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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.

A Little, Tiny Favor


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Mature Content: No

With: Jay Ryker
Location: Kalispell - Whitefish
When: Mid-May 1875
Time of Day: Morning

 

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It had been a couple weeks since Weedy had talked to Jemima, who had talked to his mother, and had told him that he needed to find her grave and let her know that he wanted her to go to Heaven, and that he'd be all right.  But all the adults had been so busy, and besides, it had taken him some time to work up the courage to ask someone to take him to Whitefish...or what was left of it.

 

A couple of times, the boy had even thought about going on his own, taking Arabesque while Addy was out on the stage, but it was so far, and even though he was pretty sure he could make it there and back in a day, he had no idea how to find where his ma was buried, and besides, there was something a bit unsettling about in a cemetery alone.

 

Finally, he tracked Jay down where he was working, and approached him.  "Hey!"  He grinned at the man, wishing he could be his pa, maybe, and sort of wondering why he and Miss Addy weren't married.  But, not his business.  "I have a little, tiny favor?"

 

((I might need to edit this a bit if Jay ever proposes to Addy!))

 

@Jack

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Jay was almost done with his work today. He'd been working on some door hinges the whole day and had put the last finishing touches on them to make them nice and smooth.

Washing his hands in a barell out front he saw Weedy approach. The boy had really grown on him, so he smiled when he saw him and asked.

"Afternoon, lad. What favour is that?"

He took a cup of water to drink and offered the kid some, then reached for some apples. One of the older ladies in town had an apple tree in her yard and ever since he'd fixed her stove, she was bringing over apples or sometimes pie.

"Hungry?"

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"Yes, sir!"  Weddy got plenty to eat, but he was a growing boy, right, so there was never enough, and fresh apples were great...and Arabesque would like the core.  "Thank you."

 

As for his mission here, he wasn't sure how to go about it...not that he'd be deterred if Jay said no, but he'd rather not go alone.  "Um...I want to go to Whitefish."  He shrugged and bit into the apple.  "I want to see where my Ma is." 

 

He hoped that didn't sound too gruesome, and it really hadn't been anything that he'd thought about before this, but now that it had been suggested, and the sting of the shock of losing her had dulled, he really did want to go.

 

@Jack

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Jay gladly shared the apple with the boy just like everything else.

 

His announcement to go to Whitefish was a surprise but his reasoning perfectly understandable.

Unfortunately Whitefish was off limits to Jay. Too many people could have seen him with the gang and just because granny Miggins wasn't going to rat him out, not everyone felt the same.

And why are you telling me this? You want me to come?

How could he refuse tis without looking heartless?

He needed Addy.

I understand why you want to go there. Let me talk to Addy.

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And why are you telling me this? You want me to come?

 

"Don't want to go alone."  He shrugged.  It was a long way, at least for a kid, and while he was sure he could make it to the deserted town and back in a day, it seemed daunting.  And that was something else...

 

As far as he had heard, after the blizzard had knocked down some of the buildings, there had been a fire, and the place had been deserted.  Many of the survivors had come here to Kalispell, and some had just moved on elsewhere.  But, the idea of going to a place that had been a town, but now wasn't, gave him the heebie-jeebies, not to mention that he wanted to go to a cemetery, and that meant dead bodies, and that meant there could be spirits.

 

I understand why you want to go there. Let me talk to Addy.

 

"No!"  The boy looked up at Jay, alarmed.  He had a feeling that Miss Addy would never let him do that, although that wasn't what he said.  "No," he repeated more quietly, "I don't want her to think I don't like her as a ma now, that I miss my real ma more...and that she's not my real ma..."

 

Come to think of it, there was some truth in that, too

 

@Jack

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Jay took a moment to sit the kid down and look at him with stern eyes. "Addy loves you and she would understand. It's perfectly fine that you miss your mom. Because...well, she was your mother."

He wouldn't argue any more with Weedy but he'd still ask Addy what she thought.

"Don't worry. I'll figure it out. You won't have to go alone. Maybe we can do iton Sunday."

With that he turned away and started cleaning up his tools.

When he was done he pulled the door closed and gave Weedy a nudge.

"Let's go see Miss Adelaide."

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"Yes, sir."  Weedy knew that what Jay had said was right, if Addy didn't love him and care about him, she wouldn't have bought them a whole house and changed the way she was living.  But...if she knew that he was on a mission from Miss Jemima to free his mom's spirit from its earthly ties, so she and the Angel Chloe could go to Heaven...well, she might not like that.

 

Of course, he didn't have to tell them that that was his goal.

 

Sighing, he reached up and took Jay's hand as they headed for the barn.  "Thank you, Jay."

 

At the big stage barn, Addy was in a stall, brushing down one of the big draft horses, and she looked over as the pair walked in.

 

"Whatter you two up to?" she asked, grinning.  "Come ta rescue me from all this work?"

 

@Jack

 

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"Maybe." Jay smirked and walked over to her but reminded himself not to get affectionate in Weedys presence.

Once the boy was gone, he told her about his plans.

"He thinks you'll get upset if he wants to go...but I know you won't. Right?" Hopefully he knew her well enough to be the judge of that.

"I can't go there with him but I didn't have the heart to tell him a lie. How do I explain that I'm worried about being seen over there? It was bad enough when that old lady dragged me onto her property but at least that without anyone around."

Jay had made up his mind. He would bring Weedy to the hill overlooking the city but no further.

"Either you go...show the kid you don't mind, or I'll bring him half way."

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"Ain't gonna let  him go by himself," Addy declared, shrugging.  "Ya know no one really lives there any more, right?"  Not that she could blame him for not wanting to go back to 'the scene of the crime', and she respected that he didn't want to lie to Weedy.

 

"Been wonderin' when he was gonna ask."  Addy shrugged.  "It's a good thing, ain't it?  Boy ought not be mad at his Ma all his life.  I can take him, yeah, that ain't a problem."

 

Moving closer, she gave him a quick kiss on the cheek.  "Thanks fer helpin' with him.  He needs a good man ta emulate, so's he'll grow up right."  The lad had started life at a disadvantage, and even though he still didn't have the best of circumstances, Addy was going to do her best with him, and she had good help in the likes of Jay, Speed, Dr. Danforth, and even F. Falmer Browne.

 

@Jack

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  • 3 weeks later...

"That's quite alright."

It didn't feel good to let her take Weedy all the way there when the boy had asked him. To Weedy it had to look like Jay didn't wantbto support him.

"I could accompany you most of the way and the pay the old lady a visit. Make sure her fence is alright and she's happy."

At least he'd be there for most of the way in case Indians crossed their path.

"I want to show him that he's got me, too."

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"We'd both like that real good."  Addy smiled and kissed his cheek.  "Lemme ask around an' find out where they put th'...victims."  Maybe all of the bodies had been put in the town cemetery, but there were likely to be so many that they'd run out of room, so maybe a new area had been used for the bodies they couldn't identify, or the ones from out of town?

 

"Tell ya what?  We can head out there tomorrow, first thing.  Ya think ya'd have time ta carve out a marker?  Somethin' simple, don't gotta be fancy."  If anything, they could make sure that Chloe James wasn't lost in obscurity.

 

@Jack

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  • 3 weeks later...

Of course he would not deny her tis request. He'd make it a good one, too.

One made of hard wood. That would take a while to carve.

 

"Yes, I will carve a marker. I'll get to it right away to make it nice." 

It was the least he could do for Weedy even if he could not ride into town with them...half abandoned or not.

 

With another kiss he parted ways with Addy to get to work. He needed to find the right pieces of wood first and some color to preserve the wood.

 

 

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It was three days later that everyone was able to get together for the jaunt to Whitefish...what was left of it.  Addy had a team hitched to a wagon for her and Weedy, Jay would use his own horse so he could wait, or go back, when he had to.  In the bed of the wagon, she had the makings of a picnic, a baseball and bat, in case there was a chance to have some sport, and the marker Jay had made, carefully wrapped in muslin, and covered with blankets so that Weedy didn't know it was there.

 

Weedy had gathered some flowers, thanks to the unwitting generosity of Professor F. Falmer Browne, via Jemima Wigfall, and all was ready.

 

Addy guided the wagon out of the barn, then stopped the horses in the street, waiting for Jay.

 

@Jack

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His horse brought him closer to the wagon in a rather fast trot. He could already see Addy looking over top of it and Weedy was holding on to it but leaning far to the side so he could look at the dusty street where Jay was approaching with a bundle on his back. Perhaps he would stay out in the woods depening on how the day went.

 

He slowed his horse down until he was right next to Addy and tipped his hat. "Afternoon, Addy, Weedy...fine day today. Big day!" He added because he knew what it meant to the boy. 

 

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"Afternoon!"  Addy smiled brightly when Jay joined them, giving him a nod as she snapped the lines, causing the team to push into the traces and start out of town at a brisk trot.  "And a fine day fer a drive."  Warm, a few clouds, no rain threatening, one of the rare, beautiful days that made living here all the more amazing.

 

"Did some askin' around," she told Jay, "heard most'a th' folks from all that mess in th' storm're buried just this side'a where th' town was."  Good thing, as she had no desire to see the ruins that were left, and Weedy didn't need that in his imagination.  "I'll leave it ta you how far ya wanna go."

 

She had already explained to Weedy that Jay may not want to go the whole way because there were bad memories there, so he might hold back at some point.  But Addy was hoping he'd go all the way with them, since they weren't going to be too close to the town.

 

@Jack

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Jay rode by their side, every now and then he glanced over to admire the woman he was in love with. The way she sat on the bench with a hat and leather gloves on, strands of hair dangling in the wind. She was a beauty. Jay didn't need a fancy woman. He needed Addy.

With a smile he galloped ahead to check put tye path which was hopefully free of bears and Indians 

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Addy watched as Jay rode ahead of them, finding it a bit odd and different to have someone looking out for her and wanting to protect her.  Most of her life she'd seen to herself, even when she'd had her father and brothers around her.  Oh, they'd kept an eye on her, but had only intervened when it became apparent that she wasn't holding her own.  Then they had taught her new ways to fight, and had made sure she could shoot and had moxie not to back down.

 

It was kinda nice, though, not to have to worry so much, or to be so much on alert, and she wasn't going to stop Jay...he was just doing what he needed to for his family, and she certainly wasn't going to question that.

 

Besides, it gave her a chance to talk to Weedy, explain what was going on with his mother having been in Whitefish to be properly married to a man of good standing, she was finally trying to straighten out her life, and Weedy should be proud of her.  She also explained more about the tenuous legality of Weedy being under her care, and that she was going to be sure that never changed, especially since she was going to be a properly married woman soon.

 

Weedy was taking it all in stride, plotting in his little-kid head how to get rid of the adults for a few minutes once they were there, so he could preform the ritual that Miss Jemima had suggested to help both his mom and the little girl Angel.

 

It was nearing noon as they came to the far out-reaches of Whitefish, now-abandoned farms and homes, and Addy was wondering if Jay was going to stay with them, or wait here, in case there might still be some stragglers in town who might recognize him.

 

@Jack

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Once they reached the far outreaches of Whitefish Jay slowed down until his horse came to a stop.

"That's it for me." He stated and looked around, then motioned for a spot beneath a single tree on the ridge.

"I'll set up our camp nearby and then I'll be waiting for you by that tree. Be back before darkness falls."

To Weedy he added. "Say your good byes, boy. Addy will be there with you. She's been your new mother for a long time and she always will be."

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"I wish you could come," Weedy muttered with a smile, it would be nice to have the man who had already been more of a father to him in a few months than his mother had been a mother.  But he understood, and he was confident that Jay would be there when they came back, and wouldn't abandon them.

 

Addy smiled, hopping from the wagon to unload the picnic supplies, then kissed Jay lightly.  "Watch yerself," she muttered, then added, "I love ya an' wouldn't take too kindly ta nothin' happenin' to ya."

 

Climbing back into the seat, she snapped the lines and the wagon lurched forward.  It wasn't but another ten minutes that they got to the new cemetery, already starting to be claimed by nature as grasses and wildflowers took over the graves, and it was really beautiful in its macabre way. 

 

"It's so big," Weedy murmured as he jumped down from the wagon, then looked at Addy.  "How do we find her?"

 

Smiling sadly, Addy nodded agreement, although she was seeing it not from the standpoint of trying to find a specific site, but just from the sheer numbers of make-shift markers, and knowing that this only represented the victims that hadn't been 'claimed' by family.

 

"Th' man said it's th' third row from th' road, an' 'bout half-way back."  Leading the way, Addy looked over the simple markers that had been put out on the graves of victims whose names were known.  She'd taken extra time withJay and F. Falmer Browne to learn how to read 'Chloe James', so when she saw it, she recognized it right away.

 

"Here, Weedy."  Taking a breath, she stopped at the mound of dirt, clad in shooting stars and sorrel.  "She was a good ma," Addy commented softly, "I just think she lost her way, but she always made sure you was all right."

 

Sober, Weedy nodded, trying to wrap his head around the fact this his ma was there, under the dirt, forever silent and gone.  "She's got an Angel watching over her," he whispered, then looked up at Addy.  "I know she wasn't the best, but she did love me.  I just wish..."  He shrugged.  Wishes were good, but they were just wishes.

 

"Can I be alone?"

 

"Sure."  Addy gave the lad a hug, then headed back to the wagon to get Jay's gift for him.

 

Meanwhile, Weedy knelt down, taking the paper that Miss Jemima had scribbled an incantation on, and he read the disjointed jumble of words, then sprinkled the vial of water she'd given him...oh, not just any water, but water blessed by the Pope, and 'Foremost Spiritual Leader of the Gelug, a water sourced from a river miles and miles away in the darkest jungles of the Andes, run-off that started in the highest, frozen plains of Siberia.

 

Carefully, Weedy made sure all the liquid fell on the center of the mound, then he finally stood.  "Find Miss Angel, Ma, she'll take care of you.  Me, don't worry, I'm all right, and Miss Addy is looking after me.  She's a good lady.  I hope it's all right if I call her Ma now."

 

As she was returning, Addy heard that last bit and it made her heart soar.  She'd do right by the boy, and with Jay to help her, he'd grow to be a good man who would make his mother proud.

 

"Here, now, Weedy, Jay made a present fer ya."  She pulled the cloth away from the marker so Weedy could see it, then started digging a small trench to put it in.

 

"Jay made this?"  Weedy looked up at Addy, trying to fight tears, then he managed a small smile.  "It's real nice, I think Ma will like it."  Then he took the shovel from Addy to finish digging a trench to put the marker in.  Once it was securely seated, Weedy headed back to the wagon, while Addy hung back for a minute.

 

"I wanna thank ya, Miz Chloe, fer havin' such a fine boy.  Doncha worry none 'bout him." 

 

Sighing, she went back to the wagon, and in a few minutes were at the site where Jay was setting up the picnic.  Before the wagon even stopped, Weedy had jumped down, and he ran over to Jay, giving him a big hug. 

 

"Thank you, Jay!"

 

@Jack

 

 

 

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Jay was well aware that the time at the grave yard had to be very hard for Weedy. But he was also confident that he'd be alright. the boy had barely known his mother and his actual mom, even if not by birth, was right by his side.

 

Jay kept an eye out for unwanted onlookers while he picked a spot for the picnic. Everything was quiet except for the buzzing of the beez and the sound of cicades. 

It was quite peaceful and nice.

Once everything had been set but out but their food which he kept hidden in the shade the Englishman sat down and enjoyed the sun. Who would have thought that he could spring back from life as a criminal and have something like a family and peace?

 

When Weedy and Addy returned he pulled the boy close to his chest and held him for a long time.

"That was tough, wasn't it?" He asked the boy while he looked at his future wife over his head.

To her he mouthed "Thank you."

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After setting the brake on the wagon, Addy hopped down, but hesitated a few seconds to watch Jay with Weedy, a bemused smile on her face.  She never would really have thought about how three people, from such different circumstances, could come together to be a family, but here they were. 

 

She nodded as Jay 'talked' to her, then went over and sat on the blanket.  "How'er you boys doin'?  Don't know 'bout you, but I'm famished!"

 

Laughing, she grabbed a jug of lemonade and took a swig, ignoring that Weedy quickly wiped away tears as he sat straight.  "Me too!" the boy exclaimed, "What's to eat?"  It was easier to have a distraction, to get his mind off his Ma, and Angel, who was with her now, keeping her company.  That thought made him smile, then he hopped up and started to get the food from the shade and set it out, so he could be helpful.

 

@Jack

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