Western Fiction posted September 11, 2014

This work has reached the exceptional level
Jerry Reese (aka Tumbleweed) is on his first cattle drive.

Cattle Drive-Part Four

by c_lucas


Ending of Part Three:
When Jerry walked into the kitchen, he gave Consuela the burlap bag. She pointed to the table which held her medical supplies. He noticed his damaged hands didn't hurt as much as she doctored them.

When Consuela finished, she set a plate of food on the table. "Eat," she said and put her medical supplies away. "El Jefe is busy with Lynda. Don't disturb him." She left Jerry alone.

Jerry finished his meal and cleaned up after himself. When he finished, he stared at the door leading to the dining room. Mr. Pearson must be really angry with me over the way I treated Diablo.

Tumbleweed's thoughts were on the Friday Night Dance and asking Lynda. That's two days away. I best get my mind on cattle and horses. He stopped at the barn and picked up one of the larger canteens. He filled it from one of the water tubs. It took him less than ten minutes to rope and saddle Diablo. He wrapped the canteen around Diablo's saddle horn and started for the camp, carrying two freshly filled burlap bags to give to Miguel.

The cook took the two bags and pointed to a pile of pots and pans, plus dirty metal dinnerware. He showed Jerry a fresh pair of cotton gloves with the fingertips missing.

"Put these in your saddlebags and use them when you go after the cattle."

"Yes, sir." Jerry put them in his right saddlebag and led Diablo to the small cook's corral. After he cared for his horse, he started his cleaning chores. My hands ain't bothering me, now. Everything went smoothly. He finished in time to help Miguel by doing simple jobs around the cook's fire.

As he was finishing his afternoon cleaning, Tex walked over. "The boss wants you to ride with my group. My boys have already left, but I'll wait for you."

"Yes, sir, I'm almost finished here," Tumbleweed told him. He showed surprise when Tex carried an armload of cleaned items to the chuck wagon, before changing horses.

Tumbleweed and Tex left together, riding side by side; neither speaking. Tex startled him by speaking first.

"This is the most difficult part of the roundup. The critters we get today are the ones who'll fight to be left alone. Let your horse handle it; it's best you stay out of his way."

"How many do you reckon we'll be gathering?" Tumbleweed waited as Tex pondered the question before giving a reply.

"About as many as we can handle-and live to talk about it. I have six men partnering in twos. The trick is to keep the steers together once we weed them out into the opening. When the time comes, you and Dooley will be working together to keep them together. Move right slow-like. Your horse will know what to do if one comes after you. Use your coil rope as a whip. Never hit one in the face."

"Yes, sir. Are we going after any bulls?"

"I wish we were. Bulls are less temperamental than these bastards will be. Here we go." Tex spurred his horse and jumped in front of Diablo. Tumbleweed's horse raced after him. An angry steer chased after Diablo but gave up after a hundred feet.

Tex turned his horse to help, but it wasn't needed. The steer went back to the bushes. "You're supposed to chase the cattle out, not let them chase you out." The middle-aged cowboy grinned.

"I'll try to remember that." Tumbleweed patted Diablo's neck to calm him.

Tex rode to a clump of greasewood bushes and reined his horse in. He pointed to an area about thirty feet away. "Start over there and ride in nice and slow. Shout and holler so they'll know you're coming. In this business, you're usually allowed one mistake. I've yet to see a steer apologize, or ask forgiveness."

Tumbleweed and Tex began hunting stubborn steers. By the time he had his first steer free and in the open,Tex started working on his fourth. On his second trip in, Tumbleweed came across the biggest steer he'd ever seen.

He edged Diablo toward it, but the horse went after a smaller one, ignoring Tumbleweed's rein commands. Follow your horse's lead. The boy let Diablo have its way. On their return, the horse refused to go near the giant steer.

After two hours of demanding work, Tumbleweed dismounted and filled his hat from the large canteen. He held the reins lightly as the horse drank.

Tex rode in with two steers. He left the steers with their gathering two hundred feet away and
as he rode toward Tumbleweed, he yelled, "Get on your horse!"

Diablo shied, pulled free from Tumbleweed, ran in Tex's direction. Just as Tex grabbed Diablo's reins, the giant steer broke free of the bushes and headed toward Tumbleweed.

"Run! Get a tree between you." Tex wrapped Diablo's reins around his saddle horn and wasted no time in building a loop.

Tumbleweed lit out toward the closest tree, beating the giant steer by a few feet.

Tex threw his loop and got it around the steer's horns, delaying it for a few seconds. Dooley broke out of the brush on the other side of the steer and threw his loop over the horns. The giant bull went after Tex, dragging Dooley behind him.

Seeing the trouble his two friends were in, Tumbleweed ran for Diablo, causing the steer a temporary distraction and giving Dooley time to give his horse a better footing.

Tumbleweed jumped and landed in Diablo's saddle and barely had time to grab the reins as Tex pulled the slip knot to free them from his saddle. The new cowhand jerked the reins tight to prevent Diablo from bucking. It failed and Diablo began crow-hopping. Soon, the horse settled down.

Another rider appeared on the scene, throwing his loop toward the ground catching the steer's two hind feet and pulling the steer to the ground. Pearson jumped off Paint, ran to the steer with pidgin strings in hand and quickly tied the two rear hooves together.

Jerry got control, led his horse in front of the steer and threw his loop on the ground, hoping to follow his boss's lead and rope the front hooves. Tex dismounted, picked up the loop and worked it around the steer's horns. He motioned to Tumbleweed and yelled, "Back up."

The other three cow horses maintained their tension on the ropes.

Dooley joined Tex, and they fought to keep the steer on the ground. Soon, the rancher had the front hooves tied together. Tex went to his horse and pulled two short pieces of rope from his right saddlebag.

Pearson freed his rope and recoiled it. He placed it over Paint's saddle horn. "Keep the tension on, Jerry!" He helped his two men to hobble the steer and tie a blindfold over the steer's eyes. "Anybody hurt?" Pearson asked. No one answered. "Good. We're the first team to hobble Jericho. Now who wants to tell me what happened?"

"I saw it all," Tex began. "Tumbleweed tricked the old steer out of the bushes by offering him a hat-full of water. He wanted another hat-full. Tumbleweed fed him three more hat-fulls. When the steer wanted more, Tumbleweed was fresh out, and the steer began pawing the ground. I yelled for Tumbleweed to get behind a tree. He climbed it to be eyeball to eyeball with the steer. That's when Dooley and me put our ropes on it. You know the rest."

Pearson freed Jerry's rope and tossed to the ground. "Are you ready to change saddles?"

"Yes, sir, as soon as I give Diablo some water." Jerry rode Diablo to the large canteen on the ground.

Pearson eyed Tex and grinned. "I suppose you were holding Diablo because Jerry was going to ride the steer back to camp?"

"I reckoned that's why he was up in that tree. He couldn't mount Jericho from the ground, and he ain't been thrown from a bull, yet."

"Would that be because he has never ridden one?"

"You might have a point there, boss." Tex went to Tumbleweed.

It didn't take long for Jerry and Tex to change the saddles. Dooley was kept busy keeping temporarily blinded Jericho from trying to get back into the bushes.

Jake Horne, Pearson's foreman, showed up with three more cowboys. He eyed Jericho in hobbles. "How in tarnations did you manage to hobble him?"

"It was easy. Jerry rode him to the ground, and we hogtied him." Pearson told him, and suggested, "Ride back with us and I might tell you the truth."


Thank you, Susan F. M. T. for the use of your image, "I've not seen you before?"

Character List:

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

Jim Pearson, owner of the Sweet Pea Ranch. Five-foot-ten inches, widower. Thirty-three. One hundred and seventy pounds, dark trimmed hair, dark eyes. Dark eyes.

Lynda Ann Pearson- Pearson's daughter, twelve year old-dark haired, blue eyes. Fifty pounds.

Jake Horne-Foreman of the Sweet Pea. Hefty, five-seven, Late forties. One hundred and ninety pounds. Gray/black shoulder length hair. Has worked for the Sweet Pea for over twenty-five years.
Pays one point and 2 member cents (and maybe more).

Artwork by Susan F. M. T. at FanArtReview.com

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