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Alice The Rafter A & The Copper Queen


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Mature Content: Hardly

Author: Flip

With: Dunno Yet...
Location: Rafter A Ranch - Kalispell, Marshals Office
When: July 1876
Time of Day:  Afternoon

 

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Standing in the doorway looking out over the land that comprised a portion of the Rafter A, Alice Fletcher was lost in thought. She was now unsure what the future held as far as her and Speed Guyer were concerned, she had certainly wanted there to be a future, and the ride to the ranch would have provided her with the opportunity to see where his heart was in the matter.

 

They had been comfortable with one another at the Lickskillet, that was a positive sign. That some fool had waylaid him interrupted what could have been perhaps the beginning for both of them. But he was the Marshal, and he had been the one that not only was attacked, but had his horse stolen, so he was out for the man, and that stood to reason. The fact is, she would like to find the no account, what she'd do with him aside from shooting him, she didn't know, but shooting seemed fair!

 

She stepped inside and closed the door, bolting it as she always did. She was, after all, a woman alone on the prairie and though she would stand up to whatever came her way, inviting trouble was not an option. She closed the wooden window covers with the cut out rifle ports. She appreciated them because she knew they were there for Indian trouble. She lay the wooden bar in place to prevent them from being pushed open and went to the stove, stirring the coals and putting on a couple of pieces of wood to get a cooking fire going.

TBC

 

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What does a woman alone do out on the open land? Tends to the chores that need to be done, fixing what needs repairing, and watching out for the red man as well as any other man that might be out there roaming the land. Probably not the smartest thing a white man could do in those troubled times.

 

For Alice Fletcher, it was a normal life out on the prairie if that was what one might call it, despite all the trees that surrounded and open land in Montana. Clearing the land? Well, if need be, but generally speaking that was man's work, though it was clear that many a woman fell trees, used horses, or mules, or oxen to pull stumps. She could do it, she was practiced at it due to what needed doing and the support from he late husband, which had been non-existent.

 

As she stood at the stove, coffee about to boil she thought about what it might be like if Speed was the man that actually wanted to be a part of her life. He had seemed interested, truly interested over lunch. It was at that moment that she decided to simply ask him the next time she saw him, well, once this Caleb Barnes business was finished.

TBC

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

The day was slipping quickly into sunset and the following twilight, and no Speed Guyer coming out as he had said he might. Might, not exactly how she had hoped this day would turn out. And just how long would it take him to catch this ne're do well, as determined as he appeared to be. A man on foot would be easy to apprehend, or so it seemed.

 

She caught herself  deriding a man that she cared about, because he had not lived up to her immediate expectations. That forced her to smile at herself for judging what was not judge-able. There was no way to know what the man he was chasing would do or not do.

 

She poured a cup the freshly brewed coffee and sat at the table to sip at. She needed to go out and unsaddle her horse, then put it in the corral, rub it down, and feed it. But for the moment as the purple hues of dusk filled the sky, she was content to sit and sip her coffee. Not the usual behavior of Alice Fletcher, who got things done when they should be.  No, it was this situation with Speed that had her confused.

 

It was not so much Speed Guyer as it was Alice Fletcher. It was that she was prepared for something completely different than what had actually happened. She admitted to herself that the apprehension of the man that hit him and stole his horse had to be the priority. A lawbreaker, and an assailant on top of that! Speed could not allow the man to escape the consequences of what he had done.

 

Did she hear something outside? She grabbed her Henry and peered through the rifle port, but there was nothing but falling shadows. She stepped to the door and pulled it open.

TBC

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  • 2 weeks later...

Easing the door opened she suddenly confronted either someone at her horse. She levered in a shell and started to raise the rifle.

 

"Need to put yer animal away. Some feller 'er another come a long an' steal 'er, all saddled an everything." He had loosened the cinch, and the saddled fell to the ground. "Thought I raise you better'n that."

 

"Pa? What are you doing out there?" She asked.

 

"At the moment tendin' to yer horse. An' last I knew girl, I live here!" Amos Stated. "I could eat if ya got anything ta hand in there."

 

"I'll get it goin', won't be much, but enough to stop the gnawin'." Alice said as she turned and went back inside, leaving the door open, eased the hammer down, then setting aside the Henry in it's usual place by the door. She went to the stove and started something for her father to eat.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Amos Conroy was a man that had worked dangerous, if not hard the better part of his life. He had done the best he could to raise Alice after er mother, his wife Marie had passed of consumption when she was by eight or none, dates escaped him mostly. But his was honest.

 

The Army had been a good life, while it lasted, but after the war well, there just was not a lot of choices left to a man. Most of those separated that chose to continue the Army life were pushed west. Little did Conroy know that the west was to be his future. Hunting men.

 

Now he stood where he had set the saddles and tack on the fence rail, turning the horses out into the corral. Digging out a pair of rocks from his sale bags, he marched back to the house. Be ridin' in ta see Speed come the mornin'. Got him a surprise." He held out the odd looking ore samples.

 

"And those are, besides strange looking?" Alice asked setting a bowl of stew on the table for him.

 

"Porphyry copper deposits. Copper. Fella had no idea what he had, offered up four hundred acres at near a dollar an acre." Amos explained. "Now was Speed smart, he'd buy the land and build himself a copper mine. Be set fer life, he would. And, I run onta other spots as well. Got it all writ down for him."

 

"He was supposed to ride out here, but I'll get old waiting on Speed Guyer, that's a fact." She stated.

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  • 2 weeks later...

"You realize now thet Speed's the Town Marshal, an' jest maybe he's got bidness ta attend to over't Kalispell?" Amos asked.

 

"Yes I understand the mans job, and that he may or may not ever ride out here to see me, or you." She fired back, irritated that it had not been Speed but her father who had ridden up. to the place. And she understood that there were certain priorities that the man had, things which came first, whether either of them liked or not. "I'm sorry Dad, I'd just looked forward to him coming out. Seems it's just getting harder for him to make the ride out."

 

"Maybe it ain't no harder than before, but harder to accept the job takes priority. Ever think of it thet way? Ever think maybe he feels the same as you about all this?" Amos asked. " We'll get him pinned down either here 'er back in town. This copper bidness could be what he's been lookin' for. "

 

"Okay, so maybe it is, what is this stuff good for?" Was her question.

 

"Hell daughter, the telegraph fer one thing. They're making what they call cables out of it, an' then singin' wires, that's copper. Reckon as how they need lots of it fer lotsa stuff they're buildin'. I just know that I'm holding the paper ta get this here property dirt cheap!"

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  • 2 months later...

"So what you're telling me is that you have hold of four hundred acres of land with these, these copper deposits and he can grab them up for four hundred dollars?" She asked, still a bit unsure of what the big deal was, yet she understood what he was saying about the wires. She had thought that what was needed to make the wire was where the wire was made. Obviously not. It was like gold and silver, it had to be mined where it was found and transported to where it was needed.

 

"Yes Ma'am, an' I'm ridin' to town and shake him loose from whatever he's doin' to get this done. He'll know, it's his bidness ta know. Now you kin ride on in with me, 'er sit here a waitin' on him ta ride  up. Yer choice, daughter."

 

"I'll get my hat!" She stated with a bit of sarcasm. In minutes they were on the trail at a canter. Copper. What would that mean to Speed and his plans already made? She intended to find out.

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This new discovery had the prospect of changing things. A copper mine, or mines, as four hundred acres could host any number of mines depending on the deposits. If they were as rich as her father portrayed them to be, well, yes, any number of things could change, and change rather quickly. But that too would depend on Speed Guyer, yet she knew he was not foolish about prospects, and, from what she gathered, he trusted his men to find property, minerals, timber and the like that would be of profit to his company.

 

But it was as clear as day, her father was looking to have Speed consider buying the ground himself to develop it. What would that mean to the Marshal of Kalispell? If he purchased the land for himself, what would happen then? Would he give up the badge? The walking target, as her father called it. How would he handle this new find? If it was all her father said it was, it seemed it would make Speed very rich, if that was what he wanted.

 

What did he want? That was the question. As they rode toward town she realized, she might just get the answers to her questions, and, she may or may not like them. To her, the risk was there, and it was worth taking.

 

Amos looked at his daughter and sensed her turmoil about his friend. He was wise enough to realize that was nothing he could do about the situation between her and Speed. It had been a hard one for him to read, but then reading what people wanted was hardly his forte.

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  • 2 weeks later...

It was getting to mid-afternoon when Amos and Alice rode into town, and a meeting with Speed Guyer was about to take shape, first would be the mining question, what was it he would do? Keep the mine property, or, as with every other piece of property he had come his way, sell it off at a profit to share with his New York partner.

 

Second would be the personal  piece of the meeting, between her and him, hopefully in private, but whichever, it would happen, there was just no way that it wouldn't. She suspected that Henry S. Guyer had feelings for her, perhaps deep feelings, yet every time he might want to divulge them to her, something always intervened. Yet she had to admire his devotion to Marshaling and to his company, which did not mean that she was happy about it.

 

Father and daughter reined in at the Municipal Building and stepped down, tying their horses to the hitch rail and stepping up on the boardwalk. Each stretching a bit before they entered the building. All of the county and city offices, including the court rooms were there. The burned out offices of the postmaster were well under construction for repairs from the recent, tragic, fire, and the Marshal's Office.

 

Amos opened the door and said, "Got some powerful good news!" Following him was Alice who got a long look from Speed. Amos drew out the papers, bill of sale and such, "Bought up for hunder'd acres south a' here. Copper, Speed, copper! Got one mine opened, some out buildin's, nobody workin' it, but it's there, an' sure as shootin' there's more ta be found."

 

"Copper you say, how much did you have to pay?" Speed responded.

 

"Doller an acre. Four hunder'd. Question is Mister Guyer, jest whot'er yer plans fer this un?"

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Speed sat back in the chair as he looked to Amos, then to Alice, and back again. He exhaled sharply, pondering the question posed. "Well now, that's quite the question, isn't it. I mean to say that of the properties that have come through the office, this one is far more intriguing that any of the others. Not to say I didn't consider holding on to more than one of them."

 

"Reckon this'd be one o' them hard ta look past opper'tunities. Oncet in a life time, mebe. Dunno, but I couldn't pass 'er up whot with copper bein' whot she is in the east, it jest seemed one I'd bring die-rect ta you."

 

"Glad you did, Amos, awful glad you did." Speed responded, then, "What do you think, Alice?"

 

"Me?" she came back, "Why ask me?" That had stunned her. Men just didn't ask a woman her opinion on business decisions. "Speed Guyer, just what is it you're up to?"

 

"Alice Fletcher I am asking for your opinion, anything else I might ask you would not be in this setting. What I see before me is, the future. And why I see this as the future when I did not react this way to gold, silver and timber, I don't know. But copper on four hundred acres seems like the future to me. I don't know about you."

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