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894584767_LaytonHarris.jpg.264df16e7b30ef39de7a6557443a2038.jpgHarris stepped to the counter and told the clerk the Marshal was covering the cost of whatever the young woman wanted, to which he received an approving nod. "Thank you." He guessed it was a good thing to be the most powerful man i town, unless of course, Elias Steelgrave was in town.

 

"Get yourself at least two outfits." He called out to her. Once he had her settled at the hotel, it was back to the Evergreen and whatever might might be next. In all his time with the Steelgraves he had never had an assignment quite like this one, and he would just as soon not have another like it. He had spent his life working from the saddle, and this was certainly not work that could be done from the saddle.

 

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"Might help if I knew what his plan was..." she muttered to herself, though not loud enough to be heard by Harris or by the clerk.  She looked over the remaining choices of dresses, shirts and skirts.  Was she supposed to masquerade as a saloon girl?  A simple ranch wife?  Leave it to men to think that "women's clothes" was enough of a description to go on.

 

Maybe it was just the nerves that had been kicked up by learning about the Pinkerton, but now she felt suddenly anxious about picking the clothes.  As if this were some test that she was being given, but without enough information.  Since she'd already selected a plain outfit, she reluctantly explored the fancier ones.  If the conversation with Elias offered any clues, he expected her to flirt her way to information and secrets that he could use.  

 

So she found a light blue dress that was still conservative compared to the attire she'd worn at Donley's, but had a daringly low neckline compared to some of the other dresses in stock and sleeves that came only slightly past the elbows.  

 

Dorothy carried her two chosen outfits up toward the clerk.   "How 'bout a lil' bag a them peanuts too?  And a couple a them peppermints?" Her empty stomach was complaining at the site of the jars of sweets and other food stuffs, reminding her again she'd had nothing but the coffee since last night's beans with Billy and Greer.   And there was no evidence a meal was forthcoming any time soon.   "Sure the Marshal won't mind too much." 

 

@Flip

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Her empty stomach was complaining at the site of the jars of sweets and other food stuffs, reminding her again she'd had nothing but the coffee since last night's beans with Billy and Greer.   And there was no evidence a meal was forthcoming any time soon.   "Sure the Marshal won't mind too much."

 

“Nope, not at all. Sooner we get you to the hotel and settled in, the sooner we get to the café and eat.” Harris stated. “Likely he’ll meet us at the café an answer all your questions as well as his plan for the Pinkerton and keeping you out of the way. He’s got plans for you that don’t include having him take you back wherever he’s from.”

 

Layton Harris was a cautious man, a careful man, one of the reasons he had lasted as long as he had with the Steelgraves. It was simple, give them what they want when they wanted it, no questions asked. He’d become foreman because he understood those facts about his employer.

 

“Keep in mind, you do what is asked of you when they ask it and you’ll get along just fine.”

 

Tag @Juls

 

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Dorothy's eyes flicked quickly toward the clerk as Layton mentioned the Pinkerton right in front of him, surprised that Harris would be so casual about letting another in on the 'secret'.  Did that mean the store clerk worked for the Steelgraves too?   Or that the clerk had reason to fear the Steelgraves?  

 

She found no answers on the clerk's face as he busied himself totaling the items and then wrapping them.  Still, she lapsed into an uneasy silence until she and Harris were leaving the Mercantile, goods in hand, before finally voicing her concern...  "Ain't it... kinda askin' for trouble ta be talkin' bout them kinda plans in a café?"

 

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"Ain't it... kinda askin' for trouble ta be talkin' bout them kinda plans in a café?"

 

Harris laughed at her statement as they reached their horses. “You’ve a lot to learn about Whitefish, Dotty. As far as anyone is concerned Case Steelgrave runs this town, and everything that goes on here. But he keeps the town safe, and people here like that.”

 

He gestured with his sweeping arm up and down the street. “Ask anyone, they’re happy here and want no outsider poking around, or up to no good. And, he has the men to enforce it. Hotel’s right there, we can lead the horse over and get you settled in.”

 

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Something about Layton's statements didn't sit quite right with Dorothy.  Maybe it was simply that he'd laughed at her concerns, but she thought there was something else bugging her, she just couldn't put her finger on exactly what it was.  

 

You're just bein' paranoid... she chided herself, which did nothing to quell her unease at the idea of everyone in the whole ding town knowing she was running from a Pinkerton.   How long until they all knew everything else about her too?  So much for a fresh start...

 

Betraying nothing of these thoughts, she nodded and faked a smile to Harris ...  faking smiles was something she'd gotten talented at back at Donley's ... as she picked up Pongo's reins to lead him over toward the hotel.  "I guess I do," she said, as if in agreement. 

 

For now, she tied her steed to the hitching post outside the hotel.  "Mind holdin' these a minute?" she asked, already handing Harris the two dresses to free up her own hands to untie and collect her saddle bags, which she slung over a shoulder.   "Thanks..." she'd take them back if the man didn't want to be seen carrying the dresses.  Or, if he didn't mind, allow him to carry them into the hotel for her. 

 

 

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Layton Harris took the bundle, not like it was the first time he’d carried parcels for a woman. The mounted the steps, Layton using his free hand to open the door for her and then following her inside.

 

The clerk looked up, taking in both of them. “Ah yes, Marshal Steelgrave made arrangements and paid in advance ma’am. No need of signing in, that’s all been taken care of.” He explained cheerfully, turning and taking a key off of the rack. “Here you go miss, one-oh-three, just down the hall on the left. If you need anything, just let us know.”

Harris was smiling.

 

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"That was fast..." she commented.  The Marshal must have come straight here while she was dress shopping.  

 

Dorothy took the offered key with a smile to the clerk and then took the bundle off of Layton.  "I s-pose I'll be right back then.  Gimmie a jiffy to change," she said, then headed back to the room.  It was surprisingly nice...  at least to someone that had used her saddle as pillow almost every night for the last few months.  And thoughts of dinner almost went out the window as she tested out the edge of the bed.  Almost.  Her stomach growled and she opened the bundle from the Mercantile to find the peanuts.

 

"This is somethin' I might could get used to," she said aloud to no one, looking over the room as she ate a handful of peanuts.  "Just gotta steer clear of the ding Pinkerton..." she added, like it was no big deal.  But she knew it was a big deal.  A very big deal. 

 

She took off the gun belt and went about looking for somewhere to hide the guns and the money.  Under the bed seemed too obvious, but there really weren't a lot of options.  So she stuffed both the guns and the money between the springs and the mattress, so at least one couldn't just see them with a casual glance under the bed.  Later, when she had some time alone, she'd find a better spot.  But she sure wasn't going to take the guns to dinner.  That was just asking to have the Marshal take them off of her.  

 

Some 15 minutes later, she was returning to the front desk.  She'd changed into the light blue dress, combed her hair up into a loose bun and left her brown and black hat back in the room.   She'd even applied a little bit of the eyeliner she always kept handy...  even being lost in the woods she hadn't lost track of her eyeliner.

 

Dorothy did her best to put on a confident air, but it was the first time in a long time she'd been around men without the assurances the guns offered and she felt almost naked without them. 

 

 

 

@Flip

 

 

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Some 15 minutes later, she was returning to the front desk.  She'd changed into the light blue dress, combed her hair up into a loose bun and left her brown and black hat back in the room.   She'd even applied a little bit of the eyeliner she always kept handy...  even being lost in the woods she hadn't lost track of her eyeliner.

 

 Layton Harris was not oblivious to beauty, and it could be argued that the woman he was looking at was not the same one who had ascended th staircase minutes before. He smiled. “A pleasant surprise, I’d say.” He stated approvingly.

 

Dorothy did her best to put on a confident air, but it was the first time in a long time she'd been around men without the assurances the guns offered and she felt almost naked without them.  

 

“So, it’s over to the café and see what Case has to say, and I’m sure he will answer all your questions.” Harris said. “Right this way, Miss Parsons.” He opened the door to let her out ahead of him, as gentlemanly as possible. He offered his arm on the porch to escort her across the street.

 

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"I'd still feel a bit better if it were Miss Jackson instead," she said.  Despite Layton's claim that Case Steelgrave ran this town, and no doubt that he did based on what she'd seen and heard so far, she saw no reason to tempt the fates by letting everyone and their brother know exactly who she was.   There was a ding Pinkerton on her tail after all.  The less folks that knew, the less that could rat her out, intentionally or accidentally.

 

Or was it just that she didn't want the whole town to know she was a whore and a thief?  Probably a bit of both.

 

When Layton offered her his arm, she hesitated only the briefest of moments before accepting and allowed him to escort her to the café, pushing down a small flutter of nerves.  No doubt Case Steelgrave would have some questions of his own he'd want answered... 

 

 

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894584767_LaytonHarris.jpg.264df16e7b30ef39de7a6557443a2038.jpg"The Miss Jackson it is, I don't Case will have any objection to whtever you want to call yourself." He  agreed, guiding her to the front door of the cafe. "Now," he began as they reached the door, "be yourself and don't worry. I guarantee everything's going to be just fine." He reached for the white porcelain knob and turned it. 

 

Case looked up as the door opened and smiled, the bare inflection of a smile. She was pretty, he granted her that. More importantly she moved well, dressed appropriately and, could be used in a myriad of ways.


The door open, Harris let her enter first. the warmth of the room engulfing him as he saw where Case was sitting, at the back of the room facing the door. "This way." As if she could not see the star on his chest. "Case, the woman your father sent. Goes by the name Jackson." He pulled out a chair for her.

 

Case rose to his feet and took her hand. Welcome to Whitefish, is there a first name to go with Jackson?" He greeted.

 

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Dorothy's eyes swept quickly over the marshal as they approached.  The man was tall!  He towered a full foot over her.  And she thought he looked...  rougher than his father. Not that that was a bad thing, of course.  Bobby'd been about as rough as they came, after all. 

 

She returned Case's smile with one of her own: any uneasiness she felt was carefully hidden away.  She allowed him to take her hand as if she were a lady. It was rough, a bit calloused, various scratches adorned the skin and several of her cuticles were ripped ... nothing that wouldn't heal up in a few days or a week now that she wasn't lost in the wilderness.  Her fingernails had been scrubbed clean in the bath earlier, but had needed to be cut very short to even them up again. 

 

"Welcome to Whitefish, is there a first name to go with Jackson?"

 

"Thanks, Mr. Steelgrave.  It's Dotty," she answered.   Maybe he'd want her to change it to something more drastically different than her real name, but for now, she'd leave it there.  It was hard enough getting used to 'Dotty'.  It was not a nickname she'd ever gone by before the past few months.

 

 

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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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