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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.

East Of Kalispell

Alice Fletcher

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Mature Content: No

With: Alice
Location: The Rafter A, east of Kalispell on a finger of the Flathead River
When: April 21, 1876
Time of Day: Afternoon




She stood in the yard, such as it was, dirt, sage, prairie grass, not much of a ‘yard’ as she had known it in some of the past places she had lived. This was her place, hers and her fathers. He had found it, haggled with the owner and made the purchase.


There were some cattle, perhaps twenty head, a beginning. There were half again as many horses in the pole corral. A stream that ran past, supposedly from the Flathead River, the water was clear and cold, and there were fish, trout, Westslope Cutthroat Trout he Pa had said they were called, but there were others, like brown and bull trout too.


The place was peaceful and for the most part quiet, and that was what she enjoyed the most. The quiet, save for the animals noises. She was a woman of thirty-eight, widowed, and with few, if any, prospects for marriage, yet she had made peace with that. And Arthur Fletcher, no account he had turned out to be, had made here wary of men who took an interest.


There was a town not far from the place, Kalispell it was called. Pa was there now, with that awful wrapped body to collect a reward, and perhaps, she hoped, look for a job, or some direction. Being a bounty hunter might be fine for younger men, but Amos Conroy was getting up there, and he wouldn’t be able to track men for money much longer.


It was good to have a place where he could call home after boarding houses, bunk house, shanties and line shacks of his recent past. Though he had always seen to her, before and after Arthur died, having him around was good. This was going to be a good life out on the range. Plenty of room to spread out, if they liked.

Oh, she’d heard tell of the Indians, but that was not much different than some of the places she had called home before. There were always dangers to face no matter where one lived, and that would be precisely why the Henry rifle was in her hand, not much seventeen shots couldn’t solve if push came to shove. She had been alone in too many places for too long to be afraid.


The day was getting short, so she turned to walk back to the house, all three rooms of it, to get supper on as her Pa would be home any time.


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Amos had gone to the stand of trees where the horse and corps waited patiently, under the circumstances there were more flies than usual, but the animal simply swished his tail in defiance of their assault.


He took up the lead rope and towed his bounty thru town to the undertaker , then back to the bank where he was able to collect on the poster. He hoped Speed would get something of a finders fee, as the bank would surely be gifted for paying out the reward. It was odd to Amos how all this worked, but it was what he had done for sometime. A ‘trade’ he could always fall back on, when needed.


Once he had the cash money the next stop was to the Mercantile, where he loaded up on flour, sugar, coffee, bacon, and beans. Two boxes of forty-fours, and two of forty-four forties for Alice’s Henry rifle. Met the owner, John Anderson and his wife Grayce, a nice couple. They spoke of weather and range condition, his place east of town, which they knew of and remembered the previous owner well.


tow, Amos headed east for the Rafter A ranch, named for Alice, of course. As he left the town behind, in no hurry to be anywhere but where he was he reflected on how good it was to see Speed. It had been since the war, but if the man was anything like him, Speed would have been on the move as well, except for the time they chanced to meet in Kansas.


Speed had saved his life, he reflected. Some Reb got a lucky shot, but off the mark. Shot his horse out from under him and broke his leg, but Guyer, who stumbled on him trapped under the animal, managed to move it just enough before the animal died to get him free, under fire the whole time. He drug him to cover and managed to stand off the Rebs, or they just tired of the fight and moved out


Guyer got him to the New Jersey Infantry’s field hospital, such as it was, more of an aid station where the leg was set. Guyer was also able to look in on him now and again, until the Thirteenth moved out for town called Gettysburg. It would be some time before their paths crossed again That was near 1870 in Olathe Kansas. Speed was mineral hunting at the time so he was on a schedule, but did stay for supper.


He could see Alice standing in the yard from a distance.

Edited by Flip (see edit history)
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She stopped, a rider was coming, it only took a moment to see that it was her Pa, she lowered the Henry. That was a normal reaction for her to begin to shoulder the weapon. A woman on her own should take no chances.


She was anxious to hear all about Kalispell and the people he had met while he was there. It would be like him to stock up on goods while he was there, unless there was a problem with his getting paid, which happened time to time. Though she was not one to wear anything fancy, she did like to know about what the women he saw were wearing. She had trained him to notice.


He came into the yard with the pack horse in tow, obviously with a load of groceries. He paused a moment, as he usually always did before dismounting.


"Dang McClellan, ain't near a s comfortable as it once was." He complained as he usually did. "Might have ta get me one of them modern high backs. Might make this old man feel a sight better."


"I'll believe it when I see it, Amos Conroy." She had heard that one before.


"Lotsa calico, seen lotsa calico, but did see a couple ladies in their finery, Not like we saw in Denver, but purty high-falutin just the same." He reported.


"Thanks Pa." She smiled as she spoke.


"Saved the best fer last. Never guess who I run onto in town." He waited, but she didn't take the bait. He led the horses to the corral where he tied them.  Alice began unpacking the supplies, each taking part of them and starting for the house. At what they call the Municipal Bulidin' sittin' in his office was the town Marshal." He paused, she glared at him. "Speed Guyer, badge an' all." Still she said nothing but went about what she was doing.  "You remember Captain Guyer?"


"Thought you'd like to know." He said to her silence.

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Speed Guyer, of course she remembered him, he had saved her fathers life, one does not forget a man like that. And perhaps it would be good to see him again after all these years, It did mean that she had a friend, well, an acquaintance in this Kalispell place.  


Yet, what was most concerning was the delivery of the rest of their things, There was not a lot, but there were pieces of furniture that they needed. The things left behind by the previous owner would make good firewood! Two beds, a table and chairs that had been her mothers and drug over the miles to the places she had lived with Arthur and with her father. Maybe a wagon load. Why he father was against obtaining a wagon was beyond her. But those things were on their way.


For the most part, she liked the country. The winter, well, she had lived in the Dakotas, in Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, and Nebraska, so snow country was just that, and one dealt with it.


“Daughter, they have some stores in town with most all the things a woman might want ‘er need.” Amos said as he pushed the two boxes of forty-four forties toward her. “Be good if you were to ride in and have a look-see for yourself.”


Alice stood at the stove, preparing the evening meal, she looked at the boxes on the sideboard. “Perhaps.” was the response. Was he trying to get her to go in and see Mister Guyer? “Waiting on the wagon with the rest of our belongings to arrive so we can be rid of this other stuff, and I have my house together.”


“Just a suggestion, daughter, just a thought. It’ll be there when you’re ready I expect.”


“Yes sir, that it will.” She agreed.


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