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    • "I plan to start nothing where women are concerned until I meet one that I like and one that acts her age," he replied in a slightly miffed tone.   “Well, let’s just hope the two of ‘em never meet!” chuckled Arabella, nudging Bridget, who laughed, despite not really getting the joke.   “Anyhow, I always act my age – nearly Sixteen!” declared the driver of the buggy. Indeed, in a mere 354 days, she would reach that august age.   “Back home in the Old Dominion, I’d ‘a’ probably been wed by now!” she added.   Despite her ironing board figure and girlish ways, ever since it had happened a few months ago, she had considered herself a young woman, rather than a mere girl.   "Besides, I thought we were on a trip so that Miss Monahan could attend mass and not some sort of confessional."   “Oh, don’t you know nuthin’?!” she tsked “Confessional’s exactly what we’re goin’ up there for. She’s gotta confess all her terrible sins to the priest feller before she's allowed to go to Mass and eat the flesh and drink the blood of Jesus.” Without Bridget seeing, she caught Charlie’s eye and, screwing up her face, gave a dismissive shake of her head, to show that she thought the whole thing was a bunch of nonsense, theologically speaking. Miss Arabella Sumpter Mudd was no friend to the foolish notion of transubstantiation.    “Course, I’m a Methodist m’self. Say, what’s your denomination, Charlie? You know that there priest is going to have a whole bunch of religious questions to ask you, don’t you?” she asked in a serious tone of voice.   @JulieS  
    • After hitching their horses, Mike and the rest of the Lost Lake hands surveyed their surroundings.  The crowd was starting to build up and a couple of the hands headed over towards the tent where the beer was being served.  A few of them headed over to where the food was.  Some of them went inside leaving only Mike, Charlie and Marty to decide what to do.   After a minute or two, Marty tapped Mike on the arm and pointed towards the barn entrance.  "Over there boss, a couple of the Evergreen crew.  Remember them from that fight last year at the fair."   Even though it happened before he had arrived in Kalispell, Mike had heard what had happened last summer.  He also knew the story behind the so-called feud between Evergreen and Lost Lake.  "Okay, just make sure you and the others stay clear of them."   "Oh, I plan to...otherwise all bets will be off and I intend to win this time," Marty replied before heading off to warn his friends.   Mike turned to Charlie, "Speaking of bets.  What time did you put down?"   Charlie, who was distracted by something over where the food was being served, quickly turned his attention back to his brother, "Nine thirty."   Mike smiled, "Isn't that a bit a optimistic?"   Shaking his head, Charlie answered, "From what I hear it isn't.  Besides Sam put down nine forty-five."   "I suppose you could be right but I'm hoping you're not.  Wouldn't mind winning that pot myself."  Taking one last good look at what was going on, Mike straightened his jacket, "I think I'll head inside and try my luck there. I'll see you later."   He patted Charlie on the back before walking towards the barn.
    • Brendan shifted his weight under Clara's scathing stare. He stuck his thumbs in his suspenders and met Clara's eyes, setting his mouth stubbornly. "Brendan Connolly.”   That name sounded Irish, like Bridget’s. Oh, well, he couldn’t help that, Arabella supposed. Maybe he was a Catholic and could take her and Bridget to the Catholic mission tomorrow. She was going to ask him, but for once she couldn’t get a word in edgeways.   “And I didn't set you up. The hands set me up."   “Sure, the hands set him up!” Arabella agreed, not having a clue what this was all about, but trying to pour oil on troubled waters. Considering that she was her ‘bosom friend’ Clara never actually did  tell her much about her life.   "Still wanna dance with me after hearin' that? I'll take a polka with you and a slow dance with Miss Ginger there, if she's 'con-struct-ed' for it."   “Hey don’t call her that!” Arabella corrected the man, for these were the days when having red hair was considered ugly in a woman. “You wouldn’t like it if we made fun of your bow legs, now would you?” He didn’t really have bow legs, unlike most cowboys, but he wouldn’t know that. Unlike women, men didn’t spend a lot of time examining their own bodies, looking for imperfections. “I mean, they ain’t too bad, but you still couldn’t stop a pig in an alley.”   Arabella caught Bridget’s eye and nodded toward Clara, as if to say, to the elective mute, ‘have a word with her’, while she grabbed hold of Brendan’s arm and dragged him away from the scene of conflict.   “Step over here a second, Mr. Cowboy Connelly, and I’ll show you where we got the beer tent set up” she offered brightly, and as soon as they were a few steps away, hissed “Well, what the Dickens was all that about? You two looked fit to start a range war back there, even before this shindig’s begun. Tell me what happened between you two.” she asked with frown on her youthful features.   Meanwhile, Bridget’s contribution to all this was to rustle up to the incandescently furious looking Clara, bustle to bustle, and whisper in her ear “Is that man bad?”
    • Harem?  While it was true he couldn't remember some parts of last night, he was pretty sure that there wasn't a lot of kissing involved.  Maybe the two girls were having a joke at his expense but he couldn't be one hundred percent sure.   "I plan to start nothing where women are concerned until I meet one that I like and one that acts her age," he replied in a slightly miffed tone.  "Besides, I thought we were on a trip so that Miss Monahan could attend mass and not some sort of confessional."   @Javia
    • "They'd hafta find us first," she grumbled, surprised but not that he knew what she was going to say.  "I'll give yer way a chance, an' I reckon if anyone could untangle this, it'd be Miz Mercer.  Ought we ta find her now, get this started?"  Then she'd have to find Weedy and finally talk to him, although she suspected he suspected, how could he not, what with his mother gone so long this time?   "Not lookin' forward ta talkin' ta Weedy, but best get that done before he hears from someone else."  Wouldn't take long for word to spread, and even though there might not be any malicious intent, someone might ask him questions that would be awkward, especially if he hadn't been told.   @Flip

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Mature Content: No.

Author: Lorenzo Crabbe

With: Jay Ryker; Charlie Wong & Bridget Monahan.
Location: Empty rented store at the end of the High Street.
When: Early April 1876
Time of Day: Morning.

 

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Mr. Lorenzo Crabbe, late of the snakepits and dives of that Sodom and Gomorrah of the old West: Ogallala, Nebraska, had yet to reach the heights of sartorial elegance that he became known for in his heyday, but even in the early days of April, in the year of our Lord 1876, as he stood looking up at the man wobbling up at the top of the slightly tottering  ladder, he was already an unmistakable figure: dressed in a decent suit with a low crowned derby hat, with thick spectacles on his face and toting an elegant silver topped cane nonchalantly over his shoulder.

 

Had one cared to lift that billycock hat, one would have found a head of straight tow colored hair, neatly combed into a side shade and, more significantly, in that hat, a good wad of padding for extra protection against blows to the top of the head. Similarly, a closer inspection of his cane would reveal that the top of the cane was formed not of silver, but a heavy enough knob of lead to crush a skull if applied with a good amount of vicious force.

 

This individual looked up for some time, before shouting to the man aloft.

 

“You Ryker?!”

 

He squinted through his glasses and blinked against the weak but cheering and fresh Springtime morning Sun.

 

“A dickybird tells me you can do fine work in metal.” He added, indicating his reason for being interested in talking to the Englishman, if only still in the vaguest of terms.

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The whole morning, well...and the past two weeks..., Jay had spent trying to fix up the inside of the old building in hopes of either making it his home or getting paid for his services by the owner. Unfortunately he wasn't as good with wood as he was with metal.

Why he had actually stuck around this long was due to his slightly stupid nature. He felt at home in Kallispell. It was a place like he had hoped for and he had come to like its inhabitants. So far nobody had even had the slightest suspicion about him, so he had stayed. And he would...until he had reason to leave.

 

The voice below him alerted him of the presence of someone else in the house so he turned around to see a man in a fine suit and thick glasses, whom he did not recognize. Instantly he wondered whether he might be a bounty hunter...but apparently he needed a black smith.

 

Taking the nails out of his mouth he lowered his hammer and said.

"I am...who's asking?"

Then he stepped down from his ladder, wiped his sleeve across his sweaty fore head, his hand on his pants and offered it to shake.

"Good morning...can I be of service, sir?"

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Taking the nails out of his mouth he lowered his hammer and said.

"I am...who's asking?"

 

“My name’s Crabbe, Lorenzo Crabbe, of Crabbe & Company!” the other man shouted up. The ‘Company’ part was true in some sense, in that the disused store at the end of the street, which he was renting as his headquarters, did contain two other people.

 

That is, if you counted a Chinese man and a crippled teenage girl as people which, to an extent, the laws an statutes governing the Territories did not. But Crabbe counted them as people, and useful ones at that. The man now climbing down the ladder was a foreigner, so maybe he was in the same class: something of an outsider, but with a great deal to offer.

 

Then he stepped down from his ladder, wiped his sleeve across his sweaty forehead, his hand on his pants and offered it to shake.

 

"Good morning...can I be of service, sir?"

 

Lorenzo shook the man’s hand and the sweat on it, despite the wipe, made it slip a little in his. “Oh, I do admire a man who can work so hard as to lather up a good sweat, Sir, indeed I do. Used to do a lot of that myself at one time. If your skill can match your admirable application to business, Mr Ryker, then I might well have an interesting and profitable proposition for you, if you will hear me out.”

 

By way of illustration, he fished out some small metal components from his pockets and dumped them into Jay’s hand. “Think you could rustle up something like those?” he asked, and then stepping to where he had leaned it against a wall, he fetched up a sheet of metal, about a foot square, with holes punched in it in an even pattern, so the whole thing looked like it had been used for some extremely accurate target practice. “And this?” he held it up for the metalworker to examine, without explaining its purpose.

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Jay listened with caution but also with interest to what the man had to say. When he dumped a few small metal pieces in his hand, he curiously looked at them, took one and held it up to the light falling in through the broken window.

It was small but very precisely made. This didn't look like hand made but as if it had been poured into some mold.

"Is this hand made? Looks very difficult to do with ordinary tools. I don't know if anyone can be this precise...."

He then studied the sheet of metal and raised his brows.

"What is it for?"

He wouldn't know how to put the things together to make any kind of sense.

"I think I could but it'd take me a while."

He handed the pieces back but his mind was now trying to figure out why the man had seeked him out or what the purpose was.

"Who pointed you my way? I mean...I usually do doors, fittings....even horse shoes or tools... This is new."

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"Is this hand made? Looks very difficult to do with ordinary tools. I don't know if anyone can be this precise...."

 

Crabbe frowned, he was hoping this man was going to say that manufacturing the parts would be as easy as shelling peas. He remembered what Fa had said about the components.

 

“Well, my technical adviser, Mr. Fa, he reckons that these were cast back East, but as long as you can come up with pieces roughly the same shape and size and durability, that’ll do nicely. They don’t have to be a work of art!” he assured him.

 

He then studied the sheet of metal and raised his brows.

"What is it for?"

 

The well dressed man looked around, as if he suspected that spies were hiding in every shadow of the house that Jay was renovating. He leaned forward and spoke in a conspiratorial whisper.

 

“Can you keep a secret?” his pale blue eyes, magnified by the thick spectacles that dominated his otherwise bland face, darted around again “We’re making mining equipment. The parts are for constructing rockers, for placer miners. We’re also going in for portable sluices, as well as the usual picks and pans and shovels and what not. In a month’s time, there’ll be a stampede of greenhorn gold-mad speculators coming through this town from Canada, and I’m fixin’ to sell ‘em every last piece of equipment they’ll need.” He gave the Englishman a knowing nod.

 

“Now, you reckon you could take a shot at making these things, if we get you the tools and metal you’d need?" he asked with an air of excitement and expectation in his voice.

 

"I think I could but it'd take me a while."

 

“Ha ha! Good man!” beamed the fancy dude and clapped him on the shoulder “That’s the spirit!”

 

"Who pointed you my way? I mean...I usually do doors, fittings....even horse shoes or tools... This is new."

 

Lorenzo shrugged and tried to remember. “Well, I asked the Blacksmith on Main first, and the thing was well beyond him. So I went to the Saloon for a wet, and brought the subject up amongst the crowd there, surreptitious like: you know, bemoaned the state of modern metalworking, not like in the ‘good old days’ and saying that things had generally gone downhill since the days of Tubal Cain, that sort of banter. I knew that’d elicit the name of anyone who had any skill in the business.”

 

He repeated the words he’d heard. “The finest metal worker in Kalispell is an Englishman called Ryker, and he’s working right now in the old Jones House.” He pondered the voice in his head and remembered the face that went with it.

 

“Well, ‘pon my soul, that’s right, it was that little girl that plays with Bridget! Don't know why she was in the saloon of all places, and who’d have reckoned a young girl knowing a thing like that? You advertise around here?” he asked, wondering if he’d perhaps walked past a dozen billboards proclaiming Jay’s skill in the ironmonger’s art.

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Jay was glad that he had worked up a good enough reputation amongst the men in town to be recommended to this stranger.

Actually...it hadn't been men but a little girl. Jay didn't know many little girls in town but he had an idea, who that could be. A sly smile crossed his face.

"No, I don't advertise. My work is my advertising." His chest was in the air when he said that because he knew he was a good black smith. He took his trade serious and delivered good work. Anyone could attest to that. If he hadn't become so greedy, he'd never strayed of the real path and probably have a real good name by now.

 

"I can have these done by the beginning of next week for you. How many do you need?"

He squinted against the light falling in through the window to see the man better than just his outline.

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"No, I don't advertise. My work is my advertising." His chest was in the air when he said that because he knew he was a good black smith.

 

“I like that! Ohh, I like that!” grinned Lorenzo and fished out a little notebook and a stubby pencil to make a note of the phrase, just altering it to suit Crabbe and Co. “We do not advertise our wares. Our wares are our advertising!" he muttered to himself as he wrote it, before glancing back up at Jay “Lord, that’ll look pretty slick on one of our advertisements!”

 

He held up one of the pieces to look at himself. “So, how long do you reckon it’d take to churn out these here doo-dads?” he asked.

 

"I can have these done by the beginning of next week for you. How many do you need?"

 

“Well, oh I don’t know, let’s start with a dozen. We’ll have to see how they sell: I mean, these rockers’ll be our most expensive product. Say, why don’t you drop round to our place and my technical adviser can show you the finished product, might help to get your head around how all these here bits and bobs fit together in the wooden frame? He didn’t come himself on account of being a Chinese. Chinese ain’t popular round these parts.”

 

Then, of course, there was the question of financial remuneration on the work.

 

“Now, in terms of payment, I can give you 10 cents on the piece, dollar a unit, or you can come in on the deal on shares. You might not want to decide on that until you see the layout of the whole operation.”

 

This was an important factor – either get paid a low rate of pay quickly, or take a gamble on the products selling well and getting a bigger profit in the long run.

Edited by Javia (see edit history)

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Jay understood quickly that he was talking to a business man, who knew what he was doing.

The advertising line seemed ironical but also pretty smart.

"I'd like to see the finished product. That'll give me a better idea."

Jay himself was also a business man. He wasn't short on money but he knew what one could ask for decent work. So he replied.

"I'll take 15 cents a piece for the first batch. Then 30% of whatever you sell. You provide the raw materials."

His arms were crossed in front of his chest to signal that there was no room for negotiation.

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"I'd like to see the finished product. That'll give me a better idea."

 

“Why sure!” beamed Lorenzo “My thoughts exactly!”

 

"I'll take 15 cents a piece for the first batch. Then 30% of whatever you sell. You provide the raw materials."

 

His arms were crossed in front of his chest to signal that there was no room for negotiation.

The bespectacled man laughed in a good-natured way and slapped Jay on one of his crossed arms.

 

“Ha, ha! I like you Mr Ryker – you’ve got a sense of humor!” he exclaimed.

 

He looked around the place, the lengthening shadows of the late afternoon were making it difficult to work at ease in the place, and yet it was still light enough to make the use of lamplight ineffective.

 

“Say, are you ‘bout finished for the day here?” he asked “Why not come down the street to ours right now: we can have a nice little drink and discuss this 30% of yours.” He offered “An’ you can meet Charlie, he’s the brains of this mining equipment side of the business. And Bridget’ll be there too, she’d like to meet you, I’m sure. Oh, she’s a pretty young thing all right: handy, too - got her stitchin’ canvas under the riffles.”

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Looking at the darkening room Jay knew that Mr. Crabbe was right. Oil lamps weren't very good for working and he had done enough for the day anyway.

"If you don't mind my dirty clothes, I'd like to come and meet your crew, have a drink. That sounds like a good idea for now."

 

The Englishman quickly picked up his tools and neatly stored them away in a metal box, which he locked, just in case someone thought he could 'borrow' them.

Then he went to retrieve his gun and his hat before he followed the man to the door.

 

Outside the evening air was fresh and clear. A deep inhale and a smile spread on his lips. This was what he loved about this land.

 

"Let's go."

He followed the older man down the road, greeting a few people on the way. As they approached the place her kicked the first off his boots, took the two steps up to the front porch where a cat was trying to catch a mouse and then stepped inside with his hat in his hands, something that his father had taught him as good manners.

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"If you don't mind my dirty clothes, I'd like to come and meet your crew, have a drink. That sounds like a good idea for now."

 

“Fine!” grinned Crabbe. The sooner they could start getting their stock-in-trade together, the better. He waited while the Englishman put his tools away in apple-pie order, that was the sign of a good worker.

 

"Let's go."

 

When they got to the place Crabbe was renting, he was surprised to see the man take his boots off before he came in, but figured it must be something they did in Europe. The cat which seemed to have made its home with them was pursuing his futile pursuit of his prey and Lorenzo encouraged him with a yell of “That’s it, you kill that little bastard, Tom!”

 

This must have alerted someone inside, because the door cracked open and an oriental face appeared and gazed first at Jay’s face and then at his feet.

 

“Oh! Very good, Very good! Very polite!” he beamed, bobbing his head and inviting them in.

The store was a big open space filled with a crazy mixture of furniture and fittings: living quarters, kitchen, and workshop, with a set of stairs at the side up to unknown areas of the building.

 

“This is the feller, Charlie!” Lorenzo introduced the answer to their prayers “Mr Ryker, this is Charlie Fa, he’ll show you what we’re trying to do here.”

 

The Chinese man bowed, but seemed to be itching to do something else first.

 

“Perhaps Mr Ryker have look at Young Lady first?” he asked assiduously.

 

Crabbe sighed “Oh Jesus! This again!” He shook his head but gave in to the inevitable, or they would have no peace to look at the mining equipment. “Say, Mr Ryker, sorry about this, but would you go up and have a quick look at my, er, niece while I fix us a drink? What’ll you have, whiskey?”

 

The Chinese man was bobbing and bowing and gesturing to the stairs up, with an air of happy excitement.

 

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Edited by Javia (see edit history)

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In his socks he entered the place after a Chinese man greeted him with a bow and a happy welcome.

His name was Charlie.

Jay let his eyes roam around the place and marveled at the number of items on shelves and a table. It wasn't messy but filled to the brim.

"Pleasure to meet you." He bowed as well, imitating the Asian gesture and then nodded. "Whiskey sounds good. And maybe some water."

He was a little confused about the request to see the girl upstairs and wondered why but was too polite to refuse.

After exchanging a look with the boss he declared. "I'm not sure why, but of course, I'll follow your request."

Perhaps it was some sort of Chinese tradition. Hopefully taking the job wouldn't include some sort of marriage request.

 

A flight of stairs led up to the other floor but each of the stairs seemed to make a different sound under his weight.

Jay put the bottom of his shirt in his pants and ran a busy hand through his hair before he knocked on the door up there.

"Excuse me, Miss?"

 

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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After exchanging a look with the boss he declared. "I'm not sure why, but of course, I'll follow your request."

 

“Well, don’t waste too much time on her!” grumped Crabbe, looking for the decent whiskey.

 

The Chinese man looked delighted, and bowed the way “Please, Honorable Ryker go first. Top of stairs, first door on right.”

 

Jay put the bottom of his shirt in his pants and ran a busy hand through his hair before he knocked on the door up there.

 

"Excuse me, Miss?"

 

There was no reply audible, so Mr. Fa, who had now reached the top of the stairs himself, reached past Jay, twisted the knob and opened the door.

 

Inside was a room that made stark contrast to the ramshackle but business-like atmosphere downstairs. There was no bare wood on show here, apart from the furniture. Flock wallpaper, silky looking drapes and a large eiderdown covered bed dominated.

 

A fancy looking porcelain doll sat on a chair, the beautiful glass eyes staring into space, and upon the bed, a red-haired young woman in her late teens or early twenties, wearing nothing but a déshabillé collection white layered undergarments of linen and frothy lace, stared just as vacantly as the two of them.

 

“Look Missie Bridget, man come to fix leg! You show, you show.”

 

The girl smiled and, still lying on her back grasped her long petticoat at the top and pulled it up, revealing a pair of shapely legs, clad in white silk stockings and pink garters, her modesty being protected by a pair of voluminous silk pantalets.

 

Fa frowned and then laughed. “Ha ha! Oh, big mistake. Not this leg!” he hustled over and with a bunched up fist gave a sharp rap on the girl’s right shin, which made her laugh, too, as it made a loud wooden knocking sound.

 

“That leg just for show! Where walking-along leg, Missie Bridget?” he asked the girl politely.

 

She pointed dumbly to a fancy looking painted cupboard in the corner, from which the excited Mr. Fa retrieved a complicated looking tangle of wood, leather straps and metallic spring-loaded joints. This false leg he brought over to the bed and placed it along side the girl’s more realistic, but practically useless, carved, painted, ‘just for show’ leg.

 

“This very clever contraption, Mr Ryker, you see how it work? Very strong spring here and here. But look, all bent  now.” Fa pointed out to the mechanism that controlled the bend in the knee and allowed Bridget to walk along almost normally when strapped onto the stump which terminated her right thigh.

 

The girl herself said nothing, but looked very pleased that someone was here who might be able to fix things.

 

She waved Jay in close to her, so she could whisper. “I broked it doin’ the poker” she informed him, seriously. By which she meant doing the Polka, of course.

 

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Edited by Javia (see edit history)

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Seeing the inside of the room with the large bed, the doll and girl on it, who did not speak a word, gave Jay all sorts of wrong ideas. Was she being held against her will? Used for these mens personal pleasure or....

When he was asked to look at her legs and she willingly lifted her skirt, he turned red and believed that he was supposed to get pleased by her in ecchange for work.

"Oh no no." He lifted his hands and looked at the Chinese.

"I'm not interested."

Instantly he had to think about Addy and gis feelings for her. He could not simply let down his drawers and satisfy his needs, not even if this was supposed to be his payment, which did hold some attraction.

 

Of course he was wrong altogether.

They wanted him to fix her wooden legs.

Now he stepped closer to examine it and then gave the girl, who whispered in his ear a once over.

"I'm not sure how that worked but I'm most certain that I can repair the damage."

He briefly looked at it's end with the straps. It was padded but thecwood underneath was mostly straight, which couldn't fit right.

"Does it hurt you?"

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"I'm not sure how that worked but I'm most certain that I can repair the damage."

 

Mr Ryker’s confident statement brought a look of delight to the faces of both the girl and the Chinese man. The latter hustled out of the room with a cry of “I go get tools!”

 

The girl lay there and smiled up at Jay.

 

“Does it hurt you?”

 

Her smile faded a little and waved him in to whisper in his ear.

 

“My leg hurts some.” She revealed, and nodded her head, as if somehow that would make him understand.

 

Charlie Fa returned up the stairs post haste with a fold out canvas tool kit which would be suitable for medium to fine work, pliers, awls and the like. “These are suitable?” he asked.

 

Maybe it was psychosomatic, but after being asked about it, the girl suddenly winced in pain. She let out another pathetic whimper and Fa jumped into action.

 

“Oh, her leg hurt now!” he stated the obvious and treated Ryker to the odd sight of him pulling off the ‘For Show’ leg with a gentle tug, popping it onto the bed, and lifting up the leg of Bridget’s pantalets to expose the disturbing sight of her round white stump, looking if anything, like an egg, or the head of a bald man.

 

The girl was clearly in agony now, trying to hold back a scream of anguish as the sensation in nerve endings that were no longer there grew stronger.

 

“It her leg that gone that hurt her! Ghost leg.” Fa explained to the metal worker “Fa help using ancient Chinese art of Zhēn cì.” With this he produced two long, thin, and frankly vicious looking needles that her proceeded to push firmly but gently into a place above the stump and then another, incongruously, into a similar place in her other, whole leg.

 

Instead of increasing the young lady’s pain, as might be expected, this operation clamed her and she sank back into the bed with a look of relief on her face.

 

“You fix now?” asked Fa, holding up Bridget’s ‘Walking Leg’. He was clearly un-phased by what must be a daily drama in this odd household.

Edited by Javia (see edit history)

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The scenario that unfolded in from of him, made Jay shudder and wince as well. The poor girl had lost her leg and was still feeling the pain. He couldn't help but wonder how this had happened. Had if been an accident?

Jay stood back as the Chinese inserted some needles in the girls legs and wrinkled his brow when they seemed to relief her pain. He had heard about such a thing before but never seen it.

"Interesting." He mumbled. "Chinese therapy?"

 

He hadn't been prepared to go to work right away. Actually he had come to discuss a business deal and drink some whiskey.

 

Seeing the poor girl, he now felt oblidged to help.

"Alright." He took the tools and the fake leg and carried it over to a table near the window. Then he got one of the oil lamps from her night side table to see better.

 

The adjustment of the springs required some bending and muscle. What was trickier was taking off the padding and making an actual form of the wood, that would match her stump.

Scratching his head Jay turned back to her.

"I have an idea....I'd like to get a print of your ...er...stump...and then carve the wood so it fits you better. I'll come back tomorrow to do that. The springs work again."

Carefully he placed the leg next to her on the bed and then went to the door to leave this room, where he felt quite uncomfortable.

 

Outside he asked the Chinese. "How did that happen...and who is she? Is she someones daughter? Or ...."

he didn't want to say 'amuse the boss' so he cut himself off. Then he did it anyway. "Is she here for personal entertainment? Her clothing was a little...well...taunting."

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Mr Fa and the girl looked on agog as Jay plied his trade, at one point exchanging glances and smiling excitedly.

 

Scratching his head Jay turned back to her.

 

"I have an idea....I'd like to get a print of your ...er...stump...and then carve the wood so it fits you better. I'll come back tomorrow to do that. The springs work again."

 

She hadn’t the slightest clue what he was talking about, but felt his kind intent and gave him a smile that lit the quickly darkening room like the light of a thousand Suns.

 

Carefully he placed the leg next to her on the bed and then went to the door to leave this room, where he felt quite uncomfortable.

 

As the limb was placed down, she reached over with her hand and placed it on his, almost like a mother comforting her child, and the smile she bestowed upon him now also had that queer reassuring air about it, like fixing her leg was something that would help mend him as much as her.

 

Outside he asked the Chinese. "How did that happen...and who is she? Is she someone’s daughter? Or ...."

 

Charlie looked at Jay with a quizzical look, of course she was someone’s daughter – all women were! And as for how it had happened: “She do Polka!” he explained “Big mistake with wooden leg! Should stick to waltz or … John Paul Jones!”

 

he didn't want to say 'amuse the boss' so he cut himself off. Then he did it anyway. "Is she here for personal entertainment? Her clothing was a little...well...taunting."

 

“Ooooohh!” cooed Mr. Fa in realization “You think she big whore?” he chuckled a bit “No, no, she not big whore, she very special!” His mien took on an almost mystical cast “Miss Bridget, some of her body live here in floating world with us, but Miss Bridget leg and mind, they live in spirit world with Honorable Ancestors and demons and other Fox Spirits. So …”

 

This bizarre speech was cut off by Lorenzo shouting at the bottom of the stairs. “Come on fellers, drinks are ready, and we got rockers and sluices to look at!”

 

Charlie shrugged but said one last thing, in a quiet voice, to Jay before they descended the stairs. “Mr Lorenzo Crabbe, he think she special too. He like real crab: all hard on outside, but tender inside, he kill any man who lay finger on Miss Bridget.”

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Jay had no idea what the Chinese was talking about. Had to be some of that Chinese myth, that an Englishman could not comprehend. So he simply ignored it and only took note that she was no whore and precious to Crabbe.

"I'll remember that."

Jay had no intentions of whoring anyway because Miss Addy had taken his heart in a storm. Why would he want to sleep with anyone else?

"I'm not married but my heart is taken anyway."

 

"Drinks sound good right about now. I need one." After that weird little interaction up there.

He pushed the chair out and sat down next to Crabbe, who had poured them drinks.

"So, I've met two of your associates...any more working with you?" He was wondering what the Chinese man's position in the whole 'company' was.

Then he reached for his glass but waited for the others to join him. Briefly he sniffed it and was content because it smelled like the good Tennesse kind, which had been stored in Oak barrels for a while.

 

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"I'm not married but my heart is taken anyway."

 

“Oooo! You in love!” nodded the Chinese man “Heavenly state to be in, if Lady feel same way! Feel like Hell, if Lady not feel same way. You seem like happy man Mr Ryker, Fa thinks Lady feel same way!” he chuckled as they walked down the stairs.

 

"Drinks sound good right about now. I need one." After that weird little interaction up there.

 

“Yeah, sit down here…” said Crabbe impatiently, pulling his chair up to a large table that had plans unrolled upon it, and various can and tools placed on each corner to stop it rolling back up. “Get the rocker, Charlie.” He called to Fa.

 

Placer-Gold-Prospecting-Basic-Design.jpg

 

"So, I've met two of your associates...any more working with you?" He was wondering what the Chinese man's position in the whole 'company' was.

 

“On the mining stuff?” Lorenzo asked, clearly he had a few more ‘irons in the fire’ than just this project “Nah. Not yet. Might need some hired muscle later on, but this here part just needs us three.” More profit that way, he grinned.

 

Charlie brought the rocker and placed it on the table. While Crabbe took a swig of his whiskey.

 

gold-mining-1890-wiege-oder-cradle-der-k

 

“Oh, well , actually... Charlie’s added a few improvements to the standard model, see here…” he pointed to the riffles that would catch the gold dust as the river sludge was washed through the contraption “Gonna cover that in canvas instead of plain wood, that’ll need some sewing up.”

 

“Perhaps Miss Bridget can do sewing?” suggested Fa.

 

“Ah, she’s too slow!” Crabbe shook his head dismissively “There’ll be some old biddy in town who’s a whizz at sewing and’s got idle hands. ‘Devil makes work for idle hands’, Mr Ryker.” he said the old adage to Jay “We’ll be giving her the chance to make a few pennies and keep out of mischief at the same time!”

 

Mr Fa looked slightly disappointed that he hadn’t found something useful for the crippled girl to add to the project.

 

“Whataya think?” Crabbe’s magnified eyes looked at Ryker, hoping the man would feel a lot more positive about the product, and producing its metal parts, now that he had seen one assembled.

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Jay wasn't sure how 'the lady' felt. But he knew she liked him, at least enough to be his friend.

"Who knows. I'll find out some day." He smirked a little, but also grew a bit nervous. What if Addy said, that she only liked him as a friend and their kiss had been a mere Christmas tradition.

 

A large plan, that covered the whole table and needed to be held down by cups and tools, so the ends wouldn't curl back up, was presented to Jay. It took the Englishman a moment to take it all in, get the right perspective, read the little hand scribbled words and decipher the drawings.

Finally his brows shot up as he whistled. "Who drew this up? You?" If so the man clearly had skills and a good idea.

"This looks promising. I can work with it. For sure."

If this really worked, he should be asking for a little more than he was. It was a money printing machine, basically.

"Gold dust and small pieces aren't worth a lot but if you can actually get a whole pound with this tool...it'll make you a very rich man.

He pursed his lips, then looked at the Chinese. "And your associates."

One of his ugliest character traits was just rearing his head, greed. It had gotten him into trouble before. Here he might be on the safe side. After all he was only supposed to make some parts.

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Finally his brows shot up as he whistled. "Who drew this up? You?" If so the man clearly had skills and a good idea.

 

“Fa. Oh, I did the writing!” Crabbe added, making sure that he got the fair share of the praise for the detailed plans.

 

"This looks promising. I can work with it. For sure."

 

“Promising? This is genius!” corrected Lorenzo.

 

If this really worked, he should be asking for a little more than he was. It was a money printing machine, basically.

 

"Gold dust and small pieces aren't worth a lot but if you can actually get a whole pound with this tool...it'll make you a very rich man.

 

He pursed his lips, then looked at the Chinese. "And your associates."

 

Lorenzo grinned at Ryker. “By the time the fellers who buy these from us reach Deadwood, they’ll find out that all the worthwhile claims have been cleaned out. These rockers are so good, they’d ‘show color’ if we all just pissed in ‘em right now...” he exaggerated. “... so at least they won't come back complaining to us. But there’s a big difference between getting a few specks of dust, and a claim making enough money to pay for the cost of working it.” he explained.

 

“Listen” he waved Ryker in, speaking in confidential tones even though there was nobody else to hear but Fa, who was sitting right there with them.

 

“See, old Charlie there, he used to be erm, a whatdya call 'em, Mandarin back in China, see. In charge of this Province with a whole lotta silver mines. He’s a God damn expert on all o’ this stuff. When we were up in the Black Hills a couple of years ago – ‘sooners’ they called us – he spotted a place where we can sink a shaft and hit the mother lode, not just a few shitty nuggets and specks out the river placer mining.”

 

He gestured around them.

 

“That’s what all this is about, raising enough capital to go back there and sink a sure fire Million dollar gold mine!”

 

Fa didn’t look so enthusiastic.

 

“It still big risk!” he admonished the excited Crabbe “Still plenty Indians round them parts. Last time we there, Mr Ryker, redskins nearly took Fa’s pigtail for scalp!”

 

Crabbe shrugged.

 

“Yeah, that kinda did happen.” He conceded.

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Jay listened with interest to the stories about gold mines being empty here but more up north. After all he was a bank robber by profession for a reason: Greed. It was probably his worst character trait. He wanted to be rich and the conversation here sparked that old fire, that he had almost forgotten in Addys presence, living a low key life as a black smith.

His eyes started sparkling with excitement when he was told about the spot that the Mandarin had spotted in the mountains.

"You can tell those spots....where a good mine would be? How?" For all he knew rivers carried out nuggets and showed people the way but how could anyone tell otherwise?

Instantly he wanted to have a share in that. He'd go and shoot them Indians and earn his share by making the right kind of equipment.

"I could help you, making the right mining equipment. How far away is it?"

There was only one problem. Jay was generally a peaceful person and hadn't even shot back at the old lady, who put a bullet in his skin.

He'd have his troubles picking off Indians if they didn't shoot at him first...and if they did, he'd probably wind up wounded and dead instead of rich.

"How many men would you take to the claim?" His eyes dug right into the man with the round glasses as if he could tell whether the answer was the truth or not.

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"You can tell those spots....where a good mine would be? How?" For all he knew rivers carried out nuggets and showed people the way but how could anyone tell otherwise?

 

“Hell, I don’t know! You explain it Charlie.” Crabbe said to the Chinese man. Mr. Fa nodded.

 

“Ah! So, …” he wet his finger and drew a wiggly line on the table and two triangles as mountains halfway down the line and either side of it. He pointed at the bends in the river on one side of the mountains. “These bends catch gold as it flow down. Very quick profit here.”

 

Crabbe nodded in agreement. “Good deposit like that, expert practical placer miner can clean out, ooh, $20, 000 worth of gold dust quite easy, three or four men working at it fer a month with the right equipment, sluices and what have you.”

 

Fa chipped in “Then gets hard work, men already rich, they sell.”

 

“Yep, That’s quite common” Lorenzo agreed “…those fellows’ll sell up and the next owners’ll have to work twice as hard and twice as long to totally clean it out, say another twenty thousand dollars.”

 

Fa now pointed to the wiggly line on the other side of the mountains. “No gold here, so Fa know where source lie. Look here, no see gold, see Mother of Gold!” he jabbed at the triangles.

 

“He means Gold Quartz. We mine that, mill it on site, just a boring and laborious process: just needs the right equipment and a little muscle. Takes a while, but no upper limits if we hit the right seam, and Fa reckons he’s located it. We got claim documents on it. Just need some capital.”

 

"I could help you, making the right mining equipment. How far away is it?"

 

“Deadwood? From here? Geez, I don' know - a thousand miles away?” Crabbe shrugged.

 

“Seven Hundred Fifty American mile.” Corrected Fa.

 

"How many men would you take to the claim?" His eyes dug right into the man with the round glasses as if he could tell whether the answer was the truth or not.

 

Crabbe leaned back in his chair, counting it out on his fingers.

 

“Well, let’s think, me, Charlie, couple of other fellers in case of trouble. We can hire more once we’re there if we need ‘em. Wouldn’t take Bridget back there, we’d fix her up in town here, that fancy hotel or somewhere. Her little talkative friend can look after her.” He ruminated. He couldn’t laugh too much at Ryker’s obvious susceptibility to that most infectious of diseases, gold fever. He’d been struck down with it himself before now, and on multiple occasions.

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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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Founders: Stormwolfe & Longshot

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