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Monday, March 10, 2014

ELLIOTT JOHANSON Chapter two Rustlers

 
Herd of Cows
 
"The issue has been dealt with,” were the only words Sid said to the sheriff concerning the men that killed El’s folks.  The sheriff said in return “That’s good.”  
 
Sid and El rode back to the fort and El went to return the carbine he had borrowed, but the wrangler he got it from said, “Just keep it you might need it again.”  He went on; “I have won several of them playing cards and don’t need it.”
 
Sid said, “My duty here at the fort is done so El will be living with me.  We just need to decide what we want to do.  It is either work the farm or find something else to do.”
 
El said, “I have had enough farming, but if we could sell the farm and find a ranch with plenty of grass and water I wouldn’t mind ranching.”
 
Sid said, “That sounds good to me for I can’t see myself walking behind a plow for a living.  He said our best bet is to find a ranch that could use a couple of hands and see what happens from there.”
 
One of the soldiers told Sid about such a place where the owner was in need of some help.  Every time his herd was getting built up rustlers would steal a good part of them. He added, the owner might not be able to pay you much but he will give you a place to sleep and feed you well.”
 
Sid said to El, “This sounds like the place we need to check out.”
 
It was around two hundred miles east of the fort so it would take a couple or three days to get there unless they rode the train.
 
Sid said he wanted to get the lay of the land so they would just ride and give their horses some needed exercise.   Out about a day’s journey, they met some unsavory characters pushing about fifty head of cattle.
 
Sid looked at the brand and it matched the brand the soldier had drawn for him.  The soldier had told Sid, “When you see cattle with this brand you will know you are on the right ranch.”
 
Sid told El to ride over and get behind a tree and draw down on the one who seemed to be in charge.  He then went over and braced the perceived leader and asked, “You boys got a bill of sale for these cattle?”
 
The big man said, “Who’s asking?”
 
Sid said, “The foreman of the bar eleven,” which was the brand on the cattle.
 
The man said, “We just found these cows running loose and we were returning them to the bar eleven.”
 
Sid’s hand was on his six shooter, and loosened it in the holster before he said, “Seems to me like you are heading in the wrong direction aren’t you?”
 
The man said, “We might have got confused last night.”
 
Sid said, “Well you better hit the road before I get the wrong idea and someone gets hurt.”
 
For a minute it looked like the man was going to draw, but El from behind the tree put a bullet in the chamber of his carbine and the man heard the sound he had heard many times before and said, “We’ll just be on our way and let you tend to the herd and they left in a gallop.
 
Sid said, “Start heading these cattle toward the ranch while I tail these hombres to make sure they don’t double back.”

A couple hours later Sid returned and said, “Those boys left in a dust cloud and I don’t think they will be drifting back.”
 
The next day they were nearing the ranch house and the rancher met them saying, “How did you get these cattle away from those thieves?”  
 
Sid said, “It wasn’t much trouble, we just told them to vamoose.”
 
The rancher said, “I was afraid to brace them for I didn’t want them to hurt the family. They had threatened to harm them if I tried to stop them.”
 
“Where is the rest of your herd?” Sid asked?
 
The man said, “Let me get my horse and I will show you and I’ll help you move these cattle to where the main herd is.”
 
After we joined the herds together we returned to the man’s house and washed up.  The man’s wife had prepared a good meal for us and we were ready for it.  
 
Afterward Mayfield the ranch owner, told us what had been happening and how he had run out of money and had to let his ranch hands go.  This left him open to anyone who wanted to steal his cattle.
 
He and Sid talked for a good while and then Sid said, “You need a partner.  I will give you enough money in advance to hire a couple of new hands and along with me and El we should be able to keep things together until it is time to market part of the herd.”
 
The man started rubbing his chin and saying things under his breathe which wasn’t understandable but didn’t sound hopeful.
 
After rubbing his chin until it was red he said, “Okay.  I guess half a ranch is better than no ranch for if these rustlers keep at it I will lose the place.”
 
Sid drew up a new deed and said, “Tomorrow we will go to town and record this new deed and hire three hands.  Have the women clean up the bunk house and get ready to feed our new hands.  
 
The last thing we need to do is to go to the general store and load up with everything we were going to need including a lot of ammunition.  Things are going to change at the bar eleven.”
 
As El started out of town the stage was coming in, he said, “Go on ahead, I will catch up in a minute.”
 
He went into the stage office and asked if the stage went to the fort and the stage manager said yes it did.  He told the manager he wanted them to bring his dog with them on the next trip and to let him know when it would be here.
 
The manager said, “The stage goes to several out of the way to towns where the train doesn’t go and takes three days.”  
 
He said he could telegraph the train depot and have him put the dog on the next train to bring him to town.
 
El said, “I’m paying for my dog like a passenger so he rides inside and someone will have to look after him for he has been hurt and will still be sore.”
 
El paid the fare and gave him five dollars extra and asked, “When will he be here?”
 
The man said, “The train will be here tomorrow morning.”
 
El said, “Good, I will be here to pick him and he better be well cared for or someone will have to answer to me.”
 
The manager started to laugh at that until El plopped the shotgun on the counter.
 
The man said, “I will see to it that your dog rides first class.”
 
To be Continued

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