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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: No

With: Speed, Pike, & ?
Location: Municipal Building, Town Marshal's Office
When: Early July 1876
Time of Day: Mid Morning.




Speed was sitting in the office, the business with Connolly had him thinking. As Town Marshal there was little that he could do outside the limits of Kalispell proper. Sure, he had chased after the last of bank robbers, who still managed to escape, Dade Marley was his name, brother of Bill Marley who was hung.


He could not go out and arrest anyone outside of town no matter what the crime. Helena would need to send someone with authority to make arrests, but it would need to be something a bit more serious than an attempted murder. No, that would fall to the County Sheriff, but they had no one in that job presently, so whatever happened outside of town, happened with no legal consequences.


Though the town was increasing in population, somewhere close to four hundred, give or take. A nice place, but he was becoming restless. Not that he was considering leaving, just maybe an itch. Maybe it was that fool from Arizona wanting to implement a law against carrying guns in town like the Earp's had done in Tombstone. But gun trouble really, was the least of his problems. Even Dutton Peabody was gone, gone to Helena. He chuckled.


He stood up, poured a cup of coffee and stared out the window and the street in front of the Municipal Building, watching the traffic pass by, both foot and horse. It was busier these days too. Somehow, it seemed the numbers on the street had increased, or maybe it was just his mood that was different. His business was prospering, with claims being bought and sold in Virginia City Montana, timber to the west in Northern California, Oregon and Washington Territory, as well as Northwest Montana. The bank transfers from Wood and Guyer, New York, just kept on coming. The latest from Nolan Wood was he had a new wife and she was expecting sometime in the late fall.


That had given him pause.  He took a drink of the black liquid, looking out but seeing nothing. Except his horse, looking like he felt, standing head down, three legged. Pike was in the privy, and when he got back, Speed decided to go for a ride, maybe shake the doldrums that seemed to have a grip on him.

Edited by Flip (see edit history)
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Pike stepped out of the privy adjusted his gun belts, and took a deep breath as he headed to the rear door of the Municipal Building. He had some concerns about Speed, the man just wasn’t himself of late. That did not necessarily mean much of anything, as everyone was susceptible to a bad day now and again. Of course as probably the man’s best friend he wondered what had gotten a hold of him.


He stepped inside the building and walked to the office, the door standing open as it did most days during the warmer months. There was Speed starring out at the street. “Quiet, huh?” He asked, knowing it was, and that might not be what was nagging at the Marshal. After all, quiet and peaceful was what every lawman wanted for their town.


Maybe it was nothing, nothing at all. He went to the stove and poured himself a cup. He now had his own desk instead of using the chair that now stood against the wall just inside the door.

“Believe I’ll go for a ride. Maybe a turn around town and then out a ways.” Speed announced. Maybe a ride would clear his head, it usually did. Gave him a chance to get away, breath fresh air and contemplate what was eating at him.


“Good idee. I’ll take care of things while you’re gone, not to worry.” Pike said, leaning back in his chair. “Be a good day for it, nothin’ ta keep ya here.”


“Thanks.” Speed said as he turned away from the window, set his cup on the shelf next to the stove. “Don’t plan to be long.” He said as he donned his hat and belted on his gun. “Be back.” With that he walked out and went to his horse, taking up the reins and stepping into leather. It was at that moment he decided ride out north of town and have a look around beyond town limits. He raised the pace to a trot as he and his animal became one, and no sooner had he done that, he reached the edge of town and reined in as a rider approached from the east-west trail.


Alice Fletcher.




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He had not seen her since the day of the trial, but he had been too busy for small talk. He regretted that. She was older than he remembered but it had been years and time did march on, yet she had lost none of her beauty, that fact was not lost on him.


"Speed." She greeted boldly, calling him by name rather than by his title of Marshal.


"Alice, good to see you again.:" He said with an unforced smile.


"You haven't been out to the place, I suspect you're busy?"


"I'm sorry, I've been somewhat involved with town matters, boring time stealing tasks. But it was, and still is my intention." He responded with some discomfort. "What brings you to town?"


"Well, Addy said I might like the Lickskillet cafe so here I am, and while I was here, a stop at the mercantile for some things, and to see you." She stated.


"See me? What about?" He asked, ever the Marshal.


"About? About what it would take to get you out to the place." Was her retort. "But since we both are on the trail, why not go to this Lickskillet for a bit of dinner and discuss how a busy lawman could steal away to have supper at the ranch."


"Well then, I guess we'll just head back to the cafe for, as you say, a bit of dinner." Which he had failed to eat or make plans to have. And suddenly, he no longer felt the grip of the spell of listlessness that had taken hold.


Now to most folks, that mid-day meal, dinner, was the large meal of the day, making supper the lighter of the two, so he suspected there was to be little eating and much more talking. This certainly was not the Alice he remembered. But again, their meeting was some years ago. He wheeled his horse around and together they started toward town, and the cafe.

TBC In 'Dinner Is Served.' Lickskillet

Edited by Flip
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