SCIENCE AT HEART’S DESIRE
This being the Story of a Cow Puncher, an Osteopath, and a Cross-eyed Horse
“That old railroad’ll shore bust me up a heap if it ever does git in here,” remarked Tom Osby one morning in the forum of Whiteman’s corral, where the accustomed group was sitting in the sun, waiting for some one to volunteer as Homer for the day.
There was little to do but listen to story telling, for Tom Osby dwelt in the tents of Kedar, delaying departure on his accustomed trip to Vegas.
“A feller down there to Sky Top,” he went on, arousing only the most indolent interest, “one of them spy-glass ingineers—tenderfoot, with his six-shooter belt buckled so tight he couldn’t get his feet to the ground—he says to me I might as well trade my old grays for a nice new checkerboard, or a deck of author cards, for I won’t have nothing to do but just amuse myself when the railroad cars gets here.”
No one spoke. All present were trying to imagine how Heart’s Desire would seem with a railroad train each day.
“Things’ll be some different in them days, mebbe so.” Tom recrossed his legs with well-considered deliberation.
“There’s a heap of things different already from what they used to be when I first hit the cow range,” said Curly. “The whole country’s changed, and it ain’t changed for the better, either. Grass is longer, and horns is shorter, and men is triflin’er. Since the Yankees has got west of the Missouri River a ranch foreman ain’t allowed to run his own brandin’ iron any more, and that takes more’n half the poetry out of the cow business, don’t it, Mac?” This to McKinney, who was nearly asleep.
“Everything else is changing too,” Curly continued, gathering fluency as memories began to crowd upon him. “Look at the lawyers and doctors there is in the Territory now—and this country used to be respectable. Why, when I first come here there wasn’t a doctor within a thousand miles, and no need for one. If one of the boys got shot up much, we always found some way to laundry him and sew him together again without no need of a diplomy. No one ever got sick; and, of course, no one ever did die of his own accord, the way they do back in the States.”
“What’s it all about, Curly?” drawled Dan Anderson. “You can’t tell a story worth a cent.” Curly paid no attention to him.
“The first doctor that ever come out here for to alleviate us fellers,” he went on, “why, he settled over on the Sweetwater. He was a allopath from Bitter Creek. What medicine that feller did give! He gradual drifted into the vet’inary line.
“Then there come a homeopath—that was after a good many women folks had settled in along the railroad over west. Still, there wasn’t much sickness, and I don’t reckon the homeopath ever did winter through. I was livin’ with the Bar T outfit on the Oscura range, at that time.