Read CHAPTER IV of Fred Fearnot's New Ranch and How He and Terry Managed It , free online book, by Hal Standish, on

How Fred and Terry Fixed up Evelyn's Home on the Ranch.

The next morning, after their arrival at Crabtree, Fred, Terry and Evelyn were kept busy shaking hands with their friends. As the news spread through the city fully a score of young ladies called at the hotel to see Evelyn, for she had the happy faculty of making and retaining friends wherever she went.

Fred and Terry, though, at noon, took leave of her and told her to enjoy herself until they came back, as they were going down to the ranch and begin at once to fix up things so that she could he comfortable.

Jack happened to be at the water tank when the engine of the freight train stopped there to take a drink, and he gave a regular Indian war-whoop when he saw the boys alight. He hugged both of them as they climbed down from the engine, and fairly danced a jig in his delight at seeing them.

Terry looked around for the big house that Jack had been building for his mother and sweetheart. When he saw it, he exclaimed:

“Great Scott, Jack! What is that you are building out there? A hotel?”

“Well, I call it my bachelor quarters, for the present,” he replied; “but when mother comes it will be our home.”

“Well, what in thunder do you want with such a big house? It’s big enough for all the cowboys on both ranches to live in.”

“Well, there is no hotel down here, you know, and there is not likely to be one for several years to come; so, when any friends come down to visit us, we’ll have a place to take care of them.”

“Jack,” said Terry, “Evelyn came down with us.”

“Great Scott! Ain’t I glad! But why didn’t you bring your girl with you?”

“She wouldn’t come, Jack; but sister came down with us, as she wanted to help us build up a home out here. So, until your mother and Katy comedown, we’ll let her be boss.”

“Yes, and what a boss she will be. I’ve been telling these fellows around here that she is the most beautiful young lady in the whole country. But when is she coming down?”

“Just as soon as we can fix up one of the four-room houses for her, for we will live there until we can build a larger house.”

“What do you want to build a house for when my house is large enough for forty people?”

“Oh we want to get into our own home. We want to build a residence down at the mineral spring.”

“Oh, that’s a mile off.”

“Yes, so it is. The depot here, though, is a general resort for every rough character who comes along; but we’ll have some of our lady friends down here both from Crabtree and from the North. We’ll fence in the spring to keep the cattle from crowding around it, make beautiful flower gardens, raise all sorts of vegetables and fruits, and try to make our home here as lovely as our home up at New Era was.”

Jack and Terry led the way up to the house in which Jack had been living, each carrying a valise.

Before they reached there, at least half a dozen cowboys rushed up and wanted to carry the valises for them, and made every demonstration of pleasure at the return of the “Bosses.”

When the boys reached the house they found that one of bed-rooms furnished and still another which had not been furnished up.

“Jack, my boy,” said Fred, “I see you have been keeping quite comfortable since we left.”

“Yes, and at the same time quite busy.”

“Well, have you had any trouble with the cowboys?”

“No, only in one instance, when one of the men got drunk and I promptly discharged him. He was one of your men, too. He refused to be discharged, and wouldn’t leave, but went on working with the others. I then told him that I wouldn’t pay him a cent at the end of the month for his work, as he was doing it of his own accord, and needn’t expect any pay for it. After a week he signed the pledge, came around to see me, and said that he wished to apologize, and that he would never touch another drop of whisky. I told him that on those conditions he could keep his place, but that I would keep his written pledge to show to you, so that if he ever broke it you would know what to do.”

“That’s right, my boy, that’s right. It don’t pay to be too harsh. Always give a man a chance. You were fortunate in not having any more trouble than that.”

“Well, I did have several other little difficulties which did not amount to much of anything; but at least a score of big, rough fellows are waiting for you two to return home in order to get a chance to enter your employ.”

“Well, we’ll need a few more men, Jack, for we are going to buy another thousand head of cattle and rush them down to the ranch as soon as possible. How has the store been getting along?”

“It’s been doing fine. I’ve done a good business, and the trade is growing fast.”

“Any cattle thieves been getting in their work?”

“Well, I haven’t heard of any, and I have had the cattle rounded up three or four times and counted them; but I haven’t much faith in the accuracy of the count. I am beginning to suspect that both ranches have lost a few, for I fear that the cowboys haven’t kept as strict a watch as they should have done. One day three big, rough follows came into the store and wanted to raise a rough house, and I requested one of my cowboys to go in there with me and help me to preserve the peace. Do you remember that fellow whose name was Nick Henderson?”

“Yes, I know him,” said Terry. “Did he stand by you all right?”

“You can bet he did. I wouldn’t swap him for any of the cowboys I’ve seen since I landed here. He doesn’t understand the science of boxing, but he does know how to use his muscles and no mistake, for he fanned out two of those fellows with bare fists. One of them wanted to use his gun, but I drew mine, and said that I would shoot first; so Nick just cleaned out both of them, and I believe he is like you and Mr. Fearnot not afraid of anything. He is now said to be the best man on either ranch, and he feels proud of the name.”

Jack pointed out the house which he assigned to the carpenters, saying that they had built bunks, brought down their own blankets and cooking utensils, and that they were all satisfied with their work and their way of living.

“I furnish them meat and bread,” he said, “and they do their own cooking, and I’ve been cooking my own meals, too.”

“What sort of a cook are you, Jack.”

“Well, I guess I weigh at least ten pounds more than I did when you left here. Whether it is good cooking or not, I don’t know; but it is good, wholesome fare. I made coffee just as you taught me. I’m not good at making biscuit, but I can make a good hoe-cake.”

They went into Jack’s kitchen, and looking at his utensils, saw that he had a place for everything, and everything in its place.

“Jack; how did you learn to cook so well?” Terry asked.

“Why, I used to help mother a good deal, and I have the timber brought up and cut and piled away, so it is easy to build a fire. I had a well driven down in the yard out there, and a pump attached to it. It is not as good water as that down at the spring, but it is better than the average well around through this State, and I didn’t have to drive down but thirty feet, either.”

“Good! If you were wrecked on a lone island, you would get along all right, my boy. What is the bill of fare at your hotel now?

“Just anything you want that the market affords. When I want fish I go but to the lake and get it. When I want quail or prairie chicken they come right up to the house to be shot.”

“All right, Jack. We’ll help you cook, and if anything more is needed than the market here affords, we will get it from Crabtree.”

On further inspection they found that he didn’t have a carpet in the house, but that he had good sheets and blankets and pillows and first-class mattresses.

“Fred,” said Terry, “we’ll have to live in this house until Jack gets his home finished. We’ll measure the size of those two rooms back there, and one of us must go back to town to-morrow, buy carpets, have them made, and lay in all other necessaries for Evelyn’s comfort, and let her invite some of the ladies up there to come down and rough it with us as long as they are willing to do so. Evelyn, of course, will go with us and assist us in making the purchases.”

They went out into the stable lot, saw the horses kept there. Then they visited the cow lot and their barns, and saw that the milch-cows were looking well, and, of course, fat and yielding an abundant supply of milk, which Jack sent up to Crabtree every day, besides having plenty of butter and milk for all the cowboys in their employ.

Jack, too, had a good flock of chickens in his barn-yard, so he had plenty of eggs; but he stated that he had not killed a single chicken since Fred and Terry had gone North, as he preferred quail and prairie chicken. He also stated that he had been compelled to clip their wings very close, as his cowboys told him that if they got out they would find such abundant feed in grass seed and other products of the plain that they wouldn’t come back home again.

“Don’t you believe that, Jack. If a hen raises a flock of chickens and she and they are fed regularly, they will never leave the place; but chickens who are allowed to run everywhere, as most ranchmen let their chickens, will, of course, become wild like any other fowl.”

There were about a score of little pigs on the lot that were as fat as butter and gentle as kittens.

“By George, Terry,” said Fred, “won’t Evelyn be delighted with these little fellows? But we will have to have ducks and turkeys.”

“Yes, wye can keep the ducks in bounds all right; but it will be a little difficult to keep the turkeys in, unless we have a wire fence enclosure reaching up about fifteen feet high.”

“Oh, we can do that. Turkeys are very fond of wandering over a wide range; but I think we can keep them in bounds.”

That night, they had a good supper of broiled beefsteak, good hoe-cake, milk and butter, and coffee in abundance. The two boys praised Jack highly for his skill in managing things, and, of course, he felt very proud.

They told him that Broker Middleton had used some money belonging to his mother, and had made about twenty thousand dollars for her, which she had sent by them in a draft which she had purchased in the bank.

Jack fairly whooped with joy.

“It’s just in time,” said he, “for I haven’t been able to sell any cattle at this season of the year.”

“Jack,” said Terry, “don’t you worry about the future. You just take good care of that money and don’t use it except for necessities. How are the cattle on your place?”

“Mr. Olcott, they are the finest cattle I ever saw in my life. You would he astounded to see how they have picked up flesh. The ranchman that we bought them from must have had very poor ranges for them to feed on.”

“Oh, well, the grass out here has never been fed on before, except by stray cattle, so I don’t wonder at their being fat. When cold weather comes we’ll have many thousands of pounds more than the ranches above here.”

After supper some of the cowboys from both ranches came in to have a talk with their employers. Every one of them was smoking a pipe, as they could always buy tobacco at the store. The stock in the little store had about doubled since Fred and Terry went north, showing that a good business had been done.

“Jack, does the storekeeper keep his accounts straight?”

“Oh, yes. I watch him very closely. I think he is an honest man too, and he doesn’t sell anything on a credit except to the cowboys on your ranch and mine. Other cowboys come in and want credit, but I told him not to credit anybody off of our two ranches, as we can then always know how much they owe before paying them off. The storekeeper says that cowboys are generally careless about paying debts, except in bar-rooms.”

Before going to bed, Fred and Terry measured the size of the two rooms that they wanted to fit up for Evelyn, and Fred boarded the first freight train engine that went up the next morning and so reached Crabtree before Evelyn had finished her breakfast. She was very much surprised at seeing him.

“Fred,” said she, “where is brother?”

“He is down at the ranch, just the happiest boy you ever saw in your life. He had milked two of the cows by sunrise this morning.”

“I never knew brother to do such a thing before in his life,” she laughed. “How many cows are there?’

“Oh, about a dozen, and their milk is as rich as butter, and as yellow as gold. It would tickle you to death to see Jack feed the little pigs buttermilk. Each little pig tries to get more of it than his neighbor, and then just to think, too, we have a good flock of chickens, those we bought before we went up North; and Jack has never killed one. On the contrary, he has bought upwards of a dozen hens, and the barn lot is just overrun with little ones.”

“Why, hasn’t he killed any of them. Fred? Doesn’t he like chicken?”

“Yes, he is very fond of them; but the quails and prairie chickens actually come up and beg to be shot, and he has never had a chance at an unlimited supply of game before in his life.”

“Oh, Fred, when are you going back down there?”

“I’m going to-night.”

“Well, can I go back with you?”

“Not just yet. I want you to go with me, though, and help me select two carpets, which will be on the floor of your home.”

So she ran upstairs and got her hat and gloves, and went out with him.

She wanted to select coarse ingrain carpets, saying that fine carpets were not needed on a ranch.

“Evelyn, you must select the very best velvet carpets that can be found in this city.”

“Fred, that is reckless extravagance.”

“No, it isn’t. A good velvet carpet will last just twice as long as an ingrain one. I’m not going to buy anything cheap. The best is always the cheapest. I want sofas, chairs, rockers, and tables, and then such other dainties as your good taste may suggest. It is to be the home of my sweetheart and Terry’s sister, and we expect you to have quite a number of young ladies from Crabtree to go down there and spend as long a time as they choose, to be company for you. Then I’ll buy a bookcase and have plenty of books and magazines; for both Terry and you, as well as I, are fond of good reading. Then we must have some good strong oilcloth to put on the kitchen and dining room floors,” and she followed Fred’s instructions, and made her choice of the carpets, and Fred, in paying for them, offered them to the dealer to have them made up at once. Then they selected chairs, tables, bureaus, a bookcase, and everything else that was conductive to comfort.

Evelyn was a little bit surprised when she saw what the total amount came to, but Fred told her that she must not put in any objections, whatever. He said that if she wanted to rough it she could go out of doors into the barn lot, the cow lot, and the lot in which the pigs and chickens were kept and amuse herself to her heart’s content.

The greater part of the day was taken up in making their purchases. Then, about sunset, Fred returned to the ranch on the engine of a freight, leaving Evelyn in the hotel.

The lady guests of the house were quite disappointed, as they thought they would hear him sing and play during the evening, but she told them that he was preparing a house down on the ranch for her and a number of their friends there in Crabtree, whom they were calculating on being able to persuade to go down and spend some time with them.

Of course, quite a number of them were quite eager to go.

All that night Evelyn was dreaming of feeding a big flock of little chickens and little pigs, and looking after and petting the mild-eyed milch-cows, and awoke fully convinced that she was going to have the happiest time of her life with her brother and her sweetheart as her daily companions.

Many a time had she milked her mother’s cows in Fredonia, and she enjoyed the exercise as well as making butter.

Butter-making was a passion with her, and she understood it to perfection.

The next day she talked quite a while with several married ladies, particularly those who understood housekeeping and milking and butter-making. The ladies seemed to be surprised at her enthusiasm, and asked her if she had ever milked a cow, or churned butter, and her replies actually staggered some of them.

She said that if she were worth a million dollars, that there was no amusement she would rather indulge in than to milk cows, feed chickens, gather eggs, and do all sorts of domestic work.

The idea of a society girl indulging in such amusements seemed incredible to the ladies at the hotel.

Three days passed, which Fred and Terry improved by cleaning up around the house. When the carpets came down, with men to lay them, the furniture was moved in, and shades and lace curtains put up, until really the plain little ranch house was more elegantly furnished than many of the homes of the richest citizens in Crabtree.

Then, Terry went up to Crabtree after Evelyn. He went on a freight train engine, and Evelyn wanted to come back on the same; but he insisted upon hiring a carriage at the livery stable and driving her through.