Reed Anthony, Cowman HTML version

VII. "The Angel"
The winds of adversity were tempered by the welcome extended me by my old
comrade and his wife. There was no concealment as to my financial condition,
but when I explained the causes my former crony laughed at me until the tears
stood in his eyes. Nor did I protest, because I so richly deserved it. Fortunately
the circumstances of my friends had bettered since my previous visit, and I was
accordingly relieved from any feeling of intrusion. In two short years the wheel
had gone round, and I was walking heavily on my uppers and continually felt like
a pauper or poor relation. To make matters more embarrassing, I could appeal to
no one, and, fortified by pride from birth, I ground my teeth over resolutions that
will last me till death. Any one of half a dozen friends, had they known my true
condition, would have gladly come to my aid, but circumstances prevented me
from making any appeal. To my brother in Missouri I had previously written of my
affluence; as for friends in Palo Pinto County,--well, for the very best of reasons
my condition would remain a sealed book in that quarter; and to appeal to Major
Mabry might arouse his suspicions. I had handled a great deal of money for him,
accounting for every cent, but had he known of my inability to take care of my
own frugal earnings it might have aroused his distrust. I was sure of a position
with him again as trail foreman, and not for the world would I have had him know
that I could be such a fool as to squander my savings thoughtlessly.
What little correspondence I conducted that winter was by roundabout methods. I
occasionally wrote my brother that I was wallowing in wealth, always inclosing a
letter to Gertrude Edwards with instructions to remail, conveying the idea to her
family that I was spending the winter with relatives in Missouri. As yet there was
no tacit understanding between Miss Gertrude and me, but I conveyed that
impression to my brother, and as I knew he had run away with his wife, I had
confidence he would do my bidding. In writing my employer I reported myself as
busy dealing in land scrip, and begged him not to insist on my appearance until it
was absolutely necessary. He replied that I might have until the 15th of March in
which to report at Austin, as my herd had been contracted for north in Williamson
County. Major Mabry expected to drive three herds that spring, the one already
mentioned and two from Llano County, where he had recently acquired another
ranch with an extensive stock of cattle. It therefore behooved me to keep my
reputation unsullied, a rather difficult thing to do when our escapade at Sherman
was known to three other trail foremen. They might look upon it as a good joke,
while to me it was a serious matter.
Had there been anything to do in Washington County, it was my intention to go to
work. The dredging company had departed for newer fields, there was no other
work in sight, and I was compelled to fold my hands and bide my time. My crony
and I blotted out the days by hunting deer and turkeys, using hounds for the
former and shooting the animals at game crossings. By using a turkey-call we