Cattle Brands eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 256 pages of information about Cattle Brands.

“He was born in the South, and was a glass-blower by occupation.  He would have died sooner, but for his pluck and confidence that he would get well.  He changed his mind one morning, lost hope that he would ever get well, and died in three days.  It was in the spring.  We were going out one morning to put in a flood-gate on the river, which had washed away in a freshet.  He was ready to go along.  He hadn’t been on a horse in two weeks.  No one ever pretended to notice that he was sick.  He was sensitive if you offered any sympathy, so no one offered to assist, except to saddle his horse.  The old horse stood like a kitten.  Not a man pretended to notice, but we all saw him put his foot in the stirrup three different times and attempt to lift himself into the saddle.  He simply lacked the strength.  He asked one of the boys to unsaddle the horse, saying he wouldn’t go with us.  Some of the boys suggested that it was a long ride, and it was best he didn’t go, that we would hardly get back until after dark.  But we had no idea that he was so near his end.  After we left, he went back to the shack and told the cook he had changed his mind,—­that he was going to die.  That night, when we came back, he was lying on his cot.  We all tried to jolly him, but each got the same answer from him, ‘I’m going to die.’  The outfit to a man was broke up about it, but all kept up a good front.  We tried to make him believe it was only one of his bad days, but he knew otherwise.  He asked Joe Box and Ham Rhodes, the two biggest men in the outfit, six-footers and an inch each, to sit one on each side of his cot until he went to sleep.  He knew better than any of us how near he was to crossing.  But it seemed he felt safe between these two giants.  We kept up a running conversation in jest with one another, though it was empty mockery.  But he never pretended to notice.  It was plain to us all that the fear was on him.  We kept near the shack the next day, some of the boys always with him.  The third evening he seemed to rally, talked with us all, and asked if some of the boys would not play the fiddle.  He was a good player himself.  Several of the boys played old favorites of his, interspersed with stories and songs, until the evening was passing pleasantly.  We were recovering from our despondency with this noticeable recovery on his part, when he whispered to his two big nurses to prop him up.  They did so with pillows and parkers, and he actually smiled on us all.  He whispered to Joe, who in turn asked the lad sitting on the foot of the cot to play Farewell, my Sunny Southern Home.’  Strange we had forgotten that old air,—­for it was a general favorite with us,—­and stranger now that he should ask for it.  As that old familiar air was wafted out from the instrument, he raised his eyes, and seemed to wander in his mind as if trying to follow the refrain.  Then something came over him, for he sat up rigid, pointing out his hand at the empty space, and muttered, ’There stands—­mother—­now—­under—­the—­oleanders.  Who is—­that with—­her?  Yes, I had—­a sister.  Open—­the—­windows.  It—­is—­getting—­dark—­dark—­dark.’

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Cattle Brands from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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