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A Texas Matchmaker

XXI. Interlocutory Proceedings
A big summer's work lay before us. When Uncle Lance realized the permanent
loss of three men from the working force of Las Palomas, he rallied to the
situation. The ranch would have to run a double outfit the greater portion of the
summer, and men would have to be secured to fill our ranks. White men who
were willing to isolate themselves on a frontier ranch were scarce; but the
natives, when properly treated, were serviceable and, where bred to the
occupation and inclined to domesticity, made ideal vaqueros. My injured foot
improved slowly, and as soon as I was able to ride, it fell to me to secure the
extra help needed. The desertion of Quayle and Cotton had shaken my
employer's confidence to a noticeable degree, and in giving me my orders to
secure vaqueros, he said:--
"Tom, you take a good horse and go down the Tarancalous and engage five
vaqueros. Satisfy yourself that the men are fit for the work, and hire every one by
the year. If any of them are in debt, a hundred dollars is my limit of advance
money to free them. And hire no man who has not a family, for I'm losing
confidence every minute in single ones, especially if they are white. We have a
few empty _jacals_, and the more children that I see running naked about the
ranch, the better it suits me. I'll never get my money back in building that Cotton
cottage until I see a mother, even though she is a Mexican, standing in the door
with a baby in her arms. The older I get, the more I see my mistake in depending
on the white element."
I was gone some three days in securing the needed help. It was a delicate
errand, for no ranchero liked to see people leave his lands, and it was only where
I found men unemployed that I applied for and secured them. We sent wagons
from Las Palomas after their few effects, and had all the families contentedly
housed, either about headquarters or at the outlying ranchitas, before the first
contingent of beeves was gathered. But the attempt to induce any of the new
families to occupy the stone cottage proved futile, as they were superstitious.
There was a belief among the natives, which no persuasion could remove,
regarding houses that were built for others and never occupied. The new building
was tendered to Tio Tiburcio and his wife, instead of their own palisaded _jacal_,
but it remained tenantless--an eyesore to its builder.
Near the latter end of April, a contract was let for two new tanks on the Ganso
grant of land. Had it not been for the sale of beef, which would require our time
the greater portion of the summer, it was my employer's intention to have built
these reservoirs with the ranch help. But with the amount of work we had in sight,
it was decided to let the contract to parties who made it their business and were
outfitted for the purpose. Accordingly in company with the contractor, Uncle
Lance and myself spent the last few days of the month laying off and planning