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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: Nope

With: Speed and Pronto
Location: Municipal Building - Marshal's Office
When: July 20, 1876
Time of Day: Mid-Morning over coffee




It was going to be another hot one out there, both men were aware of that, but there was another weight in the air. Pronto had felt it over the last month. It was nothing between the two men, there was a bond that was it a problem between them, it would be out in the open.


"Somethin' here ain't right, Speed. Like ya got a dark cloud over ya." Pronto spoke softly as they sat at their desks, drinking coffee. "Reckon it's somethin, rather than nothin'."


Speed smiled and turned his chair to face his deputy. "Haven't been right since the trials. The verdict on Case just didn't set right with me." He confessed. "And after getting cornered by Alice the other day at the Lickskillet, I don't know, Pronto. I just thought it would be different, not with her, with the verdict."


"I know what you mean, pard. Didn't seem fair ta me either. I mean, the man was gonna shoot you, that was his intent, t'was clear as creek water!"


That damned Goodnight made it look like I was gonna shoot Case, not the other way around." He shook his head. "I'm just not sure what could happening the future. I mean, not every outlaw, or trouble maker is going to have the resources of Elias Steelgrave. Now I believe that Dutton did as good of a job as was possible. The witnesses he had were the ones right there, but they just weren't enough against the ones Goodnight came up with."


Yeah, sayin' the evidence didn't support the charge, that was jest the impact of ol' man Steelgrave, an' now we got us an angry Case Steelgrave out there up to no good, to be sure." Pronto leaned back. "Well, the county'll pay for this, that's a fact. Folks i'll be short cattle, nesters'll get burt out, cuz you know his crowd's still out there!"


"Yes, I know. And for the time being, we got no County Sheriff. That means anything outside of town is fair game, with an unfair actor who wanted to be the law."


"Well, you should win in a walk." Pronto said confidently.


"Nope. Not gonna run." Speed replied firmly. "Let someone else take that on. I figure I've done my time as the law here in town, believe the Marshal's job needs new blood. Fact is, you'd be the perfect choice."


"In a pigs eye!" Pronto blurted out. "If anybody's done their time behind a badge it's me, an I want nothin' ta do with your job! Simple as that." Then he paused, "You ain't steppin' down afore the election are ya?"


"Not sure just yet. I wouldn't want to leave the town without law, that wouldn't be right."


"Lemme ask, this ain't on account of Alice Fletcher, now is it?" Came the inevitable question. Speed laughed at the  thought of it.


"Well now, yes she has a hold on me, but that don't mean I'm making decisions like this on account of her. Just not who I am. I am partial to he, I'll admit that, but as far as any woman making my decisions for me, that's not about to happen. Not even for Alice Fletcher."


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"The mining and resources business is going well, maybe it's time I took far more of an interest in that. Fact is, there generally ain't no shooting, at least not in the office. Ada Fetterman just wouldn't have that, not at all. The other part is getting out seeing what the boys are finding. There a lure to that. Been polishing this chair a while now." He smiled wide. "Guess I just don't take to losing."


"You didn't lose, Dutton didn't lose either, t'was the court, it lost. Paid liars turned the trial to Case's benefit." Pronto exclaimed. "Hell not a one'a them witnesses saw a damned thing they swore to! Not one! So ain't no way you lost that trial. No way!"


"Hardly matters though, it's over, he's free and I figure he's got grudge to settle with me. Well, if he ever turns up again, which I figure he will, sooner or later, guess I'll have to face him."


"Maybe so, maybe so. Then again, maybe not. Near as I can figure he cleared out of the country. Means he's someone else's problem now." Pike reported. "Man could be anywhere, but I'm figurin' he'd be where there' action a plenty. Someplace where the laws loose, not like the bigger cities an' town with a large force keepin' the peace. Nope, Case is out there where he can make easy money, hell, he could be the law wherever he's at."


"That seems reasonable. Be just the thing he'd be doing." Speed agreed. "Well, good riddance, I say. Flathead County's better off with him gone, that's for sure!" He laughed, "Probably meet his end wherever he went, a lot tougher places than Kalispell to try and sling one's weight around. No matter how many men he has."


"Damn sure hope so." Pike said.



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Speed was under no illusion that a man like case Steelgrave would just up and forget him. Hardly. But he couldn't let that thought, or rather, that knowledge run his life. He had some things he wanted to do with it yet. Alice for one, the mining operation for another. Not the sort of things Case Steelgrave would be thinking about.


Case was certainly a consideration, no doubt about that. He could always move the operation further west, which had been the original plan before he set out from New York. The truth be told, he liked Kalispell, like what he had started here, liked the people for the most part, yet he could always pull up stakes and head west. Northern California, Oregon, and Washington held a lot of timber rights. And minerals? No on knew for sure, or so he thought. Probably some gold or silver. Worth sending someone to investigate.


"So, if I step down, you're not stepping up, then." He said


"Nope. I signed on with ya, cuz I liked who you wuz, who you are, what you stood for. It was a we deal as I saw it. With one of us gone, that makes it an I deal. Not my cuppa tea." Pronto said. "An' before you go askin', got me a wife an' a ranch. Be headin' out on our huneymoon right shortly. So twixt the two, I'll be plumb busy enough."


Speed laughed. "I reckon you will."




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You know Pronto, the town will need law and order..."


"Don't be handin' me that, not with you turnin' down both jobs. Hell's bells Speed. How can you just toss in the badge and walk away?" Pike asked.


Haven't done it yet, but, I'm thinkin' on it. Listen, things are pretty quiet here anymore, hardly even have a fight in the saloon. With Case and his crowd gone to wherever, well, things are quiet, maybe too quiet. And besides, after i took a beating in court, I get the feeling maybe there are those that would rather someone else was Town Marshal." He said. "It was a fair trial, seems that they had the better lawyer on their side, not begrudging the job Dutton did, Christ it was all but open and shut, except it wasn't."


"Could be, could be. Maybe there's folks agin us. Want us outta their hair, 'er jest want new blood. I can understand that. It's their town. Ain't sure they got anybody that'd wanna get shot at to take either of are places, but I can buy a need for change." Then he added, "Not sure how much time I'll be havin' with Em an' the ranch."


"Well Pronto, won't be our problem."


"Nope, well I'm on the way to the Lickskillet, I'll take a turn around town on my way." Speed nodded at him as he went out the door.


End of thread



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