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Cow-Country   By: (1874-1940)

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First Page:

COW COUNTRY

By B. M. Bower

CHAPTERS:

1. AN AMBITIOUS MAN CHILD WAS BUDDY 2. THE TRAIL HERD 3. SOME INDIAN LORE 4. BUDDY GIVES WARNING 5. BUDDY RUNS TRUE TO TYPE 6. THE YOUNG EAGLE MUST FLY 7. BUD FLIPS A COIN WITH FATE 8. THE MULESHOE 9. LITTLE LOST 10. BUD MEETS THE WOMAN 11. GUILE AGAINST THE WILY 12. SPORT O' KINGS 13. THE SINKS 14. EVEN MUSHROOMS HELP 15. WHY BUD MISSED A DANCE 16. WHILE THE GOING'S GOOD 17. GUARDIAN ANGELS ARE RIDING "POINT" 18. THE CATROCK GANG 19. BUD RIDES THROUGH CATROCK AND LOSES MARIAN 20. "PICK YOUR FOOTING!" 21. TRAILS END

COW COUNTRY

CHAPTER ONE: AN AMBITIOUS MAN CHILD WAS BUDDY

In hot mid afternoon when the acrid, gray dust cloud kicked up by the listless plodding of eight thousand cloven hoofs formed the only blot on the hard blue above the Staked Plains, an ox stumbled and fell awkwardly under his yoke, and refused to scramble up when his negro driver shouted and prodded him with the end of a willow gad.

"Call your master, Ezra," directed a quiet woman voice gone weary and toneless with the heat and two restless children. "Don't beat the poor brute. He can't go any farther and carry the yoke, much less pull the wagon."

Ezra dropped the gad and stepped upon the wagon tongue where he might squint into the dust cloud and decide which gray, plodding horseman alongside the herd was Robert Birnie. Far across the sluggish river of grimy backs, a horse threw up its head with a peculiar sidelong motion, and Ezra's eyes lightened with recognition. That was the colt, Rattler, chafing against the slow pace he must keep. Hands cupped around big, chocolate colored lips and big, yellow white teeth, Ezra whoo ee ed the signal that called the nearest riders to the wagon that held the boss's family.

Bob Birnie and another man turned and came trotting back, and at the call a scrambling youngster peered over his mother's shoulder in the forward opening of the prairie schooner.

"O oh, Dulcie! We gonna git a wile cow agin!"

Dulcie was asleep and did not answer, and the woman in the slat sun bonnet pushed back with her elbow the eager, squirming body of her eldest. "Stay in the wagon, Buddy. Mustn't get down amongst the oxen. One might kick you. Lie down and take a nap with sister. When you waken it will be nice and cool again."

"Not s'eepy!" objected Buddy for the twentieth time in the past two hours. But he crawled back, and his mother, relieved of his restless presence, leaned forward to watch the approach of her husband and the cowboy. This was the second time in the past two days that an ox had fallen exhausted, and her eyes showed a trace of anxiety. With the feed so poor and the water so scarce, it seemed as though the heavy wagon, loaded with a few household idols too dear to leave behind, a camp outfit and the necessary clothing and bedding for a woman and two children, was going to be a real handicap on the drive.

"Robert, if we had another wagon, I could drive it and make the load less for these four oxen," she suggested when her husband came up. "A lighter wagon, perhaps with one team of strong horses, or even with a yoke of oxen, I could drive well enough, and relieve these poor brutes." She pushed back her sun bonnet and with it a mass of red brown hair that curled damply on her forehead, and smiled disarmingly. "Buddy would be the happiest baby boy alive if I could let him drive now and then!" she added humorously.

"Can't make a wagon and an extra yoke of oxen out of this cactus patch," Bob Birnie grinned good humoredly. "Not even to tickle Buddy. I'll see what I can do when we reach Olathe. But you won't have to take a man's place and drive, Lassie." He took the cup of water she drew from a keg and proffered water was precious on the Staked Plains, that season and his eyes dwelt on her fondly while he drank... Continue reading book >>




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