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Friday, February 6, 2015

The Fourth Man - Chapter 22

Harvest Machine
James and his new ideas

James had invited his school friend Alf to come to visit him and Betsy.  Alf was quite taken with her, and told James she is going to be some woman when she grows up.

James said, “I whole heartily agree on that.”

They both laughed about that and then Alf said, “I have all the information you wanted me to bring.”

While at school this last year both Alf and James had been studying steam engines and their uses on the farm.  James had told him there was a lot of land along the river he had his eye on and wasn’t interested in using horses to cultivate it.

They went to look at the land and Alf agreed it had real possibilities. He laid out what machinery they would need and said he would be interested in being a partner with James on the project.

James said he would buy the land during the winter and Alf would buy the machinery. Then in the spring as soon as the ground dried up enough they would be plowing.

The horses will have to go

With the land purchase being finished and the steam engines on its way a horse trader came by and asked, “What is going to happen to all the work horses, for  they won’t be needed anymore?  Maybe we can make a deal and I’ll take them off your hands.”

Alf was in favor of getting rid of the horses for he thought the steam engines would be all they needed. James decided to talk it over with Billy and get his opinion.

Out to Pasture

Billy said, “All of the horses will stay right where they are for they have earned their keep over these years.  We will still need many of them to do the tasks the big engines are too cumbersome to do.  The ones who are not needed will be put out to pasture and can live out their lives there.”

Alf didn’t like that idea but wasn’t ready to go up against Billy.  It was proven later that the work horses were needed even more as time went on.

The equipment arrives

It was an exciting day when the two engines arrived with all of the planting and harvesting equipment. The engines were ready to go but the accompanying equipment had to be hauled to the farms and put together.

Both James and Alf had been trained in the repair of all the machines they would be using but they hired a company man to come with all their new gear.

This young man Sam was no older than James and Alf but knew everything about the equipment and how to repair it.  He also knew what parts that usually would fail and have to be replaced.

After everything was setup and ready for the fields they convinced him to stay on and help run everything.  

Alf said, “I didn’t think we could convince him to stay but we did.”

Betsy was nearby and said, “Before you get carried away maybe you should know that Sam has been eyeing Caroline in an amorous way and that is the real reason he decided to stay.

James said, “He better not try to get too close for she isn’t ready for that kind of courting.  He better not let Les catch him messing with her.”

Betsy said I don’t think Caroline is innocent in all this for she is thirteen and I know the feelings a girl gets at this age.

James said, “I think you better have a talk with her and remind her she still has a lot of growing to do before she is ready to make the next step.”

Betsy said, “Okay I’ll try to slow her down but you know several of us girls were married by the age of sixteen or before and she knows it.”

James said, “I’ll talk to Sam and let him know she ain’t ready for what he has in mind.

There is another thing and that is Les has always said that Caroline is the smartest one of all us kids and he wants her to get a real good education. Going to college and all puts a gal on the edge of being a spinster and I know Caroline isn’t going to go for that.”

Alf said, ‘We are ready to begin the plowing and planting and I think the long hours will cool this fledging romance a bit.”

James said, “Yeah, I know what you mean it slows a lot of things down just ask me.”

James called Sam aside and asked; “Do you have designs on Caroline, I mean in a sparking kind a way.”

Sam said, “What do you mean?”

James didn’t say anything; he just stared into Sam’s eyes.

Sam began to redden and stutter as he said well I do think she is stunning to look at.

James said, And…”

Sam went on and said, “And she is desirable.”

James said, “And…”

Sam blurted out, “I want her in the worst way, I mean in the best way… I don’t know what I mean… I just want her.”

James trying to be kind said, “I know that feeling but it is a controllable feeling and I need to tell you that you better keep it under control. We Riley’s can be a harsh bunch and messing with our women can cost you more than you want to pay.”

Pretty Girl
Sam said, “There must be a way to work this out if you help me.”

James said, “I’m going to help you by telling to get the plowing done and after the harvest is in then we will see if any progress has been made but let me remind you that we are dealing with two issues, one is the age factor and the other is education.

It will take time to solve both of these problems. Les has plans for Caroline and if you have a chance with her you will have to find a way to fit into those plans.”

Then James said, “Now there all several fine specimens of womanhood around here perhaps you need to take another look and forget about Caroline.  
How about a nice, and I mean very nice China girl.  Cherri Leng is about the same age as Caroline and is attracting some attention already. She would overlook the fact you are “Caucasian."

Sam said, “I never considered marrying someone of another race … no I will stick to admiring Caroline.”

Alf had been thinking about the conversation and said, “I also have never thought of considering a wife of another race either though I know several men that have married Indian women.  
Pretty China Girl
I have noticed Cherri Leng and she is very comely and after thinking about it, desirable.”

James said, “Alright you two would be Romeos I don’t want to hear another word about your interest in women until the harvest is over a few months from now.”

Sam said to Alf; “I guess that means we must keep our thoughts to ourselves then.”

Alf said, “That’s okay with me besides I have a lot of work to do and have got to get to it.”  
As he walked away he said to James; “If you see Cherri tell her I think she is fine.”
To Be Continued


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