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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Fourth Man - Chapter 2

Men - Cows Come !
A pleasant surprise

The next afternoon two white men with four Mexicans drove a large herd of cattle to the small lake on the property.

Chen said; “Men, cows here.”

One of the cowboys rode over to where I was standing and said; “Well we made it with very few losses.  The Mexicans want to be paid so they can go visit some relatives in town before they head back south.”

I found out how much they had coming and paid them off with a small bonus.

The other cowboy joined us and said my name is Jim. Then the first one said, yeah, yeah you can call me Jones.

I asked Chen to fix supper and had the men tell me all about them picking up the cattle and the drive to my place.  

After stuffing ourselves we went into the office and I told them I was the new owner and the cows were now mine.

Jones said there is something like five hundred head plus a half dozen bulls.

I judged the guys to be what some call saddle tramps but it seemed that though they were young they could do their job.  I asked what their plans were and they said they had no plans other than to find a job with some outfit.

I asked if they would like to work for me and they both started smiling.  Just one thing and that is can you shoot?

Jim said, “I ain’t much with a hand gun but I never miss with a rifle once it is sighted in.”

Jones said, “I’m good with either one.”

I told them their first job would be to clean out the bunk house and for Chen to give them some bedding.

I wanted to see the herd so I saddled my horse and got ready to ride out to where they were grazing.  Before I went I told Chen on the morrow I wanted him to go to town and hire a cleaning woman that could live with us.

I spent the next day checking the herd over and decided that they were in need of some good pasture.  I wasn’t concerned because it wouldn’t be but a couple of weeks before they were looking like I wanted them to.

I must say that Jimbo knew what he was doing when it came to setting up a good working ranch.  If he had only acted different and paid me off he could be enjoying the fruits of his thievery.

Another (not so pleasant) surprise

I got in about dark and put my horse away after brushing him down and feeding him.

I was ready to eat and called Chen to set the table.  As I waited for my food a small boy appeared and sat down next to me.  He must have been nigh unto three or four years old.

I was speechless but he looked at me and said, “Hi.”

Chen appeared about that time and I asked him, “Where did this child come from.” He smiled and said, “Come from where all children come from, their mother.”

With that I stood up and demanded he tell me what was going on.

He said, “The cleaning woman, she has child.”

I had to ask, “What cleaning woman.”

He answered, ‘You say get cleaning woman so I got cleaning woman.”

“Get her out here; now,” I said.

Shortly a young woman appeared carrying a baby who was fretting and about to cry.

I just stared at her and she said, “She is hungry and needs to be fed.”

I just shouted, “Well feed her or it then.”

She left the room and the noise stopped suddenly.

Chen gave me my food and said; “New boss eat.”

He gave the boy a plate and he began to eat like he was very hungry.

Chen said, “Boy no eat for long time.”

I had pushed my food away from me, but as I watched the boy eat hungrily I began to eat my food along with him.

I asked, “What’s your name boy?”

He said, “William but you can call me Billy if you want.”

By the time I was finished the woman came without the baby and Chen gave her a plate of food.  She started to eat for I could see she was hungry.

I let her eat while I found Chen in the kitchen and asked what was going on.

He looked proudly and said, “I got cleaning woman.”

I said it looks like you got more than a cleaning woman.

He continued saying, “Yes nice family, you got family now new boss.”

“No, no I don’t have family” (I was beginning to talk like him).

With a stern voice I said, “Chen, last chance, explain yourself.”

He said, “No could find cleaning woman except this one.  She need job.  Got to feed babies.”

I could see I wasn’t going to get a straight answer from him so I went to bed and would clear up this mess in the morning.

The next morning I got up and forgot a woman was in the house for I was slightly exposed sleeping in the nude. When she saw me she turned away.

I grabbed my pants and put them on and found myself apologizing to her.

She said, “No never mind,” and started feeding her baby.

I had seen a lot of women nurse their child, but this embarrassed me to see both of her breasts exposed as the baby suckled.  
It was my turn to look away.

I said, “We need to palaver a bit because I didn’t expect to have a cleaning woman with children.”

She didn’t say anything for a while and then quietly said, “I understand I’ll leave but will it be okay if Billy has some food before we leave.”

 I yelled for Chen. “Get in here Chen and feed these folk.”

After he put food on the table I called him outside and chewed him out.

“You make me feel like a bad man running this woman off. Why did you put me in this position?”

He said, “She good cleaning woman and babies need home. They no bother me.”

“Maybe no bother to you but I’m not used to having to have clothes on when I sleep and get up.  I don’t want to have to watch myself all the time.”

Chen smiled and said, “She not bothered for she had man before.”

The straight story at last

I finally gave up and said, “Tell me the whole story as you know it.”

He said, “Sister wife (his married sister) tell me this woman husband no good and throw her out with babies.  

She have no place to stay and need job.  She not bad woman, husband no good and leave her starve.  She work hard, see house already clean and clothes washed.”

That was something I hadn’t noticed or considered. She did have the place clean and my clothes were washed and neatly folded up.

About that time Billy came in to where I was and said, “Hello new daddy.”

That was too much for me, and I told Chen, “She has to go.”

I went out to the barn and was working on some harness and the woman came in and told me she would be leaving and thanked me for their food. She was carrying her baby and Billy was walking along side of her.

Billy said, “Goodbye new daddy,” as they walked off.

I said, “Wait it’s too far for you to walk and carry that child. Wait till someone goes to town with the wagon and you can go with them.”

I could see she was almost crying so I took the baby and walked back to the house with it and put it in a crib like devise Chen had fixed up for it.

The woman lay down on the bed completely drained, and I could see she wasn’t well.

I thought to myself, “I should look up her husband and beat some feeling into him. How he could treat this woman like this, he isn’t human.”

The more I thought about it the madder I got, so I went to town and took Jim with me.  He was a large rawboned man strong enough to pick up a good sized heifer. I told him how I was feeling about her man and he was madder than I was for he had seen her condition and it wasn’t very good.

He said we should stop and have the doctor go to the ranch and check her out.

The reason I had Jim with me was if I found the husband and got started I would probably just shoot the man but with Jim with me he would keep me calmed down.

After asking several people some questions we found him drinking with a saloon girl and having a good time.

Jim shoved me aside and dragged the man out behind the saloon. I made sure no one else came out the back door and the fight was on.

Jim slapped a knife out of the man’s hand (as he had a reputation of being good with a knife) and proceeded to beat the man half to death.

“It will be months before he will be able to get around without help,” Jim said.

I was glad Jim went with me for once he bared his knife toward me he would have been dead instantly.

I felt good about the way things turned out for he needed the beating Jim gave him.

After it was over Jim said, “I feel better now.”

Jim said, “Let’s get the doctor and have a drink before we go home.”

Jim and I got home before the doctor arrived so I checked on the woman. Billy was in the kitchen with Chen and the baby was asleep in bed with the woman.

The doctor arrived and went in and checked the woman over. He came out and said she just needs some food and rest and she will be alright.

Doc said, “I don’t know what to think about a man who would throw a fine woman like her out with her kids.”

Cleaning woman stay

The next day I and the hands worked the cattle in the morning and when we came in for dinner Sarah was up stairs cleaning my room and Billy was trying to sweep the floor without much success.

Chen came over and said; “Cleaning lady stay?”

I said, “Yes Chen, cleaning lady stay at least for a while.” (The doctor’s words were ringing in my ears I don’t know what to think about a man who would throw a fine woman like this out).

The thing of it was; I would be the man who would be throwing her out now.

The next week I took Sarah and the kids to town in the wagon and Jim went along on his horse. He wanted to visit his girlfriend Lily while we did our business.

I took Sarah to my lawyer and she filed for a divorce based upon “Abandonment.”

She had brought Chen’s list and purchased all the goods he wanted along with some other personal things she needed for herself.

I didn’t question her about those things for I knew women needed some things men don’t.  I bought Billy a candy stick and the baby a rubber thing to suck on.

I was glad I didn’t have any friends in town for they would have teased me unmerciful about having a family.

As it turned out people never paid much attention to us even though some knew Sarah had a husband and knew it wasn’t me.

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