Western Fiction posted June 19, 2014


Exceptional
This work has reached the exceptional level
Tumbleweed meets Lynda Pearson

Tumbleweed-Big Brother

by c_lucas


Nineteenth Century Pie Safe

TUMBLEWEED
BIG BROTHER
By Charles Lucas


"Is it okay if I make a quick trip to the store before we leave town?"

Jim Pearson, owner of the Sweet Pea Ranch, looked at his newest and youngest cowhand. "I thought Sam outfitted you."

"Yes sir, he did, but I didn't know about Lynda. Miss Wakefield said Lynda is partial to Horehound candy. If you don't mind, I'd like to invite Lynda to the dance. To do that, candy and flowers will be helpful. I have no friends my age and I would like to become friends with Lynda." The boy began to shift his feet, waiting on his boss' answer.

Pearson eyed the boy. "Do you have any other plans for my daughter?"

"Plans?....Oh no. Not that. Miz Alice said a young man should treat a young
lady with respect and don't give her father a reason to horsewhip him." Tumbleweed felt his face growing red.

"Miz Alice?" Jim tilted his Stetson back and gave the young man his full attention. "Where'd you meet this Miz Alice?

"In Dodge City.... I helped her to care for her stable."

"Her stable?" He glared at Tumbleweed.

"She owns a social club and her barn was always full of horses. I worked for her during the busy season, taking care of the horses, and helping her livery man, Ole Jake. She let us sleep in the loft." Tumbleweed took off his hat, fighting not to twist it in his hands.

"Maybe we should talk about this at the ranch. For your information, I keep my whips in the hall closet. Do we have an understanding?"

"Yes sir, yes sir, we do. I guess you don't want me taking Lynda to the dance?"

"Consuela will chaperone Lynda at the dance. You have my permission to ask my daughter. The Sweet Pea is north east of town. Catch up with us as soon as you can." Pearson climbed on the wagon and left with his five new cowhands in tow.

Tumbleweed hurried to the General Store. "Good afternoon, Miss Wakefield," he greeted Susan

"Why good afternoon, Jerry. I thought Jim had left town." She looked at his over-sized clothing and shook her head. "Dad said he sold you an outfit that you would have to grow into."

"I knew what he was trying to do, ma'am. He said I would be shooting up like a weed. He made up another outfit more my size, and said for me to give the package to Mr. Pearson. I did."

Susan smiled at the boy. "What can I do for you, Jerry?"

"I'd like to buy a dime worth of Horehound candy."

"Do you like Horehound?"

"I've never tasted it, ma'am. It's for someone I hope to make friends with." His face began to redden.

Mr. Wakefield came in from the back and greeted the young man. "New to town and already courting our young women." He glanced at his daughter and winked. "We best warn Jim that he'd hired a tomcat on the prowl."

"Now, Dad, don't go stirring up trouble. I'm sure Jerry's intentions are honorable."

"Yes, ma'am. They are," Tumbleweed hastily interjected.

"Dad, why don't you open an account for Jerry? The usual "Cowboy Account" of twenty dollars. I'll sponsor him."

"Now wait a minute, Miss Wakefield. I pay my own way."

"I'm sure you do, Jerry, but now you have a full time job and needs to build up your reputation in the community. You'll have twenty dollar credit and you can pay fifty cent or more on it each month. By making monthly payments, you'll get people to trust you."

"Are you planning on courting my daughter?" Mr. Wakefield asked, keeping a straight face.

"No, sir. Lynda Pearson is the girl I have in mind."

"So, you don't want to take me to the dance?" Susan frowned turned her back. ignoring the young man.

"Mr. Pearson is planning on asking you." Jerry blurted out.

"He hasn't asked, yet. Maybe I'll just have to stay home."

"He'll ask you Friday morning when we come into town." Tumbleweed glanced at
Mr. Wakefield, who shook his head.

"Come on to the back, I want to fix your pants." Susan started walking toward the back room.

"Ma'am?" Tumbleweed stood still.

"I want to measure your pants legs, then I want you to go behind the screen, take off your pants and give them to me."


An hour later, Tumbleweed was in the saddle, hurrying to catch up with the Sweet Pea riders. He had a new set of clothing for the dance and a fifty cents bag of Horehound candy in his saddlebags. Plus, he had eleven dollars worth of credit at the General Store.

When he caught up, he slowed down and rode next to Texas.
The wizened cowhand looked him up and down, noticing the high stitches on his pants legs. "Looks like you been busy."

"Miss Wakefield fixed my pants and shirt. When I get bigger, she said she'd let them out some."

"Haven't been working long and already prodding around the boss's filly. You best keep your running iron in your pants. Any wrong moves will turn you into a gelding."

"It's nothing like that! Miss Wakefield was just being helpful."

"She doesn't realize you're a man of the world and a mighty dangerous horse trader." The other cowhands laughed and added to Tumbleweed's discomfort.


When they arrived at the ranch, the new riders rode off, cared for their horses and left them in a large corral. Tumbleweed followed Mr. Pearson to the back of the ranch house. A middle-aged Mexican couple came out the back door and began to carry boxes and barrels into the attached storeroom. Pearson set the brake and wrapped the reins around the brake pole. He jumped down and addressed the couple. "Miguel, Consuela, this is Jerry Reese. He'll be helping in the kitchen and the barn." They smiled and nodded.

"Boss, can I have a word with you?" Tumbleweed jumped off his horse and wrapped the reins around a hitching rail. Before he could approach Pearson, a young dark-haired girl ran out the door and jumped into Pearson's waiting arms.

Tumbleweed stood dumbfounded as the girl smothered her father's face with kisses. The Mexican woman pointed to him and then at the goods in the wagon.

The young cowhand started to help unload the wagon without talking to the rancher. Miguel, a little older than the woman, pointed to, or handed Tumbleweed something to carry inside. The rancher went inside, carrying his daughter.


Once the supplies were unloaded, the slender Mexican jumped in the wagon and headed for the barn.

Tumbleweed took his horse to the big corral and cared for it. Then he carried his saddle bags and went to the barn, looking for the wrangler.

The man had the horses unharnessed and in their stalls. He was busy forking hay to all the animals in the barn. Tumbleweed started in. They worked together without speaking. He knew what needed to be done and worked as hard as the Wrangler.

The young cowhand followed his mentor back to the house. The woman began speaking to the man in a rapid-fire Mexican. In turn, he walked over to the large fireplace and used a metal hook to retrieve a large pot.

The woman motioned for Jerry to pick up a large container of tea and an equally large pot of coffee. She picked up a big cloth-covered-basket and what appeared to be a large container of butter. All went to the East end of the bunk house, and placed everything on a serving table.

Miguel filled pewter cups with coffee and metal tumblers with tea. He went to help the woman and began shoveling out the hot food on tin plates. He set the filled plates in front of the waiting men. She motioned for Tumbleweed to dispense the beverages.


After everyone had been served, the woman motioned for the young man to follow them back to the kitchen.

Tumbleweed ignored his growling stomach and began helping Consuelo.

Miguel laughed, slapped some butter on a hot biscuit and handed it to the boy, who quickly devoured it.

Consuelo fixed two Blue Willow Plates with a different meal and nodded to her husband. Each carried a plate through the door and returned for glass tumblers of water and a Blue Willow cup of coffee. Miguel took the coffee and nodded for Tumbleweed to follow with the glasses.

The boy set a glass in front of Lynda and her father, checked to see that Miguel had returned to the kitchen and Lynda was busy eating. He pulled out a lavender colored envelope from inside his shirt and laid it in front of Mr. Pearson.

Tumbleweed beat a hasty retreat to the kitchen, feeling his boss's hot stare on his back.

Consuelo and Miguel were sitting at a small table of four, eating what they had just served the rancher and his daughter, but they were using a plainer set of dinnerware. She motioned to the third setting and Tumbleweed said, "Thank you," before sitting down to his dinner. In true Western style, they ate quietly.

After they ate, Consuelo took a freshly cooked Apple pie from the glass front pie safe. She cut it in half, then cut one piece in equal halves and the remainder in thirds.

Tumbleweed set back contented with a full stomach and one of the best pieces of Apple Pie he had ever tasted. His time for contentment was short lived.

Miguel motioned for Tumbleweed to help him carry four pies out to the cowhands. He made short work cutting them in quarters and had Tumbleweed serve them. When all had a piece of pie, Miguel started collecting the used serving pots.

Tumbleweed helped take them back to the kitchen. After they had brought everything back, Miguel picked up a bucket of soapy water and two towels. He motioned for Tumbleweed to follow him. In less than twenty minutes they had washed the tables, gathered all of the metal tumblers, cups and plates into a wash tub and returned to the kitchen. They stopped before they reached the door.

Consuelo met them with a large bucket. She showed Tumbleweed how to scrape the metal ware clean and put them into a large pot of boiling water with a fire underneath it.

Miguel, using long tongs, retrieved the metal items, let them cool and showed Tumbleweed how to use a fresh bucket of sand to scour everything and dipped it into a clean pail of water. He placed them in low flat trays, then put the trays high on a shelf to dry.


To Tumbleweed's relief, Consuelo had cleaned the kitchen. She was enjoying a cup of coffee with her husband. Miguel led the tired young man to his quarters in the rear of the house. Consuelo followed shortly with a sheet, blanket and pillow. She laid them on the single bed and pulled the chamber pot from under the bed. "El Jeffe wants to see you in his office. It's at the front of the house." She and Miguel went to a nearby room and closed the door behind them.

Tumbleweed followed the hallway back to the kitchen, through the door leading to the dining room. His way was lighted by low burning lamps. Just before he got to the front door, he noticed a closed door which had the glow of a fully lighted lamp burning behind it. The young man knocked gently and waited for the command to enter before opening the door.

Mr. Pearson sat behind his desk, holding the lavender envelope. "Come in, Tumbleweed." He pointed to an opened bottle of Sarsaparilla. "Sit down and help yourself." He took a sip from a small glass with an amber-colored liquid in it. "Consuelo and Miguel think highly of your work. He said you are good with horses and she said she didn't need to repeat an order. Now let's talk about Lynda."

"Yes sir." Tumbleweed took a sip of his soda and set it down.

Mr. Pearson held the envelope in his right and drank with his left. "Susan gave you high praise for the way you talked about Lynda with respect and she liked the idea about candy and flowers."

Tumbleweed sat straighter and grinned.

Mr. Pearson allowed the boy to get comfortable before adding his 'But.' I agree with her. It would be best if you acted the role of Big Brother, instead of Friend."

"Meaning?"

"You will protect Lynda, but short of gun play. It is your duty to make sure no harm comes to her. You can give her flowers and candy, but only kiss her in a brotherly fashion on the cheek. When the need calls for it, you can hold her hand. Do I make myself clear?"

Tumbleweed squirmed. "Yes, sir."

"Consuelo, or I must approve any activity involving her?"

"Yes, sir."

"As of tomorrow morning, you will sit with us for your meals. I will change your duties as kitchen helper and leave in time to eat with us. You'll help with breakfast and dinner, and I'll add ten dollars to your pay. The extra money will be to look after Lynda and be her Big Brother."

"No, sir. I don't want to be paid to look after Lynda. I'll work as Miguel's and Consuelo's assistant for fifteen dollars a month. I will not charge to be Lynda's friend and big brother. I would appreciate it if you would let them know about the change. What you tell Lynda ain't none of my business."

Pearson stared hard at Tumbleweed who matched his stare. "Are you trying to finagle yourself into my family?"

"No, sir. I am trying to make it easier for Lynda to accept me as her big brother. I won't accept a job that I have to become a liar to keep it."

Pearson and Tumbleweed kept up their staring match. The ranch owner/father blinked first. "It's a done deal." He stood and offered Tumbleweed his hand.

The young man stood and shook it.



Recognized


Image Source; Google Image "19th century pie safe."

Jerry Reese aka Tumbleweed. Slender thirteen year old, five-foot-seven inches. Light brown hair, trimmed. Approximately ninety pounds. Hazel eyes.

Jim Pearson, owner of the Sweet Pea Ranch. Five-foot-ten inches, widower. One hundred and seventy pounds, dark trimmed hair, dark eyes.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.


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