For Crying Out Loud, Episode #14 by Diana L. Pierce…alias….Dee Grainger No copyright infringement intended
Dee Grainger is getting ready for a trip to Shiloh. Dee has her bags by the door. She has Aunt Holly's birthday present all wrapped. She decides to sit at her spinning wheel and spin some more yarn. Spinning yarn has become a new past time for her, because most nights she didn't have much of anything else to do. She even learned to dye the wool in many vivid colors. She knew her aunt and cousin would love this yarn, so she packed plenty of it to take with her.
It begins to get dark. Dee lights a couple lamps and looks at the clock. It's after nine. Stacy should have been here by now. She says, "Chance, you hear him coming yet? Me neither. We may as well go to bed." The dog follows her to the bedroom as she blows out a lamp and turns down the other one. Just then she hears the sound of a rider coming closer. Then a knock on the door, "Come in. Thought something happened to ya, wish ya wouldn't scare me like that." Stacy comes in the door, "Sorry, I got held up helping a fella get his mules back that got scared off by a bear down toward Cheyenne." Dee thinks Stacy is acting strange, "You okay?" She lights another lamp so she can see his face. He looks pale, "I will be after I get some sleep. It just took a long time to get the stubborn things." He holds his left side and then lifts up his shirt revealing a scrape. "Guess I should clean this wound before I go to bed." Dee looks at him concerned, "Let me get a basin of water and help you. How'd you do that? Did the bear hurt you?" He takes off his shirt, "No, I fell when the bear spooked the peddler's mules. I was standing by his wagon buying Aunt Holly a birthday present." Dee's curious, "It didn't spook your horse?" She washes and covers his wound. Stacy put his shirt back on. "I was able to call him right back to me. The old man's mules aren't as trusting as a horse I guess." Dee shakes her head, "I guess not. Lucky they weren't hooked to the wagon. Did you shoot the bear?" Stacy looks at her, "No, he ran off. We better get some sleep so we can get an early start in the morning." She agrees, "Okay, good night." She starts toward her room turning around, "Did you get Aunt Holly's present?" Stacy shows her a small metal music box with colored stones all over it. He cranks the knob to make it play a lullaby. He smiles, "Good night, this should help us sleep."
In the meanwhile, the bunkhouse at Shiloh has become home to an uninvited guest. Jim is on a mission to catch the menace before he ruins any more of his belongings. He rigs up a bucket beside his bunk with a stick balanced across the top of it. He sprinkles bread crumbs midway the stick. On each side of the bread crumbs he dripped a little dap of oil to make it slippery. He then put water in the bucket. Jim looks at Trampas, "Think this will work?" Trampas looking over the clever trap, "How's this work? He slips off the stick before he gets the crumbs, is that the idea?" Jim shakes his head, "Yeah, that's it." Trampas grins, "Well, we can't keep trying to shoot it. Already got the bossman stirred up over putting holes in the wall." Jim says, "I know, he said we were making it easier for the next one to get in." Trampas says, "When Dee was here, the dog use to keep the things from coming around. What we need is a cat." Jim agrees, "Maybe we can see if Mr. Grainger cares if we get one."
The next morning as the cowhands are getting ready for their day, Jim gets up from his bunk. He forgot about the bucket he placed beside him. He puts his foot in the bucket, splashing water all over the floor, "Dang it! I found the bucket I left for the mouse." The men laugh loudly bringing the Virginian from his room. "What's the ruckus out here?" Trampas laughs, "Jim caught a rat in his trap." The Virginian says, "Get the mop. You really didn't think that would work, did ya, Jim?" Jim shakes his head, "Wasn't sure, but had to try something. Reckon, we could get us a cat?" His foreman grins, "Don't know where we'd get one." Jim smiles, "No, but I could ask around." The Virginian pours himself a cup of coffee. "I'm going into town for the mail. If ya got letters to go better give 'em to me after breakfast." Jim looks at him, "Can ya see about a cat?" The foreman shakes his head, "No, but I can see about one of those little box traps."
Later that day while the cowhands are busy at work, the Virginian brings the mail back from town. The mail in the bunkhouse, he left on each recipient's bunk. He then joined the cowhands who were branding cattle. Jim curiously asks, "Did ya get the trap?" His foreman answers, "Yeah, set it and put it under your bunk. I left ya a letter on your pillow from Dee." Jim smiles, "Gee, thanks. Wish she and Chance were still here. That dog hated mice." The Virginian agrees, "I know. Too bad he's chasing sheep now instead of mice." The foreman pulls a bag of licorice from his saddlebag, "I got a treat for you guys. Here pass the bag around." Trampas grins, "Thanks, just what we needed."
After a long day the cowhands return to the bunkhouse. Jim picks the letter up left on his bunk. "Dang, the mouse chewed on my letter from Dee." He opens the envelope with a good size piece of the corner missing. "She wants me to say hello to her bunkhouse friends. She wants to know why she hasn't got a letter since she left. She says, Chance misses you and she does too. She says, Stacy said he'll be back next week so we'll be there for_. For what, I don't know. The dang mouse ate the rest of it." Jim looks at the Virginian. The foreman shakes his head, "Don't look at me. You're the only one that got a letter from her." Trampas grins, "We'll know soon enough. She probably wrote the letter over a week ago." Jim smiles, "Reckon Chance can catch the mouse after all." The Virginian says, "Maybe if we ain't caught it yet, he could. Check the trap." Jim pulls the little box trap out from under his bunk. "No mouse. No bait either, didn't ya bait it?" The Virginian snarls at him, "You didn't think I knew I had to bait it? I put a piece of bread in there." Jim shakes his head, "Sorry, but it didn't even make the door shut when it took the bread."
A couple days later Stacy and Dee arrive at Shiloh. Jim is the first to greet them. "Dee, I'm sure glad to see Chance. We got a job for him." Stacy looks at Dee. "Glad he's happy to see Chance. Guess he didn't notice we came with him." Dee laughs, "But Chance is the one he misses when we're gone." Jim looks at her, "I miss you, too. But we got a mouse in the bunkhouse chewing things up. It even chewed the letter up you sent me, so I don't know what you said you were coming for." Dee could see how serious he was, "Aunt Holly's birthday is Friday. Elizabeth planned a party. Didn't she tell you?" Jim grins, "Oh, forgot that was this week. Can I take Chance to the bunkhouse or not?" Dee says, "If the boss says it'll be okay. You better ask him. I don't want him yelling at me." Jim nods, "I know. But he wants the mouse gone, too." Dee agrees to let him take the dog and she goes into the house with Stacy.
The Graingers are drinking coffee at the dining room table. Clay notices the dog isn't with them. "Where's your dog?" Dee swallows her coffee, "He's with Jim trying to catch a mouse." Stacy grins, "Good thing we brought the hunter home." The Virginian walks in the room. "They're waiting for the mouse to come out. I thought I better leave. I think I was making Chance nervous." Dee looks at him, "Well, I know you've made me nervous, plenty of times. I told Jim he better ask before he took Chance in the bunkhouse." He glares at her, "Heck, I never thought you listened to anything I said." She glares back at him, "I listen. Then I think, is he my boss? No." He shakes his head, "Dee, I don't even know what to think of you." Holly steps between the two of them, "If you two don't quit this bickering. I don't know what to think of either one of ya." Dee laughs, "Oh, Aunt Holly, you know we don't mean anything by it." The Virginian grins, "Ma'am, you know your niece. She can't resist getting under my skin. And I have to oblige her."
In the meanwhile down in the bunkhouse, the cowhands are trying to get Chance to sniff out the mouse. Chance catches a scent under a bunk and begins to scratch at the floor and whine. All of the sudden the mouse comes out and runs around the room with the dog on his trail. The cowhands are cheering him on. The dog is barking. Trampas is sitting in a chair at the table. Jim yells, "Trampas, behind your right foot, grab him." Trampas reaches behind his foot to grab the mouse. He jumps up dancing around slapping his pant leg, "It went up my pant leg. Jim, hurry! Unbutton my trousers." Trampas grabs the intruder pant leg and all with both hands and squashes it against his thigh. Jim is laughing so hard the tears are rolling down his face. He can't unbutton the trousers fast enough to suit his friend. Jim teases, "Glad you caught it, guess we didn't need Chance after all."
A couple nights later at the house everyone is celebrating Holly's birthday. Holly is smiling ear to ear as she opens her gifts. "Dee, this shawl is beautiful. You certainly made good use of all that wool and I'm so glad you brought Elizabeth and I some of the yarn you spun." Dee smiles, "Glad you like it. Did Stacy tell you the story behind the music box? Scared me, I thought the bear clawed him, but he said he fell is how he hurt his side." Stacy speaks up, "Dee, I wasn't going to tell her about it. Aunt Holly, it wasn't that big a deal. I helped a peddler get his mules back, a bear scared off. I got the music box from him." The Virginian looks at Stacy, "It does sound like an interesting story. You'll have to tell us all about it." Stacy said, "I fell when the bear scared the mules. I was lucky I could call my horse to come back, but had to chase the old man's mules. When I did get them stopped, they wouldn't budge to lead them back. You know how stubborn mules are." Jim listening to the story grins, "Sure was an ordeal, Stacy. A good story, too. Have Trampas tell you how he caught the mouse in the bunkhouse. Now that's a dang good story. I laughed so hard I cried." The Virginian is watching Trampas dance across the room, stumping his feet and slapping his leg. "Reckon that's where he learned his new dance steps from."
The following day Dee and Elizabeth are standing at the corral admiring their paint mares, Dee decides to saddle hers. "You're coming with me aren't you? Thought we could ride out and watch the boys work. I'm around sheep so much. Cattle would be a good change of scenery." Elizabeth agrees to go with her. The two ride out toward the range. As they get where the cowhands are Elizabeth says, "Glad Chance likes to stay with Aunt Holly. He certainly would get in trouble out here." Dee nods her head, "I see the heifers are as frisky as the bulls are. Chance has never been around them and I hope he never is." They watch the animals kicking up their feet and raising a fuss. Trampas rides up near the women, "Morning, ladies. What brings ya out here?" Elizabeth smiles, "Oh, Dee wanted to see the cattle. She thought it would be a nice change compared to watching sheep." Trampas grins, "How is the sheep business coming along? Ya haven't had any cattlemen bothering you there, have ya?" Dee smiles, "It's okay. We got four dogs sold already and four more orders as soon as I get them trained. They're not quite old enough yet. No, we haven't had any trouble yet." Trampas shakes his head, "The bossman said you knew your stuff when it came to making them dogs do what you want them to." Dee laughs, "Yeah, he asked me how I did it, thought it might work for his cowhands. I told him to give them a treat and scratch them behind the ears. He said it would work for some of ya." Trampas laughs, "That's why he handed out candy here the other day. Yep it worked for me." The Virginian rides up beside them, "Ya decided to watch what real work looks like, aye?" Dee grins at him, "Yeah, heard you took my advice. I'm flattered." He asks, "Your advice?" She nods her head, "Treats. Did ya scratch any of them behind the ears?" He laughs, "I haven't tried that part yet. But the treat worked like a charm. Thanks." Dee looks at him, "I've been going to tell you I'm sorry about that little spat in front of Aunt Holly the day I got here. Guess she thought we were serious. You've never thought I was serious, did ya?" The Virginian could see how serious she was now, "Guess not, but like I said, Dee I ain't ever known what to think of you." Dee smiles at him, "Someday you will." They watch the cowhands with the cattle and no more is said.