Another Route to Laramie by Diana L. Pierce….alias…Dee Grainger

The March wind is howling madly outside as the Virginian walks in the house at Shiloh. "You need anything in town? Any letters need mailed today? I'm heading out shortly." Holly said, "Here you go." She hands him letters for Stacy from each of the three females there. He pulls his collar up on his coat to cover his neck as he heads out the door. Dee was walking toward him as he reached the corral. The blue scarf she had tightly wrapped around her head was nearly the color of her eyes and her old gray jacket could have held two her size. "Pretty darn cold isn't it. Think most these eggs are froze solid." She stops with the basket under her arm. He has one hand on top of his head, "Yeah, just have to dress warm. Need anything in town?" She could see he had all he could do to keep his hat from being blown away, "You need more than that on your head with this wind. Want my scarf? I'm going to the house, I won't need it." He turns around looking at her as he leads his horse out of the barn, "I've got one, not as pretty as yours though. They certainly would see me coming if I was to wear that one." She started toward the house. "Suit yourself."

Later the women are in the kitchen enjoying a cup of hot tea and keeping watch of the cake they have baking. "You'll have to see what you think of this recipe, Dee. It would be great for a wedding cake." Elizabeth asks, "What we going to make with the yolks we didn't need for the cake?" Holly replies, "Oh, we can scramble them for Chance. It will make his coat shiny." Dee watches her dog sleeping on her coat she laid in the corner for him. "Yeah, Chance loves eggs." Clay walks into the doorway of the kitchen and stands there sniffing the aroma of the cake baking. "You tea sippers got any coffee. I just saw the Virginian riding in. He'll need something warm into him." Holly gets up to fix some coffee. Clay looks at Dee, "ought not to have that dog in the kitchen while you're cooking." Dee calls her dog out of the kitchen, "Come on, Chance. We'll find you another warm place to sleep." The Virginian overhears the conversation as he's coming in the door. "Be lucky to find a warm place, today." Clay pours some whiskey in a glass and hands it to his foreman. "Coffee will be done soon. Did you get the freight order taken care of?" He nods, "Yep, we're all set, time the grass starts back good you'll have prime ones ready to feed again." Dee who is taking in this conversation smiles, "Guess spring is on its way. I'm ready." She pours her uncle and the Virginian some coffee. Clay looks at her, "June will be here before we know it." This took the smile right off her face. She picked up the letter from her friend Mary Adams the foreman left on the table and went to her room.

Dee hadn't returned the ring Johnny sent her in September from Montana or returned a letter to him since then. She wanted no more to do with this old boyfriend that keeps showing up out of the blue to pester her into marriage. Now she's wondering if he'll show up in June for a wedding he wants them to plan. If only, she hadn't made him think she still cared all these years. Maybe he wouldn't have looked for her and found her every time she relocated. Dee thought what a fool she was for a handsome face. If only he hadn't made everyone at Shiloh like him so much. She knew she had to return the ring and soon before he showed up again.

A couple weeks has gone by. Spring is making itself known, but only a little sunshine is present to tease her as Dee rides her horse toward town. She got up early and rode out before anyone could question her. She even left her sidekick dog, Chance behind. She is on a mission to discourage Johnny Marble from ever having anymore contact with her, letters or otherwise.

Dee stops at the telegraph office and sends Mary Adams a telegram. She is excepting the offer of partnership training dogs to herd sheep for some of their buyers. Dee knows this is something she'll be good at. After sending the message, she leads her horse down the street. The sun is shining by now and it is getting a little warmer. She walks into the freight office to make arrangements to fulfill her end of the bargain. The clerk asks, "Is this right? Last name Grainger, address Shiloh ranch, Medicine Bow?"

Later, Dee ties her paint mare in front of the sheriff's office. She walks in the door, "Morning, Sheriff." The sheriff looks up from his desk, "What brings you to Medicine Bow, Miss Grainger? Don't see you in town much." She smiles, "I need a favor and as I don't know anyone here. I'm hoping you can help. I need a courier to deliver a small package to the Triple M ranch in Beaver Creek, Montana. I need someone trustworthy and I'll pay whatever you think is a fair price." The sheriff grins, "Well, I know a couple fellas like that. I use their services often myself." She smiles, "Could I trouble you to get one of them to do this for me?" He says, "I'd be glad to. How soon you need them on it? I'd say twenty dollars should cover it nicely if you need them to go right away." Dee said, "Sheriff, the sooner the better. Thank you so much." She hands the sheriff the package and twenty dollars. He puts it in his desk drawer.

A knock on the door interrupts any further conversation. The door opens and in walks Chance, Dee's Border collie. The dog brushes up against Dee's leg, "Chance, I told you to stay home." The Virginian who walked in behind the dog glares at her, "It's a good thing he didn't. Dee, don't you know you got the Graingers worried sick. Why didn't you say where you were going?" She looks at him, "Because I didn't want to explain to everybody my business. That's why." The sheriff sits a wash basin on the floor for the dog, "You must be thirsty walking all that ways, fella." Dee pets the dog, "He's never done that before. He always stays when I say stay." The sheriff chuckles, "See livestock isn't the only strays they keep you rounding up. Aye, Ramrod." He glares at his friend. "Yeah, and some are more stubborn than others. She ain't got herself in trouble with the law does she, Sheriff?" The sheriff could see a little trouble coming. "No, we just had us a nice little visit. Glad she stopped in." The Virginian grabs her by the arm, "Come on, Dee. We better get back before they send more out looking for you." His patience is wearing a bit thin.

They saddle up, Dee asks, "Sheriff, would you hand my dog up to me? He's walked enough for one day." The sheriff lifts the dog up to her. "Ma'am, you stop by anytime. You hear?" She smiles at him, "Thanks, Sheriff. I will the next time the warden let's me out."

It is a long quiet ride as neither, Dee or the Virginian would speak to each other. Dee thinks good he's keeping his mouth shut. The less said the better as far as she was concerned. But the Virginian was thinking, what the heck, was she doing in Medicine Bow. She never cared to go there before. The two riders are getting close to a stream. The Virginian gets off his horse and leads him to the stream with Dee still in her saddle holding her dog not far behind him. "You think you could take Chance so I can down?" He sits Chance on the ground without saying a word. Dee gets down and fills her canteen. She thinks maybe he'll leave it be, but she knew better. After filling his canteen he turns to her, "Well, you going to tell me or not?" She stares at him, "Why, you need to know?" He stares back, "Dee, you make it hard for anyone to help you. You know?" She sighs, "If I told you I sent Johnny his ring back with a note telling him to leave me alone. What would you say to that?" He wasn't surprised, "I'd say it's about time." She didn't expect that answer, "I'm going to Laramie to help the Adams train dogs to herd sheep." He didn't see this one coming, "Well, that's a bit drastic isn't it, running off like that?" She says, "I'm moving forward. No looking back." He says, "What about the family, you just got to know them again. You don't think they'd be upset?" They ride out with the dog walking behind them. Dee answers the question. "Aunt Holly knew I wasn't staying forever and what's the difference if I go to Laramie next month or go to Montana in June? Either way I'm not here, Laramie's much closer. Johnny won't know I'm there if everyone keeps their mouth shut." He agrees, "You're right. If that's what you want, do it. Don't move because you're running from him."

As they near the ranch they can see Holly talking to Trampas who is already to ride out. When they notice them, coming back, Trampas rides up to meet them. "Yoo, ma'am thought we'd be sending a search party. Everything okay?" She smiles at him, "Sure, everything's fine."

Later Dee tells the Graingers of her plans. Holly said, "Dee, I didn't mean to make you think it would disappoint me if we didn't have a wedding here." Dee says, "I know but you seemed so happy about planning one." Clay says, "Well, the only thing that bothers me is the sheep herding. Even on a farm they darn well better be, fenced in good. Laramie still is in cattle country you know?" Dee laughs, "I know. And do you know they make a special type of wire to keep them in?" He chuckles, "Yes, guess I knew they did." Dee shakes her head thinking do I dare tell him there's an order for sheep with the Grainger name on it waiting an approval. She thinks I better not tell him yet.

A couple days later, Dee is milking the cow when Trampas comes in the barn. "Dee, we're going to miss you, ya know?" She looks at him, "I'll miss you, too." Jim who is standing in the doorway, "Dee, you ain't going til next month are ya?" She nods, "Next month." He laughs, "Good maybe you can keep us entertained awhile longer before ya leave." Trampas laughs, "Think up a good one, maybe time you leave the boss man will be yelled out and won't even bother us none." Dee laughs, "What you really think I make him angry on purpose? No, I don't." She shakes her head, "Well, maybe sometimes I do. Anyways he likes to argue." Jim chuckles, "That's just what he said about you." They laugh. Dee can see they soak this stuff up. She smiles at the two of them with a gleam in her eye, "I've got a slight problem I think might make Uncle Clay and the Virginian both furious. I don't even know how to approach them about it." She hesitates to mention it. The boys are very curious. Trampas looks at her, "Tell us Dee maybe we can help." She blurts out, "I need to move fifty sheep from the train station in Medicine Bow to the Adams farm near Laramie." Jim and Trampas both shake their heads. Trampas looks at her very seriously now, "Dee, you can't even unload sheep in Medicine Bow. What are you thinking?" Jim says, "How you planning to move them?" She says, "Well, I thought the Adams would bring some of their dogs and we'd drive them right down the road to Laramie." Trampas shakes his head, "When they coming?" Dee says, "Sometime next month. I need to train dogs to herd sheep, remember?" She starts out of the barn with the bucket of milk, "The freight order hasn't been signed yet for approval anyways." Trampas sighs relieved, "That's good. You better find another way. I'm telling you, Dee. There'll be big trouble." She frowns, "You're probably right. I'll have to think of another way. Guess, I better tell them about it. I'll have to go to the freight office and cancel the order. You know what happened when I snuck off to town the last time." Jim grins, "Yeah, the warden retrieved ya." She takes the milk to the house.

A little later Dee pokes her head in the door of her uncle's study where he's talking to the Virginian. "Uncle Clay, can I talk to the two of you a minute?" He nods, "Yeah, come on in Dee." The two men listen carefully as she tells them what she was planning, "I need to cancel my order at the freight office. It hasn't been signed for approval yet anyways, but to save any mix ups it should be canceled. Trampas told me there's no way possible to unload sheep in Medicine Bow without trouble." The Virginian said, "Glad you found good advice. I see you went to an expert first." Clay was thinking about the freight order the Virginian signed, "Those orders only have a last name and address. You better check the one you signed. Mercy we don't need no sheep and the one for the cattle may need signing." The Virginian pulls the slip out of his billfold. His jaw drops, sure enough the order was for fifty sheep. The foremen heads for the door, "I'm headed there right now, sir." He glares at Dee, "Dee, we'll talk about this later." She looks at her uncle, "I'm so sorry, Uncle Clay. I never thought it would cause this much trouble until I mentioned it to Trampas." He assures her, "It's alright. The Virginian can fix it." She felt terrible, "But he signed his name on an order for sheep. I don't think he's going to forgive me for that anytime soon." Clay says, "Don't worry about it. He'll simmer down time he rides to town and back."

When the Virginian gets back from town he goes directly to the house. He walks in the front door, "Where's Dee?" Holly looks at him, "Try to be careful with her. I know you're upset right now." He sees Dee in the living room with Clay. "Dee, I found another route for your sheep and it ain't Medicine Bow. They get off at Cheyenne where they'll be loaded onto enclosed wagons. You won't have to even drive them home." She can't believe her ears, "Really? You are amazing. Thank you. I'm truly sorry you had to supervise a sheep deal." He smiles at her, "Well, no harm done." Clays says, "And the cattle deal." The Virginian nods, "Yeah, we're good." Clay smiles, "I think we should give Trampas a pat on the back." His foreman agrees.

THE END