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    • Justus kept a close eye on the man as he approached, reassured by the fact that he was being allowed to approach, and that there was no sign of aggression.  He stopped a few feet away.   "Evenin', sir."  Justus nodded with an easy grin, relieved that it seemed this was a friendly bunch.  Most men on drives were, but Justus had learned young that it was best to assume the worst, then be happily surprised.   "Just what are you up too?" It was Dallas, and he was one to ask questions first, rather than just shoot a fellow. "You might oughtta ride on in like a man. There'll be plenty of grub, and you'll be welcome to it." He smiled.   "Thank ya, sir, I might do just that."  While he didn't want to seem too eager, there was no denying that he was grateful for the offer.   "You out here on yer own? Mount up an' I'll ride in with ya jest so's you don't get shot er nuthin'!" The he laughed.   "Yes, sir, I'm alone."  Swinging into the saddle, Justus patted Mule on the neck, then fell into pace beside the man.  "I do appreciate this, sir, I'll work for it, sir, help th' cookie with dishes or some'at."  A thankless job, but it wouldn't do him any harm, and he wouldn't feel so much like mooching.   "Oh, m' name's Justus Wheeler, sir.  I'm headed north, nowhere in particular."   @Flip
    • Mature Content:  Might well be violence.   With: Turk Flagg, Caroline, and who knows else Location: Star Dust Saloon When: Sept/ 1876 Time of Day: Early evening     Now Turk had never been to this part of Montana previously but  seemed like a nice enough quiet town. Actually peaceful towns were not exactly good for his sort of occupation but then he had not ridden in with any specific job in mind.  He was between jobs, just last week he'd delivered a prisoner to a small town south of Kalispell, the man had been a wanted rustler. Fellow whined the whole way back right up to jail that he was innocent. Turk then just pointed out he was neither judge nor jury, tell it to someone who cared. Least he had some cash in his pocket. And where better to spend a bit of it then in the town's only saloon apparently. Least only one he could spot.   Entering into the place thru the swinging bat doors, he took in the joint. Decent enough, he'd seen many worse, some better. On this weekday night it was not crowded but there were a few folks at the bar and some others gathered around tables, most tables holding card games. He didn't go for cards though and on those rare occasions when he had, he usually lost money. Nope, keep it simple, get a drink or two or four.   As he sidled up to the bar, the bartender was presently occupied with another customer so he paused to take a second scan of the place. And who should he see but...................   "Caroline?  Caroline Mundee," he made sure he said those words loud enough the woman could hear him as she  a good distance away, holding a tray of drinks.   Caroline not only picked up on her name but recognized the voice and turned to see just to make certain. The look on her face made it plain she knew the speaker alright as she broke out into a wide smile.   "Well, I'll be !  Gimme a minute," she called back then hurried to finish her on duty errand, duly placing the tray in front of four card players, "Here ya are, boys. Enjoy!"    Turk nodded and just leaned with his back against the bar, watching her every move. She sure was as pretty as the last time they'd seen each other. He never took his eyes off her as she then approached and in a few seconds the two embraced in a quick but heartfelt hug.   "Turk! I had heard rumors you were dead," Caroline declared when they broke it up.   "Nope, I can truly assure you that I am not. Yer lookin' fine as always," he grinned.   Caroline looked past him for a moment, "Ralph, break out one of the good bottles and pour us two shots, will ya, hon?"    "Shit! How much that gonna cost me now?"  Turk knew her routine alright, they'd become friends in Helena when she worked a saloon there.   "Nah! On the house! I'm real glad ta see you again," Caroline then leaned into the bar next to him, they had some catching up to do alright.              
    • Four good men was all he needed, and Granger knew just the men for the job. Men that would kill anyone that threatened the ranch in any way, shape, or form. Of course, that went doe any number of of the Evergreen hands, the men he wanted would be the worst, and most dangerous of the hands Elias Steelgrave employed   The first one he ran on to was the stocky built Dutch, the only name they knew him by, but that was enough. He rode up next to the man, "Dutch, Mister Steelgrave has a job for you."   Dutch looked to him, knowing if the old man wanted him for a job it wouldn't be nurse maiding no cows. "Sure Granger, what's he got in mind?"   "Might be some Lost Lake men trailing Carson, they need to be stopped." It was quick and blunt.   "Right up my alley, Granger. Start now?" Dutch asked.   "I'll Get Treach, Watts, and Deckerd. Mister Steelgrave wants you boys to be sure they start it."    "Easy as pie. If you want I'll go for 'em, know right where they are and well just head that way." Dutch offered with a grin that was far from friendly.   "Sure Dutch, go ahead. Anything happens, you hightail it back here." Granger  replied to which Dutch nodded and spurred his horse.           Dutch                                      Treach                             Watts                       Deckerd
    • The conversation with Misses Thornton-Carlton had been informative, though she had not said when these hands from the Lost Lake would be in town for supplies. In New Mexico Territory they generally went once a month, unless they were in need of something or they got word an order had come in, which was rare, the Apaches saw to that. No one was willing to take the chance . But this here might be different. The Lost Lake was not so far from town as the Lazy S was to Lordsburg, nor as dangerous.   So, the hotel looked to be the place he'd stay until these hands rode in, and it would certainly give him a chance to meet some folks, like she said, see who his allies were. And from, what he had learned so far, the trouble ran deep between the Lost Lake and this Evergreen Ranch, and then toss in the son and his pack of animals. Things could get terminal real quick. This was shaping up to be far more than he had bargained for when he left New Mexico. But he was there now, so he could run, or stay, and Tyrell Thornton was not much for running.
    • Speed took the time to let Alice and her father know where he was going, and why, then mounted up and started out for the fort. He'd not been there, he had seen it in passing, and it was a welcome sight with the Indians out. He understood that the Military had no jurisdiction in town, and likely they might not be willing to help, yet, then again, they might. Protecting citizens was their job. And just because the ones Speed was asking them to protect were in town with active lawmen, A large contingent of outlaws  posed a significant threat.   The outlaws, be it Cases' gang or Elias' riders, or both together, it would be more than a handful lawmen could handle, even with the townsfolk defending their town. True, most had served in the War Between the States, but that had been over ten years ago, and true they had fought Indians and outlaws, yet these men were settled down now and past getting into gun trouble. And maybe it wouldn't come. Maybe Neither Steelgrave wanted to tangle with the town and it's people. Yet going to talk with the Army made sense, even if they couldn't really help out right then.
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.

 

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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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