For Love And Profit


ohls_icon.jpg Jed Balcombe


* None.

Summary: Arden visits the gunsmith. Philosophies are exchanged, and a deal is struck.

Date: 11 February, 1884.

For Love and Profit

Balcombe's Guns, Foundry and Shop

The gunsmith, when dressed, had always seemed diminuative. Altogether too short, too thin and too..small to be a man. But, here in the foundry, with the coal fire built to a roaring inferno under a cauldron of molten metal, the shirtless man proves dynamite can come in small packages.

His arm swings the heavy forging hammer up and down in a steady rhythm as he forges a new damascus barrel for a shotgun.

Quite a number of things come in packages that one might not expect. So too, the blacksmith, tall, and coltish, female and metis. But if there's any surprise in Arden's expression, it doesn't show, as she picks her way through the yard, skirting whatever snow and mud might be set around to bog down the feet, though she pauses, out of respect, just inside the door of the foundry.

His back to the door, the gunsmith puts the half formed barrel into the coals, still wrapped around the hard steel core, and turns to get a drink of water from a bucket. The blue eyes fall onto his visitor, the dipper half-way to his lips, and his jaw drops open.

Dropping the dipper, he snatches hsi shirt from a nail, and holds it in front of him, clutching it against himself like a shield, "Wwwwhat mmay I do for you?" he stammers, flushing deep red.

"I've always found the being able to work shirtless was a luxury I wished was available to me. Especially in the middle of the summer at the forge." Still, Arden does turn away, out of respect for the man, or at least out of reaction to his blushing. It may not bother her, but it seems to do him, so…"I was hoping to place an order, if it might be possible, and also to ask a question, about your suppliers. I've just reopened the smithy, and knowing who offers the best prices would go a long way in getting my business back on its feet quickly."

He hurriedly dons the shirt, heedless of the grime and perspiration, even of getting the buttons straight. But, decently clothed now he asks, still in a squeaky voice, "What sort of order did you wish to place? I am afraid that I do not stock materials you might require."

He casts a worried eye on the heating barrel, "It would be..a waste, to use such steel fro a horse's shoe, or a wheel rim."

"I have found, in my time working, that suppliers usually deal in both the metals you use and the ones that I would, in order to maximize profits." Once she hears you no longer shuffling around to get dressed, Arden turns back to face you, so that she can have the conversation properly. She still makes no move to step inside. "I am not here to bargain for your current inventory," a hand sweeps to indicate the raw materials you're working with, "I came to see about placing an order. One handgun and a rifle. I don't need anything fancy."

He looks rather relieved at this news, and nods, "If you do not wish anything special, I have an arrangement with Mister Colton that I might sell from the stock I purchased for the ranch." he frowns slightly then, "I..don't think there would be any legal trouble with it." he adds, a bit lamely. "perhaps I should seek advice from the Sheriff first on the prohibition of selling guns to.." he licks his lips, "Well, Indians." he finishes with a note of trepidation.

A lift of her shoulders in a shrug, "If the heritage of my mother's people is such a concern to you, you're welcome to ask Sheriff Reynolds if he'd permit you to sell to me, though I don't see him offering an objections. We've met on a number of occasions since I arrived in town. And I certainly don't think he'd object to a business owner in town wanting to protect herself, her employees and her property. Not to mention that the journey between my shop and the Epona Ranch, as it's one I'll be making quite often might not always be safe."

He considers her for a moment, then comes to a decision, "Very well, I shall have to seek my own counsel in this, and I do not care to see any woman unarmed under such circumstances." he chews on his lower lip a moment, "But, if the new Marshall should find fault with it and arrest me for the sale, will Sheriff reynolds have me released?"

He pulls the barrel from the fire, leaving it near enough to keep some heat, without losing temper, and maeks a fluttery wave towards the shop, "I do not keep the weapons out here, after all."

"I think most of the people in this town probably already have a grievance with the Marshal. I think the town enmass would demand it. But given what I have heard of the man, I think I would be the one that ended up in jail." Arden turns, stepping back out of the foundry, allowing you to join and then lead the way back to the shop proper.

The little gunsmith disappears almost immediately into the large walk in gunsafe. Even through the door, scraping of heavy crates on the floor, and the 'skreeee' of nails being pulled could be heard. Shortly he comes out with a new Winchester and a new Colt, both weapons still covered in cosmoline.

Laying out a piece of flannel, he sets the firearms down, and expertly begins to clean the thick shipping grease off.

Arden seems to be in now hurry, and indeed, she seems more interested in your work than in the merchandise. But perhaps that's always the way, with craftsmen, even if their skillsets are similar, but not the same. "The way someone works can say a lot about the person that they are," she offers in an offhanded way, standing a comfortable distance away from you.

He glances up sideways with a brief flicker of a smile darkening his sapphire eyes, the slender fingers never pausing in their task. "It helps," he replies in his normal soft, almost feminine voice, 'If one truly loves the work that they do."

Holding up the Winchester, it's side plate removed, "he points at the internal workings, "Most people see only a rifle with which to take a life, but look inside, and it is a work of art. An example of the genius of man, and a testament to handiwork." laying the weapon back down, he adds with a note of wistfullness, "Of course, such mass produced things do not have the true beauty of a handmade piece by a craftsman."

"That sort of love is becoming harder and harder to find as time passes. But while a generically produced weapon might lack the artistry of a craftsman's hand, still, it has not lost any of the genius that made it possible, and it can still be appreciated." Arden turns, allowing you to get the weapons ready, while she takes her time looking over the cases, "You might also say that people fail to appreciate the artistry that is required to make simpler things, like horseshoes and wagon wheels." That last is a bit pointed. But her expression is still calm and unflustered as she turns back away from the cases, as if she were used to being seen as the metalworkers poor cousin.

He giggles, flushing rosily, 'But many blacksmiths I have known also create works of art in other forms. Decorative lamphooks, and coat hooks. Even knives." he sighs a bit, putting the firearms back together, now thoroughly cleaned. "Alas, I have never been able to do many things such as that, although I can forge a fine blade."

He slisp three shells into the Colt, and three into the Winchester, "May I suggest that you cover your ears?" he says, looking at the rear wall of the shop where a number of corks dot the wall, driven deep.

"I think it all comes down to your training, and what interests you. I have never tried my hand at gunsmithing, though I cannot say I ever felt the desire to try it. I imagine most gunsmiths would not like to find themselves making decorative housing fixtures in my shop. We have each found ourselves working with metal, but each to the fashion that suits them." At Jed's comment, Arden nods, and steps to a safe distance, hands set over her ears.

It would seem that his thin wrist would not be able to handle the Colt, but the three shots roll out in a single deep sound of thunder, and thick smoke fills the shop. He frowns at the three new holes, all low and to the left of one of the plugs. "THAT is all too common in these factory built guns. No testing for accuracy." the Colt is laid aside and he tries again with the Winchester.

Arden, while she has her hands covering her ears, is no less attentive to what's being done, and to the firing test being conducted. And as you set aside the Colt, she asks, into the momentary silence, "Is that easily enough repaired, or will it take a special order? I would have it corrected then have to change my aim to compensate."

"Oh, I shall have it repaired within ten minutes,' he assures her, bringing the rifle to his shoulder and triggering off three shots. This time the cork is punched through the wall with the first shot, and two others quickly follow.

"Much better!" Jed crows gaily, laying the rifle on the flannel and limping over to jame new corks into the perforated wall before returning to the pistol and examining it. A few strokes of a fien toothed file on the fixed rear sight, and a slight twist of the front blade with a pair of crimps, and he reloads.

Again, that honest interest in watching a craftsman work, as Arden lowers her hands from her ears, a step bringing her close enough to be able to take advantage of the light you're working under to see what you're doing, "It seems rather negligent, not to have these weapons tested before they leave the factory." Once she sees you reload, she once again covers her ears.

The second test of the Colt went far better than the first, the three shots nicking the edges of the cork, the final one pushing it through. "A one inch pattern, it is as good as you may expect from such a handgun," he declares, and proceeds to run a solvent soaked cloth through each of the bores, and wiping them with a lightly oiled rag.

As her hands lower she hears the comment, and steps back to the counter, "Well, I certainly have no interest in gunfights or quick draws, so I think, for what I need, this will be sufficient. Though, perhaps one day when the money is better, I will be able to pay for your work, and not just for your service."

He wraps the pistol in a piece of soft chamois, and ties another piece of the soft leather around the action of the rifle, laying them almost reverently on your side of the counter. "If you wish, "he begins hesitantly, "perhaps we might..barter for something less," giving the plain weapons a drief glance, "unadorned. Even these might be engraved or have new grips better suited to your hand."

Arden watches you set aside the weapons, and the expression that crosses your face goes noticed, but unremarked. But her attention shifts back to the conversation at hand, as you mention a barter, "I would certainly be open to that. But it would depend on if it were something that I was able to provide you that would be of fair value to your work."

He keeps his eyes on the counter, or on his hands, before finally, nervously laces hsi fingers together. "I..that is Missus McGiveney and..we shall be requiring some fixtures soon, things you may be able to umm, craft."

He looks up, face tinged pink, 'Hinges and hooks and the like. Neither of us ride, I fear, nor own a buggy." Swallowing, he adds, "And I can, if you need, order steel more suited for your endeavors, as I can obtain it at a lower cost than you might alone."

"I had a similar order just recently from the undertaker," is Arden's answer, and her lips quirk in the beginnings of a smile, "Though I would hope that Missus McGiveney and yourself will be putting my work to happier use. Congratulations." And then, more seriously, she considers, before she finally nods, "I would agree to a barter. Your household needs for some adjustments on my guns. And if you'd be kind enough to assist me with the ordering, I'd be willing to do any additional work you require at cost."

He nods, but doesn't offer his hand, those appendages still wringing together nervously, "It will be a pleasure to work with you on mutual interests. And if it assists a fellow craftsperson to succeed, so much the better."

Sudden loud noises from outside cause him to jump and look wide eyed out of the window with a sharp intake of breath. Hurriedly, he pushes the two boxes of shells he had used to test the guns towards you. "I mmust get back to that barrel I was building. It is..a special order, you understand."

Arden keeps her own counsel, on the state of mind of the gunsmith, "And I thank you for being willing to be such a great help to me." And a good price on metal is certainly nothing to scoff at, it can make or break a business. But as he looks back, and seems intent on running back towards the foundry, she's left with both guns and two boxes of bullets, "Don't you want payment?"

"Pppayment?" he blinks at you without comprehension for a moment, "Oh..yes.. umm, as they were purchased in quantity the price is commensurately lower. Forty dollars for all, and you may choose your own sheaths from those," waving a lank hand towards the locally made leather work.

A nod, and Arden moves to complete the business quickly. Fourty dollars, paid in cash, and then she steps back, "Go on and go to your work. will choose one of each, and I will leave a note on which ones I took," though, it's likely Jed would know as soon as he walked back into the shop, "Thank you. I look forward to working with you."


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