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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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Caroline remained as icy as before.  So, Frank just shrugged and then abandoned any hope of coming to terms with her.  It really didn't matter;  He owned the saloon, and she worked at the saloon.  He was convinced that she'd keep her mouth shut about the card game and the coffee.

 

He brought up one more point.

 

"I would think that a good singer and entertainer such as yourself ought to have a better dressing table.  Tell you what.  The next time my people head to Cheyenne for supplies, I'll have them look for a new table and mirror for you.  How's that?   It's just a capital investment -- nothing more."

 

"That mirror was only recently busted....my fault too. Maybe that means I'll have seven years bad luck. Buy what you want.............just remember this - I never asked for it," she pointed out.

 

"Duly noted," Frank agreed. 

 

He opened the door to leave and, as he did, a current of noise rushed through it and into the room.  Then,..

 

""Is the Sheriff around here?  Anywhere?  He needs to come out to the Potee place, right away!!"

 

"What the Hell?" uttered Frank.   "What now?  God damn it!"

 

Frank stood on the catwalk, high above the saloon floor and watched as some man was ringing his hands.

 

'We need the Sheriff!  It's his missus.  She done hanged herself"

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Fortner was finally leaving her be, his every desperate attempt to buy her favor by bribery having utterly failed. He didn't know Caroline Mundee, she was far from a saint but saloon trash (as many in town thought) or not, she had a moral compass about some things and she would stubbornly follow it come what may.

 

But there was some shouting outside....Caroline followed up to see what was going on now.

 

"Is the Sheriff around here?  Anywhere?  He needs to come out to the Potee place, right away!!"

 

"What the Hell?" uttered Frank.   "What now?  God damn it!"

 

Frank stood on the catwalk, high above the saloon floor and watched as some man was wringing his hands. Caroline stood at an angle behind him.

 

'We need the Sheriff!  It's his missus.  She done hanged herself"

 

"Oh shit!" Caroline snapped, "Well, at least she won't be homeless, now it's just a drunk and a little girl. Thanks to us."

 

With a fierce glare directed at Frank, she spun about and went back to her room, slamming the door behind her.

 

 

 

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Arabella gulped when she heard the news and, of course, stopped playing the piano. But she didn't move from the piano stool, she was frozen to the spot. And when anyone had flown out of the swing doors who was going to fly out: whether from concern, duty or just plain old curiosity, she started right back in playing. It was a happy, jangling tune that jangled along with her nerves, and every beat of the tempo hammered in heavily her inner resolve to get out of there and out of the entanglements of working along side Mister Franklin and his geriatric henchman 'Judge' Hiram Priest. 

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"Is the Sheriff around here?  Anywhere?  He needs to come out to the Potee place, right away!!"

 

"What the Hell?" uttered Frank.   "What now?  God damn it!"

 

Frank stood on the catwalk, high above the saloon floor and watched as some man was wringing his hands. Caroline stood at an angle behind him.

 

'We need the Sheriff!  It's his missus.  She done hanged herself"

 

"Oh shit!" Caroline snapped, "Well, at least she won't be homeless, now it's just a drunk and a little girl. Thanks to us."

 

"Enough!" snapped Fortner.  "Let's wait and see what really happened before jumping to conclusions."

 

With a fierce glare directed at Frank, she spun about and went back to her room, slamming the door behind her.

 

Frank walked down the stairs without rushing.  When he got to the bottom, the man with the tragic news rushed up to him. 

 

"Where's the Sheriff?" asked the distraught man, Lukas Hannaberry.  "Potee's missus done hanged herself.  Horace was sitting on the front steps, head in his hands.  She was that way when he got back home, he said.  She left a note saying she couldn't live with a drunken gambler who cursed at his wife in a public place, especially in the Devil's playground.   I guess that's what she called the Star Dust."

 

A very light smile creased Franklin's lips, and he turned his vision upward to where Caroline's door remained shut.  So, It had nothing to do with the card game or the deed, he thought with some satisfaction.

 

"What were YOU doing out there?" asked Fortner.

 

Hannaberry instantly felt liked he'd been named some kind of accomplice.  "I was just comin' over to lend Horace some smithy tools.  THAT'S ALL!"

 

"Ah, don't get your back up," Fortner cautioned.  Anyway, these are questions the Sheriff will probably ask anyway."

 

Hannaberry rubbed his face with frustration.  "And there she was, still hanging .. all in her black dress.  Horrible.  Just horrible!"

 

Franklin raised his voice, "Maybe some of you men will want to head out the homestead and cut her down if she's still hanging."

 

There was a grumble and some of the men stood up.   "Figure you're right," one of them said as a spokesman.

 

As the men headed out, Fortner put his hand on Hannaberry's shoulder and said, "Can I get you a drink on the house?"

 

It sounded good to Lukas.  He darted a smile, and Franklin walked him over the bar.

 

"Set 'em up, Ralph!  Two whiskies."

 

Edited by Preston (see edit history)

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Arabella gulped when she heard the news and, of course, stopped playing the piano. But she didn't move from the piano stool, she was frozen to the spot. And when anyone had flown out of the swing doors who was going to fly out: whether from concern, duty or just plain old curiosity, she started right back in playing. It was a happy, jangling tune that jangled along with her nerves, and every beat of the tempo hammered in heavily her inner resolve to get out of there and out of the entanglements of working along side Mister Franklin and his geriatric henchman 'Judge' Hiram Priest. 

 

As if the good Lord could read her thoughts, the venerable, old, Judge, made his way over to the piano.  This, after he stopped by where Lukas had blathered the fate of Maude Potee to every cowpoke and gambler in Kalispell.  He nodded sagely as Franklin suggested some men go out and help with the undertaking, and moved his wad of chaw from one cheek to the other.  "Sounds right," he gurgled through tobacco.

 

Once Hiram got over to Arabella, he bent down to her moving head (she sometimes swayed whilst playing tunes, especially those played allegro).  "Why don't you play Amazing Grace?  Wouldn't it be more fittin'?"

 

The Judge and mayor had officiated many funerals, weddings, and civic events.

 

"I spect' no one knew anything like this woulda happened today," he ruminated sadly.

 

 

 

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Once Hiram got over to Arabella, he bent down to her moving head (she sometimes swayed whilst playing tunes, especially those played allegro).  "Why don't you play Amazing Grace?  Wouldn't it be more fittin'?"

 

If Arabella's face wasn't already naturally as pale as the spring snow, Priest would have seen it blanch with anger and, although she had determined to keep her council, she couldn't help blurt out "Fittin' for a place like this? I don't think so, Mister Priest!" and carried on playing the happy, gaudy tune with a passion that bordered on the aggressive. 

 

"I spect' no one knew anything like this woulda happened today," he ruminated sadly.

 

"Oh, do you think?" she spat, not even turning to look at the man. If Fortner was despicable, at least he was openly so, for all he tried cover it up with smarmy smooth words and heavy handed bribery: he was like an enormous boa constrictor, oozing itself around a body and slowly and lovingly squeezing the life out of it: Priest, in her mind's eye, was more like a small, hard to notice, but extremely poisonous little side-winder, that would strike out unexpectedly and fatally when you least expected it. 

 

She didn't actually know of anything he had done wrong: but that made her more uneasy in his presence rather than less so. He was sneaky. And Mr Reece had chilled her to the bone when he had prognosticated that 'On the face of it, Wentworth should win the mayor race, but don't discount Priest: he's the dark horse of the race' Arabella could believe it: a dark horse with a black heart. 

 

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Mayor Hiram Priest was a politician and he could read people with exacting accuracy.

 

"I spect' no one knew anything like this woulda happened today," he ruminated sadly. 

 

"Oh, do you think?" she spat, not even turning to look at the man.

 

"Sorry you're takin' it all so bad," he said with a certain Grandfatherly sincerity.  "All of us show sadness in different ways.  And if you'd ever like to talk about it, maybe I can help."

 

He tugged at his chin sagely.

 

"You know, some men are just not suited for being married.  Now take this Potee fella.  Look how he lashed out as his poor, upright, religious wife he had.  You saw how she came in here and begged him to leave the Star Dust and come home with her.  It was a pitiful sight.  Why I had to wipe a tear off my cheek.  He chased her out of here with harsh words, evil words, and you know what they say;  Idle hands are the devil's workshop and his first tool is a vicious tongue."

 

He sighed.

 

"And what did that poor woman do?  She went back to their place, a place she'd dreamed of making a life in, and hung herself straight away."  He bent a little closer to her and spoke confidentially.  "Seems to me, there's only one person responsible for that tragedy, and it ain't him," he pointed to Fortner at the bar, and it ain't you, and it ain't me.  It's that man sittin' on his porch with his head in his hands and trying to squeeze the liquor out of his brain. --- that's who."

 

He got even more confidential.  "And I'd be careful who you start makin' accusations about.  Be real careful.  Real careful."

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"Sorry you're takin' it all so bad," he said with a certain Grandfatherly sincerity.  "All of us show sadness in different ways.  And if you'd ever like to talk about it, maybe I can help."

 

"I'll talk about it to Jesus, thank you very much, Mr Priest. You may have heard of him." Arabella replied, feeling pretty clever at that remark. 

 

If she knew what thin ice she was skating on, she might have been a little more circumspect in her comments. But Priest gave her one more chance to see reason, or at least, his version of reason.

 

"You know, some men are just not suited for being married.  Now take this Potee fella.  Look how he lashed out as his poor, upright, religious wife he had.  You saw how she came in here and begged him to leave the Star Dust and come home with her.  It was a pitiful sight.  Why I had to wipe a tear off my cheek.  He chased her out of here with harsh words, evil words, and you know what they say;  Idle hands are the devil's workshop and his first tool is a vicious tongue."

 

"I don't believe you know how to cry, Mr Priest." she replied primly "Though I grant you probably know all about the Devil!" Oh, she thought she was pretty smart with that answer.

 

He sighed.

 

"And what did that poor woman do?  She went back to their place, a place she'd dreamed of making a life in, and hung herself straight away."  He bent a little closer to her and spoke confidentially.  "Seems to me, there's only one person responsible for that tragedy, and it ain't him," he pointed to Fortner at the bar, and it ain't you, and it ain't me.  It's that man sittin' on his porch with his head in his hands and trying to squeeze the liquor out of his brain. --- that's who."

 

He wasn't trying to persuade her now, he was telling her. there was something in his voice: a cold confidence, that made her own self confidence slip a little. She carried on playing the jolly tune, but she could feel a cold grip of fear start to close around her heart.

 

He got even more confidential.  "And I'd be careful who you start makin' accusations about.  Be real careful.  Real careful."

 

She actually gasped, and that wasn't the only thing that escaped her, as she realised that the nasty old snake was actually threatening her. She immediately wanted to jump up and run and hide behind the bar where Mr Flandry would protect her, or run upstairs and get Caroline to fight her corner or go fetch Mammy Cookie from the kitchen; but she realised now that she couldn't do that to them: Priest was Fortner's friend, more than that, she had always suspected: they were in cahoots. She couldn't put any of her three protectors in that position, of having to choose between their employer and her. 

 

Coward that she was, she immediately backed down: and a pathetic sight it was too, she was nearly grovelling on her knees to the mean old man. "Oh! A...A...I wasn't saying nothin' about no-one, honest I wasn't ... and I won't, I mean, I... I'm never ever gonna talk about this to anyone else ever again, mister Priest. You don't have to worry about that! And, 'sides, I 'm just a silly little girl, no one cares what I say anyway." she assured him, eyes saucer wide and brimming with fear. 

 

She was weak, she knew it, she was nothing but a big scardy-cat coward: and she'd just added a new item to the long list of things she was scared of: guns, cows, horses, spiders, stinging nettles and Hiram Priest.

 

@Preston

 

 

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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Coward that she was, she immediately backed down: and a pathetic sight it was too, she was nearly grovelling on her knees to the mean old man. "Oh! A...A...I wasn't saying nothin' about no-one, honest I wasn't ... and I won't, I mean, I... I'm never ever gonna talk about this to anyone else ever again, mister Priest. You don't have to worry about that! And, 'sides, I 'm just a silly little girl, no one cares what I say anyway." she assured him, eyes saucer wide and brimming with fear. 

 

"That's a better attitude," Priest said with a smile.  "Much better." 

 

He rummaged in his vest pocket, and as he was rummaging, he said, "I know how this tragedy hurt you, Miss.  You are too young and innocent to worry 'bout such things."   Out came a shiny, newly minted Silver Dollar which he set on the piano, on the wooden edge just to the right of the 8th octave of "C" -- the last key of the keyboard.  "This is for you.  And every time you see it, and hold it, think of that sweet Mrs. Potee and how you loved her.  And also think of our friendly chat about her."
 

With that, he ambled over to the bar where Fortner and Hannaberry were drinking.

 

"Watch out for that one," he whispered as he walked by.

 

Fortner nodded.

 

Edited by Preston (see edit history)
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"Set em up, Ralph, two whiskies," ordered Fortner.

 

Ralph heard of course and simply nodded, "You got it."

 

He then reached for a bottle and two shot glasses then filled them to the brim.

 

If they wanted them, they'd have to go up to the bar and take them, he was the bartender, he did not deliver drinks to the tables. Now Caroline would do that but she had already gone upstairs and did not come back down. Ralph knew why too. He might not be much of a talker but there wasn't much that Ralph missed if it went on in the bar room.

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"That's a better attitude," Priest said with a smile.  "Much better." 

 

Arabella shuddered: the 'nicer' Priest became, the more chilling she found him, and the more threatened she felt.

 

He rummaged in his vest pocket, and as he was rummaging, he said, "I know how this tragedy hurt you, Miss.  You are too young and innocent to worry 'bout such things."   Out came a shiny, newly minted Silver Dollar which he set on the piano, on the wooden edge just to the right of the 8th octave of "C" -- the last key of the keyboard.

 

"Oooh, whats that for?" she asked with an unconvincing smile. 

 

 "This is for you.  And every time you see it, and hold it, think of that sweet Mrs. Potee and how you loved her.  And also think of our friendly chat about her."

 

She managed a desultory "Thanks" and then breathed a thankful sigh of relief when he finally ambled over to the bar where Fortner and Hannaberry were drinking.

 

Arabella finished the tune and took a deep breath. She held out her hands in front of her, they were trembling slightly. She would have to take the dollar, but she decided that she would put it in the church collection box on Sunday. Meanwhile, she used her apron as an 'oven mitt' to scoop the Silver Shekel into her pocket, not wanting to contaminate her skin with the thing. 

 

She looked over to where Priest was saying something to Fortner and, wait, was that Hannaberry? Hannaberry!? Fortner drinking with Hannaberry. The sooner she got out of this place the better!

 

@Wayfarer @Preston

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Fortner and Hannaberry stayed leaning against the bar.

 

"Thanks," he said to Ralph when he set the whiskey's down on the bar.

 

With glass in hand, he turned to Lukas. 

 

"That must have been an awful sight," he confessed to Lukas.  "No one deserves to leave this Earth that way."

 

Lukas took a quick swig then answered.  "Awful.  I'm glad you sent some of the fellas out there to cut her down.  That husband of hers is as useless as tits on bacon.  And I guess we'll get the sheriff involved in it.  He's gotta write up some kind of report.  Don't he?"  Another sip.

 

Frank nodded.  "I guess so, but I don't know where the Hell he is."

 

"Hey Ralph," he called.  "Do you know where the Sheriff keeps himself?  I mean where would he be if not at the jailhouse?  Any guesses?"

 

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The boss talked with the customer while Ralph dried some glasses with a towel, minding his own business.

 

"Hey Ralph," Fortner asked,  "Do you know where the Sheriff keeps himself?  I mean where would he be if not at the jailhouse?  Any guesses?"

 

"Sheriff Pike? No one has seen him for a long time now. He and his wife left for California or someplace after gettin' married. Ain't been back since.  You want law in this town, yer gonna have to go the Marshal, he's got a place, down the street."

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"Sheriff Pike? No one has seen him for a long time now. He and his wife left for California or someplace after gettin' married. Ain't been back since.  You want law in this town, yer gonna have to go the Marshal, he's got a place, down the street."

 

"Thanks, Ralph."  Fortner began to appreciate his bartender's reticence.  It was good to know that the man could keep his mouth shut. 

 

He raised his voice.  "Arabella!"  She was still tickling the ivories, but he could put her to better use.  "Come here.  Will you?"

 

Hannaberry, wiped his mouth with his sleeve.  "Just what I needed," he said, setting his empty glass on the bar. 

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He raised his voice.  "Arabella!"  She was still tickling the ivories, but he could put her to better use.  "Come here.  Will you?"

 

The terrified girl jumped at the summons, but she was an actress, or so she told herself, and she pulled herself together, played a quick coda to the tune and plastered the biggest smile imaginable on her face. She actually skipped over to the saloon owner. 

 

"What can I do for you, Mr Fortner?" she asked, smiling brightly and fluttering her eyelashes.  

 

Hannaberry, wiped his mouth with his sleeve.  "Just what I needed," he said, setting his empty glass on the bar. 

 

"Ooooh, do you want me to fetch you another one, Mister Hannaberry?" Arabella asked proactively. 

 

She deliberately avoided the subject that had brought the odd looking man in here.

 

@Wayfarer @Preston

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What can I do for you, Mr Fortner?" she asked, smiling brightly and fluttering her eyelashes.  

 

Hannaberry, wiped his mouth with his sleeve.  "Just what I needed," he said, setting his empty glass on the bar. 

 

"Ooooh, do you want me to fetch you another one, Mister Hannaberry?" Arabella asked proactively. 

 

She deliberately avoided the subject that had brought the odd looking man in here.

 

"No no," Fortner said.  "You seem to know your way around town.  And, I'm wondering if you'd run down to the Marshall's office for us and tell him to hustle over here 'cause we got some news for him.  I'd go down there myself but ...  Well, I've already sent some of the boys out to Potee's place, and I've got a business to run."

 

He smiled at her.  "Whaddya say?"

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Fortner said.  "You seem to know your way around town.  And, I'm wondering if you'd run down to the Marshall's office for us and tell him to hustle over here 'cause we got some news for him.  I'd go down there myself but ...  Well, I've already sent some of the boys out to Potee's place, and I've got a business to run."

 

Arabella frowned, but only because 'some news' sounded a bit vague and the Marshall, who could be a little crusty sometimes, might not answer such a summons.  

 

He smiled at her.  "Whaddya say?"

 

"Sure!" she beamed a smile that would have made her cheeks ache if she had been forced to keep it up too long. It would do her good to get out of the atmosphere of the place. Unlike Caroline, who always said what she meant when angered, Arabella was getting good at dissembling. "I'll just grab my hat and shawl!" she yelped and disappeared into the back. 

 

As she left the raucous, though now music-less, noises of the Saloon behind, a million thoughts and fears and hopes and dreams swirled through her head: the catalyst of the evening's awful and tragic drama had brought home to her just how precarious life out here was. Who knew, this time next week , maybe she would be hanging from a rafter, or begging on the street: like poor Mr Potee must do now with no livelihood and a little girl to support. Or maybe her dreams would start to come true, she would be able to start saving money in earnest for New York: maybe Mrs Wentworth would even get her theatre group started. 

 

Reaching the Marshall's office, she knocked and went inside "Mister Guyer? Charlie? Anybody home?"

 

@Flip @JulieS @Preston

 

Edited by Javia (see edit history)

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Speed came in behind her from the cell block in the County Sheriff's office where old Barney Eldridge was still sleeping one off. "Why Arabella. What brings you in today, I doubt I've ever seen you in here before." he greeted.

 

This was strange, as she had never had occasion to be in the office before,In fact, he rarely ever saw her outside the saloon, though he was sure she made forays from the Stardust from time to time. He didn't think for a moment that she was holed up in there day in day out.

 

"So, let's have it girl." He prodded. "What's this historic visit all about?"

@Javia

 

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Arabella couldn't see anybody at first, but as she nosed further in, she saw someone locked in  a cell - how exciting! She went over to see who it was: Cole Younger? Jessie James? Maybe her favourite, the noted road agent Thomas Gage Love! She peered in, but keeping away from the bars, in case he did something desperate.

 

"Oh! Hello Mr. Eldridge!" she said when she recognised one of the saloon's best customers "We wondered what happened to you last night: Mrs Adams was right disappointed, she said you never turned up for a romantic assignation." The slumbering man just grunted and the familiar smell of stale whiskey breath hit her.

 

"Oh well, 'The Course of True Love  Ne'er Did Run Smooth'" she quoted as she fished out one of her secret stash of Temperance leaflets, folded it in four to make it more aerodynamic, and chucked it through the bars so it landed on the bunk where he'd find when he woke from his booze induced coma.

 

When Speed came in behind her, she nearly jumped six feet into the air.

 

"Oh! I thought you was outlaws come to rescue Mr Eldridge!" she panted, holding her heart.

 

"Why Arabella. What brings you in today, I doubt I've ever seen you in here before." he greeted.

 

"That's 'cause I'm a good girl, Mr Guyer." she informed him, polishing her halo.

 

"So, let's have it girl." He prodded. "What's this historic visit all about?"

 

"Oh, that feller Fortner sent me over to tell you to... I dunno, he's got some news for you or something..." she said unenthusiastically and showing scant respect for her employer. "Have you heard about poor Mrs Potee - Fortner won all her husband's money and his whole farm and everything and now they say she's hunged herself. Oh ain't it awful Mr Guyer. And that poor little girl of their's - dear little Abigail. What's gonna become of her?"

 

She started to get quite emotional on the subject.

 

"I... I tried to stop him Marshall, honest I did! He was so dog-gone drunk he didn't know what he was doin' and then all the cards got spilt on the floor and... oh, it's just so horrible and unfair." she bawled, tears running down her cheeks. She didn't dare say any more of her suspicions of cheating, lest her friend Caroline be implicated.

 

"Shut up will ya? I'm trying to sleep here!" came Barney's voice from the cell. 

 

@Flip

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"Oh, that feller Fortner sent me over to tell you to... I dunno, he's got some news for you or something..." she said unenthusiastically and showing scant respect for her employer. "Have you heard about poor Mrs Potee - Fortner won all her husband's money and his whole farm and everything and now they say she's hunged herself. Oh ain't it awful Mr Guyer. And that poor little girl of their's - dear little Abigail. What's gonna become of her?"

 

"What? I've heard nothing of this. And, yes, it is awful!" Speed declared. "How did he manage to do that, I mean the man should have quit at some point, unbelievable! The wife hung herself? And now the child is an orphan? Seems neither used common sense, unless..."

 

She started to get quite emotional on the subject.

 

"I... I tried to stop him Marshall, honest I did! He was so dog-gone drunk he didn't know what he was doin' and then all the cards got spilt on the floor and... oh, it's just so horrible and unfair." she bawled, tears running down her cheeks. She didn't dare say any more of her suspicions of cheating, lest her friend Caroline be implicated.

 

"Wait, what? The cards spilled on the floor? Poteet was drunk, you say? What in tarnation?" Speed quizzed. Arabella did not need to paint a picture for him. A drunk loses everything, cards spilled on the floor. I guess I best go see what Forner has to say," Then he paused. "Don't you go blaming yourself for this!" He was clear about what had happened.

 

"Shut up will ya? I'm trying to sleep here!" came Barney's voice from the cell.

 

"Tone it down or you'll be here a while!" Speed shouted to the town drunk. He looked to Arabella, "C'mon girl, lets go see what the man has to say. He considered taking a scatter gun with him, he had never bought the idea the Priest and Fortner didn't outright murder Caleb Barnes. He regretted that he had not tried to get more information on the pair. But he would.

 

He led the way out of the office and across the street to the Stardust Saloon.

@Wayfarer@Preston

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He led the way out of the office and across the street to the Stardust Saloon.

 

Arabella trailed after him with a worried look on her face. "Hey, you won't tell him I said nuthin' will ya?!" she begged: this would look like she had gone and told on Fortner, and she did not want a man like Fortner thinking that, or she could be in deep doo-doo. 

 

She couldn't help thinking that she had made a terrible mistake.

 

"Please don't say anything, Mr Guyer, please! I..." but they were at the swing doors and she had to shut up. Maybe she should have asked Speed to lock her in the cell with Mr Eldridge, where it was nice and safe.

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He paused at the Bat-wing doors and looked to her. "You have my word one it." Then pushed through ready for whatever the plan was.He was not blazing fast on the draw, but he was accurate which was far more important than speed was. Fast guns had perished at an alarming rate since the end of the war. His advice had come from an Army scout who was quite well known.

 

"Afternoon. Mister Fortner wanted to see me?" He announced. as  he waited for his eyes to adjust in the dimness of the saloon.

@Preston@Wayfarer@Javia

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"And we never did find that steer!" laughed Fortner, delivering the punchline to one of his tales from his Kansas days.

 

Hannaberry slapped his knee and laughed loudly, his worry over the Potee situation salved by three whiskeys.  "You got more tales than the Good Book has, Mr. Fortner!" Hannaberry managed to say after the laughter. 

 

Fortner had as many drinks as Hannaberry, but it had no affect on his mental acuity.   He was capable of downing copious amounts of liquor with very little change in speech or movement. 

 

His face froze in its pleasant configuration as the saloon doors swung open and the Marshall walked in, Arabella trailing behind, eyes bloodshot. 

 

"Good Afternoon, Marshall," he greeted.

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Feeling like he had already greeted the man, he saw no reason to repeat himself. "Something you wanted to tell me, ask me , or explain to me?" He asked.  Dealing with drunks was not high on his list, though the man was not slurring, it was obvious that he had been drinking.

 

It was plain that he did not like Fortner, nor his accomplice Priest, so he wanted to keep this short and to the point.

@Preston@Javia@Wayfarer

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"Afternoon. Mister Fortner wanted to see me?" He announced. as  he waited for his eyes to adjust in the dimness of the saloon.

 

By then, Hiram Priest, had made his way to stand beside Fortner and Hannaberry, mouth full of tobacco.

 

"Why yes," Fortner answered.  "Mr. Hannaberry here says he was out at the Potee place and found Potee's missus hanging inside their cabin, and Potee a'sittin'  on the porch in a drunken stupor.  I sent some of the boys out to help cut her down, seein' that it was the Christian thing to do."

 

Hannaberry nodded his agreement while Fortner spoke.

 

"I figured that you oughta know about it.  You see, some of the boys think that maybe Potee had something to do with it.  The last we saw of his missus, they were yellin' at each other, right here in the Star Dust.  She lit outta here like her hair was on fire, and he was so drunk he could hardly sit upright at the card table.  So, I've done my civic duty by callin' you in on it."

 

"A terrible business," intoned Priest, gravely.

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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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Founders: Stormwolfe & Longshot

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