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Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Fourth Man - Chapter 13

It Needs Work but it is Ours

A man of property

Just before Billy was to return to school Les called him down to the corral and said, “You know the old Johnson place?”

Billy said, “Yes it’s a real nice spread.”

Les said, “I just bought it and I’m giving it to you. You are going to have to fix it up and run it yourself for it’s yours to run. While you are in school you’ll need a foreman to oversee it but when you are home you will be in charge. Do you know who you would want for a foreman?”

Billy said, “Yes, Slim is one of the best man for the job. He should have been foreman on someone’s ranch already.  He had his own ranch before till the drought and rustlers cause him to lose it.”

Les said, “I think you are right, he is the man for the job. I’m going to let you hire him for you have to start making your own decisions right away.  

Since you have to leave for school I’ll help Slim get things in order and keep an eye on the place till you get out of school.”

Billy went to the Bartlett’s and got Mamie to go with him to his place.

She said, “It needs a lot of work but we can do it.”

Billy thought, “This twelve (almost thirteen) year old girl is talking like we are married already and I haven’t even got around to courting her yet. She acts as if we were going to skip that part.”

Back to school

With Slim in charge of the Billy ranch as it was now called; Billy returned to school.

Mamie had figured out how they could be together more than just the joint dances. She went and told the director of her school that she and Billy were engaged and needed to spend time planning their future. She said it would be better to give them time together than for her to have to slip around and have the other girls want to do the same as she was doing.

She produced a letter from her parents (Which she had written) saying that they were indeed engaged and it was alright for them to spend a limited time together.

Let them know we are a couple !
She told Billy to let it be known that they were a couple for it would save her a lot of trouble. There were several girls who liked Billy and Mamie wanted it to be known he was already taken.

One of the teachers objected saying she is hardly a teen and she was too young to be engaged.

Mamie assured the director that she was already a woman and that settled that issue.

She told Billy about what the teacher did and how she convinced the director the teacher was wrong.

Billy didn’t understand what she was talking about but didn’t say anything to the contrary.

With Mamie’s help Billy got top grades in school and he also got the top marksmanship award for shooting.

The instructors tried to convince Billy to join the army for they were sure he would make a good leader in the service, but he said he was a rancher with his own ranch which he was destined to run.

Mamie was happy with the way things turned out and she bossed Billy around much of the time.

She knew when to back off and enjoyed the game she was playing.

Billy didn’t care if she was bossy for she always made good decisions. He thought about some of the wives the farmers and ranchers had and felt that if in fact they ended up as man and wife he would be very lucky to have her.

By the end of the school year Billy thought of the years ahead and how long it would be before they were going to be marrying age and that was going to be a burden to bear… the waiting.

The next two years did pass.

In school a few months and back to the ranch for a few more. At school they were together as much as they could be much to the chagrin of Mamie’s teachers.

She constantly talked about her man and that he was hers. The other girls wanted to know everything they did when they were alone.

Truth was we studied a lot
Mamie couldn’t resist making up some racy stories for them. She couldn’t let them down by telling what really happened which was mostly studying and planning for the future.

Slim the ranch foreman wasn’t a letter writer so Billy had to get Jim to check and see if Slim needed anything and then have him tell his Mom (Sarah) to write and tell him how everything was.

This was the long way around but at least Billy knew how things were.

Mamie would talk about making curtains and taking the quilts she had made while in school with them for their ranch house.  She always talked in the we sense for she considered themselves to be already married except for a few particulars.

The teachers were glad to be shed of them for it meant one less problem they had to deal with.

The other kids

With Billy pretty well situated Les and Sarah’s attention was turned to the other children.  Missy was almost twelve with James eight and Caroline four.

Chen and Mai had a girl child of their own now and the children all mixed together. Jones and Lila had a couple of kids by now and Jim and Lily had one. The place was over flowing with children.

It was decided that when the school year session began, they would hire the school teacher to come and teach all the children on the ranch.  This would also include a number of kids from the surrounding ranches and farms.  Doing this would mean that Mamie and Billy could continue their last year studies at home and Billy could run his ranch at the same time.
He wanted to raise Hereford cattle on his ranch after seeing them.  Les went along with the idea after having Jim to investigate the breed and the success ranchers had with them. He and Billy picked out fifty head and brought them to the Billy Ranch.

He also bought an extra bull to try a cross breed version on one of Les’s ranches.

Missy was getting into boys and Les wanted Billy to talk to her about the dangers of encouraging them too much.

Billy said, “I don’t know what I can say that you haven’t already said, but I will get Mamie to talk to her for they are pretty good friends now.”

Les was somewhat concerned about James.  By this age Billy already had a gun on his hip but James seemingly had no interest in guns at all.  He does ride some but has no interest in being a cowboy.

Les figures he might be a banker or something like that. It looks like Caroline is going to be the smartest of the four.  She can do her figures and writes poetry already. Her stuff is simple and insists Sarah write down what she makes up and tells her to write. She then wants some body to read it back to her later on and then she wants to edit it.
Well so goes the Riley ranch life.

To be Continued

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