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A Texas Matchmaker

XVII. Winter At Las Palomas
The winter succeeding the drouth was an unusually mild one, frost and sleet
being unseen at Las Palomas. After the holidays several warm rains fell,
affording fine hunting and assuring enough moisture in the soil to insure an early
spring. The preceding winter had been gloomy, but this proved to be the most
social one since my advent, for within fifty miles of the ranch no less than two
weddings occurred during Christmas week. As to little neighborhood happenings,
we could hear of half a dozen every time we went to Shepherd's after the mail.
When the native help on the ranch was started at blocking out the stone for the
chapel, Uncle Lance took the hounds and with two of the boys went down to
Wilson's ranch for a hunt. Gallup went, of course, but just why he took Scales
along, unless with the design of making a match between one of the younger
daughters of this neighboring ranchman and the Marylander, was not entirely
clear. When he wanted to, Scales could make himself very agreeable, and had it
not been for his profligate disposition, his being taken along on the hunt would
have been no mystery. Every one on the ranch, including the master and
mistress, were cognizant of the fact that for the past year he had maintained a
correspondence with a girl in Florida--the one whose letter and photograph had
been found in the box of oranges. He hardly deserved the confidence of the
roguish girl, for he showed her letters to any one who cared to read them. I had
read every line of the whole correspondence, and it was plain that Scales had
deceived the girl into believing that he was a prominent ranchman, when in
reality the best that could be said of him was that he was a lovable vagabond.
From the last letter, it was clear that he had promised to marry the girl during the
Christmas week just past, but he had asked for a postponement on the ground
that the drouth had prevented him from selling his beeves.
When Uncle Lance made the discovery, during a cow hunt the fall before, of the
correspondence between Scales and the Florida girl, he said to us around the
camp-fire that night: "Well, all I've got to say is that that girl down in Florida is
hard up. Why, it's entirely contrary to a girl's nature to want to be wooed by letter.
Until the leopard changes his spots, the good old way, of putting your arm around
the girl and whispering that you love her, will continue to be popular. If I was to
hazard an opinion about that girl, Aaron, I'd say that she was ambitious to rise
above her surroundings. The chances are that she wants to get away from home,
and possibly she's as much displeased with the young men in the orange country
as I sometimes get with you dodrotted cow hands. Now, I'm not one of those
people who're always harping about the youth of his day and generation being so
much better than the present. That's all humbug. But what does get me is, that
you youngsters don't profit more by the experience of an old man like me who's
been married three times. Line upon line and precept upon precept, I have
preached this thing to my boys for the last ten years, and what has it amounted
to? Not a single white bride has ever been brought to Las Palomas. They can call
 
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