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Mature Content: No

With: Mike Wentworth, Wentworth Brothers
Location: Blackbird Lodge, front terrace
When: Early September 1875
Time of Day: Mid-to-Late Morning

 

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According to some folks, Blackbird Lodge had been built backward. The courtyard and main entrance were on the side of the house that the family considered its rear. Isadora Thornton had wanted it that way, so the coming and going of horses in the courtyard would not distract from the vista of the vast crater lake and the mountains. Ranch hands and others that had had business with John Caleb Thornton could come and go without disturbing her. Isadora's husband had, at first, objected to the building site she had chosen for that very reason. She had overridden his objections by pointing out that it also meant only one main entrance to defend should the need arise. No one would be able to enter the house from the side of the house that overlooked the lake. It made perfect sense to her and, after thinking it over for a while, John Caleb had agreed with her.


Shade had grown up with stories of how Blackbird Lodge came to be where it was. The house was built on a flat expanse of bedrock that jutted out from one of the lower peaks of the Chogun Mountain Range. Although technically not a basin, it had been named Moonlight Basin due to the slight concavity of the outcropping. The area was surrounded by creeks and waterfalls, all making their way down the mountain to the Chogun River or into Lost Lake, which lay far below the house's front terrace. The house had been built out of local river stone, massive redwoods hauled in from the west coast, and local oak and aspen. Shade's father had spared no expense, including having massive windows built into the front of the house so that one always had a view of the mountains, forests, and lake. The lodge was as beautiful as his mother had been and as rugged as his father. It reflected his parents' personalities perfectly.


The morning had been well advanced when Shade made his way down from the office and study attached to the master bedroom. He had honestly wanted to continue living in the downstairs room that had been his when he was a kid, but Laura Hale had put her foot down. While she and her husband, Ezra, lived in the lodge, it had made sense for them to live in the upstairs master suite. Ezra often worked on the ranch's ledgers late into the night. It was easier for him to do that in the office and study that was attached to the main bedroom. It had also kept Laura near the children's room. Laura had insisted that Shade needed to take over the master suite so that he would be on the same floor as the five-year-old twins. It made sense. It had also seemed to bring home the fact that the Hales were retiring and moving away and that everything was changing.


Mary Miller, the ranch's housekeeper and cook, greeted him with a bit of a frown. Her sharp eyes noted that he was leaning heavier on the cane than he had been. The repeated trips up and down the stairs required to move his belongings had left the injured leg sore.


"You go sit out on the terrace, Mr. Shade. It's a beautiful day. I'll bring coffee and sandwiches." She did not scold him for coming down late since she had brought his breakfast up to his office just after dawn. "When do you think Mr. Quentin and Miss Harriet will get back?"


"Not for a few days yet, Mary. I figure it'll take them longer to move twenty-five head to the south end of Lake Flathead than it'll take Sage to move the hundred and fifty all the way to Missoula," Shade replied with a chuckle.


Taking Mary's advice, Shade exited the house and settled in one of the chairs on the terrace. Leaning forward, he dragged one of the smaller chairs over so that he could prop his leg up. A few minutes later, Mary came out with a tray of sandwiches and a pot of coffee. Shade poured himself a cup of coffee and picked up a sandwich.

 

@JulieS

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"Would you look at that," Charlie said as he pushed his hat up a little.  "How big do you reckon it is?"

 

"Big enough and then some, " Mike replied as he took in the large house that was up ahead.  Matt had gotten them the directions to find the main house but he hadn't told them how large it was.  Mike smiled, remembering that Matt hadn't had the chance to come out here yet so he wouldn't have known either.

 

Pulling out the paper with the directions on it, Mike could see that the main house was called Blackbird Lodge.  The name now made sense and it wasn't the type of large ranch houses he was used to in Wyoming.  This Shade Thornton they were coming to see didn't sound like the type of fellow who would own a house like this.

 

Even though he had done some research into the ranch and the owners before deciding to apply for the foreman's job that had been advertised, he was still surprised at how big everything seemed to be here.  Both Montana and Wyoming were places were the word big was understatement.

 

Motioning to Charlie and Sam, Mike kicked his horse and started towards the house.  As he neared it, he realised that there was something odd about it.  The front entrance wasn't where it was supposed to be.   He steered his horse and made his way to the back of the house, hoping he would see some sort of entry along the way.

 

Turning the corner at the rear, he was relieved to finally found what looked to be the front.  Sighting a nearby hitching rail, he and his brothers went over to it and tied up their horses.

 

Going up to the door, Mike knocked on it while Sam and Charlie spent the time checking the house over.  After a few minutes, the door opened and an older woman stepped out.  "Yes, can I help you?"

 

Mike took off his hat, and smiled.  "Howdy ma'am.  Is Mr. Thornton in?"

 

Mary slowly took her time to look over the man at the door.  She could see that he wasn't alone and that the other two were smiling back at her.  For a moment, she wished she was a little bit younger but then she remembered where and who she was.  "I'm guessing you're here about the foreman's job."

 

Nodding, Mike replied with a firm "Yes, ma'am."

 

"It figures."  Mary opened the door wider to let all three of them in.  "Wait here and I'll let Mr. Thornton know that you're here."

 

As they waited for the woman to return, Mike, Sam and Charlie spent the next few minutes taking in their surroundings.

 

@Stormwolfe

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The morning was fading toward noon. Shade was still relaxing on the terrace, content to stare at the stunning scenery. He had been joined by Clara Redmond and his five-year-old niece and nephew, Cody and Nettie. The twins were playing nearby, talking to one another in low voices. Occasionally, Shade heard a word or two and realized that while they were almost familiar, the words were not in any English dictionary he had seen. It appeared that the twins communicated to one another in a language all their own. He found it interesting and determined that he would ask them about it when he read to them at night.

 

Speaking of reading...

 

Clara had determined that it was her duty to read to Shade to help him relax and keep his mind alert. After all, at his age, injuries could lead to other detrimental impacts on his health. He had grinned when she made her pronouncement, barely refraining from asking her exactly how old she thought he was. Shade was still amused, but he enjoyed Clara's company and their often spirited conversations. He had also persuaded her to read from some of his history books and biographies of prominent persons past and present. From time-to-time, Shade interrupted the reading when something of interest got his attention. He had an old pair of service binoculars with him that he used to observe the various wild things that inhabited the area around the lake. 


The next interruption came when Mary stepped out on the terrace and cleared her throat. "Mr. Shade, some gentlemen are here to see you about the job openings, including the foreman's position." There was a note of relief in her voice. Mary's husband, Sage Miller, was the ranch's night foreman. With Shade and Ezra Hale injured, he had been trying to pull extra shifts to keep things running right. She knew that Shade had offered him the foreman's position, but he had declined. He liked working nights and the extra money it brought in.


"Show them out here, please, Mary," Shade said. It was simply too beautiful a day to go back into the house. He thought of asking Clara to take the twins inside but changed his mind. It wouldn't hurt the kids to hear him talking to the men. After all, someday it would be their job to run things.


A few moments later, Mary returned with the visitors in tow. Stating that she would return with more sandwiches and a pitcher of iced tea, Mary withdrew. Shade gazed at the three men for a moment and came to the conclusion that they had to be related in some way. He turned his dark blue eyes onto the oldest of the three. 


Shade indicated his injured leg, "Please forgive me for not standing. Lost a fight with a bear. I'm Shade Thornton. This is Miss Clara Redmond, a family friend." His voice was pleasant with the tone leaving the impression that he was inviting them to introduce themselves.

 

@JulieS  @Wayfarer

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After a few minutes, the woman returned and asked them to follow her.  As they walked through the house, Mike was impressed.  Even his previous boss didn't have a house as large as this one was.

 

Going out onto the terrace, Mike could see that there was a man, a young lady and two children.  He looked over to his brothers and he noticed that Charlie was looking a bit uncomfortable.  After the introductions were made, he went over and shook hands with Thornton.  "I'm Mike Wentworth and the fair haired one is my brother Sam.  The other one is my brother, Charlie."

 

Sam greeted Shade and the others, remarking that he and Charlie were already acquainted with Miss Redmond.  For a moment, Mike wondered how they had met the young lady but then he realised who she was.  Judging by the way Charlie was acting, she would have to be the one he had a run it with the other day.

 

Not wanting to draw attention away from the purpose of their visit, Mike turned his attention back to Shade, "I understand that you have a position open for foreman and hopefully for a couple of ranch hands as well."

 

@Stormwolfe

 

 

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Clara lowered the book upon the entrance into the room of the three gentlemen. Her eyes went wide at the sight of two of them then. She knew those two alright. Closing the book she said nothing though and allowed Shade to do the introductions for the two of them. As her name was announced she nodded and gave a polite enough smile.

 

The apparent oldest brother did the introductions for the trio of newcomers. Clara's hazel eyes focused on the two she knew before speaking up.

 

"Yes indeed, I have met them. Samuel is quite the gentleman, it is good to see you again, sir," she addressed the middle one.

 

"Hello again, Charlie," she added, without bothering to attach any compliments but at least she did not toss out any criticisms either.

 

But the men were there not for social reasons but job seeking as their spokesman now pointed out. So she sat there primly and let Shade handle such affairs.

@Stormwolfe @JulieS

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Shade chuckled, "There you go, Mr. Wentworth. You have already passed the first hurdle. Any friend of Clara's is a friend of mine." He gestured at the chairs that were scattered around. "Please have a seat."

 

Clara gave a Cheshire Cat grin to Charlie, knowing he probably was not thrilled to hear that conversational tidbit.

 

Just then, Mary entered with sandwiches, lemonade and iced tea. "I'll bring coffee out in a bit, making a fresh pot." She disappeared back inside, intent on her own work.

 

Cody and Nettie looked up from where they were playing. However, since Clara and Shade seemed at-ease with the strangers, they returned to their activities. Five years old was still a bit young to care overmuch about ranch business.

 

"The primary job we're hiring for is the day foreman. Sage Miller, our housekeeper's husband, is our night foreman and will be continuing in that role. He didn't want to make the change to days but is and will be a valuable resource. The Millers have been with us for a very long time," Shade paused for a moment. "We are losing our senior foreman as well as two assistant hands since his wife and eldest son worked here too. That means I can possibly run to hiring more than one position."

 

"Can you tell me a little about your work experience? Do you have references from any former jobs?" Shade was well aware that most ranch hands came and went. He wanted someone that was interested in staying so was being a bit more cautious than normal. Shade also guessed they must be related to the new hotel owner in town, Matt Wentworth. That might be incentive for them to remain in the area.

 

@JulieS

Edited by Wayfarer (see edit history)

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Fair enough, Mike though as he listened to Shade.  He watched as his two brothers found seats and sat on them, keeping a little bit further back to allow him to speak for them.  It was good to hear that there might be another couple of positions available.

 

Reaching into his coat pocket he pulled out a piece of paper and handed it over to Shade, "This a reference from my previous employer back in Wyoming.  I was foreman at his ranch for about two years or so.  I would still be there if there hadn't been a family emergency."

 

Not wanting to go on about the circumstances that had brought them, he decided to expand more on his and his brothers' experience.  "I've been working as a ranch hand since the end of the war.  Sam's been working as one for over seven years, mainly in Nebraska and brother Charlie, well..."  He smiled, "He's just starting out but he's willing and eager to learn."

 

Quickly, going over what Shade had said, Mike got the impression that the man wanted people who would be here for the long haul, "We're looking at staying on a while around here as we have an older brother living in town.  We appreciate that you are willing to at least hear us out."

 

@Stormwolfe

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Shade read the letter that Mike had handed him. When finished, he folded it and handed it back, "That's one solid reference." Before continuing, he pointed to the thick roast beef and cheddar sandwiches that Mary had brought, "Please help yourselves and excuse me for a moment. Clara, will you help me get the twins set up with a sandwich and something to drink?" He carefully got to his feet and called out, "Nettie, Cody - come eat," he gestured at a nearby low table that was ideal for the kids.

 

"Of course, Shade," Clara nodded and set the book aside then stood up, "Excuse me, gentlemen."

 

It was all rather easy, both children were hungry and they liked such sandwiches so Clara needed to do little other than watch as they then settled down to eat. Clara went back into the kitchen and returned with a pitcher of fresh milk, filling their glasses. Once they were served and happily chewing away, she then reached for a sandwich herself. As she munched on it standing over the kids, she once more listened into the ongoing conversation.

 

Returning to his seat, Shade reached for a sandwich and the tea pitcher before sitting back down, "Back when I did the hirin' for the place I worked before coming home, I depended on instinct more than a bunch of formal questions. I've not met your brother Matt, but I have heard good things about the Belle-St. Regis since he took over. What do you say to a month's trial for all three of you? We can put Charlie on up here at the house and main barn until he gets his ranch legs under him. It's forty dollars a month and your gear, if you need it. As foreman, Mike, you get the option of the foreman's cabin in the valley next to the bunkhouse, or the foreman's quarters in the bunkhouse. Sound fair?"

 

@JulieS

Edited by Wayfarer (see edit history)

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18 hours ago, Shade Thornton said:

Returning to his seat, Shade reached for a sandwich and the tea pitcher before sitting back down, "Back when I did the hirin' for the place I worked before coming home, I depended on instinct more than a bunch of formal questions. I've not met your brother Matt, but I have heard good things about the Belle-St. Regis since he took over. What do you say to a month's trial for all three of you? We can put Charlie on up here at the house and main barn until he gets his ranch legs under him. It's forty dollars a month and your gear, if you need it. As foreman, Mike, you get the option of the foreman's cabin in the valley next to the bunkhouse, or the foreman's quarters in the bunkhouse. Sound fair?"

 

"It's fine by me," Mike replied.  He looked over to his two brothers who nodded in return, "And it's fine by them."

 

Both Sam and Charlie got up and grabbed a sandwich each before sitting back down again.  Charlie was careful to avoid looking at Clara.  Knowing that he might have to spend some time with her was a bit unsettling but if wanted to be a ranch hand there would be a heap of stuff that he would have to put up with.

 

Clara, on the other hand, kept her eye on Charlie, just waiting for their eyes to meet but when he avoided such contact she chose not to speak to the young man. She was not looking for a scene here.  If he was determined to simply ignore her...well then....fine!

 

Mike wanting to get the formalities over first, continued speaking to Shade, "The gear will help as we could only bring what we could carry without overloading our horses.  As for our lodgings, I'll take the foreman's quarters in the bunkhouse for the time being and as for Charlie...he should be okay with staying here."  A smirk came to his face, "The last thing I want is a hand who's too soft from taking it too easy."

 

Sam nodded, "Yeah, he left a life of luxury to join us humble people.  The sooner he starts learning the better."

 

As Charlie was about to answer, Mike spoke up, "We'll continue this discussion on the way back to town to pick up our gear. We can start the day after tomorrow."  He paused before going on, "Is there anything we need to know in particular about working here?"

 

@Stormwolfe

Edited by Wayfarer (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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