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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.

After the Ball Was Over


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Mature Content: No

Author: Bongo!

With: Emeline Blakesley, Barnabas Pike
Location: Add specific location information here.
When: April 22, 1876
Time of Day: Night

 

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"I had a grand time," Emeline declared as she and Barnabas strolled arm-in-arm down the main street of town toward the Lickskillet Cafe where her rooms were.  It was late, after midnight, and it had been a long day, and while she was still very awake from all the excitement of the dance, Emeline would be glad to crawl into bed.  Besides, she needed to be up extra early to get back to the barn and clean up the tables she'd used for her cookies and pies...that was waiting until  morning.

 

"It's good to see everyone enjoying themselves and getting along so well.  I really do think this will be a good place to settle and raise a family."

 

It was dark as they walked up the gravel path to the front of the building, but both of them had been on that path so many times before that they didn't need more than the Moonlight to negotiate it.  In a way, though, Emeline was sad to see the evening end, but at least she had a kiss to look forward to!

 

But as the stepped onto the porch, she stopped...the door was ajar.  "I thought I locked this after Bridget and I left," she murmured, looking up at Barnabas with a frown.  "But maybe I was just absent-minded."  It wasn't as if there should be trouble, right?

 

@Flip

 

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"I had a grand time," Emeline declared as she and Barnabas strolled arm-in-arm down the main street of town toward the Lickskillet Cafe where her rooms were.  It was late, after midnight, and it had been a long day, and while she was still very awake from all the excitement of the dance, Emeline would be glad to crawl into bed.  Besides, she needed to be up extra early to get back to the barn and clean up the tables she'd used for her cookies and pies...that was waiting until  morning.

 

“It was that, to be sure. Seems to me everyone had a good time of it.” Barnabas said in agreement, it had been a great time that evening.  

 

"It's good to see everyone enjoying themselves and getting along so well.  I really do think this will be a good place to settle and raise a family."

 

“Better be, ‘cuz this is where we’ll be doin’ just that.” He smiled at her. “Hadn’t much thought of havin’ a wife again. Reckon time does heal them wounds, when pone runs onto the right person.”

 

It was dark as they walked up the gravel path to the front of the building, but both of them had been on that path so many times before that they didn't need more than the Moonlight to negotiate it.  In a way, though, Emeline was sad to see the evening end, but at least she had a kiss to look forward to!

 

But as they stepped onto the porch, she stopped...the door was ajar.  "I thought I locked this after Bridget and I left," she murmured, looking up at Barnabas with a frown.  "But maybe I was just absent-minded."  It wasn't as if there should be trouble, right?

 

In an instant there was a derringer in his hand, cocked, and ready, his left arm holding her back as he stepped forward, nudging the door slowly open, eyes fixed on the moonlit interior, but not as much light as he would have liked as he probed the shadow for any movement.

 

He then stepped inside, scanning the room slowly, as not to miss anything. Pronto stepped forth easily, slowly, not knowing quite what to expect in the shadows of the Lickskillet. He moved  toward the kitchen area where there was a back door, but, nothing. Then he froze, there was a creek of a floorboard, followed by a clatter in the dining area, how had he missed who, or whatever was in the darkness?

 

@Bongo

Edited by Flip (see edit history)
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Staying close behind Barnabas, but mindful to not be restricting any move he may have to make, Emeline peered into the darkness, jumping a little at the clatter in the kitchen.  Was someone looking for food?  There wasn't much else of value in the place, unless they got upstairs to her living quarters...

 

Then there was a blood-curdling screech, followed by more clattering, and Emeline surged forward, almost passing Barnabas.  "Buster!"  Someone was after her cat! 

 

There was another flurry of noise and an instant later something rushed at them from the kitchen, relatively small, down at ground level, pursued by a yellow ball of one-eyed hissing fluff! 

 

Dancing out of the way, Emeline cleared the way to the door, asking, "Is that a raccoon?"  Even though the way was clear to the front door, the creature seemed to be running in place, at least until it wobbled and flopped over, then struggled to stand again as Buster sat and growled.

 

@Flip

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Dancing out of the way, Emeline cleared the way to the door, asking, "Is that a raccoon?"  Even though the way was clear to the front door, the creature seemed to be running in place, at least until it wobbled and flopped over, then struggled to stand again as Buster sat and growled.


“Liked ta had me a coonskin cap, had I been a mite faster.” Barnabas said. “Best get a light lit so’s we can see what the damage is.” He hadn't heard any glass break, so that was a good sign.

 

Racoons don’t open doors but, yes, she may have left it unintentionally unlocked, what with a rush to get things to the site of the dance. But, might be a good idea to check the place over.


“Best we have a look upstairs, just in case the racoon followed someone inside.” Not something he thought might happen, Kalispell was pretty quite, for the most part, and he’d not seen a break-in of any kind since he signed on with Speed.

 

@Bongo

 

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Mr. Raccoon finally managed to stagger out the door, and as Buster started in pursuit, Emeline snatched him up by the nape, chiding, "Oh, no you don't!" 

 

Even at arm's length, there was an odor coming off the squirming cat, and Emeline frowned.  "Oh, you did not..."  She glanced at Barnabas and shook her head.  "He reeks of elderberry wine.  I think that poor raccoon is drunk!"

 

Buster wouldn't actually drink the stuff, but if the raccoon had knocked the bottle over, the cat would have tramped through it, and it did explain why the wild critter was so off-balance.  And sure enough, once she lit the lamp in the kitchen, the evidence was there on the floor.

 

"Oh, good heavens!"  Letting go of the cat, she started to laugh.  "I always wondered what Buster got up to when I was gone!"

 

@Flip

 

 

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"Oh, good heavens!"  Letting go of the cat, she started to laugh.  "I always wondered what Buster got up to when I was gone!"


“Well, now you know, but how did the door get left ajar?” He asked, then added, “It’s surely possible that you thought you locked up, but didn’t. So I believe the mystery here is solved, and the culprit has staggered off into the night.”

 

“Nothing like a little late night excitement to get the blood pumpin’ again.” He had to laugh, a drunk racoon, not something one sees every day. “So, I think all’s well here, less you want me to have a look upstairs.”

@Bongo

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"Perhaps you'd better."  While Emeline didn't think there was anything more amiss than her own absent-mindedness, it wouldn't hurt to err on the side of caution.  "I'll get this cleaned up..."

 

She hadn't planned on sopping up spilled elderberry wine, it had been a long day and she'd been up early, but at least the bottle wasn't broken.

 

"Buster, you are supposed to keep critters out," she chided with a soft laugh as she grabbed a towel then set to work.  "Are you trying to frighten Barnabas off?  You know he knows about you, and besides, it's too late."  Reaching over, she scratched the cat's ears, "He already proposed and the date is set, so trying to make us look like wild heathens by inviting your friends over won't work!"

 

@Flip

 

 

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 "Perhaps you'd better."  While Emeline didn't think there was anything more amiss than her own absent-mindedness, it wouldn't hurt to err on the side of caution.  "I'll get this cleaned up..."
 

“No ma’am it wouldn’t, I’ll just be a minute.” With all the noise they were making, and the cat as well, anyone upstairs would be either ready to fight, or already out that window up there, but all the same, he’d have a look, no way that he’d leave her alone until he was positive she was.


She hadn't planned on sopping up spilled elderberry wine, it had been a long day and she'd been up early, but at least the bottle wasn't broken.


"Buster, you are supposed to keep critters out," she chided with a soft laugh as she grabbed a towel then set to work.  "Are you trying to frighten Barnabas off?  You know he knows about you, and besides, it's too late."  Reaching over, she scratched the cat's ears, "He already proposed and the date is set, so trying to make us look like wild heathens by inviting your friends over won't work!"


He came back down, the derringer tucked away, a smile on his face, overhearing Em talking to the cat. “That’s right Buster, I know all about you, and yes, I’m hornin’ in with yer owner, like it or not. Ain’t no one been up there that shouldn’t have been, so it looks to be just the drunken racoon. Dangdest think I ever seen. I’m worried some about the comp’ny you keep.”

 

@Bongo

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Emeline rolled her eyes, then laughed.  "Oh, just wait until you see the man who won my heart, he'll make that poor raccoon look like the Prince of India!"  She rinsed out the rag she'd used to clean up the wine then hung it on the edge of the sink.  "And even better, he drinks his wine from a glass and cleans up his own messes!"

 

Grinning, she stepped over and kissed him, then nestled against his chest.  "I promise I'll pay more attention to locking up, but I'm glad I have you here to keep me safe."  Chuckling a little, she added, "Out at the house I suppose there will be all manner of critters looking for my biscuits and elderberry wine!  They'll all be welcome, though."

 

Even if there were wild creatures lurking around, Emeline would want to help them....well, she'd keep mountain lions at a distance, but the smaller things she wouldn't mind.

 

@Flip

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Emeline rolled her eyes, then laughed.  "Oh, just wait until you see the man who won my heart, he'll make that poor raccoon look like the Prince of India!"  She rinsed out the rag she'd used to clean up the wine then hung it on the edge of the sink.  "And even better, he drinks his wine from a glass and cleans up his own messes!"


“Zat so?” Barnabas asked. “An what’s this about the Prince of Inda? Never heard of the man.”
 

Grinning, she stepped over and kissed him, then nestled against his chest.  "I promise I'll pay more attention to locking up, but I'm glad I have you here to keep me safe."  Chuckling a little, she added, "Out at the house I suppose there will be all manner of critters looking for my biscuits and elderberry wine!  They'll all be welcome, though."


“Well, I figger you were in a rush to get those baked goods to the dance ahead of the crowd. Givin’ yerself time to get set up an’ all. Happens.” He said understandingly. “But he didn’t do much in the way of damage, bottle didn’t even break, just smells a bit like elderberry wine. Best open the windas, air the place out afore breakfast.”

 

@Bongo

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"Ah, yes, that's a good idea."  Emeline nodded, but she was in no hurry to move away from him...as independent as she wanted to believe she was, she enjoyed and longed for the warmth and comfort of his touch.  It wouldn't be long that she could just stay in his arms, yet it seemed an eternity.

 

Finally, she pushed away and took a step back, smiling.  "You're right, though, I was in a hurry and likely didn't close the door properly.  I'm afraid I don't pay as close attention as I should."  He was going to be angry with her, but there were mostly good folks around town so she wasn't very careful about always locking up.  Besides, she would never turn down someone needing a meal, so if they wandered in...well, she'd rather not have them sneaking around, but....

 

"I'll be more vigilant..."

 

@Flip

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"I'll be more vigilant..."

 

His brow furrowed as he looked at her, "Em, I'm not angry about this. I mean we all have our moments. 'taint no reason to be upset. Happens to the best of us. I'll give ya a hand with the windas."  He laughed a bit.

 

"A drunk racoon, likely to be coyote bait in that condition. That'd be the thing about elderberry wine, tastes too good to be doin' what it does to man er beast." He said. That coon'll have him a real headach come daylight if he survives the night!" 

 

"So, yer safe enough, that's plain. All that dancin', I'm plum tuckered out, especially after that coon business. You gonna be okay?" He asked.

 

@Bongo

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"Yes, yes, I'll be fine..."  Her tone was distracted as she looked toward the door, them back to Barnabas.  "Do you really think coyotes will get that poor raccoon?"  Could the creature make it though the night in its condition...and could she just ignore that it might be in danger?

 

"Oh, Barnabas, I know you'll think me silly, but I have to at least see if I can find him..."  After all, she had left the door open, and it had been her elderberry wine...

 

"I can put him in the shed out back for the night."  Although she certainly didn't expect him to partake in her whims.  "Then I'll behave and get to bed so I can be an adult in the morning!"  She grabbed an apron to wrap around the raccoon, if she found it.

 

@Flip

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 "Yes, yes, I'll be fine..."  Her tone was distracted as she looked toward the door, them back to Barnabas.  "Do you really think coyotes will get that poor raccoon?"  Could the creature make it though the night in its condition...and could she just ignore that it might be in danger?


“There’s always that chance, even if the coon was sober as a judge.” He responded. “It’s nature, Em.”
 

"Oh, Barnabas, I know you'll think me silly, but I have to at least see if I can find him..."  After all, she had left the door open, and it had been her elderberry wine...


“Sure, we can have a look but I dunno, ‘course he was movin’ kinda slow.” Came the answer. He was less than enthusiastic about rummaging around in the dark for it, but Emeline was feeling guilty and well, he'd get to spend a bit more time with her.
 

"I can put him in the shed out back for the night."  Although she certainly didn't expect him to partake in her whims.  "Then I'll behave and get to bed so I can be an adult in the morning!"  She grabbed an apron to wrap around the raccoon, if she found it.


“Chances wouldn’t be good if that thing weren’t drunk from the wine, but there’s a chance we’ll find it, maybe it passed out along the way, but you be careful, they bite and scratch and the Lord knows what it could have.” He warned.

 

@Bongo

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"Yes, all right."  Another measure of the man, that he would go along with her antics, and not try to dissuade her.  "I know nature isn't kind, but elderberry wine is hardly nature."  She started for the door, chuckling.  "Unless they have a little winery some place where they make wines...little vineyards, and they all stomp the grapes with their tiny feet!" 

 

Now she was just being goofy, but she was happy, and it was good to be able to just play and not be worried and serious all the time.

 

"Oh, you're right, the poor thing didn't make it far," she commented as she stepped onto the porch.  Mr. Raccoon was flopped in the middle of the path, a dark blob against the light gravel, but Emeline was careful to approach it slowly, watching for any signs of aggression.  "I suppose he'll sleep well tonight."

 

Chuckling, she used the apron to gently prod the beastie then finally pick it up when there wasn't much of a reaction.  "The perils of drink!" she laughed, then added, "I never did think that my elderberry wine was so potent!  I'll have to take more care, lest I inebriate a hapless soul!"

 

@Flip

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

"Yes, perhaps you've made a friend for life with that masked marauder. Pike kidded. "I'd have competition ten, I suppose. but you've a point about the perils of drink. Man or beast can get careless with it, and that can cost him in the end, cost him dearly."  He thought of a couple of friends over the years that had drank themselves out of home and hearth, job, and health. It had been sad to watch the progression

 

"But, perhaps he'll leave well enough alone after he sobers up and deals with the hangover." He took her hand, "It's been a grand evening Em. Went by too fast, but it was fun." He then took her in an embrace, not too long, nor to quick, but appropriate for time and place. "So, back to work tomorrow, my turn down't the office. And no leavin' the dishes, neither."

@Bongo

Wow...missed that one!

 

 

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"It was a wonderful evening," she agreed, in fact, it was the first time they'd been to a community function as a couple, and had a chance to dance like they had.  "I had an amazing time, and I can't wait for us to have more nights like this."

 

Any night with him...

 

"Don't worry about the dishes, Clara and I can take care of them, and I know you have other work to do."  Breathing deeply, she relished the feel of him holding her, remembering it, his scent, the beat of his heart...her heart.

 

Finally, she moved back and gave his hand a squeeze.  "It won't be long before we don't have to part," she commented with a smile, giving him a kiss on the cheek.  "Then you'll get tired of seeing me all the time!"

 

@Flip

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With a quick chuckle he said, "Might oughtta wait an' see who gets tired of seein' who first. Doubt that'll be me, cuz I can't see enough of you." There was a pause. "I got the duty in the morning with Speed, but I'll be by when I can. Sunday, oughtta be right quiet, so maybe we'll be in fer breakfast." He touched her face, gently, "You sleep well an' thanks f or a great evening, and a bit of excitement."

 

He stepped out into the night air as he had so many nights before, but it wouldn't be long before the knot was tied between them and their life together began. The hose was coming along faster than he had thought it would, especially with him sharing the duty with Speed, and washing dishes when he wasn't. Left pitiful little time to work on the house, but his hired men were efficient and already had the floor down and three of the walls up for the first floor.

@Bongo ?(end or...)

 

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