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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

RANCHO REYES Chapter 8 A Little Confession

Bad Men were After Juan
courtesy pixaban
Juan was up by daylight and the stableman had his horse saddled.  The weather was still chilly in the mornings so Juan pulled his coat tight around him.

He was glad when the cabin came into sight for it was chow time and he was hungry not having anything to eat all day.  He put his horse in the corral and Pepe gave him something to eat.  

When he entered the cabin Senior was stretched out before the fire place and was soaking up the heat.  He wanted to know how things went in Santa Fe and if the girls behaved themselves.

Juan assured him that they were perfect ladies and their brothers were watching over them since he had left.  Senior chatted with him for a while and then asked what was going on for he knew something was up.

Juan said you have treated me very well and I suppose you deserve the truth.

He went on to describe how his family had been given a tract of land much like Senior’s family had been given.  After three generations the local politicians managed to take the land from them.  They resisted of course but with the police power behind the officials they took the land and killed the heirs off one by one.

Juan said he was the only one left and had been on a one man vendetta.

There were only a dozen men left on the other side for Juan had picked them off a few at the time.  Now they were on his heels and he had been hiding out on ranches or wherever he could.

He said I can’t face them all at once, but I get one every so often.  He said I saw one of their family members in town and I am near to be picked off any day now.

Senior said, “You know where you found the herd in the canyon?”

Juan said, ‘Yes.”

Senior said, “I want you to go there and I will send you food and everything else you will need.”  

Juan told him that he appreciated his concern, but he didn’t want to involve Senior and his family in his problems.  

He said, “If I keep on the move I can get them one by one, the only problem is they are sticking close together and I need to get them separated.  I could have got the one in Santa Fe but everyone saw me with your family and I didn’t want to involve the guys and gals.”

After some insistence by Senior, Juan agreed to hide out in the canyon.  A ranch hand brought him a wagon with supplies leaving it there and rode one of the horses and led the other horse back to the ranch.  It wasn’t hard for Juan to get setup with the wagon having food and a bed under canvas.

The next day Senior was waiting for the men chasing Juan to show up.  Around noon twelve men came riding their horses.  Senior invited them to get down and get a fresh drink of water and have a swig off of the jug on the table.  This wasn’t what they expected but they did as he told them to do.

They looked around and saw senior’s ranch hands were carrying rifles and more were showing up each minute.  Upon seeing that, it wasn’t long before they were carrying on a civil conversation.  They wanted to know where was the cowhand who had been living in the cabin during the winter.

Senior said, “He headed out yesterday and you just missed him by a day.”

“Which way did he go?” they asked.

Senior said, “Well he headed south but he could have turned west when he was out of sight.  He said if you have a tracker you won’t have any trouble picking up his trail.”

They said, “We better hit the trail.”  Senior spoke up and said, “I was just going to have a plate of beans and some beef from a yearling steer.  I can’t let you go without feeding you.”

They wanted to get on the trail but Senior prevailed.  The cook filled up a tin plate for each of them with a chunk of bread.  He gave them some more for they were swallowing it down like hungry hogs.  

After eating and a few more swigs on the jug they took their leave and when they were out of sight Senior told the cook to bury what was left of the stew and make sure the hole is pretty deep for he didn’t want any animals or his dog to get at it.

The next morning Senior sent most of his ranch hands out to find the men chasing Juan.  About five miles from the cabin they found them all laying down dead and their horses still saddled.

The foreman said strip them down and put their saddles in the wagon and let’s get them buried.  After a few hours the work was done and they headed back to the cabin.  

Senior told them to split all the bounty (except for the horses and gear) between themselves and to never mention the whole event to anyone.

The following day they packed up and left for the ranch after leaving supplies for the line rider.

He jokingly said I will need some prairie dog poison for it seems we are all out of it.

To be Continued

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