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    • Barnabas listened, understanding the young mans desire to venture out, and also his hesitance to leave his sister behind. Life has those twists and turns that are possible blocks to what feels like their calling. "Well, you know, there are ways that you could manage that education, and there are ways that Lillian here could go with you." Then he cautioned, "I would certainly hesitate to travel to the Dakotas until the Indians are pacified. I'm sure they are filled with the power of their defeat of George Custer."   "Then again, should you attend the university, things could be settled before you graduated and ventured out. Education is a fine thing, Tom, whether you use it here, or the Dakotas, or wherever  you might venture forth. I only wished I had had the luxury of education beyond what I managed at my mothers knee and that one room school house in Texas." But fortune had smiled on him, the poker hand and what he had brought him, and then Em. His life was good, all things considered.
    • Their cab driver was waiting for them, he'd stayed close, alert to when they would return, and he was content, having had a wonderful lunch that Mrs. Pike had had packed for him.  Now, he helped get the remains of their picnic loaded, then made sure everyone was settled, with blankets in case they needed them, and started back for town.   "That was a wonderful outing!" Emeline declared, chuckling.  "Although I think I ended up with half the beach in my shoes!"  That had been something she hadn't thought about when going barefoot...putting the shoes and socks back on had been a challenge, especially with no way to keep the sand out!   She settled in, wrapping a blanket around her knees, since the hem of her skirt was damp, then rested her head against Barnabas' shoulder and was soon asleep.  Across from them, Lillian was also dozing.   "Thank you for letting us come with you, sir," Tom murmured quietly, "my sister works too hard and it's good for her to have some fun.  And I appreciate the advice.  College sounds like a good plan, if we can afford it.  I'd love to go to Montana or the Dakotas, but I don't want to leave Lillian."   @Flip
    • "Guess you're right about just showin' up at the ranch like that." He agree, and that is kind of you, but I've cash put by for this trip I've made. The hotel does sound good. And the local fare? Which is the best place to eat. Lookin' for big steak dinner I am. Been sometime since I was able to get somethin' like that. It was a trip to remember, long, hard, and with every temperature you could imagine."   It had been that and a bit more. There had been Molly McGuire, he was missing her, but Kalispell would not be the place for her if all that had been said came to fruition between Lost Lake and the Evergreen. He had waltzed in on what could be a real corpse and cartridge affair, and one that went on an on til they forgot what it was about, or who started it.   "I appreciate your offer, and your council about town and holdin' off till the ranch hands were in town. I'll do just that. @JulieS    
    • Benjamin gave up on the fruitless pursuit of the surviving war party, they were down a six or so anyhow and more than likely just heading back to their home village. If it was one thing the US cavalry learned about chasing Indians, you didn't catch 'em.  Best horsemen in the world maybe. So he ordered his scouts and troopers to turn back and then spent the better part of a few hours just getting back to the rest of his command. It being dark did not help at all but the scouts were up to the task.   Once back he found out that a lot had happened - almost all good too, well except another trooper had been killed. But Lt. Greene found (had lucked into it really but no criticism there - it was the great Napoleon who had said  'better a lucky general than a good one') the women and they were alive. Looking a bit worse for wear but no dangerous wounds, the saloon girl was already wearing trousers and a bluecoat lent her by eager troopers. And Greene had a face to face encounter with an Arapaho brave looking to kill the ladies. That Indian was dead. Barlow didn't press the young officer on the details, that he could read in the report Greene would have to write out later back in the fort, for the young man was wounded and in considerable discomfort. They didn't have a doctor with this detachment but one of the troopers who knew something about wound treatment assured Benjamin the boy would live and keep his leg. Well unless he didn't take care of it properly and get gangrene.   The stage driver was quite the tough gal too. She was sporting a large bruise from where the Arapaho had belted her with his gun butt but in good humor and even told him that the two women had killed their guard and escaped on their own.  Barlow was impressed.   "Well, it's a pity we don't allow women in the army, we could use a couple more like you and your friend," Benjamin remarked to Addy.   It was a tough call to make - normally traveling at night was not the wise thing to do but they had the wounded to think of and the sooner they got them back to better medical care at the fort or even town, the better. He decided darkness or not, they would head back and issued the appropriate orders.   They kept the pace deliberately slow but steady. He wasn't worried about Indian attack - Plains Indians did not attack at night and besides that war party was good as destroyed and definitely dispersed.  No, the bigger danger was loss of a horse or horses to prairie dog holes or god knows what else whilst traveling in the darkness.   Then there was a holler from ahead.   @MD  @Bongo @Flip @Javia
    • Both men had agreed, it had been a hell of a day. That Bannister came to them had been unexpected, but welcomed.  As they walked to the hotel after stabling their mounts they paused on the porch, taking up seats on the porch. Both men silent as they turned over the events of the day. Neither weary as they should be after a long hard ride back to Kalispell.   "This shapes up different than I was thinking it would. I mean hell, this is father against daughter." Cook said, "Seen a few that was father-son, never father-daughter."   "Odd one, that's fer shore. Now This Elias Steelgrave, you know much about him?" McNue asked, wonder what type of man is a threat to his own flesh and blood.   "Some, none of it good, and none of it arrestable, if that's even a word. The man skirts the law in a way he gets what he's after without consequence. Though I've heard there's a dark past with some bodies, but again, no real proof. Well, we'll check in with Guyer in the morning, see what we can do."   "Sounds to be a good idea, as dos gettin' our fair share 'o shuteye." McNue agreed. Both men got to their feet and entered the hotel. On this night their prospective of what was happening had changed.
Franklin Fortner

A New Day - New Challenges

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Posted (edited)

"Water!  Tea!  Something please," Maude gasped.  "I have to go in there," she then announced.

 

Arabella had dropped the peeler and the spud that she'd been going all out Michelangelo on. Mrs Potee seemed to have gone suddenly mad for no reason at all. The girl jumped up and started rubbing her back to calm her down. "What's the matter, Mrs P.?!" she yelped.

 

"I have to stop Horace from taking the Devil's hand and being led to ruin.  He is either going to drink our money away or gamble it away."

 

"But he's a man! That's what they do!" explained Arabella, well most men she knew did that: maybe working in a saloon had something to do with that though.

 

 She looked strained and then added, "Piss it away!"

 

Arabella gasped out loud at that sort of talk from a regular church-goer like Mrs Potee, who was on the flower committee and an well known pillock of the community. 

 

She rose with pioneer-woman-dignity.  "Is this the door?" she asked, pointing to one of two doors, the other leading into a pantry.

 

"No! Don't do it!" cried Arabella, not really sure why, it was just more exciting than letting her go.

 

"Don't do it Mrs P... no, it's the one on the right, that's it, you have to twist the knob all the way...." she broke off to issue some door opening information "... don't you know a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do?!" she added dramatically, enjoying herself immensely "I ain't sure what it is they all have to be doin' all over the place, but..." too late, Maude had swept out of the kitchen and into the short passageway that led to the bar.

 

Arabella chased after her and headed her off, just in time, before she got to the bar. There was one last chance to stop her mad career. 

 

"Mrs Potee, if you do this now, your husband will never forgive you. I must bring you to your senses with a shock!" she cried dramatically. The, well, frankly ugly looking woman looked as she might well be expected to in such a confrontation. "You are a good Christian woman, I am too nice a person to slap your face your face, thus I must do this!" Arabella cried, and grabbing Mrs Potee, gave her a great big kiss on the lips!

 

She then stood back and waited for a reaction, the devil dancing in her eyes.

 

 

 

Edited by Javia (see edit history)

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"Oh shucks, Ma'am.  I understand.  I can't have you all to myself!"  His voice was rising, and when he turned to take the newly offered drink, he staggered a bit.  "Oops!  Almost lost the whole shebang."  Then, with the drink in his hand, he made a loud toast.  "Here's to Miss Caroline!!  The finest lady in the whole State of Montana!"

 

He belted back the drink. 

 

Caroline smiled, "Aww thank ya, very kind of you ta say so. Just Montana though?" Her eyes sparkled.

 

There were a few whoops and hollers from the saloon's patrons. Franklin then pointed the sucker...errr, man toward the appropriate table where his opponent awaited. Caroline glanced at Horace, like a lamb to the slaughter.

 

"Well let's get going!" Horace gushed excitedly.  "And come on, Miss Caroline.  you can watch some."

 

Fortner looked Caroline in the eyes and nodded his assent slightly and secretively.

 

Caroline caught the look and gesture then simply nodded almost imperceptibly.  It was all part of the job and if customers were going to be fool enough to drink too much and get involved in over their heads in card games, that wasn't on her. She never made anyone do anything of the sort.

 

"Alright, hon, I'm comin'," she accompanied the man right to the table then stood behind him when he plopped down into an empty chair.

 

"Good luck, hon," she wished him then thought 'he's gonna need it.'/

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Arabella chased after her and headed her off, just in time, before she got to the bar. There was one last chance to stop her mad career. 

 

Maude felt the girl's hand on her shoulder in an attempt to stop her, but she shrugged it off.  "Noooo!" she cried.  "I have to stop him."   She turned to Arabella with tears in her eyes.  "Can't you see that this will be the ruination of us.  The ruination, I tell you.  So what if he won't talk to me anymore?  What difference does it make once he's tasted demon rum and consorted with hussies."

 

"Mrs Potee, if you do this now, your husband will never forgive you. I must bring you to your senses with a shock!" she cried dramatically. The, well, frankly ugly looking woman looked as she might well be expected to in such a confrontation. "You are a good Christian woman, I am too nice a person to slap your face, thus I must do this!" Arabella cried, and grabbing Mrs Potee, gave her a great big kiss on the lips!

 

She then stood back and waited for a reaction, the devil dancing in her eyes.

 

Maude fell back against the unopened door.  Her eyes were bulging outward, and her right hand flew up to her mouth and covered it.  Her breathing was hard and, for a while, that was the only sound in the steaming hot kitchen.

 

"No!!!!!!!!" Maude cried.  "No!!!  So you are no more than a Jezebel!"  That was the only name she could come up with after a rapid search of her memorized Bible.  Then she remembered.  "You Delilah who would sap a man's strength and bring him to blind ruin.  You now turn your wiles on a poor church woman such as myself." 

 

She staggered away from the door and threw herself so hard into a kitchen chair that it skidded two feet across the floor.

 

"Repent!" she gasped.  "Repent before it's too late!"

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"Well let's get going!" Horace gushed excitedly.  "And come on, Miss Caroline.  you can watch some."

 

Fortner looked Caroline in the eyes and nodded his assent slightly and secretively.

 

Caroline caught the look and gesture then simply nodded almost imperceptibly.  It was all part of the job and if customers were going to be fool enough to drink too much and get involved in over their heads in card games, that wasn't on her. She never made anyone do anything of the sort.

 

"Alright, hon, I'm comin'," she accompanied the man right to the table then stood behind him when he plopped down into an empty chair.

 

"Good luck, hon," she wished him then thought 'he's gonna need it.'

 

Franklin sat across from him, then promptly stood and asked, "Does anyone want to be a third hand in a poker game?"

 

Priest slowly shook his head.  It wouldn't do for him to get caught up in a game of chance, especially since he had a fiduciary interest in the outcome.
 

"Oh hell!" remark Potee.  "We don't need no third player."

 

"Maybe not .. but maybe someone just to deal the cards, Frank countered.  "Hey Caroline.  See if someone can spell Ralph.  Maybe he wants to play or deal?"

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"No!!!!!!!!" Maude cried.  "No!!!  So you are no more than a Jezebel!"  That was the only name she could come up with after a rapid search of her memorized Bible.  Then she remembered.  "You Delilah who would sap a man's strength and bring him to blind ruin.  You now turn your wiles on a poor church woman such as myself." 

 

"I am a  woman of the church too, like the Samaritan woman at the well!" cried Arabella, calling to mind the Gospel of John, and enjoying the drama of it all immensely. It was as well that she ended having a career on the stage, else her thirst for such melodramatic scenes might have eventually done for her.

 

"It is the Kiss of Peace I bring!" she declared, advancing upon the poor woman, enjoying her horror. It was all just parlour games to the Mudd child.

 

She staggered away from the door and threw herself so hard into a kitchen chair that it skidded two feet across the floor.

 

"Repent!" she gasped.  "Repent before it's too late!"

 

"Do you really think I am full of sin, sister?!" Arabella cried "If so, then you must scourge me, you must drive out my devils!!" she demanded. This was fun, and it was distracting Mrs P from making trouble in the bar. She hoped Mr Fortner and Mr Flandry and Caroline would appreciate that. 

 

@Preston

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Posted (edited)

"It is the Kiss of Peace I bring!" she declared, advancing upon the poor woman, enjoying her horror. It was all just parlour games to the Mudd child.

 

She staggered away from the door and threw herself so hard into a kitchen chair that it skidded two feet across the floor.

 

"Repent!" she gasped.  "Repent before it's too late!"

 

"Do you really think I am full of sin, sister?!" Arabella cried "If so, then you must scourge me, you must drive out my devils!!" she demanded. This was fun, and it was distracting Mrs P from making trouble in the bar. She hoped Mr Fortner and Mr Flandry and Caroline would appreciate that. 

 

Poor Mrs. Potee had never felt as dirty in her entire, Christian, threadbare life.  She listened to  Arabella rationalize her actions but it didn't wash with Maude.  What could she do?  While her mind was turning over and over what her next steps might be, she wiped her mouth with the back of her hand, again and again, and with determination that would have made the dirty-handed Lady Macbeth proud.

 

Maude stood up and ran to the door that she thought led to the saloon.  When she got to the door, she grabbed the greasy knob and pull it open.  She gasped at the sacks of flour and cornmeal on the floor, and onions hanging from pegs. 

 

Wrong door!  

 

Undeterred,  she moved to the other door and threw it open.

 

"Horace!" she cried.  "Horace!"

 

 

 

Edited by Preston (see edit history)
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Caroline was a bit surprised, she had thought the Judge was going to be playing cards against the now liquored up Potee but it was her boss instead. No matter, any halfway decent but sober player should be able to beat this drunk.

 

Franklin sat across from him, then promptly stood and asked, "Does anyone want to be a third hand in a poker game?"

 

Priest slowly shook his head.  Again that surprised Caroline.

 

"Oh hell!" remarked Potee.  "We don't need no third player."

 

"Maybe not .. but maybe someone just to deal the cards," Frank countered.  "Hey Caroline.  See if someone can spell Ralph.  Maybe he wants to play or deal?"

 

Caroline had to grin, she'd never seen Ralph turn over a single card since her arrival months back, he bartended plus was the place's bouncer if necessary. But she turned toward the counter, "Ralph you wanna play cards or deal?"

 

The answer came right away, Ralph shook his head, "Nope!"

 

"Yer outta luck boss, I've seen two men play poker before. You got yerself two," she pointed out the obvious with a grin.

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Arabella watched Mrs Potee make her hilarious exit from the kitchen at last. Well, she had done her best. She dropped, laughing, into her chair wiping the tears from her eyes and picking up her peeler and a half-skinned spud. "Oh dear..." she sighed, smiling. 

 

She didn't listen out for what Potty Potee perambulations were transpiring in the bar-room. She just sang to herself as she denuded the potatoes. 

 

🎼 🎶We shoulder'd guns, and march'd and march'd away,
From Baxter Street, we march'd to Avenue A,
With drums and fife how sweetly they did play,
We march'd march'd march'd in the Mulligan Guard🎶

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Posted (edited)
Caroline had to grin, she'd never seen Ralph turn over a single card since her arrival months back, he bartended plus was the place's bouncer if necessary. But she turned toward the counter, "Ralph you wanna play cards or deal?"

 

The answer came right away, Ralph shook his head, "Nope!"

 

Franklin shrugged.

 

"Yer outta luck boss, I've seen two men play poker before. You got yerself two," she pointed out the obvious with a grin.

 

"It looks that way," he admitted.

 

Horace all but licked the inside of his now empty glass.  This was not lost on Frank.

 

"Ralph!" He called.  "Another for our guest of honor!"

 

"Okay, Mr. Potee," he said, returning to the homesteader.  "Straight poker?  No jokers, and a dollar ante?"

 

Horace pulled his soiled hat off his head and let it slide to the floor at his feet.   "Makes no  never mind to me.  I'm good at all games of chance."  He slapped his hands together and then rubbed them greedily as if about to pounce on a feast.

 

Frank deftly shuffled the cards, sending them from one hand to the other in one beautiful spray of black and red, after which he dealt the cards rapidly. 

 

Horace won the first two hands, and with each victory, Horace became ever more gleeful.

 

"Pop goes the weasel!" he exclaimed, raking the pot from the middle of the table toward his growing pile of cash.  "Like stealin' candy from a baby!"

 

Fortner looked perturbed, sighed, and then dealt another hand. 

 

"I'll open with three dollars," Horace announced, dropping the equivalent in cash and coin on top of the ante. 

 

"I'll see you and raise you two dollars,"  Fortner said, adding five dollars to the pot."
 

After seeing the raise, Horace squinted at this hand and slapped some cards down on the table.  "I'll take three," he requested.

 

"Here's your three, and I'll take one,"  Franklin said as cards flew across the table. 

 

"Are you bluffing or are you drawing to a straight or a flush?"  the homesteader asked of no one in particular, as he arranged his own cards."  Soon he  slapped a ten dollar bill on the pot."

 

This was good, to Horace's mind.  Already he'd turned one-hundred and ten dollars into at least one-hundred and sixty.  It would only get better and better...

 

Then it happened; something completely unexpected and unwanted.

 

"Horace!!  Horace!!"    It was Maude.

 

His wife, Maude, flushed and angry, came barrelling across the saloon floor.  He'd never seen her so angry.

 

"You would defy your own wife and the Almighty in a devil's game?"  She screamed.  And, stopping at Caroline, she let the saloon girl have it.  "And YOU!  You hussy!  You evil woman!"  And then, mistaking Ralph for the saloon's proprietor, she could only spit, "Flesh peddler!!"

 

Horace was too dumbfounded to counter her vitriol at that point, and Franklin tried to look serious expect the corners of his mouth appeared to suppress a smile. 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Preston (see edit history)
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"Ralph!" his new boss called.  "Another for our guest of honor!"

 

The bartender did not run about willy nilly fetching people drinks - his job was in the title - bar tender. He dutifully poured another drink though. Meanwhile Caroline, who was standing behind Potee, knew that was her cue.

 

"I'll get it for ya, hon," she spoke down to the top of Potee's head and went to the bar, returning with the new full glass to set by the man's right arm.

 

Thus fortified the card game went on, at first Potee was winning with regularity, no doubt confirming his earlier confidence, well Caroline would call it  'overconfidence'. But Caroline knew what was really going on and this winning streak would swing over to Fortner and before this over Potee would lose whatever money he had brought with him. Probably Fortner did not even need to cheat, just outplay a drunk. But then came an interruption to the proceedings.

 

"Horace!!  Horace!!"    It was Maude.

 

His wife, Maude, flushed and angry, came barrelling across the saloon floor. Caroline did not know her from Adam...make that Eve.

 

"You would defy your own wife and the Almighty in a devil's game?"  She screamed.

 

"Think it's poker," Caroline smirked.

 

 And, stopping at Caroline, she let the saloon girl have it.  "And YOU!  You hussy!  You evil woman!" 

 

Caroline stiffened, for the moment she didn't retort but her eyes narrowed in anger.

 

And then the woman rounded in the direction of Ralph, spitting out, "Flesh peddler!!"

 

Alright that tore it! Caroline now snapped, "Fuck off before I make you regret those words."

 

It was the one thing that could set the normally cheerful young woman off, any insinuation of her being a whore. 

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

"You would defy your own wife and the Almighty in a devil's game?"  She screamed.

 

"Think it's poker," Caroline smirked.

 

 And, stopping at Caroline, she let the saloon girl have it.  "And YOU!  You hussy!  You evil woman!" 

 

Caroline stiffened, for the moment she didn't retort but her eyes narrowed in anger.

 

And then the woman rounded in the direction of Ralph, spitting out, "Flesh peddler!!"

 

Alright that tore it! Caroline now snapped, "Fuck off before I make you regret those words."

 

It was the one thing that could set the normally cheerful young woman off, any insinuation of her being a whore. 

 

"I ain't afraid of you or any Jezebel in this town."  Then she spun around and faced Horace who, up to that point, sat with his head in his heads and  stared at the pot in the middle of the table -- now gone cold.  "Gather your things and come home with me.  NOW!" she demanded. 

 

"But everyone was having so much fun, Mrs.  Potee," said Frank with a fair amount of obviously feigned innocence. 

 

"Too much fun!" Maude retorted.  And again, to Horace, "Are you coming?"

 

Horace had enough;  years of obeying his overbearing wife and, now, humiliated in front of the whole saloon and his newly minted friends.  "No!"  His voice of harsh.  "So get out of here!  Get out of here now before I throw you out!"

 

An impressive silence few over the normally noisy establishment.  All eyes turned to Maude.

 

"I am afraid you are making a big fool of yourself," she countered.  "Please leave before it's too late."

 

Horace was having none of it.  "I told you to get out of here, woman!"

 

At that, Maude turned heel and stomped out through the saloon's half-doors, leaving them swinging in-time before they quieted. 

 

"Ready for another hand?" Frank asked Horace.

 

"Sure am, Mr. Fortner, sure am." answered the sod buster.

 

"Would you please be an angel, Caroline, and get our guest another drink?  And after that, may I please see you for a minute?"  He pointed to the door that led to the kitchen.    To Horace, now puffed up with masculine pride, he said, "Take a breather, champ.  I'll be right back.  This is just business."  

 

 

Edited by Preston (see edit history)
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Arabella had just finished peeling the last of the spuds and put them in the big pan with some water and a pinch of salt, but she didn't put them on the hob yet because she wasn't sure cookie was ready for them. She did put some more wood in the range, though. She was just about to wash some dishes when, of all people, Mr Fortner and Caroline came in.

 

This was unusual. The only time Fortner came in here was when they all had breakfast together first thing in the morning: Caroline always missed that, the old lazy bones. She was pretty sure that she had never seen the two of them together in this room where all the real work was done. 

 

"Oh!" she exclaimed "Do you two want to 'be alone'?!" she asked, and gave Cara a questioning, and somewhat impish, look.

 

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Maude's husband, all liquored up and heart set on winning some money at poker, probably saved the woman from a thrashing by telling her to get out. Because Caroline was very close to walking right up to Maude and throwing a few punches, maybe some kicks too.

 

At that, Maude turned heel and stomped out through the saloon's half-doors, leaving them swinging in-time before they quieted. 

 

"Good riddance!" Caroline sent her off with a sneer.

 

"Ready for another hand?" Frank asked Horace.

 

"Sure am, Mr. Fortner, sure am." answered the sod buster.

 

"Would you please be an angel, Caroline, and get our guest another drink?  And after that, may I please see you for a minute?"  Her boss  pointed to the door that led to the kitchen.    To Horace, now puffed up with masculine pride, he said, "Take a breather, champ.  I'll be right back.  This is just business."  

 

Caroline nodded, "Sure, boss."  She sauntered on over to the bar where Ralph had already poured her the glassful.

 

She returned and set the drink down next to Horace at the card table, "Here ya are, darlin'."

 

Then she followed Fortner into the kitchen, unsure of exactly what this was all about? No sooner were they in the kitchen when Arabella spoke up.

 

"Oh! Do you two want to 'be alone'?!" she asked, and gave Cara a questioning, and somewhat impish, look.

 

Caroline shrugged, "I have no idea."

 

She faced Fortner then, "Is somethin' wrong, boss?"

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Then she followed Fortner into the kitchen, unsure of exactly what this was all about? No sooner were they in the kitchen when Arabella spoke up.

 

"Oh! Do you two want to 'be alone'?!" she asked, and gave Cara a questioning, and somewhat impish, look.

 

Caroline shrugged, "I have no idea."

 

She faced Fortner then, "Is somethin' wrong, boss?"

 

"Hey, Arabella.  Yes. Just a little time alone.  Miss Caroline and I are about to talk a bit of business.  Okay? Oh! Tell you what.  Why don't you go inside and play something on the piano for us and our guests?"

 

When he has Caroline along, Frank became all business.

 

"There is something big that's coming our way.  Can I trust you to help us with something?"

 

Loyalty was something that was absolutely necessary to be applied if any of the big plans were to come true.  He had a feeling he could trust Caroline --- but needed her assurance. 

 

 

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"Hey, Arabella.  Yes. Just a little time alone.  Miss Caroline and I are about to talk a bit of business.  Okay? Oh! Tell you what.  Why don't you go inside and play something on the piano for us and our guests?"  Fortner decided that question, wanting some time in private with the saloon girl.

 

The two waited til Ara had cleared the room and was on her to perform. Caroline then faced him right up close.

 

"Well? What is up then?" Caroline wondered what all the drama and secrecy was all about.

 

"There is something big that's coming our way.  Can I trust you to help us with something?" Fortner answered but without really answering...as in specifics.

 

"Umm, big huh? I mean yer the boss, I just work here. What you do is your business. I ain't stupid, I know that drunk fool out there is about to lose some money in the poker game. That's his own damn fault for agreein'."

 

"But how can I answer that question of yers when I don't even know what that  'somethin' is, hon," Caroline pointed out.

 

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"Uuuuugh!" Arabella sighed VERY loudly indeed and did an exaggeratedly exhausted stagger out of the room to show how very put upon she was. She wandered into the saloon, where the poker match was on some kind of hiatus. No glasses to clean up, she traipsed to the piano and plonked down. Bored, she stated, instead of playing a jaunty tune like she was meant to made a plink plonk plink plonk beat on the keys in a minor key. Then she started a Southern moan:

 

🎵 Jack of Diamonds, Ace of Spades

Ace of Spades

Jack of Diamonds, Ace of Spades

Bound to lose, bound to lose

Jack of Diamonds, bound to lose

Here comes Susie, hair piled high

hair piled high

Here comes Suuuuusie, hair piled high

Bound to lose, bound to lose

Jack of Diamonds, bound to lose 🎵

 

When she was bored of that, she wandered over to the planned table of the 'big game' and slumped down opposite the intended gull. "How 'bout a game of Old Maid Mr Potee? Say, did Mrs Potee go home? We had a nice talk in the kitchen. Or snap, I'm good at that, let's play snap!." 

 

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When she was bored of that, she wandered over to the planned table of the 'big game' and slumped down opposite the intended gull. "How 'bout a game of Old Maid Mr Potee? Say, did Mrs Potee go home? We had a nice talk in the kitchen. Or snap, I'm good at that, let's play snap!." 

 

Potee looked at the young lady through the lens of an emptied glass.

 

He was of two minds.  On the one hand he was flush with liquor and gambling victories.  And now, he was just waiting for a chance to expand on his good fortune.  Then, on the other hand, his wife and he had harsh words for each other.  It could be beyond repair.  So, as his heart soared with elation, there was a painful drag on it as well.

 

He brought the glass down on the table with a bang.

 

"So were you fillin' my Maude's head full of high-flyin' ideas?  Is that why she disobeyed her husband in front of his friends?  Did you egg her on?"

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"There is something big that's coming our way.  Can I trust you to help us with something?" Fortner answered but without really answering...as in specifics.

 

"Umm, big huh? I mean yer the boss, I just work here. What you do is your business. I ain't stupid, I know that drunk fool out there is about to lose some money in the poker game. That's his own damn fault for agreein'."

 

"But how can I answer that question of yers when I don't even know what that  'somethin' is, hon," Caroline pointed out.

 

Fortner planted his hand on the wall that Caroline stood against, closing in for a serious conversation.

 

"I admire you, Caroline.  In my eyes you could be the "Montana Queen."   He meant it, too.  "There's big stuff in the works and we could use your help to push things along.  I wouldn't ask you to do this if it weren't very important.  So .."   He drew a breath and began.  "There will come a point in the card game when I'll suggest we all have some coffee.  From what I know, the Star Dust brews good coffee.  Now, I can guarantee you that Potee will go for that in a big way.  So .. and listen close .. when you're serving us the coffee, I need you to fumble the cup intended for Potee and spill it in his lap.  Now .. is that something you can do for me?  You will find it well worth your while.  If not .. just say so, and I won't hold it against you."

 

He brought his arm down to his waist and shrugged as he waited for her to answer.

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He brought the glass down on the table with a bang.

 

Arabella gave a jump and a dramatic little scream. "Oh, you scared me!" she said, stating the obvious.

 

"So were you fillin' my Maude's head full of high-flyin' ideas?  Is that why she disobeyed her husband in front of his friends?"

 

"Huh?" queried the girl, looking at the people around him. Friends?! With friends like these, who needed enemies?

 

"Did you egg her on?"

 

Arabella sat calmly removing three of the queens from the deck, so they could play Old Maid and absently shoved them in her apron pocket. "I wasn't egg-noggin nobody on. Matter of fact, I was tellin' your good lady missus that 'a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do' and she's gotta let you sow your wild oats. And do you know what this one feller told me once: he said 'Pins and needles, needles and pins... er..." she had shuffled the deck now and was dealing them out between them both "... er, half the funs in doin' them sins!" 

 

"All right, throw down your pairs!" she grinned. Then the talk of sins got to her. She reached into her apron pocket and pulled out a dirty looking red cent and placed it coyly on the table. 

 

"You wanna make it... more interestin', Mr. Potee!?"

 

Edited by Javia (see edit history)

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"Did you egg her on?"

 

Arabella sat calmly removing three of the queens from the deck, so they could play Old Maid and absently shoved them in her apron pocket. "I wasn't egg-noggin nobody on. Matter of fact, I was tellin' your good lady missus that 'a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do' and she's gotta let you sow your wild oats. And do you know what this one feller told me once: he said 'Pins and needles, needles and pins... er..." she had shuffled the deck now and was dealing them out between them both "... er, half the funs in doin' them sins!" 

 

"Oh you did, huh?" the drunken homesteader burped out.  But then he thought, What the Hell?  Why not handle some cards while he passed the time waiting for Fortner and Caroline, his new friends, to return.

 

He picked up his cards and stared at them while the pips danced in his eyes.  Boy! Those drinks were potent.

 

"All right, throw down your pairs!" she grinned. Then the talk of sins got to her. She reached into her apron pocket and pulled out a dirty looking red cent and placed it coyly on the table. 

 

"You wanna make it... more interestin', Mr. Potee!?"

 

"I'm in," he gruffly answered after fishing around in his pocket and removing a penny.  "I had to work hard for this, Missy!" he said grandly before setting it near hers.

 

Answering the call, he laid down a four-of-diamonds and a four-of-clubs.

 

"Beat that!" he said.

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"You wanna make it... more interestin', Mr. Potee!?"

 

"I'm in," he gruffly answered after fishing around in his pocket and removing a penny.  "I had to work hard for this, Missy!" he said grandly before setting it near hers.

 

"Me too, I had to reach right under a table to pick up that red cent o' mine!" she countered. "And it's a lucky one, it's got a picture of a Injun on the front."

 

Answering the call, he laid down a four-of-diamonds and a four-of-clubs.

"Beat that!" he said.

 

Arabella gave him a frown "What're jawin about Mr. P., you gotta thown down all your pairs in Old Maid, don't you know that? Are you all right? You're lookin' mighty squirrel. What you been drinking?" He did look woozy.

 

"Listen, I don't want folks thinkin' I slipped you a mickey so I could cheat you out of house 'n' home, I'm a good Methodist girl, Mr Potee, I'm a child of the Connexion." she said earnestly. "Oh, two fives!" she was now all out of pairs and had a dirty great big Queen of Spades in her hand."

 

@Preston

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The man moved in very close to her but Caroline stood her ground, she'd had many a man do this very same thing. Hell, it went with the territory, she had long been used to it.

 

"I admire you, Caroline.  In my eyes you could be the "Montana Queen."  

 

"That's nice ta hear, hon," she flashed her best smile.

 

"There's big stuff in the works and we could use your help to push things along.  I wouldn't ask you to do this if it weren't very important.  So .."  

 

"So?"  the longer he delayed getting to the heart of this little matter, the more suspicious Caroline got.

 

He drew a breath and began.  "There will come a point in the card game when I'll suggest we all have some coffee.  From what I know, the Star Dust brews good coffee.  Now, I can guarantee you that Potee will go for that in a big way.  So .. and listen close .. when you're serving us the coffee, I need you to fumble the cup intended for Potee and spill it in his lap.  Now .. is that something you can do for me?  You will find it well worth your while.  If not .. just say so, and I won't hold it against you."

 

Caroline blinked, it was apparent she was mulling it over in her head as she paused.

 

"Spill hot coffee inta his lap? You realize that could be really painful as in burn him in his manly place?" she started.

 

"I don't get it, boss. Why we gotta do that? We already got 'im drunk as a lord. Any halfway decent card sharp should be able to outplay him and take his every fuckin' penny. Why do we gotta hurt him?"

 

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Meanwhile, Ben watched what was going on with great interest.  If he knew that instead of the usual mundane day at the saloon, a fleecing was about to happen, he would have sold tickets.  Sometimes, real life was better than any play that any theatre could put on including his own, which hadn't even opened yet.

 

As the game progressed, he joined the crowd that was starting to gather around the table.  Then suddenly, Potee's wife appeared out of nowhere screaming at her husband.  Next on the woman's list was Caroline and it almost look like there would be a cat fight of some sort, but Horace Potee suddenly grew a backbone and put his foot down.  After Mrs. Potee left in a huff, Fortner whisked Caroline away to the kitchen, so they could talk about what they would do next to poor Potee.

 

He had seen similar scenes like this played out over the years since he had taken up poker playing as a profession.  He had no doubt that Horace Potee wouldn't be the last person, Fortner would take advantage of and as long as it wasn't a family member or someone who mattered to him, Ben was quite happy to stay out of the way.

 

There wasn't much time to ruminate as Arabella came out to play the piano and sing some song that sounded like a running commentary of what was transpiring.  He had to admire the girl had talent but why did she have such a grating personality?

 

Abruptly, Arabella got up, went over to Potee and started a game of Old Maid.  The day was getting more and more ludicrous, and he wasn't going to miss it for all the world.

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Caroline blinked, it was apparent she was mulling it over in her head as she paused.

 

"Spill hot coffee inta his lap? You realize that could be really painful as in burn him in his manly place?" she started.

 

"I don't get it, boss. Why we gotta do that? We already got 'im drunk as a lord. Any halfway decent card sharp should be able to outplay him and take his every fuckin' penny. Why do we gotta hurt him?"

 

"I got my reasons.  Someday I'll fill you in on them.  But, okay.  Tell you what.  If things are looking good for us, that's fine.   No spilled coffee.  There is more than you can imagine riding on this and, I know that this is going to sound strange, but I don't want to leave it to chance.  Look, if you hear me say to you, "I hear you serve the best coffee in Montana," that means I need your help.  Now.. if you don't want to do it.  I will understand and no hard feelings.  We'll still find a way and you'll still be the "Montana Queen".   Okay?"

 

He warmly smiled at her.

 

"You are too valuable to try to get you to do anything you don't want to.  I hope you believe me."

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The game of Old Maid progressed.  Horace was a little bit familiar with it because he played it sometimes with his daughter.

 

Answering the call, he laid down a four-of-diamonds and a four-of-clubs.

"Beat that!" he said.

 

Arabella gave him a frown "What're jawin about Mr. P., you gotta thown down all your pairs in Old Maid, don't you know that? Are you all right? You're lookin' mighty squirrel. What you been drinking?" He did look woozy.

 

"Listen, I don't want folks thinkin' I slipped you a mickey so I could cheat you out of house 'n' home, I'm a good Methodist girl, Mr Potee, I'm a child of the Connexion." she said earnestly. "Oh, two fives!" she was now all out of pairs and had a dirty great big Queen of Spades in her hand."

 

Horace WAS dizzy.  He picked up his hand and studied them, then set them down.

 

"Hey good Christian girl.   Would you please ask the barkeep for another belt?"  He reached down and sent a silver dollar from his bank skidding over to her.  Get one for yourself if you're of a mind to."

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About Sagas

Sagas of the WIld West is a roleplaying game set in a fictionalized version of the town of Kalispell in Montana territory. Our stories begin in 1875 and are set against the backdrop of actual historical events.Sagas was inspired by the classic television and movie westerns. Our focus is on writing, storytelling and character development.

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