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 Git Along Little Dogies (Without Me)

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riders57

riders57

Posts : 554
Join date : 2013-08-24
Age : 62

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PostSubject: Git Along Little Dogies (Without Me)   Git Along Little Dogies (Without Me) EmptySat Aug 23, 2014 11:11 am

Git Along Little Dogies (Without Me)


TEXAS


“There you go, go find your mama.”


Curry pulled away the last branch trapping the calf and watched it hurry off, bawling for its mother.  He straightened and took a long drag from his canteen, grimacing at the acrid metallic taste of the heated water.  Pulling absent mindedly at his shirt, he noted the gusher of sweat pouring down his back.  More flowed from his brow, stinging his eyes.  He put away the canteen and pulled off his bandana to swipe his forehead but dropped the already soaked cloth in disgust.  Instead, Curry lifted his head and pushed his dirty curls away from his face, replacing his hat to hold them back.


Remounting his horse, he stood in the stirrups to check the surrounding country-side.  Finding nothing alarming, he settled into the saddle and narrowed his eyes as he tried to estimate the time from the position of the sun.  He guessed he could start heading back to the small homestead and see how Bobby was doing with the chores around the place.


He sighed.  Lord he was sick of ranching.  Six months he’d been here.  Six months of rarely talking to anyone except Betsy and Bobby.  Six months of unending work.  Then there was the time a couple of months back when he’d sent Bobby galloping as if the hounds of Hell were after him to Palo Duro to get help when Betsy’s time came.  Thank goodness they’d made it back before he had to figure out how to birth a baby.  Cows were bad enough when they calved, but a woman?  Sheesh.  He shuddered, remembering his near panic at the thought that he’d have to do it.  He grinned realizing that Betsy had probably been even more panicked than him at the thought.  Even so, she’d retained her gentle smile, even as spasms of pain doubled her over.


Tex was sure in for a surprise when he got home.  Bet he never expected twins.  Of course, there would be other surprises for Tex when he got home, too, like the new barn.  Heyes, too, would be surprised to learn what his little cousin had been doing.


Curry groaned; not that Heyes was ever likely to know – six months and not a word from Heyes.  Tex had managed to send messages to Betsy from every cow town the herd stopped in, but nothing from Heyes.  Guess he wouldn’t be coming back with Tex.  Well, he was no doubt happy with Rafe, and I don’t need him anyway, Curry thought.  He sighed again, and forced a smile as he saw Bobby riding up from the homestead to meet him.


~~~oOo~~~


“Mr. Curry!  Mr. Curry!”


“Bobby, how many times do I have to tell you to call me Jed?  Or even Kid if you must.  I’m only a couple of years older’n you, and we’ve been together six months now.   No reason to call me Mister.”


Bobby grinned.  “Yeah, I know.  Hey! Guess what?  Uncle Tex is home!”


Curry smiled broadly and let his horse set a quick pace as it headed for its barn.


~~~oOo~~~


He had just finished stowing the tack after grooming his horse when Tex entered the barn, arm wrapped around Betsy and each of them holding a baby.


“Jed!  Sure is good to see you again.  I can’t thank you enough.  Betsy says she doesn’t know what she would have done if you hadn’t come back.”


“Tex.  Good to see you.  How you doin’?  Rest of the trail go smoothly?”


“Yeah, went great, and we got a great price for the beeves, too.”


Curry looked at him searchingly, waiting.  Tex smiled wryly.  “Heyes was fine, Jed, last time I saw him in Cheyenne.  But he didn’t give me any messages for you.”


Curry’s shoulders slumped.  He raised his head, his face tight.  “Wouldn’t expect him to.  What’s done is done.”


Betsy looked back and forth between the two.  In the months Jed had been with her, she’d heard some about Heyes and guessed more than she’d heard.  “Let’s get back to the house, and I’ll make us a feast to celebrate this prodigal’s return.”  She smiled broadly at her husband.


~~~oOo~~~


Supper had been a festive affair.  After the dishes had been washed, Tex took out the gifts he had brought – rolls of dress material for Betsy and a set of silver combs, a tooled leather belt and a knife for Bobby, and even a fine belt buckle for Curry.


“Oh, Tex, you shouldn’t have.  They’re just lovely.  I don’t think I’ve ever had anything this fine in my life.”


“You’re a rancher’s wife now, Betsy, someday it will all be like this.”


“Uncle Tex!  This is swell.  And, and wait’ll you see; Jed’s been teaching me to shoot.  I’m getting real good!”


“Yeah, Bobby – why with another year of practice you might even be able to hit somethin’ on the second try, well third maybe,” Curry teased.


Bobby blushed and laughed.  “I’m not that bad.”


“No indeed.  Tex, you can’t imagine how much help these two fine boys have been,” Betsy started.  “I don’t know what I’d have done without them.  Especially that awful day those men attacked…”


“WHAT?”


“Now, nothing to worry about, dear.  Jed here saved the day, and, and we have a new barn and everything.”


“What happened?”  Tex asked grimly, staring at Curry.


“You remember, Tex, how when we got the herd to Fort Sumner, you were worried because some of Caulfield’s hired guns were hangin’ around town here?”


“I do.”


“Well, not much to tell.  I’d been here about two weeks when they attacked the place.  Guess they figured a woman alone with only two boys to help made an easy target.  Anyway, it didn’t work out quite the way they expected…”


“Uncle Tex, you should’ve seen it!” broke in Bobby.  “There were a lot of them, ten, maybe a dozen or more…”


“Six.”


“Well, anyway, more’n us.  Jed made Aunt Betsy take some blankets and hide in the root cellar; he told me to go over behind the barn and take the shotgun, said not to shoot unless I  had to, but if I had to to aim just above their middle, that with a shotgun I wouldn’t miss that way.”  He gulped and paled.  “He was right.  One came at me, and I did what he said.  It worked.”


Tex turned his eyes to Curry.


“It wasn’t as bad as they make it seem; I kept them from the house and before too long, Luke and some of the Palo Duro hands came up to help chase them off.  But we couldn’t save the barn.”


“Uncle Tex!  Jed held off the six of them for over an hour, all by himself.  He’s amazing!  Luke says no one else coulda done it.”  Bobby turned adoring eyes on his hero.


“Just did what I promised, helped out here, Tex.”  Quietly, Curry muttered to himself, “And I wasn’t about to see another family wiped out.”


Tex turned a pale face to Curry.   “Thank you, Jed.  I… I… Thank you.”


“Yeah, well… Come on, Bobby; let’s head out to the barn.  It’s been a long day, and tomorrow’s gonna come too soon as it is.”


~~~oOo~~~


Tex entered the barn, just as Jed and Bobby rose, yawning.  “Bobby, why don’t you go fetch some water for Betsy then see how you can help her this morning?”


“Sure thing, Uncle Tex.”


The two watched him run off.


“He’s a good kid, Tex.  Seems to love ranchin’.”


“Mmm.  And you?  Do you love ranching?”


Curry looked at Tex.


“Look, Kid, Jed, I can’t thank you enough for all you’ve done for Betsy and me.  If you hadn’t been here…”  Tex broke off.  “I wish I could keep you on, but I just can’t afford it.  I’ll give you some money…”


“That wasn’t our deal, Tex.  You’ve already given me extra with this belt buckle, which I surely do thank you for.  Told you the money you gave me in Fort Sumner and Betsy’s cooking were enough.  Betsy’s a mighty fine cook.”


“Yes, she’s a mighty fine woman all round.  I know the money wasn’t part of the deal, but right now it’s all I can offer.  Gunfights weren’t part of the deal, either.  I want to do this, Kid.  These past few days since I’ve been back, I’ve seen how hard you work.  Anyway, what I was starting to say was I can’t afford to keep you on, but if you want, I’m sure Mr. Goodnight would hire you, permanent like, or any of the other ranchers around here.  They’re all pretty impressed with how you handled those trouble-makers.”


Curry faced him, a half-smile on his face.  “There was a time, back when we first left the home, when that’s what Heyes and I figured we’d do, set ourselves up as ranchers.”  He sighed and looked past Tex.  “We were just green kids back then.  Guess most folks would consider me a kid even now.”  He chuckled.  “They even call me Kid.  Things change.  No, Tex, I don’t love ranchin’.  If I never have to deal with one of those horned devils out there again, I’ll be happy.  Figure now you’re here, I’ll be movin’ on.  Was givin’ you a couple of days to get settled, then I was goin’ to tell you, I’m outta here.”


Tex studied his face.  Finally, “I can see your mind is made up.  What are you going to do?”


“Not sure really, travel some, I guess.  I’m sure I’ll manage, been managin’ for years now.”


“Well, stay a couple more days at least, or Betsy’ll have my hide.  Just remember, you always have friends here.”  Tex turned and walked out of the barn.


Curry stood watching after him for several minutes, before turning back to the chores he was about to start when Tex had arrived.




WYOMING


“Eighty dollars.  Don’t spend it all in one place, Heyes.”  Wilder handed over the young man’s pay and watched him amble over to his companion.  He shook his head at those two, figuring they’d get too drunk tonight and would find themselves waking up with a hangover in the local jail, just like so many of the young drovers when the ride was done.


~~~oOo~~~


Tex walked up to the pair.  “Heyes, I’m heading back to Texas tomorrow, if you want to ride with me.”


Heyes looked at Tex, considering.  He knew Tex had had letters from his wife at some of the stops they’d made.  Yeah, Jed wasn’t a writer, but still you would’ve though…  Not even one message and, for sure, not an “I’m sorry,” or “I was wrong.”  His face hardened.  “Nah, Tex, I’m staying up here.  Rafe and me, well, we have plans.”


Tex shook his head.  “Hope you know what you’re doing, Heyes.”


Heyes watched Tex leave, his expression unreadable, then turned and grinned at Rafe.  “So, now what, Rafe?  Should we go see how much of other folks’ pay we can win?”


Rafe laughed.  “I like your thinking, Heyes.  Tonight let’s play some poker, have a few drinks, maybe find a woman, then tomorrow, tomorrow…”


“Tomorrow we’re outta here.”


“Yeah, tomorrow we’ll go find my cousin.”


“So you’re serious about joining his gang, are you, Rafe?”


“Surely, you’re not having second thoughts?  You could go back to Texas, be like the Kid and spend the rest of your life as a trail hand, a roustabout, eating dust for a few pennies.”


“No.  I’m done with that for good.  I said I’d go with you.  Come on; let’s go find some whiskey.”  Heyes’ face darkened and he strode off.


Rafe watched his angry friend head towards town.  “Wait up,” he called, hurrying to catch up.


~~~oOo~~~


Rafe gulped, looked at Heyes, and squared his shoulders before pushing into the saloon.  He paused to allow his eyes to adjust to the murk then looked around.  Finding his quarry, he turned to Heyes.  “Over there.  I’m pretty sure that’s Jim.”


“You’re pretty sure?  Don’t you know what your cousin looks like?”


“Well, it’s been some years since I’ve seen him, you know.  Anyway, let’s go see.”


The two wove through the crowd to the table in the back where a man sat in the corner, at his ease, an open bottle of whiskey before him.  
Several men were sitting with him, but they obviously took their cues from him.


The man looked at the two young cowboys standing before him.  “Yeah?  You want something?”


“Umm, Jim?  Jim Plummer?”


“Who wants to know?”  The man took a closer look at the two, and his eyes narrowed.  He examined Rafe closely, his eyes widening and a slow smile tilting the corners of his mouth.  “That you, Rafe?”


Yeah, Jim.  I told you I’d look you up when I got to Wyoming.”


“Well, well, well.  You’ve sure grown since last I saw you.  Boys, this is my cousin, Rafe, Rafe Jenkins.  Rafe, these are my men.  Now, what do you and your friend here want?  Need some money?  Is that it?”


“No, no, Jim.  I, uh, thought maybe the two of us could join your gang.”  Rafe gulped.


“Uh, huh.  You did, did you?  You been telling everyone my business?”


“No, but, but I thought Heyes could be a lot of help.  Honest, I haven’t told anyone except him.”  Rafe took a deep breath, almost choking on the noxious fumes he inhaled, but willing himself not to show his discomfort.


Jim Plummer blew several smoke rings from his cigar before he spoke again.  “You name’s Heyes is it?  Heyes what?  How can a kid like you help my gang?”


Heyes had put on his poker face as soon as the conversation started.  “It’s just Heyes.  I figure you can probably use another man on your side, plus I’m pretty handy with locks and safes – used to work for a locksmith.”  He did not back down from Plummer’s scrutiny.


Plummer’s eyes narrowed.  He glared at the two of them then asked a silent question of his men, who were looking back and forth between him and the two young men.  Finally, a big smile lit his face.  “Pull up some chairs, boys, and let us get acquainted with our new members.  Rafe…” he paused.  “Heyes, meet Buck, Kresher, Longbill, and Mac.”


The others murmured greetings, and Plummer waved to the bartender for another bottle of whiskey and two more glasses.  He handed them both cigars.


~~~oOo~~~


Heyes puffed at his cigar and looked speculatively at the other occupants of the table.  Well, it’s a long way from Texas, and at least he wasn’t dealing with anymore danged beeves, he decided.  Could be worse.
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