The following is an excerpt I got a kick out of from Anything Goes, the latest work of historical fiction from one of Montana’s best, Richard S. Wheeler. I was particularly amused considering I was in the storied old mining town of Philipsburg, MT, when I read it. I have a full review of the book — the tale of a traveling vaudeville show touring Montana somewhere in the first decade of the 1900s — coming out later this week in the Indy.
“Firewood’s dear in Philipsburg, Mr. Beausoleil, and it’s a habit in town to get along without it.”
“I will want the building fully heated as soon as possible.”
“Your foot lamps will do it, sir. Light the lamps, and your limelight, and you’ll have plenty of warmth. That and a full house, warm bodies.”
There was some reality in it, but not much. “Mr. McFarland, our contract provides that you’ll supply a house suitably prepared in all respects. And that includes heat.”
McFarland looked annoyed, but finally rang a bell, and soon a lackey appeared. “Start the stoves,” he told the man.
He turned to Beausoleil. “There are two potbellies flanking the stage.”
“I have new acts, and people wish to rehearse, and disease has already damaged my show, sir. We had a death, and the loss of an animal, and that meant two acts down.”
“So I heard. We’re hardy people here, sir. We don’t need all that coddling. Miners are used to having bad lungs, so cold air makes no difference to them. That’s reasonable. I’ll add a firewood surcharge.”
“Surcharge! The contract calls for suitable conditions.”
“You’re in Montana, Beausoleil. What’s suitable here is not suitable for hothouse flowers.”