Settling In?




* Mercantile Owner-Cripple Creek Sheriff Byron Marx

Summary: Marlowe reopens his mine, does some shopping, stops claim-jumpers

Date: February 5-8,1884

Settling In?

Cripple Creek, CO

February 5, 1884

He had gone down to Cripple Creek the next day, leading the black over the

narrow, icy trail. They needed supplies, man, horse and wolf, and he was

headed down to get them.

The Mercantile was dark and dusty..Winter was not the height of the

season, and the dour keeper didn't keep a lot of excess stock on hand.

Recognizing the 'breed from his infrequent trips to Cripple Creek, the sour

keeper checked his books, and grunted in disgust seeing nothing owed.

Marlowe moved up and down the aisles making a list; frying pan, dutch oven,

half a dozen new drills, a gold pan..a file and a whetstone. He added a

dozen cans of peaches, tinned beef, a large ham and a side of bacon to the

list, then scrawled in almost as an afterthought, a fifty pound bag of beans.

Also noted was a case of dynamite, blasting caps and a roll of 1-1

inch in one second. Scanning the list, the shopkeeper asked, "Opening your

mine again?" His only reply was a cold look and a grunt, as the 'breed

counted out a stack of coins, some new, some worn. Looking over the stock

of ammunition, he reached for two boxes of waxed paper shells for the big

ten gauge, adding them beside the coins. "next time I come down," he growls

in a sandpapery voice, "I'll be wantin' five boxes of fourfifty boxer

cartridges." The order raised the clerk's eyebrow as he gathered the

supplies, bagging them in burlap expertly..

Shopping done, Marlowe fixes the bags to the stallion with a rope harness,

balancing the weight, and the pair headed back up the trail.

February 6, 1884

Nothing today..He had opened the shaft another six feet, mucking out the

fall in the morning. There was not that much, after all the shaft was small,

barely four feet high and wide. He had had to work on his knees, and bent

over besides, or on his stomach in the cold, damp muck. Water was seeping

from someplace and the 'breed was drilling towards that.

A final blow with the single jack didn't sound right to his numbed ear, and

Marlowe frowned. Striking the drill again, it slipped from cold fingers and

right through the wall of rock. "Damn it," he cursed.. the first words he had

spoken aloud that day. Well, tomorrrow would be time enough to find the

drill, probably just a pocket in the rock. Setting his charges, the 'breed

spliced the web of short fuses to a longer one, rolling it towards the ehd of

the tunnel. He lit the fuse with his candle, and headed for the rude cabin to

await the explosion and have dinner.

February 7, 1884
Clearing out the muck from the previous days' blasting, Marlowe found a

crack in the way, opened perhaps a handsbreadth in the hard granite.

Sticking his candle through, he peered through the opening to a natural

grotto, the dark granite thickly veined with quartz. The quartz was

spiderwebbed with gold, running back at a tangent, and on the floor a small

spring bubbled, seeping perhaps a cup of water an hour. Here then was the

source for the nuggets that had led his partnerr and he to this place..and

what could be an offshoot of the Mother Lode.
A days worth of hard labor netted the 'breed three large ore sacks of raw

ore, put aside for another trip to Cripple Creek the following day.

February 8, 1884
"Two thousand a ton," the Assayist said with rising excitement, "best we've

had in a long time!" Impassively, the 'breed nodded, paid his assay fee, and

left to add to his supplies. While he was making his purchases, the Assayist

was yammering excitedly in the Ophir Saloon about this find, and the

'breed's seeming indifference to his sudden wealth. One pair of hard looking

men looked at each other and slipped out of the door.

Perhaps an hour later, this pair approached the 'breed as he was loading

supplies. 'Howdy," one said, frowning when his greeting was rebuffed with an

icy look. The second man muttered under his breath, and shoved an official

looking paper at Marlowe, "We're taking your mine under Article Six, Section

Eight of the federal Code." he states, stepping back and putting his hand on

his holstered Colt.

The 'breed just lets the paper fall to the icy street, stepping away from

the stallion. "The hell you say." he growled raspily, "You ain't taking

nothing." The Colt's were starting to clear their leather when the big ten

boomed, the first shot nearly decapitating the second man. The second deep

roar came on the heels of the first, doubling the first man over before

exiting his back, taking several vertabrae with it.

With no trace of emotion on his scarred face, the 'breed was calmly

reloading when Sheriff Marx pounded up, gun in hand. But, he put it away

when the shopkeeper stuck his head out of the door, "Them two was trying

to jump the 'breed's claim, Sheriff."

Marx narrows his eyes at the 'breed in question, "That right boy?" he

growls. Marlowe just bent to retrieve the paper, handing it over without a

word, and turned to lead the stallion back to the cabin. 'Now see here!" the

Sheriff bellowed after, his voice choking off as Marlowe turned back to fix

him with that glacial stare, "Never mind..I know where to find you," the

Sheriff mumbles, backing off from that look.


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