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Saturday, March 15, 2014

ELLIOT JOHANSON STORY Chapter 6 Free Loaders

We Just Need a Meal and Place to Sleep
The winter wasn’t too severe but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t below freezing. Every few days some rider would come along and want a place for the night and something to eat.
 
Most of the time it would be someone Mayfield knew from the past.  They knew he was good for some food and a place to bunk till the weather let up.
 
Then one night a man and a woman stopped by and wanted to sleep in the barn.  They were half frozen so Clara told them to come on in.  She gave them some hot broth and told them to warm themselves by the fire.
 
El had gone to bed but Sid was still up playing checkers with Mayfield.
 
After the two people thawed out the man said we can go to the barn if it is all right. Clara said, “No, you sleep by the fire and if it starts to burn out add some more wood to keep it going.”
 
As it got later Sid said, “I need to tell you, do not bother anything for if you do it will be my responsibility to deal with the matter.  Since I’m a tracker there is no way you could get away from me; just so as you know.”
 
The man said, “We wouldn’t think of it.”
 
The next morning Clara had breakfast cooking on the stove when El got up and came into the kitchen.  When he saw the man and woman he went back into his room and came back with his holster and gun on his hip.
 
Clara said, “These folks needed a place to stay for the night.”
 
El grabbed some food and went to the barn where Mayfield was.  “You see them folks?” Mayfield said? “What do you think about them?”
 
El said, “They will be like the itch, hard to get rid of.”
 
Mayfield went into the house and told the people to be on their way as soon as they had eaten.  The man thanked him for his hospitality and said he would hook up his team and leave but you know my sister isn’t well.  If she could stay for a couple of days he said he would come back and get her. Mayfield was going to say no but Clara spoke up and said it would be okay, but just the woman who hadn’t said a word so far.
 
The man left and Sid followed him for a couple of miles to make sure he was really leaving.  It was a week later and the man hadn’t returned for the woman who lay in bed most of the time with Clara or Lucy waiting on her.
 
Sid had enough of Lucy having to play nursemaid so he went to town to find the man. He saw the man’s rig at the blacksmith’s place and he asked about the man.
 
The blacksmith said the man came by a week ago and sold him the whole outfit for a cheap price and took the train heading east.
 
Sid picked up a few supplies and headed home.  He wasn’t in a very good mood when he got there.
 
The man was gone and chances of Sid finding him were slim.  He wasn’t about to chase him all over the east coast.  The woman still hadn’t spoke since she got there, just nodding her head when asked a question.
 
Sid went into Lucy’s bedroom where the woman was and jerked the covers off of her and said, “Start talking.”
 
She realized that Sid wasn’t ready to put up with any foolishness so she said, “That man was my husband, not legal like but we lived like it was.  He left me a note saying he might not be back.”
 
Sid asked, “Do you know where he went?”
 
She said, “To his mama’s place in New Jersey.”
 
Sid said, “Get dressed, you are leaving.”
 
A few minutes later she was ready.  Sid had told Mayfield to saddle up another horse for he had rode his to town and back already today and he needed to be rested.
 
Mayfield brought the horse around and Sid said, “We are going to ride double and I won’t be back until tomorrow.”
 
An hour later Sid was down at the smithy’s and told the woman to get anything of her’s that she wanted out of the wagon.  He told the blacksmith that he paid far less than the outfit was worth so he could afford to buy a ticket east for the woman.
 
The Smithy didn’t like the idea at first but decided it would be for the best.
 
Sid said, “Give her a little money for some baloney and bread to eat on till she arrives to where she is going.”  
 
The train was due to leave in an hour so Sid took her first to the store to get some vittles and then to the depot.  He made sure she was on the train when it left and gave the ticket to the conductor and told him, make sure she don’t get off.  
 
Sid was tired out and after putting his horse up at the stable he ate at the town’s best eating joint, and got a room above the saloon.
 
It was a little late when Sid got up the next morning and while he was having breakfast El came in.  He wanted to know why El had come to town. El said, “To make sure your girl friend left town.”
 
He started to laugh as Sid started to tell him what had transpired between the time they left the ranch and when he got her on the train.
 
El said, ‘Never mind all that, I have decided to build me a room adjoined to the ranch house.  That place is getting crowded and my room is too small.”
 
He said, “I’m going to order the windows and all the other material I will need.”
 
Sid said, “That is a good idea.  I think I will do the same thing only I want a separate house for me… and maybe some one else.”
 
“That someone else wouldn’t be named Lucy would it?”
 
Sid said, “That’s for me to know.”
 
El said, “I saw the two hands we let go and they aren’t doing very good so I hired them to work on my room.  I have already marked the trees for logs and tomorrow we will start cutting them down.”
 
Sid said, “Why don’t you just move into the bunk house, there is plenty of room in there?”
 
El said, “The food those ranch hands eat make for an unpleasant aroma in there and half of them snore so bad they vibrate the windows.  No I don’t want to mingle with them guys.”
 
El had the hands load the wagon while he had breakfast with Sid and they headed for the ranch.  On the way to the ranch Sid saw some tracks off to the side of the road and said, “I’m going to take a look, you go ahead, and I’ll catch up.”
 
El said I didn’t see them when I came to town so it must have just happened.
 
Sid followed the tracks a short distance and found a young steer with Sanders brand on it.  The tracks looked like a pack of wolves had taken the steer down and killed it and just started to eat it.
 
Sid caught up with El and told him what he had found and told him to keep an eye out. He was going over to Sanders’ place and tell him what he had found.
 
When Sid arrived at Sanders he told him what he had found and that most of the meat was still good because it had quick frozen. Sanders said he would get the boys and retrieve it and then track the pack of wolves down and kill them.
 
Sid asked if they wanted him to go with them and they said, “No they could handle it.”
 
Sid said, “If for some reason the wolves get away from them to let him know for they may be headed over to his place.”
 
About a mile from the ranch El and the hands he hired saw a horse being chased by a pack of about twelve large wolves.  When the horse saw the wagon he turned and headed down the road toward El as fast as he could run.
 
El had his rifle out in a second and was knocking the wolves over as fast as he could lever the shells into the chamber.  There were only two wolves left when the rifle was empty.  He quickly drew his six-gun and shot the other two for they were in the pistol’s range.
 
One of the hands said, ‘Just wait till we tell everybody about this shooting, I’ve never seen anything like it.”
 
El said, “No, you won’t tell anyone for someone might want to see if he could out shoot me and one of us might get killed.”
 
He told the hands to drag the wolves away from the road so they didn’t stink when people rode by.  When they arrived at the ranch El said, “Put the wagon in one of the sheds to protect our goods and then come to the house and Clara will feed you.  And oh yes rub the horses down and feed them.”
 
A little later Sid came in and said, “I see you met up with the wolf pack.”
 
El said, ‘Yea they were so intent on trying to bring down one of our horses they didn’t see us.”
 
Sid said they don’t usually come down this far in winter but I suppose it would be a good idea to carry our guns with us just in case some more do the same thing.
 
When Sid saw the new hands he asked if they got any of the wolves and they said no. They didn’t have a gun for they had to sell them to eat on for they didn’t find much work in town.  If El hadn’t come along things were going to be bad the rest of the winter.
 
Sid also told them not to mention that El had killed the wolves for he didn’t want the publicity.
 
To be Continued

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