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Monday, February 9, 2015

The Fourth Man - Chapter 23

Branding the Cattle

Long hot summer

The summer looked to be a busy time for the Riley’s with the cowhands rounding up the cattle for branding and castrating the young bulls.  
Of course they were dipped for ticks and other parasites and checked for wounds. Then it would be time to cut out the cattle that would be shipped to market after being fattened up.

The horse ranches were doing a similar task along breaking the horses for riding. The mares and stud horses had been busy and there were a good number of colts coming on.

The farms produced a good crop for the first year and by summer there would be a lot of work needing extra hands.  Les had put up a cannery to can several kinds of food stuffs for the coming winter and sold quite a bit to the nearby towns.

Several ladies from town came and worked in the canning process and took food for their labor.  
One thing followed another and when one task was finished the workers could take over another job.

The cowhands complained the most because they felt other labor was beneath them.

Les told they could either take the jobs that were available or take their pay and leave. Almost all of them stayed on and didn’t have to ride the grub line.

It appeared that buying the land and the machinery had been a good investment.

As winter approached Sam and Alf thoughts turned once again to the young girls, Caroline and Cherri Leng.  

James saw that this could lead to some trouble for the girls were acting up.

He told Alf and Sam to make whatever repairs that were needed on the steam engines and then go visit their family for the winter.  They grumbled about it but in the end they left and went home.

Absence makes the memory grow weaker

Two Brides
Two months later James got word from Alf and Sam that they would be returning in time to get everything ready for the next year’s crops and would be bringing their new wives with them.
It hadn’t taken long for the guys to forget about Caroline and Cherri Leng.

There were some farm houses on the farm land James had bought so he wrote back and said they better come early and leave their wives at home.  They needed to fix the houses a bit and the wives could follow in three weeks. Again there was some grumbling this time by the wives but they did it James’s way.

Adjustment time for the wives

When the wives arrived and saw the houses they both said this place needs a lot of fixing up.

After seeing the guys new wives Caroline and Cherri Leng were a little disappointed and relieved at the same time.

James said, “Well if you don’t get the pup you wanted this time there’ll be another litter in a little while.”

The girls finally got what he meant and laughed and I said, “I guess we missed those dogs didn’t we?”

Alf had married a Swedish girl Carin that was very strong, but Ginny the gal Sam married was a bit fragile.  It was soon obvious that the country life was going to be difficult for her.  
Sam said he needed to get some help for her and he wanted to hire Cherri Leng.

James said, “No that wouldn’t work for she was much too pretty to work for him,” and Sam got his meaning.  

James said, “Betsy and I am going to town in the morning and I’ll take the two wives with us and we’ll find you an older woman to help Ginny.”

The trip to town was a gab fest for Betsy wanted to know all about how their wedding came about.  Betsy had talked to Mai about getting a helper for Ginny and told her they didn’t want someone too young and attractive just a good worker.

Mai said, “I know who you want.  My cousin has only been in America for a year and doesn’t speak English very well but understands everything you tell her. Once you show her what to do she has no trouble doing it the next time.”

Betsy told James, “ I think I have the right woman for Ginny.”

After they interviewed the woman Wu Leng, James said, “She looks good to me but it is up to Ginny to choose.”

Betsy took Ginny aside and said, “This woman fills the bill on the main count and that is she is in her thirties and isn’t pretty so Sam won’t be tempted to… well you know.”

Ginny said, “I well give her a try out and if she does her job then she’s my woman.”

James told the woman that there will be someone here tomorrow to pick you up and bring you to the farm.

After the first week Ginny was convinced the woman completely satisfied her and was going to work out just fine.

Sam felt relieved because he was afraid that Ginny wasn’t going to survive the harsh life on the prairie.

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