Read Lone Star Ranger : A Ranger to Ride With (9781310568404) Online

Authors: James J. Griffin

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Lone Star Ranger : A Ranger to Ride With (9781310568404)

BOOK: Lone Star Ranger : A Ranger to Ride With (9781310568404)
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Lone Star Ranger

Volume 1

A Ranger to Ride With

 

 

James J. Griffin

A Ranger to Ride With by James J. Griffin

Smashwords Edition

Copyright 2014 by James J. Griffin

Cover design by Livia J. Washburn

Texas Ranger badge image courtesy of the
Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum, Waco

Author photo credited to Susanne Onatah

All Rights Reserved

 

Painted Pony Books

www.paintedponybooks.com

 

Smashwords Edition, License Notes

 

This ebook is licensed for your personal
enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to
other people. If you would like to share this book with another
person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If
you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not
purchased for your use only, then please return to Smashwords.com
and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work
of this author.

 

For everyone, especially the young people,
who still want to read about the history of the United States
West.

1

 

Nathaniel Stewart had just left his house
and was walking down Linden Street in his hometown of Wilmington,
Delaware. In a few moments, he’d arrive at his best friend Hugh
Dickinson’s home. He and Hugh would meet up with a few other
friends, then either head to the river for a swim, or more likely
just laze around in one of the boys’ back yards.

The day was pleasant for late July, the air
warm with a gentle breeze blowing, not hot and sticky as it usually
was this time of year. Nathaniel whistled as he walked along the
tree lined street, fronted with its rows of neat brick houses with
their well-kept yards and flower boxes filled with colorful blooms
on the windowsills. He was fourteen years old, with unruly brown
hair and eyes of the same hue. He’d recently grown a couple of
inches, so had the typical thin build of most teenaged boys. He’d
also recently realized that girls were beginning to interest him,
and that when he walked by some of them smiled at him, then giggled
for some reason. Truth be told, he had no idea w
hy
he was
out of the blue interested in girls. All he knew was that the
scrawny, dumb, silly females who’d always made pests of themselves
were suddenly pretty and attractive. And one of the prettiest was
Becky Palmer, with her pert turned up nose, blonde hair, and blue
eyes the color of forget-me-nots. For some reason he felt he’d like
to sit next to her on the front porch swing. He’d never admit that
to Hugh or any of the other guys, though.

Nathaniel meandered along, not being in any
particular hurry. Unexpectedly, Becky appeared at the end of the
block. When she spotted Nathaniel, she waved to him and called his
name.

“Nathaniel! Nathaniel Stewart!”

Nathaniel raised a hand to wave in
response.

“Nathaniel! Get back to hoeing, right this
minute. Those weeds aren’t going to pull themselves out of the
ground!”

Nathaniel was roused from his daydream by
the shouting of his mother, who stood in the door of the three-room
dogtrot cabin the Stewart family now occupied. The voice he’d heard
calling was not Becky’s, but his ma’s.

“Do you hear me, Nathaniel?”

“Yes, Ma.” Nathaniel sighed and lifted the
hoe he’d been leaning against. He again began chopping at the tough
weeds between the rows of turnips. He and his family no longer
lived in their former pleasant neighborhood in Wilmington, but now
on a small ranch several miles west of San Saba, Texas.

“And once you’ve finished weeding it will be
time to milk the cow,” Mrs. Stewart added.

“Can’t Pa do that?” Nathaniel asked.

“He could, but he’s chopping wood for me. So
you need to handle that chore. Do you understand?”

“Yes, Ma.” Nathaniel sighed again. How he
hated Texas, and this ranch in particular! His father, Marcus, an
accountant by trade, had inexplicably developed a sense of
adventure and determined to join the many others heading to
post-Reconstruction Texas. Within a matter of weeks, he’d bought a
piece of land complete with cabin and barn, sight unseen. He’d
uprooted his family, wife Adele, Nathaniel, and Nathaniel’s older
brother, eighteen-year-old Jonathan, and moved them all to
Texas.

Nathaniel’s first sight of their new home
came as a shock. Instead of the tree-lined streets, neat homes, and
green yards he’d grown up with in Delaware, this part of Texas was
mainly flat, hot, dry, and dusty. Even the San Saba River, as it
was called, was barely more than a trickle compared to the streams
back home. It would hardly be a drop in the mighty Delaware River.
The vegetation, what there was of it, was mostly brush, and much of
it thorny. The only trees of any size grew in scattered spots along
the San Saba.

Even more of an unpleasant surprise was the
house; or more properly, the cabin. Back home in Wilmington, in
their spacious two-story, six-room brick house, Nathaniel had his
own bedroom. Here the entire family was crammed into that three
room dogtrot cabin, so named because it had two sections with a
covered area in the middle called a “dogtrot”, since it resembled
nothing so much as a chained dog’s run, connecting the two. One
side was a single room used as kitchen and living room, the other
was divided into two small bedrooms. Nathaniel and Jonathan shared
the smaller of the two rooms. Not only had Nathaniel lost his own
room, he also lost his own bed. Now, he and Jonathan had to crowd
into one bed— an arrangement which was cramped, to say the least.
Nathaniel soon found out that Jonathan was a cover snatcher,
pulling the sheets and blankets off Nathaniel and wrapping himself
in them. Not that it mattered all that much once the short Texas
winter and spring were over and the sweltering heat and humidity of
summer set in. Covers were the last thing you needed when trying to
sleep. Nathaniel and his brother wore as little as possible when
crawling into bed. Actually, given their choice, both boys would
have slept buck-naked, but their mother forbade any such thing.
What annoyed Nathaniel was not so much Jonathan’s stealing the
covers as his trying to hog the whole bed. More than once, he’d
been rudely awakened in the middle of the night by his brother’s
elbow jabbing into his ribs.

Nathaniel’s friends had all been envious
when they’d learned he was moving to Texas. They’d all heard tales
of cattle drives, cowboys, gunfighters, and wild Indians. They were
convinced Nathaniel would soon be one of their number, riding a
horse, chasing cattle across the prairie, and fighting outlaws and
desperadoes, downing them in a blaze of gunfire.
If only they
knew the truth.
Nathaniel and his family had been in Texas for
just shy of a year now, and he had yet to see any Indians at all,
let alone any wild ones. The few cowboys he had seen were not
handsome, riding-high-in-the-saddle men, but were usually dusty,
dirty, and smelly from trailing cattle. True, they all wore guns,
but he’d never seen a cowboy actually use one. As far as Nathaniel
himself went, the only varmints he’d ever rounded up were the
jackrabbits and rodents which were determined to eat every
vegetable his mother planted.

No, the longer Nathaniel had been in Texas,
the more he’d grown to despise his new life. It was dull and
boring, mainly working in the daily struggle to keep the small
vegetable garden him mother insisted on planting surviving. While
the seventy head of long-horned cattle his father had purchased
along with the ranch seemed to thrive on the tough vegetation and
sparse grass, and cactus and mesquite grew in abundance, most
plants wilted in the unforgiving Texas sun. Heck, Nathaniel even
missed school. With their home being so far from town, the only
book learning he now received was taught by his mother. The same
thing went for church. Instead of going to church every Sunday,
where Nathaniel could see his friends once services were over, the
only clergyman the Stewarts ever saw was a circuit-riding Methodist
preacher who stopped by once every few weeks. Even Reverend
Pierce’s long and boring sermons would be welcome right now. In
fact, Nathaniel even missed his Aunt Ida, a woman he’d never looked
forward to visiting. She was one of those ladies who wore far too
much perfume and smothered a kid with unwanted kisses. Right now,
he’d welcome some of those kisses, perfume and all. Isolated here
in the middle of nowhere, he missed having companions to pal around
with. And he’d certainly never meet a girl like Becky Palmer way
out here.

As the afternoon wore on, Nathaniel kept
hoeing half-heartedly at the weeds choking the garden. He looked up
at the sound of an approaching horse and rider.

“Howdy, little brother,” Jonathan shouted as
he rode up and dismounted. “You keepin’ the weeds from takin’ over
the place?”

“I’m doin’ my best.”

“Well, you keep at it.” Jonathan pulled
Nathaniel’s straw hat off his head, tousled his brother’s hair and
laughed. “Wrangle those pests right outta the ground. I’ve gotta
take care of my horse.”

“He’s gotta take care of his horse,”
Nathaniel muttered under his breath once Jonathan headed for the
barn. He felt a twinge of jealousy. Unlike Nathaniel, his brother
had taken to Texas life like a merganser took to water in the
Delaware Bay. Jonathan had easily learned to rope and ride and was
on his way to becoming a top hand. He had bought a horse, a sorrel
gelding he named Big Red, and sat in the saddle as if he’d been
born there. He’d laughed himself silly when he came home with the
horse and Nathaniel asked if a gelding was a boy or girl horse.
He’d also bought a six-gun, one of the new and still rare Smith and
Wesson American cartridge pistols. He’d explained to Nathaniel a
cartridge gun was a lot more efficient than the old-fashioned cap
and ball pistols, such as the Navy Colt, that most men still
carried. It didn’t take long for Jonathan to become a crack shot
with that pistol, as well as the Winchester rifle he bought.
Jonathan had a natural ability with firearms. Besides taking charge
of the Stewarts’ herd, he also found work on a neighboring ranch,
helping with branding and doctoring their cattle.

Nathaniel finally gave up on yanking more
weeds out of the hard, sun-baked ground. He went into the barn, got
a bucket and the milking stool, and started for the small pen which
held the milk cow. By the time he finished milking Bess, Jonathan
had groomed, fed, and watered Big Red, along with Buck, the plow
and wagon horse. He tossed some hay to the cow.

“Figured I’d save you a bit of work,
Nathaniel,” he said.

“I appreciate that, big brother. Man, I’m
sure sick of weedin’ that garden. Nothin’ grows good in it
anyway.”

BOOK: Lone Star Ranger : A Ranger to Ride With (9781310568404)
11.24Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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