If you like, you can imagine that this pic. (from an early stereo image) is how Sharon appeared on their date.
Gilbert Malcolm Sproat (an historical character) who I depict as having a house keeper (my fictional character, Sharon Dalton) during his time as chief magistrate in Farwell, BC --- now known as Revelstoke
Col. James McLeod who sat with Malcolm Sproat on the bench in judgment of the actions of the North West Mounted Police. The trial is depicted in "The Great Liquor War" much as it actually happened.
Here is an excerpt from “The Great Liquor War”. My story here is wound around an historical incident during which the North West Mounted Police (here represented by my fictional, Sergeant Rawn) and the BC Provincial Police (Represented by Constable Kirkup).
Though Constable Jack Kirkup is an historical character my representation probably has little to do with the real person other than his being (apparently) a very big man.
The first part of this piece is the first private meeting of the main protagonist, Hank James and Sharon Dalton who becomes the focus of Hank’s search at the beginning of “Homesteader: Finding Sharon” a sequel to “The Great Liquor War.”
The last part contains a formal report by Constable Kirkup for his superiors. (Totally my manufacture) which is meant as a lead into what is happening with the local “outlaw” element.
“I’m real sorry I give you that impression, ma’am. Matter o’ fact, I’m downright embarrassed anybody’d think I’d blackmail somebody. I take pride in doin’ the right thing, an’ spend a lot o’ my time tryin’ to figure out what that is. Forcin’ somebody to do somethin’ they don’t wanta do just ain’t right.
“Now, I also figure you must have a good reason for not talkin’ about your past, an’ I sure don’t wanta say somethin’ to somebody that might embarrass you. That’s why I mentioned it the other night. No other reason.
“I think I mentioned that I thought I knew you, but I didn’t know from where ‘till Jack Kirkup told me your name was
. It come back to
me then. You were a little tom-boy playin’ with us on my cousin’s place. Your
name was Sweeney, or some such ...” Dalton
“Swanell,” she said.
At that point the waiter returned with the fresh tea. I thanked him and waited until he left the table.
“Okay, Swanell,” I echoed with a nod. “I ‘spect you married one of that bunch that was related somehow to Frank an’ Jesse. Related by their momma’s second marriage, as I recollect. Now, you didn’t go back to your maiden name, so you can’t be workin’ all that hard to hide. On the other hand, you haven’t mentioned that you knew some of the more notorious people of the last few years. I reckon you must have a reason for that, so the only reason I mentioned it was I didn’t wanta do somethin’ might put you in a bad spot.”
“And that is the only reason you asked for,” she gestured toward the room, “this?” Her tone wasn’t exactly disbelieving, but more flat and reserved.
I shook my head. “Had nothin’ to do with why I wanted,” I mimicked her gesture toward the room, “this. I was taken with your appearance. Mostly, I guess, with the way you handled the poor way Sproat treated you that day out in front of my barn. Then, when I figured out who you where I got to thinkin’ we had some things in common. When we were kids we knew the same country. Maybe even had some of the same things happen to us. Mostly I was interested in you and wanted to get to know you better.”
She remained quiet, her hands still clasped on the edge of the table in front of her and eyes on me as I poured tea. After a long silence I asked, “What would you like for desert?”
She cleared her throat, and then asked what was offered. I called the waiter over. When he left with the order she reached across and put her hand on mine as it rested on my tea cup. “I’m sorry, Henry,” she said.
Now, food is one of the things that makes life worth living for me. Most of my life it’s been nothing special, but I take great pleasure in it when it is. I don’t even mind it when it’s not too good, just filling. Except for the tea, I don’t remember anything about what we ate that night. But I still remember what
looked like. Sharon
Later that evening, something happened that served as an additional embarrassment for the Mounties. It became another reason for the Federal Police to insist they were right in confiscating Hill’s goods. Because of their rule about keeping booze away from the railroad construction there was some support for their view of the Hill matter, but there was no doubt the new event put egg on their face.
Sergeant Rawn of the Mounties had been spending far too much time in one of the gin mills in Farwell. The establishment in question was probably not completely legal, if at all, and not the place for a police officer to be seeking refreshment. It was certainly out of the question for Rawn to be there in uniform. However, he had reasoned that it was outside the ten mile border from the rail line - and would be for a few more days - therefore not within his area of responsibility.
Many animals show great displeasure with those who smell of spirits, and horses are no exception. When Rawn attempted to leave town that night his mount took exception to the strong alcohol fumes emanating from him. When he tried for the third time to put his foot in the stirrup the horse swung around hard against the policeman. Sergeant Rawn was propelled violently through the front window of the Chinese laundry.
The laundry was a busy place in those days. Work was still going on within and would continue until well into early morning. Mrs. Cora Emery was near the front of the building wrapping finished work for pickup the following day. Now Mrs. Emery was a strong supporter of temperance. Her late husband had died due to the poor judgment and slowed reflexes brought on by strong drink, forcing her to work long hours in a place operated by what she thought of as Asian heathens. It was suggested by some, perhaps unkindly, that Mr. Emery’s penchant for drink was his only means of expressing independence in the face of Mrs Emery’s great strength and strong stand against alcohol. Within a few seconds of their first volatile meeting, Sergeant Rawn was to agree that Mrs. Emery would drive anyone to drink. When he, and the offending odor which accompanied him, entered the laundry in such an explosive manner, she turned from her work to the broom leaning against the wall.
Mrs. Emery’s strength was not confined to her over-zealous fight against the consumption of alcohol. Some of the kinder souls who knew her described her as being substantial. That night she used this substance to swing the broom repeatedly against the Mounted Police Sergeant while she described his lowly character in a firm, loud voice. She was accompanied by the Chinese owner; yelling in excited, high-pitched Cantonese.
The sound of broken glass, bellowing English and screeching Cantonese to the beat of a broom filled the early morning. Naturally, such a fuss was bound to attract attention. At such a late hour there were few to respond except the patrolling policeman. Constable Kirkup was present to help Sergeant Rawn as he attempted to escape over the window sill and onto the boardwalk. Relieving Rawn of his pistol, Jack marched him down the street and threw him into the lock-up.
At the time, Sergeant Rawn was grateful for the help.
Following the incident, several interrogations were conducted by members of the Provincial Police. It should be noted that very little of this information is suitable for presentation to the court, but has been recorded strictly as a source of information for future investigation.
Constable J. Kirkup
There was a meeting in the Montana Saloon witnessed by the bartender, Shorty Leaman, or Short Shot as some called him behind his back. Bulldog Kelley, Jack Myers, and Frank Spencer sat at the plank table at the back of the tent. Kelley was the man behind most illegal operations in the area. Frank Spencer was his second in command and Myers was one of their gunmen. They didn’t commit all the local crimes, but they did demand a percentage of the take from those who did.
“We got us a gold mine here, boys,” Kelley said. “With these clowns fightin’ between themselves there’s nobody ‘round to stop us.”
Spencer shrugged. “Maybe an’ maybe not. They might just take a notion they’re too busy to follow the finer points o’ law. Them Mounties got a reputation fer bein’ somewhat sudden when they feel the need.”
Myers grinned. “Ain’t no reason we can’t be just as sudden,” he said.
“That’s the idea,” Kelley said, dropping the heel of his hand on the table. “‘Sides, they’ll be too busy to even be around. I wanta see another tent set up closer to the railroad so we can get more money from them gandy dancers. Two tents. One full o’ women an’ the other full o’ booze an games.”
“That’s chicken feed, Bull,” Spencer interjected. “If we set quiet an’ let them work on each other they’ll forget about us. Then we can step in an’ take some o’ the big ones. Maybe a payroll or two. Hit the banks an’ the railroad all to once. Then we just drift outta the country.”
Kelley rubbed his unshaven face with his large hand. “Yeah, that’d work, too. You work on that Frank, but while you’re doin’ it, work on the other. Find a place to set up them two tents. And send some boys up into the
Big Bend country. There’s
some o’ them dirt washers up there got gold in their cabins. And a few of us
best work on makin’ sure this disagreement doesn’t end too soon. Yeah, we might
just drift outta here all right, but while them lawmen is squabblin’ we’ll
strip the country.”
Spencer’s face retained it’s usual lack of expression as he looked at Kelley’s scowl and Myer’s devilish grin. He shrugged his resignation and said, “Whatever you want, Bull.”