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by Frank Shortt
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When humans gather together it is amazing the differences in character, appearance, and
habits. One would rather brush his teeth in the evening before retiring. One would rather brush his teeth in the morning. One likes
to dress up, the other likes to dress down. This is the story of two characters thrown together on a cattle ranch. This proves the
old saying: “whether we are rich, whether we are poor, our bodies all end up the same way”, back to the dust.
Old Joe was as homely as a coal bucket, and about as intelligent. His nose was twisted to one side, probably from too many bar fights.
He sported one cauliflower ear.
He had lost teeth through the years, some say from being thrown from bucking broncs and landing on
his face! Regardless of his looks, Joe had a great heart. Some said, “He would give you the shirt off his back.” Because of this attribute,
his friends cut him a lot of slack.
Sam Snow was much different. He was as handsome as
Clark Gable. He could charm a rattlesnake instead of the other way around. When he went to town, the ladies gave him many second glances,
and he dressed the part. Sam’s heart was as cold as a winter stable. If he had an argument, he just had to be right. In a fight, he
would win by hook or by crook. Many men ended up hurt by Sam and many women ended up with broken hearts because of his callousness.
He would use anything and everything to accomplish his selfish means.
A riding mistake
was Joe’s downfall. One very cold morning, just as daybreak, he unfurled his rope to lasso his steed for the day. Joe’s hands felt
like to blocks of ice as he circled the remuda, which by the way, had just recently been brought in from the far range. Some of these
particular saddle stock had not been ridden for almost a year. They had gone back to their natural ways and would require breaking
all over again.
Old Joe, being a long-time cowboy, had a stubborn streak like one of the
wild things he was attempting to rope. He finally settled his loop on a very game quarter horse. When he eventually was able to saddle
the leaping, bucking, biting monster, he attempted to seat himself. He failed several times, but after lashing the beast to a snubbing
pole, and after gaining help from one of the other cowboys, he seated himself in the frozen saddle. His ride was not to be! He was
thrown high, landing on his head, bursting his skull on the frozen ground. The other cowboys took him out and buried him in a shallow
grave that had to be dug with a stick of dynamite.
Sam’s demise was brought on by one who he had bested several times. This one proved
to be Sam’s better in an argument or fight. If fact, the man had been in training for just such an opportunity. Sam gave the man his
choice of weapons. The man chose hunting knives, hand to hand combat. Sam was not too familiar in the art of knife fighting but would
not renege because of pride. He feared to be the object of ridicule from the other cowboys on the range.
The men circled the barroom several times, feinting and parrying with their weapons of choice. Soon Sam became impatient and thrust
out too far as the other dodged as agilely as a leopard. The man closed in and shoved the ugly knife into Sam’s body. Sam was buried
alongside old Joe, no one mourning for him.
These two men were as different as night and
day. Both were good cowboys but had weaknesses that were hidden from the other men on the range. Eventually, a tree must manifest
what fruit it is of. An unfruitful tree is soon recognized and ends up as firewood!