In this weekend's game, we had a trio of stories.
First, Deputy Jeff Young went off to the countryside to look for Dirty Dave Rudabaugh. He didn't actually know if Dirty Dave had committed any crimes, but assumed he was, and hoped it would be a great opportunity to get himself some more arrests by catching Dirty Dave and his inevitable selling out of his partners.
He found out someone had been robbing stagecoaches out of Hays city, and headed that way to investigate. He learned the name of one of the robbers, and then took a guess as to where they might have headed, hoping he'd find Dirty Dave at the end of it. In the town of Gove he discovered that it was indeed Dirty Dave and his new gang, and after charming a local barmaid, she revealed to him that Dirty Dave was apparently avoiding Cimarron on account that he'd learned in Hays that Clay Allison, one of the most feared gunfighters and gang-leaders of the age, had a beef against certain people in Dodge city (on account of Wyatt Earp having shot dead one of his best men, George Hoyt). And she believed Dave's gang were headed to Elkader instead.
Second, Kid Taylor had run off with Judge Wright's daughter Frances (having secretly gotten full permission to do so by the Judge). He was going to marry her in Elkader. They arrived without incident, but the preacher, suspecting that they'd run off without the girl's father's permission, insisted that they take until the afternoon to think long and hard about the seriousness of marriage. If they were still sure to go through with it, then rather than their living in sin he would marry them after lunchtime.
They planned to go eat at the only dining hall in town, when they heard someone calling for Kid from nearby. It turned out to be Dirty Dave Rudabaugh!
He had been arrested by the town's new hardass sheriff as soon as he'd rode in. Now he was pleading for Kid Taylor to get him out. Kid decided to spring Dave, and as a first step invited both the jailor and sheriff to his wedding. Then he sat down for lunch with his bride-to-be and she asked him why the hell he was planning to risk their wedding for Dave. Kid thought about it, and had admit to her that Dave wasn't even that close a friend, just more of an acquaintance, and that it really didn't make any sense, it was just his first outlaw instinct. But for her, he decided, he'd decline to spring Dave.
Unfortunately, as soon as they left the diner, they ran into the Sheriff, who immediately arrested Kid Taylor. He was suspecting that Kid was part of Dave's gang, and when he learned of the name of Kid's betrothed, he realized that she was the daughter of Judge Wright. He assumed that Kid had fled with her, probably defiled her, and was now seeking to marry her without parental permission. It didn't help that Kid had lied to the jailor and claimed (in a bit of 'man talk') that he'd already deflowered her, which wasn't true.
Kid tried to convince the sheriff that in fact he had Judge Wright's full blessing (which was true) and that Wright had his own reasons for them eloping (he didn't want the rest of the Dodge City Gang to know that Kid Taylor was now working for him and the "Better People"), but the story seemed so amazing that the Sheriff assumed it to be a lie. He threw kid into the jail with Dirty Dave (who assumed Kid had been arrested for trying to spring him). Dave had some hope his real gang would spring him but they never showed, and he soon realized they'd abandoned him and taken all his ill-gotten gains with them.
The next day, Deputy Young came into town after Dave. He found Dave and Kid in the Sheriff's custody, and wanted to get Dave to give his usual confession in exchange for immunity, to hunt down Dave's gang and recover the lost Wells-Fargo money. But the local hardass Sheriff insisted on trying to violently beat Dave to elicit a confession. Young was too inexperience in law to think to defy the Sheriff, but it was actually Rudabaugh (who had gotten quite good at interpreting the law due to his many close-shaves with prison) who pointed out in mid-beating that since his crimes were all done OUTSIDE Elkader, he should be Young's prisoner and not the Sheriff's. The Sheriff was forced very reluctantly to stop savagely assaulting Dave, and release him into Young's custody. Young couldn't really help kid, and disbelieved the story the Sheriff relayed to him about Kid having permission to marry Frances Wright. So he left Kid to stew.
Fortunately for kid, a few hours later the Sheriff got a response to his telegram to Dodge City where he'd informed the Judge that he'd "rescued" Frances from her kidnapper; Judge Wright backed Kid's story and the Sheriff was obliged to free Kid and allow Kid and Frances to marry.
Third: In Dodge itself, in the Palace Saloon, Bill Miller (the security guard) ended up in a confrontation with a drunken rustic named Jed Hinkley, after Jed shot the poker dealer dead (claiming he was being cheated). Bill walked right up to the man exchanging fire, taking a couple of flesh wounds, before pistol whipping him twice into unconsciousness. His astounding (reckless, some would say) display of bravado quickly becomes news throughout the town.
A bit later, news gets out that millionaire brat Spike Kenedy is back in town. A couple of weeks ago he'd tried to assassinate the mayor of Dodge, Dog Kelly, out of jealousy at Kelly being romantically involved with the beautiful singer, Miss Dora Hand (who Spike was infatuated with). Now he'd snuck back into town, and tried to buy another gun, but no one would sell it to him; so he walked up in front of the Alhambra Saloon and challenged the old man to a fist-fight. In spite of being more than two decades older than Spike, "Dog" beats him to a bloody pulp, and Marshall Bassett takes him away for the second time.
Later on, the PCs find out that Jeb Hinkley's mother, "Ma" Hinkley, is actually a well-known gang-leader, and she's come into town with her other two sons, Bull and Zeb. Ma is incensed, not so much that Jeb was arrested as that he let himself be taken alive and was going to be hung for murder, an act that she feels will bring dishonor to the whole family. It's assumed she's planning to free her son, and maybe kill Bill Miller. Bill and his boss, John Miller (no relation) head over to the Marshall's office to offer their assistance. Just then, the news arrives that Doc Holliday (who had been acting more erratically these last few days) had shot the owner of the Gillie bar in the head!
The Marshall runs off to try to deal with the matter, while the Millers keep watch over the Marshall's office.
They find the Hinkleys sneaking into the alley beside the jail, and realize that one of them is carrying a box of dynamite! Heading over there quickly, the Hinkleys realize they've been spotted. A firefight begins, but not all goes as expected. While Bull shoots at the Millers, Ma turns her shotgun on her imprisoned son, choosing to kill him rather than let him stay in captivity. Zeb, meanwhile, lights a stick of dynamite, planning to throw it at the Millers. One of the Millers manages to shoot Zeb's hand, causing him to drop the stick right onto the box of dynamite. The Hinkleys try to flee while the Millers dive for cover. The huge explosion that follows injures Bill Miller and kills Ma and Zeb; Bull survives with serious injuries. Half the Marshall's office is blown to bits; but Spike Kennedy (who was inside) survives mostly uninjured.
It turns out that Doc Holliday didn't actually kill the owner of the Gillie bar, he survived his head wound. But Doc and Big Nose Kate THOUGHT the barman was dead, so they fled town. The lawmen decide it's best not to bother pursuing.
Kid Taylor and his new bride Frances take the scenic route back to Dodge, honeymooning in various small towns. When Kid gets back, his sister Lily warmly greets her new sister-in-law, but Kid discovers a pair of men's underpants that aren't his, and he realizes that while he was away, his sister had been up to no good with her beau, Jim Masterson.
But the consequences of that will be a story for another session.
Currently Smoking: Ashton Old Church Rhodesian + C&D's Bayou Evening