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    • "We'll have to get on over to the dinning room them. Afraid it's liable to be a bit more like Kalispell than Frisco." He said. "But it'll be good food, just not what we've been used too. Will be up on the hill, for sure.  I was told this is the best hotel because it was a ways out across the river from town, and it was solid built."   "The wealth on the hill is such that all most everything around it is growing at a fast pace. You'll really see that when we visit the Capitol, Carson City. Supposedly discovered by Kit Carson and General John Freemont on their way to Sacramento in. At least Freemont named the river after him back in '43 or '44. Nothin' was there then."   "All that made me hungry too, let's go eat an then take us a walk across the river, or along it, which ever you want." @Bongo
    • That did not take long. Cookie rang the triangle and shouted his best but in the end he sent the kid to roust all but the closest to him. Rance joined young Wheeler in the line, a bit out of the wind, but mostly in it for the moment. It seemed calmer up by the wagon.   "That had ta be bad back there. The wind drivin' the dust an' the smell, but should this wind let up you'll be on flank, left flank, then right, then back to the drag. It'll be me, Dallas, an' Dixie. eatin' dust tomorrow. But at least we got hot grub, won't always be that'a way out here though, every trip is different."   And they moved up steadily. @Bongo
    • "Nothing to discuss? I am surprised, Jonah. Why, if we have time for breakfast, there will be much to discuss regarding the hospital as well as the start of the orphanage. Hopefully that the railroad will be completed, or close to it by then." She smiled brightly. "Things will be different by then."   "My hope is that we get through all of this without my fathers interference causing delays, or real problems with the builders. You know we could get well into October before the snow flies, but I'm not counting on that. The winter will stop construction until the thaw." She stated, but the smile was still there, "But it will be well underway!" @Bongo
    • "Pleased ta meet ya, Rance."  Justus gave the man a nod, then lined up with the others for grub.  Maybe he could get some sleep despite the wind.  He surely was tired enough, and until there was something that concerned him, he didn't need to be concerned.   First, though, a full belly!  As the line progressed, he he nodded to the kid who was the cook's help.  "Times like this, I bet yer glad ya don't have ta be on th' downwind end of a herd'a cows!"   @Flip
    • "It's good to know you'll have the best working on the project, you've come this far, you don't need to risk the quality with less than the best working on it."  Even though he had no doubt that the crew would be excellent, it was reassuring to know that the man hand picked for the job would actually be on site overseeing it.  That way, too, he'd be there if Leah needed to discuss anything with him, and Jonah had a good feeling that was going to happen!   He grinned and took a sip of coffee.  "Just think, this time next year it will all be over!  We'll have a fine hospital with the best equipment...and nothing to discuss over breakfast!"   @Flip  

What Price Truth?

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Mature Content: No

With: Phinias G. McVay, Editor
Location: Kalispell Union Newspaper Office
When: Early-Mid July 1876
Time of Day: Varying




Phinn sat at his paper strewn desk, a bottle of whiskey close to hand, and a well used glass half full next to it. Perhaps the third or fourth such glass. His use of the liquor was not to intoxicate, nor to anesthetize, he frequently would drink while preparing an edition of the Union. This particular  edition was a bit more difficult to compose. The whiskey sat to his right, the packet of plans, notes, and memos that had belonged to Dick Orr sat  on his left. The information contained in that pile of scribble's was far from what Phinn had thought to encounter. He had simply scooped them up, and stuffed them in his pocket, why? There was a good question. To save them? Give them to Dick once he could get him out of the inferno the man was creating?  There was no simple answer. His plans for the hospital, the Richard Compton Orr Memorial Family Hospital, were destroyed, but the notes that should accompany those plans lay in the pile.


The Kalispell Republican, Mr Richard Compton Orr. Esq, Founder, Editor.


There was no Kalispell Republican, and he would check with the clerks office to see if there was any record of a filing for that name. It was but the most innocent of what Phin had found. The more damning went well beyond the hijacked hospital plans. And so he sat, ruminating as to how to go about the process of putting together a memorial issue for a man he deserved far less, but also for a family who deserved far better. A wife and child caught in the maelstrom of information only known to one man, so far as he knew. A situation full of strong emotions and confusing events that could tear apart the lives of the two innocents. The peeling back of the layers of the secret life of one man and the devastation that would ensue it's revelation.


Phinn picked up the glass and drained it.


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Morning dawned brightly over the town of Kalispell, nestled in the Flathead Valley, named for the indigenous people. Already there men were up and about in town some opening businesses, some for supplies, some to eat at the places offering breakfast, such as the Lickskillet Cafe. The day was off to a good, if not, everyday start.


In the office of the Kalispell Union the window coverings were down. Phinias G. McVay had just come down from his residence above the office and press room. It had that look, well used.  Paper almost everywhere, type cases open, drawers waiting for his 'printers devil' Tommy Lane who would be in after school, as usual. A good boy, Tommy, hard worker, fast learner and a real help around the place.


On this morning however, Phinn made his way from the wood stove that he got going to reheat his coffee, to his desk and the ominous pile of papers from Richard Orr's office. It sat staring at him like it would burn him if he touched it. There were already just a few things that the first sheet had laid out a plan, not all of it, not even a part of it, just the beginnings of a thought the man had had. It would be today that he would take the time to look at the papers in the stack, perhaps thirty or thirty-five, and do what he could to understand what the plot, or would it be plots, that the man had yet to hatch. He knew that whatever Orr had in mind, it would enrich him, and ruin others.


There came a knock on the shuttered door, yet, rather than ignore it, he rose and went to see who would be on his stoop so early. Unlatching the door, he pulled it open, there stood Marshal Guyer.


"Marshal?" Phinn greeted in question.


"McVay. I believe we need to talk, you and I. Not in an official capacity." The Marshal said stepping inside.


"Sure Marshal, if i can help." Phinn said, totally unprepared for the man and what he had said. He closed the door and followed the Marshal to his desk, where Guyer sat down, pushing his hat back, as Phinn went around and took his seat. "So, how can I help?" Regretting the question the instant it left his lips.


"You can tell me what happened. What really happened yesterday." Guyer said earnestly.

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Phinn ran his hand through his graying hair and exhaled, "Yesterday." The word came out heavy and simply hung there a long moment. "Yes, there was a fire and a man perished, but that's not what you want to hear now is it Marshal?"


"Speed, Phin. Let's just keep this simple. Man to man." Guyer said. Then he unpinned his badge, removed it from his vest and put it in one of its pockets.  Then he looked to the newspaperman.


"Not the best day of my life, that's certain. Oh, I've seen me die, horribly, we both have, but this, this was different. So, my cigar started it, then anything that could go wrong did go wrong. He pulled out what were plans for the hospital, not Leah Steelgraves Hospital you  understand, but his hospital. The Richard Compton Orr Memorial Family Hospital. Never forget that. He had some scheme in mind to steal it from her, God knows how. I, well, it got the best of me, and in a moment of anger I dropped my cigar on those plans and they caught fire. I never intended to have what happened happen, but it was like he, I dunno, he, well, he made mistake after mistake, the whiskey instead of the water on the fire. That really got it going. The man was berserk! Flailing around like a man possessed. I couldn't get to him until the bookcase fell on him. I got that off and dragged him outside where I realized, he was beyond help."


He made no mention of the sheaf of papers he rescued, at least not for the moment. "That's what happened, oh there were words beforehand, may words, some harsher than others. The man had plans, some that made no sense, like he and I starting a second newspaper in a town that can barely support one. He actually planned that he and I go in on it together, but it was to be the polar opposite of the Union. Crackpot stuff. I mean, that was doomed to fail, and likely take both papers down." He shook his head. "You know, if it had been the water rather than the whiskey..."


"And then there was Lorenzo Crabbe and that no account Grimes leaving as I arrived." That peaked Speeds interest.


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"Yes, Lorenzo Crabbe, there's a man of some mystery, a mystery he hasn't but killed." From what little Speed knew of the man he appeared to be a man of several talents, none of which endeared him to very many people. He had learned that the man was full of schemes, one right after the other. A man who bore watching.


Speed looked at Phinn, who looked tired, drawn out, guilt ridden. "So you're walking in and Crabbe and Grimes are walking out, did you find that a bit odd?"


"No. Crabbe is just the sort I'd associate with Orr. Grimes, well, Grimes is is no saint either, but of a lower kind that either of the other two, and if memory serves, which I cannot be sure of,  Crabbe was folding money and sticking it in his pocket which, even though the two are like peas in a pod, I found interesting."


"Interesting? How so?" Speed asked.


"Oh to see the two of them in league is one thing, but to actually see them in public if you will, that seemed highly odd that Richard C. Orr would have Crabbe in his office and not out behind the barn somewheres. Dick was a cautious man about things like that, and reckless in others, but putting him and Crabbe together in his office, that just didn't make any sense to me."


"Crabbe's not the most well liked man in town, but then, neither was Dick Orr. I'd have to agree, if one was concerned about how they were seen, associating with Crabbe might not be the best of choices." Speed agreed. There was a pause before Speed continued, "Need to ask, you set out to kill Dick Orr, Phinn?"


"No sir, no matter how much he deserved it, that was not my intent. Setting the hospital plans on fire was a bad choice. Should have never done it, but at the moment, his plans for Kalispell were plain as day. Orr's little kingdom where he intended to rule, not govern. Hell Speed, he was upset I didn't put it in the paper about him wanting his own daughter arrested."


"That just wasn't going to happen! I disliked Orr, a lot." Speed responded.


"So I guess you'll be arresting me then?" Phinn asked.


"No sir, not today. I plan to head up to the Lickskillet and have some breakfast, how about you?" The Town Marshal asked. "All anybody knows is you tried to save Dick Orr, we'll leave it at that. But as one old soldier to another, sometimes things happen, things we'd like to take back. Things we get to live with.  Get your coat and hat and lets go. Fresh air'll do us both good."


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