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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.

Tea and Crumpets


Emeline Pike
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Mid-May, Mid-Afternoon

 

+++++++++++

With the invitation that had been extended to Miss Leah Steelgrave a few week prior excepted, and the date and time set, Emeline had closed the cafe for the afternoon, so she could concentrate on the meeting, and getting to know the other young woman.  Rather than the usual fare, she had made small sandwiches and pastries, more in the tradition of high tea than cafe food, but it was a special occasion, and frankly, she had embraced the chance to do something different, and to have something different to eat.

 

Now, with a table set, and her dress changed to a nice dress without apron, she was just awaiting the arrival of the other young woman...and her bodyguards, that Barnabas had told her were always with her...Emeline had set up a table on the front porch, and was ready to feed them as well.

 

@Flip

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Leah Steelgrave had been somewhat surprised by the written invitation to tea at the Lickskillet. If she she was right the woman, Emeline Blakesley, was Deputy Pike's fiance. She dressed accordingly, it was a tea after all, and certainly a welcome change. Not that she minded luncheons or dinners, but a tea, now that was refreshing.

 

Once satisfied with her appearance she took up  a parasol and stepped out into the daylight. Tree men got on their feet and started for main street. To those in toe it matter not at all where she was going, she was moving, they were moving. There had been no threats against her, as yet. But that also mattered not in the least.

 

When the arrived  the men went across the street where thy could keep an eye on the cafe and the street. Leah opened the door, setting the bell to tinkling. "Hello." She called out and closed the door.

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"Miss Steelgrave!"  Smiling brightly, Emeline crossed the room to greet the young woman.  "I'm Emeline Blakesley, please, call me Emeline.  I'm so glad you could make it, I've been wanting to meet you ever since I heard about your projects."

 

She led the way to the single dressed table that was set with a crisp white cloth, Emeline's own tea set, and plates set with quartered, crustless finger sandwiches -- cucumber and cheese, egg salad, and roast beef -- as well as scones, clotted cream, marmalade and shortbread.

 

"Please, have a seat.  Do you mind if I offer a tray to your...gentlemen?  I've made coffee for them, instead of tea."  It was absurd enough that the gruff men would be munching on dinky sandwiches and scones!

 

@Flip

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"I believe they would appreciate the gesture. Men do like their coffee." Leah replied. "I told them I'd be just fine but they have little trust in my safety most times. The fact is, they are likely across the street where they can see everything. I must say tho, I do appreciate your thoughtfulness. This is very nice indeed."

 

That Missus Blakesley not only had gone to the trouble for preparing what actually amounted to a high tea, the consideration of her 'shadows,' which were not all the popular everywhere in town.

 

"Then again, they could be just outside, if you want to check. I sometimes loose track of them, though they never loose track of me." She added.

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"I believe they would appreciate the gesture. Men do like their coffee." Leah replied. "I told them I'd be just fine but they have little trust in my safety most times. The fact is, they are likely across the street where they can see everything. I must say tho, I do appreciate your thoughtfulness. This is very nice indeed."

 

"Of course, it's no problem."  Emeline smiled, then shrugged.  "Besides, I know they helped the Law the other day, so I owe them a debt of gratitude."

 

"Then again, they could be just outside, if you want to check. I sometimes loose track of them, though they never loose track of me." She added.

 

"I'll check, it shouldn't take but a minute."  There was already a tray prepared, with a generous amount of the finger sandwiches, scones, jams and creme, as well as coffee and pressed red napkins.  "Please, help yourself to tea or coffee."

 

There was a table on the front porch, and she set the tray on that, then crossed the street to address the men.  "Gentlemen, I have some coffee and food set out for you, if you'd like."  She could bring it here, but there was no table to put anything on.

 

@Flip

 

 

 

 

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They were on their feet, actually removing their hats. They looked to one another when Bannister said, "Coffee'd be just fine Ma'am. Appreciate you'd think of us."

 

She had set up a table which was somewhat obscured by the three men, allowing for her forgetting she had put it there. "Yes Ma'am, if you need a hand I'll be glad to lend it, carry that on out for ya." Santee offered.

 

These were hard men, but as was the case in those days, they softened pretty quickly to any act of kindness from a woman, and around town it was known that Emeline was a lady. It mattered not at all that she was the Deputy's betrothed, there would be no disrespect shown for any woman. Except maybe the "sportin' women" found in most frontier towns.

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"Thank you, of course."  Emeline gave the men a nod, then led the way back across the street and handed a tray to one of the men.  It was a little comical to see the rough gunman carrying a tray of treats, but she knew no one was going to bother them.  She carried the coffee pot, setting it down on the table.

 

"If you need anything else, let me know."  She had no reservations being around men like this, she had grow accustomed to gruff mannerisms, and learned that a vast majority of men in the mines and camps, despite their education or upbringing, treated ladies with respect out her, moreso than she'd expect in a big city.

 

Back in the cafe, she apologized to Leah, then took a seat across from her.  "I'm sorry for the delay.  But I'm glad you came by, I don't have time to join the Ladies Society, but I did want to know more about your ideas.  I think it will be great for the town."

 

@Flip

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"I'm sorry for the delay.  But I'm glad you came by, I don't have time to join the Ladies Society, but I did want to know more about your ideas.  I think it will be great for the town."

 

"No please, that was very kind of you." Leah said with a smile, she enjoyed seeing Santee carrying that tray across the street, and woe to anyone who laughed at him. "Well, what is it you'd like to know about the project?" She asked with a smile. "It seems all I get to do is talk about it, town government moves slowly." She was pleasant enough, no use being bitter, but it was true, things outside her control were moving at a snails pace.

 

"The project is to get a hospital built and then, an orphanage." She explained simply. "My, but you set  a beautiful table. May I call you Emeline? please, do call me Leah."

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"Oh, of course you can call me Emeline."  She smiled widely as she poured them drinks, leaving it to Leah to add her own cream and sugar.  "Please, help yourself.  And first names are easiest, since I'll be changing my last name in a few days."

 

A tint came to her cheeks as her smile widened.  "Mr. Pike and I are marrying on Friday.  You can come, if you'd like."  She offered a plate laden with a variety of small quarter sandwiches.  "It's a relatively small affair, rather informal."

 

"I've heard about the hospital and orphanage," she continued, "both are wonderful ideas, especially after what happened in Whitefish this past winter.  I think a proper hospital might have made a difference."

 

@Flip

 

 

 

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"Oh, of course you can call me Emeline."  She smiled widely as she poured them drinks, leaving it to Leah to add her own cream and sugar.  "Please, help yourself.  And first names are easiest, since I'll be changing my last name in a few days."

 

"Oh how wonderful! I am happy for you." Leah responded genuinely.

 

A tint came to her cheeks as her smile widened.  "Mr. Pike and I are marrying on Friday.  You can come, if you'd like."  She offered a plate laden with a variety of small quarter sandwiches.  "It's a relatively small affair, rather informal."

 

"I would be delighted to attend. Thank you so much. I'm afraid I have very few social engagements to attend, and after the disaster that was the Kalispell Ladies meeting, well I'm sure you've heard all about that."

 

"I've heard about the hospital and orphanage," she continued, "both are wonderful ideas, especially after what happened in Whitefish this past winter.  I think a proper hospital might have made a difference."

 

Yes, to be sure, a proper hospital would have been invaluable. I would wager to say that many lives that were lost, could well have been saved, not to mention the day to day accidents and sickness that confront folks that the hospital might benefit." Leah agreed.

 

"The sad part of this entire project is all that is needed is a simple land swap. I was able to purchase the right of ways where necessary, and the rest were granted to me by the Territorial Government. So you see, it is within reach of becoming a reality, if the Town Council ever gets around to meeting."

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"I'm afraid that if they don't see any personal gain, most people won't be in any hurry to do something inconvenient."  Emeline shook her head.  "I'm not sure who is on the council, but speaking for myself, it seems that most anyone who owns a business doesn't have time for that sort of thing.  I'd run for council if I had time..." she grinned, "and the inclination.  It's one thing to brandish a shotgun when thugs come to town, and quite another to argue with people who only have their self-interest in mind."

 

Of course, she might have more time after she was married, but even if she gave up the cafe, she'd be out at the ranch.

 

She suddenly chuckled.  "I did hear about the meeting, and I'm a bit disappointed that I missed it!  Granny Miggins can throw a mean punch, I'd wager!"

 

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"Well, Emeline, you missed quite entertaining afternoon, I'll grant you that. I'm afraid it did not go anywhere near how I had envisioned it, what with the spiked punch that resulted in some of the most unladylike like behavior I believe I've ever seen in one place at one time!" Leah stated and then started laughing.

 

"My God, Poor Matthew Wentworth, having to shoot up his own place to restore order. I tell you, it was an afternoon I'll never forget, and, I'm afraid that as humorous as the afternoon was, it did me and the project no good at all, and that was what I had hoped for. Using the sensibilities of the ladies to intercede with their husbands about the merits of the project." Her laughter had faded, and it showed in her eyes, the sadness caused by the afternoon. Damage that was perhaps irreparable.

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"I suppose that's true, you don't want to be a laughing stock, or have that appearance reflect on your projects."  And the sad think was, the ones who would suffer in the long run were innocents, orphans wishing for a safe place to stay and people who were in need of medical care.

 

"Have you thought about using the paper?" she asked, "Talking to Mr. McVey about doing stories about people who would benefit from the services...people with names and stories, to show what the impact would be..."  She shrugged.  "Maybe talk to Dr. Danforth about how a hospital could have saved lives.  I don't know of any orphans in town who don't have someone looking after them, but there were several from Whitefish who would have had an easier time if there had been an orphanage to look after them until we could find them homes."

 

Maybe it would put a different outlook on things if people started to think about it more personally.

 

@Flip

 

 

 

 

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"It's no secret that Doctors Danforth and Boone are involved with the project, tho Doctor Boone had to move to Columbia Falls, the Doctor there died suddenly, but he can still be counted on." She appeared a little downcast, "The sad part, as you point out, are those who are in need of longer term medical treatment, and in time, of course, the orphans." 

 

"Our plan was, and is, to offer care to the people of Flathead County and that will require a hospital setting to accommodate those treatment needs that a town doctor is unable to provide. I mean, look at Doctor Danforth and what care he is able to provide. The man has turned his home into a small hospital when necessary. He does have a nurse, a trained, competent, nurse which is a blessing, while both would be better suited to work in a dedicated facility. I'm sorry, I do tend to go on about it." She smiled, and shook her head slightly.

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"Of course you're passionate about it," Emeline said, shaking her head, "your causes are good, and without passion, the projects would likely just wither, considering the opposition you are up against."  Without conviction, nothing was likely to happen.  "There are plenty of people who would have been dissuaded by now, and that would be a pity.  I don't know if I could stick with something like that, however noble the cause.  Owning your own business is something else, more reliant on your skills and not other people...well, besides the customers, but that goes back to your own skill."

 

If you made an inferior product, no one would buy it, and you didn't have a business.  But no council to have to please!

 

"You're welcome to come by for tea any time you need to blow off some steam," Emeline assured her, "and if you need a change of pace, there are always dishes that need doing or vegetables to chop!"

 

@Flip

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"Thank you so much. May I say, you set a fine table for a high tea, and perhaps it is something that should be done more often for the good ladies of this town. I don't blame them for the spiked punch, not one bit. I have discovered who the culprit was, and honestly, if there's no punch to spike, then a ladies tea would do wonders for the ladies hereabouts." She explained. 

 

"We're out here, away from the refinements of the cities and the larger towns. Remember the dance, which actually seemed to be a genuine ball? You saw how the ladies responded, and the gentlemen as well. Certainly having, say, a quarterly tea, save for the winter months, divide it up from thaw to first frost. Or first snow fall. How does that sound to you?"

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"That's a really good idea!"  Nodding, Emeline smiled.  "Saturday afternoons aren't very busy, so that might be a good time."  Shutting down a few hours early wasn't going to make a significant impact on business, and besides, this was just a different sort of business.  "And I really wouldn't mind the change of pace.  Yes, it's cooking, but not the usual fare, and it will be something else Miss Redmond can learn...and she could benefit from rubbing elbows with some other ladies."

 

Not that that would all be positive, but even if there were disagreeable ladies there, it would be a good lesson for both Clara and Emeline, in how to diplomatically deal with bitches, and gently put them in their place without them even realizing that they had been insulted!

 

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"A very good idea, even though there is much work involved, and I would be happy to lend a hand with whatever is needed. I was not pampered, my mother insisted I learn to cook and to bake, for which I am eternally grateful." Not that there was any love lost between her and her mother. Leah was happy that her mother finally broke away from her father.

 

"I might have suggested Sundays, however that might limit those women who would be able to come." She added. Nothing about the Hospital, though, of course, I would be willing to field questions about it, but nothing like the last debacle." And she laughed. " How wonderful that you are willing to take this on. It is something that will help connect the ladies of Kalispell, socially. And who knows what might come of that."

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"I'd love to have your help in the kitchen," Emeline said with a grin.  "And I've recently decided to close on Sundays so that I can spend more time with Barnabas, and that's something I enjoy!"

 

Laughing, she added, "As for trouble, there's a shotgun by the front door, and I'm not afraid to use it!"  Of course, she didn't think that that sort of trouble would happen here, but she added, "I'll be sure to keep an eye on Granny Miggins when she's here, but it will be smaller and easier to keep track...and it won't be specifically offered as any sort of club or 'meeting'.  If the conversation turns to specific topics..." she shrugged, "all the better!  Oh!  I can even invite a guest speaker...on any subject, it doesn't have to involve politics."

 

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"I can jump right in, and would be glad to." She offered in response. "It's like being a prisoner most days. I mean especially with the uncertainty of what my father might attempt. Well, not him personally, but those that ride for him, if they are still willing to 'ride for the band,' as they say."

 

"You know, it would be grand to help out, meet with some of the ladies here in town. So, you just point in the direction you need me, and tell me what is to be done. Even say, Friday evening to prepare, only if you should think that necessary, of course." She added. Yes this would be enjoyable, and different than how she was currently living. "And if I don't hear a word regrading the hospital or the orphanage the afternoon will be well worth it."

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"I can jump right in, and would be glad to."

 

"Of course!" Emeline declared, "Any time you feel like cooking, come on over, I'll never turn down the help!"  And she certainly wouldn't mind the company.  Then the conversation turned back to Leah's family.

 

"It's like being a prisoner most days. I mean especially with the uncertainty of what my father might attempt. Well, not him personally, but those that ride for him, if they are still willing to 'ride for the band,' as they say."

 

"I can imagine," Emeline commented, then she shook her head.  "No, no I can't imagine, having to have guards with me all the time, especially because family was a threat."  She'd be furious, that was certain!

 

"You know, it would be grand to help out, meet with some of the ladies here in town. So, you just point in the direction you need me, and tell me what is to be done. Even say, Friday evening to prepare, only if you should think that necessary, of course." She added. Yes this would be enjoyable, and different than how she was currently living. "And if I don't hear a word regrading the hospital or the orphanage the afternoon will be well worth it."

 

Emeline laughed.  "I think we could make a grand time of cooking, and a nip of good Scottish whisky will ease any pains we might have!"  Certainly, she was no prude when it came to drinking, and didn't mind a swig now and then, although she'd never become intoxicated.  "Is there anything in particular that you enjoy making?  Or would like to learn to make?"

 

@Flip

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"Just to help, just to get in there and be a part of doing something positive." Leah responded. "Really, I don't have a favorite recipe, but I'm really good at pitching in when the cooking starts. I guess somewhere after I guess ten, I sort of lost interest, and we had household staff that did the cooking."

 

"But this, yes, this would be fun do all the preparations for the afternoon.!" She added. "I could go to Mister McVay and put in an and if you like and we could design it ourselves, at least the wording."

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"Oh, well, yes, all right."  Emeline hadn't thought that far, but if they were going to do this, they may as well go all the way!  "I don't even know what I'd say in an add.  'Real Victorian Tea without Victoria'!"  She laughed.  "I suppose I need to set a price, ladies will want to know what it will cost them..."

 

Then she frowned.  "I don't suppose it has to just be ladies, right?  There may be some gentlemen who'd like to come...or husbands who will be coerced for the sake of harmony!"  At that, she laughed again.  "Anyway, there's no sense in specifying if we're appealing to ladies or gentlemen.  And we'd best not specify the menu, so it can change from month to month...Goodness! I'm making this so complicated, but I don't suppose it has to be, and I really am looking forward to a change of pace."

 

Not that she didn't love her work at the cafe, and there were special requests such as cakes and things to change the routine, but this was going to be a fun change!

 

@Flip

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"Well,,  I'm sure you're aware, most women wouldn't say spit with a man in the room, especially her husband. But if you're game to deal with that, I'm with you. Might only take one time, then again, the women may put their foot down." Leah clarified. She was not opposed to men attending an afternoon tea, in fact she was thinking it might add some levity as they tried to fit in.

 

"Women will have no problems with whatever you prepare, or should I say we? I do like the idea of an add, yes, more ladies, and men, will get the word. And really, Emeline, it doesn't have to be much more than the cafe is hosting a tea, date and time. That should cover it information wise. If they want to know more, you can bet they'll ask. Keep it simple."

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Chuckling, Emeline grinned.  "Ah, of course, tease them, and when they come in to ask questions, sell them pie!"  Well, if that happened, could she be blamed if someone came in for more information and couldn't resist a good pie?

 

"A brilliant strategy!  You're quite the business woman!"  She laughed.  "This will be great fun and something I think the community needs if it's going to grow beyond a mining town, and now that I'm getting married, hopefully going to have a family, I'd like to have a bit more civilization and a little less of bank robbing and whatnot!"

 

@Flip

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