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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.

Some Things are Never Easy


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Mature Content: No

With: Matt Wentworth and others
When: Mid April 1875
Time of Day: Morning and Afternoon

 

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Matt was looking over the last of the preparations for the event that was being held in the hotel's ballroom later that day.  The Kalispell Ladies' Society were having a special afternoon tea and had invited a few speakers to come along.  One of the invited was Leah Steelgrave, who Matt presumed was going to present her project for approval in the hopes of getting the ladies to influence their husbands and others about the benefits of having a hospital and orphanage.  The spring dance at Horace Simkin's barn was last week and the town meeting to vote on whether or not to accept Miss Steelgrave's offer would be held in about a week or so.

 

In a way, he felt sorry for Leah.  The Steelgrave name was proving to be more than just a hinderance.  She was having a tough time proving that she was doing this on her own and that her father had nothing to do with it.  The afternoon tea would be one of the few opportunities the lady would get to present her side.

 

As for the afternoon tea, it was coming along nicely.  Ruth Johnson was busy organising the last of the seating and going over the guest list.  When he told her about inviting a Miss Arabella Mudd to the party, Ruth had been a bit perplexed as she wasn't familiar with her.  He told her that she was one of the survivors of Whitefish and Ruth seemed to be all right with that, mentioning something about being kind to the poor unfortunate souls who had survived the tragedy.  Matt smiled at what she might have said if he had told her that Miss Mudd was now under the protection of the owners of the Stardust Saloon.  He didn't have objections to it and Ruth probably wouldn't either but there would be one or two members of the Ladies Society that might.

 

Pulling out his watch, he noted the time.  In about two hours, the room would be filled with women eating and chatting away.  His plan was to spend the time in his office and be on hand just in case he was needed.  However, he made a mental note that if Sarah turned up, he would make the time to say hello.

 

TBC

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army.mil-2008-08-11-184708.jpg

 

They had managed to put the finishing touches to her fancy-dress outfit at the very last minute, and Arabella could hardly contain her excitement as she looked in the mirror. The dress itself was one of Ms. Devereau’s hideously out of fashion 1874 models and was luckily the very shade of Union Blue that they needed, and they’d really only had to add a bit of military ribbon, and take it in to fit the 15 year old’s more ‘rangy’ figure (which, according to the tape measure, was getting a little less ‘rangy’ every day). Then there was the canteen itself, which Mr Flandry produced from somewhere or other.

 

The kepi was the hardest to obtain, and almost impossible to manufacture themselves, but a high-spirited conversation with an extremely drunken soldier from the fort, who had come into town to visit the telegraph office with a highly important and confidential military dispatch, resulted in a fair trade with Arabella’s sun-bonnet, complete with pink silk flowers, which the trooper wore back to camp and found on his aching head when he woke up in the Fort Jail the next morning.

 

The skirts of the costume were high, a Vivandière could hardly swan around the battlefield doing heroic, or rather heroine-like, deeds with her skirts trailing in blood and spilled intestines, after all. Mr Flandry had pointed out that some of these women had worn large baggy pantaloons under their skirts, but Arabella had thoughtfully wanted to spare her helpers the trouble of manufacturing these, and nobly opted to flirtatiously flash her ankles instead, all for the sake of historical veracity, of course.

 

She took one last look at herself in Ms. Devereau’s wonderful full length mirror and skipped downstairs and out to the ‘Event’.

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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Nellie Miggins had Matt Wentworth trapped in a corner, so there was no escape from the vitriolic complaints of the batty old woman who, to be honest, had never looked quite so batty as she did today. Apart from the white sheet (well, it had once been white) that was wrapped around her like a toga, she was sporting a bizarre spikey cardboard crown on her head, which made her look like a surprised person in a newspaper cartoon. Finally, she was carrying what looked like an enormous cardboard ice-cream. This was meant to be a symbolic torch.

 

She was somehow balancing all this with a large basket, and still managed to find a spare hand to cup to her ear to hear what the man was asking. Why couldn’t folks these days speak up nice and loud?

 

“What?! I’m meant to be Liberty of course!  Whatd’ya THINK I’m supposed to be?! Now listen here young man, I was definitely told that this was a fancy dress do, and that there’s a prize fer the best outfit. And that’s me!”

 

She cocked her head.

 

“WHAT?! Oh – I’ll tell ya who told me that, it was that girl there. The one dressed like some slut of an Army camp follower!” said Mrs Miggins pointing to Arabella on the other side of the Hotel Ball Room, which had been rearranged to house the meeting of the Ladies Society.

 

Apart from Granny Miggins and Arabella, the only other person in fancy dress was a lumbering figure who was clad from head to foot in a bear costume or, to be precise, an actual bear skin, complete with head. It was hard to know what was inside the bear skin: Man? Woman? Bear?

 

Arabella herself was nonplussed. Not only were all the ladies then in boring everyday dresses, but they were all just that – ladies. There were no men or boys here. Perhaps the name Ladies Society should have given it away. Also, the rows of chairs for the audience made it clear that there would be no dancing.

 

There wasn’t a band anyway, just some fancy looking dude in the corner playing out a dirge on a ginormous fiddle. He didn’t even have it under his chin like a proper fiddle player, but was holding it between his legs, which, Arabella thought, was a disgraceful thing to do, especially with ladies present.

 

Oh well, at least she was having a nice chat with a lady that she’d never met before.

 

@JulieS

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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Matt patiently listened to Mrs. Miggins explanation on why she was dressed as she put it Liberty.  He wondered how got to be in here in the first place.  One minute he was making sure that the Ladies Society committee had everything under control and the next minute he had been bailed up by the older woman who was pointing to Miss Mudd and telling him that she was the one who had said it was fancy dress.

 

A frown appeared on his face.  It seemed Miss Mudd had taken some liberties herself.  For a moment, he thought a going over and give her a lesson about how not make assumptions without checking first but he decided not to.  It was best that her employer deal with the situation.

 

"If there were a prize you certainly would be the winner, Mrs. Miggins.  As for Miss Mudd, I think you better take up the matter with Matilda Devereau.  She has taken on the responsibility of caring for the young girl.  I have no doubt Miss Devereau will make sure that she doesn't do something like this again."

 

Quickly scanning the room, he could see Ruth Johnson frantically waving at him.  Suppressing a sigh of relief, he smiled graciously at Mrs. Miggins, "Now, if you will excuse, Mrs. Johnson needs my assistance.  I hope you will have an enjoyable afternoon."

 

@Javia

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  • 3 months later...

Leah Steelgave came down the stairs from her rooms dressed elegantly, but then this was The Kalispell Ladies' Society. And, as women will, they would dressed to impress one another. Nature of the breast, she always said. But, when facing the ladies of Kalispell with a project that she hoped they would back, one played the game.

 

She could see that Mathew was quite busy, first, with the darling older woman with the pasteboard crown and the sheet wrapped around her as some sort of royal robe. And then with a woman she recognized as one Ruth Johnson, whether a Missus or not, she could not be certain, frantically waving to garner Mathews attention.

 

And then there was Arabella Mudd, whom she remembered from an earlier encounter.  She was wearing what might pass for a military ensemble, speaking with another woman, in fact it seemed they were the only women present, so far. It was clear that the event was a ways off yet.

 

Leah had thought to enjoy a light lunch and some tea before the event began, thinking she might converse with Matthew before hand, but it seemed that he had his hands full at the moment, so into the restaurant she ventured.

@JulieS@any

 

Edited by Flip (see edit history)
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After he had finished dealing with Ruth Johnson and her concerns over if there was going to be enough refreshments, Matt head towards the hotel restaurant.  Even though some of the ladies had turned up early it would be a while before the proceedings got under way.  No doubt the ladies who had come early would find plenty of things to do and talk about

 

Scanning the restaurant, he could see Leah Steelgrave sitting by herself at one of the tables.  As the owner of the Belle, it was his duty to converse with the guests, especially the ones who paid for the more expensive rooms.  He didn't mind mingling with the other guests and sometimes  he preferred to but the more well endowed guests sometimes expected to be treated more royally.

 

On the surface, Leah seemed to a pleasant woman but it was underneath that concerned him.  From what he knew of the Steelgraves since he had been living in Kalispell and what he knew about them from the dossier that the Secret Service had on them it didn't look good for Leah and her plans for the town.  It also didn't help that she had her own personal bodyguards watching her every step.  If she wasn't a Steelgrave, then the town would welcome her with open arms but she was and she had to live with whatever came her way because of it.

 

Going up to Leah, Matt smiled graciously, "Good afternoon, Miss Steelgrave."

 

@Flip

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Going up to Leah, Matt smiled graciously, "Good afternoon, Miss Steelgrave."

 

“Good afternoon Mister Wentworth. I’m somewhat early.” She replied with a smile. “I see everything is coming along in the other room, so we should have a good meeting, or rather they should. I will simply make the presentation about the project. Which might be too much." There was a catch to her breath. "I wish to apologize to you for the presence of my body guards. I have secured other accommodations in the form of a small house where I shan’t inconvenience you, your guests, or the staff.”

 

“Please, join me. I am just having tea while I wait, and I believe I should tell you that I do appreciate ll that you have done for me over the time you have had the hotel. But especially of late. I do know that your housing of me, and the men that look out for me, may well have put a strain on your business. It was certainly not my intention to cause you any problems.”

 

“You, of course, are well aware of my family. I understand that. And, that I am lumped in with them for better or worse, and worse is the most likely of outcomes. However, I suspect that what you know of me is not who I am, or of who I am trying to become. The weight of the family name is, as you might expect, a heavy one, but I seek no pity for that. Understand me, I intend to make my own mark I this world.”

 

@JulieS

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“Good afternoon Mister Wentworth. I’m somewhat early.” She replied with a smile. “I see everything is coming along in the other room, so we should have a good meeting, or rather they should. I will simply make the presentation about the project. Which might be too much." There was a catch to her breath. "I wish to apologize to you for the presence of my body guards. I have secured other accommodations in the form of a small house where I shan’t inconvenience you, your guests, or the staff.”

 

Part of him was relieved that Leah had found another place to live.  Even though he understood why she needed to have them around, it wasn't a good look where the other guests were concerned, especially those who were leery of the mean looks they gave anyone who even dared to walk pass them.

 

“Please, join me. I am just having tea while I wait, and I believe I should tell you that I do appreciate all that you have done for me over the time you have had the hotel. But especially of late. I do know that your housing of me, and the men that look out for me, may well have put a strain on your business. It was certainly not my intention to cause you any problems.”

 

Seating down in the seat opposite Leah, Matt smiled, "Thank you.  I wouldn't say that you staying here was the problem, it was more the men who you had guarding you that was.  When you move to your new lodgings you are still more than welcome to come here and dine with us."

 

“You, of course, are well aware of my family. I understand that. And, that I am lumped in with them for better or worse, and worse is the most likely of outcomes. However, I suspect that what you know of me is not who I am, or of who I am trying to become. The weight of the family name is, as you might expect, a heavy one, but I seek no pity for that. Understand me, I intend to make my own mark I this world.”

 

Matt had no delusions that Leah wanted to make her mark and he had no doubt she would one day.  However, her decision to do so in Kalispell might not be the right one.  Still he wanted to help her out despite her family connections.  The Wentworth men were always ones to help a lady out when needed.

 

"If you don't mind me asking, but why Kalispell?  As you said I am well aware of your family.  So is the whole town and every ranch and farm within one hundred miles of here.  Even if the town council approves your plan it will always be an uphill battle for you.  Maybe it would've been wiser to try this sort of thing in a place where they don't know you or your family."

 

@Flip

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"If you don't mind me asking, but why Kalispell?  As you said I am well aware of your family.  So is the whole town and every ranch and farm within one hundred miles of here.  Even if the town council approves your plan it will always be an uphill battle for you.  Maybe it would've been wiser to try this sort of thing in a place where they don't know you or your family."


“Oh, I suppose it would be the wise thing to do, leaving Kalispell. Yes, that would be the easy thing for me to do, however Mathew, the point of making my mark, or whatever the proper term might be, Kalispell is my home." She began.

 

"This family is known  in every major city in the state. So that leaves me the choice of leaving Montana or, as I have chosen, to make my stand here, right in my gathers face, so to speak.  I know it sounds like I am being the spoiled little rich girl having a meaningless tantrum. Far from it. He has his own problems of which I am not a party to."

 

"Kalispell has been kind to me, at least to this point. I realized that my father has been slow to act about the coming of the railroad, so I moved on it. Went to the provisional capitol, met with those in power, those that I know, and secured rights  ahead of Elias , which would be his plan. Those rights are now in the hands of Judge Robertson and the Town Council, where they belong. Hopefully they will meet soon and approve my request for land to build the hospital and orphanage."

 

She smiled at him. "I know they are suspicious of anything with the Steelgrave name attached to it, and well they should be, Rest assured I am not an agent for my father. You may trust in that."

 

@JulieS

 

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Nellie Miggins was nonplussed by the smarmy Mr. Matt Wentworth’s flimsy excuses about this not really being a fancy dress party and consequently, how there wasn’t a prize available for the person wearing the best costume – in other words, her! He’d swanned off in his fancy suit to hob nob with a bunch of snobby ladies no doubt, leaving 'Liberty' at her own liberty to amuse herself as best she could.

 

Well, there was a giant and ornate cut glass bowl of fruit punch on the table nearby, with glasses and a ladle to its side. Mrs Miggins decided to sample some of it. The face she made when it met her tongue was as sour as the beverage itself. It was unpalatably acidic and bitter for her tastes, and completely non-alcoholic. This party was looking more dour by the minute, especially as the room began to fill with what Granny thought of as ‘snobbish types’.

 

“This here punch could do with some sweetenin’!” she cackled to herself as she pulled, out of her capacious basket, a large jug of her very own, corn mash ‘chill tonic’. It’s alcohol content was off the scale, they’d need to invent a new 'un to measure what percentage proof it was. She surreptitiously pulled out the stopper and let the fiery liquid glug, glug, glug into the punch bowl, a look of superannuated mischief paying around her wizened face.

 

She tried another glass – much better! A burp, and she filled the glass again and took a seat on the front row of the arrayed seating, all the better to see the performers in the ‘show’ that was  about to be presented for the benefit of the members of the Kalispell Ladies' Society. Also on the front row were sitting the Army Tramp and the Big Bear, the trio of them now presenting a sight that was enough to put off even the most seasoned speechifier on the roster that afternoon.

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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She smiled at him. "I know they are suspicious of anything with the Steelgrave name attached to it, and well they should be, Rest assured I am not an agent for my father. You may trust in that."

 

Matt nodded, "I hope I can and I hope the ladies waiting to you speak can too.  From what I've heard, there are a lot of people in favour of your plan but not in favour of you being behind it.  You know this already so be prepared to hear no...this time around."

 

He took a moment to look at Leah.  In a way he felt sorry for her and he wanted to help her.  "If you really want to do this, then you may have to go a few rounds before you get a yes.  I don't recommend you going ahead and start building without the town behind you either as that may cause more animosity.  This is just my opinion but you have prove that you are not your father's daughter.  I know some people see what you have done already by going ahead and procuring the land without the blessing of the town as something your father would do and that they are being railroaded into something they might regret in the future."

 

Leaning forward a little, he smiled apologetically, "I know this is probably something you don't want to hear but I thought it would be fair to warn that it could be a long fight before they say yes. My advice is, don't give up and make the people of Kalispell see you in a different light.  As I said before...prove to them you're not your father's daughter."

 

Standing up, he gazed down at her, "I have to go now and check with the kitchen to make sure everything is running well.  If you wish to ignore anything I've said, then that is fine I won't hold it against you.  I just hope you will consider what I've said before making your next move.  I wish you the best of luck with the ladies this afternoon, Miss Steelgrave."

 

@Flip

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Addy neither considered herself a 'lady' nor a 'society' type of person, but she was a business woman of sorts, and was interested in the goings-on in town, at least the important things, such as the hospital that she heard was being discussed today.

 

Business had kept her late, though, her last delivery had taken longer than she'd anticipated, so she'd just taken time to throw on a clean shirtwaist and brush dust from her wool skirts before trotting over to the hotel.

 

Fortunately, it didn't seem as though the actual meeting had started yet, and more important, the food hadn't been served!

 

But there was punch, and she allowed as how she was parched after the long day, so she poured herself a glass, feeling a bit awkward at using the delicate cup, but as soon as she took a swig, she grinned.

 

This was going to be a fun meeting!

 

@Javia; @JulieS; @Flip

 

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But there was punch, and she allowed as how she was parched after the long day, so she poured herself a glass, feeling a bit awkward at using the delicate cup, but as soon as she took a swig, she grinned. 

 

Arabella arrived at the punch bowl about the same time as Addy and hovered back a little as the lady finished serving herself, then moved in and ladled some of the harmless looking juice mix into one of the impressive cut glass cups. She smiled over the bowl as her blue eyes met Addy’s brown.

 

“Hello, my name’s Arabella!” she smiled brightly.

 

She had seen the Amazonian mule skinner working around the town, coming in and out with stage coaches and freight wagons: the teams of horses under her firm hand, and she was an object of intense curiosity to the saloon scullion. She did a man’s job and wore men’s clothes and, reputedly,   killed Bears with her bare hands for past time. However, the redoubtable hoyden must have heard the rumor about this being a fancy dress party, because she’d come to it dressed as a woman.

 

“Us fancy dress folk is sat on the front row!” Arabella informed the formidable looking wagoner. “We got Lady Liberty and a Bear and I’m a Vivandière. But don’t go killin’ the bear, ‘cause it’s just a person in a suit, really.” She informed helpfully before taking a big swig of the punch, frowning, staring at the glass, and then smiling happily. She put her free hand to her throat.

 

“It tickles!” she announced, delighted.

 

@Flip @JulieS @Bongo

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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Matt nodded, "I hope I can and I hope the ladies waiting to you speak can too.  From what I've heard, there are a lot of people in favour of your plan but not in favour of you being behind it.  You know this already so be prepared to hear no...this time around."


“I am fully aware that I am not the one they would like to have done this, unfortunately for them, I am the one. What most in this world do not understand, Matthew, is the word no is a complete sentence. One I have heard far too many times in my life, and one I will hear too many more times  before I am finished.”
 

He took a moment to look at Leah.  In a way he felt sorry for her and he wanted to help her.  "If you really want to do this, then you may have to go a few rounds before you get a yes.  I don't recommend you going ahead and start building without the town behind you either as that may cause more animosity.  This is just my opinion but you have prove that you are not your father's daughter.  I know some people see what you have done already by going ahead and procuring the land without the blessing of the town as something your father would do and that they are being railroaded into something they might regret in the future."

 

“I can understand that, I truly can. Not proceeding with the plan, but before too long the snow will fly again, and those in need of what the hospital will represent will continue to do without proper medical care.” She paused, “it’s not as if I expected the citizens of Kalispell to fall all over themselves congratulating me.” It almost made her laugh.

 

Leaning forward a little, he smiled apologetically, "I know this is probably something you don't want to hear but I thought it would be fair to warn that it could be a long fight before they say yes. My advice is, don't give up and make the people of Kalispell see you in a different light.  As I said before...prove to them you're not your father's daughter."


“I do understand, honestly I do.” Was her response, but after all, she was in fact her fathers daughter. It may take some effort, and it may take time she did not have, to convince people that the very last thing Elias Steelgrave would do would be to benefit anyone other than himself.
 

Standing up, he gazed down at her, "I have to go now and check with the kitchen to make sure everything is running well.  If you wish to ignore anything I've said, then that is fine I won't hold it against you.  I just hope you will consider what I've said before making your next move.  I wish you the best of luck with the ladies this afternoon, Miss Steelgrave."


“Thank you Matthew, you have always been a good friend.” She said. Probably not what he had intended, but it had always come across that way, and it seemed genuine to her.

@JulieS(?)

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“Hello, my name’s Arabella!” she smiled brightly.

 

Addy smiled as she looked down at the girl, taking in the unique outfit and the eager face.  "Hello there, Miz Arabeller, I'm Addy, pleased ta make yer acquaintance."  If she wasn't mistaken, the child had been at the dance, and had been quite the...dancer.

 

“Us fancy dress folk is sat on the front row!” Arabella informed the formidable looking wagoner.

 

"That so?"  It took a bit of doing not to laugh at the girl, but Addy managed to keep a straight face.  "Front's th' best, I hear."

 

“We got Lady Liberty and a Bear and I’m a Vivandière. But don’t go killin’ the bear, ‘cause it’s just a person in a suit, really.”

 

"Ah, good ta know."  As far as why there was a bear and a Lady Liberty here, Addy wasn't sure, but what mattered was what sort of  food was being served later.

 

Belatedly, she noticed the girl at the punch, and she winced.  This could make things interesting!

 

“It tickles!” she announced, delighted.

 

"That's one way ta put it," Addy laughed, wondering if she should stop Arabella from having more of the spiked punch, or if telling her not to would just make her want more?  No matter, Addy would keep an eye on her so she didn't get into too much trouble!  Of course, if she overdid it, she'd feel it in the morning!

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"That so?"  It took a bit of doing not to laugh at the girl, but Addy managed to keep a straight face. "Front's th' best, I hear."

 

“Oh sure!” agreed Arabella “I got to be handy too, I’m on the programme, right after…” she had to glance at a small slip of paper with the order of business on it to remember the name “… ‘Miss Steelgrave’. I’ve writ a poem to recite, it’s all about a man who has a fight with a monkey.” She informed Addy matter-of-factly, like that was a common theme for poetic treatment. She pointed out the array of fancy dress folk on the seats facing the … well, it wasn’t so much a stage, just a table and two chairs where the Chairwoman and Secretary of the Meeting would sit.

 

“We got Lady Liberty and a Bear and I’m a Vivandière. But don’t go killin’ the bear, ‘cause it’s just a person in a suit, really.”

 

"Ah, good ta know."  As far as why there was a bear and a Lady Liberty here, Addy wasn't sure, but what mattered was what sort of  food was being served later.

 

Belatedly, she noticed the girl at the punch, and she winced.  This could make things interesting!

“It tickles!” she announced, delighted.

 

"That's one way ta put it," Addy laughed.

 

Arabella nodded, knocking back the rest of the glass and smacking her lips with a satisfied “Ahhhh! That stuff’s better’n cough medicine!” She indicated that Addy, too, should empty her beaker. “Drink up and we’ll get another one before we sit down.” She advised, winking  conspiratorially, and only wishing that she could surreptitiously fill her empty brandy barrel, part of her outfit, before they left the bowl.

 

The Bear was very polite and stood as Addy and Arabella approached the seats. Granny Miggins just shot her a glare.

 

“This is Addy, she’s a mule skinner, and…” started Arabella.

 

“Oh, I know Adelaide Chappel!” butted in the old woman with the spikey crown and unconvincing torch of liberty, not sounding like knowing Addy was an agreeable thing at all. However, the name made the big Bear bow low.

 

“Ah! Miss Adelaide Chappel, how very charming to meet you Miss Chappel. I would very much like to discuss a certain matter with you privately after the meeting, if you do not have to rush off.” Came a rumbly, and sophisticated man’s voice from within the bear’s head.

This so amazed Arabella that she dropped into her chair open mouthed with a thunk, although she was very careful not to spill any of the precious cordial from her glass.

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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“Ahhhh! That stuff’s better’n cough medicine!”

 

"Reckon you could say that."  Of course, most cough medicines likely had more alcohol in them than the punch did, that was why folks bought them, and why they 'worked'.  "Just gotta take it easy."  Then the girl slurped down the rest of her glass in one gulp!

 

“Drink up and we’ll get another one before we sit down.”

 

"Good idea, that."  While she didn't want to encourage the girl, neither did she want to deprive herself a little reinforcement in the face of the upcoming ordeal!  She just made sure that she didn't fill the glasses as much as she might.

 

Then Arabella introduced her Old Miz Miggins...

 

“This is Addy, she’s a mule skinner, and…” started Arabella.

 

“Oh, I know Adelaide Chappel!”

 

"Right-o!"  Addy grinned widely, not at all put off by the woman's grump, but rather entertained by it.

 

“Ah! Miss Adelaide Chappel, how very charming to meet you Miss Chappel. I would very much like to discuss a certain matter with you privately after the meeting, if you do not have to rush off.”

 

"Oh, well..."  Not only was Addy a little startled finding that she was talking to a bear, but that anyone would want to talk to her at all.  "I reckon that'd be all right," she agreed, then grinned, "so long as I don't fall inta a stupor first...Oh, an' I'd best warn ya, I'm th' best bear hunter this side'a th' Mississippi!

 

@Javia

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"Oh, well..."  Not only was Addy a little startled finding that she was talking to a bear, but that anyone would want to talk to her at all.  "I reckon that'd be all right," she agreed, then grinned, "so long as I don't fall inta a stupor first...Oh, an' I'd best warn ya, I'm th' best bear hunter this side'a th' Mississippi!

 

The courteous bear chortled obligingly at this witticism, although it was hard to read much in his passive features, a gift of the taxidermist’s art. He would have made an excellent poker player.

 

Before any more of this ursine conversation could take place, however, the rapping report of a gavel brought the room to order. Most of the assembled ladies, all in very fine dresses that outshone the motley collection of outfits worn by the front row crew by far, had helped themselves to punch and sat down, ready for the meeting. This was to be “An Extraordinary Meeting of the Kalispell Ladies’ Society” which meant instead of merely sniping at each other, the members got to snipe at a number of guest speakers: and first on the menu was one that they could all agree to dislike on principle: Miss Leah Steelgrave.

 

Some disliked her because of her name, some because of the expensive sounding scheme she had come to talk about today, some because she gave herself airs (walking around with bodyguards, indeed, like she was royalty!) the last quarter just hated her because she was young and beautiful, and they no longer were.

 

The Chairwoman and Secretary sat at the front, facing the other ladies (and bear) and despite the full programme, insisted on going through something called “The Minutes of the Previous Meeting” which seemed more like 'hours' than 'minutes' to Arabella. However, the assembled ladies were so eager to taste Steelgrave blood, that they dispensed with the usual bickering over the accuracy of the record of their last get together.

 

The pompous and crabby chairwoman then took a quick slurp of the laced punch to clear her throat and announced the next item on the Agenda, with a quick rap of her gavel.

 

 “Order, Ladies, order!” she barked.

 

“Item number two, an Address by Miss. L. Steelgrave.” She announced to a stunning round of ... silence. The only applause was from the front row, who presumably didn’t know that they were meant to disapprove of the speaker.

 

@Flip @JulieS @Bongo

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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The pompous and crabby chairwoman then took a quick slurp of the laced punch to clear her throat and announced the next item on the Agenda, with a quick rap of her gavel.

 

 “Order, Ladies, order!” she barked.

 

“Item number two, an Address by Miss. L. Steelgrave.” She announced to a stunning round of ... silence. The only applause was from the front row, who presumably didn’t know that they were meant to disapprove of the speaker.


Hardly ill prepared for the silence that followed her introduction, in a way she had expected such. In fact, truth be told, she had expected far worse. But no matter, she was here about the hospital and perhaps a bit about the orphanage plans.

 

“Ladies, thank you so much for inviting me to share our idea for a hospital, which of course will be first and foremost in our plans.” She began. “I fully understand that there are several stories circulating in regard to our plans, so I am here in part to clarify what those plans are, what the cost to the town would be, and how we intend to proceed.”

 

”And, before you ask, the we are Doctors Danforth and Boone, as well as myself.  Perhaps the biggest controversy is the name for the hospital. We have a couple of names already, Kalispell Hospital, Flathead County Hospital, or perhaps publishing a contest in the Union to name the facility. The Steelgrave name will not be any part of this project.” She saw Phinias McVay enter the room, pad and pencil in hand, and in the lobby, Danforth and Boone within earshot of the proceedings.

 

“What is it that we are requesting from the town? A plot of land to build on. That would be in exchange for the right of ways that were procured for the coming railroad which are currently in the custody of Judge Ben Robinson. You should know, those right of ways belong to the town Kalispell, not to any individual.” She paused, expecting questions or accusations.

large.Phinn-155.jpg.732f57ba2a9ff4e12541223158dfd201.jpglarge.jonah2.jpg.f6828992e636729dafcd26f7570ed7ef.jpglarge.719236274_DocBoone.jpg.f5f153d1c28f60b818224a49f6038460.jpg

@JulieS@Bongo@Javia@Any

 

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"Sounds like a right fine idea!" Addy declared without reservation, "ain't like th' town can't afford some land, an' we certainly could benefit from a hospital."  She shrugged, not minding any rules that might be in place for proper discussion.  "'Specially after what happened in Whitefish, ain't no need ta be travelin' half way cross th' territory if a body needs help."

 

And in the winter, that sort of travel wasn't even possible, with all the passes and roads snowed closed.

 

"Right fine idea, I say."

 

@Javia; @Flip; @JulieS

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Sarah had just taken her seat at the back when Leah was introduced.  The buggy ride from Lost Lake had a lot longer than she had expected.  For safety reasons, she had two hands accompany her and they were now probably over at the saloon enjoying themselves, which was more than she could say for herself.  Having already met some of the ladies who were seated at the front, she wasn't exactly in a rush to socialise with them.   The only reason she had come was to get more information about this project and to relay it back to the others at the ranch.  There was another reason that she wanted to come today but that would have to wait for later.

 

As she listened to Leah, she felt sorry in a way for the battle she was facing.  Knowing the full story of what went on between her family and the Steelgraves, Sarah was in two minds about the subject.  Part of her wanted to support her family and part of didn't want to make any judgements without getting to know the story from the other side, which would be difficult under the circumstances.

 

At the end of the speech, Sarah could see Leah waiting for a response.  There was one question that she felt needed to be asked.  Ventures like this back in San Francisco usually had some sort of board or committee running them and she was yet to hear anything about this.  All she knew was that Leah and the two doctors were the principle project stakeholders.

 

Not knowing how her question would be taken, Sarah took a deep breath and stood up.  "Excuse me Miss Steelgrave, you said the Steelgrave name would not be any part of this project.  Am I right in assuming that you will be handing over all control to an elected board or committee and stepping aside if your plan is approved by the town council?"

 

@Flip

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"Right fine idea, I say."

 

Arabella nodded in agreement with Addy. She was very taken with the young woman who had given the speech, and sighed a little. If only girls were allowed to fall in love and marry other women, she’d have picked the beautiful, intelligent and poised Miss Steelgrave. She felt a little dizzy and lightheaded: must be the heat in here, she reasoned, and took another sip of cooling punch.

 

The old crone at her side however, fidgeted and grumbled all the way through the short talk, and looked about to say something when another lady stood up. She had come in at the last minute and looked a little to well turned out and well to do to really be a part of the motley Front Row bunch.

 

Not knowing how her question would be taken, Sarah took a deep breath and stood up.  "Excuse me Miss Steelgrave, you said the Steelgrave name would not be any part of this project.  Am I right in assuming that you will be handing over all control to an elected board or committee and stepping aside if your plan is approved by the town council?"

 

Nellie Miggins, feeling gazumped, jumped to her feet, too, and hollered “Yeah, what she said! Mrs Carlton-Thornton-Whatever. And also, who’s payin’ fer the upkeep of this here hospital shebang? The poor taxpayer? Or is one of them deals where you pay through the nose and poor folks can’t afford it? A hospital for the rich folks! The Steelgraves and Carlton-Thornton-Whatevers of the world! Answer me that Miss Leah Fancypants Steelgrave!”

 

At this, an enraged Arabella jumped up and heard herself yelling at Granny Miggins. “You sit down and shut up you nasty old witch! Miss Steelgrave’s beautiful and clever and she knows what’s best for this town! What I want to know is, where did she buy that beautiful frock, it just suits her to a tee!” she gushed, turning an admiring gaze onto the slim young woman.

 

At this altercation others started to stand up and shout questions too, and yet others told them to sit down and shut up. The secretary of the meeting banged the gavel on the table, shouting “Order ladies order!” but then the chairwoman cried “Hey you! That’s MY gavel, give it here!” and there was an undignified tussle at the top table for possession of the little wooden hammer.

 

Somehow order was restored, leaving Leah to answer the now slightly confusing mess of questions about the running of the Hospital Board, arrangements for initial and on-going finance of the project, and, er, where did she buy that beautiful dress from.

 

@Flip

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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First there was agreement from Addy Chapple, "Right fine idea, I say." Leah nodded with a smile.

 

Not knowing how her question would be taken, Sarah took a deep breath and stood up.  "Excuse me Miss Steelgrave, you said the Steelgrave name would not be any part of this project.  Am I right in assuming that you will be handing over all control to an elected board or committee and stepping aside if your plan is approved by the town council?"

 

But before she could respond, Nellie Miggens in her ridiculous attire, jumped to her feet, too, and hollered “Yeah, what she said! Mrs Carlton-Thornton-Whatever. And also, who’s payin’ fer the upkeep of this here hospital shebang? The poor taxpayer? Or is one of them deals where you pay through the nose and poor folks can’t afford it? A hospital for the rich folks! The Steelgraves and Carlton-Thornton-Whatevers of the world! Answer me that Miss Leah Fancypants Steelgrave!”

 

But before a somewhat stunned Leah Steelgrave could respond, Arabella Mudd was on her feet yelling at Granny Miggins. “You sit down and shut up you nasty old witch! Miss Steelgrave’s beautiful and clever and she knows what’s best for this town!” Whatever else she was saying was lost in a barrage of questions from some of the other ladies present, if they were even lady-like at this point. She started to speak when the secretary of the meeting banged the gavel on the table, shouting “Order ladies order!” but then the chairwoman cried “Hey you! That’s MY gavel, give it here!” and there was an undignified tussle at the top table for possession of the little wooden hammer.  

 

Leah stood the model of composure, now waiting on order, and determined to wait as long as it took for that to happen. Within minutes of the gavel banging, and the ensuring tussle over it’s ownership rights, the room fell quiet.

 

“Yes Ma’am, to answer your questions, there is already plans for such a committee, however, we are still waiting on the Town Council to find time to convene on this matter, which seems to be of little importance to them.” She responded pleasantly.

 

“At the present time there are no plans for any of us to step aside as a concession to the Town Council, or anyone for that matter. You’ll forgive me madam, what I said was, that the Steelgrave name will not be any part of this project. Doctor’s Danforth, Boone and I, plan to see this project through to completion.”

 

“There are adequate grant funds already held in trust in Helena. Those funds will see the construction of the building, as well as the equipment that will be required and, is gathering interest as it has since the winter. What remains will be used to maintain the building and it’s equipment over the next several years.  But of course, with the continual delay from the Town Council on this simple matter, they are delaying the project unnecessarily, as for the taxation question, at some point I would think that yes, if it is publicly owned, then the public would need to support the hospital.” Her eyes narrowed. "At the moment it is privately owned, and will remain so for the foreseeable future." Looking up from his pad, Phinn smiled.


“The indigent will be cared for, regardless of their ability to pay.”  Then, "Miss Mudd, I do not pretend to know what is best for anything, much less this town.
@JulieS@Bongo@Javia

 

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Oh, no, no, no!

 

Addy was not the sort particularly to meddle, but there were times when lines were crossed, and since no one else seemed to be doing anything about it, Addy took it upon herself.  Besides, the girl was sitting right beside her.

 

Grasping Arabella firmly by the wrist, Addy stood and started for the aisle, glancing at Leah.  "Miz Steelgrave, ladies..."  She gave a nod as she towed the hapless girl out of the room, through the lobby and out the back door, where she finally released her.

 

"Now you lissen here, Missy, an' lissen good!"  Oh, Addy was riled.  "It don't matter who ya are, nor how ya think on anyone, ya treat yer elders with respect, even if ya don't agree with them!"

 

And chances were good that the child was merely a guest, she was far too young to be a member, and that made her infringement all the worse!

 

"Yer invited here ta give yer recitin' of yer poem, but that don't give ya right ta say nothin' ta th' members, much th' less tell Miz Miggins ta shut up.  She has her opinions an' ideas, an' their proper ones, an' bringin' up Miz Leah's attire has no place...she's tryin' ta do a good thing fer this town, an' you go an' embarrass her, gettin' folks ta think about her pretty dress an' not what's important!"

 

So many words for the simple jeru to be spewing!  "If ya plan on gettin' anywhere in this here town, nor with th' folks, yer gonna hafta learn ta rein in yer tongue an' know when ta hold it altogether!  Now, missy, we best get back so ya can get ta yer recitin'.  An' no snifflin', ya brung this on yerself!  Hold yer head high an' do a right good job with that poem...'bout a man fightin' a monkey."

 

Certainly, Addy considered, she would be remiss to miss that!

 

@Javia

(Did a bit of god-modding, I can edit if you'd like)

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Grasping Arabella firmly by the wrist, Addy stood and started for the aisle, glancing at Leah.  "Miz Steelgrave, ladies..."  She gave a nod as she towed the hapless girl out of the room, through the lobby and out the back door, where she finally released her. 

 

Arabella gave a scream of alarm as the strong grip of Addy seized her skinny wrist, and another as she started to drag her out, much to the delight of Granny Miggins who shouted after them “Yeah, take her out and give her a good spankin’! Better still, do it here in front of everybody!”

 

As the two of them passed Phinias McVey, Arabella held out a hand and yelled “Mr McVey, put in your… ouch! … newspaper about how Miss Steelgrave’s supporters was forcibly ejaculated from the room!” Outside, Addy let her go, and Arabella rubbed her wrist sullenly.

 

"Now you lissen here, Missy, an' lissen good!"  Oh, Addy was riled.  "It don't matter who ya are, nor how ya think on anyone, ya treat yer elders with respect, even if ya don't agree with them!" 

 

“Ow, you’re not the boss of me and you hurt my wrist, an I’m gonna tell on you!” she yelped back, flinching occasionally, wary that the wagoneer might grab her again. “An’ everybody says Granny Miggins is a nasty old witch, not just me!”

 

"Yer invited here ta give yer recitin' of yer poem, but that don't give ya right ta say nothin' ta th' members, much th' less tell Miz Miggins ta shut up.  She has her opinions an' ideas, an' their proper ones, an' bringin' up Miz Leah's attire has no place...she's tryin' ta do a good thing fer this town, an' you go an' embarrass her, gettin' folks ta think about her pretty dress an' not what's important!"

 

“Well, she does have nice dresses, and that is important for a lady … just cause you like wearin’ men’s clothes. I thought she looked pretty and why shouldn’t I say so?!” Arabella was starting to sob with anger and shame at the way she’d ben dragged out of there, much to the amusement of all the onlookers.

 

"If ya plan on gettin' anywhere in this here town, nor with th' folks, yer gonna hafta learn ta rein in yer tongue an' know when ta hold it altogether!  Now, missy, we best get back so ya can get ta yer recitin'.  An' no snifflin', ya brung this on yerself!  Hold yer head high an' do a right good job with that poem...'bout a man fightin' a monkey."

 

“Oh! I don’t care about that stupid old poem anymore!" Arabella screamed "I ain’t going back in there after you made a fool of me!” cried Arabella, literally stamping her foot on the ground, big tears virtually squirting out of her eyes now. “I’m goin’ back to the saloon, an’ I’m gonna tell ‘em all about how you hurted me an’ broke my wrist and … and … everything!” she bawled and dodging out of the way of any attempt to arrest her motion, darted back through the hotel and out onto the street.

 

Meanwhile, the delighted Nellie Miggins had noticed the forlorn, painfully spelled out poem, sitting on Arabella’s vacated seat, and with much glee carefully torn it up into little scraps of paper. “He, he, he, that little saloon slut won’t be needing that anymore, I reckon.” She cackled to herself.

 

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