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Sagas of the Wild West
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Trespassing, and Other Such Deplorable Crimes


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Granger trotted off across the range to check on  other night hawks. "Good man Granger. Fair, knows what he's about." Carson explained. "Now, Cookie lays out a good breakfast and a lot of it. Basic stuff, beef steak, biscuits, maybe spuds 'er beans, an' coffee, plenty of that . It's an all you kin eat affair."

 

"Now, Old Man Steelgrave, you may see 'em, you may not. Never can tell about him. Never seen 'em horseback, 'er out on the spread. That's Grangers job an' he leaves it to him to get done. I understand the mans had him a hard time of late an' spend his time drinkin', but that's headsay. You man see 'em, you may not. I ain't never seen the man ahorseback, 'er out on the range at all."

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"Now, Cookie lays out a good breakfast and a lot of it. Basic stuff, beef steak, biscuits, maybe spuds 'er beans, an' coffee, plenty of that. It's an all you kin eat affair."

"That sounds good to me." José replied, perhaps with a little more enthusiasm than would have been appropriate. He could hardly remember what biscuits and steak tasted like.

 

"Now, Old Man Steelgrave, you may see 'em, you may not. Never can tell about him. Never seen 'em horseback, 'er out on the spread. That's Grangers job an' he leaves it to him to get done. I understand the mans had him a hard time of late an' spend his time drinkin', but that's headsay. You man see 'em, you may not. I ain't never seen the man ahorseback, 'er out on the range at all."

"Old Man Steelgrave is the owner, qué no?" José asked, as they pulled up to the cookhouse. "Doesn't come out to check on his men?"

 

He pulled in the reins and slipped off his mount, his boots hitting the dirt with a mild sucking from the watery mud therein. The morning air was just beginning to warm, but still he held the poncho around him, for it would be a few hours yet until it was shirt-and-trousers weather.

The newly-proclaimed ranch hand moved to the door, easing it open and eagerly casting his eyes around at the scene inside.

@Bailey@Flip

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Four other riders were in the the room, eating, they all looked up, grunted a greeting and went back to their breakfast.

 

"Don't mind them. You'll meet 'em all sooner 'er later, but chows on, so we best get to it before he throws it out." Carson said moving to the serving table where the food was steaming. Eggs, potatoes, beef steaks, slabs of fresh baked bread and containers of butter and jam. He took up a tin plate and handed it to Jose. "Time ta strap on the feed bag. Take all ya want, but unless you wanna incur Cookies wrath, eat all ya take."

 

Carson began filling his plate, once done moved to the long table where the others were seated.  and sat down, leaving room for Jose, though the table was long with benches on both sides.

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  • 1 month later...

Brendan stumbled into the cookhouse a few minutes later, sniffing the air hungrily. The morning air was still chilly and the scent of breakfast always seemed to carry further on chilly mornings. He had practically been able to smell the steak from the bunkhouse. He plopped some of everything on his plate and grabbed a cup of coffee before heading to the table where Carson and some other hands were eating.

 

He ate like the other men: elbows on the table with forearms resting protectively around his plate, entirely engrossed in his food. It wasn't until he had drained his cup of coffee and gotten halfway through the foot on his plate that he realized the man he was sitting next to was a stranger.

 

He eyed the stranger's darker complexion and wildly curly hair for a moment while he chewed, then set his tin cup down with a clank on the table. "Who're you?" he asked as he crumpled up the crust on his bread to cram it into his mouth.

 

It wasn't all that friendly a greeting and his tone wasn't warm, but since it was morning, that was probably more conversation than the newcomer had gotten from the other men at the table.

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José lowered himself onto the bench and dug right into the offerings greedily. Despite how simple the meal was, it was variance enough on his usual diet of game and wild plants that it could have tasted like the finest caviar and pineapple. Not that he'd ever tasted caviar and pineapple, but considering how thoroughly coveted it was by the upper classes, he imagined it to be quite good.

 

José hardly paid attention to the men around him as he ate, and that seemed to work well. Newcomers were unwelcome at the best of times, let alone one of his complexion. They seemed to eat with a sense of pragmatism; so that they could have the energy for their work, and the taste came secondary.

 

He had wolfed down several slices of beef by the time that attention finally came his way, and when it did, it was in a similarly utilitarian manner. "Who're you?"

 

José raised his dark eyes from his plate to meet the proponent of his introduction; a suave-scruffy sort of man dressed in a white shirt all marked with dirt, no doubt from his work. He glanced over to Carson, to check that the senior hand was watching in case a fight broke out. He couldn't speak for the disposition of ranch hands, but back in Mexico, the men he rode with could start brawls over the tiniest provocation, then set laughing and joking an hour later.

 

"Martínez." José offered in friendship. "Good to meet you, mister...?"

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"Connolly," Brendan supplied the answer to the man's unspoken question. Martínez was a Mexican name, there was no doubt about it, and the man's accent would have given him away even if his physical appearance didn't scream Mexican.

 

He shoved some eggs onto his fork and into his mouth before continuing the conversation. "You new here?" Obviously he was, but asking such a simple question left room for the person answering to elaborate a bit. Not that Brendan knew any of that. He was just curious and that seemed like the best place to start.

 

And there was another thing that he wanted to know. "You a gun hand or cow hand?" There wasn't much difference at Evergreen, but it was important enough to him that he asked about it. It wasn't that gun hands didn't make good cow hands, but lots of times they didn't. They didn't understand animals because animals didn't really obey guns, and that made them poor hands.

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"Connolly."

"Good to meet you, Mister Connolly." José repeated, returning his attention to the food on his plate.

"You new here?"

In spite of himself, José grinned at the question. "Joined on not half an hour ago, so fairly new,."
There was no malice in his voice, for Mister Connolly did not seem as though he intended to start anything. Rather a sense of curiosity came with his questions, maybe at his sudden appearance, or maybe at his heritage.

 

"You a gun hand or cow hand?"

José paused in idle chewing, a little confused by the question. "I can shoot, and I can also herd. Is there a... difference between the shooters and the herders?" he asked, glancing about the table. Everyone within his eyesight either had a gun at their hip, or looked as though they might draw one from some hidden crevasse as soon as they were prompted.

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Brendan grinned at the Mexican's question. "Here? Nah, we all do the same work. Only some of us are better at...how'd you say it...the herding...than others." There was a twinkle in his eye, but also a note of pride in his voice because he was good with the cattle. Better, he would like to think, than most of the "gun hands" which made up the majority of the Evergreen riders.

 

He shoveled some more food into his mouth and looked over the new hand appraisingly. "How long you been workin' cattle?" he asked as he scraped his fork over the surface of the tin plate to get as much food as he could off of it. 

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"Here? Nah, we all do the same work. Only some of us are better at... how'd you say it... the herding... than others."

Realization dawned on José. "Ah. I see." he voiced. "Well, you know. Like I say; I can do both."

 

He might have been in an oddly unique position, having both rustled cattle and shot men, and though he couldn't say for certain yet, Mr. Connolly's words seemed to imply that both skills may yet come in handy upon the Evergreen ranch.

José finished his meal at around the same time as the others, eating all he had taken and leaving nothing to scraps. Not just out of hunger, but courtesy as well.

 

"How long you been workin' cattle?" continued Connolly, a question that caused José a twinge of guilt.

"About one year." he lied. "I did some other things, in the meantime. I know a bit."

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Brendan nodded complacently at the new hand's answer, seeing no reason to question it. "Cattle's all I know. Cattle and horses." He sopped up the rest of his gravy with the last bit of his bread and licked his fingers, then pushed his plate away with a faint scraping noise and stood, groaning and stretching his arms over his head.

 

"Well. It ain't gettin' any cooler out there. You want to ride out with me, get the lay of the land?" It wasn't just an offer made out of friendship or nicety, but one that would make his job easier. If Martinez rode out with him today and learned the ropes, that was one more hand to spread the work around. In addition, the new hand seemed to be closer to his age than some of the other hands and he thought they might get along.

 

He paused and rested one foot on the long bench. "That is, if Carson don't want you to be a night owl with him?" He directed this question at Carson himself, looking to the older man for direction.

 

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