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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.

A New Start

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Mature Content: No

With: Ben Simons, Charles Wentworth Sr. and Rebecca Wentworth
Location: Add specific location information here.
When: First Week of May 1876
Time of Day: Evening




"You cheated!"


"No...I just used the laws of probability to my own advantage.  Unfortunately, my opponent saw it as cheating."


Ben smiled graciously at his uncle.  Aunt Rebecca had warned him that his uncle wasn't going to like this unexpected visit.  Well, visit wasn't the right word...more like an enforced stay.  From what he had seen of Kalispell so far it was going to be a very long one.


Charles looked at his nephew and sighed heavily.  Even though Ben was a likeable fellow, it was his choice of profession that he didn't like and now it had gotten the man into deep trouble.  "What happened then?"


"Well, as you might have guessed, he drew his gun on me and that's when his wife stepped in."  Ben paused for a moment looking for the right way to phrase the next part of his story.  After quickly glancing at both his aunt and uncle, he stood up.


"What I mean is that is wife literally stepped in.  She came bursting through the doors of the parlour and stood between me and her husband."


Sensing there was more to this than Ben was actually saying, Charles just nodded his head, leaned back in his armchair and waited for the rest.


"Thanks to her timely appearance, I was able to get away.  I have no doubt she kept her husband at bay long enough for me to go back to my lodgings to collect my things and hightail it out of town.  It's a good thing I travel lightly."


Rebecca smiled a little at Ben's remark.  Turning to her husband, she said, "That's when he turned up in Washington.  As you know it's too soon for Mary and the baby to travel and with Frederick starting work with that Senator, I was looking at taking the journey here on my own.  Ben was a great help in getting me here safely."


"Yes, and I am grateful for that."


"It was a pleasure, Uncle Charles.  It was also a good way to get re-acquainted with you, Aunt Rebecca."  Looking up at the clock on the mantel, Ben smiled again, "Perhaps we can continue this over dinner and you can tell me more about this quaint town."


"And you can tell me more about this situation you've gotten yourself into, " Charles replied as he stood up.


Ben nodded, "Yes, it's a situation and one I don't see ending any time soon."


To be continued

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ben took a sip of the brandy, he had as he stared at the fire in his uncle's study.  The brandy was pretty good considering that he was out in the middle of nowhere but the middle of nowhere was the safest place to be at this time.


A noise alerted to him to the fact that his uncle had returned.  Turning around Ben, smiled as he watched his uncle poured his own brandy.  He liked and respected his Uncle Charles, who had been a man of influence in Washington.  Whatever his reasons for moving out here and buying the local bank must have been good.  Then again, all of the man's sons had by some sheer stroke of luck had all ended up in Kalispell as well.  Wanting to be near your family was a good reason in anybody's book and Ben was no different.  Maybe his enforced stay would give him the opportunity to get re-acquainted with cousins.


Charles took a sip of brandy before sitting down on one of the two large armchairs near the fireplace and invited Ben to take the other.  When he had, Charles stared at him for a moment, "Now, perhaps you can tell me the parts of your story you didn't want Rebecca to hear."


A grin formed on Ben's face, "Nothing gets by you, Uncle Charles."  Taking another sip of brandy, he leaned back in the chair, "I guess it started when I met the lady.  I was new in town and didn't know that she was married until, well let's just say, until I was well and truly involved with her.  Her husband must have found out and that's probably why he invited me to that particular game.  A high stakes card game with some very influential men who had lots of money was very tempting and one I couldn't pass up.  No doubt he had the rumours of me being a cheat, which are not true.  As you know, I am very knowledgeable in mathematics and the laws of probability and I use that my advantage.  As God is my witness, I promise you that I never have or never will resort to cheating to win a game of cards."


"That's good to know," Charles said, "I'll hold you to that promise because if I ever find out that you've done something dishonest, especially during your stay here, I'll be the first to make sure that you leave town."


Nodding, Ben half-smiled, "I have no doubt that you would."


After taking another sip of brandy, Ben continued, "Well, as you know the man did end up accusing me of cheating and was ready to draw on me, when his wife came. That's when I found that she was married.  I didn't have much to think about it until later but at that point, I just grabbed what I had and took off as fast as I could.  Thinking back, I am very grateful what she did for me.  I have no idea of the consequences she suffered in doing so...maybe one day I will."


He paused for a moment to think of the fair-haired woman he had come to know and hoped that she was able to survive her husband's anger.  As for him, that was another story.  The man he had crossed was powerful and it seemed he had friends everywhere.  The best plan was to come here where nobody knew of Bent St. Clair, professional gambler and once again become plain ol' Ben Simons.


to be continued

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  • 2 weeks later...

Charles nodded as he listened to his nephew.  Maybe spending some time in Kalispell might help the man to settle down but then again maybe not.  Anything was possible where Ben was concerned.


He took another sip of brandy and leaned forward a little, "So what do you plan to do now?"


Ben told him of his plans to say in Kalispell for the unforeseeable future as he needed to disappear which was understandable given the circumstances.  Hopefully, Ben would find something to do here that wouldn't cause trouble but once again anything was possible.


Seeing that Ben was at least being honest with him, the least he could do was give him a helping hand.  Charles smiled, "Well you can stay here until you find a place of your own but don't expect any favours from me or your cousin Matthew."


"The only favours I expect right now is a roof over my head and somewhere safe to put the funds I do have with me.  I'm happy to know that you will provide me those and I also promise that I will do my best not to put the family to shame while I'm here."


"A promise, I will most certainly make sure that you will keep," Charles replied.  Standing he pointed to a table over in the far corner, "Now how about a game of cribbage.  It's been a while since we last played and I'm eager to see if you are still a worthy opponent."


Standing up, Ben smiled, "I think Uncle Charles, you'll find that I have greatly improved my skills at this particular card game."


Another smiled appeared on Charles' face, "We'll see.  We'll see."

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