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  2. Linn Keller 1-25-11 A cloaked figure swirled in and closed the door behind her. I smiled. The figure was not as tall as Daisy, but wore the same pattern of hooded cloak. I'd noticed Sarah talking with Daisy and admiring hers, and figured she'd made her own: sure enough, gloved hands appeared from beneath green wool and drew back the hood, and Sarah laughed quietly, that magical, musical laugh she inherited from her Mama. I felt a rush of fatherly affection -- or, rather, grandfatherly affection: this little girl I'd known wasn't little anymore, and she was growing out of being a girl. I could see the woman she was becoming, but when she skipped over to me and threw her arms around me with a youthful "Uncle Linn!" I knew the girl in her was yet alive, and well. She released the clasp at her neck and I took the cloak, gave it a brisk snap to sling the snow off its hem and hung it on a peg where the gas heater could take a gentle look at it. Sarah tilted her head and looked at me: her cheeks were apple-red, wind-kissed and healthy, her eyes danced and her hair shone like a healthy animal's pelt. "Now what brings you out on a snowy day like this?" I asked, gesturing toward a seat: Sarah was in boots and britches and a winter coat, and she had her gunbelt around her slim middle: as she pulled off her coat and hung it up, I realized with some disquiet that she no longer had all the figure of a broom handle. She had hips now. Not the full womanly hips that would come with time -- but enough to take me back a step -- enough to make me realize with absolutely no doubt that Sarah was far, far removed from the little girl holding Bonnie's hand the night I rode into town on a plow horse. I probably would never have noticed it if not for the contrast of light-brown leather against dark-brown britches and the deep burgundy flannel shirt. "I got tired of being inside," she said, then looked over at her cloak. "I got tired of sewing," she added. I raised one eyebrow. My lawman's gut told me there was something else. Sarah looked at me and giggled. "Oh, all right," she confessed. "I got tired of fighting that square-hooded monster!" "Um, what?" I asked, puzzled. "Uncle Linn, have you ever sewn?" "Not much," I admitted. "Enough to stitch up a cut or a tear, that's about it." Sarah glared at her cloak. "I love the cloak," she said. "It's warm and with the tag end over my shoulder it's as secure as a winter coat, and there's room underneath, but the hood" -- she thrust a stiff finger at the offending garment -- "Uncle Linn, if I ever try to sew a square hood again, hit me with a club!" "That bad?" I asked in my most innocent voice. Sarah nodded. "Oh, yes," she affirmed. "That bad! It's lined --" she gestured, then frowned. "Trust me. It's that bad!" "Looks like you got it done, though." "Oh, I did," she nodded. "I tore it apart four times before I got it right!" I nodded. I'd long ago recognized that we are all born with certain talents, and mine did not include anything to do with cloth goods except wearing them. I was more than happy to take Sarah's word for fact in this matter. "So you got tired of sewing and decided to take a ride." Sarah's expression flashed from exasperation to delight in a tenth of a heartbeat. "Oh, yes!" she declared with a smile that would cure a rainy day. "Uncle Linn, it's beautiful out! Even if it is cold!" "Which horse did you ride?" "The racer, the gelding." She frowned. "I don't think he likes the cold." "Where is he?" "The livery." She shrugged. "I didn't have the heart to tether him out here." I nodded. "I'm having the Daine boys build me a little stable in back. I don't like having a horse out front neither." Sarah nodded, looked down at her hands. Her fingers were nervous, fiddling with the tie-down on her left-hand holster. "Uncle Linn?" "Yes, Sarah?" I leaned back in my chair and it squeaked a little. "Thank you for recommending the man for my Mama." "Glad to." "She needs someone to look after the cattle, and she didn't know quite who to ..." Sarah looked a little lost. I knew Bonnie fired the fellows who'd been tending the herd before. Anyone Caleb hired was suspect and I believe they'd been thinning the herd and lining their pockets in the process, but while Caleb lived I couldn't move on it, and after his death I didn't have to: Bonnie fired them. Jacob and I kept enough of an eye on the spread that nobody successfully made off with any beef -- though there were two attempts, one I talked to and he agreed to investigate the climate further south, the other ... well, I sent him to investigate a more infernal region -- anyway, Bonnie needed a good hand and I knew of one, and had given her my recommendation. Silence grew long in our little log fortress. The gas heaters hissed quietly in the stillness. "Uncle Linn?" "Hm?" "I'm worried about Mama." I nodded: Go on. "She's ... well, she's ... quiet, and ... sad, and I ..." I waited. I knew Sarah had something inside her and I knew it would crowd its way out: imperfectly, perhaps, but escape it would, and I was right. "Uncle Linn, is it my fault?" Sarah had come in wearing a billed, fur cap: I watched her slender young hands crush it, slowly, her distress plain to see in her lap. "Is what your fault, Sarah?" "All of it," she gestured. "Papa's death, the man in the Jewel, Mama's sadness --" "Sarah, stand up." I stood and so did she. I walked over to her and put my fingertips, very gently, on the outside of her shoulders. "First off the top, something needs said." Sarah looked at me with those big, trusting eyes, and I said what she needed to hear most of all. I wrapped her in a big, warm, gentle grandfatherly hug, and I held her, and I whispered, "You are a fine young woman, and I am very proud of you," and I kissed the top of her head. Sarah hugged me back, and we stood there for a long time. Sarah needed a Daddy-hug, and I might not be her Daddy, but she'd come to me and I reckon I'm the closest thing she had at the moment. When we eased off our mutual bear hug, I pulled the other chair over so we could sit kind of corner-off to each other: not facing, not quite at right angles, my left knee almost touching her right: I leaned forward, elbows on my knees, and she did too. "Sarah, first off, you are not the reason your father was murdered." Sarah nodded, chin on her fist. "Neither are you the reason your Mama is feeling the way she is." Sarah nodded again, listening. "That fellow in the Jewel would have died one way or another. If he'd plugged me I would have got him before I died but you kept me from inheriting any more holes in my hide." Sarah blinked and I smiled gently, reassuringly, and winked. She smiled and I knew she'd ridden that dangerous section of rapids successfully. "Now if we consider everything that's happened ..." I stroked her cheek with the back of my bent forefinger -- "Sarah, what you yourself have done has been to bloom, like a rose in the warm summer sun." Sarah blinked, surprised. "You are growing, you are changing, you are becoming Who You'll Be." My smile was a little sad. "It sounds a little silly, but ..." "I know what you mean, Uncle Linn," Sarah said, then added, "I think." My mouth opened and I don't know where the words came from, but they fell out of my mouth and took me by surprise. "I wish you'd been my little girl." It was Sarah's turn to reassure me. She patted my hand. "You are a fine Daddy," she said. "And I wish you'd been mine."
  3. Gun barrel length has been corrected, these are indeed 4 5/8" barrels. My wife mistakenly typed in wrong length. Thanks.
  4. I have more issues with 38-40 than I do with 44-40, and most of those issues went away when I got a set of RCBS Cowboy dies.
  5. When you fry them up, do you use a cast iron skillet? Wesson oil or lard? Lightly salted? Sorry, couldn't resist.
  6. Linn Keller 1-24-11 I'd seen to the Silver Jewel's reimbursement after the search party had been warmed and fed. Nobody had to help us look for that boy. Every man there had business elsewhere, even if that business was sitting in where it was warm, sipping a drink, watching snow blow past the windows and consider how much nicer it was within than without. Mr. Baxter had ignored his own cold, wet feet and had seen that everyone there got what he wanted and when he wanted it. Daisy's Kitchen turned out as much of whatever any man wanted until all were full and contented. It was a mark of the Jewel's hospitality that not only were boots ranked beside stoves to dry, but socks were washed, some quickly darned, all hung up over hastily improvised lines over gas stoves, and when every man left, it was with warm, dry feet and a warm, full belly. Now, the day after, the Jewel extended the same hospitality to the Irish Brigade. I quietly reimbursed the Jewel for this too. It was not usual for the Brigade to turn out and clear the board walks in such a way, but it was something I for one appreciated: back East, folks might be making bad-weather trips to the general store, and I figured no matter how well folks planned, even out here they'd need something: a clear walkway into the Mercantile, into the Jewel, even an easier walk into the schoolhouse and the church were kindnesses extended to the community. The schoolhouse was open for business. Not every student could make it in, but none of the students shirked their lessons: this school year, at least, parents knew their young were needful of education, and one way or another the young made it to our little whitewashed school building. I say "little" because it was just that. Buildings were made small because timber had to be locally cut and sawed, or else freighted in at great cost: small buildings were also easier to heat, with body heat and wood fired stoves both: the school house was supplied with those new stone backed gas heaters, two on each side and one up front -- a luxury decried by tight-fisted meddlers who didn't have a nickle invested, at least until it turned cold, and children were grateful to have a seat near welcome radiation. Emma Cooper had asked me to arrange for gas lights within, as well, and I had obliged her: she knew that good light was necessary for good learning -- again a thing decried by folk who had themselves confused with someone important. As a matter of fact, I reflected, Caleb Rosenthal had spoken against such "frivolous luxury" and had bragged on his own Chicago education, and how they never had any such thing. Irony upon irony, I thought as I sorted through papers, there at my desk in the Sheriff's office: Caleb argued against gas heat and gas light in the schoolhouse, and yet he was killed by a falling gas chandelier. I shook my head and chuckled. I looked over toward my own gas heater. I didn't much like it, other than it worked fine and I didn't have to haul wood nor pack out ashes, there was no need to shake it down and shovel out -- I sighed. Progress, I thought, just before the door opened and cold air swirled in to chill me again.
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  8. Linn Keller 1-23-11 Had they a thermometer, the Brigade would have severally agreed with the mercury: by actual measurement, it was a handful of degrees below zero -- mild, for a Colorado January -- but the entire Irish Brigade agreed on one thing: It was cold. Sean, like the Sheriff, believed in planning, and he'd laid in stores of equipment for a variety of contingencies: their fine brick fire house contained many things one would not associate with fire fighting, including a healthy store of dynamite: he'd seen fire run from building to building back in Porkopolis, and he knew that it may be necessary to sacrifice an undamaged building to create a firebreak and salvage what remained on the street -- politics be damned, for there would be hell to pay! -- nevertheless, should the need arise, he was ready. Ready, too, he was for the snow: he had a store of broad, stamped-steel shovels, fresh from the Ames factory back East, nested and arranged in a storeroom, against the time of their need, and likewise brooms, good corn brooms they were: through the night the wind had died, and the snow had continued, but the colder it got, the lighter and drier the snow became, until this morning, when the Irish Brigade muscled their once-clear doors open far enough to admit a man turned sidewise, every Irishman there turned to with a will, and with shovel and grunt and muttered profanity they set to clearing the front of the firehouse. The bay doors could now swing open unimpeded, and the man doors as well: they knew the street would pack down with use, and indeed there was a broad sled specially made for packing snow: back East, some fellow had made a great, weighted roller for this purpose, but it was seldom seen this far West. The Brigade, though, satisfied itself not with clearing the approach to their fine brick firehouse. Half the Brigade went back within and traded broad shovels for brooms: they attacked the board walks, with shovels removing the excess and brooms taking the snow off the frost-hardened boards: they traded off, for a man uses different muscles to sweep than to shovel, and though the snow was not wet and heavy, the work was constant: they paced themselves, taking short, frequent breaks: they made steady progress, cutting a path from stairsteps to stairsteps across the alleyways, and in due time had cleared the length of the Firelands main street. Sean leaned casually against his shovel, one leg jauntily crossed at shin bone height and his right toe daintily on the now-bare board walk: he leaned on his shovel as a dandy would lean on a nob-headed cane and grinned at his lads. The Welsh Irishman glared at him, one hand on the small of his back. "Chafe," the man said, "do ye' know who ordered this snow?" "Why didn't ye know, lad?" Sean declared cheerfully. "It comes at a discount!" "Discount ma Aunt Susan's billy goat," the Welsh Irishman muttered, his words puffing in little vapor clouds and floating away on the non-existent breeze. "We been at it long enough, lads," Sean called, his fine Irish tenor carrying strongly on the still, cold air. "Let's eat, now!" There was a general and enthusiastic shout of affirmation: shovels and brooms were parked against building-fronts and the Irish Brigade converged on the front door of the Silver Jewel. Sean held up both hands, halting the Brigade's enthusiastic press. "Knock th' snow off yer feet, lads," he admonished. "Th' floor's clean an' we don't want t' dirty it up, like."
  9. Everyone knows that now days Fairy Tales don't start with once upon a time but now with "When I'm Elected"
  10. Linn Keller 1-22-11 Angela swam up through the dark ocean of slumber, giggling at summer-colored dreams that flashed by like fishes in the sea: she approached the surface, close enough to see it from beneath, and relaxed, suspended as if swimming in tropical waters ... Distantly, from a long, long way away, she heard her Daddy's tread on the stairs, slow, measured ... He's very tired, she thought, not near enough the wakeful surface to open her eyes, realizing with part of her mind the sounds she heard from downstairs, the scent of coffee, the muted murmur of quiet conversation: at the same time, her quick young mind recognized the cadence of his pace, and knew he was near to worn out. There was a click that echoed off the seabed, the sound of careful footfalls as Daddy walked gently into her room: she relaxed a little more, and sank a little deeper, because her Daddy was near her, and all was well. She smelled him: there was the odor of coffee and of brandy and faintly of tobacco-smoke, and she knew he'd been in the Jewel, where tobacco-smoke hung in the air. He always smelled that way when he'd been to the Jewel. Her Daddy's hands sandwiched her exposed right hand, very gently, the touch of a Daddy who knew his little girl was sound asleep: his hands were warm, very warm, the way they always were. Angela loved her Daddy's hands: they were strong and she knew they kept her safe, and they were warm and felt good when hers got cold. Angela drifted with currents, suspended in her limitless void, and watched bright dream-flashes streak through her immense, quiet ocean, and finally she felt her Daddy lean over and kiss her on the forehead, and draw the covers up a little more and tuck them around her chin. Angela rolled up on her left side and cuddled into her pillow. Distantly, faintly, she heard the sound of retreating footsteps, the tread of a tired Daddy who was trying to be very, very quiet.
  11. Linn Keller 1-20-11 The Sheriff was not one to retreat from the field of combat while a battle was yet being fought, but he considered what had thus transpired: The lad was found, the father was home, both were warm and dry now, fed and safe: Daisy was giving the wife and mother what she needed, and that was womanly companionship. The stove was freshly stoked, shook and banked, the wood box full, and he'd found a mop and picked up the snow-melt from the triumphant return. He'd made his escape quietly, without fuss, closing the door gently behind him: he looked up the street, then down, squinting as the wind him him full in the face. The Jewel was up the street and not terribly far, but with the snow and the wind, it was a bit of labor to get there. The wind funneled through the street, scouring the board walk on the Jewel's side clean while banking the opposite with intermittent drifts: Maude's Mercantile was clear for most of its length, though the steps on the lee side could not be seen: that would be a job for daylight, he knew. The Jewel was lighted from within, warm and welcoming. Bless you, Daisy, he thought as the wind tried again to rip the hat off his head: this scarf feels pretty darn good! -- and though he probably looked silly with the scarf bending his hat-brim up as it did, the knit wrapped around his neck kept cold fingers off his flesh. He stomped up the three steps to the board walk, kicking snow off his boots. Coffee sounds pretty good. Might throw in a shot of Old Stump Blower. "An' see that he has is fill!" Daisy instructed as more gravy was ladeled over a fresh batch of biscuits. "He's a hero this night!" -- she wrapped her own knit scarf about her neck and over her head, draped her shawl over her shoulders, then shrugged into a coat and spun a heavy, lined cloak about her shoulders and drew the hood up. Bear Killer looked up, licked his chops: a streak of gravy on his jowls bade him try again, and his tail described slow, ponderous circles as he turned and trotted over to the Irishwoman. He snuffed loudly at her cloak, licked her hand: she caressed his head, squatted, examining his head, the cuts she'd cleaned -- when was it? A week ago? Just a few hours it was, she knew, but it felt like days. She stood. "You stay in here where it's warm," she admonished, and the Bear Killer sat up and gave a happy "Whuff!" -- and the moment Daisy opened the back door, the Bear Killer slipped past her and dove belly-first into the snow drift, frolicking happily in the white stuff, bounding like a pup. Daisy pulled the door shut, made sure it was latched, then turned and looked at the grinning Bear Killer, sitting up with his tongue laughing out the side of his mouth. "A'right, then," Daisy muttered. "Do what ye will. Men! E'en the animals are hard headed!" -- and so saying, she began wading through the drift, regretting instantly that she hadn't gone out the front. The German Irishman was frowning at a slim brass gear on the work bench, then compared it with a diagram hung before him. The Welsh Irishman was polishing harness, and the New York Irishman had just slung stall scrapings out the side door. The new gas boiler hissed and popped and the fine brick fire station was tight and warm, proof against the wind: the Brigade discovered by happy chance their front doors were not drifted shut, but rather part of the street ahead was scoured down to the bare by the wind. Every man Jack of them offered up his own prayer for an uneventful night. They all knew that stoves would be fired hard in this cold weather, and that people would fire more with the wind sobbing like a child around the corners of the house, simply because it sounded cold: wind would suck a draft up the chimney, inciting an otherwise sedate flame into a confined inferno, and such was the thing that set houses afire. The German Irishman had a second, complete steam pump, and he'd studied how to replace it with the greatest speed and the least tools and work: so far their fine steam machine was as reliable as anything Ahrens ever put out, but he was not a trusting man: with Sean's permission he'd dismounted the one from their rig, bolted in the new, then tested it: frowning, he'd burnished its gleaming surface, and finally told Sean that he was satisfied. The old pump was disassembled on his work bench, and beside his work bench, and hung on pegs behind his work bench: it was a simple but very efficient pump, and he intended that his equipment should be ready for instant need, but first he inspected every bearing, every race, every gear and seal and valve. It had to be right or it would not leave his work bench. Every work was lowered and every head turned when the door was pushed open by the wind: every man rose as a snow-whitened figure came in: female, they knew, but with a scarf wrapped about its face and a hood pulled up, its identity could not be ascertained: still, they knew it was Daisy, their great Irish Chieftain's wife, for no other woman in Firelands wore the practical, hooded Irish cloak. Daisy unfastened the clasp, removed the cloak, hung it by the door: she unwound the scarf from around her neck and face, and hung it up as well: she turned her back to the Brigade, and bent a little, and everyone looked away: Daisy, modestly hidden in skirts and petticoats, removed her wet shoes and stockings and drew on a pair of knit woolen slippers. Finally, nodding her satisfaction, she padded over to her giant of a husband and put her hands on her hips. "Ye should thank me, ye great Irish lug," she declared, and Sean rested his hands on hers affectionately. "Daisy me dear," he rumbled, his voice starting about his boot tops -- she loved his voice, for though he sang in a fine Irish tenor, his conversation was several registers lower -- "I have much to thank ye for." Daisy looked up, through her long eyelashes, and Sean saw the imp of merriment in her dancing eyes. "And ye don't know the half of it!" She leaned into him, wrapped her arms around his trunk-like middle, her ear against his chest. Sean held his wife like he would hold a piece of fine china. As huge as Sean was, Daisy was as delicate: she looked the man in the collar bone, and like the schoolmarm, her husband could span her waist with his hands, the tips of thumbs and middle fingers touching: Daisy's waist had resumed its trim contours quickly after losing the baby, which at once pleased Sean, and distressed him, for in those days a stout waist was a sign of prosperity, and a successful man would pat his belly proudly. Women favored men with some meat on their bones, and men likewise favored a woman of a more Rubenesque stature. "We nearly had t' call ye," she whispered, and Sean stiffened. His hands went to his wife's shoulders and he drew them apart, eyes serious. "Wha' happened, Daisy?" he said quietly. Daisy shoved her bottom jaw out. "'Twas the Banks lad, the wee one ye said needed a guid square meal." "Aye, I remember the lad." Sean's eyes were veiled, his hands tightened slightly as his belly contracted. "Wha' happened, Daisy?" Daisy shivered, her in-drawn breath unsteady, audibly so. "Daisy ...?" Sean asked, a warning note in his voice. "Lost," Daisy gasped. "He wa' lost i' the snow." "And?" Sean's word was bitten off. He was not a man to enjoy being led along: he preferred to get directly to the heart of a matter, be it a structure fire, a barfight or a report. "He is found." "And why didn'a they call us? We've guid men an' true who could'a turned out on the moment --" "We had men," she interrupted, "an' we had that bear killin' dog. Who," she flared defiantly, "by th' way, found th' lad an' fetched him in out o' the cold, an' put him t' bed!" Sean fisted his hands on his own hips, bent his head down and glared at his wife. "Oh, so I've been replaced by a dog, have I!" he shouted, and the Irish Brigade set down harness and gears, newspaper and broom, scraper and bucket, for they knew the show was about to start. Daisy's temper was famous and well known, and Sean had lit its fuse: Daisy cocked a fist, swung at her husband's belly: Sean put the heel of his hand against her forehead and drew back, holding her at arm's length. Daisy screamed and swung with both fists, flailing empty air, trying her best to pummel Sean's flannel-shirted belly: the harder she swung, the more Sean laughed; the more Sean laughed, the madder she got, until she was crying tears of anger and snarling through clenched teeth. Sean finally pulled his hand free and seized his wife: wrapping his arms around her, pinning her arms to her sides, he squeezed her hard, lowering his head: though she fought his embrace, his mouth on hers offered a counter-argument, intricate and eloquent, which melted her choler: in not many moments his arms loosened and her arms went around his neck, and she offered a counter-argument, as wordless as his presentation but just as thorough. Finally when they came up for air, Daisy lay her head against her husband's chest: he bent a little and picked her up, walked over toward the stove and set himself down in the rocking chair he'd had the Daine boys make for him. He held her on his lap and rocked, held her and rocked her like she was a little girl, and Daisy pulled a lacy kerchief from her sleeve and pressed to her eyes. Sean waited patiently. A good husband knows his wife's moods, at least to a degree, though no husband ever figures out the deep mystery that is his woman: he who says otherwise lies, or is a fool of the first water: Sean was neither, and waited. "I remembered the Embree boys," she choked finally, leaning against him like a little girl would lay against her Daddy. "I remember," he rumbled, and she felt his voice resonating in the massive cavity of his chest. "I remember when we found 'em, froze an' stiff in th' snow." Sean nodded. It had been a hard winter. Forty below it had been, back in Cincinnati, and worse: the Ohio River was froze bank to bank and deep enough that carriages and dray-wagons used it for an unlimited highway: two lads had been lost in a blizzard, and were found by Sean and Daisy, but too late, too late. Sean himself stared hollow-eyed at the far wall, seeing bodies he and his fellow Cincinnati firefighters found, bodies frozen hard, eyes open: some fallen by a cold, dead stove, its fuel long depleted; some in a chair or in their own bed: the worst ... the worst was a mother, in a nightgown: she'd apparently bundled in all the clothes she had, but took them off, there at the last, all but her flannel nightie, and her children were in bed with her, all three in a frozen embrace, all three dead, frozen solid. Sean had not ever, ever forgotten the peaceful look on their faces. For whatever reason, that frozen, icy vignette haunted him ever since. He looked to the window, blinked as the wind threw itself at their fine, solid, warm firehouse. "I remember," he whispered.
  12. With 40 WCF reloads, I too starting out had a few crumpled cases until I read the pamphlet in the die set that explained how to adjust the seating die WITH NO CRIMP & CRIMP. After that, with in my case with 427 bullets - Prefect reloads for my JM Marlin Ballard rifle, the only 44-40 firearm in the safe
  13. Calamity waited for Clara to finish closing up the cafe and they left together, deciding it was best the two women stay close to each other until they were sure everything was clear. Clara's ranch was on the way out of town and Calamity's was not much further. Calamity stayed on her mount and waited for Clara to open the door and was inside before continuing on to her place. It was quiet the further she rode out of town, almost eerily so. The normal evening animal sounds, like the coyote's crying or owl hooting were almost non-existent. I wonder why, she thought. When she reached her barn, she put up her horse Barron as quickly as she could and headed inside. There she made sure her pistols and shotgun were where she could easily reach them, just in case. She decided she would try to talk with Reverend Keller in the morning. She sat in her chair and drifted off to a fitful sleep.
  14. Linn Keller 1-20-11 Daisy worried over the mother, fussed over (and at) the father, scolded the lad while she rubbed him with a coarse towel, scooped up this, served that, all with an Irish-accented commentary tailored for the needs of the moment: she was never still, her hand suddenly on the husband's forehead, murmuring concern that he might've taken a chill, the next patting the mother's head and sympathizing as one matron to another, for she had lads of her own, not the least of which was the tall boy to whom she was married, and who was a constant source of worry and concern. Both husband and son had been divested of their cold, wet garments and gotten into their warm-and-dries: they had both been set down to a good re-warmed meal, heated on their own kitchen stove (it had been warm when Daisy packed it, but time had robbed it of thermal content) and Daisy had performed her usual miracles of efficiency: no sooner were the plates cleaned and platters emptied than they were baptized in steaming-hot water, anointed with shaved soap, scrubbed clean and rinsed, stacked to drain: by the time the woman of the house realized the meal was done, Daisy was washing the last of her dishes, she'd already cleaned and packed her own, and young Thomas and his father were both beginning to yawn and nod. Daisy paused to whisper confidentially into the mother's ear: "Men are like bears," she murmured: "they may growl and snarl but get 'em warm an' fill their bellies an' they fall asleep!" So saying, she whisked out of the room: there was the sound of fluffing cloth, then Daisy swirled back around the corner: "Th' bed's got dry linens on it, let's put the lad away, shall we?" -- and before the mother could rise or acquiesce, Daisy had young Thomas in her arms and bore him gently to his waiting bunk. The Bear Killer's chin was stretched out on the floor, along with rest of self: he'd found his spot, there by the stove: the floor was warm, the stove was warm, he was warm, and though he'd not partaken of any of the good things he'd smelled from the kitchen, relaxation had proven more important than bumming bites from the diners. Now, seeing the lad being borne to his bower, Bear Killer levered his hind half off the deck, stretching and arching his back, yawning his great, blunt jaws impossibly wide: he shook, then tik-tik-tikked over to the bed just as Daisy drew the covers up around young Thomas's chin. Bear Killer shoved in beside her, dropping his chin on the sun-dried linen and sniffing loudly. Young Thomas rolled over on his side, sleepily stroking Bear Killer's neck. "Bear," he said, eyes heavy: Daisy watched as sleep claimed the little fellow, and his pink fingers relaxed. Daisy reached down and rubbed the Bear Killer's ears, turned; the massive dawg turned with her. The mother stood, hands clasped, just behind them, closer than Daisy expected, close enough to startle: each giggled and reached for the other: the Bear Killer stopped and dropped his backside to the floor as the women whispered and nodded and hugged and cried a little, and then he followed Daisy to the front door. He looked back to the doorway, the doorway through which he'd carried the skinny little four year old by the back of his coat, and his great long-haired tail began to circle again, slowly. His head came proudly up. Bear Killer fairly strutted as he followed Daisy out into the storm.
  15. Mr. Box 1-19-11 Now the men spread out looking for Shorty and me. I was a couple of houses away still hunting thru every crate or outhouse I could find. Luckily none of them were occupied at the time! even a buggy in the alley got a good once over. Then I heard someone coming my way yelling, "We found him!" "Is he OK?" I yelled back. "He's just fine! He was in somebody's stable. That big dog drug him out and carted him all the way home!" I hunted up my men and told them, "They found him! He's OK! C'mon back to the Jewel and warm up. I'll buy you a drink!"
  16. Linn Keller 1-19-11 Young Thomas was not entirely sure what was going on, but he knew three things for sure: something furry and warm was heavy on top of him, he was getting his face washed, and it tickled. There is a natural affinity between boys and Dawgs, and Thomas reached up to explore this furry mass. This rather massive mass, he discovered: when the Bear Killer felt the boy squirm under him, he rose, tail windmilling happily in the darkness, and whuffed quietly as the boy scrambled up out of his prickly nest. It was too dark for the lad to make anything distinct out of the looming figure in front of him: he blinked, not realizing quite what was happening, until he found himself knocked off his feet. Bear Killer had completed half his mission. He'd found that for which he'd sought. Now, with a swing of his short, muscular neck, his head caught the boy across the shoulder blades. He went face first into the saddle blanket that had been his cover. He had no time to utter a protest: Bear Killer nuzzled his back, pulled up a good mouthful of coat, and picked him up. Thomas was four years old, but he was short, having taken after his Mama's side of the family: the Bear Killer fetched him off the ground and pushed against the loose board. Thomas protested, his youthful "No! It's cold!" whipped away by the wind and lost among blowing snow. Bear Killer knew the way back, and he knew the path was partly broken: he bore Thomas high, a prize to be brought back, and foundered through the drifts choking the alleyway. "Soapy better appreciate this," came the mutter as the man wallowed to his feet: he'd gone face-first into the snow yet again, having personally located multiple obstructions to safe travel, hidden by the white drifts: two with his toes and one with his right shin. Standing, he wiped snow from his mustache, blinked: something was fighting through the drifts like a ship breasting a heavy sea: he blinked again, trying to figure out what he was seeing. Thin and barely audible at first, he heard it, and the grin that split his weather-tanned face would have been dazzling, had there been anyone to see it. He was hearing the delighted laughter of a little boy. "Soapy!" came the shout through the closed door. "Soapy, I think we found him!" "Now bear in mind he was just big enough to run," the Sheriff said with a half-grin on his face, "butt naked, dripping water and laughing, and here I am bent double with a towel, runnin' after him trying to catch up!" The mother laughed, seeing in her mind's eye her own little tadpole after his bath, just as energetic and with just as big a grin as he attempted what her beaming father had described as "Escape and Evasion." They froze, turned to look at the door: a shout, and they looked at one another: his expression hopeful, hers fearful: he stood and she tried, but fell back into her chair, face pale, hands clenched. Daisy's hand squeezed her shoulder and the red-headed Irishwoman murmured womanly reassurances that were heard but not regarded. The door swung open and the Bear Killer trotted in, bearing a lad by the back of his coat: both were white with snow, the boy red-cheeked with cold, laughing at this unique view of the world: Bear Killer, with his unfailing sense of propriety, had first picked up the boy's scent in his bed, and it was to that bed he bore the lad. Snow and all. He powered up onto the bed, dropped the lad half a foot onto his own bedclothes, then dropped his forepaws to the floor, pink tongue hung out, laughing. "Do it again!" Thomas cried happily, rolling over and sitting up, and his mother was all over him all of a sudden, and the Bear Killer looked up at this loud and confusing expression of maternal affection: he decided the climate might be less turbulent over by the stove, so he walked over beside the Sheriff, gave the man's hand a companionable lick, and proceeded to shake and scatter water-drops and snow over most of the room. Droplets hissed as they hit the stove. Daisy bent and took the Bear Killer's head between her hands, promising biscuits and gravy: Bear Killer didn't particularly care what it was she was saying, as long as she kept her hands busy working around his ears: he yawned, wide and noisy, pink tongue curling with the effort: he reached up and gave her chin a happy lick before he flopped down beside the stove with a contented groan. His tail thumped twice before he sighed, and began to snore.
  17. Mr. Box 1-19-11 I took my two men to the left. I said, "Look in every place that's big enough for a cat to curl up in! He probably not out in the open. He's plenty cold by now! Let's check around this side of the house, then the next. Look in every box and around every woodpile! Don't forget any chicken coops, either!"
  18. Linn Keller 1-19-11 Bear Killer shoved his head through the snow again, snuffing, sneezing: there it was, diminished by the cold, but there ... he followed the scent away from the Mercantile, down the steps, into the alley. The wind was blowing his fur the wrong way and running cold fingers along his hide. Instinct told him to turn down the alley, get between the buildings: he put his head down, snuffed again, shoving through the snow, almost completely covered now. Behind him, a voice: "He's going this way now!" Bear Killer reared up through the snow, scenting the wind. Nothing. He dove back into the fluffy stuff. "Now where'd he go?" "I dunno, he was right here." Bear Killer shoved through the snow, tunneling now: the scent was here, suspended in the drift, neither on the ground nor on the wind, but here, trapped, waiting for him. Bear Killer stopped, thrust his head up into the wind again, tasting. Nothing. He waited, listening, panting a little: shoving his bulk through snow was tiring and he waited, waited with ears drawn up and the flesh wrinkled between them. "There he is!" "How'd he get over there?" "I dunno!" "Daggone that's -- oof!" The speaker fell headlong into a drift and disappeared, to scramble out a moment later, shedding feathery white and profanity in equal amounts, to the amusement of his partner. Another voice, Irish-sharp: Twain Dawg licked his chops, for that voice meant his favorite meal, and though he'd eaten not an hour before he could eat again. "Now isn't that like a couple o' grown men, wallowin' about in th' snow!" Daisy scolded. "An' me a puir woman alone out here in th' weather! Well don't just stand there wi' yer teeth in yer mouth where's that no-good Sheriff?" Bear Killer realized there would be no biscuits and gravy just yet: he thrust his blunt muzzle back into the snow and forged ahead, following the weakening scent. The front door swung open, slammed shut: the Sheriff was just wiggling the last chunk of firewood into the wood box as the gust of cold air preceded the irate Irishwoman. "There y'are!" she scolded, snatching the long scarf from around her head and neck, snapping it angrily to dislodge the clinging snow. "An' me not knowin' where i' the world ye've got off to! I've a mind t' take a rollin' pin to ye!" She turned to the woman of the house, offered a cloth-covered basket. "Ye're no' in a mood t' cook, or I'd no' be, I brought ye a meal. Careful when y' take off th' cloth, now, there's snow all over't." She glared over at the Sheriff, took the rising mother by the arm and steered her into the kitchen. "Come now, let's see wha' I've brought ye ..." Her voice diminished as they rounded the corner and disappeared into the other room. The Sheriff blinked, assuming that he'd gotten himself in trouble yet again, and quite unsure as to how it had happened: he'd brought in a load of wood, stoked the stove and shook it down, taken out a bucket of ashes and brought in two more armfuls: he knew the hardest part of any operation was the wait, and he knew he had good men out looking, and he knew he should remain, for the mother should not be alone in this moment: still, he was restless, and left to his own devices, would likely have packed in the entire rick of wood from outside. "And I suppose ye'll be goin' out in that howlin' banshee of a storm too!" Daisy came scolding around the corner, eyes blazing, knitted scarf trailing from her left hand. She stomped over to the Sheriff, faced him squarely, lips pressed together and finger shaking in his face: finally she gave an irritated "Oooooh!" and threw the scarf over his head, drew it twice around his neck and tucked it in under his open coat lapels. "Will ye at least wear somethin' over yer neck an' ears, man? Ye've only just come off yer sick bed an' ye've no business out in th' wind!" She turned, stomping back toward the kitchen, muttering. "Men! No' got the good sense God gave a goose!" -- and the Sheriff stood by the stove, blinking. The door opened again. Shorty and a stranger came in: the man was but lightly dressed, his arms crossed in front of him, clutching his upper arms, teeth chattering. The Sheriff was across the room in three long strides. He had no idea who this fellow could be but he was cold, the stove was warm, and he soon had the man in a chair, close to the heat, and was drawing his cold and soaky-wet townie shoes off the man's feet. "Daisy?" he called, half-expecting her response to be preceded by a cast iron frying pan. When the red-headed Irishwoman looked around the corner, the Sheriff asked, "Could I trouble you for a towel? This fellow's feet --" Daisy drew wordlessly back, then reappeared in a few moments, carefully carrying a basin of steaming water: she carefully squatted, placed it at the seated man's feet, rolled his wet pants legs up and muttered, "Ye'd best get out o' those wet things but I'm no' gonna' undress ye!" -- and carefully guided the shivering man's bluish-white feet into the steaming, just-more-than-lukewarm water. "I know, it's gonna feel like ye're scalded," she said soothingly as he flinched: his feet were cold, the water warm, and Daisy carefully dipped water with her hand, trickled it over the man's instep, let it run down. "John!" the mother's voice quavered, and she hurried from the kitchen to her husband's side. "John, did you --" He looked up, misery plain on his face: "I tried," he groaned. "I looked --" "We've two parties searching now, and a good tracking dog besides," the Sheriff said in a businesslike voice. He knew they needed reassurance and the best he could do for them was a confident appearance. The wind rumbled against the side of the house, whistled in the chimney. Bear Killer stopped, puzzling at the combination of scents, then pressed on: the boy's smell was strong of a sudden, and his nose bumped a board. Had the Bear Killer been a carpenter, he would have recognized the structure as the wall of a shed, or a stable; the board, as having been kicked from within, and splayed out. A trick of the wind left a bit of a hollow in the snow. Bear Killer squeezed into the gap, shouldering the board up and out of his way, and out of the wind. The stable smelled of hay and of horses, of cats and mice and of the boy. Something with glowing green eyes and spiky fur sizzled and hissed, and the Bear Killer whuffed a greeting: with a yowl, the eyes disappeared and there was the sound of claws on seasoned wood, then a sustained, menacing growl. Bear Killer wiggled his bulk the rest of the way into the shed, shook: it was warmer within, and he opened his jaws in a great, tongue-curling yawn. Snuffing loudly, he cast back and forth, and found a shoe. He licked it experimentally, tasted the scent, and his tail begain to swing in a happy circle. "Find it, Twain Dawg! Bring it to me!" His beloved mistress had played find-it fetch-it with him, and he was delighted: he'd found what he was looking for, and now he was going to fetch it back.
  19. Pick One 150gr ... https://stevespages.com/308_9_150.html Pick one 170 gr ... https://stevespages.com/308_9_170.html
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