." Tyndall concluded.


"Very well, Mister Tyndall. I shall be in New Orleans at the Orleans House." And with that Bradley Fairchild  left the office, as Carson Tyndall sat back reflection on the mess he had to present to his client.


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Tyndall had his secretary take a message to telegraph to Elias Steelgrave, it would read:


"Elias, Have news and will be leaving tomorrow for Kalispell, expect several days before I arrive.



No sense sending personal news via the open wire where any key jockey could intercept the message. Now that not have been what they were called, but it was what Tyndall called them as he had no respect for them, though they were in good company, Carson Tyndall felt everyone was beneath him.


All of the necessary files that would show the work done by him and by Fairchild, and provide the necessary proof of any and all accusations presented, or proof of any innocence discovered. That would be a brief case full of papers. A lot for Elias to digest, but seemingly clearing his son Zeke, and with some reservation, his daughter Leah.



Edited by Flip (see edit history)
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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!


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