I can't tell you how Alvin's doing. It's been a while since I seen him. You see, Alvin and I don't spend too much time together. Not like we used to. It goes back to that time we went up to Carter's to help them round up their cattle. Looking' back, I reckon I was a bit rough on him, but I thought he had a better sense of humor.
There was about ten of us who volunteered to help out. Neighbors rode over on horseback, and some hauled their horses in from as far as fifty miles away. I don't have a truck or trailer, so I rode with Alvin, our mounts in his two-horse trailer.
Most of us got there the night before, a Friday it was, so that we'd be ready t' get started early Saturday. 'Course, the early start was a bit rough on most of us since, once we got a place for our bedrolls, most of us spent the night over a few drinks, playing' cards and swapping yarns. But despite how tough a few felt that next morning we were all out there gathering' cattle in fairly decent time.
Along about two in the afternoon, we had quite a bunch of critters up by the loading pens. After turning about a dozen head into the herd, Alvin and I headed south into a low spot we hadn't checked out. Sure enough, there's twenty head or so, down in the brush.
Well, we pull up near the edge of that brush, and Alvin starts to get down.
"Where you goin'?" I asked him, though I pretty well knew what he had in mind.
"Well, horses’ll be no good in that brush," Alvin says. "We'll have to go in on foot."
I rode back up-slope a ways and had a look at that bush. It probably covered ten acres, and was as close as hair on a dog’s back.
"You're not gonna chase any cows outta that," I said. "Work like that, you need a good cattle dog."
"Well, we don't have a cattle dog," Alvin says, "so we'll have to do it on foot."
"We could also just leave the herd up where they are," I advised. "By tomorrow this bunch in the bush’ll be lonely, and come out of there on their own."
"Work don't get done by lettin' it lay," Alvin says.
I swung one leg around the saddlehorn, and proceeded to roll a smoke. "You get ‘em out here, I'll be sure to hold ‘em for you," I said, though I figured there wasn't much chance of me having to do anything.
Well, Alvin just glared at me, dropped the reins, and went waddling off into the willows.
He got four steers and a cow moving that first time out. Of course, when he got right up to the edge of the brush, the cow went left, and the steers right. Alvin was heaving pretty good and trying to figure out how five animals could go in ten directions.
He went back into the trees, picked up his hat, and carried it out and hung it on his saddlehorn. Then he glared at me, and headed back into the brush.
I pulled my hat down over my eyes and got comfortable.
During the next half hour, he kept trying to chase them cows out, and they'd just turn around and go back in the bush, as cows tend to do. Pretty soon his face began to look like a piece of raw meat, and everything he wore was soaked with sweat. I was beginning to worry that he was gonna have a heart attack, and I'd have to haul him out of there.
He was on the edge of the brush, legs spread, and hands on his knees, and just heaving. I was pretty sure there wasn't a bull on that place with a harder head than his.
I started to roll another smoke as I let my horse shuffle over toward him. "You know, Alvin," I said, "you're gonna have to cut a switch off one of those willows, and give yourself a lickin'. You're gettin' way behind!"
You know, I had to find somebody else to haul my horse home!
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