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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.

The Odd Couple


Nellie Miggins
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Mature Content: ? [Have you seen Harold & Maude?]

With:  Virgil Adams
Location:  In the bush
When:  Late July 1876
Time of Day: 11.48am

 

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The hard earth trail that led from the ruined ghost town of Whitefish to Kalispell was starting to get overgrown these days, to sink back into the landscape. And nowhere was this more apparent than in the section of tangled wildwood where Granny Miggins' pony and trap had come to a grinding halt. 

 

"What in Tarnation's wrong now?!" she growled as she stood up on the footrest of the box seat to peer over Neddy's twitching ears: the woman was so tiny. Many, many years ago, decades ago, she had reached the towering height of five feet and three inches: but she had shrunk a deal since then. 

 

An enormous old tree that had survived this world even longer than the gnarled woman, had even managed to stand up against the howling unprecedented gales of last winter, had suddenly decided to up and die, to topple helplessly over, rotted to its ancient core, and lie, a lifeless mass of timber, across the road.

 

There was, perhaps, a poignant symmetry between the great, withered Ponderosa Pine, and the tough septuagenarian woman: both had seen the seasons pass; the nation grow and see off British and Mexican armies and Indian Tribes, only to finally pit itself against itself, brother ag'in brother. They had both seen all of that pass. A poet, had he been there, might have found something moving to say about the woman's wrinkled face and the flaky, rutted bark of the dead tree. 

 

Nellie Miggins had her own comment on the situation.

 

"Ohhhh Shit!!"

 

She started to clamber down from the trap but something made her pause. Not even a noise. Not even a rustle in the bushes. Just a tingle up her spine, a tremor of the hair that grew out of the wart on the back of her neck....

she reached slowly... ever so slowly.... for the double-barrelled shotgun propped up on the seat beside her...

 

@Nox

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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“You sure you wanna do that,” Virgil warned from behind the little cart. Ironically, he hadn’t meant to sneak up on the old woman, after living a few years out in the woods, hunting daily, he moved quietly without thinking about it now. “You’ll end up with a passel more problems than just a tree in the road.”

 

No one who truly lived off the land was fat, it took too much work, but it was late July and Virgil had filled up from his scrawny, half-starved look of winter. Scruffy and unwashed, he warily watched the old woman; she wouldn’t have been the first person to greet him with buckshot and he was set to duck behind her cart, just in case.

@Javia

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“You sure you wanna do that,” Virgil warned from behind the little cart. Ironically, he hadn’t meant to sneak up on the old woman, after living a few years out in the woods, hunting daily, he moved quietly without thinking about it now. You’ll end up with a passel more problems than just a tree in the road.”

 

Bushwhacked, by crikey! You must be gettin' old, Nellie girl she told herself. She narrowed her eyes and scanned the woods and scrub in front of her; no sign of any confederates there; must just be this one feller, but he probably had a rifle levelled straight at her white haired head. She turned slowly with her hands a little in the air, but not too high: after all, she might still have a chance to snatch for the shotgun and part this varmint's hair for him.

 

"Oh please Mister, don't go hurting a poor little old lady..." she started to plead in a sickly sweet voice. "What would your own poor mother think if she knew you was goin' around..."

 

She blinked. He hadn't even got a gun! 

 

But a split second later she did, and it was pointing in his direction. 

 

"Stick 'em up ya damn blasted bum!" she snarled, cocking the hammer on one of her barrels. "Hold me up without a gun would ya?! I'll teach you, ya egg-sucking hound dog! ya... hey, where'd you go?!" she barked: for the dirty looking scamp had disappeared without a trace! Where was he? Behind a tree? Under the wagon? He'd disappeared like a ghost. 

 

"Come out, ya slippery little bastard!" she ordered, but reply there came not any. 

 

The birds twittered, and a breeze wafted through the leaves of the trees above, but of the elflike youth there was no sound.

 

@Nox

 

 

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Virgil’s eyes went wide when the dark holes of the shotgun barrel was suddenly pointed at him. The old woman’s hair-trigger finger lit a fire in him and he dove for cover under the cart. He heard her shuffling this way and that as she cursed a blue streak looking for him. “…egg-sucking hound dog… slippery little bastard…”

 

He scrambled under the trap and in a move that owed everything to the litheness of youth, he vaulted up to the seat beside her and snatched the gun from her hands. To be fair, she’d gotten that part right, he was a slippery little bastard. “What in tarnation do you think you’re doing, you crazy old bat?” he yelled. He held the gun by the barrel, and stretched out his arm, keeping it out of her reach.

 

“You ain’t got no call to point that cannon at me, ya old coot!”

@Javia

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He scrambled under the trap and in a move that owed everything to the litheness of youth, he vaulted up to the seat beside her and snatched the gun from her hands. To be fair, she’d gotten that part right, he was a slippery little bastard. “What in tarnation do you think you’re doing, you crazy old bat?” he yelled. He held the gun by the barrel, and stretched out his arm, keeping it out of her reach.

 

"Who you callin' crazy?!" she spat back, reaching for the gun that the young man kept safe away from her talon-like grasp. "Dammit, I must be gettin' old. Last time a feller surprised me from behind like that was back in '15 and I ended up havin' to marry the big galoot!" she cried. 

 

"Why ya bein' so mean an' nasty to a sweet old lady anyway, Slim? What'd I ever do to you?" she asked plaintively, hoping to lull him into letting her get close enough to either grab the gun back, or at the very least, push him off the wagon: with any luck he'd break his neck!


“You ain’t got no call to point that cannon at me, ya old coot!”

 

"Ain't I?" she countered gamely "You're a bushwhacker ain't ya?! And didn't even have the decency to bring your own shootin' irons along to the party!"

 

"Well, I guess you'd better get on robbin' me or ravishin' me or whatever you've got planned. I ain't got all day, sonny. Gotta get this here trap round that there tree what you pushed over!" she declared. 

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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Virgil narrowed his eyes at the old woman as she tried to throw the mess back on him. He was working up a good head of steam to shoot back at her, but that all died away when she ranted about wanting to be ravished. What had he gotten himself into? He just knew he was face to face with an elderly sex-fiend. Her crack about being married to some galoot came back to him; she’d probably left a trail of a dozen husbands who ended up on the wrong side of the dirt after marrying her. Those poor men, Virgil thought as his face went pale.

 

Living on his own in the woods, Virgil hadn’t given his appearance or his clothes much thought; he was suddenly too conscious of his shirt, worn and thin and missing a few buttons down the front. Still keeping the gun away from her grasp, Virgil’s free hand closed the front of his shirt and kept it closed in case the sex-fiend started having ideas.

 

“I didn’t do nothing to that tree but I’ll help you get this buggy around it, for a ride into town. But,” he added narrowing his eyes at her, “you gotta keep your hands to yourself. I ain’t gonna be one of your husbands; you got that?”

 

@Javia

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“I didn’t do nothing to that tree but I’ll help you get this buggy around it, for a ride into town."

 

"Deal!" snapped back the old lady. "Except we'll stop at my place on the way and tidy you up a little. I ain't bein' seen ridin' into town with a dirty smelly tramp!" She'd give him a square meal, too, the poor lad looked half starved, but he also looked like he had enough pride about him not to accept charity, so she didn't mention that right now. 

 

But,” he added narrowing his eyes at her, “you gotta keep your hands to yourself. I ain’t gonna be one of your husbands; you got that?”

 

Nellie gave him a querying look. "You should be so lucky!" she frowned. They might have gotten off to a shaky start, but she liked the boy, somehow: not just because he was handsome or because he reminded her of her boy what died a long, long time ago. She just had a feeling about him. 

 

"Might have to strip you off and give you a bath mind! Phew, are you ripe!" she chided playfully, though she never cracked a smile. 

 

Getting the trap through the trees at the side of the fallen stump was not actually too much of a problem with the two them working on it, and Mrs Miggins noticed that the young man was not only deceptively strong for his slight figure, but extraordinarily good with Neddy who, to be honest, was not so much a mare as a nightmare, when it came to getting her to do anything off of the beaten track. 

 

Soon they were on their way and nearing the sturdy and large Miggins place, which was not too far off the direct route to Kalispell. The land around was rich in crops and well fenced off from the wandering cattle from the ranches that ruined and trampled corn if not kept out. It was a nice spread all right, and Granny couldn't help saying to the slim lad beside her on the box seat "Having second thoughts about becoming the next Mr. Miggins?"

 

@Nox

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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  • 3 weeks later...

"Might have to strip you off and give you a bath mind! Phew, are you ripe!"  She said and frowned, her nose wrinkling.

 

Virgil snorted, “Be glad your nose still works at all, I heard things don’t work right anymore after someone’s older than dirt.”He had to say something back, but when her back was turned, he looked down at himself and had to admit he looked rough, and to be fair, probably smelled it too.  It wouldn’t hurt to get cleaned up a bit, he supposed.

 

They rode most of the way in silence until they came to a large farmstead and Nellie said, "Having second thoughts about becoming the next Mr. Miggins?"

 

“Wouldn’t that be you bein’ missus Adams?” But he knew what she meant. It was a nice spread. He took a moment to take it all in. “I think there’re too many fences. The land is better when it ain’t fenced off.” He said, then shrugged as if to say ‘I don’t like to be fenced in,’ and he jumped down.

 

“You take care of this place by yourself?” he asked.

 

@Javia

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Virgil snorted, “Be glad your nose still works at all, I heard things don’t work right anymore after someone’s older than dirt.” He had to say something back, but when her back was turned, he looked down at himself and had to admit he looked rough, and to be fair, probably smelled it too.  It wouldn’t hurt to get cleaned up a bit, he supposed.

 

"Well, you won't live long enough to find out fer yerself if you keep on cheekin' your elders like that!" snapped back Granny, who was enjoying the slightly flirtatious undercurrent of their little spat on the road.


They rode most of the way in silence until they came to a large farmstead and Nellie said, "Having second thoughts about becoming the next Mr. Miggins?"


“Wouldn’t that be you bein’ missus Adams?” But he knew what she meant.

 

"What, you askin'?!" she pretended to misunderstand "Wait till you kin aford a ring and got room to git down on one knee 'fore you asks me that!" she cackled, before pulling up the horse with a "Whoooaaaa, Neddy!". 

 

It was a nice spread. He took a moment to take it all in. “I think there’re too many fences. The land is better when it ain’t fenced off.” He said, then shrugged as if to say ‘I don’t like to be fenced in,’ and he jumped down.

 

"Huh, wait 'til you've had a herd o' cattle stomp all over your corn and barley before you say that!" she admonished him, and sounded more serious this time. "I prefer the open prairie, too. But a family's gotta eat. 'Member that!" Family? That seemed to lead Virgil to his next question.

 

“You take care of this place by yourself?” he asked.

 

"I might as well, all the help I get! If you see an old darkie paradin' around hereabouts, lookin' like he owns the place and not workin' a lick - that's our Tom, hired hand. And my granddaughter's at home, too, but she can't work, on account of her weak heart. And my no good Grandson, Jacob, he went and got hitched a month or two ago and now he's tearin' round the country workin' fer Western Union instead of coming home once in a while to help his poor sweet old grandmother, the selfish little bastard!"

 

@Nox 

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