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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.

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Mature Content: No

With: Sarah Thornton
Location: San Francisco
When: Late September 1875
Time of Day: Morning




Looking up at the clock, Sarah Thornton noted the time.  It wouldn't be much longer and she would be leaving San Francisco for good.  Maybe she could come back here one today but that was a bit of wishful thinking.  There were too many people who wanted her gone.


Earlier that morning she had said her final goodbyes to her father and mother.  They hadn't pressed her any further on why she had to go but her father had requested that she go on mission for him.  Initially, she had no real plans except to get on the train and go east until she found a place she liked the sound of.  Her father's request now gave her a purpose, at least in the short term.


Watching the other passengers milling around on the train platform, she thought about why she was here.  It had all started out innocently - another man vying for her attention and perhaps her hand in marriage.  When she stumbled upon his family's secret by accident, she had thought nothing of it until she realised she had learned too much. The man, maybe because of his attraction to her, had given her the option to leave or stay.  The implications in staying were made very clear to her and so she took the option of going.


Thankfully, the man and his family had given her a couple of weeks to get her affairs in order.  She was able to sell her most of her property, including the house she had lived in the last few years and most of her belongings.  What she didn't give to her parents or her brothers, was in the trunk that was now on board the train, along with a few items of clothing.  In her valise, she had a couple changes of clothing and toiletries for the trip along with personal papers including a large bank draft.


For the next few minutes, she made her way onto the train and into the private compartment she had booked.  Now that she knew where she was going, she wanted it to be as comfortable as possible.  This was the beginning of a very long trip and she had no idea where it would end up.

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  • 5 weeks later...

As the train made its way east, Sarah didn't have much to do except take in the scenery and write the occassional entry in her journal. One day, she thought she might put it all in a book as it would be an interesting read.  The story of girl born to the younger son of prosperous rancher, given only a cash inheritance to make his way in the world.  Instead of staying put, her father, Robert, had decided to try his luck in Philadelphia.  It was there that he had met her mother, Isabelle.


When she was nearly fifteen, her father had decided to go to San Francisco.  On the way there, they had stopped at the family ranch which was now owned by her uncle, John Caleb.  Staying there for a nearly a month, she and her brothers had gotten to know their cousins, Chance and Shade.  She had found both of them likeable and charming.


Over the following years, her father regularly wrote to her uncle.  She remembered hearing about Shade getting into some sort of trouble.  When she had asked her father to elaborate, he couldn't as John Caleb hadn't said any more than that.  She hadn't given it much though since then, but now that she was headed to Lost Lake Ranch, it intrigued her.


After her uncle had died, her father had kept in touch with Chance.  It was now a long overdue response to his last letter that had prompted him to ask her to go to Montana.  His concern for his nephew was evident and knowing what it would mean to him, she agreed to go.  It also gave her some purpose now that she had no idea of what she was going to do with her life.


What would she find in Montana?  She really hoped that Chance's last letter had gotten lost somewhere along the way.  The mail service was known to be unreliable at times, especially in places like middle of the country, where stagecoach and train robberies happened a lot.  It was better to think of that being reason, then the possibility of something much, much worse.

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  • 1 month later...

As the train continued to make it's way across the country, Sarah wondered more about her relatives in Montana.  She hoped that they would be welcoming enough to allow her stay at least until the Spring.  From what she knew the winters could be long and harsh which would make travelling hard.  She didn't relish the thought of spending the whole time in a lonely hotel room as she wanted to use the time to get to know Chance and his family.


Seeing the conductor walking down the aisle, she motioned to him.  The man smiled "Yes ma'am?"


"Could you tell me when we will be arriving in Helena?"


"Should be there by this time tomorrow, if'n we don't have any delays."


"Thank you." Sarah answered.


As the conductor went on his way, Sarah leaned back in her seat.  It had been a long trip due to a couple of overnight stops on the way that were caused by fallen trees and tracks that needed to be repaired.  Her first task, other than finding a hotel, was to find out when the next stage to Kalispell was leaving. Hopefully, it would be a day or two at the most.  At the very least, she would have enough time to send a couple of stories to her publisher in New York with the return address as the post office, or whatever they had there that served as one in Kalispell.


All she knew that no matter what happened where her cousin was concerned, she would be making Kalispell her temporary home.

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