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A Texas Matchmaker

XV. In Commemoration
A heavy rainfall continued the greater portion of two days. None of us ventured
away from the house until the weather settled, and meantime I played the fiddle
almost continuously. Night work and coarse living in camps had prepared us to
enjoy the comforts of a house, as well as to do justice to the well-laden table.
Miss Jean prided herself, on special occasions and when the ranch had
company, on good dinners; but in commemoration of the breaking of this drouth,
with none but us boys to share it, she spread a continual feast. The Mexican
contingent were not forgotten by master or mistress, and the ranch supplies in
the warehouse were drawn upon, delicacies as well as staples, not only for the
_jacals_ about headquarters but also for the outlying ranchitas. The native
element had worked faithfully during the two years in which no rain to speak of
had fallen, until the breaking hour, and were not forgotten in the hour of
deliverance. Even the stranger vaqueros were compelled to share the hospitality
of Las Palomas like invited guests.
While the rain continued falling, Uncle Lance paced the gallery almost night and
day. Fearful lest the downpour might stop, he stood guard, noting every change
in the rainfall, barely taking time to eat or catch an hour's sleep. But when the
grateful rain had continued until the evening of the second day, assuring a
bountiful supply of water all over our range, he joined us at supper, exultant as a
youth of twenty. "Boys," said he, "this has been a grand rain. If our tanks hold, we
will be independent for the next eighteen months, and if not another drop falls,
the river ought to flow for a year. I have seen worse drouths since I lived here,
but what hurt us now was the amount of cattle and the heavy drift which flooded
down on us from up the river and north on the Frio. The loss is nothing; we won't
notice it in another year. I have kept a close tally of the hides taken, and our
brand will be short about two thousand, or less than ten per cent of our total
numbers. They were principally old cows and will not be missed. The calf crop
this fall will be short, but taking it up one side and down the other, we got off
lucky."
The third day after the rain began the sun rose bright and clear. Not a hoof of
cattle or horses was in sight, and though it was midsummer, the freshness of
earth and air was like that of a spring morning. Every one felt like riding. While
awaiting the arrival of saddle horses, the extra help hired during the drouth was
called in and settled with. Two brothers, Fidel and Carlos Trujillo, begged for
permanent employment. They were promising young fellows, born on the
Aransas River, and after consulting with Deweese Uncle Lance took both into
permanent service on the ranch. A room in an outbuilding was allotted them, and
they were instructed to get their meals in the kitchen. The _remudas_ had
wandered far, but one was finally brought in by a vaquero, and by pairs we
mounted and rode away. On starting, the tanks demanded our first attention, and
finding all four of them safe, we threw out of gear all the windmills. Theodore
 
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