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Sagas of the Wild West
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Mature Content: No


With: Wayfarer's NPC Evergreen ranch hands
Location: Bunkhouse
When: August, 1875
Time of Day: Morning




Brendan yawned sleepily and rolled over in bed, clumsily kicking the covers down toward the foot of the bed. It was about time to get up, but he didn't want to. He never wanted to. But it had to be done if he wanted to eat. And he most definitely wanted to eat. His stomach growled as if his thinking about eating had made him hungry all of a sudden.


He propped himself up on one elbow and peered over the edge of his bed. He'd taken the top bunk since the bottom was already occupied by another Evergreen hand. Until he could get a feel for how the ranch worked, he wanted to tread carefully around the other hands. No one else seemed to be awake yet.


He groaned inwardly and pushed himself up, climbing down the ladder carefully and avoiding the one creaky slat, then stepped first into his trousers and then into his boots. He let his suspenders hang down for the time being because there was really no need for them yet.


He quietly opened the door to the bunkhouse, then looked back inside at the still-slumbering occupants and slammed the door loudly. Biting his lip to keep from smiling, he sat down on the stoop and looked out at the ranch. So much for treading carefully.

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From inside the bunkhouse, Brendan probably heard a few gripes and cursewords from a few of the hands who might have awakened from the door slamming like that. But most slept right thu it, when you work as hard as a typical cowhand you get tired and it takes a lot to disturb one's sleep. The newcomer was wrong though in his assumption everyone had been asleep.  As Connelly sat there pondering, the cowhands' outhouse door creaked open and out came one of the cowpokes.


Billy was buttoning his trousers, the lone item of clothing he had on, he was also barefoot. But then it was August and certainly wasn't about to sleep in the long underwear he wore during colder times. He had gotten up a bit earlier than Brendan but had been more quiet about it. He had learned not to irritate some of the hands, a wise habit considering his youth compared to the other men. Billy was eighteen but didn't even look that, he still hadn't even needed to shave thus far. Which didn't bother him none, seemed like a mess of effort. And Billy had always been a bit on the lazy side.


As he then padded back toward the bunkhouse, he couldn't help but notice the jasper sitting there on the front steps. The newest hand....he had heard the foreman mention the guy's name but in all honesty forgot what it was. Nonplussed though, for Billy was - especially for Evergreen cowhands - a good natured friendly sort, he lifted one hand in a 'hi' gesture.


"Mornin', gonna be another scorcher I reckon, still beats to hell a Montana winter don't it?" he grinned.



(ooc: Ignore the blood trickle, best pic I could find that fit. He's in fine health  :)

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Brendan was still grinning at the curses he heard when the door to the outhouse creaked. He looked up to see who had woken up before him. It was Billy. Or was it Benny? Somethin' with a B at the beginning, like his name.


Whatever his name was, Brendan was struck once again by how young the man looked. Looked like he shouldn't be working on a ranch by himself. But at least he was friendly, waving and making a comment about the weather. Brendan raised two fingers to the side of his head in a sort of salute and scooted to the edge of the stoop so he could see the sky.


"Think you're right about the scorcher, but I don't got ex-per-i-ence with Montana winters. This'll be my first." He broke the big word up into little bits so they would come out easier. 


He glanced at Billy's bare feet and lifted one side of his mouth. "Brave walkin' across the yard like that. Don't you know snakes like to hide in outhouses?" His tone was light and teasing so his words wouldn't come across the wrong way. It didn't matter how tough a man's feet were; they were no match for a rattler's fangs.


Billy chuckled, "Oh yeah. Well, you are in for a real unpleasant surprise when the cold starts rushing in and the snow piles on us. I hate the winter and I was born in Montana."


Billy listened to the warning, unsure if the man was serious or not but if the point was to scare the kid, it didn't work.


"Rattlers? I been here a couple years now, this was my first job and never saw no rattlers around the outhouse. Why they're probably too smart to stand the stink of the place. Speakin' of which, you don't wanna go in there for a bit...well, you know," he smiled.


He moved closer then, itching one armpit as he did so, "Hey, sorry but I forgot yer name. I'm Billy. I got a last name too but no one ever cares about that."


Brendan didn't like the sound of Montana winters. Being buried in snow was not something he wanted to think about this early in the morning. His grin faded a bit, but grew again when Billy warned him away from the outhouse for a while.


"Much obliged. I'll steer clear for a bit." He started to pull one suspender over his shoulder, but let it slide back down lazily.


And there was the answer to the cowboy's name. Billy. Brendan chuckled. "Billy, huh? I'd forgotten yours, too. Mine's Brendan. What's your last name?"


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It didn't surprise Billy none that the man had forgotten his name, most of the ranch hands didn't pay him much heed or treat him with much respect, probably because they viewed him still a boy.  He wasn't though, he looked younger than he was, not that he could control that. Least this one seemed nice enough so far.
"Brendan...huh ... first person I ever met with that name," Billy declared, now a bit puzzled why the man wanted to know his last name? He was positive there were no warants out for him. Even though he had done a few thiings already in his life which would justify such a thing.  But then working for the Steelgraves, most of the others could say the same thing. That family was as crooked as they come. But a job was a job.
"It's Taylor.... Billy Taylor," he decided to answer though.
"Hey, you get assigned any job yet for today? Me n' Greer are gonna go ride the property line lookin' for strays and seein' nobody is trespassing on Evergreen land. You should go with us. You are gonna have to learn where the the property lines are, ya know?" he offered.
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"Billy Taylor. Well, I'm Brendan Connolly."


Brendan flashed a grin. Billy reminded him a little of his younger siblings, and he was drawn to him because of that. It had been lonely, working his way west and not having any connection to his family back in Virginia.


His grin changed to a thoughtful look as Billy suggested riding the property. It was a good idea, learning the property lines. And if he went with Billy and Greer, there'd be less chance of him accidentally crossing the property lines before he knew who owned what. 


Even though he didn't much like Greer from what he had seen of the man, it would be nice to get to know the hands better. There wasn't much you could tell from seeing a bunch of men sleeping in bunk beds, which was about all he'd seen so far.


"Nope. Not a thing, so far. I'd be glad to come with y'all. We've gotta get Greer up first, though. And maybe get some coffee in us, too."


He'd become nearly completely dependent on coffee during his time as a cowhand, and rarely started a morning without it.


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"Just call me Billy though, I don't use my last name much," the young man asked with a shrug of bare shoulders.


Brendan accepted his idea so Billy nodded, "Good! As for Greer, you let me get him up. I know how to handle 'im. He's kinda touchy sometimes."


"Plus, I best be puttin' some clothes and boots on - especially if yer seein' rattlers," Billy chuckled, he obviously wasn't too concerned about that news.




It was about a good hour before the trio had eaten, saddled their horses, and headed on out of the ranch proper. Brendan would easily notice the difference in the two other riders. Whereas Billy had been openly friendly, good natured, Greer sullenly nodded when they were introduced and about the only statement he had to make to the newcomer was,  "And you better do what we tell ya to. We know the ropes around here, you don't."



That only brought a laugh from Billy.


"Didn't I tell ya," he glanced at Brendan.


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Brendan chuckled, even though the idea of taking orders from Greer and Billy was not an appealing one. Billy because he was younger, and Greer because...well...something about Greer just got his hackles up.


"Sure, you know the ropes," he agreed lightly, winking at Billy.


He was fine to go along with the two cowboys for now, as long as they didn't make him do something stupid or humiliating. They wouldn't be the first two hands to try that on a new hand. But he thought he was experienced enough to sniff out any trouble before they got him into it.


He inspected the ranch as they rode, trying to spot places were strays might like to hide. Evergreen was a fair-sized property, from what he could tell. It would be important to know the property lines so he didn't end up trespassing on someone else's land.


"You mentioned trespassers?" he asked after a bit. "You get a lot of those 'round here?"

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The ride was uneventful for quite some time, Billy doing most of the talking but that was normal, Greer was not very social even at the best of times. He explained locations of certain landmarks to help the newcomer get acclimated to boundaries and such.


"You mentioned trespassers?" Brendan asked after a bit. "You get a lot of those 'round here?"


"Nope, most folks ain't that stupid. Evergreen has a reputation ya know?  The Steelgraves are fearful sorts to tangle with," Billy answered, he wondered if the newcomer had noticed yet that a sizeable number of the Evergreen hands could easily be taken for gunmen, much more so than your usual cowpoke ranch crew. A few of them wouldn't be able to rope or brand a calf or many other typical duties.  It was those men which made the Steelgraves a family to be feared.


"I kilt a trespasser once," Greer announced suddenly.


Billy smirked, "You did not, you took a shot at one. You missed."


"You don't know that now," Greer glared.


"He rode off, didn't he?" Billy pointed out.


"Probably bled out later. Like when ya hunt deer, they don't always go down right off," Greer contended.



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"Uh-huh..." Brendan nodded slowly, thinking about whether he fit with the reputation of the Evergreen ranch. He'd met more of the hands than the actual Steelgraves themselves so far, but the hands definitely had a reputation. He wasn't sure that he liked it, but he would stick around and see if things looked up.


Brendan smiled at the back and forth between Greer and Billy. Even though they were talking about a human being, it was humorous. Suddenly he was glad he was here. Maybe someday he'd have a good enough relationship with one of the hands that they could go back and forth like that.


He inserted himself into the argument, pushing his hat back on his head a little and raking his fingers through his forelock to banish a few drops of sweat from his forehead. Billy had been right: it was going to be a scorcher.


"Well, if ya didn't see 'im go down and ya didn't track him, ya can't really say you kilt him, can you? Winged 'im, maybe."


Acknowledging that Greer probably hit the guy was a good step in his mind, but like Billy, Brendan doubted the trespasser had actually died. It might not help Greer's opinion of him, but that couldn't be helped.


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Greer did not appreciate the new hand disagreeing with his version of the event, figured that he would take up with Billy.


"You weren't there so you can't have no say in it. I know what I saw, I hit him right between the shoulders. He would never have lasted very long. I hit what I aim at," Greer snapped.


Billy laughed "Sure ya do, pard."


"Let's talk about something else goddammit!" Greer insisted, "besides trespassers."


Billy figured he had razed the man enough so decided to do just that - change the subject. And that gave him an idea, hopefully Greer would go along with it. He turned to Brendan.


"Well, we do have us a farm comin' up soon. Borders the lake and right between the Evergreen property and the Lost Lake land.  The people there are squatters but so far Mr. Steelgrave has allowed 'em to stay there out of the goodness of his heart," Billy explained.


"We get along with 'em just fine. You should meet 'em actually."


Greer got it, amazingly enough, and nodded, "Yeah, you should. Be right neighborly it would."


They just needed the new man to agree. This could turn out to be quite the joke alright.

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