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


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Carson was just finishing when the question came to him. "Good idea Connolly. Give the man a good look at the place and a chance to really look over the herd." Came his response. It was true that Jose could learn alot about the place from such a tour. "G'wan, see you men later.

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"Well. It ain't gettin' any cooler out there. You want to ride out with me, get the lay of the land?"

José hesitated. He'd expected cool indifference, perhaps even slight hostility at a newcomer, and here Connolly was offering him a tour of the grounds. It was a good reflection on his character, and perhaps, by extension; the character of the ranch as a whole, that practicality would come before pride.

"That is, if Carson don't want you to be a night owl with him?"

"Good idea Connolly. Give the man a good look at the place and a chance to really look over the herd."

 

"Sounds good." José confirmed, the matter more decided for him than by him. Not that he'd want to miss out on a chance to get settled in.

 

He rose and moved to the kitchenside bucket, where he'd seen men depositing their dirty plates earlier, and left his in kind, murky water eddying as he did.

 

"Alright. Let's do it." he told Connolly, and with a nod to Carson, José headed for the door.

"G'wan, see you men later."

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Brendan slipped his plate into the pan of water and grabbed one more piece of bread, then followed José outside, gnawing on the bread as he walked.

 

He noticed the new horse outside and squinted at it. It had been there when he first passed, but he hadn't been awake enough to pay attention. Now he looked the animal over as he chewed. It was a mare, with sturdy legs and a broad chest. She looked like she had stamina, which was good in a cowhorse.

 

"That your mount?" He gestured at the mare and looked at José. It was a needless question because he knew the horses on Evergreen and she wasn't one of them. "She's a nice one. Bring'er along to the stable an' she can have some water'n oats if she wants 'em."

 

He set off for the stable where his own horse waited. It would only take him a few minutes to get all his tack on his horse, but they were in no particular hurry today and it would give José's horse a while to rest if she needed it.

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"That your mount? She's a nice one. Bring'er along to the stable an' she can have some water'n oats if she wants 'em."

José could not help but feel some pride at Brendan's appraisal of his mount. He and Loretta had crossed the treacherous Rockies and wintered in those peaks, and there was a sense of kinship he felt with the mare, young and prone to mischief as she was.

 

José nodded and moved to unhitch Loretta, before leading her along by the bridle in Brendan's wake. The mare followed obediently, her plodding gait rising to a low, rhythmic thump against the dirt.

 

"So cattle and horses are your thing eh?" José asked Brendan. "Seems to me like you're living in your dream out here."

Dream was an English word José was proud of, having picked it up off a young man he'd met by the roadside in Nuevo México. Said he'd a dream, to 'make a fortune off'a shine.' José had told him to be wary of Las Gorras Blancas, and ridden on.

 

They entered the stable, and the musty smell of horse hide met José's nose in force. It wasn't unpleasant, merely overwhelming, and as the seconds passed he quickly adjusted to the olfactory surprise.

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Brendan chuckled. "Dream? Nah, my dream is to lay around all day with nothin' to do. But this ain't so bad." Now that he thought about it, he didn't really have a dream. Besides being rich someday. There wasn't anything wrong with drifting, but it certainly wasn't the dream.

 

He led the way into the stable and pointed to an empty stall. "That one can be hers. Oats are in the corner over there if she wants any." He pointed this time to a large sack labeled "oats" stacked on several others like it.

 

Then he went over to his horse's stall. "This here's Fiona. She's mine." He patted her chestnut nose fondly and entered the stall to start putting her tack on. He was in no hurry to get out on the range, and José's horse needed some time to be fed and watered, so he took his time and even brushed Fiona's coat a bit before putting the saddle on.

 

"You ever ridden for a place this big before?" he asked, glancing back at the Mexican. It was highly unlikely. Steelgrave had one of the biggest places in Montana and probably in the whole of the territories. Probably.

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"Dream? Nah, my dream is to lay around all day with nothin' to do. But this ain't so bad."

José chuckled along with Brendan. He liked this Connolly fellow, there was a sincerity, a sense of the average layman about him that Carson and Granger had lacked in their gruff, commanding way.

 

"That one can be hers. Oats are in the corner over there if she wants any."

José nodded in thanks, and led Loretta along to the indicated stall, easing her forward towards its trough. The mare, thirsty after a day on the trail, leaned down to drink eagerly.

For his part, José picked up one of the oat bags and lugged it over to the feeding trough, scooping a handful from the top of the bag. Once Loretta had drank her fill, he offered the oats to her, and she snuffled them up greedily in turn. The remainder he left, and then ambled over to Brendan once more.

 

"This here's Fiona. She's mine"

"Pretty." José commented, leaning against the stable wall, watching as Brendan set about caring for his mount.

"You ever ridden for a place this big before?"

José shook his head. "No. I never seen a ranch like this before. Down south, there are farms maybe one quarter this size, and they're the largest for a long way in any direction."

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"Down south?" Brendan paused before putting the bridle on Fiona, confusion flashing across his face. And then understanding crossed it. "Oh...that south. Mexico south. Yeah?" Down south as he knew it were either small family farms or large plantations. But it was different here, where the farms were small and the ranches were big.

 

"Anyway, we're the biggest spread around." He couldn't help the little bit of pride that crept into his voice. "Second is the Lost Lake Ranch, but we don't get along so good with them. You know how it is...this place ain't big enough for the two of us." He raised both index fingers in the air and mimicked shooting guns. "It ain't come to shootin' yet, but it's always...interestin'...when both of us are in town."

 

Fiona was all saddled and bridled, so he led her out of her stall. "Ready?"

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"Oh...that south. Mexico south. Yeah?"

"." José nodded, with just the hint of a smile.

 

"Anyway, we're the biggest spread around. Second is the Lost Lake Ranch, but we don't get along so good with them. You know how it is...this place ain't big enough for the two of us. It ain't come to shootin' yet, but it's always...interestin'...when both of us are in town."

"You reckon' that's a real danger?" he queried. Perhaps the life of a cowhand was less mundane than he had imagined, what with all this talk of 'gun' hands and range wars.

 

Brendan came out with his mare all geared up, and so José ducked back into the stall where Loretta patiently stood. He took her out to where Fiona and Brendan waited.

"Ready?"

José nodded, and took his horse back out into the yard.

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