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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 Ghost – a story of Christmas Eve 1875


Arabella Mudd
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Mature Content: No (unless you're a scaredy-cat)

Author: Javia 

With: Anybody
Location: Stardust Saloon/The Barn where they put the Corpses
When: 12 / 24 / 1875
Time of Day: When it's Darkest, just before dawn.

 

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At a time when small children as young as six or seven were sent to work down coal mines, up chimneys, and in-between the death dealing jaws of industrial machinery, it was remarkable how unwilling Miss Matilda had been to let her anywhere near “front of house” when the saloon was open for business. But needs must when the Devil drives, and it wasn’t long before business had increased to such a high pitch (entirely due to Arabella’s influence, of course) that she had ended up waiting on tables, collecting up empties, and generally running up and down like a zany, fetching this, that and whatnot for Mr Flandry, while the assorted assembly of ranch hands, cowpokes, and rough and tumble men, laughed, drank, fought, farted, argued, gambled, throttled each other, and then laughed all over again; and all to the background music of that incessant jangling ‘pianner’ in the corner.

 

Not all of these ruffians appreciated being waited on by a “skinny little girl”: they were hoping for something a little more developed to go with their two fingers of red eye, and oft times would chide and tease her as she brought over a tray loaded with grog or beer or even tasty pastries, prepared by Miss Em’ over the road. There was a lot to criticize, but for some reason, these varmints seemed to take exception most of all to the extreme pallor of Arabella’s skin. “Ugh, it’s that whey-faced kid again! We wanna see a real woman!”, “By Jiminy, she’s as white as a sheet, what are you girl, a ghost?! Ha ha ha!”

 

Depending on the group at hand, sometimes she’d ignore them, sometimes she’d call them names right back, and sometimes (the cruelest retort of all) she’d plain bust out crying, accompanied by a wild claim that her mother had just died that day, and how could they be so mean? Sometimes it was her brother or sister or Father who had kicked the bucket, but generally it was killing off her mother that worked the best. She’d had a whole bunch of mean looking gunslingers in tears with that sorry lie on occasion, and another time the feller who’d insulted her nearly got his teeth kicked in by his outraged companions, until that old spoilsport Mr. Flandry had stepped in and broke it up.

 

However, sometimes, if the group of ruffians was of the right sort of temper, and the place was pretty quiet, and that dang-blasted pianner wasn’t jangling in the corner of the room, she would lean in conspiratorially to her tormentors and say something along the lines of “Well, If you gentlemen are brave enough to listen, I will tell you the true story of how I got this a-way…”

 

TBC

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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The four drifters seated in the saloon on this quiet Wednesday evening went by the arresting sobriquets of ‘Curly’, ‘Rowdy’, ‘Pete’ and ‘Short’. Whether they were straight up honest cowboys, or God forsaken rustlers, gunslingers or bounty hunters, nobody knew, and nobody really cared. They’d be here today and gone tomorrow, and if they made a little noise and acted a little rough, well at least they paid for their liquor promptly and in good hard cash.

 

Miss Matilda, as Arabella and Cookie called her, didn’t like the pallid little girl being out front: most folks assumed it was due to an unexpected protective and maternal side to the tow-haired, petite firebrand who ran the Stardust Saloon, others opined that it was more likely to do with Arabella’s short lived (but worryingly effective) attempt to start a Temperance movement from behind the bar of the place. When the management had realized exactly why mean and dusty looking cowhands were rolling up to the bar sporting a blue ribbon pinned to their shirts and ordering a sarsaparilla instead of two fingers of red eye, they soon put a stop that that, and Arabella was lucky not to be kicked back out into the snow.

 

That was one of many occasions when Cookie, for all her complaining about Arabella’s mischief, nonsense and good-for-nothingness, stood up for the girl. The rotund black woman had some practical good reasons in wanting to keep her there, of course; Arabella was a mighty useful help about the kitchen, and liked nothing better than to run both ways to all the stores and pick up whatever Cookie needed, without her herself having to venture forth onto those treacherous Kalispell boardwalks. There was something more personal and emotional, too.

 

As soon as Arabella had met the talented and versatile cook, on that cold January morning when she had turned up for an unexpected and unannounced ‘interview’, the skinny girl had run up and thrown her arms around her plump waist, with a cry of “Aw, you just like my Aunt Rosie!” and just about once a day ever since, she’d done the same, usually with a excited cry of “Oooh, Ah just love my Mammy Cookie!” or words to that effect. It wasn’t much, but Arabella was about the only person in Kalispell who’d shake the black woman’s hand, let alone give her a hug. And then there was the songs. Oh, those two would just about sing the day away: washing, cleaning, polishing, peeling, baking, griddling. You name the chore, they’d sing to it. There repertoire was vast, and they’d teach each other songs, too. But their favorite combination was scrubbing the bottom of blackened cooking pots to their warbled strains of “Kingdom Coming and the Year of Jubilee.”

 

Of course, Arabella had her faults, too: her constant chatter, her inability to lift anything heavier than a tray of drink or food, and a knack of making a two minute run to the store, or to Miss Em’s place, turn in to a two hour adventure from which the girl would return panting, laughing fit to burst and possessed of a funny story about what had happened, but not with whatever she had been sent out to fetch in the first place. But all in all, Cookie liked to have the child around.

 

Anyways, this night, Arabella was the one delivering the grog to the table of the four strangers…

 

TBC

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