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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.

What else Can Go Wrong?

Elias Steelgrave

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Mature Content:  Yes Language

With: Elias Hood, Layton Harris, Arlen Granger
Location: Add specific location information here.
When: April 24th, 1876
Time of Day: Mid-Morning, evening, etc.).




The place was straightened up somewhat. Elias was sober, and had been for since news of Cases arrest reached him.

Three men stood in the parlor, two with hat in hand. Elias, his Foreman Layton Harris and the Assistant Foreman, Arlen Granger. This was not a friendly meeting by any stretch of the imagination.

“What the hell has taken you two three full days to gather the goddamned riders I ordered? I meant to have my son out of that jail and home by now.” Elias was fuming. I wanted them sonsabitches in Kalispell yesterday, goddamnit! Not nursemaiding cows!


“For Christ sake Elias, they were all over the spread. They were branding as they found calves, a couple were driving them down out of the hills, but we had men tied up everywhere on this ranch, except here.” Harris shot back. Boss or not, there were situations where men would be all but out of reach. “It’s spring round up, damn it, and that takes every man we’ve got. Cases men are no help, they’re off someplace doin’ whatever.”


“I sent one of the young hands out to find them, but I ain’t heard squat since he left.” Granger piped up. “We got maybe a dozen men that need food and remounts to make the trip to Kalispell. Ya gotta give ‘em some time, they ain’t been here twenty minutes.”
“I gotta give ‘em shit! I pay their wages on time, I expect them to be here when I need them! So you get their lazy asses in them saddles and ride for Kalispell! I want it done now goddamnit!”


“What the hell else can go wrong?” He shouted at their backs as they hurried from the room to help with the remounts and get them going.


With the two of them there would be fourteen men, against two. Kalispell had had it’s fair share of excitement, but that had been five men in the bank job, this would be three times that many! It would be a much different situation, besides, there were another fifteen that had yet to ride in to the home ranch, plus Cases men. If they ever showed.


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Within an hour fourteen men rode out of the Evergreen at a gallop, which they would maintain for just long enough to be out of sight of the main house, then slow to a canter. They all understood what was expected, and they understood they would need to break Marshal Guyers will to hold Case, or kill him.  And then there was the deputy, a reputed gunfighter.


The men riding toward Kalispell were not just cowboys, hardly. Most wee experienced gunmen. Hired gunmen whose main job was to hold or take land, protect the ranch, and ride into harms way, as they were doing that morning.


They also understood it would be broad daylight, almost mid-day when they rode into Kalispell. One thing was certain, there was a town full of people that were veterans of the late war, veterans of Indian fighting, both men and women. This would not be a s simple as Elias might think. No town would be rode over roughshod, the people would not stand for it.


It was a lot to think about on the ride in.


To be continued in "Numbers May Not Be Enough."



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  • 3 weeks later...

It had gone badly in Kalispell, and badly didn't cover it. They had been out-flanked by three men they all knew and had ridden with, men that once involved would have shot them down with no remorse. The gunfighter Pike and another to the rear of them and Speed Guyer in font. Oh, they had the numbers in a head on fight, but it would ave been anything but.


Harris and Granger had ridden into a hornets nest and had escaped with their lives. But now they had to face Elias, which meant their live may well be forfeit anyway! They had no idea what might happen when they reached the home ranch without Elias' son.  The old man was volatile and they were about to confess their failure to him. 


As the place came into view the uneasiness among the Evergreen riders increased. Many of them considered drawing their pistols to be ready, just in case. There was nothing any of them could have done to have it turn out differently, nothing.


They rode into the yard and Elias was there to meet them.


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  • 2 weeks later...

The gunshot was extremely loud inside the house!


Layton Harris’s suddenly lifeless form crumpled to the floor, a hole in his forehead. “So, Granger, that makes you the foreman now. Get a couple men and get the body out of my house! After that I want to know exactly what happened in Kalispell. Six men turned over a dozen of you away, I’ll need to hear this. Now, get some men and do what I said!”


Without a thought, Arlen Granger took hold of Harris’ body by the shoulders and drug him out of the door. There were several hands in still the yard as Granger and the body of Harris came out of the door. Three men immediately went to Grangers aid and carried the body down the steps and away from the house.

“See to it he’s buried out aways.” Arlen ordered.


In the house, Elias’ servant was cleaning up the blood from the thirty-two caliber wound as Arlen walked in. Elias looked up, a dazed look on his face, as if he didn’t know what had just occurred in his own hallway.  “Arlen, what happened and why didn’t you bring Case here as I ordered.


“The Marshal met us with a shotgun, his Deputy come up from behind with another old timer and then Santee, Bannister, and McKenny crossed over from someplace. All was armed and ready, hell boss, there was even a couple women with shotguns close by. They had us cold.” Granger explained. “If one of us would'a moved for a gun, they’da tore hell out of us.”


“The Marshal alone would got maybe half a dozen with his eight-gauge. And the rest of them boys’d been pourin' lead into what was left. They just wasn’t no way to spring Case without us all dyin’ just no way.”


“Can’t let him go to trial. Can’t let him face the Circuit Judge.” The thought of ambushing the coach and killing him came and immediately went. It would be plain who orchestrated such a thing, unless they killed all of them. Perhaps an attempt on him at the hotel, or would he be at the boarding house, and if so, which one? No, no it was getting too complicated to try and plan that, and there was not a lot of time left.


His head snapped up, okay Arlen okay. I need to make another plan, you tend what has to be done and I’ll call for you when I have something.” He said almost absently.

“Yes boss.” Arlen said, and quickly left.


And then it came to him, a man on the roof of the Star Dust Saloon with a rifle.



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  • 3 weeks later...

Sunday, April 2, 1876:

Elias had considered many plans to free his son, the first was a failure, the idea of getting a man on the roof  of the Stardust would have been a good plan, that is if Speed Guyer had not had the same thought, and why wouldn't he? The field of fire was perfect. but there were other roofs he might consider.


He had killed a loyal man, one that had worked his way up from cowhand to foreman, done everything ever asked of him, and then, he was shot down in cold blood for something that was out of his control.


And what could he hope for if he didn't at least attempt to free Case? Nothing more than if he did. That was the cold truth of it. He would still stand trial, if he was not killed during the attempt. The attempt would only stand to make it worse, should it fail, and as he thought about it, fail it likely would.


He sat pondering his very limited options were were adding up to nothing. He had sent for his attorney, Goodnight, to defend Case, and if there was a lawyer who could get the job done, it would be John Goodnight a man after his own heart.  Yes, that was the plan, Goodnight would get him off!


Case might have mind his P's and Q's around Kalispell. The fact being, if he was exonerated the rewards might be two fold, one, it would bolster his campaign for County Sheriff, and two, might just end Speed Guyer's reign as Town Marshal, and allow Case to appoint a new man. The thought made him laugh, and laugh he did. Then, just like Whitefish, he would run the town as well as the county!


Edited by Flip (see edit history)
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  • 1 month later...

Days had passed without any word, there seemed to be a delay of some sort about the trial, and that did anger him, but then, what was he to do? Nothing seemed to be the appropriate answer. Oh he ranted to himself about doing any number of things, horrible, murderous things to many of the towns people, yet he sat in his chair, doing nothing.


He did know that John Goodnight had arrived so that was something positive in this lengthy line of disappointments, and his daughter Leah continued to badger any that would listen about this hospital business, though an orphanage would supply child labor to the ranchers and the damned squatters and their farms, which could serve a purpose raising vegetables, so long as they didn't infringe on the open range the cattlemen needed. Perhaps, even spur some industrial growth. Yes, the orphanage could be of use after all.


Spring round up was underway, Granger was doing a good job of seeing that his herd was coming in from the areas they had scattered to over the winter, and beginning to fatten up. Perhaps he would plan a drive, just a destination would be needed, depending, of course, on the price per head. Yes, perhaps a cattle drive would be in order depending also on the number of head he had to sell off.  Well, that would wait until fall, but it was a plan of action.


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