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A Texas Matchmaker

XVI. Matchmaking
After our return to the Frio, my first duty was writing, relative to the proposed
match, an unfavorable reply to Don Alejandro Travino.
On resuming work, we spent six weeks baling hides, thus occupying our time
until the beginning of the branding season. A general round-up of the Nueces
valley, commencing on the coast at Corpus Christi Bay, had been agreed upon
among the cowmen of the country. In pursuance of the plan four well-mounted
men were sent from our ranch with Wilson's wagon to the coast, our _segundo_
following a week later with the wagon, _remuda_ and twelve men, to meet the
rodeo at San Patricio as they worked up the river. Our cattle had drifted in every
direction during the drouth and though many of them had returned since the
range had again become good, they were still widely scattered. So Uncle Lance
took the rest of us and started for the Frio, working down that river and along the
Nueces, until we met the round-up coming up from below. During this cow hunt, I
carried my fiddle with me in the wagon, and at nearly every ranch we passed we
stopped and had a dance. Not over once a week did we send in cattle to the
ranch to brand, and on meeting the rodeo from below, Deweese had over three
thousand of our cattle. After taking these in and branding the calves, we worked
over our home range until near the holidays.
On our return to the ranch, we learned that young Blas Travino from the Mission
had passed Las Palomas some days before. He had stopped in passing; but,
finding the ranchero absent, plead a matter of business at Santa Maria,
promising to call on his return. He was then at the ranch on the Tarancalous, and
hourly expecting his reappearance, the women of the household were in an
agitated state of mind. Since the formal answer had been sent, no word had
come from Don Blas and a rival had meanwhile sprung up in the person of Fidel
Trujillo. Within a month after his employment I noticed the new vaquero casting
shy glances at Juana, but until the cow hunt on the Frio I did not recognize the
fine handwriting of the old matchmaker. Though my services were never called
for as interpreter between Uncle Lance and the new man, any one could see
there was an understanding between them. That the old ranchero was pushing
Fidel forward was evident during the fall cow hunting by his sending that Mexican
into Las Palomas with every bunch of cattle gathered.
That evening Don Blas rode into the ranch, accompanied by Father Norquin. The
priest belonged at the Mission, and their meeting at Santa Maria might, of
course, have been accidental. None of the padre's parishioners at headquarters
were expecting him, however, for several months, and padres are able
_padrinos_,--sometimes, among their own faith, even despotic. Taking account,
as it appeared, of the ulterior motive, Uncle Lance welcomed the arrivals with a
hearty hospitality, which to a stranger seemed so genuine as to dispel any
 
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