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    • It was long, tedious work, even though, for the most part, it was just plodding along with the cows, making sure they all stayed together and went the right way they were supposed to.  Even after the wind picked up, there were only a few mavericks who tried to wander off on their own, but the drag riders managed to coax them back to the herd.   As the day progressed, Annie became less jiggy, and Justus could tell she was getting tired.  "It's all right, Miz Annie."  He patted the horse's neck, then tightened the bandanna that was keeping his hat from blowing away.   "Ya think this is just a dry wind?" Justus called to Loredo, "or somethin' more movin' in?"  There wasn't the smell of rain in the air yet, nor clouds, but he knew that the weather could change quickly.  "Will they try ta settle in camp early?"  It seemed to him that if there was 'weather' moving in, it was better to have the cattle settled than moving, but what did he know? He just hoped it didn't impact supper!   @Flip
    • "Wonderful!"  Jonah almost clapped, for this had been going on for so long, that he really expected that this would be some sort of new setback, and Leah certainly didn't need any more complications.  "I'm sure it's going to be a huge relief when they finally break ground.  It's going to be rewarding to watch it take shape, and for you to know you are responsible for it."   He hoped, for her sake more than anything, that the weather cooperated, and that the progress was swift and without complications.    "You'll be overseeing the project?"  He couldn't imagine that she'd step back now, and not assure that every detail was right.   @Flip
    • "Boss, we found us a herd ripe for the pluckin'. Maybe we oughtta move on it afore they change where they're grazin' 'em, an make it more difficult." Toole suggested. "We can take close to a hunderd head easy enough, they move 'em, thet might not be the way of it."   "'Scuse me men, but Toole here is on to something, and cattle is our other business. We've customers waiting up north." Case said, not happy at being interrupted, yet realizing that what he said was true. It was why they were there, and it was what the did. "So go on and make yourselves to home while I get this job situated."   "Oh sure thing, Case, an thanks for the offer. We appreciate it, 'mon boys." Shannon said, and with that they walked outside to find the other building Case was talking about.   "Alright Toole what did you have in mind?" Case asked.   "The place is just at the foothills where they have their cattle. Now any buildin's 'er maybe a mile, mile'n a half away. What we saw was just maybe four riders wit the cattle, may not hav'ta kill any of 'em. We just filter down through the trees and then rush 'em. Maybe eight 'er ten of us, circle the heard an' push 'em back the way we come which was the long way around , and shore they'll be tracks alomst all the way to the dry river bed, maybe  whot, two mile from the tree line. Hard ground to river bed, but they won't catch us, not seein's they're out numbered."   Case gave it some thought, but Toole had been plotting how they would steal a herd for quite a while, and he knew what he was doing. Besides, no County Sheriff, no problem!   "Pick your men, Toole and get it done." Case said, knowing if they got a hundred head, that would be enough to drive north, once the brands were altered.
    • Having a second thought, to bolster the findings he sent for Fairchild before he could leave for New Orleans, and in the vicinity of Elinor Steelgrave, that could be done at another time after this meeting with Elias himself.   It was like hedging his bet on the situation. He wanted Elias to meet the man who could explain what was in the file in detail, much better than he himself.  might be able to. Nothing like being prepared. Elias could be unpredictable when upset, if a man like Fairchild explaining what he had found could manage to keep Steelgrave manage-ably clam then the expense was worth it to all concerned.   He had to congratulate himself on the idea. It just might work!
    • List in hand, they made their way back to town and to the Anderson's Mercantile where they laid out their list of needs. John and Mary Agnes looked over the list and began adding prices, plus shipping where it was warranted.   "So, you're in the mining business Marshal?" John asked.   "We are." Alice replied with a wide proud smile on her face. Speed just looked at her.   "Amos here found a property to good to pass up, so I bought it myself." Speed said, "Actually two properties, the other on is off to the west, but this one is just north of the Evergreen Ranch a couple of miles."   "Ah that would be the Henshaw mine. Sad about his wife passing on so suddenly. Life can be hard out here, it was just too hard for Martha Henshaw, though she tried as hard as anyone could." Mary Agnes said. "Most all of what you have here we have in stock. Most all of this was on Henshaw's list as well, he just quit before he paid for it. I believe we can give you a good price on the machinery out back. Right John?"   "Yes we can, The fact is Speed I'll let you have it at our cost, plus the shipping expenses, of course. Be good to free up that room back there. Let me see here at my cost, yes, well, it looks to be just under three thousand dollars, without the things we have in stock that wasn't Henshaw's."   Fair enough John, and we appreciate it. Now, if you'll let me get up to the bank, we want to use their money until we get started, and then we'll settle up."   "Makes sense to me, it's what we did. Hated those monthly payments, but it worked for us." John agreed.   "We'll be back." Speed promised.

Dinner Is Served


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Mature Content: Nope

With: Speed, Alice, Emeline or Clara.
Location: Lickskillet Cafe
When: Early July 1876
Time of Day: Midday

 

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With the horses tied at the hitch rail, Speed and Alice stepped up  on the boardwalk, with Speed opening the door of the cafe for her. They stepped inside greeted by the smells of baking, cooking, and fresh brewed coffee. The dinner rush had yet to develop so they had a good selection of open tables.

 

"Window, or no." He asked, feeling a bit odd  at the moment, comfortable, but odd, as he had thought to go for a ride to see if he could shake whatever it was that had a hold of him, yet here he was with Alice Fletcher in the Lickskillet, and, whatever it was that had been bothering him minutes ago, it was gone.

 

"Either is just fine with me." She said, so, he pulled out a chair for her at the table by the window. "Thank you. Ever the gentleman I see. I remembered that about you."

 

"Don't know about that so much as it's how one treats a lady, unless of course, that has changed." He answered. 

 

"We didn't have much time the last time I was in town, hardly had any time to talk."

 

"Yes, busy day with the trials and all, I'm sorry about that. I did mean to speak to you."

 

"About what?" She asked.

 

"Oh, uh, well you know, just the normal things, I guess." He stumbled. A female voice came to his rescue.

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@Bongo or @Wayfarer

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"Hello marshal, ma'am," Clara had spotted the pair entering the place and promptly set down some dishes she had been cleaning off a table then headed for the new customers. Obviously she knew the lawman but the woman -not really. Well at least by name, she may well have saw her riding a horse thru the main street once or twice but had really not paid attention. People come and go all the time.

 

The diner did not have menus, most dining places didn't but their available offerings were written up on a large chalk board on the one wall. Clara usually did that, she printed the words and numbers so that everything was very clearly legible.

 

"Are you here for lunch or just looking for some coffee? We have tea and milk too," she then let them come to a decision if they already had not decided. Oh wait! She almost forgot!

 

"Oh yes, todays special is chicken pot pie," she quickly added with a smile. Smiles had never come easily for the girl but she was getting better at it all the time.

 

@Flip

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"Clara, this is my friend, Alice Fletcher, she has a place east of here with her Pa on the creek." Speed introduced. The term friend was correct, but seemed somehow hollow to him. And why was that?  "Would you care to eat, Alice? The food here is excellent in fact, Emeline is married to my Deputy." He was uncertain if she was about but did not bother to ask, if she was he would spot her soon enough and wave her over.

 

Alice looked at 'Captain Guyer,' a bit older, more rugged than she remembered. Of course time adds those things. The hair and the bread suited him. "Yes, perhaps the chicken pot pie, and coffee please." Though she gave her order to Clara, her eye were fixed on Speed.

 

"Sounds good. I'll have the same." He ordered breaking the eye contact just long enough for the words to be spoken. He returned his gaze to the woman across from him.  "So how is the place coming along, I understand Addy drove out there with your furnishings a while back."

 

"She did. Now that woman I like. We had a great talk while she was there. Wasn't much to unload so that provided us an afternoon of getting acquainted."

 

"You like the place I take it. Don't believe I was ever out there. But I'd been told it was a fine piece of property" He offered, there was an ease in talking with her, but he was also finding it a bit on the difficult side.

 

"So tell me Marshal, was this what you wanted to talk to me about? Or, was there something else on your mind? I'm real poor at guessing, or mind reading for that matter." She cut to the chase as the waitress approached.

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@Wayfarer or @Bongo

 

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"Clara, this is my friend, Alice Fletcher, she has a place east of here with her Pa on the creek." Speed introduced.

 

"Oh, how do you do ma'am. Nice to meet you," Clara responded.

 

"Would you care to eat, Alice? The food here is excellent in fact, Emeline is married to my Deputy."

 

Clara almost smiled at that last part, like what would that have to do with the quality of the food but the Marshal could say what he wanted.

 

"Yes, perhaps the chicken pot pie, and coffee please." Though the woman gave her order to Clara, her eye were fixed on Speed. Clara could certainly tell that much.

 

"Very well, ma'm," Clara scribbled on her notepad.

 

"Sounds good. I'll have the same." He ordered breaking the eye contact just long enough for the words to be spoken.

 

"I will have that out for the both of you in just a few minutes," Clara assured them and then left them to chat on while she returned to the kitchen in back.

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"So, you were about to tell me what it was you were going to speak to me about" Alice said, leaning forward ever so slightly. He words sort of hanging in the air.

 

"Uh, you know, to be cordial. I mean, well, just general conversation, such as how do you like it out on the ranch?" the response was at best weak. What was it about Alice Fletcher that stole his confidence, if in fact that was what it was. She had a way of disarming him that he had seldom, if ever, experienced.

 

Alice smiled. "The ranch, I like it, we've a ways to go until we have everything we want out there, cattle, horses, and more chickens than the half dozen we have, but it's coming along slowly." Was her answer. "Pa says, with the job you offered, he'll be able to stock the place and hire some hands."

 

"That's good, real good." Speed replied

 

"And you business, how's that doing?" She probed, smiling as she looked into his eyes.

 

"Coming along, slow but sure. Dealing in minerals and resources is a chancy at best, well, in so far as the minerals are concerned. But this north-west country is rich in timber, and who knows what all. Meaning any advancements in the future might just open up new needs for resources we have yet to discover." Now he was comfortable, he was talking what he understood, dealing with facts.

 

"Interesting." She said. "And this job you have as Marshal? How did you come by that?" She inquired.

 

"Oh, that. Well the Marshal, Scott Cory, well, he retired and his daughter, who was serving as his Deputy was supposed to take over. Didn't happen. I was offered the job and I took it, thinking it would be a fairly peaceful job, dealing with the occasional drunk, a fight or two, but the truth is, it turned into more than that." He explained.

 

"Why aren't you married?" She asked.

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@Wayfarer or @Bongo or not

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"Now there's a really good question, Alice." Speed replied quickly. Then a calm came over him. The question was one he had not expected, from Alice or any other woman for that matter.

 

"There is talk of you and Leah Steelgrave at the spring social." Alice stated. A simple fact. They had been seen together upon arrival, yet he had left to make his rounds  and did not come back.

 

"Miss Steelgrave? Interesting that that would reach your ears. I provided an escort for her is all. I do consider her a friend, but as far as anything else, that might be better directed to Doctor Jonah Danforth. Seems there's a real interest there." It was obvious by this point in the conversation that she had done some probing into his personal life. "I didn't think that I was all that interesting. I'm a small town Marshal with a good side business. Some days I get shot at."

 

"I remembered you from when you came to see Pa, and after the war when you came to visit that time. Yes I was a married woman, and yes I suppose that it might be considered wrong. Well, it just was, and is."

 

"And I remembered you as well. The fact of the matter is, I think of those days often. Of you often, if you want to know. You were anothers and that was a line I dared not cross. Is that something you wanted to hear, Alice?" This had gone very far, very fast.

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Okay, now. @Wayfarer

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Alice smiled, " Is that what you think? That I wanted to hear that you remembered me?" She chided him. "Well we are here across from one another, a very intense conversation, wouldn't you say?" The she smiled again, the last part is what I wanted to hear, that you think of me often, because I think of you often as well. Fortuitous that we should both end up in Kalispell Montana."

 

"Alice Fletcher, you are certainly bold about your feelings and your thoughts. And what if I said that I had a girl? What would you say to that?"

 

"That you're a liar. That I know all about you and your stay here in Kalispell. I know that you have no girl, that you have no prospects of having a girl, well that none have outwardly expressed any interest in you, so in all modesty, Henry Speed Guyer, I'm you're best opportunity, seeings you think of me often. You no longer need to think, I'm here right, in front of you."

 

Speed exhaled briefly, "There's no subtlety in you at all is there? I mean, you just put it out there, simple as that."

 

"Simple as that." She replied, smiling.

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TBC

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"And what about Amos? What would he say about all this? Or does he already know what you have planned?" He asked, almost irritated that she had taken the lead when he was unsure what he really felt about her, well, unsure to a point.

 

"Pa? He's out lookin' to get you some minerals, or timber, or whatever it is you do when you're not arresting or shooting people." She began. "He'd think it was swell . He likes you, reminded me often of what a great man you were. And, gee," Her voice softened. "Here you are right in front of me. So, I don't know Speed, what do you think? I mean we can bandy around the bush if you want, or, well, I guess you could come callin'." She smiled broadly.

 

"Come calling is it? That Alice, can be arranged, why I can even get a buggy and take you for a ride, or even back here to town for dinner and even put you up in the hotel. I can do that, and by the lord Harry! You can count on it girl." He said trying to suppress his own smile.

 

"Don't threaten me with a good time Speed Guyer." She chortled as she spoke.

 

He reached across and took her hand in his, "You're right about one thing Alice Fletcher, you are my best opportunity, and I intend to take it."

 

"Now don't get yourself any crazy notions about kissing me either, Marshall Guyer, I'm not that kind of girl."

 

"No, I'll bet not." He replied.

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Edited by Flip (see edit history)
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"It's a rare thing that I am overcome by crazy notions. However, I could say that you out distance me in that department." She spoke through a genuine smile. The stories I've heard detailing your exploits for the law."

 

"When it comes to staying alive, and enforcing the law of the land, in this case the town of Kalispell, sometimes it is difficult to separate the risk from the reward." Speed admitted, knowing some situations were far more deadly than others in his line of work.

 

"Well then, without the law, what would we have? Surely not this fine town, nor would people be free to walk the streets safely." She rebutted. "It is a job that must be done, and done by those who would step into harms way for the good of the community. Somehow Henry, I just can't see you without the badge."

 

"I have a successful mining enterprise, funded by my partnership in the east, something I'm beginning to see the need to take a stronger hand in the day to day operation. Which, the job as Town Marshal affords me the freedom to do."

 

"Father has spoken of your business, he speaks highly of it. But, let me ask you this, would it, in and of itself, be satisfying enough if say you lost reelection?" She  quizzed.

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Edited by Flip (see edit history)
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  • 2 weeks later...

Speed looked at her with narrowed eyes, "Satisfying? Yes. Look I've been at that kind of work since just after the war, what? Ten years now, except two as Marshal, but the business was going on. Of course I like what I'm doing as Town Marshal, but there's always someone who can do a better job. Loosing the election is always a real possibility."

 

"So you'd be comfortable sitting at a desk, shuffling papers, reading reports, buying and selling mines, minerals, and the like?" She probed, looking for something.

 

"Alice, that is what I came here to do, and, even though I am Marshal, I conduct the business of the company. What I don't do is go into the field hunting ore deposits, or stands of timber, or other resources that might be of use. That is what I currently hire others to do." What was she after? What was the question she was not asking of him?

 

"So how about this, you ask me the question you're not asking and I'll give you that answer, then we'll be on even ground." He suggested with a smile.

 

"Have you thought about having a home that you came home to every night?" She asked bluntly.

 

"Yes, yes I have, though I have the second floor of the office building, which for all intents and purposes is the place I come home to most nights. Though some are spent on the trail, some are spent in the jail, but home is over Wood & Guyer Mining. My building, my home."

 

"Somehow, I thought you might have figured out by this time what I was getting at," She began, but Speed cut her off.

 

"You mean, a home, with a wife, maybe some young'uns, a dog, cattle, a crop or two, that sort of home?"

 

"I'll tell you what Marshal Guyer, you ride out to the place with me, have a look around while I fix supper for us and see what you think." Was her offer.

 

"Alright, sounds to be a great offer. I'll do that, and then we can talk about things, and how they shape up."

 

Alice smiled.

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Supper would be a ways off, but the ride east would take some time, but of course that was not her plan, not at all. She had he cap set on the Town Marshal of Kalispell, and that was all there was too it. Yes it had been years since she had last sen him, but this was the west, both were single and she was not getting any younger, while her father was getting older.

 

She had the ranch, but no way of making ends meet. Although not her primary reason for pursuing Speed Guyer, it was a part of it. She had been drawn to him initially, even though she was married, and to find him again now that she was widowed was indeed fortuitous. The times they lived in, women owning anything was uncommon. Women running a ranch, even more uncommon. So, there it was, there was no question of what would she do had she not been reunited, so to speak, with him. No, it seemed he was of the same mind set. He had said as much, therefor it was not about trapping him, far from it, it was about nurturing the relationship to it's fruition, whether he was the Marshall, or running his mining business.

 

"Well, as they say, we're burning daylight, Guyer. You ready to go?" She asked.

 

"Yes Ma'am." He replied, getting to his feet, digging out a silver dollar and laying it on the table. "After you."

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