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GENERAL TOPICS => Saddlebag Tales => Topic started by: Elegant Ella on February 07, 2010, 04:08:38 PM

Title: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on February 07, 2010, 04:08:38 PM
Marshal John Ross, called Tensleep by his friends, looked over the letter he had just finished with satisfaction. He could have wired the contents to Houston, but he didn't want Patches to read it. As far as Tensleep knew, there was no code that Patches couldn't break and she was too curious to resist trying. It was easier to write it as a letter than to try to get Patches far enough away from the telegraph office so that she couldn't hear Lily sending it.

Tensleep was getting out of the Marshal business while he was still in one piece. He had a wife and John Junior to worry about now, and a ranch that was growing more appealing to him every day.

He called out, "Jimmy!" and was answered by Jimmy Washington coming in to the office.

"Take this to the Post Office, then get on home to the Coatsworths to get ready for the party."

"Yes, sir," replied the young man, taking the letter and leaving.

Tensleep thought Jimmy was making a good beginning. He was living with the Coatsworths in town, along with his younger brother Eddie and their neighbor Lily Jefferson. Lily had also made a good start on her duties as a Deputy Marshal. With Ella retired, Tensleep needed a second person trained on the telegraph. Lily had volunteered and Patches reported her learning well. A side-effect of Lily learning was that Jimmy was learning as well. Those two had quite a history from growing up together: Lily determined to be able to do anything the Washington boys could do, and Jimmy just as determined not to let her get ahead of him.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on February 08, 2010, 11:13:36 PM

“What are you doin’ Darlin’?” Becca asked finding him in the building, sitting behind the desk he occasionally had used for business.

“Lookin’ round one more time.” Tensleep replied thinking of the letter that was mailed earlier.

“John, I don’t want you to do this just to appease me, if you are having second thoughts please tell me.” Becca replied softly.

Tensleep got up and crossed the room in three long strides taking the most beautiful woman he had ever seen in his arms. “I wouldn’t do this if I wasn’t looking forward to it too. You know that. I’ve been talkin’ ‘bout it since the day we started courtin’.”

“Then what is it?” She asked.

“It’s a strange feeling knowing I am leaving the team. We are close you know.”

Becca smiled understandingly “We are all close and you know they will understand.”

Tensleep detected something knowing in her voice. “You think so huh?”

“Well Patches and Bill have their own son now, I know Ella will understand and Scarlet, well maybe her most of all.”

Tensleep raised an eyebrow “Scarlet most of all, really?” he chuckled.

“She never held it against me when I stopped riddin’ with her, she understood.”  Becca replied tracing her fingers along his chest “sides, now that you’re retiring I’ll tell you a little secret about her.”

“Don’t think I want to know her secrets.” Tensleep teased.

Becca giggled and shook her head “Scarlet often hides her emotions well, but she does have them. That’s her secret.” Becca winked “I tell Scarlet a lot of things and maybe we’ve been talking about family and the loss of it for some time now. If anyone would understand that it’s Scarlet. Perhaps she is the one that helped me work up the courage to even discuss it with you.”

Tensleep shook his head in disbelief. “I should say the two of you conspiring comes as no surprise to me. Now… what have you done with our son?”

“Grandma Rose is spoiling John Jr. already.” She laughed.   

Tensleep smiled thinking of the people that called him family, especially his wife. “You look gorgeous.” He said making her dip her head and giggle.

Taking her hand he lead her back towards the rose garden at the Southern Starr, they listened to the laughter and watched their son being passed from one person to the next as they reentered the rose garden, where the party following their son’s christening was in full swing. Everyone was offering congratulations and having a good time. 

Tensleep cleared his throat. “Attention everyone, I have an announcement” he said getting the attention of only some of the guests.

He looked at Becca and cleared his throat again. She grinned at him and shook her head. “Darlin’ you got to know how to get the attention of a bunch of loud cowboys if you’re going to get the attention of this group.” With that Becca let out a whistle surprising some and getting the attention of the rest of guests.

Tensleep raised his glass “My friends and family, I want to thank you all for celebrating this day with us and for being a part of our lives. You shared our happiness the day we were married, you share in our happiness today and even though I am stepping down as Marshal I hope you will continue to share in our lives and the raising of our family.” He noticed the look of surprise on some of the faces of his friends as he continued “I have written Houston announcing my retirement and my recommendation of Scarlet as the new Marshal.” His eyes traveled over every one of the posse members “You all have been one of the best teams I have had the pleasure of working with and I know you will continue to be a great team.”

Tensleep’s eyes stopped on Scarlet and raised the glass towards her “I know you will do me and our team proud.” 

Scarlet didn’t know what to say. She and Becca had been talking about the fact that Becca was afraid Tensleep would never come home again and it had kept Becca up at nights. She had plenty of company at the Ace when she was up late before but with baby John here she wasn’t going to be running into the Ace every time she couldn’t sleep, and she couldn’t bare the thought of losing her husband. Becca had lost one family before she came to live in El Paso and she didn’t want to lose another.

Scarlet had spent hours down by the river with her talking about life, and the loss of it. She was the one that had told Becca if she was afraid Tensleep was going to die in the line of duty she should talk to him about it. So the announcement of his retirement didn’t surprise Scarlet much, it was the fact he had recommended her as the new Marshal.

Scarlet didn’t know if she really wanted the marshal’s position, course she hadn’t given it much thought since it was unheard of to have a woman marshal; deputy marshal no doubt was pushing somebody out of shape, but this would send them in a frenzy and she knew it.

Tensleep raised a brow. “First time I think you’ve ever been at a loss for words Scarlet.”

“Don’t know what to say.” She replied.

“It’s customary to say thank you.” Fritz whispered with a grin.

Tensleep stepped up to her and held out the Marshal’s badge. “Take this and say yes.”

Scarlet took the badge “I’ll do right by this team Tensleep.” She said.


Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on February 09, 2010, 09:38:28 AM
They danced, moving as one.  He was so fortunate.  Scarlet was his equal in all ways, his better in some.  She was a great choice, but Fritz knew there would be resistance.  There always was.

“Penny for your thoughts,” he asked.

“Are you okay with this?” she asked.

“I’ve been a man under authority for many years.  Oftentimes, I had no choice as to who I served under.  I choose to serve with you.  Who gives the orders is immaterial.”  Fritz spun Scarlet, admiring the way her skirts unfurled.

“You do know,” Fritz smirked, “this promotion means you’ll have to follow the rules.”

She gave him a look that’d melt the star on his chest.

“…occasionally,” he added.

Scarlet laughed and pulled him close.

Yes…he was a fortunate man.         
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on February 09, 2010, 11:17:33 AM
"Ridiculous!" exclaimed Marshal Luther Thompson, throwing the papers he was reading on to his desk.

"What's ridiculous?" asked Deputy Marshal Ambrose Hayes, coming into the office with a couple cups of coffee.

"This letter from Marshal Ross. How can he expect us to appoint a woman as a US Marshal?"

"If you look at the summary he included on each of the deputies who report to him, and the old reports from the El Paso office, Mrs. King is obviously the best choice."

"Her husband is one of the other deputies. It's unnatural, unholy and illegal for a woman to be in a position of authority over her wedded husband."

Ambrose picked up the papers and started reading out loud.

"Angelina 'Scarlet' Longknife Corbin King - 6 years experience as Deputy Marshal after 4 years experience as bounty hunter. Outstanding rider, outstanding shot, natural leader.
"Patience 'Patches' Ann McDowell - 3 1/2 years experience as Deputy Marshal. Outstanding telegraph operator, excellent rider, excellent shot. Outstanding team member. Wrote most of the reports.
"Dr. William McDowell - 3 1/2 years experience as Deputy Marshal. Outstanding scientist, good rider, good shot. Outstanding team member.
"Ella Wiley Coatsworth - 3 years experience as Deputy Marshal. Outstanding medic, excellent rider, excellent telegraph operator, good shot. Wrote the rest of the reports. Resigned in favor of private medical practice. Supports team as needed.
"Frederick King - 6 months full-time as Deputy Marshal after retiring from US Army with rank of Captain. Had worked with Marshals office when available for three years.
"James Washington - 2 months in position as Deputy Marshal. Excellent rider, good shot. Good team member.
"Lily Jefferson - 2 months in position as Deputy Marshal. excellent rider, beginning telegraph operator, good shot. Good team member."

"Which of them did you meet last year?"

"Doctor and Mrs. McDowell in El Paso, Mrs. King and Mrs. Coatsworth at Fort Fetterman. I actually met James Washington on that trip as well, since he was one of the prisoners Mrs. King and Mrs. Coatsworth had for us to transport."

"Last survivor of Firehouse Charlie's gang, if I remember right."

"Yes, Deputy Oliver Mason and Deputy Harold Locke got to know him pretty well since they spent the next six months hauling him from courthouse to courthouse, so he could give testimony about Firehouse Charlie's crimes. None of the courts he talked to was interested in putting Washington on trial. The fact that he is credited with saving lives during Charlie's attack on a Barlow & Sanderson stage outside Kansas City was in his favor. By the middle of December, he was released and sent home."

"Apparently he showed up in El Paso the middle of January, with his younger brother and a neighbor woman. Marshal Ross hired James and the woman, Lily Jefferson. I'll appoint Isaiah Phillips as the Marshal there for three months. That should be long enough for him to decide whether Dr. McDowell or Mr. King should be the Marshal."

"Is Phillips really the best choice?"

"He's not going to exaggerate the abilities behind a pretty face."

"He's not going to accept any woman's abilities at all. "

"He's available."

Ambrose snorted, "He's available because the good people of Pleasanton ran him out of town on a rail last month."

"He lasted six months in Pleasanton, he ought to be able to do the job in El Paso for three."

Ambrose silently rolled his eyes.

Luther sighed, "Look, I really need to get him out of Houston. He's showing too much curiosity about the White Investigation. I'll find something else for my brother-in-law before he gets back from El Paso."

"I suggest a prison, as a guard. Athough that might constitute cruel and unusual punishment for the other guards as well as the prisoners."

"Please take care of letting El Paso know he is coming."

Ambrose left the office and went to the telegraph to send a wire.

Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on February 09, 2010, 11:22:02 PM
Patches kept shaking her head back and forth as she walked the message to the building that Scarlet was now using as an office when she wasn’t in town. The door was open so Patches went in.

“Got a message from Deputy Hayes. Don’t like it much, so I think yer gonna like it less.” Patches said handing the message to Scarlet.

Scarlet tightened her jaw, took a deep breath and glared at the message.

“I know.” Patches remarked.

“It’s not like it comes as a total surprise, but they don’t even have the courtesy to send someone they trust, someone I might respect the decision of? Let’s see we don’t trust him and he’s a woman hater lets just send him to a team that’s half women…..oh and don’t forget to tell the women he only THINKS he can fire anyone.” Scarlet said getting louder as she growled it out. “That’s just great.” She said standing continuing her rant.

 “He’ll be here Monday. I already don’t like him” she said looking at Patches “…oh but let’s not forget we should at least pretend to tolerate him. They were courteous enough to say please.” She said rolling her eyes.

“Should I send anything back to Houston?” Patches asked stepping out of Scarlet’s way then following her out the door.

Scarlet turned and faced her, took a deep breath and replied. “If you think we should send something send message received. That’s all I can come up with in the mood they just put me in, but I’m of a mind to send nothing at all at this point.”

Patches looked over at the desk and back at Scarlet. Scarlet looked at her “That’s the Marshal’s job he can do it when he arrives. I’ll take it to the office in town, cuz he ain’t workin’ out here.” Scarlet hissed.

Patches half smiled. “I’ll let you think ‘bout a reply for a while.”

“Doubt it will be any nicer, probably will just get worse after I have time to think on it more.” Scarlet replied. “Tell Bill he’s going to have someone checking him out. I’ll let Fritz know and then I’ll pack up some of the stuff the new Marshal needs and take it into town and get some of my stuff out of that office.”

“Where’s Phillips going to stay?” Patches asked.

“I can tell you where he won’t be staying.” Scarlet said eyeing the message again with a snort.

“I knew she wasn’t going to be happy.” Patches said to herself as Scarlet walked off.

Scarlet found Fritz. It only took one glance from him to realize she was not pleased about something.

“What’s wrong?” He asked walking over and running his hand down her arm.

“Marshal Isaiah Phillips will be arriving on Monday for a three month assignment to decide if you or Dr. Bill will be our new Marshal.”

“I can’t say that comes as much of a surprise to me Fritz, and both of you are good choices but what has me irritated is they included a message saying not only is he a woman hater but he only THINKS he can fire anyone and to please tolerate him. What the hell kinda man are they sending out here to make any kind of decision when they include those kinda comments?” 
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on February 10, 2010, 07:53:56 AM
Fritz thought about it a moment.  "When I was in the Army, a problem Soldier could be dealt with.  A problem NCO or officer was a different matter.  If they had seniority, it got worse.  The Army invested lots of time and money in training him, and they wanted their money's worth.  Rather than a discharge, they would often transfer a problem child to another post, so the new C.O. could deal with him.  It's not a good practice, but it does happen.  I suppose it happens in the Marshal's service as well."

"I don't like it," Scarlet hissed.  "I don't like it one bit."

Fritz took her hands.  "Honey, this is a passing fancy.  They already have the right man for the job.  It so happens that the right man is a woman."

Scarlet giggled.  He enjoyed the sound.

"Are you sure you can work under me?" she asked.

Fritz smirked.  "Is that a trick question?"

Scarlet pushed his hands away. "You're terrible!"

"Nope...just truthful.  You've been a marshal far longer than I have.  You have experience, courage, leadership...all the traits of a good U.S. Marshal.  Besides, if they try to give it to me I'll turn it down."

"You'd do that?"

"In a minute," Fritz replied.  "Darlin', I've done my time in leadership billets.  I just want to live my life now.  Besides," he said, taking her hands again, "you giving me orders isn't half bad!"

This time they laughed together.        
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on February 10, 2010, 09:33:40 AM
She slid her arms around her neck and kissed him deeply then smiled and looked into his eyes. “You would be a good choice because you know how to keep me in line, most of the time. Not something many have mastered Darlin’.” She grinned.

“It’s a never ending learning process, I’ve been lucky.” Fritz teased.

Scarlet laughed again. “You charmed me.” She teased back, and then got serious again “I’m smart enough to know if we had to take someone to trial a good lawyer could discredit me. It’s more of a problem for the marshal than it would be for a deputy. If it had been any other team I probably wouldn’t have bothered to try it.” 

She stepped back tilted her head to the side and looked him up and down with an impish grin, put her hand on her hip and took a deep breath. “I certainly hope you never turn down a request that would put me under you.”

Her look almost made him blush. “Oh who’s being terrible now?!” he asked.

Scarlet tried to look innocent and shrugged her shoulders as they both started to laugh again.

Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on February 11, 2010, 10:22:16 PM
Spending time with Fritz had definitely put her in a better mood. Scarlet decided she would try to tolerate the man; after all she’d dealt with many people that sounded just like him. She was still mad at the marshals in Houston, but it was not Phillips’ fault as far as she knew.

She packed the papers she had told Patches was the marshal’s job in her saddlebags. She would drop those by the office in town and go tell Ella and others the news.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on February 12, 2010, 07:39:12 AM
Scarlet needed to work, and he knew that their behavior would lead to things other than work if he kept at it.  Though the thought made him smile, she was the Marshal now.  If she needed him she’d call.  He returned to their house so he could occupy himself with another of his favorite pastimes: shooting!

The holster sat slightly behind his left hip.  The grip came naturally to his hand as his arm came up.  Sights on the target and hammer back. Five loud cracks came in quick succession.

Fritz broke the pistol open.  Five casings ejected smartly from the cylinder.  He reloaded from the cap pouch on his prairie belt.  He’d removed the wool so they’d fit better.  Snapping the action closed, he fired five more rounds into the skillet.  Satisfied that it hit where he aimed at, Fritz ejected the empties and reloaded before holstering the piece.

The Schofield had been a retirement gift.  Scarlet and the boys presented it to him on the first “union suit” night back at the ranch.  He’d never handled one of these pistols while in the service, but found it to be superior in every way to the Colt, save one: ammunition.  Smith and Wesson had decided on a proprietary cartridge, the .45 Schofield round, which was shorter than the Colt round.  You could fire Schofield rounds in the Colt, but you could not fire Colt rounds in the Schofield.  This turned into a major problem with the supply systems of the Army.  Though it showed great promise, the Schofield revolver did not remain long in Army service.  His particular pistol was one that had been destined for Wells Fargo.  The barrel had been shortened to five and a half inches.  The stocks had been replaced with ivory, and a presentation case was fitted.   It was a fine gun…Fritz just wasn’t used to it yet.  He scooped up the empties headed for the barn.

Fritz lit the carbide lamp above his work bench, and dropped the empties into a bucket of sudsy water.  He pulled the spare set of reading glasses from the pegboard and set them on.  Fritz opened the action, dropping the live rounds on the padded surface.  He swept them up and replaced them in the cap pouch.  Fritz took a small screwdriver and removed the rear screw from the barrel latch.  Lifting up on the latch, he removed the cylinder and set the stripped revolver down.  Grabbing a bottle of solvent, he went to work scrubbing the bore. 

For the most part He enjoyed his retired life.  He did miss the camaraderie and Espirt de Corps of the service.  In compensation, Fritz threw himself headlong into marshalling.  When he wasn’t working, he threw himself headlong into the ranch.  Under Scarlet’s tutelage, he’d become a proficient horse trainer. 

Yet like a thunderstorm at the horizon, there was a nagging feeling at the base of his spine that something was coming.  He’d trained this instinct too long to ignore it.  Once finished, he’d reassembled the Schofield and slipped it back into its holster.  Fritz cleaned his work area, stowed his glasses, and blew out the lamp. 

He carried the rig into the house.  Fritz walked to the bedroom and stored the pistol in a gun cabinet.  Between the two of them, he and Scarlet filled three such cabinets.  Slung on the headboard of the bed was his working rig.  He’d used a garrison belt with the U.S. buckle as the base.  Left and right crossdraw holsters for his converted Navies had been added.  There were cartridge loops for both shotgun and revolver ammunition across the back.  A cartridge slide held five rounds for his Berdan.  Scarlet had the second Navy converted and stocked in American Holly.  The wood was similar to ivory in appearance and aged as well.  He could tell the difference by feel only.  Whereas ivory was cold and smooth, the Holly was warm. 

Strapping on his rig, Fritz grabbed his coat and slouch.  The crossed sabers were still mounted on front of his hat; he didn’t have the heart to take them off.  The silver badge was pinned to his lapel.  Satisfied, he walked to the barn and called Buddy over.  The horse nudged his jacket pocket.  Knowing what he wanted, Fritz pulled one of Ella’s horse cookies from a sack on the wall.  Buddy munched greedily as Fritz cinched on a working saddle. Once ready, they moved out smartly towards town.     
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on February 12, 2010, 02:52:18 PM
Scarlet showed up in Ella's waiting room later that day. "New Marshal is coming Monday. He's not going to be staying at the Starr or at the Ace. We probably need to set up the house that Scott used to live in, if we're not sending him on the next stage out of town." asked Scarlet.

"He could board with me, like Jimmy and Lily do," replied Ella.

"Doubt that you would want him," said Scarlet, handing Ella the telegram.

After reading it, Ella laughed, "Oh, Marshal Hayes has been a naughty boy."

"Why do you say that?"

"Probably all he was supposed to send was that first line. But Marshal Hayes has met us, didn't agree with the decision to send Phillips, and doesn't like the man at all. So he thought we should be warned. I'm sure Bella has a cousin who can be his cook and housekeeper."

Monday, March 12, 1877

Isaiah Phillips stepped off the stage and into Purgatory, cursing his sister again for having married a Texas lawman instead of someone with Influence back in Civilization. None of his other sisters had done even that much for him. The men waiting stepped forward and one of them introduced himself, "I'm John Ross. I'd like you to meet some of my deputies, Frederick King, Dr. William McDowell, James Washington. The rest are waiting at the Marshal's office. James and Eddie will bring your luggage."

Phillips took his carpetbag, saying in a harsh New York accent, "I'll carry this", and left the Washingtons to bring his trunk.

At the office, Tensleep introduced, "Here are the rest of my deputies. Scarlet King, Patience McDowell, Lily Jefferson. Doctors Alan and Ella Coatsworth support the posse. Mrs. Coatsworth has gotten the marshal's house ready for you. I'll leave you all to get acquainted."

After Tensleep left the room, Phillips put down his carpetbag and announced, "Girls, it's past time for you to stop pretending to be deputy marshals. I suggest that you go back to taking care of your husbands," he looked at Lily, "or playing with dolls."

Only the warning they had received in the telegram kept Fritz from denouncing the man as an imposter.

Dr. Bill was the first to react, "I'll have you know, sir, that the only person in this room who MIGHT be able to outride and outshoot my wife is Scarlet King. If you have no respect for outstanding women, I have no respect for you." He took Patches by the hand and they left the office.

Scarlet eyed Phillips and his carpet bag. She had tried to forget the bad opinion she had of him before he arrived, but that had been nothing compared to what it was after the man opened his mouth.

"I suggest Houston send me a real marshal instead of some damn yankee carpetbagger wearin' a badge and that you go back to whatever hole they found you in," growled Scarlet with an icy look.

"Marshal Luther Thompson sent me here, and here I serve until I get a recall notice from him." Phillips looked at the men in the room, "Two deputies is a little short-handed." Looking at Eddie, he said, How old are you, son?"

"I'm 16, sir."

"A little young, but you can learn in the job. Do you want to be a Deputy Marshal?"

"Not yet, sir. I'm still learning how to be a medic for the posse from the Coatsworths."

Phillips hadn't heard of any other marshals who worried about having a medic in the posse. Sounded like the kind of thing a marshal who was soft enough to hire women would do.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on February 12, 2010, 10:05:50 PM
Both he and Scarlet knew that this man was no real threat.  However, he'd seen that look in his wife eyes before.  Normally, the person being looked at like that ended up dead by some particularly nasty means.  He touched Scarlet's shoulder; she looked at Fritz and nodded.

"Marshal, someone needs to be patrolling the town," Fritz said.  "You get settled.  Scarlet and I will take first watch."

They didin't wait for a response.  Scarlet and Fritz were out the door and down the boardwalk.     
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on February 12, 2010, 11:53:22 PM
Marshal Phillips started to puff up, but before he could respond to Fritz, Ella spoke up, "We can take you to your house now, and introduce you to the cook/housekeeper. If she doesn't suit you, let me know and I'll see if I can find someone else. We would like to invite you to dinner at our house this evening."

Mention of "house" reminded Phillips that he had been in trains, stagecoaches and coaching stations for the past three days. He picked his carpetbag up again and led the way out the front door. Dr. Coatsworth followed him closely, and guided him around the corner, to the Marshal's house behind the office. Ella took a shortcut out the back door of the office, and into the kitchen door of the house.

"Hola, Catarina. Marshal Phillips viene a la puerta principal. Yo no sé si él seirá feliz o infeliz para usted hablar inglés, pero pienso que él prefeririá para usted hablar muy poco."
(Marshal Phillips is coming to the front door. I don't know if he would be happy or unhappy for you to speak English, but I think he would prefer for you to speak very little.)

Alan Coatsworth reached around Marshal Phillips and opened the front door. Ella, Bella and Catarina had worked hard since the message had come to clean and air the house that had been unoccupied ever since Marshal Hart's death three years before. Now the furniture was freshly polished, the cushions had been recovered, and a vase held a bouquet of herbs and flowers from Ella's garden that lightly scented the air. Anyone familiar with the language of flowers would recognize Juniper for 'Welcome to new home' and 'protection', Comfrey for 'Home Sweet Home', and Black-eyed susan for 'Justice'. Only someone familiar with Ella's notebooks would know that other elements in the bouquet were a charm encouraging calmness and courtesy. After meeting the man, Ella doubted that such a gentle charm would have any effect on him. She needed to get some of his hair.

Catarina came into the living room when the front door opened. Alan performed the introduction, "Catarina Mendez, Marshal Isaiah Phillips. Mrs. Mendez lives a few blocks away, and will come at whatever hours you prefer to cook and clean for you."
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on February 13, 2010, 12:08:24 AM
Scarlet was quiet, to quiet for Fritz’s taste as she headed directly to the telegraph office.

Tinker looked up when she came in. He’d seen that look before and it was never good. “Bag fulla wet rattlesnakes would be safer to play with than who ever lit your fire.” He remarked.

She raised an eyebrow as she looked at him. “There’s a new marshal in town.” She said flatly.

“You don’t like that Phillips fella much. I didn’t figure you would.” He said.

“Tink we go back a long time.” She said slowly as she thought about what she was doing and saying. “We’ve always done right by each other as friends.”

Tinker smiled at the thought. “Yes we have, I know we can always count on one another.”

Scarlet smiled. “Thank you.”

“I want you to get a message to Dad…..say new Marshal Isaiah Phillips. Not welcome on Starr. Bo’s choice.”
Tinker looked up at her shocked; he didn’t have to write down the message. “You sure? You think he’ll go out there?”

“I hope he does.” She retorted.

Tinker laughed under his breath. Thinking he’d like to be there the first time the new marshal rode onto the Southern Starr.

“Any message for your hands?” He asked.

“Phillips ain’t got no business there if Fritz isn’t there.” She replied and waited while Tinker sent the message.

Thinking about what Ella had said. "Probably all he was supposed to send was that first line. But Marshal Hayes has met us, didn't agree with the decision to send Phillips, and doesn't like the man at all. So he thought we should be warned.” So as far as Marshal Thompson thought she had only heard Phillips was coming.

“Send the next wire to Marshal Thompson, say according to Phillips female posse members told to stop pretending to be deputies, return to domestic chores or go play dolls.”  Scarlet tapped her fingers on his desk while she thought of what else to say then got an evil grin on her face. “Keep your carpetbagger off my playground.”

Tinker started to send the message. “That’s gonna make Thompson mad.” He said.

“Finding it kinda tough to care right now Tink. I doubt Phillips has enough experience to be a marshal. ‘Sides there’s something wrong with the man. I just don’t know what yet. Oh and let that wire slip on to the retired Marshal there too.”

“Ya just don’t like ‘im Scarlet, plain and simple.” Tinker said shaking his head back and forth.

“Dirty little secrets Tink, you seem to know them all.”

Tinker smiled. “Yes ma’am.”

He knew it was her way of asking him to find them all out about Phillips. Tinker used to enjoy when she was bounty hunting. Not only was it entertaining to drive Hart insane knowing she was one step ahead of him and wondering how, but it paid well and she never expected Tinker to take too much of a risk. Things were about to get interesting in El Paso again.

Scarlet was quiet for a short time when they stepped back onto the boardwalk. Finally she looked sideways at Fritz as they walked and said as a matter of fact “If Phillips comes to the Starr he will be disarmed and escorted while there. He will not be welcome to cross the land without permission.”

Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on February 13, 2010, 09:09:29 AM
Jimmy and Eddie carried the trunk into the larger bedroom and put it down at the foot of the bed, then left through the front door. Jimmy returned to the office, and Eddie to the Coatsworth's residence.

Catarina extended the tray she had brought with her. In careful English, she said, "Good afternoon, Senor Phillips. Would you like a glass of lemonade?"

Marshal Phillips looked at her, considering. The woman was older than any of his sisters, and treating him with the respect he deserved. Her English sounded good enough that she should be able to receive orders easily. He took the glass, and asked, "Can you read and write?"

"A little, Senor. Enough to read American recipes that Mrs. Coatsworth gives me."

"Bring me breakfast at 7:00am, and dinner at 7:00pm. You can clean for a couple hours after each meal."

"Yes, Senor."

Phillips sipped at the lemonade, and decided it was good.

"Here are your keys, Marshal," said Alan, handing over a key ring. "This is for the house - front and back doors are keyed alike, and these are the keys to the Marshal's office, including the cellblock. Now it's time for me to get back to my practice. We'll expect you for dinner at 7:00pm. Jimmy will be able to show you the way."

Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on February 13, 2010, 09:35:18 PM
"Yes, Marshal!" Fritz replied.  He raised his hand in mock salute, and Scarlet hit him with the brim of her hat.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on February 14, 2010, 07:45:06 PM
At the end of the work day, Jimmy and Marshal Phillips walked over to the Coatsworth's home for dinner. Lily had left earlier, to avoid walking with Phillips.

The dining table at the Coatsworths had seated twelve at dinners in the past, so there was a large gap on each side of the table with only six at dinner. Alan was at the head of the table with Phillips on his right and Ella on his left. Lily sat at the foot of the table with Jimmy on one side and Eddie on the other. The young ones talked quietly, and did not attract Phillips's attention.

Ella remembered how she had to behave to keep Doctor Abramson pleasant, and applied that memory to Phillips. He was willing to be good company with Alan, treating him with a reasonable degree of respect. Bella served pot roast, prepared without any spicy seasonings, the way Ella had taught her while Alan was acclimating to Texas cuisine.

Phillips drank heavily of the red wine, and talked more and more about his wonderful future. It wasn't clear to Ella exactly what Phillips meant, but something in her memory was resonating with his words, but she couldn't pin the memory down.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on February 14, 2010, 10:36:48 PM
Fritz had been pleasantly woken the last two mornings with smells of some of his favorite breakfast foods cooking.

Scarlet had been staying close to home and working with the horses while he went to town to work with Phillips. Dinner was ready when he got home at night and the house seemed to fill with different kinds of roses every time he came in. He had to admit to himself he was enjoying her being at home but would still have preferred her at his side in town.

He had told her that last night before falling to sleep. He also told her just because she was there it didn’t mean she needed to spend much time with Phillips. She only asked he give her a couple more days. His instincts told him it was more that just Phillips that was bothering her.

This morning seemed to be no different. The house was filled with wonderful smells as he heard Scarlet come into the room.

She leaned down and kissed his neck “You gonna get out of bed this morning Darlin’?” she said softly as she began to rub his shoulder.

He was about to respond when they heard a knock at the door. “Scarlet.” It was Bo’s voice.

“Seems you’re not the only one that enjoys a hot breakfast Darlin’, better get up before Bo eats your share too.” Scarlet said leaving the room to answer the door.

Fritz could hear the conversation as he pulled on his clothes.

“I thought I smelled something good.” Bo said coming in.

“Take a seat and a plate.” Scarlet said. “You are in some kinda happy mood. Certainly it’s not from finding me home cooking.”

“That’s always a pleasant surprise, but I bring some interesting news.” Bo replied.

“What is it?” Scarlet asked.

“This is just to entertaining for me not to wait for Fritz, I saw the horses in the corral, so I figured he was still home.”

“He’s here, should be out momentarily.” Scarlet replied dishing up Bo’s breakfast. “What has gotten into you?”

Fritz opened the door and came out. Scarlet smiled at him and put his breakfast on the table.

“Tell her she needs to go to work with me today.” Fritz said giving her a kiss.

“She’ll be going to town today.” Bo replied.

Scarlet sat down with her own plate. “Ok Bo, what’s got you all fired up so early in the morning?”

Bo grinned “Got a wire from Tinker.”

“You fellas sharing secrets now?” Scarlet teased.

“More like affection for the same girl.”

Scarlet raised an eyebrow “Oh, anybody I know?”

Bo sat back and continued to grin, he was enjoying this. “Oh yeah Darlin’, someone we haven’t seen a long long time. Used to pass through El Paso now and then.” He looked over at Fritz. “You’ve got to come to the Ace tonight, this lady Fritz, you ain’t gonna believe, you just have to see her for yourself.”

Fritz chuckled “I don’t think I have seen you so happy to go see one of the girls that work at the Ace Bo, but you know where my heart lies. I have no interest going there unless Scarlet is going to be there.”

“Who is it Bo?” Scarlet asked looking at him suspiciously.

“We haven’t seen her since before Hart died.” Bo said watching Scarlet, who just didn’t seem to be making any connection to his references. “Tinker says Ruby is coming to town this afternoon. He’s got some kind of business with her.”

Scarlet nearly choked on her breakfast. “What?”

Bo’s grin widened. “Oh yeah, seems Ruby has been talking to Tinker recently. He says she ought to be in town this evening.” He looked from Scarlet to Fritz. “Long auburn hair, a real looker.” He looked back over at Scarlet “I hope she’s wearing that dark blue and black outfit she’s got. That one that’s short in the front shows off her legs.”

“You blue eyed devil.” Scarlet retorted.

Bo looked over at Fritz who seemed to not know who they were talking about. “You’ve never met Ruby have you?” He said surprised.

“Don’t recall the lady.” Fritz said.

Scarlet suppressed a grin. “I’m sure you will recognize her once you meet her Sugar.”

“Will you be there?”

“I have business with Ruby. I’ll see you at the Ace this evening. We can stay in town. Tomorrow I’ll stay and patrol with you if you’re nice to Ruby tonight.”

“I got business in town today Fritz I’ll ride in with you.” Bo said.

to be continued
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on February 16, 2010, 11:00:16 PM
Co-effort of Scarlet and Fritz

Bo had gone to the mercantile and picked out a dark blue shirt that matched his eyes. It was going to be a rather entertaining evening if Fritz really had no clue who Ruby was.

He wouldn't be the first though. Many men had sat next to and danced with Ruby never realizing she was more than a pretty face and long legs, including Marshal Hart. There were only a handful of men who knew what truly lied under the theatric makeup.

Bo met Fritz coming down the boardwalk.

“All dressed up.” Fritz said noticing the new shirt Bo wore.

“Ruby always liked me in this color.” Bo said with a smile. “I cannot believe Scarlet has never introduced you to her before. Watch her close Fritz she’s a handful this one.”

“He’s never met Ruby? Well I’ll be.” Tinker’s voice sounded from behind them.

Fritz hadn’t seen Bo this chipper since he’d been sleeping with Ella.  Well, they hadn’t really slept together, in the marital sense. 

Despite his initial misgivings, Dr. Alan Coatsworth had turned out to be a pretty nice guy.  So that meant Bo would be alone again.  He deserved someone nice.  Fritz wondered if this Ruby were the right one.

Bo was whistling, which usually annoyed Fritz.  But under the circumstances, he made an exception.

“She must be pretty special to get you all worked up like this.”

“I’m NOT worked up,” Bo replied.  “Besides, you haven’t been properly introduced to the lady.”

“I’ve got Scarlet, Bo.  And she’s all I want…all I need.”

“I know Scarlet as well as you do,” Bo said.  “And I know that Ruby could turn your head.”

“Not a chance,” Fritz replied.

“Care to wager on that?”

“Bo, you know I only gamble with my life, never with my money…”

“…because you don’t have enough money to wager,” Bo finished.  “I know you’ve put some money away.  You’re sure not spending it on clothes.”

The ribbing hit a nerve.  “All right wise guy,” Fritz replied.  “The price of that pretty new shirt of yours...”

Bo countered.  “How about the price of a whole new outfit?”

“As long as we’re going for broke here, how about the price of a new Colt?”

“Done,” Bo said, shaking his hand.

Both men walked the boardwalk.  Bo was smiling.  Fritz didn’t know what he’d gotten himself into.

Tinker went in first scanning the room. “Howdy Hank.”

“Gentlemen. There’s table in back there for ya.” Hank said pointing to one of the tables in the corner. “Tinker, how many people you been talking to today, there has been a steady stream of fellas coming in here for a few hours now.”

“I didn’t tell too many fellas that would mean I wouldn’t get as much attention.” Tinker replied.

 Bo tried to suppress the grin he’d been sporting all day long.

“It was you.” Hank said looking at Bo. “I should’ve known, few of these boys belong to the Starr. Your own foreman beat ya’ll out here.”

“Good back up never hurts.” Bo responded. “Besides, it’s good for business and it keeps Ruby out of trouble. Boy’s from our place are always respectable.”

Hank laughed. “Only when you’re sitting there Bo. Ruby is very skilled at avoiding being elusive when she wants to be but a few of your boys are giving her a run for the money.”

Bo laughed. “Ruby is a big girl and she could surely put them in their place if she chose to. How long has she been here?”

“A few hours.”

Fritz went to take a seat at the bar.

“Oh no you don’t.” Bo said “you’re sitting with us.”

The men took the seats at the table.

Ruby was not hard to spot. She was the one that no one had seen before, or for some time if you’d been a long time regular. She was serving drinks at another table and expertly avoiding pats on the rear from some of the cowboys. She moved gracefully through the room like she knew were every stick of furniture was and could have done it in the dark.

“She looks great.” Tinker remarked. “I always like Ruby. She surely gives Becca some competition.”

“To bad Becca’s not here, I always enjoyed watching the two entertain together. Member when they bet who could make the most tips and not leave the floor.” One of the hands remarked.

“I remember Becca won that because she is friendlier to more cowboys, Ruby is a bit more particular who she lets touch her.” Bo replied.

The woman had long auburn hair that hung in ringlets below her waist. Her face was painted expertly from the dark color on her eyelids to the ruby red lipstick and color on her cheeks.

The dress she wore had a midnight blue satin corset style top with black velvet insets and beaded embellishments. A black velvet drape front overskirt with beaded fringe just barley covered her thighs and gathered into a bustle in the back that sat over a midnight blue satin train that nearly hit the floor. She wore black and blue silk striped stockings that perfectly matched her dress, high heel lace up boots, long black satin fingerless gloves, red paint on her nails and a barrette in her hair with stones that matched the colors in her dress.

She had spotted the group when they came in and came over when they were seated.

“Well bless my heart blue eyes, how did you know lil’ ol’ Ruby’d be here tonight.”  She said landing in Bo’s lap and crossing her legs all in one perfect move, her back to Fritz so he couldn’t see her face.

Bo put his hand around her waist and gave her a kiss on the cheek. “Oh and look you wore Ruby’s favorite color.” She said tracing her fingers along Bo’s chest.

“My gawd woman.” Was about all Bo could get out before she bounced up. He’d forgotten about the way Ruby smelled like warm vanilla.

She sashayed behind Tinker tracing her finger along his back. “You gonna dance with Ruby tonight Wireman?” she asked her thick southern accent dripped with honey.   

“Yes ma’am.” He said with a smile tuning his head to watch her walk by.

“Nice ta see you here Ricky.” She said caressing his cheek as she walked by.

She stopped between Fritz and Bo putting her hand on one hip and curving her leg so she stood on the ball of her foot. She put her arm across Bo’s shoulder.

“You men drinking the usual tonight?” She asked.

“I got first round.” Bo said handing her some money.

Ruby promptly tucked the money in her cleavage “Well alright then. Anything you men want that the Ace offers Ruby will take care of gettin’ for you.” She said then made her way to the bar.

“Bo how can we make Ruby stay on here?” Tinker asked.

“Ruby, my friend, is a free spirit. I don’t think there is a way to keep her here.” Bo replied enjoying watching her walk away.

He turned his attention back to Fritz. “I know you prefer blondes but she is a real looker ain’t she?”

Fritz pulled the flask from his vest pocket and took a short pull. 

"She doesn't hold a candle to Scarlet," he replied.

Bo laughed and looked at Ruby coming back towards them. “She is different looking than Scarlet.” He remarked wondering just how women made their breasts look bigger than they really were. It had to be more than just the outside clothing. The make up sure made ‘em look different too. Half of the painted ladies you could pass on the street when they weren’t made up and not know they spent their time in this place entertaining. Perhaps that was the idea.

Tinker and Ricky took a long look and shook their heads in agreement to Bo's comment.

 Ruby returned with one of the best bottles the Ace carried and enough glasses for the table. She stepped up next to Fritz turned her body towards him and landed one heel neatly right between his thighs, giving him one hell of a view of her leg and chest as she bent to put the glasses and bottle on the table.

“You gonna introduce Ruby to the law here blue eyes?” He said flashing a smile at Fritz then looking over her shoulder at Bo and removing her foot placing it back on the floor.

Fritz did his level best to cast his eyes away from the auburn haired beauty that placed herself right before him.  He waited until her leg moved far enough away to be decent, and he slid his chair back.  Bo made to reach for his chair but he wasn't quite fast enough.

"Gents," Fritz said, standing, "I think I've had more company than I can handle.  I think I'll go up to my room now."

Fritz tipped his hat to the lady, covering his blush.  "Ma'am."

Ruby’s eyes flashed and she smiled. “Not before you share a dance with Ruby lawman.” She said taking his hand stepping into him and very skillfully maneuvering him onto the floor to a slow sounding beat. Not only had she stepped close enough to make Fritz uncomfortable she was leading.

“Before you hightail it outta here lawman do me two favors. First relax a bit Fritz and at least humor Ruby so she can talk to you. She said as she moved him towards the darker corner of the room.

To be continued
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on February 17, 2010, 09:22:54 PM
Co-effort of Scarlet and Fritz

I want you to observe the two men in the corner. They been sittin’ in here nursing that bottle all afternoon. When you came in their eyes got wide and they moved to the darkest corner in the place and have been keeping a close eye on you. Before they were sittin’ by the window very interested in what was going on outside. Maybe it’s something maybe it’s not, but I think I’ve seen one of them on a poster someplace.” She said quickly before Fritz could think of a way to escape her hold.   

He'd been so intent on avoiding Ruby's charms that he'd ignored the obvious danger signs in the room.  He should've been more observant. 

Fritz switched hands, taking the lead.  He placed his right hand in the small of her back, and danced her back toward Tinker and Bo.  Ruby grabbed his hand and pulled it down to caress her butt.  Bo and Tinker busted out laughing.  Blushing, Fritz released Ruby and bowed at the waist.

"Thank you Ma' dance...divinely."

Ruby curtsied, batting her eyes.  "Thank you kind sir."

Fritz reached into his vest pocket, and pulled out a $20.00 gold coin.  Setting it in front of Bo, he leaned in and said "Take's yours."

As Bo reached for the coin Fritz whispered "two men in the corner.  Back my play."

Bo caught her disapproving glance as he stood to follow Fritz. He was going to pay for entertaining himself at Fritz’s expense later he was darn sure. He followed Fritz across the room.

Fritz walked to the bar and nodded to Hank.  Fritz pulled a cigar from the humidor, and Hank stuck a Lucifer to light him.  As Hank leaned in close, Fritz whispered “scattergun.”  Hank nodded and blew out the match.  Fritz took a long draw from the cigar, and transferred it to his right hand.  With one smooth motion, he stepped away from the bar and twist-drew his left pistol.  The hammer went back and the sights aligned on the two men in the corner.
“Hands on the table now…MOVE!”

The click of twin hammers being cocked was very loud in the room. 

“You boys best do as the deputy says,” Bo spat, cocking the hammer on his Colt.

They were pinned to the corner and they knew it.  They had three guns on them, one being the street howitzer Hank kept under the bar.  Fritz walked deliberately up to their table, keeping out of Bo and Hank’s angles. 

“Now, open your jackets…slowly.”

Both men did as they were bid.  Both wore holstered pistols on their right hips.

“I guess you didn’t see the sign outside,” Fritz said.  “All patrons, with the exception of those well known by the management, are required to surrender their firearms upon entrance to the premises.”

“We didn’t do nuthin…we’s just sittin here.”

“Can you read?” Fritz asked.  Both shook their heads.  He reached in with his right hand, taking their pistols and sliding them into his belt.

“You got paper on you?”  Again with the head shake.  “Okay…we’ll see.”

Bo and Tinker stood up.  Fritz stood back and ordered the men to their feet.  “Let’s take a walk.  The Marshal’s office is just down the street.  With Tinker’s help, we should be able to clear this up quickly.”

They walked solemnly to the Marshal’s office.  Once inside, Bo and Fritz patted the men down.  They found a motley assortment of hideout guns and skinning knives.  Once checked, the men were locked into separate cells.  The slamming of the cell doors drew the attention of Marshal Phillips. 

“What’s going on here King?” the Marshal asked.

“Two men in violation of a local ordinance,” Fritz replied.  “Tinker, would you be so kind as to take these men’s names and wire them to the county seat for verification?”

“Love to,” Tinker replied.

As Tinker wrote the men’s names on his notebook with a stubby pencil, the Marshal stepped in. 

“You can’t seize these men without probable cause.  What did they do to warrant an arrest?”

“I didn’t arrest them,” Fritz replied.  “I’m detaining them until I can figure out who and what they are.”

“You MUST let these men go…NOW.  Do you read me, DEPUTY?”

Fritz stared at the man in disbelief.  He stepped to the booking table and unloaded all of the guns.  Stowing the ammo in a cloth sack, he walked back and unlocked the cells.

“Take your weapons and go,” Fritz said.  “And don’t reload them until you leave town.”

The two curs walked to the table and picked up their gear. 

“We’ll remember you,” one said.

“And I’ll be watching you,” Fritz replied.         

Tinker had gone back to his office and sent off the names, Fred Rico and Jim Hoss. He doubted those were their real names and sent a couple more wires before going back across the street to the Ace.

Ruby was still on the floor when he came back.

“Ruby, next dance is mine and the next round is on me Darlin’.” Tinker said holding up what looked like a roll of cash. She took that and placed it with the rest of the money she’d been collecting and went to the bar as Tinker took his seat.

She came back and placed the bottle between him and Ricky, then held out her hand for Tinker to take her to the dance floor.

Tinker held her close “I’ve found out a couple of interesting things about Phillips since this morning.” He whispered “In spite of how he looks Phillips is only 25 years old. His only deputy marshal assignment was in the town of Pleasanton. The townspeople run him out of town. Interesting enough his oldest sister is Mrs. Luther Thompson.”

“That’s just perfect.” Ruby whispered then laughed like Tinker was entertaining her.

“The wad I handed you held the code that’s being sent. Deputy Jimmy keeps copies of the outgoing messages, it also has the names of the two men Fritz and Bo took out of here.”

“From that place called Castle you mentioned this afternoon when I saw you?” Ruby asked looking at him.

“The posse needs to be cautious of this man.” Tinker said with a worried look in his eyes.

Ruby put her hand on his cheek. “Get that look off yer face Wireman. Scarlet promised she would do right by the posse, you can trust she’ll do her best.”

Tinker instantly smiled. “That means she won’t lie down and let this man take over?”

Ruby laughed. “I’m certain Scarlet is looking for a way to hang this one out to dry. She just doesn’t know who she can trust in Houston any more. Make sure you don’t take any unnecessary chances will ya.”

“To be honest when I sent that wire to Bo this morning I wasn’t sure you’d really show up.”

“Coming here hasn’t crossed Ruby’s mind in some time, Scarlet was very surprised to see Ruby today too.” She replied.

The dance was over and Tinker kissed her cheek.

She smiled sweetly returned the kiss on his cheek.

to be continued
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on February 18, 2010, 05:06:56 AM
After the kitchen was cleaned up from supper, Jimmy led the other two into the parlor.

"Mrs. Coatsworth, please teach us about book code."

"Mrs. McDowell should get to that in her instructions in another couple months."

"We need to learn already."


"On Tuesday morning, Mr. Phillips came into the office with telegrams to be sent. He had me carry them over to Mr. Tinker. One of them was to the Marshals office in Houston. Mr. Phillips had already enciphered it, but it was just in the first Marshals cipher, so I could read it easy enough. The other message was to a place called Castle in New Mexico. Mr. Tinker said it's in Eddy County, almost straight north from here, and has been a telegraph station for about 5 years. I couldn't make that message out at all." Jimmy pulled out a piece of paper with the text CBTKZ DAAD DAAC DABT DABB DACA DACH DACC DACFZ to show her.
"On Wednesday, Mr. Phillips got a message in the morning and sent me with a reply after lunch, to Castle again."
Out came another piece of paper: HCFAZ IADFZ FCCCZ FBYEZ
"So this morning, I sent copies of both those messages with Lily up to Mrs. McDowell."

Lily picked up the story, "Mrs. McDowell worked on those messages all day. She said the letters A through Y stand for numbers 1 through 25, Z or 0 marks the end of a word, and it is a book code with a key book that has at least 3 columns per page. None of the books she has made sense out of the messages. So she told me to tell Jimmy to ask you for a lesson in book code, so that Jimmy can look for the key book."

Eddie spoke up now, "And I want to learn too, because maybe I can look for the book when Jimmy and Mr. Phillips are out of the office."

Ella nodded, and pulled a small book out of one pocket, and took a piece of paper and pencil from the desk. "Give me a couple minutes to compose a sample message."

She turned pages in her book, writing down sets of numbers as she went. When she was finished, she said, "In a book code, the set of numbers refers to the page number, column number, line number and word number. One category of book codes is Bible codes, where the key is a specific book of the Bible. Then the numbers refer to chapter and verse, then the word number. If the word you want to encode isn't in the book, then you can spell it out using the last number to point to a letter. You have to have some agreement about how to tell when you are counting letters instead of words. Mr. Phillips's code marks the end of each word. I used the book of Psalms as a key. Can you decode this?"

She pushed her piece of paper in front of Jimmy, and he saw
1 3 6 0
2 6 6 0
2 7 2 0
2 11 1 0
82 3 7 0
83 4 24 0
83 5 6  83 5 17 0
83 7 26  83 7 4  83 7 31  83 7 12 0

He took the pencil and the book, and started working.

"Almost. Count the words again for the first set of numbers, and don't ignore little words."

Jimmy looked again, pointing to each word in the verse with the pencil as he counted, "Oh, it should be 'a king will serve justice in el paso'."

"One clue that a book is being used as a key is pencil marks where someone touched the page while counting lines or words or letters."

Jimmy checked the line he had just counted, and was relieved to see that he hadn't left any marks.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on February 21, 2010, 11:57:16 AM
Co-effort of Fritz & Scarlet

“You know you are some kinda woman but Fritz is right. I prefer Scarlet too.” He said with a blush.

“I do too Wireman.” She replied with a chuckle.

Ruby climbed the stairs to the rooms and unlocked the door. It had been a rather long day and a hot bath sounded very inviting. It seemed like it took her forever to take off the make up and take down her hair. She then separated the money and notes that had been given to her.

Glancing at the papers she made a mental note of telling Tinker somebody was using Jim Hoss’s name, the man had been dead for a long spell now. He’d died by her hand and somebody was using his reputation. She had already thanked him for sending information to Patches earlier.

Scarlet hung up the outfit she had been wearing and closed the false wall between the rooms that connected hers with Becca’s, then glanced in the mirror. Ruby was gone except for the stockings that she tossed on her bed.

Scarlet picked up her pistol and towel, went into the private bath, which connected the two rooms, and neatly placed them within reach of the bath tub before sliding into the hot water.

She leaned back and let the hot water attempt to relax her muscles. She had her doubts about Houston but Tinker was a different story. They had learned over the years to trust each other with more than their lives. She had wondered why Tinker had called on Ruby instead of Scarlet, but now knowing what she was finding out about Phillips made him more than just a pain in the butt. He was an enemy, one she would not underestimate.    

Her mind went back to the men in Houston. Why she just didn’t stuff that badge down someone’s throat was beginning to play with her mind. She figured between the ranch, the Ace and bounty hunting she could probably make a better income than taking orders from Houston and wondering who was going to stab her in the back next.


He hadn’t been dressed down in awhile, particularly not by a person who was younger than he was by several years.  But like a good Soldier, he stood there and took it.  He stared at a spot just above Marshal Phillips’s head, rigidly at attention.

“How long have you been Marshalling, King?”

“On and off for the last three years, sir.”

Phillips looked up from the dime novel he was reading.  “So you’re not very experienced, are you?”

“I have a great deal of experience, sir…but not as a Marshal.”

“Your arrest of those two men shows me just how inexperienced you are.”

Fritz sighed.  “As I indicated, sir, I did not arrest those men.  I detained them until I could determine who and what they were.”

“Based upon what…your hunch?”

“No sir.  I had information based on eyewitness testimony…”

Phillips cut him off.  “From who?”

“An employee of the Ace named Ruby.”

“A bar whore?  You made a judgment call based on the word of a bar whore?”

Fritz was getting angry, and chose his words carefully.  “I have no knowledge or information indicating that Miss Ruby is a whore, sir”

“They’re all whores,” Phillips replied.  “They should find a proper man and make babies.”

Phillips turned back to his novel.  “You’ve got a lot to learn, King.  It’s a good thing I’m here.  That’s all.”

Realizing he’d been dismissed, Fritz took a step back, executed an about face, and left the office.

He fumed as he walked back to the Ace.  All he wanted was a bourbon, a bath, and a cigar; not necessarily in that order.  He walked past the bar and headed for the stairs.  

Hank yelled after him.  “You might want to wait until…”

“Unless the building is on fire, don’t bother me Hank.  I’m having a very bad day.”

Hank just shook his head and laughed wondering what would take place once inside the room.

Fritz unlocked the door to the room he and Scarlet shared while in town.  He went straight to the bedside table and poured a glass of the good stuff.  As the first hint of warmth passed his throat, he noticed Ruby’s stockings on his bed.  Nearly gagging, he put the glass down.

“Oh God…Oh no.  NoNoNoNo…”

This wasn’t good.  Did he send the wrong signals?  Did Ruby get the wrong idea about him?  This did not bode well, particularly after losing the bet with Bo.  He went to the bathroom and knocked on the door.

“Miss Ruby?  Are you in there?”

Scarlet’s head jerked up.  “What…ah, yes.  What do you want?”

“Ah…ma’am?  I think you’ve got the wrong idea about me.”  Fritz held his slouch in his hands, turning it by the brim.  “I’m married…happily married.  Have been for a couple of years now.  Don’t get me wrong; you’re a beautiful lady.  Any man would be proud to have you on his arm.  Bo maybe…?”

“Damn,” Fritz thought.  This was getting worse all the time.    

Scarlet listened for a minute. She was pretty sure Fritz had come in alone, she grinned, it was so wrong but she just couldn’t help herself.

“Yer so very sweet and Ruby doesn’t have the wrong idea about you lawman.” She responded in the sweet drawl she’d been using all day. “Ruby knows you’re a married man and she knows yer wife tells you at least once a day she loves you.”

Fritz let out a sigh of relief thinking perhaps she did understand and would leave without saying much more.

“Ruby likes Bo very much, but she likes you sooo much better. There’s things Ruby would like to do with you she has no interest in doing with Bo.” She said standing up as quietly as she could and wrapping the towel around herself wondering if Fritz was blushing or making a hasty retreat for the door. Perhaps he was looking for the key to lock the door, but it was with her.

It was getting worse, much much worse Fritz thought as he contemplated his next move, her next statement caught his attention.

“Ruby wonders if yer wife ever lets you know how very lucky she thinks she is to have you.”

Scarlet stepped quickly and lightly to the door. She knew he was standing on the other side, she could feel his presence and from the sound of his voice she knew he was trying to figure out how to politely get rid of her or if he should just leave.

 “Ruby thinks yer wife was a very naughty girl not telling you about Ruby, but hopes you will not be to mad at Scarlet.”

Scarlet grabbed the door knob and yanked the door open.

“I am so very lucky Fritz.” She said standing in the doorway looking at him.

Fritz had heard the word before, but really had no opportunity to use it.  It fit the circumstances now.  The word was, 'flabbergasted.'


She smiled sweetly at her husband, the towel beginning to slip.

"You're not mad at me, are you darlin'?"

" is more like it."

The towel dropped away, revealing her all.  She reached forward and grabbed him by the lapels.

"Then come on in here and I'll explain it to ya," Scarlet whispered huskily, pulling him in the bathroom.

Fritz looked suspiciously around the room as he slipped out of his clothes. Maybe Ruby had just slipped out the door into Becca’s room and Scarlet was still teasing him.

“I’d show you but it takes a bit to slip back into Ruby’s clothes.” Scarlet said. “but trust me when I tell you lawman lil ol’ Ruby’s sittin’ right her.” She said using Ruby’s voice making Fritz’s head spin as he looked over his shoulder making sure it was just Scarlet in the room.

Frit looked at her. Scarlet gave him an innocent look and motioned for him to join her back in the bath.

Fritz slid in and leaned against her. Scarlet rubbed his neck and shoulders as she spoke.

“When I started bounty hunting and got a reputation only certain people would talk to me, but a working girl Sugar. You would be surprised what people tell the working girls the more alcohol they drink and the more they think you want them, the more most of them will talk. Then there was trying to stay ahead of the law, getting information I didn’t want him knowing I had and keeping my friends out of trouble.”

Fritz was quiet. Scarlet knew just how to work the tension out of him and he enjoyed it, but he was thinking back; he’d not really watched Ruby that close, but she had avoided men well and when she landed in Bo’s lap, the movement was something that had been practiced. There were a lot of things about her past he’d never asked, he didn’t care then and he didn’t care now. He knew where her heart lied; he laced his fingers between hers and kissed the back of her hand.

“There’s a lady down in Louisiana that was very sad when Travis took a wife that didn’t turn her head when her husband wanted to wander, but she’s got a good heart.” She began as if knowing he was wondering where a girl would learn such things. ‘When I wanted to get information from places that would turn quiet when I showed up, I figured I needed to learn a new way of getting that information. She taught me a whole lot on working the floor of a saloon. Becca has helped fine tune some of that from time to time. The makeup and the fake hair and ah…enhancements, well my mother is very sweet, but she has taught me about more than just cooking and horses. What I didn’t learn from them I learned from some of the servants when I was young. Mom would have her proper parties but the fun dancing was down behind the servant’s quarters” Scarlet chuckled thinking of some of those times.

“Ruby has only ever been seen going upstairs with Bo, Tinker, Ricky and sometimes Hank, men who know who she really is, who I trust won’t pass on any information, that I can count on to get me out of a mess if I need help, men who don’t expect anything when the door closes behind us. My mother and father know about her, Becca knows and now you.”
“There were a handful of men from the Starr and some from our place in here tonight. They don’t know?” Fritz asked.

“No, and as far as I know they never will. It won’t come from the people that do.
While I’m on the subject let me show you something.”

Scarlet got up, wrapped the towel back around her and picked up her pistol. “Come with me Sugar.” She said going into their room.

Fritz dried off and followed her. Scarlet handed him the glass from the table, laid down her pistol then went to closet. She pushed on the wall next to it and it gave way revealing a room.

He inspected it closely, the decorative mounding on the walls hid the seams of the opening cleverly. It would explain why Scarlet looked at rooms closer than some others. The house she grew up in had similar hidden passages and one had to know the right pressure points to open them; if you didn’t the walls felt very solid and stood fast.

She had stepped in and was telling him the information Tinker had passed to her earlier that evening about Phillips.

“Tinker also found out Phillips is the youngest of six children and the only boy, two of his sisters are married to doctors, one to a lawyer, and one to an accountant. Then there’s the one married to the current marshal of Houston.” Scarlet rolled her eyes at the last statement. “He attended a fancy boys' boarding school in New York, and then Columbia University. He didn't get a college degree, but did get enough education to enter the Navy as an Ensign. He did not re-enlist.”

“He thinks a great deal of himself.” Fritz replied also including the incident from earlier that evening while he looked around the inside of the room. It had to be the back have of the bathroom judging from the placement and size. There was enough room for clothing and a dresser.

There were clothes that were obviously Ruby’s, including the long auburn hair. Clothes he didn’t think went with Ruby’s character; they could have been Scarlet’s though.

Fritz stopped short there was something more interesting than clothes in this room. He looked at Scarlet like a someone who had just found a pretty wrapped gift with their name on it and back at the wall.

“Go ahead Darlin’.” She said with a smile.

Fritz ran his fingers along the chocolate brown leather then took the pistol bandoleer and matching belt from its spot to inspect it. It showed some wear but was well cared for. A fighting knife hung high on the back were it could be easily reached.

“I can’t envision Ruby serving drinks in this. Is it from your bounty hunting days?” he asked.

Scarlet grinned “yes, it belongs to Carmen, the woman that used to ride strictly with my brother Jimmy or my father. She’s got brown black hair, right over there.” She said pointing at another wig as a wicked thought bounced through her mind.

“How many different looks have you had?” Fritz half teased hanging the leather back in its place.

“Mostly those two and then the real me.” She said following Fritz from the room.

She closed the entrance behind them. “The one you’ve known up until tonight is the real me Fritz. The sweet, the bad temper, all the good all the bad, just things of mine I enhance when one of them makes an appearance. But I assure you the one that wants to be with you” she said letting the towel drop to the floor “is the real person.”

“That would be why none of them hold a candle to my wife.” he said sweeping her up and carrying her to the bed.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on February 21, 2010, 01:26:27 PM
Early Monday afternoon, Ella and Bella were almost done with their shopping, and Eddie was almost completely loaded down with parcels. When seven horsemen turned onto the street from the direction of the river, Ella's instincts screamed an alarm. As soon as she recognized one of the riders, she pulled her party into the nearest storefront, the barber shop across from the bank. She hoped that Perry White hadn't recognized her in town dress and bonnet.

"Good morning, Mister Reynolds," she greeted the barber. "Could you let Eddie out the back, please? Eddie, run to the Marshals office to say that seven men are robbing the El Paso National Trust, then run to the telegraph office and have Mr. Tinker wire that same information to Mrs. King, and answer her questions. Then come back here, carefully."

"But, Mrs. Coatsworth, we've got our pistols. We can take these bank robbers by ourselves!" protested Eddie.

"You have been reading far too many dime novels. We are NOT going to start a shootout in the middle of town against seven gunmen! Now run!" ordered Ella.

Eddie followed Mr. Reynolds to the back door while Bella and Ella sat on the bench in front of the window, Ella using the barber's hand mirror to watch the suspected robbers. One of the robbers did look carefully at the barber shop window and should have seen only the two women sitting with their backs to the window. Anyway, he went into the bank with five of the others. One stayed outside to hold the horses. Ella wrote down descriptions of the men and their horses. She did not see Archie.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on February 23, 2010, 11:22:44 AM
“A staff meeting…a Staff Meeting?”  Fritz was incredulous.

“That’s what he said boss,” Jimmy replied.

“We’ve had the highest arrest record and the highest conviction record in the state since Tensleep was running the office,” Fritz said, shaking his head.  

They entered the office to find Marshall Phillips sitting at the booking desk.  “You’re late,” he said coldly.

“I beg your pardon sir,” Fritz answered.  “I usually take my coffee at the Ace, then patrol around the town first thing.”

“I was plain in my meaning, Deputy King,” Phillips said.  Nine A.M. sharp.”

Fritz walked to the stove and picked up the coffee pot.  It was cold; the fire long dead.

“Somebody should tend to that,” Phillips said.  Apparently, he was too good to do something so menial.  Fritz put the pot down and returned to the desk.  

“Now, where are the other Deputies?”  

“I don’t know,” Jimmy said.  “Isn’t Miss Scarlet out at the Starr?”

“She’s running down leads,” Fritz said, cutting the boy off.  

“I’ve been reviewing the cases for the past year.  Damned sloppy if you ask me.”

“What are you talking about?” Fritz said, rising from his chair.  “Those were good arrests!”

“Perhaps,” Phillips replied, “but the spelling, grammar and punctuation are atrocious.”  Fritz noticed that the errors had been circled in red ink, as if a teacher were grading a test.

This was almost as bad as the Army.  Fritz gave a fleeting thought to pulling off his badge, and letting this fool fall to his own devices.  

“I need you to account for your time,” Phillips continued.  “Here…I’ve prepared ledgers.  Document how many hours per week you spend on patrol, paperwork and so forth.”  The marshal slid a small bound book across the table.  

“Sir,” Fritz said, “I have a town to protect.  Please excuse me.”

Phillips nodded.  “See to the fire before you go.  And brew a fresh pot of coffee.  That one’s cold.”

Jimmy hadn’t seen Fritz angry before.  It wasn’t a pretty sight.  Fritz stripped off his gunbelt and jacket, and tossed them on the booking table.  He opened the potbelly and stirred the remaining coals together.  Opening the ledger, he tore the back page out and crumpled it up.

“See here now,” Phillips began.  Fritz silenced him with a glance.  He placed the balled paper atop the coals and blew on it until a small flame emerged.  Once done, he piled small twigs on the fire, feeding steadily larger pieces in.  Grabbing the pot, he removed the lid and heaved the contents into the street.  He rinsed the pot in the horse troth out front, and filled the pot with the pump.  Fritz slammed the pot on the stove top, and waited for it to boil.  When the water was bubbling, he threw a handful of grounds into the pot.  When they sunk the coffee was ready.

Fritz grabbed his jacket and gunbelt.  “Get your own damned cup, sir” he said as he headed for the door.  

“You’ll owe me for that ledger” Phillips said at Fritz’s back.                    
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on February 25, 2010, 11:38:41 PM
Eddie flung open the door of the office, interrupting the "staff meeting". He shouted, "Mrs. Coatsworth says seven men are robbing the bank."

Simultaneously Fritz and Jimmy asked, "Where is she?" and "Is she safe?"

Eddie answered, "She's watching from the barber shop across the street", then ran off.

Phillips snorted, "If she's watching from across the street, what makes her think the bank is being robbed? Just like a woman to get hysterical and panic at the sight of strangers."
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on February 26, 2010, 11:31:22 AM
"That's enough!!!" Fritz bellowed.  "I've known Ella since Cold Harbor.  I've seen her heatsore, overjoyed and boiling mad.  But I've never seen her red-faced with hysteria!"

"Deputy," Phillips began, "you're out of line!"

"So are you, sir!" Fritz replied.  "You may know the job, but I know these people.  If what Eddie says is true, we have very little time.  Fritz grabbed his Berdan from the rack and headed towards the door.

Phillips asked “What are you doing?”

“You never know when a long-range rifle may come in handy,” Fritz replied.

“You don’t know a thing about marshalling,” the Phillips replied.  “Put it back.”

Fritz replaced the Berdan and pulled his shotgun from the rack.  Checking to see it was loaded, he snapped the barrels closed with a flick of his wrist.

“Now what are you doing?”

“Marshal,” Fritz replied, “we’ve just received a report of an armed robbery in progress at the bank.  We should go down there with more than our pistols.”

“You carry two of those,” the marshal replied, pointing at Fritz’s rig.  “You should carry a man-size pistol, not those conversions.  Put the scattergun back.  You’ll scare the townsfolk.”

Fritz stood his ground.  “No.  I served 20 years in the Army.  You don’t go into a firefight outgunned.”

“You got a lot to learn, King.  Soldiering isn’t marshalling you know.”
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on February 27, 2010, 12:17:54 AM
Scarlet had been going through wanted posters off and on since she’d come back from town. She had gone through the posters she’d kept from bounty hunting to find the one on Jim Hoss. She’d marked on them the day the men, mostly just the heads, had been brought in for positive identification and to collect the bounty. Then there were the ones she’d kept when she rode with Hart, confirmed arrests, done by the book, all of them had been tired and found guilty.

Scarlet had three neat stacks, men she’d hunted before becoming a deputy, men after and those that had been ridden with Hoss from time to time, most of them small time criminals that hadn’t been worth her time as a bounty hunter, after Hoss died they had all ridden the wind in different directions.

She eyed the stacks trying to be objective judging herself. This person had a good arrest record; before pinning on a badge had been ruthless, picking mostly those you could bring back dead, and walked a thin line just inside the law, as far as the law knew. After she’d been difficult to control and strong willed, but the arrests always held water and those that had died had died from firing upon the posse.

Scarlet glared at the telegram that she had tossed on the desk saying Phillips was coming. Houston had seen fit to replace this person with someone who had very little experience as a deputy and none as a marshal. She was losing respect for Thompson every time she thought of it.

She flipped through the posters of the men that had been arrested while she’d worn her badge. Houston didn’t seem to care about her abilities, maybe she should just tell them to piss off she thought. A stack of letters among the posters caught her eye. Without looking she knew there were a couple of letters of commendation, one from Wheeler and one from Hart, of all people. There was also letters from Pete Sutherland, the deputy who had almost lost his life to one of her oldest enemies. She pulled it out but didn’t have to open it and read it to know what it said.

Dear Angelina,

Would you believe I have accepted a position as a Marshal? Most thought I would quit after we made it back alive, but I kept thinking if it wasn’t for deputies like you and Sonny what might have happened to me.

I will be passing through El Paso in a week. Be prepared for me to do anything short of begging to get you away from Hart. I need a good team that includes you.

When times are tough I think of you staying and holding my hand instead of riding off and leaving me.

I have not forgotten the frog jump. When are we going?

Haha. Love Pete.

There were more inside of it asking her to join him as part of his team. One telling her he was sorry to hear of Hart’s death and asking her to ride with him, one congratulating her on her upcoming marriage to Fritz and looking forward to being at the wedding. That one ended with “He must be some kinda special to you.” Scarlet smiled he sure is she thought.

She looked at the small pile of letters stacked neatly on the desk that had recently come and reached for them, pulling out an envelope she opened it and read the letter again.

Dear Scarlet,

I am very sad you never joined my team, but so happy that John Ross has passed the Marshal’s badge to you. Houston should have done that years ago. I would still like us to bring in some outlaws together.

You would be impressed at how good of a Marshal I have become, maybe as good as Ross, or even Wheeler was, I learned much from Hart but more from you and Sonny. Houston is lucky you have stayed on. I am lucky to have another Marshal I could reach out to and trust to know would help.

Next time you’re in Galveston make sure y’all look me up.

Looking forward to the next time our trails cross.

Your friend Pete. 

She scooped up the letters and put them back with the posters from bounty hunting and tucked all but the one on Hoss and the man she had seen in the Ace in the file that was her private file.

She leaned back in the chair and thought of Pete and Sonny.

“Scarlet!” Lily yelled running towards the office. “Scarlet!  Ella says the bank is being robbed!”

Scarlet leveled her gaze at Lily, if Lil had been five minutes earlier Scarlet might have told her to let Phillips deal with it, but the thoughts of Pete and Sonny had made her decide if they were going to remove her they were going to have to do it face to face and if she ended up in Houston to get that meeting folks back here would probably hear her yelling if for nothing more than the pure satisfaction.

“What else?” Scarlet asked standing up reaching for her rifle.

“Patches sent me to fetch you to come back, more details were coming in.” Lily replied running next to her back to the office Patches sat in.

“Seven riders, in the bank.” Patches said as the other two came in the door.

Scarlet cursed under her breath.

Patches sent and received the information as fast as Scarlet could talk.

“Where are Fritz and Jimmy?”

“Last seen Marshal’s office. Nobody on street.”

Scarlet cursed again, they were at least 30 minutes hard ride from town, even if she did cut across the property and not stay on the roads.

“Come on.” She said to Lily. “I’ll be right back and tell Eddie to get all exits out of town covered tell him…”

Patches finished her sentence “to get men from the Ace if need be.”

Scarlet ran for the corral with Lily on her heels. “Saddle your horse, and cut a fast one out to ride now, we’re cutting across the Starr.” Scarlet said as she put her gear on Lucky.

“What’s going on?” Jimmy asked riding in.

“Bank robbery going on now.” Scarlet replied to the man she called her brother.

Jimmy slid off his horse and ran for the house. By the time Scarlet and Lil had their horses ready and got back to Patches Jimmy was there with Bo and her father, Johnny, was headed towards her.

“If they come this way they won’t make it far.” Johnny said rallying some of his men and riding out.

The group was mounted when Patches yelled out of the door. “Riders headed out east on main road, no sign of Phillips or the deputies.

“See if you can pick up a trail Jimmy.” Scarlet said before turning her horse towards town.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on February 27, 2010, 09:56:10 AM
It seemed longer, but fewer than ten minutes passed before the robbers calmly left the bank, looking like a rancher and his hands finished with routine business. Eddie hadn't come back yet. Ella hoped that was because Tink was transmitting questions from Scarlet and Patches and answers from Eddie. She doubted that Marshal Phillips had asked any questions. Actually, she doubted that Marshal Phillips had listened to Eddie at all. Otherwise, some lawmen ought to have shown up before the robbers left, or blocked off the exits from the stret.

She hadn't heard any shots fired, but there still might be injuries in the bank. Ella left Bella with the parcels and went across to offer her aid. The door was shut, the blinds were drawn, and the sign said "Closed". It being siesta time, most people would believe the sign and come back later. Ella pushed the door, and it opened. Ella used her boot knife to release the guard, Joshua Evans, and sent him to the Marshals office. She released a male customer, and he helped her release everyone else. As the gags were removed, everyone started talking at once.

"It was terrible!"
"They held guns on me and made me tie up other people, then they tied me up."
"There were 10 of them!"
"No, there were 20!"
"They took my watch and chain."
"They took my reticule."

Ella took the bank president, John Corning, and the teller, Suzanne Johnson, into the president's office, leaving the customers to chatter. "What did the robbers take?" she asked.

"They got about $5,000 in gold coin," replied Corning. "I'm so glad they didn't come last week, when I had the Army payroll here, and that they were here today instead of next week, when I'll be holding the payment for a cattle shipment."

"Can you describe any of them?"

"They had their bandanas up over their mouths and noses. The boss was dark-haired, tall and skinny. Two of them were Mexican. There was one real carrot-top, another dark-haired and one blond."

Ella quickly sketched a portrait of Perry White and showed it to him. "Was he the boss?"

"No, but that could have been the other dark-haired one. How did you get here so soon after they left?"

"I was inside the barber shop and saw them ride away." Ella didn't know why she didn't tell him that she had seen the robbers enter the bank as well. Since the barber knew when she had sent a message to the Marshal, half the town would know it soon enough.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on February 27, 2010, 10:44:45 AM
Lily had to wonder where they were headed as they cut across the land at a speed that made her eyes water. Scarlet had been teaching her to be very aware of her surroundings, she made a mental note to question Scarlet on the two sets of riders that had seemed to parallel them for a while. Scarlet and Bo paid them no attention, they probably knew who they were.

 Scarlet finally slowed her horse to a canter and began watching her surroundings.

“Is your horse tired?” Lilly asked riding up next to her. “You’ve finally slowed.”

“He’s tired but we’ll make town with out a problem.” Scarlet replied “we’ve left the Starr, we’re on our own if something happens.”

It dawned  on Lily the riders had been escorting them in a sense. She felt her heart pick up few beats but they seemed to be the only ones on earth.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on February 28, 2010, 06:53:25 AM
It had taken some doing, but Fritz finally convinced Marshal Phillips that the best option was to actually go down to the bank and check out Eddie's story.  Fritz carried the 12-gauge, and Eddie carried his '66.  Both of them stayed on opposite sides of the street, under the boardwalk, using cover as much as possible.  Phillips walked down the center of the street, as if nothing had happended.  "Either he has sand" Fritz thought, "or he's spent too much time reading those dime novels."  The truth however was far less romantic; the bank robbers were already gone.  The trio arrived at the bank to a cachaphony of voices describing the scene.  Miss Ella was in the midst of it.   
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on February 28, 2010, 12:12:32 PM
Louder talk in front announced the arrival of Marshal Phillips. "It sounds like time for the official investigation to start. I suggest that you do not mention the Army payroll and cattle payment that the robbers missed. He's not going to be happy that I was questioning you already."

"What questioning? You took me back here to make sure I wasn't having a heart attack," replied Corning with a conspiratorial grin that was echoed by Suzanne.

When Marshal Phillips with Jimmy and Fritz came into the president's office, John Corning was reclining in his chair with his feet raised, Ella was checking his pulse and Mrs. Johnson was holding a glass of water.

"What are you doing here?" demanded Marshal Phillips of Ella.

"Checking on my husband's patient." She released Corning's wrist, and left the bank, after whispering to Fritz, "I'll have Bella pack food for the posse. Eddie will bring his and Jimmy's horses to meet you at the Ace."

Eddie was back at the barber shop when Ella got there, with Bobby Corbin. The boys divided up the parcels for the walk home.

Eddie announced, "We know which way they went! Mrs. King told me to get people to watch the different ways out of town. I went to Mrs. Wilson's school and borrowed all the bigger boys. I figured robbers weren't going to pay any mind to boys playing."

Bobby interrupted, "And I'm the one who saw them. They left on the stage road, going east."

"Not across the river?" asked Ella. "They came from the direction of the river."

"Nope. And then I went to Mr. Tinker and he wired to Cousin Scarlet so the posse knows, too."

"Did you get a good look at any of the men, Bobby?"

"I saw a couple of faces clear."

"How about you, Eddie?"

"I only had a glimpse before you sent me off."

By now, they had reached the Coatsworth house. After the parcels were all put down in the kitchen, Ella asked Bobby, "Would you please go ask your mother if you can go with me out to the Marshals office at the Starr? We want to look through the wanted posters to see if we recognize any of the robbers. We should be back by your bedtime. I'll call for you in a half hour."

Bobby nodded and ran off.

"Eddie, please get the carriage ready, then saddle up the other horses. You and Jimmy will need yours for the posse. Put Dr. Alan's saddle on Aaron and take him as a spare. Take my field hospital saddlebags. I think your job will be to take care of the horses and do field medicine, but do whatever Mr. or Mrs. King tell you."

Ella told Bella to pack food for the posse, then went in to Alan's office to let him know about her day and her plans. The habit of secrecy was still strong, so she didn't mention Perry White's name. Then Alan surprised her, "I'll ride out with the posse."
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on March 02, 2010, 12:32:16 PM
Scarlet dropped her hand, signaling the others to slow, when she saw the carriage on the road. She was glad to recognize Ella and stopped.

"What's going on? Where are Fritz, Jimmy and Phillips? Did Phillips do anything useful before the robbers left town?" she demanded.

"The robbers took $5000 in gold coin and took personal belongings from customers. Bobby and I saw faces of some of the robbers, so we're going out to the Starr to put names on the faces. I saw one of the folks we met at Fort Fetterman, but not the other."

Scarlet asked, "No sign of Archie?"

"None. Between the faces I saw and the physical description of the leader from the bank president, I think the robbers were six members of the Beanpole Gang. Our acquaintance did not act like the one in charge. Phillips came to the bank with Fritz and Jimmy. I went home when Phillips started to interview witnesses."

"Did Phillips interview you?"

Ella laughed, "He was hardly going to ask, in front of the bank president, why I sent a message in time for him to have caught the robbers at the bank! At home, I had Bella pack food for the posse and Eddie saddle the horses. He and Dr. Alan will meet you at the Ace."

"I'd rather have you along, Ella." Scarlet reviewed what she knew about the Beanpole Gang. It had shown up with a dozen men when it robbed the bank in Santa Fe four months before. Most reports of its activities mentioned around a dozen men. It might have been the Beanpole Gang robbing the bank in Pleasanton month before last, but no good identification was reported.

"I think it's important to get Bobby's identifications down soon. Dr. Alan on Aaron will be able to keep up with the posse. He won't use a gun, but he can hold horses. You'll like him fine once you get to know him better."
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on March 02, 2010, 10:55:46 PM
“I trust I’ll like him fine Ella, tell me this though and I don’t mean any disrespect to Alan. If he has to defend himself is he sufficient with one?” She asked quietly so the others would not overhear.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on March 02, 2010, 11:29:29 PM
"He can defend himself with a pistol, if need be," replied Ella. "He's gone with me to the range for practice several times."
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on March 03, 2010, 10:35:06 PM
Scarlet smiled at Ella “You two be very careful ask someone to escort you home. You and Bobby are both good shots but if someone thinks you may be a threat having seen them it may not be safe.”

The townspeople were jumpy by the time Scarlet and the others arrived, six horses coming down the center of town looked threatening until folks recognized the riders.

Suzanne came out into the street. “Did you hear our bank has been robbed?” She said looking at Scarlet. “Do you know how long it’s been since there’s even been an attempted robbery here? Scarlet that Yankee Marshal is having us all interviewed by all the law in there, you’re not going to interview us to are you?”

Scarlet rolled her eyes and slid off of her horse. “Been a long time since somebody tried this place Suzanne, longer since they were successful. Where’s Marshal Phillips?

“Interviewing people in Mr. Corning’s office.” Suzanne replied.

Scarlet half smiled and nodded in acknowledgement as she tied her horse to the hitching rail. She turned to Bo who heard her softly say “One damn week he’s here and look what happens, he’s not the only one that only answers to Houston.”

Bo slid off his horse, he felt her mood shift. The air had some how gotten colder when Suzanne mentioned the last time there was an attempt on the bank. Scarlet had been waiting for some kind of a reason to pick a fight and have a good reason. He knew her comment regarding Houston meant she was about done recognizing Phillips as any authority.

Scarlet spotted Fritz when she walked in. She could tell by his look he shared her feelings.

“I saw Ella, she filled me in on a few things. Is there any more use in interviewing people?” She said quietly stepping up next to him.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on March 04, 2010, 08:19:12 AM
Fritz opened the action of his shotgun and cradled it in the crook of his arm.  The sound frightened some of the customers, but there was no concern.

“No…they’re all saying pretty much the same thing.  If Phillips were a smart man,” Fritz said, “he’d have segregated there people, rather than let them sit together.  The stories get homogenized real quick.”

Scarlet suppressed a giggle at the ‘smart’ comment.  “There’s a posse forming up outside.  We know the direction the robbers took off in.  Buddy is saddled and ready.  Your ’66 is in the scabbard.”

Fritz squeezed Scarlet’s hand.  “You are SUCH a good wife,” he whispered.  Scarlet’s cheeks warmed.  The color looked good on her.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on March 04, 2010, 10:35:04 PM
“I’m trusting you and Deputy Jimmy have gathered descriptions.” Scarlet replied walking towards Corning’s office.

She knocked as she opened up the door. Marshal Phillips glared at her.

“I’m in the middle of business here. If you were in the bank I’ll get to you, if not you have no business here.” He said in a tone that told Scarlet she had been dismissed.

“Ma’am, thank you for your time answering Marshal Phillips questions.” She said to the lady who he had been interviewing “we’ll call on you again if we have any more questions.”

“Oh thank you dear.” She said leaving the office.

Scarlet smiled sweetly at her as the lady left closing the door behind her, the smile left as she turned to face Phillips.

“The posse is ready to ride.” She said flatly.

“Posse? What posse? I have not ordered a posse and again I’ll say you have no business here. Go home.” Phillips replied.

“What do you intend to do? Interview these people until the bank robbers get away free and clear?”

"There are six ways out of town. Half of them lead into Mexico, where you can't go. What's the point of riding around aimlessly?"

Scarlet shook her head and rolled her eyes as she turned on her heal and went out the door.

Phillips smiled thinking he had successfully dismissed her. “Next!” he yelled out the door.

Scarlet walked past Deputy Jimmy “I will be riding out very shortly with a posse.” She said never stopping. Jimmy looked to Fritz who had turned to follow. He looked back towards Marshal Phillips who seemed caught up in his own little world and followed after Scarlet and Fritz.

to be continued
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on March 05, 2010, 10:52:39 PM
“I guess she couldn’t convince Marshal Phillips to go with us. I don’t know why we would want him along anyway.” Jimmy said to Bo as the group followed Scarlet to the stables at the Ace.

“Keep your friends close and your enemies closer Jimmy” Scarlet replied overhearing him “and never under estimate me, we haven’t left town yet.” She said with a smirk

Dr. Alan and Eddie were waiting with food and the horses just like Ella had said. Scarlet took a deep breath looking over the group, Bo and Fritz were the only ones she was used to riding with and knew what to expect from. Lily looked nervous and excited at the same time as did Jimmy and Eddie, Dr. Alan looked confident, yet a little nervous. She would have preferred more experienced riders and fewer green ones than what she was looking at.

“If anybody is not up for a long, hard ride followed by a long cold night with little or no sleep and probably cold food you should ride out of leave now. We’ll be following men who prefer to see you dead and won’t think twice about trying to see you get that way. If you are going turn tail and run when the gunfire starts you should leave now. I will not hold anything against you if you decide to stay behind.”

Nobody moved, they didn’t even exchange glances. Scarlet looked at Jimmy. She didn’t have to say anything he’d caught her look plain as day. He followed her to the door.

She spoke softly as she stepped out looking towards the bank “Jimmy, you know Tensleep didn’t hire Eddie because he thought he was too young. I know he rode with you a long time too, so I imagine he’s seen some things in his life, perhaps had to make decisions he shouldn’t have had to make.” Scarlet looked him in the eyes ”Age only makes up part of a man, experience and heart makes up the other parts. Eddie is your brother, I’m asking you as his older brother do you think he should be out there with us. This is no game and I would be a fool to think the there’s no possibility of someone getting hurt or killed. I will ask him to stay behind if I feel it’s the right thing to do and I’m trying to make that decision.” 

"Eddie is good to take along. He's better at using cover than I am - I think he learned that last summer. He's been studying hard with the Coatsworths, so that he can be a good medic." Jimmy said.

“Very well. Please go to the livery tell them we’d like use the dark bay, they call him Whiskers. Meet us in front of the bank.”

“Yes ma’am.” Jimmy replied going towards the livery at a fast walk.

“Mount up!” Scarlet said swinging onto Lucky and riding out leading Jimmy’s horse.  She listened to the sound of hoof beats behind her. Nobody had chosen to stay.

Scarlet pulled her horse to a stop in front of the bank. “Marshal Phillips. Your horse is ready and the posse is waiting on you!” She yelled loud enough for half the town to hear.

Phillips came bursting out of the bank doors. “What are you doing?!” He demanded.

Scarlet looked down at him “Do you know how to ride Phillips? Buggies don’t go where we’re headed.”

Phillips bristled “Of course I can ride.”

“I can do it but I prefer not to track in the dark. Mount up.” She said pointing at the horse Jimmy was standing next to.

“I’m in charge here.” He hissed “you have no authority here.”

Scarlet shifted in her saddle “My orders come directly from Houston, Texas Carpetbagger. If you don’t got the sand to ride with a Texas posse you stay right here, explain to these folks while you held us up waitin’ for you to take statements when you had no intention of riding with us to put them to good use.”

Phillips didn’t have to look to know she had drawn a crowd, and if he didn’t go she’d just made a fool of him in front of them.

“I must send a wire to Houston. It is imperative.” He stated.

“Hurry Marshal we’re waitin’ on ya!” Scarlet replied.

Phillips spun on his heel and made a hasty retreat to Tinker’s office. Tinker had heard the entire thing but kept a straight face as Phillips entered.

Bo waited for Phillips to go before he said “Why Miss Scarlet you are an EVIL woman.”

Scarlet smiled and blew a kiss his way.

Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on March 05, 2010, 11:24:56 PM
"May I help you, Marshal?" asked Tink.

"I require you to tell me if anyone has you send a telegram to the Houston Marshals office."

"I could do that," allowed Tink, mentally adding, "but won't until Hell freezes over."

"I'll have a report for you to send to Houston in a minute." Phillips took the message form and pencil and composed a short report in marshals code, then thrust it at Tink. "Send that to Marshal Thompson."

Tink took it to send, reading the code as easily as he would have read a message written out plain.


Tink sent it, and added a postscript after glancing out the window at Scarlet:
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on March 07, 2010, 09:00:18 PM
It seemed like it took Phillips forever to do what he needed to do. There was very little urgency about the man. Scarlet had seen this once in a deputy that was afraid to face outlaws. His career with the law was short lived. Scott Hart had kindly suggested he find a new line of work, which he did and now ran a very successful mercantile in another town.

“Take point Bo.” Scarlet said seeing Phillips finally headed back out.

Bo looked at her, he knew she didn’t trust Phillips and intended to ride behind him and watch him closely. He touched the brim of his hat and turned his horse down the main road out of town.

They had not even ridden far enough to pick up Jimmy’s trail but the posse was out ahead of Phillips and Scarlet, too far for Scarlet.

“If you stopped hanging on his mouth he’d keep up with the other horses. He can keep up with them just fine.” Scarlet said.

Phillips chose to ignore her comment.

Scarlet rode faster hoping Whiskers would pick up the pace, which he did until Phillips gave good yank on the reins making Whiskers toss his head in the air; which in turn made Phillips yank on the reins more.

“What the hell are you doing?” Scarlet yelled coming to a stop.

“Like you this horse needs to learn some respect for men.” Phillips hissed.

Scarlet took Whiskers by the bridle and rubbed his face. “Respect hell man, you got to earn that out here. I don’t think a lot of you, or any of the skills I’ve seen from you thus far.”

“Let go of my horse and go home where you belong!” Phillips growled.

Scarlet touched the brim of her hat, spun Lucky around and said “Come on Whiskers!” as Lucky took off at a gallop, followed closely by the Whiskers.

Phillips bounced terribly in the saddle, Scarlet figured he did it on purpose to try and get the horse to stop to relieve the bouncing, it made Whiskers go faster. Phillips pulled on the reins but Whiskers ignored him now.

Bo had stopped; the posse had watched nearly the entire exchange.

When Scarlet and Phillips stopped he jumped off his horse. “What did you do? He said looking at the horse “besides try and get me killed?”

“Don’t give me any ideas.” She said tossing the horse’s chinstrap she had swiped off the bridle at him.

“You are trying to get me killed! This horse could have run off with me and I wouldn’t have been able to stop him at all.” He said buckling the strap back on the bit.

“I could only hope the horse that is rented out for the kids to ride would run off and dump you someplace. Get back on him, keep off his mouth, and try to stay up with two girls.” She said as Lucky moved off again.

“Don’t let me get shot in the back.” She said passing Bo.

Lily grinned at Scarlet’s comment about Phillips trying to keep up with two girls as she let her horse move out at a fast clip.

Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on March 08, 2010, 08:30:52 AM
Fritz was riding the right flank, his '66 facing outboard.  He'd watched the whole exchange between Scarlet and Phillips.  It was clear who was ramrod in this outfit.  A the last comment about getting shot, Fritz fell back a bit, so he could keep a better eye on Phillips.  The man made eye contact with him, and Fritz stared back until he turned away.  At this rate, Fritz doubted he'd be a Deputy for long, but he'd be a husband for far longer.

He smiled.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on March 08, 2010, 12:59:43 PM
Dr. Alan rode along easily, staying beside Eddie. He was very glad that he had taken Ella's advice and practiced riding during the eight months he had been in El Paso. The first time he had accompanied her on a house call, he understood why she didn't use a carriage much. The carriage was fine for paying calls in town, or going out to visit the Longknives, but most of the trails she used to reach her patients were much better suited to travel on horseback. The Gladstone bag didn't attach to a saddle, but his medical supplies fit into a pair of saddlebags just fine.

Dr. Alan just hoped he wasn't going to have to apply the shooting lessons.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on March 08, 2010, 09:46:55 PM
Scarlet couldn’t believe how Phillips slowed them down; she’d never ridden with anybody so intent on slowing down the rest of the group. She wondered what she could throw him in the jail cell for. Maybe she’d just kidnap him and stuff him in there for amusement, keeping that thought in mind she could probably smile at him now and then.

She felt better that both Fritz and Bo were back there with him, the man could probably be dangerous if he really put his mind to it. Scarlet couldn’t believe Thompson had made such a poor choice as to put a badge on this man, then again some thought the same thing about here.

She slowed Lucky as she saw Jimmy leading another horse coming at them.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on March 11, 2010, 10:20:37 PM
“Is that’s what’s left of the bank robbers? The rest of us take to long getting out here?” Scarlet asked stopping next to Jimmy and looking at the man whose horse he was leading.

“Found ‘im suckin’ sand out there.” Jimmy glanced beyond Scarlet. Philips was still riding towards them. “All he could say was Coatsworth and El Paso. Do you know ‘im?”

Scarlet glanced over her shoulder, the one time she wished Philips was taking longer, then turned back to Jimmy.

“Met him briefly at Fort Fetterman.” She said giving him a look that closed the line of questioning.

“Dr. Alan please take him back to El Paso and see that he gets care.”

“I gave him some water; he’s been out since then.” Jimmy said to Dr. Alan

Dr. Alan shook his head yes taking the horse’s reins. 

“Eddie please go with him.” Scarlet said.

“I would prefer to stay with the posse.” Eddie replied.

“Nobody rides alone.” Scarlet said.

Eddie opened his mouth to protest again, his brother called him over “Marshal King is asking you to do something important Eddie. That man was friends with a couple of outlaws that Mrs. Coatsworth arrested at the fort, Marshal is only being polite, she’s not really asking. If you want to be a deputy someday you should do as she asks and make sure that the three of you get back safely. She could send one of the other men, but she’s giving you a chance to prove yourself here.” Jimmy whispered in to him.

Eddie looked from Jimmy to Scarlet and Dr. Alan. “Yes ma’am. You can trust me.” He replied.

“Y’all watch yerselves.”  She said.

Philips rode up flanked by Bo and Fritz.

“Who is this?” Philips asked.

Scarlet and Jimmy both ignored him.

“I don’t know you, who are you?” Philips said to the man he didn’t recognize.

Jimmy looked him up and down but didn’t answer.

“What happened? Is that man going to be alright?” Philips demanded looking at the man on the horse Dr. Alan was starting to lead away.

Jimmy stepped closer to Scarlet. “The hoof prints lead to a group that’s forted up in a box canyon. They’re watching.”

“Everybody needs this information.” Scarlet said with half a smile at Jimmy.

He turned to the group “The hoof prints out of town lead to a group that’s forted up in a box canyon. They have a man on watching the back trail. There are a couple of dozen horses and half as many men. They don’t look very concerned about a posse and it looks like they’ve been camped there a few days already.”

“Thank you Jimmy.”

“You’re welcome” both Jimmys replied.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on March 11, 2010, 11:23:35 PM
Perry was trying to figure out where he had seen the woman he'd spotted in town. Her group had gone into the barber shop before he caught more than a glimpse, but the way she moved was familiar. Max Collins had looked and said that the women were sitting watching the barber cut the boy's hair, and not paying any attention to the bank. But a feeling of familiarity had been nagging at Perry ever since.

The men were chatting. Fred Rico and David Jackson were praising the charms of the girls working at the Ace of Hearts saloon, while Bernie Thomas and Ed Perez were recommending the Pink Palace. Given how close Fred and David Jackson had come to blowing the whole operation, Perry had thought that the men should stay out of El Paso entirely. Ben had still given the men their liberty, but given the orders that the men going in on Friday or Saturday were to stay away from the Ace and stick to the Pink Palace. At least Eyes had come through, and released the men promptly. But that deputy had been too alert at the Ace, and the bartender too fast to support him with a scattergun.

Eyes had done a good job in Pleasanton. He had formed up a posse, and led it on a wild goose chase after the robbers, while the rest of the gang had made a second trip into town the next morning, and spent part of the bank's money on supplies and whiskey. The men were looking forward to doing that in El Paso, before starting on the 150 mile trip to the Castle.

Perry kept reviewing the job. They had approached the bank from one of the bridges over the river. A few people had still been out on the streets, showing no alarm. Everything had stayed quiet at the bank. It was well into siesta time when they left, and they had not seen anyone on their way out of town except a couple boys playing. It should have taken an hour or two for someone to get free. By then, the normal traffic on the main road would have obscured their tracks. They had left the main road by jumping off the road into a small creek, and followed the creek a good ways before heading into the camp.

Archie would have been able to distract him from this nagging feeling that something was going wrong. Why had Archie snuck off like that? That was something for him to do. Perry headed for the horses and saddled his.

"Where are you going?" asked Ezra Barnes.

"Going to find Archie's body and make sure he wasn't carrying anything."

"He was off that way when he came off the horse."

Perry nodded and headed that way. He found Archie's blood trail easily. The man had moved much farther than expected after coming off the horse. The blood stopped, but the crawl marks didn't. It looked like Archie had rested in a little cave here, maybe drank at the spring in it. Then he had moved again, staggering, but on his feet.

Perry kept following the tracks.

Here Archie had fallen down, and his horse had joined him. What were these other tracks? It looked like someone had found Archie and his horse! Those tracks headed west and south, back towards El Paso.

The nagging feeling of familiarity was back. Deputy and El Paso. That bounty hunter at the fort who worried Archie so much - she had been said to be a deputy marshal in El Paso, along with the doctor lady! Eyes had reported, "Two deputies", but Eyes would never have counted women as deputies. The doctor lady had moved just like the woman in town! If the doctor lady had recognized him, she would have summoned the bounty hunter. If the bounty hunter had arranged a posse, Eyes would not have been able to stall or mislead it, and the posse could be at the camp at any minute.

There wasn't time to get back to warn the camp. They were just hirelings, anyway. It was time for Perry to turn north, and disappear.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on March 12, 2010, 02:28:45 PM
Bo looked to Fritz.  "Box canyon, eh?  You thinking what I'm thinking?"

Fritz nodded.  "If we can get up on the heights at either side, we should be able to cut off their escape.  Then they have the choice to either fight or give."

Bo nodded.  "Yep.  That's the way I figured it.  But we've gotta count on them having lookouts on those heights."

A sly smile scrossed Fritz's lips.  "Then we do it real quiet-like.  I wish I had something a bit more potent than the old '66."  Fritz looked to his wife to see what she carried in her scabbard.   
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on March 12, 2010, 10:36:41 PM
Bo half smiled as he watched Fritz look at Scarlet’s scabbard.
“Two things I can always count on Fritz.”

Fritz looked his way “What’s that?”

“When Scarlet is hunting men, she’s got that Sharps. When Jimmy is hunting them he’s got that ol’ Whitworth.”
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on March 13, 2010, 10:40:43 PM
In the office at the Starr, a couple posters were waiting on the desk. The picture on one of them matched the blond robber. Ella read both posters, and went to the files. She pulled out a dozen posters to show Bobby. It took an hour, looking at posters, then pulling out paper on known associates, but they found paper on five of the robbers they had seen.

They went out to visit the horses before heading back. Ella decided to send a wire to Deputy Hayes to report the sighting of Perry White, so she turned Bobby over to Rose, and went into the telegraph office. Patches was feeding her son, and waved Ella over to the key.


Ella dropped Bobby off at his home on the way back. The boy was full of excitement over the visit to the foaling barn and over helping to train Solomon. He had been the first person to sit on the two-year-old son of Lucky, even for only five minutes!

The sight of their shingle over the front door, with the words "Coatsworth Family Doctors", still gave Ella a thrill. She was very content with the house. Alan almost left it off the list of possibilities, because he thought they couldn't afford it and the alterations and repairs needed. But Tensleep and Becca had convinced him to include it. The house was a large single-story square around a central courtyard with a well that was perfect for Ella' herb garden. The back side was the stables, the front had been converted into medical offices and surgery, one side was rooms for guests or patients, and the fourth side was their residence.

The riders from the Starr didn't leave the sides of the carriage until Ella drove around the house and through the gate into the stable yard.

Bella took charge of the carriage and told her, "Dr. Coatsworth wanted you to see him as soon as you got back."

Alan was in his surgery examining at an unconscious man with assistance from Eddie. "James Bradbury found his horse standing over him north of town. The man roused a little when James gave him water, and mumbled something. James heard 'El Paso' and 'Coatsworth', so Eddie and I left the posse and brought him back here. I think Bo and Jimmy recognized him, do you?" he asked.

Eddie spoke up, "Marshal Phillips looked like he recognized him as well. Jimmy said he was a friend of some outlaws you arrested."

Ella looked, and remembered. "Yes. How is he?"

"He got hit by two bullets, one went clear through. He's lost a lot of blood, but the wounds are clean. I'd like him to be stronger before I remove the second bullet."

"Did you find anything in his pockets?"

"His clothes are over there. I haven't looked at them. Can you give me a name to call him?"

"Call him Archie. Can he be moved to the infirmary out at the Starr tomorrow?"

"We've room for him here. Why do you want to put him there?"

Ella looked through the pockets of Archie's clothes. Finding the old badge helped her decide to tell Alan and Eddie more of the story. "He's a Deputy Marshal who went undercover a couple years ago. The person he has been watching was one of the bank robbers this afternoon. I'm going to the telegraph office. I won't be gone long."

Tinker's office was only a couple blocks away. Tink came out from the back when the bell on the door sounded, "Good evening, Miz Ella. What can I do for you?"

"May I use your key to send a message?"

Tink nodded, and opened the counter to let her through to the desk with the key. The uncoded message went to Houston, and was acknowledged by the operator there.

When Ella was through with the key, Tink commented, "Marshal Phillips was very insistent I tell him about anyone who has me send a message to the Houston Marshals office. Since I didn't send your message, I don't see any need to mention it to him."

"Can he legally request that information?"

Tink shrugged, "He can ask anything he wants, but he can't require me to tell him anything. Kicking up a fuss about his request would just rile him up more."



Ambrose Hayes was working late, looking up the names that Mrs. Coatsworth had sent in her report on the El Paso bank robbery, when the telegraph operator brought him another message. After reading it, he decided it was worth disturbing Marshal Thompson at home.

Ambrose Hayes knocked on the door of Luther Thompson's home. When he was admitted to Thompson's sitting room, he said, "I received a couple interesting wires from Mrs. Coatsworth this evening."

Thompson interrupted, "I am not going to recall Marshal Phillips."

"She didn't say anything about Phillips. Look for yourself."


Thompson read the telegram, then looked up at Hayes, "What is she talking about?"

"You have to give her credit for discretion if her meaning is unclear even to someone who knows why I met her. 'Mutual acquaintance' means Archie. She used 'your interesting person' to mean Perry White in her report on the bank robbery."

Marshal Thompson interrupted, "What did she say about the bank robbery? Phillips didn't have any real information in his wire, and there was an odd postscript from the El Paso telegraph operator."

Hayes handed over another telegram. "She identified six of the seven robbers. White was there, but not Archie. In her second wire,'dropped in' is a significant choice of words, although I'm not sure what she means. But I think she would have said 'stopped by' if Archie had arrived under his own power. He might be injured and under medical care, or he could be dead and there is information on his person. Although she might have been clearer if Archie were dead. I think she's asking for me to visit because she won't transmit information in any way that could be intercepted. I can catch the 10pm train, and be there by Thursday evening."

"Sounds good. Maybe the case will finally crack."

After Hayes let himself out, Mrs. Thompson came into the sitting room, "I didn't mean to eavesdrop, but were you talking about Izzy's school friend, Perry White?"

"What!" exclaimed Thompson. "Did Perry White also attend the Morgan Academy?"

"Yes. He and Izzy were great friends, even though Perry is a couple years older. They've kept in touch over the years."

Marshal Thompson headed for the door, saying, "I need to get to the office. I'll be back in an hour or so."
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on March 14, 2010, 10:08:41 PM
Scarlet looked at Jimmy. “A Box canyon? Are you sure there’s no other way out?”

Jimmy raised an eyebrow at her “course I’m sure.”

“That’s just foolish.” She replied.

“No it’s not.” Philips said.

Scarlet looked at him surprised, he’d almost sounded offended. “It’s not?”

“You only have one way out to defend. You don’t have to worry about getting surrounded.” Philips replied.

“Well we can sit out here and wait, they got to come out for food at some point, we can ride in and burn ‘em out, blow ‘em out.” Scarlet commented.

“Why don’t we just ride in and announce U.S. Marshals and let them give themselves up?” Philips asked.

Scarlet would have laughed at the comment if he hadn’t sounded so serious.

“From the description of the witnesses we are following Ben Pole’s gang. They’ve never shot any one during a robbery. David Jackson is riding with them he is no stranger to bloodletting, and has become more active doing so in the last couple of years. They may give up easily, but don’t be foolish enough to count on it. If they open fire on us, shoot to kill.” Scarlet said to everyone, then looked at Philips “He rides fast and we know where we’re going, we'll not wait for you, you best keep up because this is no place for a greenhorn at night.”

They rode hard for about an hour before Jimmy pulled his horse to a stop and dismounted. “Ok y’all, they had a couple of lookouts not far ahead, one on each side.” He looked between Bo and Fritz “One o you can take one and I’ll get the other.”  He said as he took the heavy rifle from its scabbard.

“After you do that we can see if Marshal Philips wants to ride in and announced us.” Scarlet said.


Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on March 15, 2010, 07:33:29 AM
"I've seen what Firtz can do with a Springfield or a Berdan," Bo replied, "but I think I'm probably quieter than he is."

Scarlet knew both men.  She'd make the call.

"Bo," she said, "you and Jimmy take out the sentries.  Fritz, you're with us.  No offense."

Fritz nodded, and pulled the '66 from its scabbard.  "None taken."
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on March 17, 2010, 08:53:37 PM
Scarlet turned to Lily. “Please hold the horses. The rest of you find good cover and get ready.”

Lily looked disappointed.

Scarlet helped her lead the horses to good cover. When they were out of earshot Scarlet turned to her. “If Philips comes back alone he can take his horse, nobody else’s. I don’t care what he tells you. You stay here unless someone else comes for you. If he tries to take the other horses, do what you can.”

“You think he’s going to try and leave us out here without horses or something?” Lily asked.

“Look Lil, if tries anything funny, threatens you in anyway and you feel just cause, shoot him.” Scarlet said.

“I knew you didn’t like him but this goes beyond that.”

“I don’t trust him at all Lil, be aware of what he’s doing.”

Lily smiled knowing she was doing more than just holding horses.

Scarlet took her rifle and disappeared. Lily listened and kept a sharp eye out.

Scarlet made it back to cover just before she heard Philips yell out “Give up, U.S. Marshals”. She knew Bo and Jimmy had made it into place but just barely. He had not waited for any sign from them.

He was fired at by one of the outlaws for his trouble, to which he replied “Ben Pole, give up, this is Marshal Philips my posse has you surrounded.”

“Ride on outta here Philips and take your posse with you.” One of the outlaws replied.

“Give up it’ll go easier for you.” Philips yelled back.

One of the outlaws fired in his direction.

Scarlet leveled her rifle and squeezed the trigger.

She heard the man scream, she knew the bullet had found its mark in the man’s shoulder. She saw Philips looking to see where the gunfire had come from. She could see his face, he was mad but he had no clue who had taken the shot.

“Throw down your weapons and give up!” Philips yelled.

Scarlet couldn’t tell if that tone in his voice was anger or panic.

More shots rang out from the outlaws who had now started to find cover.

Scarlet heard the roar of Jimmy’s rifle from above them followed by other members of the posse.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on March 18, 2010, 02:55:26 PM
Fritz could distinguish between the loud reports of the Sharps and the Whitworth.  Even today he could tell the difference between the two.  Each time one of those rifles boomed, a man fell.  His '66 was liquid-smooth.  It was the proginy of 'that damned Yankee rifle you load on Sunday and fire all week.'  His job was to keep the robbers from slipping into the woods beyond the canyon.  Men flee from the light into the darkness.  Fritz's job was to keep them in the light.  He was sure that he hit the men he aimed at.  He wasn't so sure if they fell.  As he worked the lever of his rifle, Phillips' comments about his choice of arms came back to him.  Maybe it was time to replace the obsolete arms in his collection with something more modern...or at least of larger caliber.  He thought of the Walkers strapped about his wife's shapely hips and laughed.  It sounded strange under the current circumstances.          
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on March 19, 2010, 10:51:42 PM
Ben Pole winced and gagged when the spray of blood hit his face as David Jackson fell and twitched.

He couldn’t believe what was happening, there shouldn’t have even been a posse following them, now half of his men were wounded and three were dead. They were pinned down and shot at every time they made a move to escape. Perry had deserted them just before the posse showed.

He looked around; Fred Rico laid dead, blood running from his mouth. Owen had his shoulder blown apart for his trouble of trying to fire back at the posse and Ezra would die before long with the bullet in his gut.

“What we gonna do Ben? Are we going to give up or die here?” Rodriguez said.

“Have we hit anybody out there?” Ben asked.

“No, we are not that good of shots and killing people is not what I signed on for. I don’t want my mother to watch me hang for shooting some other mother’s son.”  Rodriguez remarked.

‘Hold your fire.” Pole yelled out. “Philips do you hear me?!”

The gun fire died on both sides.

“Throw down your guns and come out into the open.” Philips yelled back.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on March 20, 2010, 12:36:12 AM
After Archie was settled into a patient bed and comfortable, Ella and Eddie went over to the Marshal's office. Ella opened the door with the key that Tensleep had insisted she keep so she could take care of feeding prisoners in the cells. There weren't any prisoners at the moment. Those arrested on Friday and Saturday night for being drunk and disorderly had all been released by noon on Sunday.

They went into the back office, lit the lantern and started searching for a book that could be the key to the telegrams. There were several dime novels on the bookshelf, but none of them were printed in the right format. There was also a stack of issues of "The Fireside Companion", which was printed in 3 columns. They divided up the stack, and started looking for pencil marks or any other sign. After a few minutes, Eddie exclaimed, "Most of these papers have some pages taken out!"

"Any idea what was on those pages?"

"It looks like all the serials written by Old Sleuth are removed. At least, that's what the tables of contents say."

"Let's check the desk."

"The bottom drawer is locked."

Ella tipped over the bookend, and removed the spare desk key that Tensleep had stuck to the hollow in the bottom. The drawer opened. They put the cash box aside. There was a leather folder, containing a few working papers, including Marshal Phillip's written instructions, and the information about his deputies that Tensleep had sent with his resignation. Underneath that was a handmade book, containing pages from "The Fireside Companion". Each serial had been collected and sewn together into a pamphlet. The pamphlets were tied together and into the leather cover. The pages had been numbered by hand, with each serial starting with page 1.

Two loose papers at the front of the book were telegraph flimsies. One from Castle to Phillips dated Wednesday morning said, "DABA DABG DADA DAAD DAAN DACLZ CBAH CBAE CBAF CBAP CBBA CBBHZ". Underneath was the decoded message, "M O N D A Y  S I E S T A". Another from Castle to Phillips on Thursday morning said, "DCUAZ AAAJ AAAE AAAD AABG AAAQ AABF AAAM AABA AACE AACBZ EADCZ OAJBZ". Underneath it said, "no R E S I S T A N C E no harm".

A third loose piece of paper had been torn from a notebook, and tucked at the beginning of a story titled "Old Sleuth, Badger & Co." It had
D 4 1 1 4  
E 4 1 1 3  
P 4 1 2 20  
U 4 1 2 2  
T 4 1 3 1
I 4 1 3 8
E 4 1 3 3
S 4 1 3 6  
1  3 1  9 7
2  3 2 20 11
3 15 1 94 5
4 15 1 24 8
5 15 1  5 3
6 25 2 69 5
7 21 1  7 4
8 17 2 65 1
9 21 3 21 9
10 9 2 19 9
20 3 2 10 4

"This looks like he was planning a message while traveling, maybe to report how many deputies were here!" exclaimed Eddie. He pulled out his copy of the first message Phillips had sent, "CBTKZ DAAD DAAC DABT DABB DACA DACH DACC DACFZ" to compare. He converted the letters to numbers and said, "It matches. Why did he say there were only two deputies? There are six: Mr. and Mrs. King, Dr. and Mrs. McDowell, Jimmy and Lily."

"Well, you remember that the McDowells walked out of his first meeting, and he told Mrs. King and Lily to go home. It looks like he only counted the two men he had left. Check if the message was coded using 'Old Sleuth, Badger & Co.'"

Eddie went back to work, and reported, "It was, and Marshal Phillips's other message reads, 'no harm to people', but the messages he got back don't work."

"They might be coded with one of the other stories. How many stories are in that book?"

"A couple dozen."

"That's going to take us too long to figure out tonight. Copy down the titles of the serials and the issues of the paper they were in, and we'll put Mrs. McDowell to work collecting the right issues for us to make our own copy of the book."

"Mr. Reynolds has some recent Fireside Companions in the barber shop, for people to read while they're waiting. Maybe he's got older ones put away somewhere."

"You can ask him tomorrow, when you go get a haircut. I wonder who else might subscribe to it. It contains stories for women to read, as well as detective and adventure stories for men."

Once Eddie had made his list, they carefully put everything back the way they had found it, and locked the desk. Ella pocketed the desk key, and they returned home.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on March 20, 2010, 08:58:44 PM
Ben looked at his men, he would stand and fight if they wanted to but he wouldn’t like it. “What do you boys want to do?”
Rodriguez looked a little ashamed for wanting to give up but he preferred not to die.
“Dave would have told us to fight.” One of the men said.
“He killed men before, and now look at him, I’m wearing his damn brain and Bernie has a hole in him we could walk through. Who the hell is out there and what are they shooting at us?!” Ben growled pointing at David’s lifeless body. “We either die here, we could try ta ride out with a stampede, we might make it or we give up before the rest of us get killed or we give up and hope they go easy on us for never killing anybody.”
The men looked at one another. Ben dropped his pistol. “You can shoot me in the back if you want but I’m giving up.”
The other men followed his lead. “We’re coming out Philips. Don’t shoot!”
“Come out with your hands up.” Philips replied.
“We got some dead and wounded.” Ben yelled back.
“Drag ‘em out with you.” Came a woman’s voice that surprised the outlaws and Philips too.
They drug the dead and dying men out with them.  “Here we are.” Ben said raising his hands in the air.

Philips started to move but heard Scarlet yell out “Your missing somebody, where is he?” and froze in his tracks, maybe this was some kind of trick. There could be more waiting in the rocks to cut down the posse when they showed themselves.
“We ain’t missin’ nobody!” Ben replied.
Philips watched, it was better than the novels he read, he could feel his heart racing at the thought there might be another fire fight while he wondered just how Scarlet knew how many outlaws there were, and who was missing.
Scarlet took a shot with the rifle spraying Ben with dirt and rocks. “The next one goes in your knee cap Ben Pole. Tell me the truth.” She yelled back.
These people are crazy Philips thought to himself. He could have sworn he’d seen Fritz laughing during the gun battle and now this! Not to mention the one whose name he really wasn’t sure of.
“I swear lady this is everybody but the two you have!” Ben replied. “We even drug down our dead.”
There was an eerie silence that fell in the canyon followed by the sound of the hammer of the big rifle being pulled back.
Ben fell to his knees “This is everybody!! Don’t shoot me!!”
“There was one other; he rode out before you got here!”  Rodriguez yelled back.
“Gus Rodriguez you know what lying will do to you?” Scarlet yelled back. It was obvious from the sound of her voice she had moved to a different position.
“I am sure I will already meet the devil in the afterlife senorita.” He replied.
“Then why should I believe you if you’re already going to hell?”
“I’ll be going to hell for stealing and not earning an honest living and that is all. You have the advantage on me and know who I am, so you should know that to be true.”
It was quiet again. Scarlet had made her way to Jimmy who confirmed there was indeed a horse missing but the rest were accounted for.

Scarlet and Jimmy worked their way down from the rocks with Max Well Collins in tow. Followed closely by Bo and the man he had with him.

The posse was starting to pat down the outlaws for weapons.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on March 21, 2010, 08:19:53 AM
While Scarlet negotiated terms from cover, Fritz topped off the '66's magazine from his dyer pouch.  Now that they were moving close in, he would have an advantage in firepower.  As the posse moved from cover to conduct searches, he moved in with the rifle to shoulder, slowly sweeping from left to right.  He'd stopped laughing, and his face was deathly grim. 

"I got 'em," Fritz said.  "They move and they're dead."   
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on March 22, 2010, 07:48:16 PM
The victors were gentle enough. Once the weapons had been taken from his men, they were allowed to care for their wounded. Ezra Barnes stopped breathing before the crescent moon set, and his body was put to the side with the corpses of David Jackson, Fred Rico, and Bernie Thomas. Owen Brown could still die from his wound, if fever set in. He probably would never have much use of his left arm if he survived.

Dinner was prepared by the younger man who answered to 'Jimmy' and a woman who had come in with the posse's horses and answered to 'Lil' or 'Lily'. Ben's men weren't physically constrained much, just handcuffs, but the cold eyes of the older 'Jimmy' were always watching. Ulysses Evans muttered about making a break for it until Ben asked him, "Do you have that much credit with St. Jude Thaddeus, Uly?" Everyone else recognized a lost cause when they saw it. After dinner, they sat or lay on their bedrolls, each lost in his own thoughts.

Ben Pole knew he had been close to losing control of his men. He had let the surviving friends of Jim Hoss hook up with him, and in repayment, they had been slowly but steadily undermining his authority. Fred Rico was a born follower, and David Jackson looked like a more exciting leader, with Owen Brown and Ezra Barnes backing him to the hilt. Ben was sure that the first time he let David Jackson accompany him into a bank would also have been the first time they killed someone in the course of a robbery. So far, David had been willing to settle for scouting the town ahead of time.

He had not wanted to tackle the El Paso bank. The marshal and deputies there just plain had too much of a reputation. But he had David breathing down his neck. It had been perfectly clear that turning down the job would have meant the end of his leadership, and probably his life. Perry's skill at organizing jobs had mostly recovered from a slump a couple of years earlier, when many of his jobs had failed. Either the local law had been too alert and caught the robbers almost before they left the bank, or had been too fast to follow with a posse. Ben had insisted on Perry accompanying the robbery team for insurance, but he had escaped before the posse showed up.

Marshal Phillips wanted to be in charge, but the other six seemed to know what they were doing without orders. He suspected that any orders he gave would be ignored or laughed at. The curiosity over how Scarlet had known who they were chasing was driving him crazy. Knowing that one was missing could be explained by the scouting done by the other Jimmy. But how did she get identities out of the descriptions of masked gunmen given by the witnesses in the bank, when she didn't even talk to those witnesses as far as he knew?

"Deputy Washington!" he called. Jimmy got up and came over to where Phillips was sitting. "How did Mrs. King know who we were after?" he asked quietly.

"You'll have to ask her. I saw some of these men at the Pink Palace on Friday and Saturday night, but they weren't involved in either of the fights with Emmett Mitchell. You know, I think Emmett does it on purpose. He comes to town on Friday night, drinks up half his money, then starts a fight so that he can spend the night in the jail instead of paying for a room. Then on Saturday night, he drinks up the rest of his money and picks another fight. The Pink Palace is the only saloon in town that still lets him in the door at all, and they send someone to fetch me to be on hand to break up the fight before it does much damage."

Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on March 22, 2010, 10:10:46 PM
Scarlet sat down next to Ben. “Where are the rest of your men Pole?”

Ben eyed her for a moment “You got them all but the one Gus told you about.”

“You are missing a few or maybe they just drifted off when Hoss’ men joined up with you.”

“They are waiting for me across the border.” Ben replied.

“I’m not going to be seeing them riding up the canyon?” Scarlet asked.

“No, besides if they were why would I tell you?”

Scarlet stood up and smiled down at him. “Because I gave you a fair chance to tell me, now I’m going out there and make sure and I’m leaving my friend here with you.” She said pointing in Jimmy Bradbury’s direction “If he hears the sound of my gun I suspect he will start torturing you for lying.” She said softly.

She walked over and whispered something in the ear of the man she had pointed at, an evil grin crossed the man’s lips. 

Ben had not been lying and he highly doubted Perry was going to come back for them, still he didn’t like what she had implied.

“Lily and I are going on watch. You going to bring someone and relieve us in a few hours?” She said with a soft smile walking up to Fritz.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on March 23, 2010, 07:34:35 AM
He had stood guard the whole time, the stock of his '66 against his hip.  Truth be told, his knee was starting to hurt again.  He'd either have to sit down, or take some time in the saddle. 

"Bo and I can come out after awhile.  Sound good?"

Scarlet smiled sweetly.  It was a smile she kept only for him.

"You'll know where to find me," she said, and turned towards Lucky.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on March 24, 2010, 12:41:08 PM
Jimmy Bradbury nudged Jimmy Washington awake when it was time for them to take over on watch.
Young Jimmy yawned and stretched, then picked up his rifle and headed for Fritz's post.

"All quiet, boss?" he asked.

"All quiet."

"You know, it bothers me that Marshal Phillips is likely to claim all the credit for himself. I just don't see him admitting to anyone that he wouldn't have been involved at all if Scarlet hadn't shamed him into riding with the posse."
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on March 24, 2010, 07:33:32 PM
Fritz thought about it for a moment.  "I really don't care who gets the credit.  If he wants to be a glory hound, let him.  It'll catch up to him in the end.  My only concern is that his thirst for glory will get others killed.  Last year, George Custer got over 200 troopers killed in his quest for glory."

Fritz looked off into the blackness.  It was as if he could see a thousand yards away, in the pitch black.

"There are more of us than there are of him, Jimmy.  And our testimony matches up.  I suggest you write down what happened, in your own words.  I'll swear you to it, and it will stand in a court of law."         
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on March 25, 2010, 12:08:11 AM
"I doubt we'll need a court of law. But I will write everything down, and have Dr. Alan check the spelling and such, so no one will be able to complain about that and ignore the rest. I guess the best thing to do is keep watching each others' backs like we have done so far," replied Jimmy. "Time to let you hit your bedroll so we can all get moving at dawn for the ride back to town."
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on March 30, 2010, 06:29:58 AM
Fritz returned to the camp.  Daylight would come soon enough.  He added some wood to the fire, and blew the coals to life.  He filled a coffeepot with water from his canteen and hung it from a hook over the fire.  As he listened to the wood crackling, he looked around.  Some of his comrades stirred, but most took advantage of the remaining darkness.  He pulled a sack of coffee from his saddlebags, and squatted by the fire.  Once the water boiled, he dumped a handfull of grounds into the pot, and watched them settle to the bottom.  Fritz removed the pot from the fire.  With a gauntleted hand, he poured two tin cups and carried them over to his sleeping wife. 

He enjoyed watching Scarlet sleep.  She always wore a sweet smile while she dreamed.  She looked like a little girl, keeping a  happy secret.  He set the cup on the ground a few inches from her face, and watched as the aroma woke her.

"Good morning darlin!" Fritz whispered as she opened her eyes.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on March 30, 2010, 10:32:10 PM
Scarlet smiled thinking if nothing else went right with the rest of the day at least her morning had started right, with that thought she sat up and watched him for a moment. She really could get lost in his eyes; they danced when he was happy.

Placing her hand on his cheek she kissed him softly “Good morning handsome.” She whispered.

Scarlet picked up the cup Fritz had put next to her. “Thank you.” She said looking around as she sipped the hot liquid.

The group had worked well together she thought. Scarlet had wondered how Jimmy and Lily would handle themselves when they were faced by outlaws.

Lily was inexperienced but eager to learn and listened to what she was being told. Scarlet could tell by Lily’s look when she was asked to hold the horses Lily wondered if she was being asked because Scarlet didn’t think as much of her skills as the men. She did wonder how Lily would handle having to shoot someone if she had to. One would never have the answer to that until it happened but she had not said anything about the dead bodies when she’d seen them.

Deputy Jimmy, she would have to come up with something else to call him when Jimmy Bradbury rode with them Scarlet thought to herself, had certainly had to learn how to handle himself having ridden with Firehorse Charlie. He seemed to prefer the right side of the law and have a good mind for it.

The smell of the coffee soon had the others up and around, they were packed up and ready to head back to El Paso shortly after that.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on March 31, 2010, 12:11:06 AM
Ella and Alan were eating breakfast, while Eddie sat with Archie, when Bella brought in a telegram. "Mr. Tinker said this came for you late last night," she said, handing it to Ella.

She deciphered it and read out loud to Alan, "Deputy Hayes says CONCEAL AND PROTECT HIM FROM WOMAN HATER."

"Does he mean Marshal Phillips as the woman hater?" Alan asked and Ella nodded. "It's hard to conceal Archie when Phillips was there when he was turned over to my care. Taking him out to the Starr like you wanted is a good protection, though."

"We don't want to bring trouble onto Johnny and Rose, though."

"If Marshal Phillips thought Archie was dead, he wouldn't pursue him."

"We don't like to lie."

"Maybe we make people assume Archie is dead, and not need to ask any questions. If we have the undertaker bring a coffin and hearse over here, we can carry Archie out to the Starr in the coffin."

"Putting him in a coffin could tip him off the border between life and death where he's perched right now."

"Then carry him in the carriage and put sandbags in the coffin."

"That can work. I've got some potted plants to take to Rose. They can ride in the coffin."

"I'll go take over from Eddie, and send him to the undertaker's. You pack what you're going to need at the Starr. I'm guessing you'll want to stay with Archie? If anyone asks after you, I can say that you are staying there, where your mare is close to foaling."

Within the hour, the undertaker drove his hearse into the stable yard. Bella invited him into the house for coffee while the others took care of the arrangements.

By mid-morning, the hearse bearing a coffin, followed by Ella driving the carriage and Alan and Eddie riding alongside made up a little parade through town and out towards the west. The men who saw them took off their hats in respect as the hearse passed by. When they turned onto Southern Starr land, some of the hands followed them.  In front of the house, Alan and Eddie, with help from the hands, pulled the coffin off the hearse and set it down gently, then Alan thanked the undertaker and paid him. Johnny and Rose were on the porch waiting for an explanation. Rose had caught Ella's signals, and held Johnny back.

Once the undertaker was out of sight, Ella opened the coffin and pulled out the plants for Rose, and started explaining, while Alan drove around to the infirmary where Eddie helped him take Archie into the two-bed patient room.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on March 31, 2010, 10:13:55 PM
“Deputy King, Deputy Washington roll those men in bedrolls and place them on their horses.” Philips insisted indicating the dead outlaws.

“Why don’t you help with that?” Scarlet said flatly glaring at Philips.

“I’m dealing with the living, I wasn’t the one who killed them, and I wasn’t talking to you anyway.” Philips retorted.

Bo pushed back his hat knowing this was going to turn into a contest of stubbornness and Scarlet could be very good at it.

Scarlet snorted. “WE can just put the bodies over the saddles if you don’t want to help.”

“We won’t be riding into town with uncovered bodies.”

Jimmy Washington was not really whose orders to follow so he waited for Fritz to make the first move, which didn’t seem to be following Philips directions.

“You don’t ask people to do stuff you’re not willing to do yourself.” Scarlet hissed.

“I’m the marshal, they are the deputies.” Philips said arrogantly.

Scarlet tilted her head and looked at him. “Piss poor one at that.” She said under her breath then drew her knife. “Give me a hand.” She said to Jimmy Bradbury. “All we need for identification is the heads; we can put them in a bag and leave the bodies for the varmints, which I’m willing to do.”

“You’re going to what?!” Philips said shocked.

Bo just shook his head; he thought she’d play him out a little longer than that.

“I think the word yer lookin’ for is decapitate.” Jimmy said grabbing one by the hair.

“Look if you’re not willing to do the dirty work then you keep your mouth shut.”

Philips eyes got wide “Alright I’ll help, I’ll help.”

“Ya sure now?” Scarlet said.

Philips glared at her. She gave him an innocent look like she’d done nothing wrong.

He retrieved one of the bedrolls and spread it out.

Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on April 01, 2010, 10:21:23 AM
He witnessed the exchange, but said nothing.  When the time was right, he'd have words with Phillips...and perhaps more.  The surviving members of the gang sat pale-faced as Scarlet suggested beheading the corpses.  If they'd been considering fight or flight, they weren't considering it now.        
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on April 02, 2010, 06:35:32 PM
Phillips didn't seem to have any trouble keeping up with the rest of the posse on the way back to town. He was even trying to be in front, except Lucky wasn't willing to be behind his horse.

Phillips told Scarlet, "If you can't get your horse to stay in back, I should trade horses with you."

The glint in Scarlet's eye told Bo and Fritz that she was tempted to let him try, but Bo spoke up, "You do not want to try to ride Lucky. He is a one-rider horse."

Phillips looked around and saw that everyone else seemed to agree with that statement.

Jimmy Bradbury told Bo quietly, "Would have been fun to watch him."

Bo responded, "We don't need to break the man yet. Besides, he wouldn't have lasted long enough to be much entertainment."

Phillips wanted his deputies to be the ones on either side of the live outlaws, but Jimmy Washington traded places with Lily, preferring to ride drag rather than face his brother's scorn over ungentlemanly behavior.

A little while later, another parade marched through town. This one got applause and cheering from the onlookers. Marshal Phillips and Scarlet rode side-by-side ahead of a string of live outlaws tied into their saddles and dead outlaws draped over their saddles, with Fritz and Lily to either side. Then Bo and Jimmy Bradbury herded the extra horses, with Jimmy Washington bringing up the rear.

Once all the prisoners were locked into the cells, Marshal Phillips issued more orders. "The office will not be left unattended as long as the prisoners are here. Deputy King, go to the newspaper and tell them I will return the money to the bank at 2:00pm, and will grant an interview afterwards. Then get cleaned up and come back as soon as you can. Deputy Washington, take the corpses to the undertaker and have him prepare them for photographs, then have the photographer come here so I can tell him what I want in the photographs of the dead outlaws. Then come back here and take charge of the office." As an afterthought, Phillips added, "Miss Jefferson, go ask Dr. Coatsworth to come here to treat the outlaws' injuries."

Lily ran off and returned soon, reporting, "Dr. Coatsworth is gone to a funeral. His housekeeper expects him back at noon, and she will tell him he is needed here."

Phillips looked up from the report he was writing to ask, "Who died?"

"The stranger."

Phillips returned to the report, dismissing Lily from his attention.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on April 02, 2010, 08:36:39 PM
Johnny waited patiently for Ella to explain while she and Rose unloaded plants.

"Deputy Ambrose Hayes came out here last year because Patches asked questions about men up at Fort Fetterman. One of the men concerned was picked up by Jimmy and sent back to town with Alan and Eddie yesterday. That's who was in the back of the carriage. Alan and Eddie are getting him settled into the infirmary. I sent Deputy Hayes a wire to let him know that this man was here and asked him to come visit me soon. I got a couple replies from him. The first was that he was coming and would see me at the Starr Thursday evening. I didn't know why he isn't coming into town. The second message from him said to hide and protect this man from Marshal Phillips. Here is the best-protected place I can tend him. Marshal Phillips saw the man before Alan brought him to town, so we're trying to have people think he died, rather than bring trouble following him out here. Deputy Hayes is going to have to explain why he's avoiding Phillips when he gets here. I would like Hayes to stay in the infirmary with Archie, if you don't mind having him on the Starr."

"As long as Hayes minds his manners and doesn't wander into places I don't think he has business. He's been here before, knows my rules." Johnny said then headed for the infirmary to see who they had brought in.

Johnny stopped far enough away not to disturb the three men in the infirmary. Ella was behind him.

"Ella, that's Marshal Lester Witts. What's going on?" Johnny asked.

"I wish I knew. We met him at the fort going by the name of Archie Johnson, pretending to be a drunkard and a friend to some unsavory characters. Deputy Hayes came up to the Fort to tell us that he has been undercover for the past two years in a big secret investigation. I don't know why Hayes says we need to keep Phillips away from him, but I already had reasons to distrust Phillips. I hope Hayes can let us know what's going on."

Eddie's help no longer needed with Archie, he went out and brought in the gear off Archie's horse and stashed it where Ella pointed. Then he went back out to turn the horse out with others in the paddock.

By then Alan was done, and ready to take the carriage back to town, with Eddie riding alongside.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on April 05, 2010, 09:53:13 PM
Scarlet had no expression one way or the other when Lily said the stranger had died. She motioned Lily outside; no doubt Philips was happy to see her go and wouldn’t need Lily unless he had some menial errand.

“Was Ella home?” Scarlet asked.

“No. She went to the funeral too.” Lily replied.

“I’ll be at the Ace.” Scarlet said thinking she had her own reports to write. “Take care of your horse Lil, then take care of yourself.”

Scarlet made her way to the Ace and made sure Lucky and Buddy were taken care of before going upstairs and cleaning herself up. Once she had done that she took a cup of coffee out on the balcony of her room, sat down and began to write her own reports while she watched who was coming and going to the Marshal’s office.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on April 06, 2010, 10:14:38 AM
Jimmy escorted the photographer to the Marshals office. After showing him into the back room where Phillips was waiting, he joined Lily at the file cabinet.

"What are you doing?" he asked.

"Pulling the paper on our prisoners and the dead ones. After I get the list together, we can wire the other places that care about them so that they can close their files, or send their own deputies to take them to trial elsewhere. A couple of the dead ones were wanted in several states!"

"Is Marshal Phillips going to have an easy time or a hard time finding that stack of paper once you are done?"

"That all depends on how he behaves between now and whenever he decides he needs it."

When the photographer left, so did Marshal Phillips. "I'm going home to get cleaned up. Do not leave the office for any reason until Deputy King returns!"

Dr. Alan arrived with Eddie, so Lily went with them into the cell block, and stood guard while Dr. Alan and Eddie entered the cells to treat the wounded. Dr. Alan spent a lot of time on Owen Brown's shoulder. When Dr. Alan was done, and the cell doors were all locked again, Ben Pole called out, "When can I see a lawyer?"

Lily answered, "I'll fetch one for you."

Dr. Alan said, "I can run that errand for you, on my way home."

Eddie took Lily and Jimmy's horses home.

Within an hour, the lawyer Raymond Morgan came in. He was the defense attorney usually hired by those who could pay, but he also did a lot of pro bono work. His relationship with Marshal Ross and the Kings had been one of mutual respect. He knew that prisoners in the cells were always treated fairly, and also knew that the evidence against them was almost always solid. Lily escorted him into the cell block, and introduced him to Ben Pole, then moved as far away as she could to leave them some privacy.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on April 06, 2010, 11:43:26 AM
Fritz had run his errand, and was on his way back to the Ace to get cleaned up.  He supposed Phillips didn't want anyone with blood on them for the photographs.  Fritz distrusted newspapermen, even though those in El Paso seemed more honest than most.  He'd have thrown every damned newspaperman out of their encampments during the war if he could.  Unfortunately, many of the officers he'd served under had wanted glory more than victory.  The stink of the field paled in comparision to the odor of the press.

Hank smiled as Fritz walked through the batwings.  "Well, you look no worse for wear," he said, as Fritz headed for the stairs. 

"You know the old saw," Fritz repiled.  "Too many chiefs..."

"Not enough indians," Hank laughed.

Fritz put his key in the lock.  He knew Scarlet was there; he could feel her inside.  Just as he was sure that she'd heard the sound of his cavalry issue boots in the hallway.

She had her back to him, working on her reports.  He slipped in behind her, wrapping his arms around her neck.  "Tough day at the office Hun?"         
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on April 06, 2010, 10:39:07 PM
Scarlet smiled and leaned back against him. “Let me think, lost my temper once, wouldn’t be surprised if Deputy Jimmy and Lily are wondering what the hell kinda marshal I am to threaten to behead dead men, Philips only acknowledges me when he really wants something, then I make him mad when he does ask, no fluff in my report….. sounds like an average day at the office to me.” She chuckled.

Scarlet laced her fingers between his. “How you doin’ Darlin’?” she asked knowing he was putting up with Phillips a lot better than she was.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on April 06, 2010, 11:57:54 PM
Jimmy worked on his report while Lily drafted telegrams. When she was done, she told him, "I'm going to the telegraph office. I'll be back by the time Bella and Eddie bring us lunch."

Tink let her use the key, knowing she needed the practice. 10 telegrams later, L. Jefferson had informed Tulsa, Prescott, Santa Fe, Albuquerque, San Francisco, San Antonio, Houston, St. Louis, Wichita and Omaha that Fred Rico, David Jackson, Bernie Thomas and Ezra Barnes had died resisting arrest and that Ben Pole, Maxwell Collins, Gus Rodriguez, Juan Sanchez, Edmund Cox, Ulysses Evans, Eduardo Perez and Owen Brown were in custody for conspiracy to commit bank robbery.

"I'll check back for replies."

"That will save me a lot of message deliveries. How much bounty do you all expect to get out of that bunch?"

"David Jackson is worth a bunch. The other bounties are a couple hundred each, but collecting from several cities adds up."
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on April 09, 2010, 12:18:16 AM
Fritz kissed the back of her hand. “Let me think, haven’t lost my temper yet, my wife continues to show she knows how to make a point when she really wants to, I wish Phillips wouldn’t talk to me and for once I don’t have to write the report.” He said with a smile.

Scarlet turned in his arms and kissed him deeply. “I do know one thing for sure.” She said softly.

“What’s that?” He asked.

“As long as you are the first one I see in the morning, you’re there to wrap myself around at night looking at me with those eyes that make me forget all the unpleasant things of the day the rest of it will work out.”

Fritz’s smile made her smile.

“The other thing I am certain of is if I keep standing here looking at your smile and into your eyes I’m going to forget I need to go speak with Ella, toss this report over the side of the balcony and tell ‘em all to go to hell because I have better ways to spend my time.” She said.

Fritz suppressed his grin. “You had best go talk to Ella before I agree with you.”

Scarlet picked up her papers and put them on the table inside before heading down the stairs.

Hank watched her go out the batwings with a smile and wondered how far she would get before somebody set her temper off again.   

Scarlet could hear Bella calling for Dr. Alan before she knocked on the door.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on April 09, 2010, 10:35:28 AM
Bella answered the door, "Please come in, Mrs. King." She turned to lead Scarlet toward the parlor.

"I'd like to speak to Ella, if she's available."

"Mrs. Coatsworth is not here. She wants to see you in her infirmary at the Southern Starr as soon as convenient for you."

Suspicion bloomed in Scarlet's mind.

"I thought the stranger died."

Dr. Alan had come in and answered, "A stranger died, but Ella is taking care of Archie in her infirmary."

"What's going on?"

"That's what your father asked when he recognized Marshal Witts," chuckled Alan. "Ella knows more than she's told me, and that's why she wants to see you."

Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on April 09, 2010, 10:08:13 PM
“Told on a need to know basis, comes with the badge I think. Sometimes it’s a difficult call to make who should know what and just how much.

I’m glad to know Archie didn’t die.” Scarlet said.

“We are waiting for him to get stronger before removing the bullet.” Dr. Alan said optimistically.

“In this line a work I have definitely met people cut from a special kind of cloth Dr. Alan. Marshal Witts.” Scarlet smiled remembering the past “Marshal Witts has never given me any reason to believe he would give up. If he was going to give up on himself he wouldn’t have made it this far.

Thank you for the message and lookin’ after him.” Scarlet said.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on April 11, 2010, 09:25:50 PM
Scarlet stopped by the Marshal’s office on her way back to the Ace.

Jimmy looked up from what he was doing when she walked in. “Mr. King is not here.”

Scarlet half grinned. “I know, Philips is not here either, but Mr. Morgan is.”

Jimmy wondered how she knew.

“I came in to let you and Lily know I was headed back to the Starr, if anyone is looking for me.”

“Lily sent out telegrams regarding the prisoners.” He said.

“Tell her thank you for doing that.” Scarlet replied.

“Mrs. King” Jimmy said getting her attention before she went out the door.

Scarlet stopped short, she knew that tone. Something was weighing on Jimmy’s mind.

Scarlet turned to face him again. “What is it Jimmy?”

“When you and Phillips are together I’m not really sure whose orders to follow.” He paused worried maybe he shouldn’t have said it.

“First of all if you got something weighing on your mind, say it. It’s better for both of us. If I had not thought you a good deputy I would have told you so. If I had not thought the team we have was worth working with I would have said so.

I have saddled you and Fritz both with a difficult task. Phillips is not an easy man to work with; you may think I am not easy to work with. You have to deal with Phillips more than with me on a daily basis. I keep that in the back of my mind when Phillips and I are together. I’m trying to not put you in a position where you have to choose whose orders to follow. I know this is not the answer you were looking for but you have to follow your own instincts. You are the one you have to face in the mirror every morning.

You did well out there Jimmy. I was not worried about where you were or what you were doing.” She smiled.

Jimmy smiled back “Thank you.”

Scarlet went back to the Ace Fritz was finished cleaning up and ready to head back to the office when she came into the room.

“I am headed to the Starr to talk with Ella. With any luck you’ll be able to join me at home later, but if not send word so I don’t worry bout ya.” Scarlet said kissing him sweetly.


Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on April 12, 2010, 10:40:17 AM
When Bella and Eddie arrived, Lily called out, "Mr. Morgan, I'm sorry to interrupt you, but lunch for the prisoners is here." After a few more words, Raymond Morgan shook hands with Ben Pole through the bars and came out of the cell block.

While Lily guarded Bella and Eddie serving tortillas and beans with chilies, Jimmy invited, "Mr. Morgan, you are welcome to eat with us. Bella always sends plenty."

"Thank you. It smells wonderful." He helped Jimmy pull the chairs around the desk.

Bella set the kettle and basket on the desk for Eddie to bring back later, and the four served themselves.

After a few minutes of appreciative eating, Morgan asked, "What do you think of this new Marshal?"

He was answered with silence. "Well?" he asked again.

Eddie responded, "Ma always told us, 'If you can't say something nice about a person, say nothing at all." Then he and Lily went into the cell block to offer seconds to the prisoners.

"I see. How did the posse get going after the bank robbers so fast?"

Jimmy answered, "An eyewitness saw the riders approach the bank and recognized some of them as wanted bank robbers. She immediately sent a messenger to the Marshals office. She watched them enter the bank and leave some minutes later, then went into the bank herself to untie everyone. I think that's all the answer I'm supposed to give to that question."

"Of course. Who is the eyewitness?"

"Mrs. Coatsworth."

"I need to speak to the King Deputies. Do you know where I can find them?"

"Mrs. King went out to the Southern Starr. Mr. King should be back in here pretty soon."
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on April 18, 2010, 03:49:02 PM
Fritz headed back downstairs, passing by Hank at the bar.  Hank had poured a shot of the good stuff, and pushed it towards him.

“Looks like you need one,” he said.

“I do,” Fritz replied, “but I think I’ll wait until I want one.  Besides, I don’t want the Marshal accusing me of being drunk on duty.”

“Did Scarlet press the collars on your shirt before she left?” Hank replied with a wink.

“Why Hank,” Fritz grinned, “what EXACTLY are you asking?”

They shared a laugh.  “Unfortunately, there was no time for love.  Marshal Phillips has a date with the press, thus the clean white shirt.”

“Well, smile pretty for the camera,” Hank nodded, tossing back the shot.

Fritz returned to the office, where Eddie, Lily and Jimmy had just finished eating lunch with Lawyer Raymond Morgan.  Fritz liked lawyers even less than he liked reporters, but this one was as honest as the breed came.

“Mr. King,” Morgan said, standing and extending his hand.  Fritz shook the offered hand.

“Mr. Morgan,” Fritz replied.  “We keep doing this and we’ll never get to business.  Please, call me Fritz.”

Morgan was taken aback by the familiarity.  “Okay…Fritz.  Ben Pole is afraid he will be killed by agents of the Kingdom to prevent him from telling what he knows about its activities. If the new marshal was in Pleasanton two months ago, he may be one of those agents. Can Pole be moved someplace safer?"

“Okay,” Fritz replied.  “I must have missed the staff meeting.  Tell me about the Kingdom.”

Morgan didn’t understand the reference, but continued.  "The Kingdom is a criminal organization involved in bank robberies and gun running. There may be other activities that Pole doesn't know about."

“Well, the only place that Phillips doesn’t have access to is the Southern Starr,” Fritz said.  “There are cells attached to the office at the Starr.  We could stash Pole there I suppose…as long as Johnny doesn’t mind having a wanted criminal on his property."

Morgan thought about Johnny Longknife allowing a Yankee on his property, which was tantamount to the same thing.  He didn’t mention it.

“Jimmy,” Fritz said, “go home and clean up, then get some rest.  You’ll be on duty from midnight to morning.   Take a message to the telegraph office.  Call Scarlet back to town, and tell her to bring her brothers.”

“Got it, Jefe.”

Fritz smiled as Jimmy left the office.

“Excuse me Mr. Fritz,” Lily said.  “I assume you don’t want us to say anything about this conversation to the Marshal?”

Fritz nodded.  “You assume right.”  He liked this young lady.

Lily smiled. 
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on April 18, 2010, 04:41:34 PM
"Seeing as how Marshal Phillips doesn't like to get his hands dirty, it should be real easy to keep him from noticing he is missing a prisoner," commented Lily.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on April 19, 2010, 10:38:19 PM
Scarlet, Jimmy and Bo exchanged concerned glances as they rode up to the corrals. Tied to the hitching rail were horses they’d all used as back up mounts on a regular basis, groomed and ready for saddling.

“It’s more than a coincidence those three are tied there.” Bo said pulling his horse to a stop next to them.

“No doubt we are in for another ride somewhere.” Jimmy said stepping off of the horse he had ridden back.

One of the hands came around the corner “Wire came in to have ya’ll go back to town; we were just coming out to meet you with some fresh horses.” He said.

“See if you can find out what this is about, gear up my horse please, I want to talk to Ella before we go.” Scarlet said to Bo and Jimmy.

Scarlet knew she only had a few minutes before Bo and Jimmy showed up at the infirmary. She was glad she didn’t have to look far for Ella.

“I was hoping I could sit down and talk to you over some lunch but I’ll be riding back to town in a couple of minutes. Dr. Alan told me he would be here tomorrow to take the bullet out of Archie. Is there more that I should know now or can it wait until I get back here?” Scarlet said as she approached Ella.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on April 19, 2010, 10:58:13 PM
Ella said, "Once Bobby and I identified most of the men we had seen, I sent a report on the bank robbery to Deputy Hayes, as a way of telling him I had seen Perry without Archie. I sent Hayes another wire later, letting him know I had Archie and asking him to visit. The first reply I got said he would see us at the Southern Star Thursday evening. Then I got another wire from him, telling me to conceal and protect Archie from Phillips. Did you know that Phillips has told Tink to let him know about anyone sending telegrams to the Houston Marshals office?"

Scarlet's smile made Ella draw two conclusions: first she knew and second Phillips was only finding out things that were meant for him to know or general business of the Marshal's office. There was a sly tone to Scarlet's voice when she said, "I guess if you want something sent you don't want Phillips to know about, you send it to somebody making it personal instead of just the office."

"I think Phillips's order applied to anything sent to anyone at the Houston Marshals office. Of course, if you use the key yourself instead of having Tink do it, Phillips's order doesn't apply. At least, the message wouldn't show up in Tink's log book that way."

"Oh, I wonder if Tinker knew that's what Phillips meant. I guess I will just send anything from the Starr or use the key myself before Phillips gets more specific."

"I really doubt that Tink actually intends to comply with Phillips's wishes. But it seems wrong for Phillips even to think he can issue that command without a court order." Ella reached into her pockets. "Oh, here's the spare key to the desk in the office. I pocketed it instead of putting it back in the bookend to make sure Eddie wasn't going to try to sneak in for another look at the key book we found. He probably wouldn't think about the window from the office looking into the window in Phillips's bedroom! One specific story in a homemade collection of Old Sleuth stories is the key to the messages that Phillips sends. The incoming messages must be coded with a different story. However, Phillips had left the decoded messages in the book, so we know they said 'Monday siesta' and 'no resistance no harm'. Eddie is supposed to ask the barber for back issues of the Fireside Companion, so that he can try to duplicate the key book."
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on April 21, 2010, 11:12:56 PM
Scarlet pocketed the key “I will put this in the office at the Ace. In case one of us needs it again.” She said as she walked over to Archie.

She put her hand on his, leaned down and whispered something, Archie’s hand slightly moved under hers.

“Let’s ride!” Jimmy’s voice came from outside.

Scarlet looked at Ella and took a deep breath “I try to find reasons not to hate Phillips, but it seems to be a losing battle at every turn.” She commented walking out.

“What do you know?” She asked.

“Message was from Fritz to have you and your brothers come back.” Bo replied as she swung on her horse.

Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on April 21, 2010, 11:53:47 PM
Plans all made, Morgan turned to leave, and almost bumped into Marshal Phillips who was entering with a large leather-bound book under his arm.  "Who's this?" Phillips demanded.

Fritz performed introductions, "Raymond Morgan, lawyer, meet Isaiah Phillips, Marshal. Mr. Morgan will be representing the prisoners at their trial."

Morgan thought, "Some Yankees are more Yankee than others", while saying, "Pleased to meet you, Marshal."

Phillips grunted, "Likewise." Once Morgan left, Phillips asked, "Where's Deputy Washington?"

"I sent him home to get some rest, since he's got midnight duty."

"Miss Jefferson, take this message to the telegraph office."

Lily checked the clock, to make sure she could run the errand and be back to cover the office at 2:00pm, then took the message and left.

"I didn't give any orders about allowing a lawyer to talk to the prisoners."

"With all due respect, sir, we don't need orders to follow standard procedures. Before lunch tomorrow, the court clerk is going to be over here asking if the prisoners have hired a lawyer yet. If the answer were no, the court would assign Thaddeus Penderghast, and our nice clean case would be choked with thorns of legal obstruction. Morgan plays fair as long as we play fair. He does the best he can for his clients, and can win when our case is weak. Penderghast doesn't really care whether his clients are guilty or not, he just turns every case into a attack on the Marshals office. If you have any secrets in your background, Penderghast digs them up to use in an attempt to discredit your testimony. It doesn't matter how many times prosecutor objections are sustained, Penderghast's attacks do have an effect on the jury."

Phillips was silent a moment, then asked gruffly, "Where are the standard procedures documented?"

Fritz pointed at the framed signs on the wall of the outer office and said, "There should a folder in your desk, with the procedures as they stand now, as well as what they used to be." 

Phillips retired to his office to find out what "standard procedures" might have been acted upon already.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on April 22, 2010, 09:18:55 AM
Hank raised an eyebrow as the three cowboys came through the batwing doors and took a seat by the window, no doubt so they could watch the Marshal’s office; it had been a popular table lately. He heard them place an order for something to eat that wasn’t cooked by one of them. They rarely blew into town, he was glad they were eating before they started on the whiskey. There were few that could handle them when they’d had too much to drink.

Hank walked over to the table “Here for pleasure or business?” he said making note the men were armed, as usual.

“We’re hoping for pleasure.” One of them replied.

“You boys have met Mr. King haven’t ya?” He asked.

They looked at him wondering why he’d ask such a thing.

“I was just wondering if he’ll recognize you when he comes through here.”

“He may, may not, it’s been sometime since he’s seen us and we’ve only been formally introduced once.” One of the men replied.

“There’s no contract on him so we are of no concern.” One of them slightly laughed.

If it had been another day Hank would have had a good time pointing them out to Fritz as armed men and watching how they handled one another. Fritz was a tolerant man but things had been tense recently and he didn’t want to make any enemies so he decided to let the opportunity slide.

Scarlet noticed the three unmarked horses tied in front of the Ace as they rode in. She doubted it was coincidence the men had shown up in town early in the day. They spent most of their days riding the line, came to town occasionally to blow off steam after they’d been out for a lengthy spell. She figured Johnny had cut them lose early in the day to be in town in case there was trouble. She’d like to be able to tell them they could buy a bottle and stay in town, but that determination was yet to come.

Scarlet wondered what waited for them as she opened the door to the Marshal’s office.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on April 23, 2010, 12:00:18 PM
Lily was seated at the desk, working through the stack of telegrams she had picked up. "Mr. Fritz left a note for you," she said, handing Scarlet a folded sheet of paper. When Scarlet looked up after reading, Lily continued, "Mr. Morgan will be here with his carriage soon. Eddie is at the barbershop, watching the bank so he can warn us when Phillips heads back here. If someone will go with me, I'll get Pole ready for transport."
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on April 23, 2010, 11:15:14 PM
Scarlet was less than impressed as she read the note. It wasn’t really that they wanted to move Pole out to the Southern Starr, it was probably the right thing to do. It wasn’t that Hayes was coming, it was the fact he had informed them he was coming to the Starr, much like she’d been informed Phillips was coming, combined with the fact she’d had just about as much of this entire deal as she was willing to stomach.

She mumbled something under her breath that Lily couldn’t quite make out but she was sure it was not meant for her.

Scarlet turned on her heel and went out the door. Bo and Jimmy just exchanged glances as she came out and swung up on her horse. The horse spun around, Scarlet handed the note to Jimmy. “Help Lily please.” They both recognized the irritation in her voice.

“Where you going?” Jimmy asked.

Scarlet leveled her gaze at him. “You know you’re not going to do that as much as you want to.”  He said as if he could read her mind and knew she wanted to say going to find a good spot where Phillips will never know where the bullet came from.

“Talk to Morgan.” She said ridding off.

Jimmy looked at the note then handed it to Bo.

They both went into the office and greeted Lily.

“I’m guessing no of the others know where Pole is headed, and we best be careful to keep it that way.” Bo said to both of them.

Morgan was climbing in his carriage when Scarlet’s horse slid to a stop next to him. She dismounted and stopped in front of his office door.

Morgan raised his eyebrows and shook his head as he climbed down and followed her. He unlocked the door and motioned her to enter.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on April 25, 2010, 10:57:39 AM
“Coffee?” Morgan asked as he walked towards the pot.

“No Thank you.” She replied.

Morgan smiled Scarlet had a way of being very curt, yet polite at the same time. Her mother had taught her that. She was definitely not here for social hour.

“Morgan, why are we moving Pole.” She asked.

He was really waiting for her to start in on “are you crazy, taking prisoners out to the Southern Starr…who had that half wit idea?” but she hadn’t gotten there yet.

“He’s willing to cut the Marshal’s a very good deal in exchange for some protection.” Morgan said in a matter of fact tone.

“There a fewer horses on the Southern Star than times I’ve heard prisoners claim they were afraid of someone behind a badge, then there are the ones who have tried to tell the women they come in contact with what kind of wonderful life they could lead if she would just help them escape. ‘With a woman like you I could be a good man’.”

Morgan sat down and looked at her. “I know. I know the Starr is private property and I know you speak for your father when you tell those men to keep somebody off the place too. I know the only law out there is Johnny’s law and those men follow it to the letter, damn the badge and damn the army. By God it’s the best place to be if you don’t want somebody to find ya and still have a roof over your head.” He followed the last statement with a grin.

“Does Pole know your planning to send him to me?” She asked.

“No, he wanted protection and he’s afraid Phillips can’t protect him.” Morgan replied thinking that might get her attention, but it didn’t or she already knew. “Did your people fill you in on what was talked about?”


I’m not so sure Pole will want to be in my care. You ask him if he’d prefer staying in the El Paso jail or if he’d like to entrust his life to me.”

Morgan grinned a little wider “He see that southern charm of yours shine through out there on the trail Ms. Scarlet?”

“Jimmy and I make a real charming couple. Pole wants to cut a deal, it best be worth my time, because your right about the Southern Starr. If he agrees that he’d rather be with me and Jimmy than in Phillips jail, you tell him if he runs he’ll most likely die doing it. If he’s lying about what he knows I’m bringing back to Phillips.”

“I’ll tell him. I’ll also advise him if he’s lying information will probably be leaked back to his boss that he tried to cut this deal.”

“I didn’t say that.” Scarlet replied.

Morgan smiled. “I will advise my client he can be moved, you and Jimmy will be the ones protecting him, if he tries to run the deal is no longer good and he will be considered a fugitive. If he’s lying he will be returned to the El Paso jail.

Just what happened on the trail that Pole is going to be concerned about you for?”

“Ask him then I’ll verify if he’s telling the truth.”

“Scarlet, just between me and you, who is the Marshal of El Paso right now?”

Scarlet looked at him and drew a deep breath. “The man just wears a badge Ray, I don’t respect it. This is my home; I don’t want my friends afraid to walk the streets at night, but I really don’t know what’s keeping me from riding into Houston and shoving this star right up somebody’s.”

Morgan started laughing “If you go Scarlet can I escort you. It would be one hell of a thing to see.”

“Are you saying it would take two lawyers to get me outta jail?” She half smiled back.

“I’ll have another talk with my client and tell him the terms.”

Scarlet moved towards the door, Morgan hurried and opened it for her.

She looked at him again. “Tell me something Ray, between me and you.”

“What do you want to know?”

“What’s the word around town about me being Marshal?”

“You mean besides the bets if a woman can do the job or not?”


“You’re not afraid to bring justice Scarlet. That’s what they admire about you. Scott Hart was a good Marshal; he followed the letter of the law. Jon Ross was not afraid to bring justice here, swift and hard. You know what’s right and wrong, you’re fair, much like Ross. You know when you’re not being fair and you let somebody else step up. At least that’s what we see going on with Phillips, except now I know you just lack respect for the man. Law abiding citizens like a Marshal who will do right by them. Some of the men don’t like it because they think you belong in a dress at home, but the women are excited. Except for the one’s that think you should be at home in a dress too.”

“As a lawyer advise me if you need to escort me to Houston.” She smiled again.

“Yes ma’am.” He said pulling the door closed behind them. 

Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on April 25, 2010, 02:11:35 PM
Lily left her gun belt on the desk, then picked up the transport chains. With Jimmy covering her, she let Pole out of his cell and chained him - chains between ankles and wrists, and a chain between keeping his hands down to waist-level.

He asked, "Where am I going?"

"For a ride with your lawyer," was all she would answer.

When Morgan drove up his carriage, Jimmy and Lily walked Pole out and loaded him into the back.

Morgan gave Jimmy a minute to mount up, then drove away from the jail.

"Before I take you to the other location, I have to tell you that Scarlet King and James Bradbury will be your guards there. Do you have a problem with that?"

"Those are a couple of scary folks."

"You can have them as your jailers, or Marshal Phillips."

"I'll take them. I don't want Phillips as a jailer, because I think he's going to be ordered to silence me, and he'll do it. He might not wait for orders. Those others threatened to cut heads off of the dead, but I think scaring all of us was just a side-effect. They did make Phillips back down. So I would rather have them between me and Phillips."

"If you try to run, you will be considered a fugitive, and you will not make it off the ranch. If you are lying about having worthwhile information, you will be returned to the El Paso jail. Is that understood and acceptable?"

"Will you be there when I tell what I know?"


"Then I agree to the terms. Those two are scary, but up front about it."

Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on April 26, 2010, 07:56:31 AM
“Deputy King,” Phillips said, “you may go.”
Fritz couldn’t believe his ears.  He’d been dismissed!  It was obvious that Phillips wanted the interview to himself.  Fritz moved to the back of the crowd so he could listen.  The comments would have been amusing if they hadn’t been so insulting.

He didn’t like reporters, but he didn’t like liars much either.  And Phillips was a liar.  And though he wanted the glory, Phillips wasn’t prepared for the questions they asked.  Such as, “why did it take so long for you to respond to the bank robbery?”

Phillips’ first excuse was that he didn't want it to turn into a hostage situation, but that didn’t explain why he wasn't in place to do anything when the robbers left the bank.  Next, the reporters asked why Phillips didn’t know how his own posse knew which way to head out of town. They’d already interviewed the barber and tried to interview Ella, but she wasn't home.  Fritz left before he said something he’d regret.  He turned away and walked quickly back towards the office.   

 “Sonofabitch,” Fritz muttered to himself.  He was not a happy camper.  He was tempted to stop by the Ace first to get that shot Hank offered, but Fritz still considered himself to be on duty.  He’d settle for a cigar and a cup of coffee, once he got back to the office.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on April 26, 2010, 10:58:52 AM
All was quiet at the office. Lily was reading at the desk in the front office. She took one look at him, then closed her book and stood up. She reported, "All is quiet. Your wife was here and left again. I'll come back when dinner comes and cover the office this evening. The coffee's fresh and hot, Mr. Fritz."
He poured himself a cup and sat down in the chair behind the desk.

Lily went over to the barber shop to find Eddie, but met him coming towards the office.

"Phillips is on his way to the office, and he sure looks mad," Eddie reported.

"It's just as well I'm not there to rile him more."

"The barber has every issue of the Fireside Companion that's ever come out! He says he hates to throw away reading material, but all he can do with it is store it in boxes, so he's happy to give it away! There's three big boxes!"

"Let's borrow a hand truck from the Ace, and get them home."

A couple hours later, they had the floor of the parlor covered with the papers they were sorting. There was a knock at the door that Bella answered. Eddie and Lily could barely hear from the parlor, but Phillips's voice was easy to recognize.

Eddie and Lily looked at each other in dismay, then swept up the copies of the Fireside Companion in a hurry. They had them back in their boxes, the boxes under a table and hidden by the tablecloth just in time to grab books to be seen reading when Dr. Alan brought Phillips into the parlor.

"Marshal Phillips will be staying for dinner," Dr. Alan told them. Bella came in then, with sherry and light refreshments.

Lily and Eddie left with Bella. It was almost time to take dinner to the prisoners anyway.

Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on April 26, 2010, 11:38:04 AM
By the rhythm of Archie's breathing, Ella knew he was awake and conscious. She took a cup of water over to his bed, and said, "Welcome to another life. You're among friends, Marshal Witts. Deputy Ambrose Hayes is expected to arrive in a couple days."

"Where am I?"

"My infirmary at the Southern Starr, outside El Paso. It's a ranch owned by Johnny Longknife. He recognized you, so I assume you know him. You were found by the man scouting the robber's camp and taken back to town by my husband, Dr. Coatsworth. You've given us a great deal of worry, but you are on the mend now."
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on April 27, 2010, 12:51:35 PM
As soon as Bella called Phillips, Dr. Alan and Jimmy in to eat dinner, Eddie moved the boxes from the parlor to his room.

He soon had "Old Sleuth, Badger & Co." together, and tested his new key on the message Lily had taken to the telegraph office that afternoon.


The key worked! The message translated to
pole collins rodriguez sanchez cox evans perez brown in custody STOP
others dead

He went to work putting the other stories together.

Jimmy found Eddie asleep at his desk and shook him awake. "Come on, walk with me to the office so you can walk Lily home."
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on April 27, 2010, 01:18:32 PM
Wednesday morning, Lily headed for Tink's office while Eddie and Bella were packing up breakfast for the prisoners. She caught up with them at the office. After the prisoners were fed, Jimmy went home with Eddie and Bella.

Lily looked through the stack of telegrams. One she put on the Marshal's desk in the inner office before she started a fresh pot of coffee. Ella had given her a lot of advice on dealing with Phillips, as well as showing an example when Phillips had come to dinner.  

When Phillips came in, Lily greeted him with, "Good morning, sir. The coffee is fresh and hot."

"What are you doing here? Where's Deputy Washington?"

"He's off duty and gone home to get some sleep. I came to help with breakfast. I'll leave after Deputy King gets here."

Phillips poured himself a cup of coffee and retired to the back office.

When Fritz came in, she handed him a decoded copy of the telegram she had put on Phillips's desk.


"We haven't had a federal prosecutor or judge since I've been here. Where do they usually stay?" she asked.

"At the Ace. Tell Hank they're coming. Powell will want to talk to Mrs. Coatsworth and other witnesses after he talks to Phillips. Send a message to her. Have you got the wanted posters on the prisoners?"

Lily pulled a fat folder out of the desk and handed it to him.

Fritz looked at the contents. "You are doing a good job."

"Thank you, Mr. Fritz. I'll be back to help with lunch."

"You need more time than that away from here," he told her, in a serious tone of voice. "I don't want to see you back until dinner time."

"I'll be back in time to cover the office when it's time to meet the stage."
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on April 27, 2010, 10:29:25 PM
“Marshal Witts” Scarlet said greeting him as she approached with something Ella had concocted for his breakfast.

Archie smiled at her. “Mrs. Coatsworth told me I was at the Southern Starr, is that true?”

Scarlet softly chuckled as she sat next to him. “Here try this.”

Archie eyed the bowl she held “What is it.”

“Something good for you I’m sure.” She said looking at what somewhat resembled runny grits.

“Ella tries to make things taste good but I’m not going to guarantee anything.” Scarlet said holding the spoon to his lips.

Archie swallowed it “I’ve eaten much worse.” He said relaxing a bit “I would have never in my wildest dreams bet I would be lying in a bed at the Southern Starr being nursed by you. I would have more likely bet I’d be face down in the dirt with the barrel of that horse pistol in the back of my head.”

“You never gave me a reason to kill you Archie.”

“Will I be allowed to leave here?”

“You are a guest here. You will be allowed to go when Ella says you can, not before.” Scarlet teased.

He smiled at the remark.

“Deputy Hayes will be here soon. Do you want to see him?” She asked.

Archie raised an eyebrow. “I trust Ambrose. You don’t?”

Scarlet grinned. “It’s true ain’t it?”

“What’s that?”

“Once you’ve studied someone close enough you don’t forget how to read them.”

It was his turn to grin.

“Can I have coffee with cream and sugar and steak for lunch?” he said as he finished breakfast.

“I’ll  see if Ella can disguise this as a steak.” She smiled as she got up to leave.

“Why Scarlet?”

She looked at him questioningly

“Why did you bring me here?”

“Ella brought you here Archie.”

“Longknife let me stay.”

“When Jimmy found you you asked to be taken to Ella. She felt the safest place for you was here. As far as I’m concerned, well all those nights out on the trail when you were tracking me, you weren’t the only one learning about someone.”

“What did you learn about me Scarlet?”

She smiled “You’ll eat fish, but you have to be put near starved to do it.” She said with a wink as she left the room.

Archie looked surprised, she had been a lot closer to his camp than he realized.

Scarlet enjoyed her own quiet breakfast before saddling up and heading back to town. She looked forward to seeing Fritz more than just in passing even if it was work related.



Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on April 29, 2010, 11:03:07 AM
Back at home, Lily found Eddie preparing the carriage for a trip to the Southern Starr.

"I'll ride with Dr. Alan, Eddie. I've got a message for Mrs. Ella. Could you please put her saddle in the back of the carriage?" She saddled her own horse.

At the Southern Starr, Lily relayed the message about the prosecutor and Thursday morning meeting, then went to watch the horses being trained until Dr. Alan was ready to go back.

"Marshal Witts, this is my husband, Alan Coatsworth."

"Thank you, sir. I understand that you are responsible for my survival."

"You are welcome, although you made your survival possible by hanging on to life. I'm going to take the bullet out of your shoulder this morning. Do you want to be chloroformed, or would you rather put up with the pain? It should not take very long, but it will hurt like the dickens."

"I can put up with the pain."

Dr. Alan had a couple of the ranch hands help move Archie to the surgery. Ten minutes later, with Archie's left shoulder feeling like it was on fire from the cleaning out of the abscess that had formed around the bullet, the same hands helped put him back to bed.

Once there, he asked Ella, "Can I have coffee with cream and sugar and steak for lunch?"

"You can have almost anything you want to eat and drink. I would advise against whiskey, though," she replied. "I'm going to have to go into town early tomorrow morning, so I'll ask Rose and Patches to keep an eye on you and feed you."

"Thank you for bringing me here, and everything."

"You're welcome."

She went out to show Lily and Alan the foal that Ruth had delivered, a bay filly.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on May 01, 2010, 10:05:42 AM
Scarlet rode the young Medicine Hat, whose name she had changed a dozen times and finally decided to call Spirit. He was half brother to Lucky and their mother had passed many similarities to both colts that she liked. Spirit was a little shorter and heavier muscled than Lucky but he was fast and athletic like his brother. He was spirited but willing to let most anyone ride him and enjoyed going.

Things seemed quiet in town as she rode in. She hoped it stayed that way, at least for a few days. She rode past the Marshal’s office intending to go to the Ace and see if she could find out where Fritz was, she didn’t want to go it if Phillips was there alone for any reason.

“It’s been a few days but I still recognize you.” She heard Fritz’s voice call after her.

She grinned as she spun Spirit around and rode back. “Even on a different horse, you’re good.” She chuckled.

“There are two horses I’ve seen marked like that and if Black Wolf rides into El Paso all hell would be breaking lose.” He said patting Spirit’s shoulder.

Scarlet dismounted and gave him a kiss. “Been missin’ you Sugar, so I thought I’d come and see if I could help you with anything.”

“I’m on duty ma’am.” Fritz said with a sly smile making Scarlet laugh.

“How is your guest?” He asked.

“Oh our guest has been very polite. I think he thought we’d throw him in a hole and he’d be lucky to get bread and water if he was lucky. Bo was over there when I left.

“What’s going on here?” She asked.

Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on May 04, 2010, 01:11:56 PM
“What’s going on here,” Fritz replied.  “Let’s see.  On Wednesday, Phillips asked me what happens to the money claimed as bounties on outlaws.  I’d figured he’d read at least some of the procedures, but wanted to hear what I knew.  I told him that the money goes into an account at the bank and spent on equipment and supplies, like bullets.  I didn’t tell him that he hasn’t been given access to it.  After all, he's only going to be in place for three months!”

Scarlet chuckled.  “I’ll bet that didn’t go over well, did it darlin?”

“No ma’am…not at all.  He asked me how many bullets we needed.  Then he said that a hundred rounds a year should be plenty.  I told him that one part of the reputation of the El Paso Marshals office that keeps more outlaw gangs out is that we are all dead shots.  It takes practice to maintain that skill.  Each deputy can draw up to a hundred rounds a month to use for practice.  I added that some of the deputies also reload, and need supplies such as powder and lead."

Scarlet could imagine that Phillips thought such use a waste.  Then again, he’d been a sailor.  She asked “Is there more?”

Fritz nodded.  I told him that the account also pays for telegraph office fees, the photographer for his services, and the undertaker for his services.  Phillips found it hard to believe that those gentlemen expected to be paid!”

Scarlet replied, “Did you tell him that the fund also pays anyone who rides with us who is not on the regular payroll, and covers medical care?”

“I think that his brain was buzzing by that time.  He walked away muttering “that’s what taxes are for!”       
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on May 06, 2010, 10:16:20 PM
“It’s good for him.” Scarlet grinned.

“The Federal Prosecutor will be here on the stage this afternoon, I asked Lily to let Hank know. Judge Carter will be here on Monday” Fritz said.

“Powell and Morgan always challenge each other. Mother will want to know Judge Carter will be in town.”

“How does Rose know Judge Carter?” Fritz asked knowing most of Johnny’s friends had fought in the wars with him, as far as Fritz knew neither man had served.

“There’s a judge in Houston that is a good friend of the family, they met at one of his parties. He’s fair and I think he’s good at his job. Others don’t always share my opinion because he is fair. He doesn’t tolerate how does he put it…oh yes, conniving misconduct in his court room.”

Fritz half smiled “Sounds like there have been some interesting cases.”

“There’s been a few over the years. He put Marshal Hart and Morgan behind bars once because they starting yelling at each other in the court room. Carter said it was time to pen up the rosters because he was not here to judge a cock fight.”

“It will be interesting to see how Phillips handles all of this.” Fritz replied.

 “No doubt.” She said “I’m going to go put Spirit up and I will be back.” She said picking up the horses reins.

Fritz was going through the wanted posters when Scarlet came back. She refilled his cup, poured her own and checked on the prisoners. Fritz could hear one of the prisoners complaining about the medical care. Then there was silence. He could only imagine the cold, unimpressed look Scarlet gave them.

“Any trouble?” He asked when she came back out.

She tilted her head and gave him that innocent look that he’d learned was not really all that innocent.

“I told him I could dig around and look for fragments that Dr. Coatsworth may have missed. He shook his head no. The bandages are not bloody and he didn’t ask for anything else so I figured he could wait for Dr. Alan to come back.” She replied.

Dr. Alan walked in just as she finished her sentence. There were no complaints heard when he went to check bandages and redress wounds.

Scarlet enjoyed working with Fritz, it seemed like the days went by faster when she worked along with company she enjoyed, especially his. Dr. Alan had come and gone, lunch had been served to the prisoners with no complaints and now Lily was coming through the door to remind them the stage would be there shortly.

Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on May 06, 2010, 11:48:14 PM
Lily had a stack of telegrams in her hand, including one in an envelope. She dropped the loose ones on the desk, then knocked on the door frame before carrying the envelope into Phillips's office. She didn't linger, but came right back out. Tinker had included a copy of the message Phillips had received in that stack of loose telegrams.

"I'll order prints from the photographer tomorrow," she told Scarlet and Fritz. "The last requests for proof of Jackson's death should show up by morning. I've received over a dozen so far. There have been only two requests on Barnes, and none on Rico or Thomas."

Fritz looked at the clock, and said, "Time to go." Raising his voice, he called, "Marshal Phillips? It's time to meet the prosecutor at the stage."

Phillips stayed in his office, and called back, "I'm busy. Take care of it."

Fritz and Scarlet shrugged. Fritz picked up the file of background information that Lily had assembled and Jimmy's account, to give to Powell to help him prepare for the depositions in the morning.

Phillips read the message he had decoded, wondering who Perry meant as "bounty hunter". "Doctor lady" had to be Mrs. Coatsworth. The rest of the message, about Ray not wanting Archie to talk to the law, caused a little thrill to run up his back. It was the first time he had been ordered to eliminate a threat. He was almost disappointed that nature had taken care of the problem for him, and maybe a little relieved. None of the others needed to be eliminated. He would send the message "Doctor buried him already", instead of anything that tried to claim credit for the death.

Ray probably had agents in town. Phillips winced at the thought of the report those agents would make about his failure to prevent a posse, but then realized that their report would make it clear he had tried to follow orders. Would Ray accept that the failure was his own fault for trying the bank robbery before Phillips had enough time to take control of the Marshal's office?

He decided to read the information he had received about Marshal Ross's deputies. He hadn't read it earlier, preferring to form his own opinions. The folder with that page was in the drawer with the code book. So, Mrs. King had been a bounty hunter, and Mrs. Coatsworth had been a deputy. His respect for Dr. Coatsworth increased, since he obviously had put an end to his wife's delusions. She certainly acted like a proper wife now. It was interesting that Marshal Ross had had two telegraph operators among his deputies, instead of just using the man in town. He needed to learn more about the local telegraph operator, to find out why he had been distrusted.

Before Scarlet and Fritz got back, Phillips came out from the back office, and handed Lily a piece of paper, "Take this to the telegraph office."

"Yes, Sir," she replied to his back, as he returned to his office. She quickly copied the message. When Fritz and Scarlet came back, she headed to the telegraph office. Lily carried both messages home and gave them to Eddie.

Eddie put aside the story he was reading. He tried to put each story aside as soon as he determined that it wasn't the key, but some of the stories just demanded that he read them all the way through. It was easier to avoid getting distracted when Lily was available to help. The two of them had gotten all the magazines sorted and the pages of the different stories marked with tabs of paper before Lily went to the office.

It was easy to decode Phillips's messages, now that he had his own copy of the key. This one read:
doctor buried him already.
doctor lady is not a deputy now.
does Ray want a doctor at the castle.

The latest incoming message was the longest one by far, and the first one that was from more than just CASTLE.

There were a lot of repeats in the spelled out words in the message, and repeated words. He thought book code was supposed to be impossible to break without the key book because you didn't have to repeat things. Patches said that patterns of repeating characters were the key to breaking substitution codes. Guessing that the first spelled out word was P O S S E, Eddie started deciphering, and ended up with:

X   posse   X X   archie
ray   X A B C D E X
X X   spy   X X   location   H   castle
F G A B C D E   bounty hunter   X   doctor lady
F G A B X X X X X H   outlaw

He and Jimmy would look for the key book after dinner.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on May 10, 2010, 07:51:51 AM
Hank had given Powell a newspaper when he reached the Ace, so Powell read the published account of the bank robbery while getting cleaned up before dinner. During dinner at a corner table downstairs, he read Jimmy's narrative. Fritz had put a note on it, "Deputy Washington is on midnight duty while prisoners are in the jail, and not be available for questioning until evening." From those two accounts, he drew up his list of witnesses to question.

After dinner was cleared away, he spread out the contents of the folder, wanted posters on all but one of the prisoners, as well as posters on those killed while resisting arrest. Owen Brown was wanted for murder, with a dead-or-alive reward offered. There were dead-or-alive rewards offered for David Jackson, and multiple charges of murder. There were fewer charges on Ezra Barnes, but still dead-or-alive rewards offered. The rest of the prisoners and dead were bank robbers who had been careful to avoid bloodshed in any robberies and to always wear masks.

Morgan came over to his table, drink in hand, and asked, "May I join you?"

"Yes, of course. The Kings told me you will be defending. It looks like a straightforward case."

"It looks that way, but Ben Pole wants to bargain."

"What does he have to bargain with? He's solidly identified by his unusual height and thinness for a dozen bank robberies across five states and territories over the years."

"He says he has information about a major criminal conspiracy."

"I've lost count of the number of times a criminal has made that claim!"

"He said the new Marshal here might be part of it, and might be ordered to silence him."

"I've heard that one at least a dozen times as well. Is there any reason to believe him?"

"His exact words were, 'If the new Marshal here was in Pleasanton two months ago, he could be part of it.' So I checked into the background of Marshal Phillips. He was a deputy in Pleasanton from the beginning of August until the townspeople threw him out in early February. Some of the rumors that led to his expulsion said that he had deliberately delayed, distracted and misdirected their posse so that the bank robbers got clean away."

Powell pushed one of the wanted posters over to Morgan, "Looks like Pole was part of that bank robbery."

"He's not admitting anything. I talked to the Kings, and they moved Pole to the Starr to protect him from Phillips. Pole has got to be seriously worried if he prefers Jimmy Bradbury as a jailer! Have you met Marshal Phillips?"

"No, the Kings met the stage."

"Brace yourself for someone who makes other Yankees look like Virginian gentility."

"The newspaper story about the robbery and capture of the robbers makes the man look like an idiot. If Pole's information is worthwhile, what does Pole hope to get?" Powell pointed at the stack of wanted posters, "Given the number of robberies his gang is accused of, it should be easy to get sentences of ten years for the members of his gang and twenty-five years for Ben Pole himself."

"He's realistic enough to know that nothing is going to keep him and his men out of jail, but he's hoping for five years for himself and his men."

"Owen Brown is wanted for murder in two states. No plea bargain is going to get him down to five years."

"Pole does not include Brown as one of his men for the purposes of bargaining."

"Who is going to decide if his information has any value?"

"Mrs. King said that someone arriving tomorrow evening would be the best one to judge."

"So we will talk to Pole on Friday." Powell showed his list of witnesses to Morgan. "I'll see you tomorrow for the witness interviews."

Morgan read the list and nodded.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on May 14, 2010, 09:12:31 AM
When Rose heard Judge Carter was coming, she insisted on going to town for supplies. It was also a good reason to look at some of the new fabrics that had come in at the mercantile.

Johnny never knew how much stuff she would buy so he had the team hooked to the wagon when Rose and Ella came out of the house.

“I thought we were taking the carriage?” Rose said.

Johnny laughed “Not when there are new fabrics at the mercantile and you need flour, sugar and coffee and and..” He laughed helping the ladies into the wagon.

Once they were in, he mounted his mule and rode next to the wagon while Rose drove.

As they went past the corral where the horses were Rose asked Ella “Have you figured out who the father of your foal is yet?”

"She only could have gotten that bright body color from a bay or chestnut sire, and those black points from a bay. I've only seen one bay stallion around. I was going to name a filly Sheba, but she needed to be darker for the name to fit well. Jezebel is the name that keeps coming into my head when I look at her, so I think that's her name."

Rose smiled "Are you sure the stallion was bay? I've had foals born bay from two white parents, who later turn white themselves. "

Ella answered, "I don't have enough experience with horse breeding to know, but that's my best guess.  Ruth's dam was dark chestnut, her sire was black, and she's dark brown."

"So the foal could get the browns from Ruth's lines. We'll have to take a look at some foals and horses around here. Look for characteristics that are not Ruth's although if the stallion is of the same breeding that could be difficult, but would rule out some of the others around here."

"The black points are certainly not from Ruth, and the coat color is lighter than Ruth's dam had."

"Jezebel? Is that not what one calls an evil woman?"

"Jezebel was a Queen who tried to bring back worship of Baal, which made the Bible call her an evil woman. History is written by the victors, and the prophet Elijah called Jezebel a prostitute who seduced her husband into the worship of Baal. That's why the term 'Jezebel' is commonly used to mean a whore who seduces righteous men into sins of idolatry and sexual immorality. But Jezebel was a strong and independent woman who did not let men dominate her, and who continued to defy men to her last breath.  I imagine she's going to grow up to be like that."

"In that case I think Jezebel will be a good name for her." Rose said with a smile.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on May 14, 2010, 11:50:47 AM
When Fritz and Scarlet arrived at the Marshals office, Lily was behind the desk reading telegrams.

"Good morning," she greeted them. "I checked with the court clerk to see what order the witnesses are wanted. Scarlet and I are on the list a lot later than Mr. Fritz and Marshal Phillips, so I thought Scarlet and I would cover the office until you get back from being interviewed.

Fritz nodded. Looking at the clock, he went to the closed door of the back office and knocked, "Marshal Phillips? It's time for the meeting with the prosecutor."

Fritz heard a drawer close before Phillips opened the door and came out. "All right, let's go."

At the courthouse, the interview room was set up with Powell and Morgan both seated at a table. A second table to the side was the desk for a court reporter. The bailiff stood by the door. There was one more chair in the room, facing the table with the lawyers. Marshal Phillips was sworn in, then invited to sit by the bailiff.

Powell asked the questions. "Please identify yourself for the record."

"Isaiah Phillips, appointed Marshal of El Paso on March 10, 1877."

"Marshal Phillips, please tell us about the bank robbery and capture."

"We followed tracks to where the robbers were camped in a box canyon. After the posse was in place, I called on them to surrender. Those who shot at me were shot by the posse. Once they surrendered, we secured the prisoners and found the money from the bank. After camping overnight, we returned to El Paso, locked up the prisoners and returned the money to the bank."

"Where did you find the money?"

"Divided up between four saddlebags."

"Why didn't you respond to the first report of the robbery in progress?"

"I didn't want to create a hostage situation by trapping the robbers in the bank."

"Why didn't you set up a trap for after they left the bank?"

"I didn't have enough deputies to do that. I haven't been in El Paso long enough to know which townspeople I might call on for that kind of help."

"Thank you. That will be all. You may return to your duties, and tell the clerk to send in the next person on the list. Let me remind you not to discuss your testimony with anyone."

"I thought I would stay and listen to the witnesses."

"No. Please tell the clerk to send in the next witness and return to your duties."

As Phillips stormed out of the building, the clerk called, "John Corning, please."


After all the witnesses had been interviewed and the court reporter dismissed, Powell stretched and said, "If it weren't for Mrs. Coatsworth's testimony, I'd be very receptive to a plea bargain."

Morgan retorted, "If it weren't for her testimony, I wouldn't be! Without it, the case is full of holes. None of the witnesses in the bank could pick out a single one of the robbers from a dozen wanted posters. Young Bobby saw a group of seven men leave town, and almost an hour later James Bradbury picked up the trail where a group of seven horses left the stage road. But the robbers could have left town in twos and threes while a completely innocent group was tracked to that camp. That group had about the right amount of gold coin in saddlebags, but the people in the bank said the robbers took the gold in flour sacks."

"They did resist arrest."

"A group carrying that much gold should not be too trusting about surrendering to a group that claimed to be the law. That's one of the older bandit tricks going!"

"But we do have Mrs. Coatsworth's testimony, and she has protected her testimony well. She wired a list of six names before the posse brought back any prisoners, she hasn't seen the prisoners, she hasn't asked about the prisoners. She didn't even know how many prisoners and dead the posse brought back!"

"This Perry Smith she mentioned wasn't brought back by the posse."

"Mrs. King reported that the robbers said one of their group had left just before the posse showed up. We can see what Pole has to say tomorrow, and see what Marshal Hayes has to say about the quality of his information before we talk any more about a plea bargain."

"What about Owen Brown, who is not part of any plea bargain?"

"He wasn't in the bank. We don't need to try him here. We can let Deputy Jefferson tell Santa Fe to fetch him for his murder trial as soon as Dr. Coatsworth says he can travel."

"That's enough work for today! Let's go to the Ace for a drink, and then Julia expects you to join us for dinner."
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on May 14, 2010, 06:25:23 PM
Ambrose Hayes picked up an escort as soon as he reached Southern Starr land. The pair of hands following him traded off a few times, but Jimmy Bradbury stayed beside him all the way to the house. There, he saw Scarlet and Ella with men he thought could be their husbands. Only Ella looked glad to see him. He dismounted, and took his saddlebags before Jimmy led his horse away.

Ella performed the introductions, "Marshal Ambrose Hayes, this is my husband, Dr. Alan, and Scarlet's husband, Fritz."

While shaking hands with Dr. Alan, Ambrose asked, "How's Archie?"

Alan replied, "He's doing well. I extracted the bullet yesterday."

Ambrose shook hands with Fritz, then spoke, mostly to Scarlet, "I recognize that you don't have much trust in anyone out of Houston these days. Can't say that I blame you. But right now, you and yours are the only ones I can trust to help with the White Investigation. Phillips is a leak, but there were other leaks before he ever showed up. You called Phillips a carpetbagger, which is a completely accurate label as far as I'm concerned. He's got his own goals, and doing a good job for the people of the county he is assigned to is not one of them. "I read your file and went out to talk to Wheeler about you last week, to see if he agreed with my first impression of you last year. I don't mean this to sound like a carrot..."

"Then stop there before you insult me in some way, because I've had a belly full of that," Scarlet said, interrupting him. "Just tell me you would like our help because we are good at the job we do, or maybe we're all you got. I don't care what it is as long as it's honest, Hayes. As for trust, there are two men in Houston I trust with my life, one who has lost my respect and the trust I did have for him, and then there's you. Trust is something that is earned around here, always has been. If that's what you want from me, be honest with me. I'll admit, trust may come a little harder nowadays, but know this, this is my home and if I didn't have some sort of respect for you, you wouldn't be here."

"I would like your help because you are good at the job. All of your people are good, but you particularly have a history of doing the job well. And, right now, you are all I'm sure I can trust enough to help with this."

Ella thought no one else was going to ask the question that was preying on her mind. "Deputy Hayes, why do you trust us?"

Ambrose looked a little startled at the question, and clearly had to change mental tracks. "First, because you all are a team of women and men who work well with women. Every identified member of their team has shown a disregard for the abilities of women. It's like they don't think women can do anything outside of the house. Second, because you did not probe," after a glance at Ella's blush he amended that, "you did not get caught probing into the matter."

"That had more to do with having enough other things to do than any lack of curiosity," admitted Ella. "But we couldn't see any harm in reviewing our own files."

"I would be very interested to see what you have in your files that didn't make it into the reports that were sent to Houston about your contacts with their group, the times you have seen their tattoos."

Scarlet watched his body language, listened to every word he spoke. His eyes crossed over everyone in the room, he was looking to be accepted among them and a bit nervous about it. She was sure the thought of being tossed out was crossing his mind. It would have been hers in that position. Unless he was good at hiding his emotions, he was being honest with them.

"Tell me something, Hayes," Scarlet said.

"What?" he said looking at her.

"Why should we trust you and why should we trust you enough to let you see files that I'm sure some men would like to see burned. How do I know you're just not waiting to put the finishing bullet in Witts and ride outta here?"

"I don't think I can earn your trust with words. You are welcome to listen to what Archie reports, so that the information he has been risking his life to collect is not at risk of being lost. You are welcome to see all the information I've got regarding the White investigation, which should let you figure out what information in your files I would be interested in." Ambrose pulled a fat folder out of his saddlebag and handed it to Scarlet. "Although I would like to swear Dr. Coatsworth in as a special deputy, and reactivate Mrs. Coatsworth as a deputy before they look at it. I can stay in town, so that Archie is not in danger from me, if you all will give me advice on how to stay out of Phillips's way."

Ella asked, "Why did you wire me to protect Archie from Phillips?"

"Isaiah Phillips went to school with Perry White, and they became great friends who still keep in touch, according to Mrs. Thompson, Phillips's oldest sister. Phillips is now another interesting person to the White investigation. I need your help to investigate him without alarming him. That's why Marshal Thompson sent these with me, with instructions for me to use them when appropriate." He pulled a couple folded papers out of his pocket and handed them to Scarlet.

She opened it and saw that one was a recall order for Marshal Phillips, and the other was an appointment of Ambrose Hayes as temporary Marshal with instructions to recommend a permanent Marshal.

"Why you, what do you get out of all of this when it's over if the White investigation is successful?"

Hayes hesitated before answering. No one's expression gave him any clue as to the answer they wanted to hear. Scarlet had asked for honesty, so he answered, "Thompson's job."

"Does Thompson know you're after his job?"

"I think so. Right now, he is embarrassed over the lack of caution that allowed his wife to leak information to Phillips. He has told me that he intends to resign when I return to Houston. I'm one of the three deputies at the right level to be considered as his successor."

"Who are the other two?" Scarlet asked out of curiosity.

"Arnold Kelly, Patrick Henry Robinson."

"You're welcome to stay here. Phillips will not find out you are here from anybody on the Starr," she said, loud enough the hands would hear, then looked at him. "It would be nice to have somebody to work with our team not judging us twice as hard because some of us are women."

"Let's go in to talk to Archie," said Ella, leading the group towards the infirmary.

The small ward at the infirmary was crowded. Scarlet, Fritz and Alan sat on the other bed, while Ella cleared away Archie's dinner tray. Ambrose Hayes stood at the foot of the bed where Archie lay propped up on pillows.

"About a year ago, Perry met a friend he called 'Eyes' at a bar in St. Louis. Most of the conversation was normal for old friends catching up. Eyes had been traveling around, staying with each of his sisters after getting out of the Navy, and was considering what to do next. After I appeared to pass out, the conversation got more interesting. Eyes told Perry that the Marshals had an eye on him, and suggested he drop out of sight for a few months. It was lucky for me that Eyes didn't know how close the Marshals' eye was."

Archie chuckled, then took a sip of water before continuing. "Perry encouraged him to have the brother-in-law who was a Marshal in Houston get him a job so he would be in better position to hear useful information. Then there was a conversation that didn't make sense. Perry said, 'I'm the Duke of New York. Pick your title.' I heard pages turning, then Eyes said, 'The King of the Detectives.' Perry replied, 'That's Ray's. Pick another.' More pages turned before Eyes said, 'Badger and Company' and Perry said, 'Fine.'"

Ella slapped her hands together. When everyone looked at her, she exclaimed, "Archie, you just gave us the keys to their codes!"

Hayes looked puzzled and asked, "Codes?"

Ella answered him, "Phillips has been exchanging messages with a place in New Mexico called Castle. They are using a book code, with stories from the Fireside Companion as the keys. Phillips's messages are coded with a story titled, "Old Sleuth, Badger & Company". Eddie hasn't figured out yet what story is a key for the messages Phillips receives."

Archie took another sip of water. "Earlier in the day, Dick Kane had been recruiting scouts in that bar, so Perry decided that's where we were going. After we left Fort Fetterman, Perry went back to planning bank robberies. Perry sent and received messages at local telegraph offices, but they were coded in some way I couldn't break. I was being a lot more careful, and couldn't get warnings out ahead of time. Several times, I dropped messages for Houston wrapped around a silver dollar, hoping that some of them would be picked up by people willing to carry the message to the telegraph office. Perry took me with him to visit what he referred to as 'The Castle', in Eddy County, New Mexico. From the outside, it looks like a normal ranch house, but the cellar connects with an extensive series of natural limestone caves. Some of the caves have been mined for guano by the local ranchers for years." Archie took another sip of water.

"When Perry decided on robbing the bank in El Paso, and talked Ben Pole into taking the job, I didn't know if Perry remembered El Paso as the home of the 'bounty hunter' and the 'doctor lady', but I decided to risk slipping out of the camp early in the morning in order to give warning. I wasn't quiet enough, or someone was watching me. I got onto my horse, but was shot. I don't remember much after that. I think I fell off the horse, and crawled into cover. I crawled some more after the sun was up, and passed out again."
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on May 18, 2010, 11:17:41 AM
Tink waved to get Eddie's attention and handed him a telegram when he was leaving the jail after dinner with Bella. At home, with his chores done, he opened it to read:

Eddie had tried "The Duke of New York" as a key already, but it hadn't worked on the early messages. He took "The King of the Detectives" and set to work. It worked on all of the short messages, but not the long one. "The Duke of New York" did work on the long one. He took a clean piece of paper and wrote a report of the decoded messages and when they were sent or received:

Phillips to Castle, Mar. 13 AM : Two deputies

Castle to Phillips, Mar. 14, AM: Monday siesta

Phillips to Castle, Mar. 14, PM: No harm to people

Castle to Phillips, Mar. 15, AM: No resistance no harm

Phillips to Castle, Mar. 20, PM: Pole Collins Rodriguez Sanchez Cox Evans Perez Brown in custody. Others dead.

PW@Castle to Phillips, Mar. 21, PM: Your posse picked up Archie. Ray does not want him talking to law. He is spy and knows location of Castle. You do not want him talking to bounty hunter or doctor lady. They know too much about me. You do not want to be known as friend of outlaw. the others do not matter.

Phillips to Castle, Mar. 21: Doctor buried him already. Doctor lady is not a deputy now. Does Ray want a doctor at the castle.

Castle to Phillips, Mar. 22: We need a man doctor.

Eddie called Jimmy in to see what he had recorded.

"Good work, Eddie. Now make two more copies. Mrs. and Mr. King should each have one."
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on May 24, 2010, 11:15:24 PM

 “Pole is sitting in jail and wants to bargain, he’s willing to talk about Perry White and the Castle. Mordecai Powell arrived yesterday and Raymond Morgan is local.” Scarlet said.

“I’m not familiar with Morgan but Powell rarely loses a case.” Hayes said.

“Pole won’t live long enough to make any bargains.” Archie said.

The group looked at him, surprised at the comment.

“If they find out he’s in custody Pole will die before he talks.”

“They have to find Pole in order to kill him.” Scarlet replied.

“Where is he?” It was a natural question for Hayes to ask, but nobody answered his question.

“Powell and Morgan are looking forward to the two of you to be able to verify how valid his information is.” Scarlet said.

Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on May 25, 2010, 11:34:54 AM
Ella returned from the telegraph office in time to overhear Scarlet's last comment. "You're going to have to have the interview here if you want Archie to hear Pole's information."

"I can get out of bed long enough," protested Archie.

"Try, and you will find yourself on the floor. You are weaker than you realize. Tomorrow, you can try sitting in a chair for a couple hours," retorted Ella. "I think you could set up the anteroom of the infirmary as an interview room. It's narrow, but long. Have Powell and Morgan at a table in front of the open door to Archie's room. He'll be able to hear from his bed, but can't be seen. I can sit in doorway to the surgery to make a record, and Hayes can listen from the office. By the way, Hayes, you are welcome to use the office here, and sleep in the room behind it. Archie can pull to ring a bell in the office if he needs anything during the night. "
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on May 25, 2010, 11:06:39 PM
“Do you think there will be any problems bringing Powell and Morgan here?” Hayes asked.

“No, Ella has a good idea. Both Powell and Morgan have been here before.” Scarlet replied. She half smiled then continued “The cases Powell has lost have been to Morgan.”

“Will getting Pole here be a problem?” Hayes asked.

“No.” Scarlet said.

Hayes hoped she would elaborate but she didn’t.

“I will send them an invitation to come out here.” Scarlet said standing up and leaving.

Hayes watched her go “I don’t think she likes me.” He said.

Archie laid back and smiled. “I recon she likes you well enough or you wouldn’t be here. It’s more appropriate to say she doesn’t really trust you, but then it takes Scarlet awhile to trust people.”

“And does that make you smile?”

“No, I’m smiling at a past memory.” Archie said remembering when it was Scarlet he was following, he was glad he could remember more than his recent life with Perry.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on May 28, 2010, 12:26:30 AM
"Come on in to dinner, Marshal Hayes. Rose set a place for you. It's time to let Archie get some sleep," said Ella, starting to pull the extra pillows out from behind Archie's back.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on June 07, 2010, 10:50:16 PM
Morgan and Powell sat out to the porch after dinner. Morgan was not surprised to see a rider from the Southern Starr approach.

“Mrs. King sends an invitation for the two of you to come to the Starr tomorrow.” He said riding up.

“Are there any additional details?” Morgan asked.

“She said you would know and early afternoon would be fine. Ms. Rose sends an invitation to Mrs. Morgan for a visit while you’re there also.”

Morgan looked at Powell then back to the rider. “We will be happy to accept the invitation as is Mrs. Morgan.”

The rider touched the brim of his hat and rode back the way he came.

Ella, Scarlet, Fritz and Hayes spent the morning setting up the infirmary so it could be used for interviews.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on June 09, 2010, 09:55:59 AM
Once the space was arranged, Ella sketched the cat eyes tattoo design on a sheet of paper, and the cat face tattoo design on a second. On a third paper, she wrote, "Ask Pole if he has seen anyone with a tattoo like one of these."

Scarlet looked at what Ella had written and said, "None of the prisoners had a tattoo like those. One of the bodies did, David Jackson."

Archie, overhearing from his bed, spoke up, "Perry told Jackson to take care of Pole before the Pleasanton job. I wondered if he had meant 'Don't let Pole be captured by the law'."

"Jackson could have been aiming towards Pole when I shot him, but I was just responding to anyone raising a gun," commented Scarlet, moving towards Archie's room.

Ella, Fritz and Hayes followed her.

"How long did Pole spend in Phillip's custody?" asked Hayes.

"Phillips was the only member of the posse who didn't take a turn on watch after the capture, and he was never the only person around during the few hours Pole spent at the jail in town," replied Fritz. "He sent a telegram just before we returned the money to the bank. Maybe he was asking for instructions."

The mention of "telegram" reminded Ella of the papers Eddie had sent with her. She pulled them out of her pockets and handed one to Scarlet and the other to Hayes.

Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on June 09, 2010, 09:52:13 PM
Scarlet read over the paper Ella had handed her.

“When Phillips finds out Pole is missing from the jail we may see a change in him. We best not turn our backs to him and come up with something to tell him when he does find out.”

“Do you have a good story to cover the fact the man is missing?” Hayes asked.

Scarlet thought a minute, a slow grin crossed her face. “He tried to escape, while he was being moved to another jail, rode into the desert. A couple of us followed and found a burnt body by the sacred Indian burial grounds.”

“What if Phillips wants to see the burned body?” Hayes retorted.

“Then Marshal Phillips can find his own scout to take him to the sacred grounds, which I don’t think he will. If he goes alone he probably won’t come back alive and retrieving something like that is not worth my life.” She replied.

“How do you know it was him and not an Indian or another white man?” Hayes said.

“Single horse tracks lead there but never rode out,  what looked like his hat was not far from the body and the Indians wouldn’t have tied one of their own to a pole like that.

That is just the first idea that comes to mind, someone else may have something better.” Scarlet said.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on June 10, 2010, 06:54:35 PM
Ella said, "Lily has put some thought into keeping Phillips from finding out he is missing a prisoner. She noticed Phillips wrinkle his nose when he was near the bodies, and guessed that he wanted them wrapped and avoided handling them because the smell of fecal material bothers him.  She's having Bella feed the prisoners more beans than usual, and getting the slops buckets changed less often. Jimmy says that the smell in the cell area is almost as bad as in the stockade at Fort Fetterman."
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on June 13, 2010, 11:01:31 PM
"That will work just fine unless somebody presses Phillips to do away with Pole. Pole certainly is in no hurry to leave the place he's at now." Scarlet remarked.

"Who would be if they have a place to themself and just have to stay quiet?" Said Hayes.

There was a grin playing about Scarlet's lips as she looked at him "He may have a place to himself, but he's earning it."

Rose walked in "Powell and the Morgan's are about twenty minutes out" she said.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on June 20, 2010, 11:19:13 AM
“I’ll fetch Pole.” Scarlet remarked following Rose out the door.

Powell and Morgan had been there long enough for a tour of the infirmary and to speak a bit with Hayes and Archie before Scarlet and Jimmy returned with Pole.

Jimmy sat Pole in the chair and tied his feet to it before removing the blind fold.

Morgan looked at Pole; there was something different about the man, besides the obvious black and blue line on his cheek. Morgan thought on it a moment before saying “They been working you?”

“Yes sir” he replied.

“How did you come by that mark on your face?” Morgan asked suspicious Jimmy may have lost his temper with the prisoner.

Pole ran his fingers across his cheek bone where he knew from the ache there must be a bruise. “I met with a lesson it respect.”

Pole looked around his eyes stopping on Bo who was standing behind Morgan.

Morgan looked back at Bo then to Pole surprised to think it might be Bo who’d done something he asked “You get in a fight with him?”

“I peed on his leg.” Pole replied.

“I beg your pardon?”

“He told me it was time to empty the slop bucket and I didn’t want to so I peed on his leg. For that I got the bucket put over my head and I guess in doing so got hit by the rim of it.” Pole said kind of half smiling thinking of the incident. “It was a stupid move but I guess I had to try somebody.”

“What happened after that?” Powell asked out of curiosity.   

“He called a fella in to watch me while he went and cleaned up. Told me I was gonna wear it while I thought about what I had done, why he shouldn’t return me to the El Paso jail or just cut it off so I couldn’t aim at him no more. When he returned he took me to the river so I could wash up, then brought me back to clean the entire jail. Once I was done washing everything down I got to start building a new outhouse. I’m almost done with it too.” He said proudly.

Powell turned and looked Bo up and down thinking Pole must be half witted to try something like that. 

“Let’s get down to why we came.” Morgan said excusing the people standing around so Pole would feel he could talk openly.

Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on June 20, 2010, 12:32:17 PM
The first questions from Powell established Benjamin Pole's identity. Then Powell started on the questions that Ella and Hayes had written down for him.

"Have you seen men with either of these tattoos?"

"Yes, I've seen both.  Luther Russell, Gus Jenkins, Reuben Garcia, Louis Martin, John Paul Wright, Nimrod Thompson and Peter Barnes have the smaller tattoo. Lucius Simmons and Bernard Ross have the other one."

"Tell us what you know about the activities of the Castle."

"They hire bank robberies done, and spend the proceeds to buy guns and ammunition."

"More details, please."

"The gunrunners who supply the Castle include Mike Kelly in Albuquerque, Rufus Baker in Prescott, Ezra Long in St. Louis, Hiram Martinez in Mexico, Lucius Simmons in Santa Fe and Bernard Ross in Houston."

Hayes shook his head as he wrote down the names. Kelly, Long, Martinez and Simmons had long been suspected of operating a firearms black market. But Baker's name was a surprise, and Ross's name was a shock. Hayes was well-acquainted with Bernard Ross, and thought he had known the Houston gunsmith well.

"Marked men work exclusively on orders from the Castle. Luther Russell hit a train carrying an Army payroll and munitions resupply to Cheyenne two years ago. What I heard was that he left no survivors, and scattered a bunch of broken arrows around to make it look like Indian work. Gus Jenkins has been working for the Castle for three years, but was only marked last year. Stories I heard say that El Blanco was working for the Castle, and preparing to use a shot-up patrol as a pass into Fort Bliss before he was killed a few years ago. There was a rumor that Wheeler, who almost got away with the Army payroll from the bank here, had been a marked man."

Ella nodded at Hayes. She had seen the tattoo on Wheeler's arm.

Pole continued, "After two more failed attempts, the Castle gave up on El Paso for a while. The 'reward' they were going to give me after I robbed the bank here was a trip to the Castle for my own initiation."

Powell asked, "You don't sound thrilled about that reward. Why not?"

"Plenty of people come to the Castle, but no one leaves except those marked. I had been invited to join the marked men almost a year ago. The invitation is billed as an honor and a reward and comes with a guarantee that Ray won't leave any marked man in the hands of the law, but I've heard enough stories and read enough newspapers to know that the guarantee means getting captured is a death sentence."

Hayes was nodding. He knew how many times he had had a tattoo wearer killed in custody.

Pole gave more details of what he had heard for the next hour. Then Powell, Morgan and Hayes went into Archie's room and closed the door on their conference.

Pole asked, "Could I have a drink of water, please?"

Ella filled a wooden cup from the cooling jar and handed it to him, making sure to stay out of reach of a possible grab, even though he seemed relaxed.

Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on June 27, 2010, 05:15:32 PM
Pole had emptied his cup of water and handed the empty cup back to Ella before the lawyers came back out from Archie's room.

"It looks like we might have a deal, Pole, although we need to talk to the judge still to make sure he will agreed to the sentencing. If you plead guilty to the bank robberies on this list," said Morgan, handing Pole a sheet of paper, "the judge will sentence you to five years for each bank robbery, with the sentences to run concurrently, which means at the same time."

"All of those are Castle-ordered robberies, so I can't return any money. What about my men?"

"Those who plead guilty to conspiracy to commit bank robbery for the bank in El Paso will get a five year sentence. Those who plead non-guilty will be put on trial, almost certainly be found guilty and then sentenced."

"Eduardo Perez hasn't done anything except hold the horses in El Paso. He's a cousin of Juan Sanchez, and only 16 years old."

"I'm make sure the judge takes that into account."

"Can I talk to my men?"

"You'll be able to talk to them in the courthouse before you go up in front of the judge on Monday, but I can tell them the offer."

"Why are you so sure everyone would be found guilty?"

"An eyewitness saw some of you entering and leaving the bank, and the rest were with you when you were captured. That's why the charge is conspiracy, so that it covers everyone in your group, even if they didn't enter the bank or didn't even enter El Paso."

"Eyewitnesses aren't always reliable."

"This one is a former Deputy Marshal who recognized you from wanted posters, and told Deputy King who the posse was after."

Pole conceded the point. "What about Owen Brown?"

"He's going to Santa Fe for trial on murder charges as soon as he can travel."

"I'm not going to plead guilty until you've got the judge's agreement."

"We'll have the statements drawn up and ready for you to sign in front of the judge."
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on July 06, 2010, 10:23:34 PM
It seemed to Pole that waiting for the judge to arrive took more than just a couple of days. He was thankful to see Jimmy come every day to take him out to work; it helped keep his mind occupied. 

He talked to Jimmy, he knew Jimmy indeed listened and he could tell he amused Jimmy once in a while when the corner of his mouth would turn up.

“You sure don’t carry much of a conversation do you?” Pole said. It didn’t surprise him when Jimmy didn’t answer. “How’d you end up becoming a deputy?”

Jimmy tilted his head and looked at the outhouse Pole was now painting. “How’d a farmer end up a bank robber that doesn’t have the stomach for killing?”

Pole turned and looked at him “Who told you I was a farmer?”

“You did.” Jimmy replied.

Pole thought about it, he’d talked assuming Jimmy was listening but he couldn’t recall saying that.

“You learned to work with your hands and build things somewhere, mend fences, I never showed you. I had a couple of things to choose from and picked one.” Jimmy replied.

Pole smiled “I’ve always heard to watch the quiet ones. Do you worry about somebody younger and faster coming for you someday?”

“Everyday, be thankful that today is not the day, it’s time to go back and tomorrow you meet the judge” Jimmy said.

Pole didn’t sleep that night worrying if he would be killed on the way to the courthouse or if the judge wouldn’t deal. Jimmy finally showed with the blindfold Pole had become accustomed to wearing when he got to go out. He always had to wear it when leaving the cell. His horse was lead or would follow the others and the blindfold was removed when they got to the destination. He couldn’t have found his way out of wherever he was if his life depended on it. This time when the blindfold was removed he was at the back of the court house, the two lawyers waiting for him.

Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on July 18, 2010, 01:09:42 PM
Lily has been fretting for days, trying to figure out how they were going to get the prisoners over to the courthouse at 10 Monday morning for their meeting with the judge without Phillips finding out one was missing. But on Saturday, she had received a telegram that Deputies Issac Bennett and Gilbert Turner from Santa Fe would arrive on the Sunday afternoon stage to collect Owen Brown. 

Lily booked a room at the Ace for Bennett and Turner, and met them at the stage. Bennett seemed surprised to have a woman identify herself as a deputy, but Gil had passed through El Paso a couple months earlier, and the Coatsworths had invited him to dinner. Gil had had a great collection of stories to tell. He had gone to Stillwater Prison just the month before to question the surviving Youngers about a train robbery.

Monday morning, Bennett and Turner came over to the Marshal's office soon after breakfast was cleared away. Lily introduced them to Phillips with a comment about Gil having met the Younger gang, brought in coffee for three, and left the rest of the pot.

At 9, with a wagon waiting out front, Fritz knocked on the door of Phillips's office. "It's time to take the prisoners over to the courthouse, sir."

Phillips waved him away, "Take care of it."

Jimmy and Fritz chained the prisoners and loaded them into the wagon where Lily stood guard.

At the courthouse, they unloaded the prisoners and chained them into the prisoner's dock in the courtroom. Then the lawyers came in with Pole. The deputies and Powell moved away, to let Pole and his men talk with their lawyer in apparent privacy. The conversation looked heated at one point, with Pole and Evans arguing, but they soon quieted and nodded to the lawyer.

Morgan came over to Powell and said, "They are all in agreement. Let's get the judge out here and take care of business."
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on July 30, 2010, 11:26:17 AM
Judge Carter listened quietly to the two lawyers, he couldn’t recall two lawyers being more agreeable on anything for most of his career, especially these two.

Judge Carter excused the prisoners and asked Powell and Morgan to stay. He looked past them at a sign on the street. Powell and Morgan turned to see what he was looking at.

“Judge?” Powell said not seeing anything.

“I was just making sure I got off the stage in El Paso.” Carter said looking at them. “Powell, you should be having a high time with this, but instead you have bargained. Explain to me why the two of you seem to be in a conspiracy.”

Powell started to say something and Carter raised a finger.

“Before you answer, I already know you have confirmed information on a case that the Marshal’s office has been working to break for over two years and Witts is alive only by the grace of God. By confessing, Pole may or may not knowingly put himself in a hell of a situation. I highly doubt there are many places we’ll be able to put him for five years that somebody won’t seek him out to kill him. What do you propose to do with all of this now?” Carter leaned back and waited. 

Morgan answered, "Pole says he has been living on borrowed time ever since the first time he took a job from the Castle. He's angry at them for trying to take his gang away from him, and angry at himself for having made that possible. He thanks the posse for giving him these last several days, because Pole was sure Jackson was aiming at him after Phillips announced that the gang was surrounded. It might be safer for the rest of Pole's gang if he's put somewhere separate from them, but it would be a lot safer for Pole to treat them all alike and keep them together. Huntsville is as good a place as any."

Powell added, "Marshal Hayes says that almost everything from Pole is confirmation of what they already had. The only new information is the identities of two more gunrunners. Those men will be watched, but nothing more. The Marshals office wants to take out the center before going after the fringes of the organization."

"Does the Marshal's office have the information that's needed to do this?" Carter asked.

Powell answered, "Marshall Witts brought back that information. He and Marshal Hayes are working on how to tackle the problem."

"Just so I'm clear. You cut a deal to confirm information you already had plus the names of a couple of gun runners?" The judge asked raising an eyebrow.

Morgan answered firmly, "Yes", while Powell nodded before adding, "Those new gunrunners are capable of diverting Army shipments of weapons and ammo. Because they were totally unsuspected, they could have caused a great deal of harm. Marshal Hayes thinks that several robberies of arms shipments might have been facilitated by them."

"Very well. Some of them would be suitable for the lease program. If they have a problem with that, perhaps Yuma would be suitable." Judge Carter replied.

Morgan replied, "I'll talk to them, but based on previous conversations, I think they would all be cooperative with the lease program."

"I would hope so." Judge Carter said eyeing the two men. "Are we finished here then?"
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on August 01, 2010, 08:49:20 PM
The church bell ringing for 10 a.m. recalled Marshal Phillips to his duties. It took a few minutes to get the last prisoner in the cell block loaded onto a horse for the ride to Santa Fe.

Marshal Phillips walked into the courtroom while the prisoners were being brought back in.

"What's been going on?" he asked Fritz.

"Judge cleared the courtroom for a conference with the lawyers. They all pleaded guilty, so the judge will pass sentence once everyone is settled again."

Just then, the bailiff called out, "All rise!" and the judge entered the courtroom.

"Defendents, remain standing. The audience may be seated," called the bailiff.

The judge declared, "You are all found guilty of conspiracy to commmit bank robbery. Benjamin Pole, I sentence you to seven years in Huntsville Federal Prison.
Maxwell Collins, I sentence you to five years in Huntsville Federal Prison.
Gus Rodriguez, I sentence you to five years in Huntsville Federal Prison.
Edmund Cox, I sentence you to five years in Huntsville Federal Prison.
Ulysses Evans, I sentence you to five years in Huntsville Federal Prison.
Juan Sanchez, I sentence you to five years in Huntsville Federal Prison.
Eduardo Perez, I sentence you to three years in Huntsville Federal Prison."

"Don't they hang bank robbers?" asked Phillips, while the townspeople in the audience expressed satisfaction with the sentence.

"Not lately. Horse thieves only get hung if they get caught by the people they stole the horses from. Once a judge gets involved, most theft gets a prison sentence," replied Fritz, while Jimmy fought to restrain a laugh.  

"What now?" asked Phillips.

"Now we, as Federal Marshals, are responsible for delivering the prisoners to Huntsville. It's usually a boring duty, assigned to the juniormost deputies." Fritz looked at Jimmy, who no longer felt so amused.

"I'll leave you to arrange that," said Phillips, standing up to follow the townspeople out of the courtroom.

Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on August 07, 2010, 10:32:00 AM
Late in the morning, Scarlet watched Phillips walk over to the telegraph office. When he had returned to the Marshals office, she went downstairs and paid her own visit to Tink.

Tink greeted her, and added, "Eddie here was going to come find you as soon as he finished decoding the message."

Eddie said, "Done!" and handed Scarlet the paper.

She read, "Brown headed to Sante Fe for trial. Pole and others headed to Huntsville Prison. Two deputies." She tapped the paper and said, "This looks like an invitation to an ambush. Tink, have you sent this already?"

"Nope, wanted to run it by you first."

"Eddie, can you change the locations? Say Omaha for Santa Fe, and Yuma for Huntsville."

"Sure thing." Eddie pulled the book closer and set to work, then handed the finished message to Tink.

"I'll get this sent off. Eddie, come back after lunch. I don't expect any reply sooner than that."
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on August 09, 2010, 09:10:55 AM

Archie looked over at Hayes, "We got word Carter sentenced Pole's gang. Now that the deal has been cut, you've got all of your information and a warrant, how do you plan to use it? You can break into the Castle with the Army, but Ray is going to take his essential records, destroy the rest, and be out through the caves before you get near him."

"We need to think of a way to get to Ray and all the information, and capture him before he gets wise to us," Hayes replied.

"We?" Archie said raising an eyebrow, "My cover has been broken and I would kind of like to stay alive. I don't know if Pole will help you any more by giving you ideas or not, but his sentence has already been delivered, so don't count on it."

"Pole already gave all the useful information he had about how the Castle recruits, and named some of their recruiters. We'll see who we can find to be recruited, but we do know someone who has been approached." Hayes handed the page of translated telegrams to Archie.

Archie looked at the page, then protested, "You're not thinking of sending the Coatsworths!  Perry knows Ella as a deputy marshal. He wouldn't let them near anything sensitive. You can't send civilians like Dr. Alan and Ella into that kind of danger!"

"Perry spends a lot of time away from the Castle. And Phillips sent that Ella is no longer a deputy."

"Perry was intrigued by Ella when he met her at Fort Fetterman. Most of that might have been the challenge of taking something others had failed to take, but there was an attraction that would greatly increase the danger to her."

"I have no doubt in Ella's abilities to handle herself, she has a good reputation." Hayes replied.

Archie looked at Hayes, "How many innocent lives are you willing to gamble for this?"

Hayes retorted, "How many innocent lives are lost every time the Castle operates? How many lives will be lost when the Castle makes its move and uses all those munitions it has been stockpiling? But the decision to go will be left to the Coatsworths, after they hear everything you can tell them. Even if they agree, it wouldn't be just the two of them. They can take Lily as a lady's maid, and Eddie Washington as an assistant to Dr. Alan."

"Don’t strong arm the Coatsworths into doing this or Lily and Eddie." Archie paused, "Lady's maid, doctor’s assistant? Just how long have you been planning this?"

"The idea of involving the Coatsworths only came up when I saw those telegraph messages on Friday. The idea of including Lily and Eddie came up when they were out here on Saturday. You were taking a nap while they were getting knife-fighting instruction from Johnny Longknife and Scarlet. I believe you have seen Scarlet in action. Lily has the potential to be every bit as good. Eddie pulled out an Indian trick that surprised Johnny." Hayes paused before confessing, "They each beat me soundly."

"Their survival in the Castle would depend on acting ability. If they are suspected, fighting skill will not get them out. "

"Dr. Alan is going to get the most attention, and his role is straight-forward: he's a doctor considering a post. He hasn't read the collected information, which is probably good, because he doesn't have knowledge he would have to hide. Eddie will probably be mostly overlooked because he is young. Lily will be overlooked because she is young and a woman."

"No chance that Perry would overlook Ella!"

"But she can act the role of doctor's obedient, subservient wife amazingly well. Eddie told me about the times Marshal Phillips has come to dinner. The core of the plan is for those four to go into the Castle, find what needs to be found, and send a telegram out. Once we get the telegram, your job will be to lead the Army to the Castle."
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on August 09, 2010, 02:22:56 PM
Eddie went back to Tink's office after lunch, code book in hand.  The reply from the Castle had arrived, so Eddie sat down to translate it.


He coded the word "Huntsville" and Tink copied the edited message on the usual flimsy.

"Do you want me to deliver the message to the Marshals office?"

"No, let Phillips come pick it up. You can take the original message over to the Ace for Scarlet, though."

"I bet Phillips invites himself to dinner again this evening. I'll let Mrs. Coatsworth know."

At the Coatsworth house, Ella sighed at Eddie's warning, and went into the kitchen to talk to Bella. Dr. Alan still needed to get acclimated to the hottest foods. Maybe dropping in on meals of Chili Diablo or Volcano Stew would discourage Phillips. But tonight's dinner would be Alan's favorite chicken and dumplings.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on August 11, 2010, 10:48:25 PM
Scarlet read over the message. She would mention the comment regarding Yuma and Pole to Hayes.

She also began to wonder what exactly Phillips spoke to Dr. Alan about on all these visits for dinner. At times he stayed well into the evening. This evening was no exception.

After breakfast Scarlet headed over to the Coatsworth’s.

"Good morning, Bella," she greeted when the door opened.

"Good morning, Mrs. King," Bella said, inviting her in, "are you here to see Mrs. Coatsworth?"

"Yes, I was wondering if she was headed out to the Starr today to see her horse, I could ride with her."

"She and Dr. Alan are out in the stable. Come on through." Bella led Scarlet through the garden.

Ella and Dr. Alan were both saddling up. "Good morning, Scarlet. Care to join us on a ride to the Starr?"

They finished and led the horses out of the stable. Eddie opened the gate for them, and they were soon on their way.

Once they were out of town, Ella spoke up, "I insisted that Dr. Alan talk to Archie before he gives Phillips a decision."

"What has Phillips said to think he has intrigued Dr. Alan?" Scarlet asked glad to hear Archie would be the one Dr. Alan was going to speak to. She still didn’t completely trust Hayes.

"I'm invited to be the town physician for Castletown, New Mexico. It's a salaried position, paid by the town government out of income from mining concessions, serving a population of currently 2000, about 3/4 men, with expectations of the population increasing to closer to 5000 within 10 years. I'm invited to come visit before making a final decision. On the surface, it looks like an interesting job."

"If it weren't Phillips bringing the proposal, and we didn't have reason to suspect that Phillips has undesirable connections, then I would agree that it looks interesting," said Ella. "The trouble is what is under the surface. If the way Phillips and White view women is normal for men in the Kingdom, I would find living there more stifling than living in Boston. And I don't think anyone who visits the heart of the Kingdom is allowed to leave easily."

"If you went, who would take care of the people in El Paso, now that Dr. Stuart retired and moved to where his daughter lives in Louisiana?"

"You remember Major Martin from Fort Fetterman?" replied Ella. When Scarlet nodded, Ella continued, "He's now retired from the Army, not by his choice. His last letter accepted our invitation to visit us, and said he'll be here next week. I've trained a half-dozen good midwives over the past few years, so we actually could go somewhere without feeling that we've abandoned El Paso."

“When you speak to Archie make sure Hayes is not nosing around, you’ll get his honest opinion that way without having to defend it.” 
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on August 12, 2010, 06:22:02 PM
"I see that Jesse Campbell brought some fine horses this time," said Perry, as he entered Ray's office. "What did you want to see me about?"

"Which of our law-abiding suppliers would be available for escort duty from El Paso in a week or two?" asked Ray.

"Either Eldon Taylor or Elijah Hughes. Why?"

"To bring a new doctor."

"You are inviting Dr. Coatsworth here? His wife is a deputy marshal, for crying out loud."

"His wife WAS a deputy marshal, according to Phillips, and confirmed by Campbell. After what the town went through last summer with smallpox, my people need a better doctor than the town butcher. Dr. Coatsworth's reputation in El Paso is outstanding. Mrs. Coatworth's reputation in El Paso is also interesting. She might have worn a badge, but residents speak of her as a midwife and doctor, not as a deputy. She is also reputed to be a good cook. I know I'm tired of chilies in every meal."

"Why should Dr. Coatsworth accept an invitation?"

"He's an educated man, and cultured. After a life in Boston and some years in Vienna, El Paso must be boring to him."

"You can't really say that Castletown is less boring than El Paso."

"That is true now, but won't be too much longer. Once the Kingdom takes its rightful place, he would travel the world as my royal physician."

"Mrs. Coatsworth knows about the wanted poster from Louisiana."

"Maybe you should be elsewhere when they arrive in Castletown. We need to replace Pole and his gang anyway."

"I think we can replace Pole easily enough but we lost some good men when Pole was captured. Jackson, Rico and some of the other men who were good at doing the dirty jobs. I will start talking to my contacts, see if there's others suitable." Perry paused then asked, "How can we be sure Mrs. Coatsworth would keep her mouth quiet once here and not sneak out messages somehow to her deputy friends?"

"Dr. and Mrs. Coatsworth will be in Castletown, where there is nothing sensitive, until we are sure of them. There shouldn't be any way for her to get a message out unless she brings homing pigeons. The people who are permitted to come and go know better than to carry a letter that hasn't been approved. I have trouble imagining any proper lady exploring the caves far enough to find the connection to the Castle or breaking into the telegraph office, as if a woman could do anything with a telegraph key anyway, but I can assign her a couple watchers. "

"Good, that would be good," Perry replied. "She may be a proper lady, but she defends herself much better than one. We should not let our guard down around her, we don’t want any unexpected surprises."

"Mrs. Coatsworth would serve as a hostage should we need to control the doctor, if he's fond enough of her. Is she good-looking?"

"She is presentable, but hardly a beauty."

"Unlikely to cause trouble then. Phillips commented to Campbell that she is appropriately quiet when he's been around her."
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on August 16, 2010, 10:41:57 PM
At the infirmary, they found Archie sitting in a chair in his room talking to Hayes.

"Marshal Hayes, I would like to speak to you for a few minutes," said Ella, drawing Hayes out of the room.

"As you might have anticipated from the messages that Eddie decoded, Marshal Phillips has asked Dr. Alan to come to someplace in New Mexico called 'Castletown'. How badly do you need a new person on the inside?"

Ambrose couldn’t believe his ears. He had been thinking of how to bring it up, pull it all together and now it was being dropped right into his lap. He didn’t want to seem too anxious but he thought about it.

"I was told to be honest when I came here. Without somebody on the inside we would have to try and fight our way in, and I don’t think we would get the leader that way. I think all we would get is a lot of good men dead and a few bad ones."

"What could a couple people on the inside do?"

"That can't be predicted. One possibility is to find the leader's emergency exit and let our people in that way."

"I doubt if Dr. Alan or I would be able to do the exploring needed for that. White knew me as a deputy marshal. He must have told the leader that. I can expect to be watched, either overtly or discretely, almost every minute. Dr. Alan might not be watched as closely, but he is going to have his time filled just evaluating the job offer."

"You could take servants with you."

"Bella would not be any help for what you need."

"I was thinking more of Lily as a maid and Eddie as an assistant to Dr. Alan."

"Phillips knows Lily is a deputy marshal, whether he admits it to her or not. Eddie just turned 17, which means he has almost no sense of self-preservation."

"Phillips hasn't sent any telegram identifying Lily as a deputy yet, and now that you've broken the code, he won't."

"There is no reason to believe that Phillips communicates with the Castle only by telegram."

"That's true, but Deputy Lily Jefferson dresses and acts one way. A lady's maid would dress and act differently."

"Lily so dislikes dressing and acting like a lady! But she has absorbed enough from Rose and Scarlet to be able to do it at need." Ella paused, then continued. "If we can't find a backdoor for you, how do we get out again? You wouldn't have had so much trouble finding the location of the Castle if they let outsiders leave again after a visit."

Hayes thought about the question. He figured once Dr. Coatsworth agreed to go to evaluate the job, he doubted the group would be allowed to leave. He could hear Archie’s voice, "how many innocent lives are you willing to sacrifice?"

"If you're willing to do it, there are a lot of details we need to work out because the only answer I have right now for that is to sneak or fight your way out."

"The decision is going to be made by Dr. Alan. The basic plan seems to be 'stay in character and watch for an opportunity to complete the mission or escape'. We will have a week or two to work out details. Lily won't be back from escorting Pole's gang to prison until the end of the week. The retired doctor who is coming to visit us next week will need a few days before Dr. Alan can leave the practice in his hands." Ella paused as a thought struck her. "Dr. Martin and Dr. Alan might be allowed to exchange messages about patients, and Dr. Alan should ask about that before agreeing to go. I could work with Patches on code that would fit."

"Excellent, I'm glad you are willing to do this if Dr. Coatsworth is."

"I am not letting him go into this alone. If the decision were up to me, I don't know what I would decide. Duty calls one way, and common sense urges the other."
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on September 10, 2010, 10:17:24 PM
Dr. Alan had waited until Hayes and Ella were out of earshot before he spoke, which sparked Archie’s curiosity.

"I have been offered a job in another town and am giving it some consideration," Dr. Alan said.

"The folks of El Paso will miss you, I'm sure. I'm glad you were here when I came in," Archie responded, waiting for Dr. Alan to mention why he might be discussing this with him.

"It's a place called Castletown, I thought you may be familiar with it."

Archie's eyes met Dr. Alan's, then glanced past him to see where Hayes may be. "Castletown would keep you busy, Dr. Coatsworth. Who would go with you?"

"My wife, of course. I've been offered a very nice salary."

Archie shifted uncomfortably in his chair.

"Are you in pain? Perhaps I should help you back to bed," Dr. Alan said.

"No, I'm alright. Have you spoken to Deputy Hayes about this?"

"My wife insisted I speak to you first. Mrs. King agreed that I should."

The comment seemed to make Archie more uncomfortable. "Why me?"

"You know about the town and frankly, Mrs. King thought you would give me an honest opinion."

"Dr. Coatsworth, why on God's green earth, do you want to work for a man who is going to pay you in blood money and take your wife with you to live with outlaws and thieves?"

"All the stories told back east say that everywhere in the West is full of outlaws and thieves. El Paso certainly doesn't live down to that reputation."

"Mining camps in the West come closer to fitting that stereotype and Castletown is a mining camp. The local law enforcement is a joke. Outlaws routinely come into Castletown to get supplies, knowing that their stolen gold will be taken with no questions asked. Drunken brawls occur frequently. They hang murderers every week."

"It looks like an interesting job. My position would be paid by the town government out of income from mining concessions, serving a population of currently 2000, about 3/4 men, with expectations of the population increasing to closer to 5000 within 10 years. I am invited to come visit before making a final decision."

"My honest opinion is once you show up in Castletown, you will not be allowed to leave until they trust you to keep their secrets. Mrs. Coatsworth would NEVER be allowed to leave. Castletown may have a government with an income from mining and may appear to function like a normal town, but rest assured, you will be living among killers and thieves."

Dr. Alan looked disappointed. "What about helping with the investigation you've worked so hard at?"

"Are you prepared to kill men to save your life and that of your wife?"

"I took an oath to save lives," Dr. Alan replied.

"Then don't go, Dr. Coatsworth. Castletown and the men there may change you and not for the better. While they may desire a good doctor and you fit what they are looking for, you should consider the people you will be living among. Once there, you will have to fight your way out or convince them that they should trust you. If you go, you best have somebody on the inside who has shed blood before and is willing to do it again to help you."

"That sounds like a job for James Bradbury. He might not be much interested in helping me, but he would help Mrs. Coatsworth."

"James Bradbury rides for the Southern Starr, sometimes for the Army and sometimes for the El Paso Marshal's office. While he has a reputation to have killed many men, he always seems to have a legitimate reason. What reason would James have to go with you that would be bought by the men waiting for you? If he went as an escort, they would expect him to leave when you agree to stay." 

"I wasn't thinking that he would go with us. I thought he might be able to get inside to help us get out."

Archie grinned. "I've never heard Mr. Bradbury has had any trouble getting into a place like Castletown. If you think Ella can convince him to go, I would breath easier at night knowing you had him on your side." Archie paused, then softly said, "I wonder if he knows much about Castletown?"

"We can find out by asking him and Scarlet. I also wonder if Jimmy Washington knows anything about Castletown."
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on September 11, 2010, 11:03:43 PM
Hayes was in the office when Dr. Alan left Archie resting. Dr. Alan paused for a moment, but only asked Hayes, "Do you know where Mrs. Coatsworth might be?"

"She said she was going to talk to Mrs. McDowell in the telegraph office." Hayes badly wanted to ask Dr. Alan what he thought about the job offer, but Dr. Alan slipped out the door before Hayes could figure out how to phrase the question.

"If you can't get messages out any other way, you could climb a telegraph pole and use a lineman's key. 'Course, the message goes both ways on the wire, and the telegraph office in Castletown will get the message before anyone else, and might figure out to check for someone up a pole." Patches was demonstrating how to connect the lineman's key when Dr. Alan knocked on the open door.

"I know I'm not going to be climbing any poles in proper doctor's wife attire," replied Ella. "But I expect that Lily wouldn't mind escaping from lady's maid attire in order to climb a pole. If Eddie had been working longer on telegraph skills, he would be the obvious pole climber."

"I'll send the practice key home with you, so you can set Eddie studying."

"What are you planning here?" asked Dr. Alan.

"Communications from Castletown," replied Ella.

"I haven't decided to go yet."

"I wanted to start working out a code early. You might be able to insist on exchanging messages discussing your patients in El Paso with Dr. Martin. If so, Patches and I will have a code arranged to fit in those medical messages. That would be the easiest way to let Hayes know when we have succeeded in the mission, or to let him know when we need help."

"Knowing you, there are two more plans. What are they?"

"Breaking into the telegraph office in Castletown to use the key. The lineman's key is the third idea."

"So Lily and Eddie would be going with us?"

"I'd like to take Jimmy as well, but he'll be needed in El Paso to help keep an eye on Phillips. And he's harder to claim as a servant. Lily can be my maid, and Eddie can be your apprentice."

"Jimmy might be able to go to Castletown separately, if he's been there before. We can ask when he and Lily get back. I thought James Bradbury could help us escape if need be."

"Were you going to ask him?"

"Actually, I hope you would ask him, if I decide to tell Phillips I will go take a look. James just tolerates me."

"Remember to ask if you will be able to communicate with Dr. Martin, and maybe insist on a promise of that communication before agreeing to go."

"If Castletown is really what Archie says, that promise is not going to be worth anything."

"True, which is why there are two more ideas for how to send messages."
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on October 08, 2010, 01:31:10 PM
Armed with a bottle of good red wine, Dr. Alan knocked on the door of the marshal's house. He had noticed a curtain move, and thought that Phillips was watching for him. Catarina who opened the door to him. She put his hat on the rack and led him to the parlor. She took the bottle of wine to the dining room.

Phillips seemed a little anxious, as though Dr. Alan's answer mattered to him personally. As soon as greetings and the required comments on the weather and each others health were out of the way, Dr. Alan brought up the job offer, "I am seriously considering the job in Castletown, but I don't want to leave El Paso without a qualified physician. A friend of mine, recently retired from the Army, is coming to visit next week. I could leave the people of El Paso in his hands, as long as I would be available for him to consult by telegraph. There are a few patients with complicated medical issues."

"Castletown is on a telegraph line. I'm sure you'll be able to send and receive all the messages you need."

Dr. Alan decided that he couldn't insist on a promise without exposing that he suspected there was more to Castletown than just a mining town.

"How long does it take to get there?"

"It's an easy two-day drive for supply wagons."

"That's good. I would rather drive a carriage than spend two days on horseback."

"There will be a train of supply wagons heading that way next week, and you could travel with them."

"Provided Dr. Martin is willing to stay for three months, would a three-month trial suit?"

"That sounds fine. I'll wire your tentative agreement. Would you be taking your wife for the trial period?"

"Yes, of course. She'll want to take a couple servants as well."

"The house they provide for you will come fully staffed and furnished."

"It's going to be hard enough on her, taking her away from Mrs. King and Mrs. McDowell, whom she considers sisters. Let her have a couple familiar people around her."

"Should be no problem. Shall we dine?" Phillips rang a bell on the table, then led the way to the dining room.

Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on March 30, 2011, 08:06:36 AM
Fritz had taken the evening watch.  Most of the shops were closed, but the the lights were still on in his favorite store.  Hardesty's had been open since the 1820's.  It was a family owned, business, passed from father to son.  The last generation produced no male heirs, but a feisty daughter named Catherine now ran the place.  She heard Fritz's boots on the boardwalk and waved him in.

"Hello stranger," she smiled.  "You haven't darkened my door in awhile.  How goes the job?"

Fritz took off his slouch and returned the smile.  "There's a new Marshal in town.  He's not the man 'Sleep is."

"So I've heard," Catherine replied.  "So, what can I get you?"

"Phillips made a crack about my conversions.  He said I should be carrying a man-sized pistol."

She looked at his rig.  "He should review his history.  James Butler did good work with a set of those, and in percussion to boot!"

The comment made Fritz smile.  He purused the glass cases, coming to the end case.  

"Nobody wants those anymore.  Cartridge guns are in vogue.  But the right man could make good use of them."

Fritz tapped the glass.  "There.  Can I look at those Cat?"

She smiled and unlocked the case.  "You have a good eye my friend.  A Ranger retired a few years back.  He was down on his luck and needed money.  He hated to part with them, but I gave him a good price."

Cat set the velvet on the glass and laid the pistols before him.  They were well worn, but well cared for.  Almost no finish remained, but there wasn't a trace of rust.  Fritz picked one up and cycled the action.  It was smooth as glass, and the trigger broke clean.

"They're a matched set.  Obsolete, yes, but still the most powerful pistol available."

Fritz remembered them well from the war.  Confederate troops carried whatever they could find.  With a powder charge of 60 grains, these massive pistols could take down a horse.  They were not meant to be carried on the belt, but in pommel holsters on the saddle.  He turned the Colt over.  "1847" was still cleary marked on the barrel.

"I'll take them."

Cat put the Walkers back in the pommel holsters they came in.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on March 30, 2011, 10:57:28 AM
Fritz sat at his desk in the Marshal's office and began disassembling his Walkers.  He did one pistol at a time so as not to confuse the parts.  They had been thoroughly cleaned and oiled by Cat.  As he worked, he recalled the history behind these magnificant weapons.

Sam Colt's first revolver was the Patterson.  It was a breakthrough design, being a five-shot, .36 caliber with a fixed barrel.  Colt thought he'd set the world on fire with his design, but only one service truly took it seriously: the Texas Rangers.  They ordered large quantities of his revolver.  Each Ranger was armed with two Pattersons and a Colt Revolving Carbine.  They used these weapons to great effect against the Commanche, but the design was far from perfect.  There was no loading lever on the gun, which required the cylinder to be removed to be reloaded.  There was no triggerguard; the spring-loaded trigger dropped down when the hammer was cocked.  And the .36 caliber load though effective, wasn't a one-shot stopper. 

One Ranger decided to help Colt redesign his pistol.  Sammuel Walker suggested a caliber change to .44, backed with a charge of 60 grains of black powder, in addition to adding the loading lever and triggerguard.  The new pistol was huge and heavy, but would bring down a horse as well as the rider.  Sam Walker carried a brace of these new pistols in the Mexican War, and died with them in his hands.  Fritz liked to think that both guns were empty when he went down. 

Once both Walkers were cleaned and reassembled, Fritz loaded five chambers each.  In deference to their age, he only loaded 40 grains of black powder.  With hammers down on empty chambers, he reholstered the guns.  In the morning when he rode out of town, they'd be hung on his saddle.

"Let Phillips talk now," he thought.  He imagined Scarlet wearing hers.  Although he doubted they'd adorn his hips as well as her shapely ones, he knew he'd be well-armed.     
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on April 06, 2011, 10:04:12 PM
Archie caught Jimmy’s attention as he passed by the infirmary.

Jimmy stepped inside “Whatcha need?” he asked.

Archie really wanted to ask him what he knew about Castletown but instead said “I don’t think I ever thanked you for helping save my life.”

Jimmy touched the brim of his hat in acknowledgement and started to turn to leave.

Archie was a bit surprised, he guessed he shouldn’t be James Bradbury wasn’t known for being much of a conversationalist, although Archie had heard he could be rather sociable if he liked someone “Wait.”

Jimmy turned back towards him “somethin’ else?”

“Why did you do it?”

One side of Jimmy’s mouth curled up as he half laughed. “I know you’ve helped people when you didn’t have to.” Jimmy replied looking at him suspiciously.

“I mean it James.” He noticed Jimmy’s eyes slightly narrow as he said it.

“Is that all?” Jimmy asked.

“Yes” Archie replied realizing Jimmy could read him well enough to know he was lying.

Jimmy turned to leave “I prefer Jimmy” he said flatly.

Archie was a little surprised to hear him say that.

Jimmy didn’t like it, didn’t like it at all. Wits and Hayes both on the Southern Starr and Wits was being careful about something.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on April 06, 2011, 11:29:46 PM
Jimmy caught up with Scarlet on her way to town “Wits thanked me for helping save his life earlier.”

Scarlet looked questioningly at him.

“It’s not what he said it’s the way he kept looking at me. He was thinking something else.”

“Castletown has been a subject of discussion recently. He probably wonders if you know anything about it.”

“Well he’s gonna have to ask the questions.” Jimmy said.

Jimmy noticed they had come to a stop on the bluff; she was looking towards the houses in town.

“I always used to tell Hart he needed to keep the curtains drawn on this side. I’d be too easy for someone to watch him without him knowing, in fact a good rifleman could probably take him out from here.”

Jimmy smiled and shook his head as he asked “have you taken that long rifle from the scabbard and lined your sights up on him yet?”

Scarlet shot him a dirty look trying to be innocent of such a thought causing Jimmy to laugh. “That tells me everything.” he said asking his horse to move forward to follow her.

Jimmy planned to enjoy the company of the girl he was sweet on while Scarlet poured two cups of coffee and went across the street to the marshal’s office.

“I saw the light on thought you could use a good cup of coffee Deputy” she said with a smile as she opened the door.

Fritz looked up with a smile. “The coffee here is good.”

“Mmm perhaps, but this comes with company if you like.” She said half smiling as she placed the cups on the desk; thinking what a nice distraction this was from things happening at the Starr.

“Your company is always welcome.” He said as she stepped behind him and began to rub his neck. Her hands were warm from holding the cups, Fritz could feel his muscles relax.

“I’m on duty ma’am.” He said teasingly. He couldn’t see her but he knew she was smiling.

“I couldn’t help but notice your rather large pistol’s Deputy, care to tell me about them?” Scarlet whispered in his ear. She figured he had arrested somebody that may have been carrying them.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on April 07, 2011, 06:41:52 PM
"Surely you recognize them Darlin''ve got a set yourself!"

Scarlet smiled.  "And I just had your Navies converted.  Are you going back to cap'n ball?"

Fritz pulled one Walker from its holster and set the hammer to half cock.  "She's loaded," he said, handing the pistol butt-first to his wife.  She closed her eyes and turned the cylinder with her fingers, listening for the clicks.  Scarlet lowered the hammer on the nipple without a cap and handed it back, nodding her head.

"Well worn, but not worn out.  Cat sell you those?"

"Yep.  Phillips busted my balls about my conversions.  Let him talk now."

"It's not the size of your gun Darlin," Scarlet smiled sweetly.  "It all in how you use it!"

Fritz swatted hert but and laughed.  "No complaints about the size of my gun?"

She sat down in his lap, wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him deeply.  "It fits my holster just fine."

Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on April 12, 2011, 11:33:47 PM
The time always seemed to go by fast when they were together. They had talked about Ella and Dr. Allen going to Castletown. Before he knew it Scarlet was excusing herself to avoid seeing Marshal Phillips. Scarlet ran her fingers across Fritz’s new guns one more time.

“I knew you’d like them.” Fritz said smiling.

“Oh yes Darlin’.”

By the sound of her voice he knew she was having a devilish thought. “Care to tell me what you’re thinking before you go?” He asked.

Scarlet stopped at the door, turned to him and grinned. Her eyes danced wickedly. “Just a thought Darlin’, sometimes you shouldn’t ask a lady what’s on her mind.”

Fritz shook his head back and forth.

“Phillips will be by soon, I’ll see you at the Ace for breakfast once he lets you go.” She said pulling open the door.

Fritz wasn’t sure but he thought he heard her say “Those things make a hell of a mess at close range.”

Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on April 13, 2011, 12:37:37 PM
Fritz stoked the stove and put a fresh pot of coffee on the boil.  The shift had been quiet; nothing of note had occurred.  As the the sun lit the town he closed out the blotter for the shift, and left it open on the Marshal's desk.  Fritz blew out the lamps and opened the front door to let the air in.  There was still a chill in the air, so he slipped on his coat and waited.

The duty roster was broken down into three eight hour shifts, so that each deputy could stay focused on the job.  They'd tried 12 hour shifts but they weren't as productive.  Since Jimmy was gone escorting prisoners, Fritz was forced to pull a 12-hour shift, and he was tired.  Phillips had not volunteered to help him, and that stuck in his craw.  Fritz sneered at the thought.

The Marshal walked in at exactly 7:30 AM.  He walked past Fritz and into his office without saying a word.  Phillips sat down at his desk and began to read the blotter.  Fritz shook his head and grabbed a tin cup for coffee.  As he poured, Phillips said "Bring me one."

"Please," Fritz replied.

"What was that, King?"

Fritz walked into the office.  "That's bring me one please, Phillips."

"That's Marshal Phillips to you, Deputy."

"Then it's Deputy King to you, Phillips."

"Were you this insubordinate in the Army, King?"  

"Were you this much of an ass in the Navy, Phillips?  I spent 20 years of my adult life serving my country.  You stayed in the Navy just long enough to make some connections."

"I've had about enough of you..." Phillips started.  Fritz slammed the cup down on the desk hard enough to sloush the contents over the edge.  He closed the gap and leaned in close.  Phillips tried to push his chair back, but its back was aginst the wall.

"Now hear this, Sailor.  I've had a belly full of you and your lack of manners.  My job is done, and the town is safe.  Nothing unusual to report during my shift.  You are my relief.  I'm leaving.  Any questions?"

Phillips shook his head.

"I'm going to the Ace for bed and breakfast.  Don't bother me for at least eight hours."  Fritz turned on his heel and slammed the office door shut.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on April 14, 2011, 06:33:53 AM
By the time he'd hit the Ace, Fritz was fuming.  The place was empty, so he went behind the bar and helped himself.  The coffee was still drinkable.  He took a cigar from the humidor and struck a Lucifer on the bartop.  Fritz knew it was early, but he was off-duty.  He poured himself a shot of good bourbon and drank it down.  He didn't want to go up to Scarlet this way, so he walked to the corner table and laid his Walker rig on the tabletop.  Fritz sat down with his back to the wall and his eyes on the door, and relaxed with a coffee and a good smoke.  
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on April 16, 2011, 01:32:23 AM
Hank had heard the doors of the Ace open and swing close, he’d also heard footfalls and thought he recognized them as Fritz’s, although they were longer and hit harder than normal. When he came out of the office he was surprised to smell bourbon in the air, more so to see the empty glass on the bar and Fritz watching the door.

Hank recognized the look Fritz wore, irritation mixed with relaxed calculation. He had worn it all too often himself and seen on the faces of the people he had called his family. He smiled and nodded in Fritz’s direction  ducked back into the office then made his way to the kitchen.

“Fritz is startin’ to pick up your habits.” He said walking past Scarlet who had been sitting there talking with Jimmy.

They both looked at him. “Who you talking to?” Jimmy asked.

“Which ever one of you is listening.” Hank looked pouring himself a cup of coffee.

“Yeah?” Jimmy said looking Hank up and down.

Scarlet looked at Hank questioningly. “I ain’t seen you wear your gun like that for along time.” She commented getting up to fix something for Fritz to eat.

“That looks good.” Jimmy said getting up and checking his gun and reholstering it before heading out into the main room. Fritz was in one back corner watching the door so Jimmy took the table in the other back corner.

 Scarlet filled the plates then poured a fresh cup of coffee and refilled her own before heading out of the kitchen wearing a smile. Hank was right, one could try and hide the look of what Scarlet would have bet was irritation but not from someone who had worn it as often as she had over the years. It looked like Fritz was trying to forget what ever it was that put the burr under his saddle blanket. She didn’t miss the empty glass on the bar as she put Jimmy’s breakfast down in front of him then went to the table Fritz was sitting at.

Scarlet stepped around Fritz and put the plate and cup down. “It’s hot and fresh.” She said giving him a kiss on the cheek as she sat down next to him.

Instead of bringing Phillip’s name up Scarlet eyed the rig on the table. “Ya know if you don’t tie those down tight when ride you get black and blue spots on your thighs.”

Fritz looked at her; it was about the last thing he expected to hear.

She grinned “Oh it’s true. They thump up and down while you ride and the next thing you know you’re wondering why you are black and blue.” She laughed softly. “After you get some rest we can see how they shoot.”
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on April 17, 2011, 11:47:36 AM
Of all the things she could have said, Fritz did not expect that.  Imagining her with black and blue thighs suddenly made him bust out laughing.  He laughed so hard that it immediately broke his mood.  Fritz smiled and kissed Scarlet on the cheek.

"Thanks alsways seem to know exactly what I need, when I need it."
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on April 22, 2011, 12:36:56 PM
Standing in front of the Ace with Eddie, Ella was surprised to see four riders escorting the stage.

Eddie shouted and waved, "There's Jimmy and Lily!"

The two lead riders waved back. When the stage pulled up, Ella recognized the other two riders as deputies from Houston who had come to Fort Fetterman with Marshal Hayes.

"Deputy Mason, Deputy Locke, it's a pleasure to see you again."

"Thank you, Mrs. Coatsworth," they replied, then followed Jimmy and Lily toward the stables at the Ace.

By now, the steps were in place and the driver was helping a passenger out. Ella was shocked at the changes in Dr. Martin. He had written that the Army had used an injury to his leg as an excuse to force him to retire, but he had not mentioned that he was using a wooden peg instead of a left foot! His hair had all gone gray and he looked like he had aged twenty years. Ella wondered if he would be able to take care of the El Paso medical practice.

The driver handed Dr. Martin his crutches, and turned to unloading his baggage.

"Dr. Martin, welcome to El Paso! Eddie will bring the carriage around to carry your baggage to the house."

"There's not that much baggage, Mrs. Coatsworth, just those two bags. One learns to pack lightly in the Army, after all."

"The house is a few blocks away. Would you rather walk there or ride in the carriage?"

"I've had enough of sitting. Let's walk."

Eddie had already collected the two bags, so they set out. Ella watched Dr. Martin carefully, but he was walking easily, using the crutches only for balance, not for support.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on May 03, 2011, 11:07:26 PM
Hank stepped into the doorway between the Ace and the stables. “Lilly, Jimmy” he said greeting them then eyed the other two.

“You can tie your horses to the post out front or the public stables is up the road, unless you have an invite I’m not aware of” Hank said to the two men.

He was aware of the way the two deputies were looking at him. They were both obviously wondering who the gunfighter was standing in the doorway. It wasn’t often Hank went around wearing his old rig but he was well practiced at still using it. He’d left the door ajar enough that if Jimmy Bradbury was half listening he would hear, Scarlet and Fritz had gone upstairs earlier.

“I run this place.” He said answering the unasked question.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on May 03, 2011, 11:47:50 PM
Jimmy answered, "Hank, I'd like you to meet Deputy Oliver Mason and Deputy Harold Locke. The Marshals office in Houston sent them to lend a hand here for a couple months. Missus King and Missus Coatsworth both met them last summer. Can they get rooms here at the Ace for tonight? We'll find them boarding house rooms tomorrow."
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on May 04, 2011, 12:19:54 AM
“Yeah, we got rooms. Your horses can go in them two stalls right there.” He said pointing at the two stalls at the front of the barn.

“I’ll meet you at the office desk to pick up your room keys. Should I send someone to tell Marshal Phillips or Missus King you’ve arrived?”  Hank asked wondering who they were sent here to help and how.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on May 04, 2011, 12:24:06 AM
Deputy Mason spoke up, "We're supposed to report to Marshal Phillips in the morning, but we would like to speak to Missus King before that, if possible."
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on May 12, 2011, 10:13:58 PM
Scarlet picked up the note that Hank had slid under the door and read it.

“Scarlet-new deputies arrived, waiting to see you.”

Looking over the paper she smiled at Fritz. “Locke and Mason have arrived they have requested to see me.”

“Wise young men, you’re the first one I’d want to see when I arrived here.” He said taking her in his arms then kissing her deeply.

Scarlet fanned herself with the paper “My oh my Mr. Fritz.” She said breathlessly then smiled and continued “I was not excited about Hayes sending for them at first, but maybe you will finally get a break” She paused, stepping back as her eyes danced mischievously and she looked him up and down “time to come home and see how those guns perform.”

“You are being a tease you know.” He said.

She was wearing an impish grin now “Oh yes, I know.” She giggled.

“What did Marshal Wheeler say about these two?” Fritz asked.

“They are young, opposite of Phillips as far as their minds are concerned. He thinks they show potential. That is praise coming from Wheeler.” There was a slight change in her tone as she said “Hayes said Locke has been a deputy for three years and Mason for two. He’s worked with them for the last year.”

Fritz knew Scarlet still didn’t trust Hayes. When Hayes hinted towards having the two deputies come to the Starr Scarlet had shot him an icy look that made the hints stop. He also knew there was an envelope from the Marshal in Galveston she had looked at many times since Phillips came. He never saw her open it to read, she would just look at the outside, obviously she knew what it said without looking. He suspected there was something in that letter that had recently kept her from pinning her badge to Hayes hind end and kicking him off the ranch.


Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on May 24, 2011, 06:49:12 PM
Fritz took the note and placed it on the bedside table.  He looked into Scarlet's eyes, and slowly slipped the scarlet silk straps from her shoulders. 

Fritz grinned.  "Can this meeting wait for a little while?"

Scarlet began "I suppose it could..."  She never finished, as Fritz tasted the softness of her mouth.  Her hands slipped around his neck, pulling him closer.  His hands slid down her velvety shoulders, feeling the swell of her breasts.  They lingered there a moment, then ran down to Scarlet's hips.  Her mouth moaned against his as Fritz cupped her ass.

They would meet the two young deputies a bit later...     
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on July 06, 2011, 12:15:38 AM
Scarlet took her time getting dressed and when she was finished she looked more like she was ready for a stroll along the boardwalk instead of meeting deputies. In fact, the peasant blouse and skirt she wore reminded Fritz much of one of the first dinner dates he’d had with her.

He had come to know her much better now than he had then. Then he had only wondered if she carried a weapon somewhere, then he’d let his mind briefly wander wondering if she was.  Then he had only caught a glimpse of the knife she carried. Now he knew she carried weapons, one would just have guess what she was in the mood to be carrying. 

He looked her up and down when she stood and faced him. She half smiled wondering what he was thinking “What’s on your mind Sugar?” she asked.

“Just letting my mind wander.” He said smiling back.

Scarlet kissed him softly on the lips then stepped out into the hallway; she stopped at the top of the staircase. Fritz knew she stopped to watch the floor below, most likely to observe the two deputies.

Noticing her watching Hank made his way to the table where the two deputies sat and asked them if they needed anything else. When he turned around he looked up and nodded at Scarlet, it was his way of telling her they were the ones asking to see her.

Fritz watched the unspoken communication between Hank and Scarlet. “How long have you known Hank?”

“Guess it’s going on four lifetimes now.” She said softly after brief pause.

“They seem patient.” She said as she taking his arm. “We should introduce ourselves.”
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on July 07, 2011, 06:06:32 AM
He stood on her left and linked arms with Scarlet.  He wondered if she knew how happy he was, or how proud he was to have her on his arm.  She smiled and nodded; this move kept both of their gun hadns free, should the need arise.  Together they slowly moved down the stairs and towards the table.  Both men rose and took off their hats.  It was a sign of respect, but Fritz also know they had never seen a woman quite like his wife before.  He smiled.

"Gentlemen," Fritz began, "I'm Deputy Fritz King.  This is my wife, Deputy Scarlet King."   
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on July 09, 2011, 10:59:03 AM
"It's good to see you again," replied Deputy Mason, while Deputy Locke nodded in agreement.

Scarlet nodded, remembering the young men who had diced with Frank and Chris while she and Ella had talked to Marshal Hayes. Fritz didn't remember them, but he had been otherwise occupied at the time.

Deputy Locke handed Fritz a paper, saying, "Our orders from Marshal Thompson are to report to Deputy Phillips and assist in the operation of the Marshals office here. Our orders from Marshal Hayes are to watch Phillips and report any suspicious behavior to him. Since he is staying out of town and out of sight, we are to report through Deputy Scarlet King."

"Who is Marshal Hayes that he can give you additional orders, unknown to Marshal Thompson?" asked Fritz.

The deputies answered at the same time,
"Marshal Hayes has a handful of deputies who are trusted enough to assist him in special cases," said Deputy Mason, "We're the ones sent here because we had met you and Deputy Coatsworth at Fort Fetterman, and know Deputy Washington."
"Uncle Ambrose inspired a bunch of nephews to follow him into the Marshals service," said Deputy Locke. "He told exciting stories and taught us about codes, and we all created a family code."
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on July 23, 2011, 01:46:40 AM
Marshal Phillips came out from his office when he heard the stagecoach arrive so that he could see who got off. His relief at seeing Deputy Washington safely back was solely due to the return to 8-hour shifts, of course. The man Mrs. Coatsworth was meeting must be the doctor friend come to visit, which meant that Castletown could get its new doctor soon.

When Deputy Washington came back out from the stableyard of the Ace, Marshal Phillips had moved closer to the front window, visibly waiting.

Jimmy handed the reins of his horse to Lily, saying, "I reckon I ought to report. Bet he tells me to go on duty right now, and invites himself to dinner."

"I wouldn't bet against that idea. I'll warn Mrs. Coatsworth," replied Lily.

Jimmy headed for the office and reported, "Prisoners all delivered to the jail with no problems. A message waiting for us there told us to stop by the office in Houston on the way back. Marshal Thompson sent you a couple extra deputies. They said their orders tell them to report for duty in the morning."

"Well, you are on duty now. Deputy King will come on at 8pm. You can sort out with him how you want to divide tonight."

Marshal Phillips went into the office to secure his desk, then headed home. He resisted the temptation to invite himself to dinner at the Coatsworth's. Instead, he could have a relaxed evening at home and an early night. He admitted to himself that 12-hour shifts were wearying, but if an older man like Deputy King didn't complain, he wasn't going to.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on August 16, 2011, 12:05:42 AM
“You can keep your horses here by Deputy Washington’s horse. It will give you a reason to come by, if I’m not here the barkeep knows where to find me.” Scarlet said. “You’re welcome to stay until you can find more suitable accommodations too, but I don’t think you staying here will make Phillips allto happy.”

“Do you think the barkeep will be agreeable to that?” Deputy Mason asked thinking of the rather cold welcome they had gotten earlier.

“Hank doesn’t make good impressions on strangers who come in the back door. Give him a chance he’ll warm right up to you.” She replied then continued  “You can communicate with Fritz too, I’m sure you’ll all be seeing each other often.”
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on August 16, 2011, 09:05:31 PM
"And I'll be going on duty in a few hours," Fritz added.  "If you want to join me on patrol, you'd be welcome."
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on August 17, 2011, 08:22:31 PM
"Thank you, we will." Deputy Locke answered for both.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on September 05, 2011, 10:59:02 PM
Scarlet waited until Fritz went on duty before she and Jimmy headed back to the Southern Starr.

They were well out of town before she said “Hayes is Locke’s uncle, seems Hayes inspired a bunch of his nephews to join the Marshals.”

“Does this put a burr under your blanket, or something you may admire?” Jimmy asked.

Scarlet looked at him trying to decide what she really thought of it. “I shouldn’t let it bother me. I do the same; surround myself with those I trust.”

 Jimmy laughed then said “What do the men report about Hayes?”

“He has done nothing to report. Stays in the areas he’s been asked to, asks for an escort if he wants to go anywhere.” She replied.

When they reached the Starr Scarlet found Hayes visiting with Archie.
“You’re two deputies are in town. They went on patrol with Deputy King.” She said to Hayes.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on September 05, 2011, 11:56:46 PM
"I'm glad they've plunged right in. I hope they don't pester you or Mrs. Coatsworth," replied Hayes.
"Why would they pester anyone?" asked Scarlet.

"They picked up a bit of hero worship after meeting the two of you and spending a few months with Jimmy Washington. Apparently he told some tales, and inspired them to spend free time reading the reports out of this office. They've been deputies long enough to know that the parts worthy of dime novel stories don't make it into official reports, so they might have questions about some of the cases."
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on September 06, 2011, 10:51:36 PM
“I’m sure if Mrs. Coatsworth feels like she is being pestered she will let them know.” Scarlet replied. 
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on September 16, 2011, 10:43:37 PM
In the morning, Ella knocked on the doorframe of Alan's office, where he and Dr. Martin were talking, before announcing, "Lily, Eddie and I are heading out to the Southern Starr for a couple hours. I want to invite Johnny and Rose Longknife to come to dinner tonight and meet you, Dr. Martin. Maybe Bo Corbin will come as well, since you stitched him up."

"You don't have any patients expected?" asked Dr. Alan.

"No one is expected, but Lena Morgan is in my office to take care of anyone who might come by while I'm gone." Lena Morgan was the widow of lawyer Raymond Morgan's brother, and had come to El Paso with him after the War to keep house. Lena had felt unneeded after Morgan married the daughter of a local rancher, and jumped at the opportunity to become Ella's apprentice.

Alan raised one eyebrow, but didn't make any comment about matchmaking.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on September 19, 2011, 12:35:32 PM
Fritz finished his final entry in the blotter for the night.  There was a fresh pot of coffee on the stove; Fritz made it for himself, not for the Marshal.  He would do his level best to say as little as possible to the man before he left.  Fritz was unsure if he should go home, or go to the apartment he shared with Scarlet at the saloon. 

The night had gone well.  It had been quiet, and the extra help had been welcome.  The two young deputies seemed eager enough, but were more interested in his career than in current events.  They knew of his exploits at the Rosebud, but those were recent history.  Fritz filled them in without overglamorizing the events.  The men were curious about his weapons as well.  The Navy conversions and the Walkers in his pommel holsters drew special interest.  While he sat at his desk, he drew the older Navy and looked it over.  It was well-worn, but well cared for.  Fritz smiled as he reholstered the piece.  "Kinda like me" he whispered to himself.

The Marshal walked in without saying a word.  He passed Fritz and closed his office door.  Fritz stood, took his coat, hat and '66 and headed for the door. 
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on September 27, 2011, 09:35:00 AM
Scarlet and declined Jimmy’s invitation to ride across the river to the next town to “unwind where nobody knows who we are” so instead they ended up sitting on his front porch drinking blackberry wine until the sun came up.

Scarlet laughed and pointed at the sunrise.
Jimmy grinned as he put down his guitar, it was no secret that he could play, what very few people knew is that he could sing.
Sitting on the porch talking about nothing was something they hadn’t done in a long time.

Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on September 27, 2011, 05:00:16 PM
Fritz decided to ride for home.  He hadn't been there in awhile it seemed.   The job kept him away from home.  "Home," Fritz whispered.  It was a strange sound, but a good one. 

He crossed the rise and saw the house he shared with Scarlet.  The hands waved to him as he came in and tied Buddy to the hitching post.  The stove in the kitchen wasn't going; that meant Scarlet hadn't come home.  He had no reason to worry.  She'd probably spent the night with a friend. 

Fritz spied the skillet hanging from the fencerail.  With a smirk that looked remarkably like one his wife would wear, he pulled the Walkers from their pommel holsters.  Fritz hefted the heavy pistols and began firing.  Each time he was greeted by greeted by a massive boom, a cloud of smoke and the ringing of iron.  Ten shots in quick succession, all hitting within inches of each other.  Fritz smiled as the skillet stopped swinging.

He carried the horse pistols inside and got the fire going.

Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on September 27, 2011, 10:35:01 PM
The echo of the gunfire reached Jimmy’s house.
“There’s hope for your Yankee soldier yet.” Jimmy said with a smile.

“If you hadn’t thought that from the start you wouldn’t have let us near each other.” Scarlet said knowingly.  “There’s more to you than most people can see Jimmy.”

“I’m kind of interested to see how fast and accurate he is with those pistols.”
“Well saddle up then.” Scarlet replied.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on September 27, 2011, 10:38:56 PM
Rose was delighted to accept a dinner invitation from Ella.

Bo tried to politely decline by telling Ella he didn’t feel he would be very interesting company to two doctors. Johnny was within earshot of the conversation.

“That’s fine Bo you can talk my language when the two doctors start speaking theirs and keep me company.” He said.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on September 28, 2011, 11:45:04 AM
Social errand completed, Ella headed for the infirmary to talk to Hayes. She had sent Lily and Eddie to talk to Archie about Castletown. She wasn't going to ask them to accompany her and Dr. Alan on Hayes's quest without Archie's information.

Hayes was pulling weeds in the infirmary garden when Ella walked up. "You know a man is bored to distraction when he resorts to tending a flower bed," she said with a smile.

"Eddie and Lily are in talking to Archie, so I decided to leave the building to give them privacy."

"Dr. Martin arrived yesterday, so the time to go is getting close. Dr. Alan is going to stay out of planning. He's got to focus on being what they expect him to be."

"What about you?"

"I had plenty of practice looking like what Boston people expected me to be. Since Phillips expects the same thing, I can pull that mask on again for Castletown, though exposing too much prior knowledge would be a bad idea. The easiest way not to expose too much prior knowledge is not to acquire it."

"What about Eddie and Lily?"

"Really counting on them being mostly overlooked."

Hayes stood up and brushed the dirt off his knees, "Time for completing the plan."

They went into the building to join Archie, Eddie and Lily.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on November 07, 2011, 10:04:52 PM
Jimmy’s horse to a stopped next to the fence where the skillet Fritz had shot at hung. Jimmy looked at it for a moment before dismounting. He looked around, noticing most of the hands were busy he grinned and drew his revolvers at the same time and fired. He was fast enough it was hard to tell by the noise that ten shots were fired.

The grin stayed on Jimmy’s face as he put his pistols back in their holsters.

“Don’t get over confident now.” Scarlet teased.

“We both should be practicing that more.” Jimmy replied. 

Scarlet raised an eyebrow in question.

“Something is brewing Scarlet, I can smell it, and I can feel it in my bones. Whatever it is I’m ready. Wouldn’t be the first time we’d followed each other to hell and back, keep on the top of your game and it won’t be the last.”
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on November 10, 2011, 07:00:21 AM
As Fritz cleaned the Walkers, he heard the horses ride up.  He knew it was Scarlet by Buddy's footfalls.  There was anothe rider, probably Jimmy.  Fritz didn't jump when shots erupted in quick succession.  They flew so rapidly that Fritz couldn't tell if it had been ten or twelve.  

He took his time scrubbing the bores with hot water, and pushing patches through until they were clean and dry.  The coffee pot began to boil; Fritz threw a handful of grounds into the pot and waited for them to settle.  As he stood at the stove, Scarlet slipped in behind him.  As her arms laced around his middle, he felt that familiar thrill as their bodies touched.  

"Hello Darlin," Scarlet purred.  "Miss me?"    
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on November 16, 2011, 11:12:29 PM
“Course he missed you, look he’s havin’ to make his own coffee while you’re out all night.” Jimmy answered teasingly.

Scarlet shot Jimmy a wicked look over her shoulder only to see the grin he was still wearing.

“We should all go out and practice.” Jimmy said looking at the guns Fritz had just cleaned.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on November 17, 2011, 12:10:15 PM
Fritz remembered a story he was told by General Sherman.  He smiled and said; " there once was a Colonel standing on a hilltop, watching a battle unfold.  The Colonel's heart swelled with pride as he watched his troopers advance.  He drew his Army Colt and started to run down, when his Sergeant called out, 'you shoot that thing sir, and you're gonna have to clean it!"

Jimmy laughed, knowing the response.  "So the Colonel holstered his sidearm and stayed with his Sergeant!"

"Right," Fritz replied.  "These go back to the pommel holsters."  He hefted the Walkers.  "But I'll go get my Schofield."

Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on April 05, 2012, 12:56:22 PM
"Lily and Eddie, Dr. Coatsworth and I are going to Castletown. I would like you two to come along, but it will be dangerous, as Archie should have told you," stated Ella quietly.

Eddie spoke up first, "I'm game!"

Lily was a second slower, "I'm in!"

"Well, Lily, you're going to have to dress like a lady's maid."

Lily made a face, but repeated, "I'm in."

Ella turned to Hayes, "I've decided that I need to NOT know the details of the plan. Lily should be in charge of the operation."

Lily squeaked, "Me??" while Hayes looked surprised.

"I have to assume that I'm going to be watched too closely to be able to do anything," replied Ella. "Eddie and Lily both brought what they need for a few days stay. Eddie should be able to get up to speed on the telegraph while Lily works with Hayes and Archie on the plan. I'll find Jimmy to ride back to town with me."

Ella left the infirmary, and followed the distant sound of gunfire to the practice range. She needed practice as well, and had her pistols, one in a holster on her belt that she always rode while riding, and the other concealed under her pockets. She could talk to Jimmy when everyone was done.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on April 06, 2012, 06:11:46 AM

Five shots in quick succession strunk the sklillet.  Satisfied, Fritz broke the pistol open, sending empty cases spinning through the air. 

"That's a nice piece," Jimmy remarked. 

Fritz smiled.  "My wife has good taste!"

Scarlet grinned, and held out her hand.  "May I try it darlin'?"

Fritz handed her the Schofield, and five rounds from his cap pouch.  She stepped in front of him and loaded the cylinder.  Snapping the pistol shut, Scarlet levelled the pistol at her target.  Fritz admired the smooth way she transferred the energy of the draw through her hips.  The shots came quicker than his, and were just as accurate.

"Lookin' at my ass again darlin'?"

Fritz answered matter-of-factly.  "Yes."

Scarlet giggled.  He loved the sound.  "Good," she replied, as she emptied the cylinder.
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on April 09, 2012, 09:20:44 AM
Jimmy grinned “An advantage the ladies seem to use. I seen a man killed doin’ that.” He said with a laugh. 
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on April 09, 2012, 12:42:31 PM
Ella dismounted and joined the others at the loading table. "Jimmy, have you ever been to Castletown?"

"It hasn't been called that but a few years, but yeah, I've been there. Why are you asking about that hole?

"Dr. Alan is looking into a position there. I'll go with him to check it out, with Lily and Eddie as servants. Lily and Eddie are plotting with Hayes now, about how to get the information needed. The initial is for them to signal when they have it, then have the Army ride in and take over the place. I was wondering if you, and maybe Scarlet in one of her other guises, might be able to show up before the Army, to help us get out safely."
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on April 09, 2012, 11:12:41 PM
Jimmy’s back straightened and he faced Ella “Last time I was there it wasn’t a place I would think Dr. Alan or you would want to live.” he had a few other unflattering comments about Ella’s husband and Hayes but chose to keep them to himself. Ella’s remark did explain the uneasy feelings he’d been having and Scarlet had said Castletown had been a subject of discussion recently.
“I’ll be there; only if you promise me we have a chance to talk about it before you leave,” he said.

“If you would escort me back to town we can talk about it.”

“Can you tell me how many men the army is after or how loyal the rest of the town is to the one in charge. What will I be up against to get you out safely?”
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on April 10, 2012, 10:20:58 AM
"Somewhere I got the idea that most of the town doesn't really know they are ruled by a king. The army will be after that 'king' and his inner circle, which might be only a couple of men. Archie might have some idea how loyal the rest of the town is to the one in charge, and have some ideas of how hard getting out without permission is going to be. It could be that Phillips was honest when he told Dr. Alan this would be a visit to see the place before making a decision, and we will be able to leave freely if he decides against taking the position of town doctor," replied Ella before mounting up for the ride back into town. "Of course, if we can leave freely, that means those in charge would be confident that we would not have learned anything interesting to the law."
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Scarlet Angel on April 12, 2012, 10:14:35 PM
Jimmy swung into the saddle. “If you can’t leave freely, having me ride into town may not go well for you and the doc. It’s no secret we both have ridden for the Marshal’s office.”
Title: Re: At Wit's End
Post by: Elegant Ella on April 22, 2012, 08:13:48 PM
"I hope that the only help we might need is supplies and a guide. As long as they are serious about wanting a good doctor, they cannot use force against us effectively. But if they supply servants who make it hard to gather provisions for a journey, and prevent us from seeing important landmarks on the trip there, they will believe they have built a sufficient cage around us."