What happened to the
cowboy who insisted on work
Fred called up one of his cowboys,
introduced Hecker to him, and informed him that he
was henceforth to be one of the force of cowboys,
as he had been in his employ up in Colorado, and was
a good fellow, trustworthy, and not afraid of either
cattle thieves or long-horned cattle.
“Now, take him around to the
stables and barns, and all the lots, and let him see
everything on the place.”
“All right, boss,” and
he and Tom went off together. Of course, Hecker
had no end of questions to answer, for the Texas cowboy
was more or less puzzled to understand his present
Of course, Tom told him that Fearnot
and Olcott were the best and bravest men whom he had
ever known, and that the man who undertook to buck
against them made the mistake of his life.
Fred and Terry then busied themselves
about other matters, which had been called to their
Terry suggested the feasibility of
buying at least a thousand head of sheep and fencing
off a portion of the ranch for their use.
They were talking over that when word
was sent to them that dinner was ready. They
went over to the house and found that Evelyn and the
two girls, with the old black cook, who had been employed
in Crabtree, had prepared a most savory meal, and
they at once sat down to it.
They were about through with their
meal, when they heard loud talking and the tramping
of feet, and the next moment the door leading into
the dining-room was burst in, and the big cowboy whose
application for employment had been refused, stalked
into the room, waving a branding iron over his head
in a most ferocious manner.
The two young lady visitors sprang
up, and rushing into the other room shut the door.
But Evelyn knew that there could be no safer place
for her than with Fred and Terry.
When she saw the big fellow with that
formidable weapon in his hands she paled somewhat,
and thought that Fred and her brother were in danger
of being badly hurt, if not killed.
The man had evidently been drinking
heavily, for his face was flushed.
“Mr. Fearnot,” he fairly
roared, “you refused to give me work this morning,
and yet an hour later you took on another man.
Now I’ve got to have work or know the reason
why, or else clean out the whole ranch!” and
he flourished the branding-iron above his head in a
most threatening manner.
“It’s work or fight,” he continued.
“Which shall it be?”
Terry had his rifle hanging on a couple
of pegs at the rear end of the kitchen, and he started
Fred had bought, up in Crabtree, a
few weeks before, a bulldog, which he was training
for his own use, and the dog had come into the dining-room
and sat in a place that had been assigned him in expectation
of being fed when the dinner was finished.
As the burly cowboy burst open the
door and rushed into the dining-room, brandishing
a branding-iron above his head, and threatening dire
destruction to everybody present, Fred dashed at him,
and seized his upraised arm, while Terry reached for
The burly cowboy aimed a blow at Fred’s
head with the branding-iron, but Fred reached up and
caught him by the wrist, while the dog ran around
and attacked him in the rear.
The fellow evidently thought that
it would be an easy matter to jerk loose from Fred’s
grip, but to his amazement he found that his grip was
like that of a steel vise, and to save his life he
couldn’t pull loose from him.
Fred held him steadily, and with his
left fist dealt him a blow on the right side of his
Terry then ran up with his Winchester,
holding it rather menacingly.
“Let him alone, Terry,” said Fred, “I’ll
attend to him.”
Fred then gave him three or four blows
while the fellow kept jerking and twisting to try
to free himself, after a while giving vent to fierce
imprecations and at the same time trying to avoid the
fangs of the bulldog.
Fred then began pushing the villain
back toward the door, through which he had entered.
Seeing that he couldn’t use
the branding-iron on Fred, he tried to take it in
his left hand for that purpose, but Fred’s left
interfered, and the fellow felt as though his right
arm would be broken.
Fred, pushed him out of the door,
and he lost his balance as he went through, and so
fell to the ground.
As the man fell to the ground, just
outside the door, the branding-iron slipped from his
hand. Then Fred jerked him up to his feet, and
went at him like a cyclone. Four or five blows
on the chest caused him to go down again.
Again Fred jerked the fellow up on
his feet, and the second time beat him down, until
the fellow didn’t have breath enough left in
him to say anything.
Fred let him lie there for about one
minute, and then said:
“You wanted work or fight.
I’ll give you all the fight you want and charge
you nothing for it,” and as soon as the fellow
tried slowly to get up, Fred dealt him another blow
that laid him out for about five minutes.
Hearing that the fight had ceased,
Evelyn entered the other room to assure the girls
that Fred and Terry could take care of the fellow,
again came out, and looked at the scene going on outside.
“Brother,” said she, “you
are not going to kill him, are you?”
“No, I’m just going to
let Fred manage him in his own way.”
“Fred,” she asked, “what are you
going to do to him?”
“Go into the house, dear, and
quiet those girls. I’m not going to shed
any blood or take a life.”
She didn’t follow his injunctions
to go into the house, but she kept quiet a while and
“Fred, have you killed him?”
she asked presently, as she saw the man lying like
a dead man on the ground.
“No; I knocked him out, though,
and am waiting for him to get his breath back.”
By and by the fellow began to breathe hard and groan.
Finally he opened his eyes and looked up at Fred.
“You wanted fight or work,” sad Fred.
“What do you want now?”
“Mister, I want to go as far away from here
as I can.”
“Well, why didn’t you go when you had
“Boss, I didn’t know you then; but I do
“Well, get up and leave, and
don’t you waste a minute of time in getting
The fellow got up and started off in the direction
of the store.
His three companions had retreated
to that place, and as soon as he started, Fred followed
him and assisted him in leaving by administering kicks
which raised him from the ground at least a foot at
Suddenly he drew a revolver from his
pocket. It was strange that he hadn’t attempted
to use it before.
He drew it and turned to face Fred;
but just then Fred saw the weapon and kicked it out
of his hand.
“Oh you’re not satisfied
yet? You wanted to shoot, eh? Now, I’ll
show you what shooting is,” and he sent Terry
into the house to get his revolver and an apple.
There were a few green apples in the
kitchen, which the cook intended to stew that afternoon.
Terry came out with one of the apples
in one hand and the revolver in the other.
“Now, my good fellow, you take
that apple and hold it between your thumb and forefinger.
Hold it out straight at arm’s length, while I
send a bullet through it.”
“Boss, I can’t hold it.”
“All right. If you don’t
hold it between your thumb and forefinger I’ll
shoot at your hand.”
“Boss, why don’t you let
me go? I’ve got enough, and I’ll leave
“Hold out that apple,” said Fred.
The man held the apple out at arm’s
length between his thumb and forefinger, but his hand
was trembling so that Fred had to be very careful
for fear that he would hit the hand and thus maim him
for life: but the bullet went square through
the apple, and it fell to the ground.
The fellow nearly had a fit.
He picked up the pieces of the apple and looked at
“Now you want to leave this
locality about as fast as your heels can carry you,”
With that the fellow, without stopping
to pick up his hat, turned around and left, and all
he would say to his companions was:
“Come, boys, let’s get
away from here. This is no place for us.”
He stopped at the well, took a dipper
full of water, and then started off, while the other
three followed him.
That big cowboy was never seen in
that part of Texas afterward.
The storekeeper told the story to
his customers as they came into the store, and it
was soon known all over that county.
The facts of the lynching of the four
Mexican cattle thieves had been published all over
that part of the State, and Fred and Terry were relieved
from the odium of having had anything to do with the
affair, other than the capture of the men.
The sheriff and his deputies took
charge of the bodies, as they were found hanging to
the trees, and buried them by the road-side.
They were buried in one pit, and above
them was a head-board, on which was painted in large
letters the story of their fate.
Tom Hecker had written to four of
his former cowboy companions that he had found a place
with Fearnot and Olcott again, and that they wanted
four more of them to join him.
They at once resigned their places
with their employers, and soon reached their ranch.
They were each supplied with a Winchester
and cartridges, and told to capture every cattle thief
that they found on the range, even if they had to
bring them down with a bullet.