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    • "Just when I was thinkin' this was a cake-walk!"  Justus' grin didn't show under the bandanna, but he was trying to take it all in stride.  But he did realize that either way, it was going to be miserable.  The wind stirring up the dust was annoying at best, but if it got bad enough, it could make vision next to impossible.  But if it started to rain...well, there was a whole mess its own issues, none of them pleasant.   Funny thing was, it sounded like the worse conditions got, and the harder they had to work, the more the chances of a good, hot meal and decent rest went down.   Not much to do about it but take it as it came, unless he just bugged out, but it would take something far worse than weather to get him to quit!   @Flip
    • "Or at least I hope he won't. I hear he's hell on wheels with a gun, and quick to anger. Maybe we best call this off."   "If you insist."  Emeline stuck out her bottom lip in a pout, but then laughed, kissed him and stood.  She was so happy that Barnabas was able to joke and tease with her, and didn't take every little thing seriously.  If you didn't have fun now and then, life could be pretty dull.   She glanced out the window, then followed him to the door, regretting that they were going to lose the luxury of the car, but looking forward to the next part of the journey.   As he helped her to the platform, she took the chance to look around, noting that Reno was much more what she was accustomed to, and it was a bit of a relief after the huge cities of Portland and San Francisco.    "This is nice, and I'm well-rested, ready for supper and that stroll."  She hooked her arm into her husband's.  "Lead on, and I will follow!"   @Flip
    • Reb Culverson had claimed a good sized chunk of land and one corner of it sat on the river, north of Alice Fletcher's land. the rest backed up to low tree covered hills. He was not the type to b;lock off water to any who needed it, it just wasn't who he was. He ran maybe six or seven hundred head on his range. He didn't like the fences any more than the next man but it was a necessity, and ranchers were more prone to fence off their range, it prevented the mixing of cattle, destruction of farmers property, and problems in general. But most had vulnerabilities that rustlers could exploit.   The circle C seldom had more than six to eight hands at any one time, which was far less than the size of the herd needs, but of course, that is on open range where they are able to spread out over many more acres. The other problem that had not been a problem for some time was the threat of rustlers.   Toole and six of his comrades sat in the trees watching. There was plenty of time. The day team of two hands had been relieved as the daylight faded, and were replace by a solitary rider. Just as Toole learned earlier. The law was laid down by Case, no killing, no unless it was absolutely necessary, which with one man it shouldn't be.   The day riders were more than a mile off, the evening man was at the south end of the herd. The plan, simple, four would go to the left, three would pinch in from the right and push the cattle into the trees and then drive them toward the dry creek bed and home. It should work like a charm.
    • Warbow now understood why the young woman was asking him to officiate a marriage between her and her beloved. What she was asking was taboo amongst the overwhelming majority of Anglos. He could see that even Shade was looking uncomfortable with the direction the conversation had gone although he did not wear the look of disgust that so many whites would have. Then again, Shade had grown up amongst the Diné.   "Child," Warbow said, his voice soft and kind although no pity showed in his eyes or on his face, "I am sorry to say that although I can perform a marriage ceremony for you and will be happy to do so if you wish, it will have no legal standing amongst your people. I do not know much about the legal systems of the Anglos, but perhaps you could make a legal document that indicates a desire to share your property?"   @Javia
    • Once they had all eaten, the four sat where there was cover, to the right, up against an outcropping of rock. There were stones so they set a ring and built a fair sized fire and even though there was whiskey, the set a pot to boil, that way they would have coffee, it could get chilly for whoever was on watch, and even if the others decided on a cup, there would still be  coffee for the men on watch.   Maybe the Lost Lake hands had found the body and hauled him off the mountain, it didn't seem like they were looking for any blood trail, and if Carson had managed to control his blood loss, and kept it off of the ground, then maybe they lost interest and just brought the man in. Chances Carson was able to that, were not real good, but he may had been able to manage the bleeding enough that there was no blood trail for quite a ways, and they lost interest.   That could have happened ad it seemed to be a good reason that the Lost Lake riders had not shown up at the fence line. The Evergreen riders would be happy to have that wire down, but until the framer was gone, and Lost Lake was taken, it would remain. It was just the way of it. Evergreen cattle would just keep heading in a southerly direction destroying crops as the moseyed along. but they'd not be looking for grass in the rocky terrain beyond, they would turn back and do more damage.   It didn't seem like Steelgrave was ready to wipe out the sod buster, so the fence needed to be watched and mended when necessary. All four believed their time on the fence would be short lived.    

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Mature Content: Bloody violence

With: Anyone
Location: Barn
When: Friday, 14 July 1876
Time of Day: 6pm - onwards.

 

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The music crackled in the air of the old barn tonight, cutting through the myriad excited voices as the great moment of visceral conflict approached. Like some goggle eyed Pied Piper of Hamelin, Lorenzo Crabbe had a good percentage of the younger folk of Kalispell under his sway and doing his bidding. In the raised ring, Hector Wigfall, Arabella Mudd and the hitherto mysterious blind girl, Frances Grimes belted out music to entertain the masses until the fight began. 'Hitherto' because Frances seemed a lot less mysterious, somehow, blindfold or not, when she was frailing out Shootin' Creek at high speed on a five string banjo. Hector's fiddle and Arabella's guitaro could hardly keep up with her flying fingers. On the door, Hector's twin sister Jemma and Arabella's 'Bosom Friend' Miriam Kaufmann took the money: which was regularly siphoned off by the avaricious Crabbe.

 

 He was counting the takings now, when he suddenly remembered they had to actually have a fight sometime. It was nearly past the advertised time for the Battle of the Century to begin: but people were still coming through the door and paying over cold solid cash! "Stick 'em another one!" he hissed to his little scratch band.

 

Frances nodded. "Bonaparte's Retreat, in G" she told the other two. "They're all in G!" complained Arabella, still sitting a distance away from the blind girl, in case it was catching, as she and Hector scrambled to catch up with the girl's electric playing. 

 

Crabbe wandered over to the makeshift canvas 'Changing Rooms' he had put together at the back of the barn. Charlie was in there with his Wentworth Seconds. With Hector and Jemima busy elsewhere, he had been forced to bring in a replacement for Robert Cullen's sponger downer.

 

@Anyone!

 

[OOC if'n you want to know what the scratch band sounded like:]

 

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"Well me boyo, we Irish gotta stick tagether ya know," Conor Lafferty grinned as he glanced into the contents of the pail of water - yep still water. He was just nervous was all.

 

"You know if the crowd gets too riled up out there, my advice is just make a run for it, I'll be fine," Robert grinned as he sat on a stool all prepared to go out there for this bout.

 

No matter where one went, there were always some folk who had it in for the Irish and since he was fighting one of an important family in this town there just might be quite a few people out there casting him in the role of a villain. Plus Charlie was a lawman too. Finally it didn't help any that the fight had been built up as a grudge match between him and his opponent.

 

It certainly wasn't on his part to be sure, Robert barely knew the other young man. Grudge over what? He had no idea and no one had informed him of what might be behind that claim. If he had to guess, it was just to build up drama. All Robert wanted to do was win, not hurt the other fellow. Though in all honesty in boxing the two went together.

 

There really wasn't much to getting ready for a bare knuckle bout of fisticuffs. He was stripped to the waist and - in his case anyhow - barefoot since he only owned one pair of footwear, boots for trapsing about in the mountains and streams prospecting, hardly the sort of thing for treading into the ring.

 

A towel and a sponge had been provided by Crabbe for his 'second' to use besides the pail of water. The man had been recruited just the day before in the saloon where he was a regular, first liquored up with a few drinks then talked into doing this. Oh Lafferty had seen a fight or two in his day but really didn't know a thing about the so called science of boxing. Still at first meeting with Robert, the two hit it off immediately.  Robert was content with it.

 

"Sounds like a big crowd out there," Robert observed.

 

"Not much else ta do in this town is there, lad?" Lafferty had a good point.

 

Robert nodded then took a deep breath to calm. He'd done this sort of thing before but every time it was indeed nerve wracking.

 

sheehanrpgimage.jpg

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Caroline chuckled at the girl collecting the money, it was Arabella's Jew friend, Mary or something like that, "Well, that's stupid. How you gonna keep track of who sits where once you take our money?"

 

Miriam just shrugged, "I don't know. We just collect the money."  They had not been given tickets to hand back to the people flowing in and besides there were no ushers. This wasn't New York just a barn in a small town in Montana. Miriam was a bit surprised a woman would even be buying a ticket to something like this. Fighting was an event for menfolk.  It had been hard enough for the girl to convince her parents just to be able to secure this pre-fight job. Her mother had strictly admonished that Miriam was not to stay and watch such viciousness.

 

"That's just fine, hon. I'll sit where I damn well please anyhow. And if yer boss don't like it tell Mr. Crabbe he can come and throw me out personally. Or let'em try," Caroline gave a saucy grin then entered what was already a crowded scene. She had been to a professional fight once before in Helena but everyone had just stood about the ring. Noisy affair and she recalled the two big lugs in the ring pounded the begeezus out of each other before one finally couldn't answer the bell.

 

Miriam just flashed a sort of intimidated glance at her money collecting partner, Jemima, but did not mouth her thoughts. That saloon whore was quite something alright.

 

Miriam-Square.jpg

 

Caroline immediately began to mingle with some of the local menfolk in attendance, they knew her from the saloon of course. None of them seemed at all taken aback she'd be in attendance.

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As Caroline passed into the barn, Jemima caught Miriam's eye, nodded at the blonde's retreating back and silently mouthed her opinion of the woman "She's a Whore".

 

Meanwhile, within, Crabbe stuck his head into Robert's little 'tent' and grinned.

 

"Not long now, champ!" he smiled, his magnified eyes flicking to the other mick he'd hired to act as Cullen's second. "Good work Lafferty, he's looking great, like a puma, ready for the kill!" he cheered them both on. 

 

"Still..." he corrected himself "... don't go and finish him off too quick, mind, Bobby-boy. I mean, if it's all over too quickly, those hyenas out there'll be baying for more blood! Me and Con' there'll have to strip down and knock seven bells outta each other!" he warned.

 

"Anyhow..." he returned to the pep talk "I reckon that flabby Charlie Wentworth's as good as laid out on the the canvas already!" 

 

@Wayfarer

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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Caroline immediately began to mingle with some of the local menfolk in attendance, they knew her from the saloon of course. None of them seemed at all taken aback she'd be in attendance.

 

One man was somewhat surprised to see the beautiful young blonde there, perhaps because his duties had, hitherto, kept him away from the town proper, including its bustling saloon. In fact, he raised his kepi in shocked salute as he perceived the saloon singer next to him in the crowd nearest the ring. And although they hadn't been properly introduced, the young officer couldn't help blurting out to her: 

 

"Do you have one of these fancy Five Dollar tickets, too? I think the fellow running this whole shebang is pretty smart, giving them out to parties he wants to keep on the good side of." Oooh, that was a clumsy sentence! The young West Pointer winced - had a couple of months of frontier life turned him illiterate already?

 

He had actually hit on Crabbe's ruse, though: nobody in their right mind would pay $5 for a 'ringside seat' -  but Lorenzo wanted to give out some free tickets to the Press, the local Law, hell, even the Army officers. Why give them a free $2 ticket when you could give them one with $5 printed on the front of it for the same price?

 

Lt. Greene realised he was staring at the dreamlike vision before him in a quite ungentlemanly way, but he just couldn't drag his eyes off her, so instead he grinned... inanely. 

 

@Wayfarer

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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Speed walked in nodding to folks as he moved through the crowd, spying a the canvas area where the combatants would be. He would stay for the fight, even placed a bet of ten dollars on Charlie to win. Not knowing much about Robert Cullen, he had no idea what Charlie would be up against. Nor did he really know if Charlie could in fact handle himself in a bare knuckle fight. One slated for twenty rounds.

 

He stopped and looked around at the gathering crowd, mostly men, all dressed to the nines, as much as some could afford to dress up. He, was not, he was dressed casually, with badge and gun. It was after all, a work day for him. He did see Miss Caroline Mundee, and wondered, as he often did, why some fella hadn't drug her off and married her? Then again, perhaps she just wasn't the marrying kind. Which brought to mind Alice Fletcher, who was. He shook his head and marched into the area where the two men were getting ready. He stopped next to Charlie.

 

"Good luck out there, pard. Not something I would have done, but I'm in your corner, no matter what." He said. "Don't be in a rush, twenty rounds is a long fight. What I'd do."

@JulieS

 

 

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Boxing was barbaric at best, and frankly, Jonah didn't see the appeal in watching to men beating the stuffing out of each other, at least in a controlled setting like this.  Now, a good, spontaneous street brawl, that was something else, no rules, no confines and no formal end, and there were still bets!

 

But there was always a chance that a doctor might be needed...even of the injuries were essentially self-inflicted, but a few good blows could send a man crying for help.  So, as town doctor, Jonah was here, just in case someone needed his services, that would likely have a premium attached to them...after all, they were choosing to be beaten on!

 

At the door, he scooted toward the young girl with the dark hair, hoping to get in without Miss Wigfall noticing.  "Miss."  He flashed a smile.  "I'm here in an official capacity as doctor."

 

@Javia

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The man promoting this fight and of course paying him for his part in it, slipped into the screened off cubicle to check on him. Robert looked up with a smile.

 

"Still..." Crabbe declared, "don't go and finish him off too quick, mind, Bobby-boy. I mean, if it's all over too quickly, those hyenas out there'll be baying for more blood! Me and Con' there'll have to strip down and knock seven bells outta each other!"

 

"I wish I could do such a thing as easy as all that...decide when to win the fight. Especially since I've never even seen this boyo in action," Robert shrugged.

 

"Oh and I'd bet on Conor if you two did," he then grinned.

 

"Anyhow..." Crabbe continued, "I reckon that flabby Charlie Wentworth's as good as laid out on the the canvas already!" 

 

"I don't be intendin' on losin', Mr. Crabbe but I think this here Charlie will have somethin' to be sayin' about it too," Robert was determined not to get overconfident.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Caroline had just finishing acknowledging another pleasant regular customer from the saloon who also was in attendance when a voice she did not recognize spoke up. Turning it was a soldier boy - emphasis on 'boy'. He had the look of an officer, not that she recognized specific ranks but also looked awful wet behind the ears.

 

"Do you have one of these fancy Five Dollar tickets, too? I think the fellow running this whole shebang is pretty smart, giving them out to parties he wants to keep on the good side of."

 

"Nope, I bought a two dollar ticket but I am gonna stand right here cuz I want to. You ain't gonna call on one of your squadrons ta come and kick me out now, are ya, gen-rul?" Caroline flashed him a cheeky grin.

 

Well the handsome jasper just stood there grinning right back.

 

"Cat got yer tongue, hon? Come on now, a fine lookin' soldier boy like you shouldn't be shy?"

 

 

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At the door, Jonah scooted toward the young girl with the dark hair, hoping to get in without Miss Wigfall noticing.  "Miss."  He flashed a smile.  "I'm here in an official capacity as doctor."

 

Miriam was expecting this well dressed gentleman to fork over some cash but instead he mentioned he was a doctor. Perhaps that same doctor Arabella always gushed about? He really was quite the distinguished fellow, definitely had the look of an educated man in her opinion.

 

"Oh, hello Doctor. Yes, you can just go right on in then. It's very nice to meet you by the way, I'm Miriam Kaufmann, I'm a good friend of one of your patients, Arabella Mudd. She speaks very highly of you, sir," Miriam had been told not to chat idly but take the customers money and keep it moving but she couldn't help herself. After all this one was a doctor.

 

@Bongo

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"Good luck out there, pard. Not something I would have done, but I'm in your corner, no matter what." He said. "Don't be in a rush, twenty rounds is a long fight. What I'd do."

 

Charlie nodded, "Thanks.  I'll be just glad to last the twenty rounds."

 

As he sat waiting for the fight, his brother Sam, who was his second was giving him a shoulder massage to help limber up his joints.  From where he was, he hear could that music was slowly being drowned out by the noise of the crowd that was building.  No doubt Crabbe would be pleased by the turnout and so would cousin Ben.

 

For most of the lead up to the fight, the betting odds were about even.  No-one knew much how his opponent, other than he owned some rundown mine outside of town.  Then the rumour started that Cullen had been in few professional matches and he slowly became the favourite, Ben had been pleased with the bets coming in but when Crabbe delayed the fight another week, no doubt to build the drama, they started flooding in with people from all over the county now placing a small wager, including the soldiers from Fort Somers.

 

Part of him didn't want to do this but he knew he had to.  There were many reasons why but mainly it was because his new career as a lawman depended on it.  He couldn't be seen backing down or reneging on the agreement he had made with Crabbe.  A lawman who wasn't brave or didn't stand by his word wouldn't be respected.

 

As for the fight itself, his brothers and Ben had helped him as much as they could to get him into shape for the fight.  Hopefully, it would be enough to last until the end.

 

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"I wish I could do such a thing as easy as all that...decide when to win the fight. Especially since I've never even seen this boyo in action," Robert shrugged.

 

"Haw Haw!" Crabbe laughed, he's gonna give you less trouble than that punch bag we set up fer you to practice on."

 

"Oh and I'd bet on Conor if you two did," he then grinned.

 

"Oh, 's that right?!" chuckled Crabbe. He caught Lafferty's eye. Now was a good time to tell Robert, give him a fillip just before the fight. "Oh, I forgot to mention, me and old Laff here and the late lamented Mr Grimes bumped into that feller Smith who diddled you out of your claim. We managed to persuade him to sign it right back to you, didn't we Laff?" he asked the Irishman. 

 

Yeah, Crabbe was no slouch in a fight, all right - especially when it was three against one, the other fellow was tied to a chair and he himself was armed with a heavy leaden ended walking stick. 

 

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"Anyhow..." Crabbe continued, "I reckon that flabby Charlie Wentworth's as good as laid out on the the canvas already!" 

 

"I don't be intendin' on losin', Mr. Crabbe but I think this here Charlie will have somethin' to be sayin' about it too," Robert was determined not to get overconfident.

 

Crabbe just shook his head. "Nah, fight's as good as over. Experience will tell, my boy, experience will tell."

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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To his relief, the pretty blonde girl, not only replied, but smiled.

 

"Nope, I bought a two dollar ticket but I am gonna stand right here cuz I want to. You ain't gonna call on one of your squadrons ta come and kick me out now, are ya, gen-rul?" Caroline flashed him a cheeky grin.

 

Well the handsome jasper just stood there grinning right back.

 

"Cat got yer tongue, hon? Come on now, a fine lookin' soldier boy like you shouldn't be shy?"

 

Joseph had to physically shake his head to recover himself: looking into Caroline's sparkling eyes had made him feel like he was falling into a deep, deep well. He'd temporarily forgotten where he even was.

 

"I'm sorry Mam, er, Miss, it's just that I've only been trained to bark orders at men, they didn't cover talking to beautiful young ladies at West Point." All right, that was a pretty cheesy line, but he was out of his depth and clutching at straws here, anything to keep the conversation going was fair play. 

 

"Er, do you have a bet on either of the fighters?" he asked, his mouth asking about the boxing match, while his eyes concentrated on her luxuriant golden tresses, her cute retroussé  nose, her wide blue eyes, her soft peach-like skin, the way her décolletage seemed to swell over her... oh, she was replying. He battled with himself to stop looking and start listening.

 

@Wayfarer

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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"Oh, hello Doctor. Yes, you can just go right on in then. It's very nice to meet you by the way, I'm Miriam Kaufmann, I'm a good friend of one of your patients, Arabella Mudd. She speaks very highly of you, sir,"

 

"I'm very pleased to meet you, Miss Kaufman."  With a smile, Jonah touched the brim of his hat.  "Ah, Miss Mudd, a sweet young lady..."  Prone to hysteronics and dramatics...

 

"It looks like there's going to be a good turnout here.  I just hope it stays civil."  He flashed another smile.  "I'd prefer not to have to work."

 

@Wayfarer; @Javia

 

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Not sure why Crabbe suddenly wished to reveal the news about the man who had swindled him out of his claim (or so Crabbe claimed, Robert was still uncertain of all the complicated details) but he did. Also he had not realized that Lafferty was an associate with the man with the bottle thick glasses, interesting!

 

"Oh, well, I guess I owe you a thank you then. I am still gettin' paid for this fight though?" suddenly it occurred to the young Irishman was that supposed to be in lieu of payment for the boxing bout? If so, he wasn't going to agree to that.

 

The man got back to encouragement about the match but then left. Crabbe could talk with such confidence, he didn't have to go out there and prove it. That was up to Robert. He had made a good point though, nothing was more valuable in one of these fights than experience.

 

 

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"I'm very pleased to meet you, Miss Kaufman."  With a smile, Jonah touched the brim of his hat.  "Ah, Miss Mudd, a sweet young lady..."

 

"Delighted myself, sir," Miriam beamed, "And no better friend than her."

 

"It looks like there's going to be a good turnout here.  I just hope it stays civil."  He flashed another smile.  "I'd prefer not to have to work."

 

"Civil? Oh I agree but I believe it is required of both of them to punch each other which in my humble opinion is hardly civil," Miriam confessed.

 

"You can stand anywhere, Doctor. And I hope you have no need of using your skills."

 

A man standing directly behind the good doctor grumbled aloud, "Hurry it up, missy. There are others who 'd like to come in too ya know. "

 

 

 

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"I'm sorry Mam, er, Miss, it's just that I've only been trained to bark orders at men, they didn't cover talking to beautiful young ladies at West Point."

 

"Seems to me your education is missing out then? I've heard women are over half the world's population," Caroline teased.

 

"Er, do you have a bet on either of the fighters?" the handsome officer now asked.

 

"Oh no, I don't really know either of them. I don't even make a bet on poker unless I know for sure who is gonna win. Fortunately for me, SOMETIMES I do," she answered with a grin. Let him make of that statement what he will.

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"Seems to me your education is missing out then? I've heard women are over half the world's population," Caroline teased.

 

"Half the...?" He laughed. It was a wide open laugh which showed a lot of white teeth and a lot of good humour. "Oh oh, clever and funny as well as beautiful: I've got a feeling you might be the kind of girl my mother warned me about!" 

 

"Er, do you have a bet on either of the fighters?" the handsome officer now asked.

 

"Oh no, I don't really know either of them. I don't even make a bet on poker unless I know for sure who is gonna win. Fortunately for me, SOMETIMES I do," she answered with a grin. Let him make of that statement what he will.

 

He laughed again. She was funny; but somehow she managed to maintain an air of feminine mystery about her, too: most women couldn't do both. 

 

"And is that because you are psychic or because you stand near mirrors?" he asked, remembering the oldest trick in the book for cheating at cards. 

 

"Well, looking at the two of them, I fancy Cullen: but I always pick the wrong horse, so I've bet on Wentworth!" he informed her. "Maybe you should bet on Cullen, at least one of us will win, then. And if I win, I'll buy you dinner. And if you win... I'll still buy you dinner." It was worth a try.

 

@Wayfarer

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"Oh, well, I guess I owe you a thank you then. I am still gettin' paid for this fight though?" suddenly it occurred to the young Irishman was that supposed to be in lieu of payment for the boxing bout? If so, he wasn't going to agree to that.

 

"Bobby, Bobby, Bobby..." Crabbe purred as he approached the young man and patted him paternally on the shoulder "Course you're gonna get paid: and if you win you get the purse on top." he assured him. 

 

"No... the Claim... well you remember when me and Fa came to see you? And you signed that lil' old piece o' paper. Why that's an investment for the future, my boy. A man can't box forever, one day he'll meet his match ... not tonight, o' course!" he hastened to add "But one day when you're gettin' on and can't throw them lefts like you can now, and you find that little stream on your claim don't have no gold in it... you're gonna thank old Uncle Lorenzo fer lookin' out for you." he cooed gently.

 

"Yep, you, me and our sleepin' partner." He had never mentioned the name of the other man, the one who had sorted out the legal niceties of getting the Claim back from 'John Smith' while Crabbe, Lafferty and Grimes had 'sorted out' the man who had tricked the illiterate Irishman out of his claim.

 

"Mind you, there's been a little problem with our sleeping partner - he's kinda 'sleepin' beneath the sod' these days. His plans sorta went up in flames. As of two weeks ago, our partner's his daughter and heir: we should take you to go meet her some day soon." he informed the miner.

 

Lorenzo pulled out his watch.

 

"We'd best be getting out there!" he yelped.

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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"Civil? Oh I agree but I believe it is required of both of them to punch each other which in my humble opinion is hardly civil," Miriam confessed.

 

"You can stand anywhere, Doctor. And I hope you have no need of using your skills."

 

A man standing directly behind the good doctor grumbled aloud, "Hurry it up, missy. There are others who 'd like to come in too ya know. "

 

"Well, come through me, you big galoot!" barked Jemima, and the man reluctantly gave up the chance to speak to the pretty young seamstress and gave him money to the frowsy cleaning maid instead. Once Doc Danforth and the rest of the men were inside, Jemima stomped up to Miriam and thrust her takings into the other girl's hands.

 

"Hey, what you doing sparking with Doctor Danforth?! You know I got my eye on him, and what you interested in him for anyway, I thought you're supposed to be 'the other way'?!" she asked, frowning a wrinkle into her monobrow. 

 

"Now listen, you take this money and give it to Crabbe, and then rescue your girlfriend. She's terrified that there Grimes girl's gonna accidentally touch her and turn her deaf or some nonsense." she instructed her biddable and shy workmate. "I'll stay here and deal with any late-comers: I don't wanna go in there, I might have to talk with 'Stupid'!" she added. Presumably she meant her hated brother, although there were quite a few men in the barn that the epitaph could be applied to.

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Ben was seated over in the far corner of the barn busily writing down bets and taking the money which he was keeping in tin.  The tin would be locked at the beginning of the fight and he would stay with the box until it was over.  Tonight was one of the few occasions he was wearing a gun, which he had bought shortly after his arrival in Kalispell.  Most of the time there wasn't a need to wear it but when there was a lot of money involved, he made sure he had it.

 

Earlier, he had seen Marshall Guyer and a few soldiers from the fort, so part of him was hoping that no-one would be stupid enough to try and steal it.  Where he was seated was also the farthest from the only entrance that was opened.  Crabbe had made sure that all the doors were locked as he didn't want to lose any of the cut he wanted for allowing him to run the betting.  Thankfully, it was only a small percentage, so it didn't matter.  There were also others who had made bets and they wouldn't like it, if someone ran off with their potential winnings.

 

As he looked over what the current odds were, Ben felt a bit sorry for his cousin.  The betting had started out even, but Cullen had slowly become the favourite, especially after rumours began circulating that he had been in a few professional fights.  Still, there was hope that Charlie would make it through the twenty rounds and there were a few bets to indicate that others thought the same thing too.

 

Since the people were still coming in, there was little time to ruminate before the next person approached him.  Ben smiled knowing that whatever the outcome, the amount of betting would ensure that he would make a profit and that would help fund his next project, the White Rose Theatre.

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Jonah smiled and nodded to Miss Kaufman, then to Jemima as well as he passed...as annoying as that young woman was, there was no reason to blatantly snub her.  Of course, he couldn't say when he had started to really care about such things, or if he really did, for that matter, but here he was, showing kindness that was uncharacteristic before...well, before Miss Leah Steelegrave.

 

Shaking his head, he moved toward the back of room to find a seat where he could wait for the festivities to begin.

 

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That wonderful doctor moved on into the crowd but Jemima approached her now, Miriam turned to face her, she seemed upset?

 

"Hey, what you doing sparking with Doctor Danforth?! You know I got my eye on him, and what you interested in him for anyway, I thought you're supposed to be 'the other way'?!" she asked, frowning a wrinkle into her monobrow.

 

Miriam was horrified (for more than one reason), "Sparking with him? No, I was just making pleasant conversation. I have no interest in the man like that. Oh...and I do not know what you mean? Other way?"

 

Of course she did but she had no intention of discussing any such in public.

 

"Now listen, you take this money and give it to Crabbe, and then rescue your girlfriend. She's terrified that there Grimes girl's gonna accidentally touch her and turn her deaf or some nonsense." she instructed her biddable and shy workmate. "I'll stay here and deal with any late-comers: I don't wanna go in there, I might have to talk with 'Stupid'!" she added.

 

Miriam took the money handed to her but shook her head, "I will give it to him but I have no intention of watching the fight. It is not proper for ladies to indulge in this sort of thing."

 

Those last words were a direct quote from her mother, who had been unhappy about her even working here this evening. But father was more reasonable at least about the working part  (he wanted the money which would be useful and since the family did not have a son old enough to work a job, his daughter would have to do.)

 

"Arabella is just being............." she almost said 'foolish' but settled for, "dramatic.  Blindness is not contagious."

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Miriam's soggy bleatings about boxing being a sport unsuitable for ladies to watch (the wet lettuce!) and about her disinterest in the gorgeous Dr Danforth (she probably swung both ways!) were met with scornful looks from Jemima: and as for her defence of Muddy...  

 

"Arabella is just being............." she almost said 'foolish' but settled for, "dramatic.  Blindness is not contagious."

 

"You don't say!" replied the grim looking Wigfall girl, sardonically. She tipped her head toward the barn door and, as Miriam complied, shook her head disapprovingly - what a bizarre pair the two of them made. Still, if those two funny cookies could find each other, maybe there was still chance in the world for her to find love.

 

Inside, Miriam almost immediately face to face with Jemima's brother Hector, with the blind girl, Frances Grimes in tow. 

 

"Oh, hello Miriam!" cried Hector, colouring slightly, for he had a bit of a soft spot for the shy Jewish girl. "Have you met Frances? Frances, this is Miriam Kaufmann, she's a friend of Arabella's." Miss Grimes thrust out a hand in Miriam's general direction. "Hello." she said simply.

 

"Have you seen Miss Mudd? She seems to have disappeared!" asked Frances. "I wanted to tell her how splendidly she played tonight: I can hardly believe that she has only been learning the guitaro for a few weeks."

 

@Wayfarer

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"Oh, hello Miriam!" cried Hector, colouring slightly, for he had a bit of a soft spot for the shy Jewish girl. "Have you met Frances? Frances, this is Miriam Kaufmann, she's a friend of Arabella's." Miss Grimes thrust out a hand in Miriam's general direction. "Hello." she said simply.

 

Hector really was quite handsome even like the good doctor only more her age. Still Jemima always did her best to color him an idiot.  And this was the blind girl then, the poor thing!

 

"No, I have not yet had the pleasure," Miriam took the hand then for an official greeting, "Hello, Frances."

 

"Have you seen Miss Mudd? She seems to have disappeared!" asked Frances. "I wanted to tell her how splendidly she played tonight: I can hardly believe that she has only been learning the guitaro for a few weeks."

 

"Oh trust me. She talks about her guitaro all the time lately. When she isn't practicing it that is. She also plays the organ at church services and I hear she is very good at that too. She really is quite talented musically though, unlike me. I settle for singing," Miriam smiled but not like the blind girl could tell. Hector could though at least.

 

"Ara might have had some chores to do at the sa.........at her place of employment," Miriam answered the question, "If my musical opinion counts for anything you all sounded like quite the band. Quite the performance. Congratulations."

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