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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
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Bearpaw: An Old West Tale - 10. Chapter 10 Hallelujah and Amen

Better than anything else we can call ourselves right now...

Hallelujah and Amen

 

 

Taking the fence boards down and removing two posts had been a simple task. After some standing, pondering, and talking, they’d decided to remove that second post. That way, the opening of the now empty corral would be even wider and more inviting than what they originally planned on.

The herd had moved off, but when Jubal took a stroll to have a gander, they be just over the rise, some grazing while others dozed in the sun. Appeared they felt safe there. Was a good sign they were used to people making noises.

He and Lucas finished filling up the post holes and then moved on to making a gate long enough, after fetching lumber from the dwindling pile next to the barn.

They did more pondering and talking after laying the lumber out, and it soon became clear one gate the length they needed would be too darn heavy, possibly slowing them down when they tried to close it. Could even be so heavy as to bend or break the hinges over time. They didn’t need to lose the herd for such a thing, or because the corner of the gate got stuck on uneven ground or a clump of grass during the swing.

Making two separate twelve-foot gates would be the smartest answer, but would mean they’d each have to be closing one when the time came. Lucas worried for that, but Jubal pointed out they’d be mounted, and could get quick from one side to the other if they needed to. He knew horses, and understood they would be unlikely to try to run past two mounted men as a first reaction. They’d have a bit of time.

Lucas, as usual, was damn good with the saw, his strokes smooth, powerful, and accurate every time. Working together, they had both gates built in little more than an hour. They sure enough were going through a lot of the lumber what had been milled for the barn, but Lucas seemed too excited to mind.

“I reckon if this works, we’ll have us a gosh darn horse farm,” he said as he stood up.

Jubal stood too, looking down at their completed work. “Is a horse farm what you really be wanting? We could sell them quick as un-broke horses if’n it ain’t?”

Lucas grabbed both his shoulders with his hands, surprising him as they stood face to face. “Happens this does work, we ain’t selling un-broke horses, not if I have any say. I’m a farmer for sure, but it don’t mean I can’t be a farmer who raises and trains and sells horses. Would be a dream for me because I love working with them… always have… and this be the right kind of land for it, don’t you think?”

“I surely do—already said it be perfect land for horses—and I figured it’s what you wanted from the way your face changes when you talk about ‘em.”

“Yep, and so does yours. So… if we end up with a herd to gentle, I’ll be as happy a man as you’ve seen. Never minded riding the buck out of my string on them cold mornings on the drive—fact is I miss it plenty. You doubting me?”

Jubal grinned. “No—feel the same—but it is your land, so the decision be yours. It be my crazy idea to catch the whole herd, so I didn’t want you feeling pushed into something cause you’re thinking it pleases me. Glad to see we’re of the same mind.”

Lucas nodded as his grip loosened and his hands dropped to his sides, suddenly seeming even more serious. “You didn’t push me none, Jubal, I swear… and it don’t please you better than it pleases me. But, if’n this works like we hope, you can’t be leaving it to me until next spring at the least. It’s going to take some time to get set up for so much stock, and I don’t have faith I could do it by my lonesome. Honest truth—maybe I could because I be a stubborn cuss—but I wouldn’t want to do it alone. Don’t mind none it being hard work, but would prefer I enjoyed it too.”

Jubal nodded as he stared into those questioning eyes. “It’s a task what needs both of us, I can see that well as you do.”

“Course it is, and we’ll split any money we make from whatever we do sell. Expect you’re better than me at the gentling. Not many can handle a stallion well, and you be one who wants to do it again.”

“Kema was a challenge I miss.”

“See that plain in how you talk about him. Might be you could wrangle that stallion too if we catch him. He’d make a fancy mount for certain.”

“Ain’t laid eyes on him yet, but I seen the colt, and he be enough for me.”

“Yep, I’d pick him over his pa for sure, but it be close. So… we’re surely going to need more than just one more pen, and like you said, we’ll need a whole lot of hay cut and stacked, more trees hauled out and lumber milled, and gentling takes time if’n it be done right.”

“Make you a promise here and now I will be a partner in this and all the work it’ll take, so I won’t be riding off,” Jubal said, meaning it with a certainty he surely hadn’t had on the ride back from town. “Have not a thing calling me away, so I’m in no hurry to move on, not if’n we got horses to gentle. I’d be a happy man for such too, Lucas… no need for doubting me either.”

“Then that’s all I need hearing. If it turns out you’re not happy here, I’ll accept you need to make a change, but we got to give it a fair chance, right?”

“Yep, that’s what I said, and that’s what I mean. What about putting another corral in that meadow over there?”

“That ain’t my land, Jubal. Some of it be, but not the big open area you’re pointing at. Mine ends at just the other side of that stand of trees. Suppose there is room enough for a narrower corral if we put it to my property line and have it right up to this west fence—means we’d only need to build three sides of a corral. We could leave those trees along the edge for shade and set the fence behind them. Was going to put my orchard along this stretch, but changed my mind on doing so.”

“You want an orchard?” Jubal asked, surprised to hear such. The man had no shortage of dreams.

Lucas grinned. “Not want… have. Already got me an orchard, leastwise the start of one. Fact you haven’t seen it tells me you been doing nothing but toiling the day long since you got here.”

“Suppose I have, but ain’t been here long enough to do any exploring. Did you buy fruit trees from someone ‘round here?”

“Happens I didn’t need to. Have three good producing trees what sowed a bunch of seedlings a mite taller than me when I first saw them… happens they’re taller now, growing well and strong. Them apples are sweet and tasty, and I was going to move the smaller ones all here to this spot since they be too close up on the big ones, but common sense said I spread them out where they be instead, seeing how it was open land and they seemed to like it there. Besides, it keeps them all together.”

“Makes sense they all be in the same spot.”

“Yep. Never would have thought to have an orchard, but that person I was searching for—the one in Larkspur—he grows apples and has a real fine market for them. Was told he makes damn good money from it.”

He? So, it weren’t a woman like Jubal had expected. “You saw his orchard?”

“No… didn’t see his farm a’tall. Heard about it, though, from this fellow what owned the mercantile in town. Saw my friend leaving that store on his wagon… happens he passed me by, but didn’t pay me no attention… was busy conversing with someone what be with him, someone I recognized too. Anyways, I decided not to bother him, but that store owner was a talker what told me plenty.”

“Why didn’t you want to bother your friend after going to the trouble of searching for him?”

“Already told you I had my reasons. He was well settled, truth be told, and there’d be no place for me to share a farm like I was hoping. Reckon I didn’t think it all through until that very day,” he said with his brows creased. “My pa, he had an orchard, so I do know something about them.”

“I’m right partial to a good apple,” Jubal said, knowing when the direction of a talk be changed.

“Same for me, and we’ll have lots in a couple of months. They keep a fellow healthy through the winter to the next harvest. Will take some of those seedlings a few years to produce heavy—though they do be bearing some fruit—but I ain’t in no rush. So, there be no reason a’tall we can’t turn this side into another corral.”

“Expect this would work just fine. What about one on the other side too, using the east side of this here pen? Would save us some work in fencing for that one too, and we’d have plenty more grass for the stock to graze. Could put gates between the three so moving the herd wouldn’t be any work or trouble till they learn to trust us.”

“We could do. I like the gate idea for sure, but we’ll have to take down some trees on that side.”

“Not many if’n we do, and we could even leave them if you wanted?”

“Hmmm. Suppose we could. Used to thinking of corrals needing to be clear, but they’d be pens for holding horses, not for working them… middle one can be for that. We’d have two pens with shelter from sun and wind if we left them trees. There are a couple of clear meadows farther east, but they be good for haying, so I’d like to keep them for such if we can.”

“Course you can,” Jubal said with an excited grin. “Besides, you still got all that clear land over the rise them wildings like to feed on, and it don’t seem to get grazed down what I can see. Now, let’s lean these gates up and see how they fit. We’ll have to get some hinges, some strong ones, and I can pay for them. Should have asked the blacksmith in town earlier.”

“Don’t need to, nor do you need to be paying for anything. He already made me a bunch in the spring, and happens I got eight left. They’re hanging up in the barn, and they be plenty strong.”

“Well, see… meant to be like we said.”

“Yep, seems like.”

Once the gates were hinged and moving easy, they tied them open in a way that a quick pull on the rope would release them. Lucas fetched some oats to be spread in piles, and Jubal checked the trough to see it was full while he waited. Spied the wildings moving back up onto the ridge, and got a better look at the spotted colt as he loped and spun and bucked before settling down to graze.

Knew with certainty it be the horse for him. He’d be a challenge most likely, being a wilding and a stud, but Jubal appreciated a horse with spunk to him. Supposed he was trying to replace Kema, but weren’t nothing wrong with that… as long as he didn’t expect him to be the same as what he’d lost. In his experience, each horse be different, and it be up to the rider to figure him or her out.

Wanting the colt didn’t mean he wasn’t appreciating his new mare, cause he was for sure, but riding a stallion you had a bond with was something you missed when you no longer had it. You rode them same as any horse, but you always knew it was because you’d proved yourself to them, so they were letting you—they chose you as much as you chose them—because they trusted you. Kema used to make him feel he had power and control when everything else in his life felt the opposite.

Lucas was back in no time, and seeing him walk towards him, Jubal felt that sudden ache he always fought to ignore. He’d made a commitment, though, and wanted nothing to turn what they had sour. He was feeling lucky to have the man’s friendship, and had no doubt they would make good partners with sharing this herd, so protecting such was more important than this strong want for something more.

It was hard not to notice how pleased the man looked as he neared. Always seemed he be happy to see him, and that held a power of its own for Jubal, one he would miss too… if’n he ever lost it.

They decided the piles would be spread near the opening at first—some even outside the pen—and once the wildings cottoned on to this new feed being close by every day, they’d move the oats farther in. It sounded a good plan to Jubal, so they just had to be patient and pray it be successful.

“We’re done here,” Lucas said. “Think we’ve accomplished enough for today. Might be we could take some time to hunt for grouse if’n you want?”

“They be close by. Heard them while we worked. See no reason we can’t get us a couple of them.”

“We’ll count on your aim, then, since my arm be sore from sawing.”

“Not because I be a better shot?”

Lucas grinned. “That too.”

 

With log buildings, putting in windows the proper way needed care, what with the building settling over time, and Jubal knew for certain what to do. It’s why he’d asked Lucas about getting a chisel. The frames the windows would sit in needed slots in them so they could move with the logs, and Vincent had taught him a clever way to do such.

All that be needed doing was to construct the frame of four boards after sawing those boards in half lengthwise. Once he had the first frame box made, he chiseled out two notches, about five inches long and a little wider than the nail body be—on the edge of each side—and then construct the second frame to match the first and nail them together.

That closed the open side of them notches up, which meant he could nail the smaller frame into the logs through the middle of the slots, just far enough in to hold it in place, but not so far the nail head grabbed and held the wood. He’d explained it all to Lucas, but it wasn’t till he saw Jubal lift the attached frame a couple of inches and then pull it back down that he was convinced. Logs walls could settle as much as five inches and the frame would stay true.

“That is beyond what my brain could’ve ever figured.”

“Mine too if not for being taught it. Victor’s grandfather made his living as a woodworker in Europe—in some place called Dusseldorf—and he learned plenty from him as a young’un before he came over to this country. When we trim the outside and inside to cover the gaps, we can only nail into the frame what moves, and never into any logs. That way the window will never twist and break. Same with any shutters we put on… they need be attached to the trim and not the logs, or they’ll twist up and not close right.”

“Can’t even say how many times I’ve seen twisted windows in a log house, and shutters what be hanging loose. That be real clever, so thanks to Victor… and to you. Two more to go,” Lucas said with a pleased expression. “Already sawed the other boards, so we can cut the pieces we’re needing. I’ll do the smaller one next—seems I always be sawing—and you watch I don’t do it wrong.”

Jubal laughed. “You want me to be boss again?”

Lucas snorted. “You have been since we started the roof, that hasn’t changed none a’tall.”

“Can’t be your boss since we’re honest to goodness partners, ain’t we?”

“Yep, partners… and horse farmers.”

“Horse farmers, eh? Think I prefer being called horse wranglers.”

“There you go being the boss again,” Lucas teased.

“Well, horse farmers it is then,” Jubal teased back. “Got no need to be boss of anyone or anything.”

“And I ain’t your boss either, Jubal. We’re friends, good friends, and that’s better than anything else we can call ourselves right now, at least to me it be.”

“For me too, Lucas. I reckon that’s something to be thankful for, and I truly am. Can see a path here worth taking… with you.”

“Well… I say hallelujah and amen to that!”

Jubal grinned at the loud response, and spoke quick to hide the blush he could feel coming. Once again Lucas had easily gotten words from him what didn’t need saying out loud. “Think we might finish up this job so we can get to eating that grouse what’s cooking?”

Lucas gave his shoulder a light punch. “Yes, boss, right away, boss,” he answered with a smirk.

“Was just saying I be hungry is all,” he said with a groan, but was soon chuckling when Lucas picked his saw back up and waved it around like it be a sword. The man appeared plenty pleased, and had a way of always making things feel good between them. Felt right natural for sure, and Jubal wasn’t long in using his hammer to challenge him to a duel.

A few clangs of metal against metal later they were back to work, neither one admitting defeat. For Jubal, it had been good to feel so free and use a kind of laugh that had long been silent, one what left him breathless. Yep, he would miss this… would miss Lucas something terrible if the time ever did come to part ways.

 

 

*

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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

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