A Brisk November by Diana L. Pierce….alias….Dee Grainger
No copyright infringement intended.
The brisk November air as night approached had everyone at Shiloh preparing for a cold snap. The cowhands are in the bunkhouse sorting through warmer gear for the upcoming day. Trampas pulls his wool socks out of the trunk near his bunk. "Wish I had took time to darn these things before I packed them away." He looks at all the holes in them. "Guess I have to now." The Virginian, who is pulling a warmer shirt out of the trunk says, "Here you sew a button on this and I'll see if I can sweet talk one of the girls into darning your socks." Trampas thinks the idea sounded good to him, "Have 'em do the button, too." He shakes his head, "No, they'd know that is my shirt. I'm asking them to do something for you not me." Confused Trampas looks at him, "What difference does it make?" The foreman explains, "Because I don't want them thinking I'm helpless." Trampas grins, "But you don't care what they think about me? I see. Guess I don't care either, if they'll darn my socks."
The foreman enters the house, "Any of you ladies feel like darning some socks for Trampas? The last pair he mended had so many knots in them they hurt his feet." Elizabeth who is standing the closest to him; "Give them here, I can darn them." Dee hearing all this, "Poor Trampas, I'm sure there's still some new socks in the trunk I brought with me from Kansas. Did you guys ever use any of the stuff in there?" The Virginian grins, "Dear, how long you think socks last a cowhand? I believe that's where this pair came from." She smiles, "Guess, I didn't realize how long I've been here. Yeah, they probably got all them worn out by now."
The next day, Holly, Elizabeth and Dee are going over their list of things to make for Thanksgiving dinner. Elizabeth asks her aunt, "Have the boys seen any turkey? What we going to do for a turkey this year?" Holly replies, "We'll figure it out. You don't worry about it. I do miss having Mr. Brown bringing us his hand raised ones." Dee spoke up, "I heard some just the other day. But I think Chance seen them, had a heck of a time making him come back to me, hope he didn't frighten them to far away." Holly says, "I'm sure we can get the boys to get us a couple while they're out there."
A couple of days before Thanksgiving the cowhands are on a mission to get two turkeys, one for the Graingers and one for the bunkhouse. Trampas and Jim spot a flock. They sneak up on them, "Bang, Bang." The shots ring out. The feathers fly. The two look around thinking they each knocked one down. They search and search some more. Trampas scratches his head, "Dang, could have sworn we knocked out two." Jim says, "Yeah, I thought so too. Guess they could have rolled down the hill." They walk down the hill. They see a trail of blood and some feathers, but no turkey. They know they won't get another shot at one now so they get their horses and head back to the ranch.
In the meanwhile, the Virginian rides in with two nice size wild turkeys. He gets the hands busy at plucking the feathers near the bunkhouse. By the time Trampas and Jim get back the turkey is all taken care of including the feathers, Trampas shakes his head as he gets closer to where his boss is standing, "Yoo, we didn't bring any turkey back. The weirdest thing happened, Jim and I both got a shot at one, tracked them a long ways down a hill, even seen blood and feathers, but no birds to be seen." Jim a bit upset as he reaches them, "Dang if I know what the heck happen to the turkey we shot, but could have sworn we had us two of them." The Virginian grins, "Yeah, I believe ya. Guess maybe we won't be eating turkey this year for Thanksgiving lessin' ya think you can try again tomorrow." Jim frowns, "The flock might be back there tomorrow. Yeah, we'll get some you'll see." The foreman laughs, "Well, don't fret. I got lucky and had two of 'em rolling down a hill right at me. Didn't even waste a bullet; It was the strangest thing I ever seen." Trampas being a little disturbed he didn't get to show off his own trophy, "Reckon we should had just sent you hunting then, being that lucky and all." Jim feeling the same, "Reckon next time we will at that." The two head to the bunkhouse half mad.
The next day the women are busy baking pies and getting ready for the next day's feast. Dee had just finished wrapping some fresh baked bread from that morning. "I'll take a couple loaves to the bunkhouse. Think two will be enough?" Holly is busy rolling out pie crust. "Should be with all the other stuff they have. Could you gather the eggs while you're down that way?" Dee replies, "Sure will. Anything else need done before I come back?" Holly nods, "Not unless you want to see if Burt will split more wood for the cook stove."
Dee noticed old Burt coming out of the barn as she heads toward the bunkhouse, "Burt, you got time to split us some wood for the cook stove?" He nods and heads toward the house. Dee delivers the bread to the bunkhouse and then goes to the hen house to gather eggs. The Virginian and his cowhands are riding in. Trampas smiling asks, "Dee, how's the feast going? You gals got all the goodies made yet?" She could tell how much it meant to him having a big feast as he called it. "The pies are baking right now. I just took fresh bread in the bunkhouse. Guess we're lucky the Virginian got us the turkey or we'd be eating one of these roosters." She smiles at the Virginian and he winks at her. Trampas looking a little irritated, "Yeah, guess we're lucky we ain't gotta eat chicken for Thanksgiving." Dee thinks, he sure is moody today, can't even pick on him. She heads to the house.
Later that evening the cowhands are relaxing in the bunkhouse. Old Burt speaks up, "Made sure there's plenty of firewood to keep them turkey cooking tomorrow. You know it takes a long time to cook one just right and they need lower heat to cook 'em slow." The Virginian grins, "I bet our cooks know all about that. But thanks Burt. We know we can count on you." Now Trampas is soaking in all this talk and getting riled up more by the minute. He thinks his friend has taken all the credit for getting the turkey. And this, we know we can count on you, sounded like a dig at him not bringing home the Thanksgiving bird. The cook starts telling the foreman his plans, "I think I'll start the turkey cooking about six or so. It's pretty big so it's going to take awhile to get it done by noon." The Virginian says, "Sounds like a good plan. Sorry I didn't get one a little smaller." The cook goes back to his stove where he's getting a big cooking pan out, "Well, Boss, thanks to you we ain't got to have something else for Thanksgiving." The Virginian starts to head to his room. Trampas stands up firing mad, "Yeah, thanks to you Bossman we ain't eating chicken." The foreman could see his friend was angry, "Simmer down," he tries to shove Trampas back from him. Just then Trampas doubles up his fist and pokes his boss right in the jaw knocking him backwards. The foreman catches his balance and returns his friend a slug right in the eye, "Just what was that for?" Trampas begins to calm down rubbing his eye, "Think about it and you'll know what that was for. We know we can count on you. Sorry I didn't get a smaller one." The Virginian looks seriously at his friend, "Trampas, everyone here knows you and Jim shot the turkey if that's your problem. Don't you know me by now?" Trampas feeling a little ashamed of his actions, "Yeah, guess maybe I do. Sorry I got hot headed." The foreman a little hot headed now himself, "If you weren't my best friend and we weren't about to be celebrating what we're thankful for, well never you mind." He heads to his room and slams the door.
The next morning the hands are out on the range all but old Burt and their cook, who stayed back to prepare their Thanksgiving feast. They noticed a rider coming up fast. They saw a young woman called Sammie from one of the neighboring ranches. She yells. "Help, Help, our house is on fire." All the cowhands follow her home to help fight the fire. As they get closer they see the woman's little girl by the well. Here her husband, Bob has a bucket brigade going with his cowhands trying to save the house. The men from Shiloh begin wetting burlap bags and grab shovels to throw dirt on the flames to smother it. With nearly twenty of them battling the blaze they managed to save the most of the house. The kitchen was completely gutted. Sammie had been busy preparing her Thanksgiving dinner. She hadn't noticed the apron hanging on a chair near the stove was way to close until it went up in flames and then caught a curtain on fire. All she could think to do was grab her daughter and get out of the house.
The Virginian feeling sorry for the young couple, "I want all of you to come back to Shiloh with us for Thanksgiving dinner. We have plenty enough food to share. I know the Grainger's will want you to." Sammie who is crying on her husband's shoulder holding their little girl looks up at him, "Are you sure? You've done so much already." Trampas speaks up, "Yes, he's sure. What's your name there little girl?" The little girl says, "I'm Sally Anna. I'll be this many tomorrow." She holds up four fingers. Trampas's face lights up, "Well, you're getting to be an old lady. Guess we better have a birthday party tomorrow."
Awhile later back at Shiloh they all enjoy a wonderful dinner. Sammie, Bob and little Sally Anna are eating with the Graingers and their cowhands are sharing the bunkhouse feast. Holly smiles at Sally Anna, "I hear you have a birthday tomorrow. Will you let me make you a cake?" Sammie grins at her. "Holly, how can I thank you." Holly hugs the little girl, "Sammie, this is a day to be thankful and I'm thankful for being able to help my neighbors when they need me." Clay says, "That goes for me, too. Bob, we'll help you fix your kitchen. I'm thankful for having such a good bunch of fellas working for me."
At the bunkhouse the neighbor's cowhands are saying their good-byes. The foreman of the group says, "Thanks again for the dinner and the help with the fire." The Virginian grins, "Your welcome, Charlie. Glad we could help." After they leave Trampas says to his boss, "I'm sorry for that little tangle we had last night." His boss grins, "I know. Sorry about the black eye." Trampas grins, "Yeah, it was kind of embarrassing explaining the fight was about who shot the turkey."
The next day Clay Grainger, the Virginian, and the cowhands go to the neighbors to help with the kitchen. Later they all go back to Shiloh for Sally Anna's birthday party. Sally Anna was smiling from ear to ear holding the new rag doll her parents gave her, as she blows out the candles on the cake. Holly begins to cut the cake, "Did you make a wish, honey?" The little girl said, "Yep, wish they'd hurry up making ice cream." Holly laughs, "You take this bowl out on the porch and tell Trampas you get the first helping." Sally Anna heads to where the cowhands are freezing ice cream. She hands her bowl to Trampas, "I get mine first cause I'm the birthday girl." The cowhands all laugh. Jim speaks up, "Look under the blanket over there. It's a birthday present from us." She pulls the blanket off from a small doll cradle the cowhands had taken time to build while working on the kitchen. She was so happy, she runs to the house yelling, "Mommy, come see, come see what I got." Those in the house are now on the porch. Elizabeth grabs a tiny blanket on the way out she'd made for Sally Anna's doll, "Sally Anna, here's a birthday present for your new dolly." The little girl lays her doll in the cradle and covers it with the blanket. Dee hands the child some pretty pink ribbons, "And here's a present for you and your dolly." Sally Anna's dad says, "That's nice, honey. What do you say when someone gives you something?" She smiles, "I say thank you. Where's my ice cream." Everyone laughs. Holly says, "Well, let's take it inside it's chilly out here."
Later near evening at the bunkhouse, the Virginian sets a small wooden crate on the floor. "Here's a thank you present from Bob and Sammie. What you suppose is in it?" Trampas grabs a crow bar, "Let's see. They know they didn't need get us anything." They pull the top off the crate to find it packed full of new wool socks. The Virginian smiles, "How do you think they knew we needed socks?"