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The Doom That Came to Devil's Gulch Part 2 - Ophelia Unimpressed

Max_Writer

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* * *

 

 

 

Otto got there a little while later and got a room. He sat in the saloon and ate some hardtack and beef jerky while he drank his beer. Shortly after that, the others arrived at the Gilded Lily. They had hurried through dinner in order to get back in time to watch Gemma sing. There was a magician before her. He pulled a rabbit out of his hat and had colored balls that he made disappear. A pigeon appeared at one point. He also did card tricks. Bowen watched him intently.

 

Ophelia was not impressed at the act, glaring at the man. She had been docile since she'd eaten.

 

"Do you want to see some real magic?" she asked Dr. Weisswald.

 

"I have the pages of that one spell I'm learning," Dr. Weisswald said.

 

"Do you want to see some real magic?"

 

"Yes."

 

Ophelia started to mumble under her breath.

 

"Not right now!" Dr. Weisswald said. "Not right now!"

 

"I thought you wanted to see something," Ophelia said.

 

"We'll do it later."

 

"It might be entertaining to you."

 

"Tonight will be better."

 

"I need someone to cast it upon. I was going to pick him and his little sad tricks."

 

The magician pulled flowers out of nowhere.

 

"Now, who wants to come and help me with this next trick?" he said. "It involves cards! Cards!"

 

Bowen volunteered and the magician picked him to help. The man made fun of his age for an easy laugh, calling him grandpa, and then had Bowen pick a card. Bowen realized the man was forcing a card on him. He asked Bowen to show it to the audience but not him and memorize it. Then he told him to tear up the card. While Bowen did so, the man put a little kerosene in a bowl. Bowen ripped the card up and the magician lit the kerosene and bid him to burn the card as it was no use to them. He fiddled with the deck and made banter and then pulled the card out of nowhere in the deck. It was somewhat impressive.

 

"Is it harmful?" Dr. Weisswald asked Ophelia.

 

"Not physically," the serpent person said.

 

"We'll do it later," Dr. Weisswald said.

 

Gemma sang her song with the dance hall girls singing in the background. Lily joined her at one point as well and they performed a delightful duet. They used a player piano for all the music as Lily didn't have a piano player yet. Everyone seemed to enjoy it.

 

Ophelia seemed nonplussed by the performance.

 

"The words she's singing don't make any sense," she said.

 

A handsome cowboy showed up towards closing time. He snuggled up to Lily and she brought him over to meet all of the, introducing him as Dallas Avery. He was likeable and seemed very friendly, getting along with everybody. He told them about the big cattle run he had a month ago and the big bonus he'd gotten from it. He was thinking of settling down in Devil's Gulch in the hopes Lily would make an honest man of him. He was very impressed when he found Dr. Weisswald was a doctor and was even friendly with Bowen. He was simply nice to everyone and seemed to be everyone's best friend after only a short time. He was impressed with Otto's being a bounty hunter and Dunspar's being a scientist. He wanted to know more about being a scientist and Dunspar told him he'd teach him anything he wanted to learn.

 

Dunspar asked about why there was no food and Lily told him about her plans to build a kitchen house in the future once she could afford it. When he asked how much it would cost, she noted it would be several hundred dollars and most of her money was invested in the county courthouse and the promise of town growth in the future. She noted Mr. Finch and Mr. La Forge had said the boom was coming.

 

When he offered her a loan, she noted she was already up to debt to her eyeballs what with the mortgage on the property and her investments. She told them about the money she'd gotten for investing in the courthouse and the land she'd bought and she didn't want to borrow any more. He said that was fine.

 

"We'll pay it off in a few years "¦ or a few months if things go well," Lily said.

 

"They're gonna, honey," Dallas said.

 

Gemma thought the two were very cute together. He hung on her every word when she spoke, listening to her intently and they seemed very happy together.

 

Jacali asked if Dunspar knew how guns worked. Ophelia perked up when she said it.

 

"Work, yes," Dunspar said.

 

Jacali looked at Weisswald.

 

"To an extent," Dunspar said. "Why do you ask?"

 

"Well, I was wondering if you might be able to get some insight into your knowledge of it," Jacali said. "We have a friend who's interested in the science."

 

"Well, I know the mechanics behind it, yes," Dunspar said. "However, using them "¦ not as good."

 

"I don't think that's what we need," Jacali said.

 

"Okay," Dunspar said.

 

"You know, Jacali, I know more about guns than this scientist probably knows," Otto said.

 

"You know about how they work?"Jacali said.

 

"I take them apart regularly. You've seen how I shoot."

 

"All right. Well, I might ask─"

 

"One second," Dunspar said. "Would you mind if I see your gun?"

 

"Which one?" Otto said.

 

"The one you take apart most often."

 

Otto handed him the Winchester carbine. Dunspar stripped the rifle as quickly as he could, laying the parts of the weapon all over the table. Then he put it back together.

 

"Is this some kind of ritual?" Ophelia asked.

 

"I'm sorry," Gemma said.

 

"No, this is how all the mechanisms work together so it will fire," Dunspar said.

 

"I think they like to show off their expertise," Jacali said.

 

Otto did the same, stripping the gun down and then putting it back together.

 

"I know how to shoot it though," Otto said.

 

While they all watched the gun-stripping, Bowen slipped a whiskey glass into his pocket.

 

"Sometimes it's easier to clean things when they're in pieces," Dr. Weisswald said.

 

"I understand that," Ophelia said. "I don't understand why they are taking this weapon apart and putting it back together now."

 

"They're showing off for you."

 

"For me?"

 

"Yeah."

 

Ophelia turned to the men.

 

"I'm not impressed," she said.

 

"I was just showing you how to put it back together and take it apart," Dunspar said. "That's all."

 

"And I was just trying to show Dunspar "¦" Otto said.

 

Ophelia looked at Dr. Weisswald questioningly.

 

"She said she was interested in─" Dunspar said.

 

"Well, one of you two are lying," Ophelia said.

 

"They're men," Gemma said.

 

"She said you were interested in how this works," Dunspar said.

 

"Men," Gemma said.

 

"Did you learn anything?" Dr. Weisswald said to Ophelia.

 

"Isn't that what you said, Jacali?" Dunspar said.

 

"Yes, I was "¦ a friend was interested," Jacali said.

 

"Something about primates, I think I did learn," Ophelia said to Dr. Weisswald.

 

"I'm always happy to teach," Dunspar said. "That's "¦"

 

"Well, maybe sometime tomorrow or after it's dark out, we could arrange something where we can figure it out if Ophelia is still interested," Jacali said.

 

"Okay," Dunspar said.

 

"I could teach her how to use them," Otto said.

 

"Will they fight for our pleasure now?" Ophelia asked the other woman.

 

"Mr. Dallas, you said you were interested in learning some things about the sciences?" Dunspar said, desperately changing the subject.

 

"Oh yeah!" Dallas said. "I want to learn everything about everything. I mean I gotta, I gotta life to lead. I mean, I'm not gonna be that kind of man that makes my wife not work. That's wrong! But we're gonna be "¦ we're gonna be one hundred percent partners. But I gotta pull my weight. And if I can't afford to get a ranch, I'm going to have to be able to do something."

 

"All right," Dunspar said.

 

He was more than willing to learn from him and seemed eager to know whatever he could about whatever he could.

 

"I'd be more than happy to teach you," Dunspar said. "What would you like to know about?"

 

They discussed it and Dunspar pulled out his briefcase and showed him the beakers and chemicals he carried with him. Dallas was willing to learn anything the man was willing to teach him. They arranged to meet the next morning to start his lessons. Dallas admitted he wasn't that smart sometimes and so Dunspar would have to help him. Dunspar said he'd be patient.

 

"That's great!" Dallas said. "I bet you're a great teacher."

 

He seemed very enthusiastic about it.

 

Later that evening, Dallas and Lily went to sit on the front porch for a while as he was courting her.

 

"The reason we came to Devil's Gulch is we're still looking for the horn, the Crescent," Jacali said.

 

"Silver!" Bowen said.

 

"Yes," Jacali said. "And he's looking for silver."

 

"Yes," Gemma said.

 

"This man, I think, would know the mines," Jacali went on. "He would know the best mining spots and I think it likely if the horn is in Devil's Gulch, as my "¦ intuition "¦"

 

"Yes. Quite."

 

""¦ has said that those would be the best places to hide it."

 

"That seems to make good enough sense."

 

"We are planning on going out at night and obviously it's not something that we would like to be found doing. I don't know what's going to happen and we are going to be in dark caves at night with nobody knowing we're there, so "¦"

 

She looked them over.

 

"But, if you're interested, you're welcome to come along?" Jacali said.

 

"How much of a threat is this horn?" Gemma said.

 

"What is it?" Ophelia said.

 

"I have also never heard of this horn before," Dunspar said.

 

"We're going to steal silver," Bowen said.

 

"Otto, you've seen it, right?" Jacali said.

 

"No," Otto said.

 

"Mr. Stalloid has trusted you with his book of strange things," Jacali said.

 

"Yes," Dunspar said.

 

"And you "¦ well, you're on the job anyway so who cares?" Jacali said to Bowen.

 

"He is old and will die soon anyway," Ophelia said.

 

"Thanks for the in-depth analysis," Jacali said.

 

"I'm 61 years young," Bowen said.

 

Jacali told them about He-Who-Waits in northern Nevada and his search for the "Horn" as well as the drawing on buffalo hide of the device. She talked of stumbling across it in Yellow Flats, Arizona, and its connection with Professor Terwilliger. She pulled out the large buffalo hide and opened it on the table. The drawing or rough painting showed a crescent shape with spikes sticking out of it at various angles. She said the Horn was about three feet across. She told them about chasing it through the train but of the outlaw Jack Parker falling from the train with it.

 

"When we found it, originally, there were piles of dust where people had touched it," she said. "And basically evaporated."

 

"Why would you want that?" Dunspar said. "Instantaneous combustion?"

 

"Well, whatever it was, it appears "¦ Terwilliger also said there was an electric current running through it or something like that," Jacali said. "That it might be able to conduct things like that. From my "¦ admittedly "¦ strangely sourced information "¦ it might be some kind of device of magical or advanced technological origins, but "¦ I don't know. All I know is that it's not good to touch and it does strange things that are out of my realm or my perception of reality."

 

"Interesting," Ophelia said.

 

"So, that's why we're looking for it," Jacali said.

 

"Do you think this "¦ what do you think this thing is capable of?" Gemma said.

 

"So, it's made of silver?" Bowen said.

 

"Yes," Jacali said.

 

"It looks to be," Dr. Weisswald said.

 

"What do you think this thing is capable of?" Gemma asked again. "How much of a threat is it?"

 

"Well, and again, I really, really wish I had a better word for what I saw in that dream, but "¦ the slugs had "¦ uh "¦ they told me that it gives people "¦ it changes people permanently "¦ based on what they want and need," Jacali said. "Is what my dream told me. My dream slugs. My friends in the dreams."

 

"Oh."

 

"That were tentacle-y."

 

"Well, wouldn't that be a good thing, if you were changed into something you want or need?"

 

"Not if you turn into a pile of dust afterwards, I wouldn't imagine, which is what some people did when we first found it."

 

"I don't understand how that could happen."

 

"Spontaneous," Dunspar said.

 

They looked at him.

 

"The combustion," he said.

 

"Uh "¦ well, we have heard of some people who touched it and then became supermen," Jacali said. "There was also an equal number of small piles of ash that were "¦ people."

 

"What did they look like?" Ophelia said. "The slugs?"

 

"Surely you have a chance either way," Gemma said.

 

Jacali described the slugs, noting they were cones some 10 feet wide and high. They had four tentacles. Two ended in nippers or pincers. Another tentacle had three eyes and the last had horn-like appendages. There were small tentacles on the bottom of the eye tentacle and others that came out of the top of it.

 

"Hm," Ophelia said.

 

"So, does anybody have a better word than slugs for these things "¦" Jacali said.

 

"Monstrosity?" Dunspar said.

 

"I would concur," Gemma said.

 

"I call it a lobster," Bowen said.

 

"Monstrosity might be accurate to the feeling I had when I saw them but it's not very descriptive," Jacali said.

 

Many of them noticed Ophelia put her hand to her jaw as if she was thinking. Jacali and Otto noticed the light of recognition in her eye when Jacali described the things from her dreams.

 

"Oh, Ophelia, did you have something to add?" Jacali said.

 

Ophelia looked at her.

 

"No," she said.

 

"You looked like you were thinking about something," Jacali said

 

Ophelia looked at her blankly.

 

"Did my description "¦ meet anything in your mind?" Jacali said. "In your memory?"

 

She stared at the Indian woman again.

 

"These things sound like the Great Race," she finally said. "Yithians is what they called themselves. Or did "¦ 225 million years ago."

 

"You talked about them," Dr. Weisswald said.

 

"Hm?"

 

"You mentioned them. By the ring."

 

"My goodness!" Gemma said. "You're quite abreast of your history."

 

Ophelia gave Dr. Weisswald a blank look. She told the woman she did not remember that but believed her. Dr. Weisswald guessed the serpent person had been delirious at the time.

 

"Oh," Ophelia said. "I must keep my mouth shut."

 

"Do you have any information about them?" Jacali said. "And why were they appearing in my dreams and talking to me."

 

"That I don't know. They have been on "¦ Earth "¦ for millions of years and were still a "¦ force "¦ on the world during our reign of Valusia 225 million years ago."

 

"I'm sorry?" Gemma said.

 

"Then you might think that my dream was more than instinct then?" Jacali said.

 

"I might think what?" Ophelia said. "My mind is much more clearly focused than you primates. I probably don't think anything that you do."

 

"But why would these appear in my dreams if it didn't mean something, is what I'm saying," Jacali said.

 

"I don't know," Ophelia said. "I've heard mere rumors about them. They were from my time."

 

"What is your time?" Dunspar said.

 

"Two hundred twenty five million years ago," she said.

 

"How "¦ how old are you?" he said.

 

She looked at him.

 

"That's a very rude question to ask a woman!" Jacali said.

 

"Whatever do you mean?" Gemma said to Ophelia. "You talk from experience."

 

Ophelia looked at her.

 

"You haven't told her about the gate?" she said.

 

"What is this?" Gemma said.

 

"Wait!" Otto said. "Is this that snake person?"

 

"Yeah, I thought that was pretty clear, Otto!" Jacali said.

 

"You never told me!"

 

"We introduced our friend, Ophelia!"

 

"Yes, but you never told me!"

 

"I "¦ ah what?" Gemma said.

 

"But "¦ that's not "¦ that's not a snake!" Dunspar said.

 

"Sh!" Jacali said. "Don't think about it too hard."

 

"That just makes me think about it more!"Dunspar said.

 

Gemma looked at Ophelia carefully but she just looked like a woman. She didn't see anything out of the ordinary about her.

 

"Yes," Ophelia said. "Two hundred twenty five million years ago."

 

"But "¦ but "¦ what do you mean?" Gemma said.

 

"She was a snake and now she's a woman," Otto said.

 

"Yes, like I told the professor over here, don't think about it too hard," Jacali said.

 

"But "¦"

 

"We've solved that riddle and it's done."

 

"Is she "¦?" Gemma said. She lowered her voice. "Is she safe?"

 

She realized she was sitting right next to the woman. There was no way she hadn't heard.

 

"I'm sorry, I "¦" she said.

 

"Ophelia, do you feel safe?" Jacali said.

 

"I've not felt safe since I got here," Ophelia said.

 

"She's as safe as she's ever been."

 

"I'm surrounded by primitives."

 

"I didn't quite mean it like that but "¦" Gemma said.

 

"I thought we were primates," Bowen said.

 

"Primates, evolutionarily, are our ancestors," Dunspar said.

 

"No," Bowen said. "Naw."

 

"Yes," Ophelia said. "they didn't evolve until well after us. You are still only somewhat evolved."

 

Dunspar knew from his studies that, if she was being truthful about 225 million years before, there weren't even any primates around yet at that time. The first primates didn't appear until roughly 50 to 55 million years ago. How she knew there were even primates was a mystery.

 

"Once again, how old are you?" Dunspar said.

 

She stared at him.

 

"I think we've been over this!" Jacali said. "This is a very rude question."

 

Ophelia just gestured at Jacali. Bowen patted Dunspar on the shoulder.

 

"Please don't touch me," Dunspar said.

 

The all looked at him.

 

"He has dirt," Dunspar said. "This is a nice suit."

 

"His age is not contagious," Ophelia said.

 

"No, but his dirt is," Dunspar said.

 

She shook her head and rolled her eyes.

 

"But do you know something about what they are saying about this Crescent?" Gemma asked.

 

"I've never heard of the Crescent," Ophelia said.

 

Bowen left the table, getting water from one of the dancehall girls to wash his hands with before returning.

 

"The Yithians have many secrets," Ophelia said.

 

"And, also, what they did tell me in this dream was that the Crescent was something of their creation," Jacali said. "They called it the harmonizer."

 

"Harmonizer," Dunspar echoed.

 

"So, we have three names for it now: the Horn, the Crescent, and the Harmonizer," Jacali said.

 

"And the Silver Thing," Dr. Weisswald said.

 

"And the Silver Thing," Jacali said. "So whatever you want to call it is basically fine."

 

They planned for Bowen, Weisswald, Otto, Jacali, and Gemma to go explore caves that night.

 

Lily returned just before closing time. She was very red in the face, flushed, and very happy. Then she looked a little upset.

 

"Dallas is so sweet," she said. "He wanted to stay and guard the saloon so we don't get rocks thrown through out windows tonight."

 

"Rocks?" Otto said. "Has someone been doing this?"

 

"I think it's some of the other hotel owners," Lily said. "That's what Dallas thinks too. They don't want a woman to compete with them and we've been very successful. I'm on the main street here, right by the train station and they're down the street and around the corner so, of course, people see the Gilded Lily first and this is where they want to stay."

 

"You need a guard?" Otto said.

 

"I know how that is," Dr. Weisswald said.

 

"Right?" Lily said. "Yeah! Men! They're so infuriating. But I'm just worried that it's going to happen again tonight."

 

"I am often infuriated by white men as well," Jacali said.

 

"Especially arrogant old "¦" Lily growled.

 

"Lily, do you need a guard tonight?" Otto said.

 

"If you would like to guard, yes," Lily said. "Maybe nothing will happen but if something happens "¦"

 

"The only thing I ask is that I don't have to pay for room and board tonight," Otto said.

 

"All right," Lily said. "I'll trade you for that."

 

Otto determined to sit on the top porch to keep guard.

 

Lily and her dance hall girls cleaned up early and then Lily told them they could stay up as long as they wanted, asking them to pay for whatever they took from the bar if they kept drinking. Dunspar asked the price of some bottle of whiskey and she told it to him. She gave Gemma the keys to lock up.

 

Jacali asked Ophelia if she was still interested in technology and weapons and willing to learn from Otto and Dunspar about it. She wanted to learn how to use them more than anything. She had not yet seen guns fired and told them she assumed the two men were some kind of alchemists.

 

"I wouldn't give them that much credit," Jacali said.

 

Just a little before midnight, when they planned to close the place up, a man peeked in through the batwing doors of the establishment from the street. He was a young man with short, black hair and a boyish face. He wore plain clothing and took off his hat to hold it in his hands. He looked them all over the room and the bar.

 

"Saloon's closed," Dr. Weisswald said.

 

"Oh, all right," the man said. "Is that "¦ is that Gemma Jones?"

 

"Yes," Gemma said.

 

"You're supposed to say "˜Depends on who's asking,'" Jacali quipped.

 

"Is that Lily's sister?" the man said.

 

"Yes," Gemma said.

 

He came into the room, holding his hat in his hands. He walked up to the table.

 

"You need to warn your sister about Dallas Avery," the man said quickly.

 

"About Dallas?" she said.

 

"I don't trust him."

 

"I'm sorry, who are you?"

 

"Oh "¦ uh "¦ sorry. My name's Patrick Mills. I work at the hardware store. Uh "¦ I-I-I-I think that Dallas is up to something."

 

"Whatever would make you think that?"

 

"I just feel it. It's just "¦ an instinct, you know? So "¦"

 

"Well, that "¦ frankly that is not a good enough reason to walk into my establishment and question my sister's life choices."

 

His eyes opened wide.

 

"All-all right," he said. "All right. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I just don't feel like he's - like he's being completely honest. I'll just leave you. I'm sorry. I'm sorry."

 

He turned and walked out of the establishment.

 

"Strange man," Dunspar said.

 

He went up to his room to read along with his bottle.

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

Otto stationed himself in the shadows of the balcony above the front porch.

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

The others went out into the badlands night with Bowen in the lead taking them southeast. They found a few abandoned mines that didn't go very deep. Then they found a mine with a cabin outside that appeared to be inhabited, a little smoke trailing up out of the building. Bowen wanted to sneak into the mine.

 

"That's the good one," he said. "That's the one."

 

They went into the mine, Bowen and Dr. Weisswald lighting lanterns once they were in. The shaft was narrow and only five feet tall. A wooden mine car on makeshift wooden tracks led into the mine and they began exploring. It looked like the mine was actively being worked. They headed deeper in, the rail ending at the t-intersection ahead. They continued exploring through numerous branches and intersections for about an hour, Dr. Weisswald marking the way out with a scratch on the floor.

 

They eventually found a huge natural cavern. Stalagmites and stalactites decorated the place and a large crevasse in the center of the chamber fell away into the darkness below. Bowen cackled. It echoed through the place.

 

"What do you think they're mining here?" Dr. Weisswald said.

 

"Silver!" Bowen said.

 

He cackled insanely and then ripped the sleeve of his shirt off and lit it on fire, tossing it in the cavern in the middle to see how far down it went. It went down and down and down and down before it finally went out.

 

"So, I don't think we ought to go down this one," Jacali said.

 

They thought they heard some kind of hissing from down there. They asked if Ophelia knew what it was and she didn't. Dr. Weisswald tossed a rock in there and it didn't hit for about 15 seconds.

 

"Well, the hissing could be gas escaping "¦" Jacali said.

 

"Let's go back," Bowen said.

 

They finished exploring the mine and found nothing else of real interest.

 

"Let's come back with climbing gear," Bowen suggested.

 

"What's the point?" Gemma said.

 

Bowen scuffed out Dr. Weisswald's markings and then snuck up to the cabin but it had no windows.

 

They returned to town where they saw Otto on guard on the balcony above.

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

They found more damage done to the Gilded Lily the next morning, Wednesday, August 18, 1875. Some window panes were broken in the front and some horrible, greenish brown paint had been splashed on the front porch and the front doors of the place.

 

"I thought you were guarding the place," Dr. Weisswald said when she saw Otto.

 

"Wha-uh-I-uh-wha?" Otto said.

 

Lily was very upset, especially at Otto.

 

"I'll slit their throats," Gemma muttered when she saw the damage.

 

Lily went to the glassmaker again to get more panes of glass. Otto paid her for his room.

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

Gemma left, angry, going to the Bull's Head Saloon. She found the place open that morning but there was no one there but the bartender and a bearded man in the corner near the bar. She went to the bartender and asked who was in charge. The man pointed to the bearded man in the corner who had thinning hair in the front and a pistol in his holster.

 

"Buck's over there, ma'am," the bartender said.

 

She walked over to the man who sat at the table, a ledger open in front of him and a bottle of whiskey on the table. He looked up as she approached.

 

"Well, what can I help you with?" he said as she approached.

 

"I need to have a talk with you," she said.

 

"Well sit down. You wanna drink?"

 

"No, I do not."

 

"Fair enough."

 

"There's only three saloons in this town. One of them is my sister's, the Gilded Lily."

 

Buck laughed.

 

"I know it," he said.

 

"Oh, I'm sure you know it," she said. "That's why I'm here."

 

"Why are you here?"

 

"Because you've been throwing rocks and paint all over my sister's─"

 

"Whoa! Whoa!"

 

"─saloon."

 

"I've not been doing any of that."

 

"Oh, tell me you haven't."

 

"I just did."

 

"I don't believe you."

 

"You don't have to."

 

"It's either one of two saloons here and I suspect you."

 

"Listen, little filly! I don't need to throw rocks through windows in order to make my business or my way in the world. Understand? Your sister is outta line. She's a woman, shouldn't be running these kind of things."

 

"I beg your pardon!"

 

"It's just the truth."

 

"It most certainly is not and you have no right".

 

"She certainly is not going to cause me to break the law to put her out of business. I'm sure she'll do that on her own pretty soon."

 

"Well, just so you know "¦ I'm keeping an eye on your business. And I can take you down whenever I please."

 

"Well, you're welcome to try."

 

She turned and walked out.

 

She crossed the street to the Empire Hotel and Saloon. It was one of the larger and fancier buildings in town. It was freshly painted white and blue and had a large sign hanging over the boardwalk in front. The windows in the front of the building all featured colored and lead glass and they really gave the place a taste of high society.

 

The interior was just as fancy. The oak French doors in the front featured leaded and etched glass. They were wide open to allow for a breeze. To the right of the foyer was a lobby with a front desk where a well-dressed man with a prodigious mustache and well-groomed hair stood. A carved oak staircase led upstairs. To the left was the saloon with a long, intricately carved bar, a large mirror behind it.

 

Gemma walked up to the lobby desk where the registry book sat. On the wall behind the desk were a rack of room keys and a number of pigeonholes. A heavy iron safe was set into the wall under the stairs. Gemma could smell breakfast food.

 

"Yes ma'am," he said in an upper-class British accent. "May I help you?"

 

"Yes, are you the owner?" she said.

 

"I'm Mr. Farnsworth, yes."

 

"Mr. Farnsworth, I have a matter I'd like to speak to you about."

 

"Very well. Do you need a room?"

 

"No, I don't. I've come on behalf of my sister's saloon: the Gilded Lily."

 

"Oh."

 

"She has been vandalized and─"

 

"Again?"

 

"Yes. There's only two other saloons in this town and it must be one of you two. And/or both!"

 

"My dear, the Empire is doing quite well. I don't need to resort to vandalism in order to continue doing well."

 

"Oh, I know you're doing well, but it's not about that, is it?"

 

"I don't follow."

 

"It's about principal! She's a woman, right? That's what you all think."

 

"Well, she is a woman. But I don't believe that I need to resort to anything illegal in order to drive her out of town. She'll do quite well on her own."

 

Gemma glared at the man.

 

"The figures and things "¦ it's quite beyond the female mind," he went on.

 

She glared at him.

 

"You know, you see a pretty dress and you just have to buy it," he said.

 

"Well just know, I will get to the bottom of whoever did this "¦ and they will pay," she said.

 

"I admire your spunk."

 

"Oh, don't bother."

 

She turned and left the place.

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

Otto headed out of town for the day, looking for "Black" Jack McKinney.

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

Bowen went out to find out where Dallas Avery lived and soon learned he had a room in one of the boarding houses on the east side of town. It took him a little longer to narrow it down to the Widow Barrington's Boarding House. It had four rooms that were all filled at the time, he learned.

 

He hung around the boarding house to try to figure out which room was Dallas'.

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

Dunspar went to the general store and asked if anyone had bought paint recently.

 

"Quite a few people," Mabry told him. "Right now people are touching up their houses and businesses in hopes of construction starting on the courthouse soon."

 

"Any of the saloon owners?" Dunspar said.

 

"Oh, no, I don't think so," Mabry said. "Neither Mr. Farnsworth nor Buck Hatch have purchased any lately."

 

"Okay. Well, there's just been some vandalism last night and I was just checking."

 

"Oh yeah?"

 

"That's all."

 

 

* * *

 


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