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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.

The Bunkhouse

Mike Wentworth

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Mature Content: No

With: Mike Wentworth, Sam Wentworth, Lost Lake Ranch Hands NPCs
Location: Lost Lake Ranch Bunkhouse
When: Wednesday 15 September 1875
Time of Day: Afternoon




"Not bad. Not bad at all."


"Looks like everything is well kept and maintained," Mike said as he inspected the bunks.  "You should be okay."


"I should," Sam replied, "but it will depend on who I am sharing this with.  You're lucky to have a place on your own."


"One of the perks of being a foreman.  Maybe if I end up getting married and moving to the foreman's house, you can have my room."  He paused for a moment, "That is if I think you'll be good enough for it."


Sam smiled, "Oh, I'll be good enough for it.  I aim to be the top hand around here one day."


"That'll depend on how good the other hands are.  From what Shade told us and from what I can gather about the man himself, they will be nothing but the best."


"Yeah I figured that too but I think the challenge will be worth it."  Sam thudded a mattress in an effort to test how comfortable it was.  Satisfied that it was, he went over to his brother,  "Besides I got to have something to aim for, don't I?"


"You do,"  Mike answered.  Walking over towards the kitchen, he thought about what was ahead of him.  Most of the hands were away on drives and Shade didn't know how many of them would be returning.  Mike knew he would be overseeing a group of about sixteen, judging by the number of bunks.  There was room for more if needed but he would determine that later on.  The first thing he had to do was to take the measure of the four men who were here at the ranch.  They would be back soon and that's when the real work would start.  The job of foreman was something he was very experienced at but if he didn't have the respect of those who worked under him, then it wouldn't matter how good he was at his job.


After inspecting the kitchen and eating area, Mike looked over to Sam, who was busy deciding which of the unused bunks he liked the look of.  "I'm going to head over to my quarters now and get settled in.  The others should be here soon."


Sam acknowledged Mike with a nod and continued checking the bunks.  Mike smiled and walked over to the door that lead to his new home.


(To Be Continued)

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After a few more minutes, Sam finally decided on the bunk he wanted.  He looked around and couldn't see Mike anywhere.  Remembering, that Mike had said something about checking out his quarters, Sam smiled and went over to the table where he had left his things.


Just as he was picking up his saddle bag, the door to the bunkhouse opened and in walked four men, who by the looks of them had been working hard that day.  Two of them were wiping the dust off their clothes with their hats, while the other two were joking about some poor fellow who had gotten into trouble over a saloon girl, the previous Saturday.  All four men, stopped upon seeing Sam.


Sam, knowing that making a good first impression mattered, smiled and said "Howdy."


Stan Iverson, the oldest of the four men nodded, "Howdy."  They had been told that there would be some new fellows arriving today.  As he watched the new arrival go over to the bunk he had chosen, Stan wondered what the others were thinking.  As he looked over to his friends, he could see that Marty and Ben were already cooking up something.


Not worrying about what the others were doing, Sam unpacked his belongings and started putting them away.  However, he was aware when two of the men approached him.  They each took one side and seemed to be greatly interested in what he was doing.


Shifting his head from one side to another, Sam acknowledged them both with another "Howdy."


The taller one of the two was the first to speak.  "I'm Ben and this here's Marty."


Standing up straight, Sam was slightly pleased that he was about inch taller than Ben but was wise not show it.  "I'm Sam."


Marty, adjusted his posture in an effort to make himself a little taller before asking, "You the new foreman?"


"No, that would be my older brother, Mike."


"Your older brother, " Stan said slowly as he gazed over in the direction of the other man still with him.  "It's seems we weren't told the full story."


A smirk appeared on the face of Dan Morgan, "Sorry about that."


"Just how many are you?"


Turning to Marty, Sam smiled, "That depends.  Do you mean here on the ranch or here on the ranch and in Kalispell?"


Taking a moment to process what Sam had said, Marty's face showed his bewilderment, "You mean there's more than two of you."


"'Fraid so."


Marty motioned to Ben and the two of them went over to Stan and Dan.  Sam sat on the bunk, content with watching the four men in a huddle, discussing this latest development.


(to be continued)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Stepping into his new quarters, Mike took a good look.  Over in the far corner was a small wood stove which was big enough to put a coffee pot on it.  The stove was also a size that would be good enough to keep the room warm during the winter. To his right was a single wrought iron bed.


Closing the door behind him, he walked over to the bed and threw his gear on it.  After a quick test of the mattress to make sure that it was comfortable, he began to unpack his belongings.  Opposite the foot of the bed was a closet and dresser.  Over in the corner was a washstand with a pitcher and bowl which seemed in good condition.  He would have to find out what the bathing arrangements were for the ranch hands.  Surely, on a ranch this size and going by how well the hands were taken care, there would be a separate building that would be used as bathhouse for them.  That was another thing he would have to add to the list to find out about.


In the middle of the room was a small round table that looked big enough to seat four people, even though there were only two chairs there.  The size didn't really matter to him, just as long as he could fit all the paperwork he would be doing on it.


Just as he finished putting away the last of his things, he heard voices coming in from the main room.  It sounded like the men had returned.   Giving his vest a quick pull downwards, he made his way back into the room and found his brother sitting on his bunk watching four men having what look like heated discussion near the front door.


Upon seeing Mike enter the room, Sam got up and went over to his brother.  "Seems that one of them forgot to tell the others the full story."


Mike smiled.  Ranch hands were also joshing or playing tricks with one another and this place was no different.  Sam would have to be on the lookout but as foreman, he had no worries, so long as he stamped his authority right from the start.


Knowing that it was nearly dinner time, Mike stepped forward, "I hate to interrupt but which one of you is the cook?"


The four men, turned to see who the newcomer was.  Realising that it could only be their new boss, Stan was the first to speak, "That would be Dan Morgan."


After a nudge from Ben, Dan nodded, "That'll be me.  I've got everything prepared...just need to cook it, which I aim to do right now."


Dan headed for the kitchen, while the other three men went over to their bunks to take off their chaps.  Mike and Sam went over to the dining table and sat down to wait for them.


(to be continued)

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  • 3 weeks later...

A few hours later, Mike was sitting outside on the front porch of the bunkhouse.  Sam and the other four men were inside playing poker with the stakes being only matches, which suited Mike fine.  He didn't want any squabbles over money or anything else during the early stages of his tenure as ranch foreman.  Getting to know the men, the job, and the land was enough for the time being.


Every now and there he would hear the sound of laughter and it pleased him that Sam was getting along with the others despite the cool start.  Dinner had been a time for all of them to learn something about the people they would be working with.  Giving orders and telling the others what he expected from them could wait until the morning when they started work.  This was their time off, and he didn't want to interfere with that.


Leaning back in the chair, he began to think about all the events that had led to him being here.  He also thought about was ahead.  Learning a new job and living in a new area wasn't what worried him the most as he had done it before.  What worried him was the situation with Charlie.  First up the boy would have to overcome his disastrous first meeting with Miss Redmond.  Hopefully, the talk Matt, Sam and he had had with Charlie had sunk in.  Charlie's first day on the job would answer that.


The other main worry about Charlie was the fact that his running away from university meant that their father would end up here, most probably in the spring.  Mary, their sister was due to have her first baby at any time and with winter approaching, he wouldn't be able to come any earlier than that.  There was no doubt that his father would come as Charlie was his last chance to have a son fulfill his dreams of having a son enter politics.  Charles Wentworth Senior had already a substantial influence in Washington but having a son as a member of government or at least in the inner circle of men higher up in the ranks would allow him to do a lot more.


The thought of what his father had his sons to be, sickened Mike.  When he was in his teens, he had dreaded the thought of going into the life his father wanted him to have.  The relief he had felt when Matt finally broke away was immense and at the first chance he had, he to make his escape.  Thankfully, Sam had followed suit and for a while it looked that Charlie would be one to succumb to their father's wishes.


A yawn broke his thoughts and he realised that it was getting late.  If he wanted to be up early to have a quick look around at the nearby buildings before breakfast, he needed to go to bed now.  Standing up, he stretched before heading inside.

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