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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.

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Mature Content: Probably not

With: Brendan, Marshal Guyer and/or Deputy Pike
Location: Lower floor of the Municipal Building
When: Early July, 1875 (same day as the Evergreen/Lost Lake shootout)
Time of Day: Evening, before suppertime

 

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After taking a nap, Brendan felt better. Not much better, but better enough that he thought he could handle meeting with the marshal and deputy. There wasn't anyone holding a gun to his head and making him go into the building, and he'd never been one to spend much time around the law if he could help it.

 

Fear was mostly what motivated him now, fear that somehow the story of the shooting would get muddled and he would be blamed and held accountable for it. He also wanted to make sure that he got the few possessions the dead men had had on them at the time of their deaths, and the easiest way to do that was to have official permission.

 

He had put his still-bloody shirt back on and tiptoed down the stairs and out the back of the Stardust Saloon so as not to cause another Arabella eruption. Now he glanced down at the rust-colored stain on his shirtsleeve before pushing open the door to the municipal building and going inside.

 

He cleared his throat and then called, "Marshal? Deputy?"

 

@Flip

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Speed, sitting at his desk, feet up, leaned back, half asleep, heard the call and and jerked rudely awake. He dropped his feet to the floor straightened his hat and rose walked to the door opened it, and stepped out of his office.

"In here. Place can be confusing that's a fact." He stepped back to allow the young man to step inside. "Connolly, right? By the looks of you there's been some sort of trouble with man or beast." Taking note of the bloody shirt the man was wearing.

 

He knew of Brendan Connolly, not a lot,, but some hearsay, and he'd seen him in town. "So, trouble in town here, or out to the Evergreen, either way I suppose that you're here to talk about it, so have a seat. Coffee's on if you're a wanting  a cup. So take your time and tell me about it."

@Bailey

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"Yeah, Brendan Connolly. Trouble with man, not beast." Brendan had the presence of mind to try and joke about what had happened even though it wasn't funny.

 

He stepped into the office and headed straight for the coffee. After grabbing a cup and pouring himself some coffee, then retreated to a chair across the desk from Speed. There he rested his elbows on his knees and stared at the coffee, trying to decide how to proceed. After a few seconds of watching the steam rise from the cup in his hands, he looked up at Speed.

 

"Don't know how much you heard from Cantrell. But you oughta know we didn't set out to bushwhack him. Greer said he was goin' to shoot a deer." He sipped the hot coffee to give himself time to think back. It felt like the incident had been a week ago, even though it hadn't even been a full day yet. "I don't rightly know what happened...I think he took a shot at Cantrell. Well, he come back over the hill yellin' that someone tried to bushwhack him. So course we all grabbed for our guns."

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Speed looked at the young man, leaning forward just a bit, "Cantrell? Haven't seen him, so he told me nothing about anything, but you go on." He began. "Where did this happen, this ambush? Not in town, I know That much."

 

"And, besides you, Quentin, Billy, the other fella, and Greer, who else was there? You just might need witnesses." Of course this happened outside the town limits, yet, unlike the man who escaped from the bank robbery, he had no jurisdiction outside the town limits, and no desire to chase after anyone else involved in this shooting.

 

Greer, well he was far from surprised that he had met his end, a violent end, but that was the kind of man that he was, and that was what he deserved. When a man hunts trouble, he generally finds it, and it's results be they good or bad. Now Billy, he felt bad about the boy. He should have had a future, a bright future, but all he got was six feet of dirt and a cross

 

"You have a name on that other man? Might need that. So, go on." Speed requested.

@Bailey

Edited by Flip
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"It was right between Evergreen and Lost Lake. We were cuttin' wood - we were on our side - " Brendan added suddenly, trying to think of anything that would make him and his dead companions seem less guilty, "when Greer decided to ride off over a rise. He came back hollerin' about bein' bushwhacked."

 

Thinking about it made him angry. All of this could have been avoided if Greer hadn't been so confounded lazy. But he didn't have much time to think much on it now because Speed was asking him questions.

 

"No one else was there. Me, Billy, Greer, and Black Jack from Evergreen and Cantrell from Lost Lake." He took a swallow of coffee and with it swallowed down his rising feelings of nervousness. He hadn't been accused of anything yet, but if there were no other witnesses, what was to stop Speed from accusing him?

 

"Black Jack Laine is the other man...was the other man. He and Cantrell had some beef a while back, apparently. Anyway, Cantrell wanted us to give up Greer but we wasn't gonna do that. When Black Jack recognized Cantrell, he an' Greer were both in it for real. Billy and me...they sent us up the hill to try an' flank Cantrell."

 

He drank more of his coffee and studied the older man across the desk warily. Should he have said that? That was as good as admitting he'd intended to kill Cantrell, and that seemed unwise.

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“So, let me get this straight, there were four of you, I assume you were all armed at the time.” Speed began. “So Cantrell crossed over onto Evergreen Range? Is that right? Then, who was it ordered you to flank Quentin, now it seems to me four against one, if two were the flank the one, he would be at a terrible disadvantage.”


“This Blackjack Laine, now, he was sort of the leader here? I mean, he was the one calling the shots, as it were?” Speed shifted in his chair. Looking at Brendan, he went on, “Makes it awful difficult to defend one’s self when you have to clear leather and then shoot in two different directions, even with two pistols a man would still need to see his targets, you see what I’m getting at?”


“You may not have set out to murder Quentin Cantrell, but the way I see it, when you flanked him the idea was a crossfire where he would have no chance.” There was a pause. “So Quentin Cantrell out numbered, out gunned, put down three of you, and got lead in you too. So why in the world would you come in here to tell me about this? It’s not a town matter, I have no jurisdiction on either spread, but you have given me food for thought along those lines.”


With a deep breath, Speed concluded, “Cantrell will probably finish what he started, not a vengeful man, but given what the four of you tried, believe I’d be hard pressed to blame him.”

@Bailey

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"Right." Brendan nodded to Speed's first question, then scrunched up his face a little bit at the second. "Well...we was already close to the property lines, so he didn't come too far. But yeah. Black Jack, he was the leader. He'd been in scrapes like this before, so we trusted him. Even when he sent Billy and me over the hill."

 

"You may not have set out to murder Quentin Cantrell, but the way I see it, when you flanked him the idea was a crossfire where he would have no chance.

 

"Yeah, well, it didn't work out like that," he snapped, setting his empty coffee cup down on the desk. He didn't like being called out like this; told that he had been an accessory to an attempted murder...even though it was true. He just hadn't seen it that way.

 

As to why he had come, well, he was starting to wonder why himself. He had come thinking that seeing the marshal would do some good, but what good was a marshal if he couldn't do anything? This jurisdiction thing was stupid.

 

"Cantrell will probably finish what he started, not a vengeful man, but given what the four of you tried, believe I’d be hard pressed to blame him.”

 

He shook his head stubbornly. "Nuh-uh. Not Cantrell. He brung me into town. He told me I could take Black Jack's rifle to replace mine, and told me I could have the horses and saddles an' all if I wanted 'em, and I do. Thought there might be some legal things to go through."

 

He had tucked the rifle into the scabbard on his own saddle before Quentin and the wagon left, and the same with the pistol. He wondered suddenly if he would need to use them.

 

"If he does come after me and I'm in town, what happens? You got 'jurisdiction' for something that happens in town but started out of it?"

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"Cantrell will probably finish what he started, not a vengeful man, but given what the four of you tried, believe I’d be hard pressed to blame him.”

 

He shook his head stubbornly. "Nuh-uh. Not Cantrell. He brung me into town. He told me I could take Black Jack's rifle to replace mine, and told me I could have the horses and saddles an' all if I wanted 'em, and I do. Thought there might be some legal things to go through."


Speed raised an eyebrow. There was really no reason that Connolly couldn’t take the guns and the  horses with their tack. Quentin had no need of such things. Guns he had a plenty, as well as horse flesh and tack, so this came as no surprise, but he said nothing.
 

He had tucked the rifle into the scabbard on his own saddle before Quentin and the wagon left, and the same with the pistol. He wondered suddenly if he would need to use them.

 

"If he does come after me and I'm in town, what happens? You got 'jurisdiction' for something that happens in town but started out of it?"

 

“Then I have misjudge the situation, and you. If Quentin and you brought in the bodies, and he was generous with the spoils, so too say, then I doubt that he’ll come hunting you over it.” Speed said. “Maybe you’ve learned a lesson here. Maybe you can see where a man like this Black Jack is not the kind of man to follow.”  


“There’s a passel of ‘em out here. Those that tried to rob our bank for instance, that’s where the Black Jack’s of this world end up. Shot down, or at the end of a rope. You look a mite smarter than that. If Quentin wanted your hide, it’d be tacked to the barn door and dried out. He ain’t comin’ for you, and if he does, there’ll be no shooting’s in my town, I’ll promise you that.” Speed paused.


“Good enough for you?” He asked. “Get yourself some clothes, you’ll scare hell out of those that see you lookin’ like that. You got money?”

 

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Again, another warning to change his ways so he wouldn't end up like Black Jack. Brendan was starting to get tired of it, but he knew everyone else was right. He needed to turn his whole life around.

 

"Get yourself some clothes, you’ll scare hell out of those that see you lookin’ like that. You got money?

 

Brendan grinned, for real this time. "I will once I sell them horses and saddles. I got no need for them." He rose, realizing that their business was essentially concluded. He could have the horses and no one was going to give him a hard time about it. Maybe Caroline could convince Ralph Flandry to give up one of his shirts until Brendan could get a new one.

 

"Thanks for the coffee. I'm upstairs at the saloon if...I dunno...anythin' comes up." He didn't thank Speed for the advice or the reassurance, because that just wasn't something one did. He moved toward the door but didn't leave in case the marshal had any last words of advice or caution.

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Speed looked up at the young man in the doorway. "Keep your nose clean, stay outta trouble, and be careful who you side up with." He offered. "you might fight shy of the Evergreen, there's other outfits to sign on with that steer clear of trouble. But, you do what you want. Nothing's going to come up, so forget it."

 

The man had his whole life ahead of him, but another wrong move like the attempted murder of Quentin Cantrell, and a rope would be waiting, but trying to tell that to a young man? Better off trying to rope the wind.

 

*We can end this here if you like.

@Bailey

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