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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 - 6. Chapter 6 Eager

Building something to last always begins with a strong foundation...

Eager

 

 

Jubal didn’t know what woke him, but peering out the small window to his left, he saw dawn had arrived with a bright yellow glow. The soft sounds of the crick could be heard through the wall behind him, and he recalled washing up in those waters with Lucas only hours earlier. His hard prick throbbed at the remembered sight of the man.

Breathing deeply, he stretched carefully before turning his head. It was early, but green eyes stared back. Pretty green eyes fringed in surprisingly long lashes. They were so close, and in the new light of day, beard or not, Lucas was handsome. Scary handsome. His cock pushed against his britches again.

“You snore,” Lucas said, his gaze staying on Jubal’s face. His lips were parted, their corners slightly curled. Jubal could feel his breath.

“Sorry for that,” he said after swallowing down some spit and clearing his throat. “Did I bother your rest?”

His lips curled more. “Nothing could have done so, I swear to that. Didn’t even notice a thing till a few minutes ago.” Stretching bigger than Jubal had, his body came into closer contact. “Don’t think either one of us moved the whole night. Did you get enough sleep? Ain’t been that long since we laid ourselves down.”

“Feel plenty rested. Don’t normally sleep on my back.” Jubal shifted to sit up, thankful his cock was now hidden from Lucas’s view. He wasn’t feeling that usually strong urge to run, but maybe he should be. “What about you, did you get enough? Well… I’ll be,” he said as he twisted and looked back at a sun-lit Lucas. “Your hair ain’t a’tall brown like I thought it be.”

Lucas snorted. “Was only dirt you saw. My ma called it auburn, same as hers.” He yawned as he stretched again. “It be a fact my pa said he fell in love with her hair before he even saw her face. Said it was the color of his fine old Mexican saddle, and he weren’t far wrong about that. Kept that saddle inside the house, he did, like some treasure.”

“Auburn? Well, it don’t be brown… but it ain’t near the red them freckled folks have. Way better than my plain ole brown.” He continued to stare, longer than he should have for sure, and long enough to notice the man’s cock be hard as his. He turned his head away, but Lucas’s words brought it back.

“Your hair ain’t plain a’tall. Shines lighter on the top… plenty lighter, but your whiskers be real dark. And your eyes seem a different blue than the color I saw yesterday. They be brighter like the summer sky.” His gaze moved down Jubal’s neck, and he expected the questions to come, but they didn’t. “Reckon we’re only now getting to see each other without them layers of mud and blood, and you’re a sight better cleaned up. Ready to start the day or you needing more rest? Expect you might still be tired, and that be fine if you are.”

“You were right I appreciated this fine mattress, but I’m not the one still laid flat out, boss.”

“Boss? So, I’m your boss, am I?”

“Yep. You tell me what to do and I’ll do it.”

“I’ll keep that in mind,” he said, grinning while shifting sideways. “Now move your hind so I can get upright. Can’t never sleep once the sun’s up… a cowboy’s curse.”

Jubal stood up and stretched again, thankful his cock was softening some. “I carry that curse too. We be tackling the new roof first?”

“Boy, you feeling eager?” Lucas asked he stood, twisting at his middle before he let out a groan. There weren’t much room between them, and Jubal could smell the fresh sweat of the man. He liked it, and that started his prick to filling up again. A quick glance told him Lucas was still hard, and since he didn’t seem bothered or shy, Jubal relaxed.

“Suppose I am. Like to stay busy, and reckon I’ve always been that way.”

“Well, plenty to keep you chasing your tail around here, but you ain’t needing to work every dang minute, and you remember such.”

“I’ll try,” Jubal answered with a grin.

“Don’t sound convincing to me,” Lucas said, returning the grin. “Will the same for breakfast do you?”

“Yep. Hankering for more of that cheese and bread for sure. You got some strong coffee to go with it? Haven’t had black gold since the morning afore them bushwhackers came through my camp and stole my supplies.”

“Damn shame that was. Had coffee in my wagon... could have stopped and made a pot for you… fed you some jerky too.”

“Was happy enough not to be walking, Lucas, and you needed to get home. Can live fine without coffee… done it plenty. Want me to fill the troughs again?”

“Ah… shouldn’t be a need till tomorrow, but we’ll check them end of day to be certain. They all be watertight.”

“What about feeding the critters?”

“Hogs and chickens got fed late so they’re taken care of till evening. Got a pile of old turnips and greens hogs been feeding on—they love roots of any kind—and I’ll throw more weeds in from the garden. They clean up about anything I throw in their pen, including meat scraps. Love acorns too—swear they smile when I throw them some. Bought them barely weaned late spring, and they done nothing but grow since. Used to feed ‘em barley as piglets, but don’t no more.”

“Fat and sleek, they be. So, we’re only needing to move the horses to a different pen then?”

“Yep, we could do that, I reckon. My biggest corral is one you ain’t seen yet. It’s north and a little to the west past the next band of trees—first one I put up after I bought the place since it needed no clearing a’tall—and the grass is knee high so we can turn them all out together and see what happens.”

“Expect it’ll be fine. Bean is sweet-tempered, and the new mare looks to be the same.”

“Mine be easy-going too, even Rabbit, and Dinah never gets bullish with her size.”

“Ain’t worried a bit for mine. So… then we get to the roof? The sun’s cleared the horizon already.”

Lucas laughed. “You sure are itching to get started on it, ain’t you?”

“Always loved building, and take pride in doing it right. Had a neighbor what taught me a lot about it—'bout many things—and I took to it like a hog to mud,” Jubal answered as he stepped outside. Vincent was always a good memory, and it were a beautiful morning, still cool for the time being. He was getting his first clear glimpse of the farm in daylight.

Taking a good long look around, he could see it truly be a special spot, the vegetation rich and varied with the different kinds of trees to the south and east. Lots of maple, birch, elm, and even some ash mixed in with pine and cedar down towards the road and along the west border on both sides of the crick.

A stand of oak and maple bordered the north side of the crick, and looked to be thick in spots. The pens situated between the two bands of trees on clear land beyond the barn—what he could see of them—were well built and orderly, made from fat cedar posts and thick plank boards. His mares looked content, dozing in the closest corral, not too far from where he stood.

He saw the garden for the first time, and there’d surely be a lot of harvesting come fall. Did need some weeding, but that hadn’t stopped the vegetables from doing well, crops tall and reaching row to row. Might be the crops were too close together like Lucas said, but it was a success if ever he’d seen one.

The corn was already shoulder height and he could see the small cobs were plenty. “Pretty land you got here… can see it’s good for farming.” He shivered when Lucas’s voice spoke close into his ear. He’d moved right up behind him, the fact escaping him while he was having hisself a good look-see.

“Yep. Consider myself a lucky man, even if it gets a mite lonely sometimes.”

“Lonely?” Jubal stepped to the side and turned to face him. He looked damn good in the bright morning light. That hair might be too long, but it glinted as the sun caught it, and reminded him of a wood Vincent used for making his furniture pieces—mahogany, a wood he paid dear for. He understood why Lucas’s pa had fallen in love with his ma’s.

“Yep. Wouldn’t trade it, but when you’re chasing cattle for years and years, there most always be cowboys to yammer with ‘round the fire at night. Just my voice for the most part since I’ve been here—me talking to stock what can’t talk back—but not feeling lonely today a’tall.” He smiled, but showed no teeth, his normally open expression closing just a mite as his gaze shifted away. “I’ll wash up and then fix us some vittles… put a good stew on for supper and let it cook the day long.”

Jubal nodded, understanding the man’s sudden need to change the subject. In his experience, few men liked to admit needing others’ company. “Good idea. Happens I’m partial to stew. Raised on it.”

“Yep, stew every night for us. Take a walk around and go say hey to your horses. Y’all know where the outhouse be and you can get yourself sorted. Can move your tack into the barn and hang up what you need to—store what you want in the cabin. Food won’t be long.” He squatted down and started packing the firepit with kindling from the nearby pile, and Jubal moved off, giving Lucas his space.

The outhouse was a good idea, and he was grateful to find a stack of print when he opened the door. He also appreciated the privacy because he had a powerful ache needing took care of what wouldn’t take long a’tall.

Lucas had added plenty of eggs to their breakfast of cheese and bread, and they were greasy with delicious pork fat. It was mighty pleasing to follow up with strong black coffee. Could have used some sugar, but he weren’t about to complain.

“Gave your new cabin a good look over after I washed them boys’ blood from the wagon bed.”

“Saw you were busy. Appreciate I don’t have to do such—had enough of their blood for sure. What did you think of my building? Would that neighbor friend of yours approve?”

“Vincent? Well, he’d have said you got the foundation right, using all them big granite rocks to support the logs and keep them up off the ground.”

“Truth be told, I was surprised Dinah could move ones that size, but she’s not one to quit. What else might he have said?”

“For sure he’d say you got the hearth right too, keeping the chimney out a distance from the logs instead of tying it into the building like most do, and he’d approve of the way you tied the floors into the bottom log with those middle supports right where they needed to be. He’d have appreciated too, the notches you axed out. That be some fine work.”

“Figured that all out by myself,” Lucas said proudly. "Could never abide dirt floors again after this spring. What else would he have said?”

“That you got the cabin square and true and put the three windows in good spots what don’t weaken the walls with two full logs over each. Why no window on the north or east wall?”

“Well… windows be right dear for one thing. Considered putting one on the east wall to see the barn, but I reckoned it be too many and an unnecessary cost. Fact is too, I got tired of sawing logs. Have views of the crick and anyone coming up the lane. Did I do it wrong?”

“Wouldn’t say so. Place’ll be plenty bright.”

“What about Vincent? What would he say?”

“I reckon nothing about where you decided to put the windows. He might say two doors would be better than the one, but you don’t see that much in log cabins.”

“I reckon you don’t, but I see that might have been something to give some thought to. Too late now.”

“No, happens it’s not. Took a good look, and just some chopping out of the first log at head height, and then some sawing of the rest. Three hours work at most… if’n you decide you wanted that second door. Would give you a view of the barn when it’s opened.”

Lucas nodded. “It would do. Three hours? That’s all? Now you got me thinking. Want to do right by this new home of mine.”

“Three at the most if your axe and saw are sharp.”

“Got me a good grinding stone and a new file. What else would Vincent say?”

Jubal thought about the first time Vincent told Jubal he had strong love for him, and smiled to hisself even though the memory came with some sadness.

“Something funny?”

The question brought him from his thoughts. “Nah, just remembering how he could make me laugh while we worked on his house and his barn… barn was the first we built, right after he bought the land. Built his home and his hog house from logs. He would have something to say about the roof you’re planning if you want to hear it?”

“I surely do,” Lucas answered after he took a sip of steaming coffee. He leaned forward, his expression a curious one.

“All right then. Got no doubt he’d say a shed roof don’t belong on a house, and he’d be right direct about it. He’d insist one needs a good slope so wood don’t stay wet and rot, and leaks won’t happen. I know he’d tell you a high-peaked roof would guarantee a house lasts two hundred years, cause I’ve heard him say it to me.”

“Two hundred years? Suppose I should want to build something to last that long, but a shed one be easier, and not so scary to climb on.”

“That be true. Just passing along what Vincent would say.”

“And what would you say?”

“I… well, all right… I’d say it ain’t too late to change it, and it’s a mite more important than a second door.”

“Ain’t it too late, though? I got the back wall higher than the front, and the rafters milled close to the right length already.”

“Yep, you do. As far as them rafters, I measured them what be in that pile, and they be the right length for a peaked roof… just need twice as many, and I see you got those already milled in that other stack beside the barn—fact is it’s not a long roof we’re speaking of compared to ones Vincent and I built. You even got a thick, straight plank long enough for a ridge pole in that pile… that extra-long one twice as thick as your roof boards.”

Lucas nodded that he knew which one he was talking about. “Them’s for adding onto the barn, and that thick plank is for the rafter ends to perch on.”

“Then that’s the way it be, plain and simple.” Jubal didn’t enjoy saying the man should do something different. If'n he wanted a shed roof then he should have a shed roof.

“I surely have been worrying about the new roof sagging like the cabin’s done,” Lucas said with a frown deepening the twin lines between his brows.

“I suspect it will unless you put supports in the middle, which means you’d need to crawl under the cabin and place more granite where they be… so they don’t push down your nice flat floor.”

“Not wanting to crawl under there,” Lucas said, appearing right shook at the thought. “Don’t care for tight spaces as much as I don’t like heights. What else would be needed to switch it to peaked?”

“If you did choose to change it, we’d need to even up the walls, so another two logs on the front, two on each side, and one on the back.”

“Why so many? Don’t I just need one to even it up?”

Jubal sighed quiet-like. Lucas had asked, so he couldn’t stop now. “You know the length of the front and back wall? They’re more than twenty feet, that be right?”

“Yep, twenty-two feet end to end.”

“What I thought. Then you need two logs—a ways in from the end walls—going from the back wall to the front wall to tie them walls together.”

“Why would that be?”

The man seemed interested—and not at all annoyed—so Jubal felt comfortable enough to let some excitement creep into his voice. For some reason he wanted this man to have the finest home he could build. “Them cross logs would be to keep the walls from bowing out like an old cowboy’s legs. The weight from the roof—and especially if it’s carrying snow—could push them walls out over time. You might not notice the first year or two, but it’ll likely happen on walls that be such a length. Leastwise, that’s what I was taught.

“Wouldn’t have to concern yourself it the walls were only fourteen feet long—or the logs were thicker than they be—cause those logs would be harder to bow. Saddle-notch them together and the walls will stay how you put them and add strength to any roof, peaked or shed type.”

“Ah, so you add a front log so the two long walls be even in height, then notch in those cross ones to tie them together, and the put another notched log over the two cross ones to hold them in place?”

“You’re picturing it right in your head, Lucas. That’s what would be needed, along with evening up the sides. Then we’d brace that thick ridge plank up where we want it—making sure it’s good and level and centered proper—and then the rafter ends get nailed to it. The other ends be nailed to the front wall and back walls, and then they get tied together by nailing cross boards up close to the peak. All that’s left after that is laying those sweet-smelling cedar roof boards you got, and closing up the side walls. You likely won’t have enough of them roof boards, though.”

“I would I think, if’n I used the ones already milled for what was to be added on the barn. They’re the same length and width with no splits in them. Had to figure out how to extend my wagon for when I haul logs or planks that long, but I got it done,” he said with real excitement showing on his face.

“Expect that’s it, then. If you choose to, we can build it that way, but you need the very top front and back log to extend out enough to hold the end rafters for eaves. You understand what I’m saying?”

“Eaves? Yep, believe I do. Them end rafters sit on the end of the top logs and attach up on the ridge beam… so it would need be longer too?”

“That’s right. See you understand me, so they need be twenty-three feet at the least to give you those side eaves, and keep rain or snow from driving in under the roof boards.”

“Happens I got roof boards what’s twenty-four feet cause I was going to overhang the sides of the shed roof—same with the add-on to the barn. I’m thinking it was meant to be because I got extra logs cut that be longer than we need. Had thought I was laying another course, but saw it was plenty high with what’s there now.”

“Twenty-four feet is even better. Seems pitching the roof is meant to be to me too. It would be higher, so better able to protect your house, and you’d have a loft to boot.”

“A loft?”

“Well… sure… if’n you peak the roof you’ll have all that extra space overhead.”

Lucas smiled, huge and bright, his white teeth shining in the sunlight. “Never thought about having a loft. Such a thing would come in useful… could put my bed up there. Yep, thinking that’s what I want to do, even if it means I got to climb so damn high.”

“Just thinking?”

“Hell no. I want the loft for certain!”

Jubal laughed, happy to give him such excitement. “You won’t have to climb high at all once we set the ridge beam. Vincent used to say I could live in the trees with the possums. I got no fear for heights a’tall. Might be we should put four ties in instead of two, though, so the loft support is done at the same time.”

“Ah… I see what you’re saying. We need to do some figuring and add up all we got and all we’ll need.”

“Already know you got the ridge beam, the rafters, and the outside logs, so we just need to count the roof boards. You got enough for four tie-in logs instead of two?”

“Believe so—there’s another pile I didn’t move from where I cut them down because I figured some weren’t quite thick enough for the walls—they were the first I cut. If they won’t do, I can get others. Got seasoned trees standing to the north and it’d take Dinah nothing to haul them out.” He put his tin cup down on the table stump after emptying it with a few long swallows.

“They don’t need to be quite as thick as those wall logs you put up. As long as they’re straight, and solid wood the whole way through, then they’ll do just fine.”

“They’re straight and true for certain, and only a mite thinner, so let’s get to figuring. Time’s a wasting.”

“Now who’s eager?” Jubal asked with a teasing grin.

“Suppose I am excited for the type of cabin I’ll end up with.”

“The way it should be, Lucas. You deserve having one to be proud of.”

“You think so?”

“I do. Anyone can see you’ve done well for this land.”

Lucas, appearing pleased, held his gaze for a time before he spoke. “Appreciate you saying such. For the longest time all I been seeing is my mistakes. Ready for tackling a job as big as this?”

“Sure thing, boss. I reckon it ain’t nothing but some effort and our time… but we’ll move the horses first, right?”

“Oh… right… we’ll start after we put ‘em in the big pen.” He strode off looking full of energy. Jubal swallowed the rest of his coffee, and then hurried to catch up. The man needed him, and he would do his best to help him see his worth as a farmer, any way he could.

He really did love building things, especially for and with someone he’d grown to care for. Remembering such made up for a lot that had happened since those happy times, and he sent Vincent some silent thanks for all he’d given him. He hoped the man was truly happy, and had hisself a passel of kids… at least one of them a boy who liked to build… one what looked like his handsome pa.

 

*

I won't ask for anything. I just hope you are enjoying this story. Cheers.
Copyright © 2023 Headstall; All Rights Reserved.
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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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