Hay Wire - B.M. Bower - ebook

Hay Wire ebook

B.M. Bower

0,0

Opis

The plot of „"Hay-Wire"” is centering around a family ranch and settled town. Lynn Hayward is bitter and frustrated over the way his family’s ranch has fallen into disrepair through his vicious-tempered invalid father’s stinginess and willful neglect. Lynn reaches the pitch of resentment when he discovers that an apparently penniless old prospector, who’s been taking gifts and favors from the Haywards for years, is actually concealing a fortune in his cabin. Bower’s portrayal of Lynn’s struggles and gradual maturation, and of the tension and discord in his family, is convincing and compelling. One of many recommended Westerns by this prolific author.

Ebooka przeczytasz w aplikacjach Legimi na:

Androidzie
iOS
czytnikach certyfikowanych
przez Legimi
czytnikach Kindle™
(dla wybranych pakietów)
Windows
10
Windows
Phone

Liczba stron: 302

Odsłuch ebooka (TTS) dostepny w abonamencie „ebooki+audiobooki bez limitu” w aplikacjach Legimi na:

Androidzie
iOS



Contents

I. LYNN REBELS

II. "HE CALLED ME HAY-WIRE"

III. THE FAMILY DIPLOMAT

IV. LYNN LOOKS UPON WEALTH

V. "HEINIE'S DEAD!"

VI. "DO YOU THINK I KILLED HIM?"

VII. "WHAT'S THIS ABOUT MONEY?"

VIII. LYNN COUNTS NOSES

IX. "IT'S MINE BY RIGHTS"

X. LITTLE BROWN JUG

XI. A FACE AT THE WINDOW

XII. THERE'S MONEY IN SHEEP

XIII. A RIDING LESSON

XIV. THE MONEY TRACK

XV. IT'S WHAT YOU'VE GOT THAT COUNTS

XVI. MONEY GOSSIP AGAIN

XVII. LYNN BUYS SHEEP

XVIII. RESPONSIBILITY

XIX. HELL HALVORSEN GETS ACTION

XX. CUPID TAKES A HAND

XXI. OLD JOEL SMELLS SHEEP

XXII. "IN THE WELL!"

XXIII. DOLLAR CONCHOS

XXIV. "DAD, YOU WALKED!"

I. LYNN REBELS

LYNN HAYWARD spun a silver dollar on the counter and wished it were as many as it looked while revolving swiftly on its edge. The new school-teacher, turning from the ribbon counter at the moment, glanced at his moody profile and wished she had his eyelashes and that intriguing curve of upper lip. Both wishes slid away into the eternal ether where such thoughts drift in endless journeyings, for the dollar suddenly wabbled and fell clinking on its side and lay, just one dingy silver dollar and no more; and the fascinating profile turned full face to the new school-teacher as Lynn eyed her curiously and with the quickened interest of a normal young man of twenty-two when he sees a young and pretty face that is strange to him.

The new school-teacher’s eyes immediately froze to that wordless barrier with which nice young women wall themselves invisibly away from the questing male of their species, and she walked with dignity past him and out into the hazy sunshine of a late summer day in Wyoming. Lynn’s eyes followed her, the desirable curve of his upper lip now straightened a bit in a half smile of complete understanding. He liked her the better for the snub, and he decided that he would ride in to the next dance, even if he had to borrow a dollar for the ticket. He hoped she wasn’t a Methodist; she couldn’t be, with that wavy shine in her hair where it showed under her straight-brimmed white sailor hat. She sure looked human, anyway. He certainly would ride in to the dance and take a chance on her not being too religious to enjoy herself.

Then the storekeeper, one Jackson by name, set a yellow-wrapped bottle of Hubble’s Blood Purifier on the counter and picked up the dollar with greedy fingers. Lynn pulled his eyes and his thoughts away from the new school-teacher.

“How is the old man?” asked Jackson in his commercial tone of eager interest in his customers. “This stuff seem to help him any? He’s been taking it regular for over a year now; do him any good, you think?”

“No, it don’t. But he thinks it does.” Lynn slid the bottle into his right-hand pocket and jerked his hat brim a little lower over his eyes with the unconscious motion of a man who expects to ride against the wind. His errand in town was ended, since he had no other dollar to spin or to spend.

“Well, ‘s long as he thinks it does–” Jackson gave a mirthless chuckle. “Too bad, a fine, strapping big man like your dad–must be eight years he’s laid on his back helpless.”

“He doesn’t lie on his back, except to sleep, same as any other man,” Lynn corrected, with a frown which the thought of his father usually brought to his face.

“Oh. I didn’t know he was able to be up and around. How long–?”

“He’s up, but he isn’t around. He sits in a Morris chair most of the time and plays solitaire–and bosses the ranch.” The frown deepened with the vague resentment conjured by the words and the thought behind them.

“Well, that’s something. But I guess there ain’t much to boss, these days, eh? Don’t even run a wagon any more, do you, Lynn? I heard the Quarter-Circle Bar brand is wiped–”

“Say, do you want to buy us out?”

“Who, me? Me buy out the Hayward holdings?” Jackson’s laugh had the hint of a sneer which Lynn’s tone had bred. “I ain’t buying up ghost ranches; not to-day, I ain’t. Why? Your dad want to sell?”

“No. But you’re so keen on getting all the details I kinda thought you wanted to buy us out.” Lynn turned and walked stiff-necked to the door, glanced up and down the street and went on to where his horse, a springy-muscled roan with a coat like satin in the sun, had trod a dusty path around the end of the hitch rack. The Haywards did have fine horses, even if they had no cattle. Lynn’s gloomy eyes lightened a shade when they rested upon the impatient Loney, but there remained a resentfulness that showed in the vicious yanks he gave to the tie-rope. The roan swung as Lynn thrust a toe in the stirrup, and they went off down the street in the easy gallop that was a part of the Hayward horses’ training.

With a quarter still in his pocket, Lynn had decided to extend his shopping a bit, and buy a sack or two of Durham down at the new little store beyond the Elkhorn Bar; a rather squalid place of refreshment much frequented by men of a certain type. As he approached the place a man–Hank Miller by name–came out and walked uncertainly down toward the hitch rail where his horse waited dispiritedly, lean-flanked and sweaty from hard riding that day.

Hank had a pint of whisky in his pocket and three or four drinks under his belt, and he was feeling frisky. Two hilarious cow-punchers followed him, and as Hank turned with a remark over his shoulder, the three burst into laughter. Lynn, just riding abreast of them, read a jeer in their mirth and in the glances they cast his way. He pulled the roan to a restive stand before them.

“Say, you fellows see anything funny about me?” he challenged sharply.

“Well, if it ain’t Lynn Hay-wire!” chortled Hank, and swept his hat to the ground in a derisive bow. “Just in from his vast domain, the Hay-wire ranch! How’s the cattle business, Lynn? Goin’ to ship a trainload er two of beef this fall?”

Lynn went white around the mouth at the jibe. He reined closer to Hank, giving back the taunt with an old and unforgivable insult that stung Hank to quick, drunken fury.

“Say! Damn your soul, no man living can call me that and get away with it!” bawled Hank, reaching for his gun with awkward haste, too drunk to draw quickly and no expert at any time.

Lynn’s hand likewise dropped to his pocket for the only weapon he possessed. He leaned and struck with savage force.

“Purify your dirty soul–you need it!” he shouted above the pop of breaking glass. As Hubble’s Blood Purifier and a pungent aroma of brandy mixed with strong herbs filled the air, Lynn added a sentence which may not be repeated. The roan, rearing at the crash of glass, wheeled on its hind feet and bolted for the open prairie; and Lynn, turning for a parting jibe back at the group, with Hank weaving blindly about in their midst, felt that he had acquitted himself with honor, after all.

But that backward look nearly cost him dear. The galloping horse averted disaster by swerving sharply to one side as he went up the street and Lynn, abruptly facing to the front, saw that he had all but run down the new school-teacher who was crossing the street at that moment. He had a swift vision of wide, indignant eyes under her white straw sailor hat as he thundered on past, but that did not deter him from another backward look. He wanted to see if she were going into the house of the Methodist preacher who lived across the street. If she did, she was religious, and if she was religious she would not attend the dances. But it was the milliner’s shop she entered, and Lynn faced forward and permitted his thoughts to dwell again upon Hank Miller’s insult.

“They stole us outa cattle, and now they got nothing but sneers!” He gritted in futile rage, and let the roan out in a run.

“Hay-wire! We’re a hay-wire outfit!” He clenched his teeth as the words bit deeper and deeper into his pride. For in the range land, as you all probably know, there is a certain contemptuous reproach in the term. Springing from the habit of using the wire from broken bales of hay to patch harness and machinery in a makeshift kind of mending, “hay-wire” grew to mean a poverty born of shiftlessness. To go hay-wire meant to go to the dogs generally; to be broke, or its equivalent, and through laziness and mismanagement.

One cannot wonder then if Lynn’s blood boiled with futile rage as he rode homeward.

II. “HE CALLED ME HAY-WIRE”

IN the range land, homes love to snuggle deep within the arms of some little valley facing the south or the east; never west or north if they can help it, because of the bitter sweep of the winds in winter. Groves are a godsend for the shelter they give in cold weather and for the shade they offer from the fierce heat of midsummer. So the Hayward homestead sat well back in a high-walled coulee facing Elk Basin to the southward, with a wooded creek running down to the lower prairies and tall cottonwoods throwing long leafy branches over the scattered buildings. The big corrals lay farther out in the open beyond the fence that guarded the grove from loose cattle and horses.

The ranch did not look “hay-wire” from a distance, Lynn thought, when he rode over the hill and pulled the roan to a walk down the steep road that led to the creek crossing. But his eyes were bitter as he gazed up the creek and saw the deceptive prosperity of those long, low stables, those great wide-winged corrals; at the big ranch house just beyond and the sprawling, homey house just visible within the depths of the grove. Lynn knew only too well what a closer view would reveal: stables, corrals, sheds, bunk house all empty and decaying with disuse. Chuck wagons–three of them–standing in a forlorn group, tires rusty and with long grass growing between the wheel spokes. Mowers, rakes, farm wagons, harness, fragments of chains broken and left lying where they were dropped. A ghost ranch, Jackson had tactlessly dubbed it. Well, it looked the part. All it lacked was the ghost–and that, he thought with a sardonic twist of humor, might be furnished later when his father finally fled his hulking, helpless body; if such things could be, which Lynn strongly doubted.

Sometimes he almost hated the place for its run-down look and the atmosphere of failure that seemed almost a visible miasma of discouragement and gloom, when one stopped to gaze with seeing eyes upon its slatternly disorder. And yet he loved it somehow, with a yearning love not to be put into words; perhaps he loved what it could be–what it once was and would still have been if disaster had not struck down the man who had built the ranch log by log, acre by acre–and refused to see how it had slipped into ruin. The hatred was dominant in Lynn’s thoughts now; hatred and a great disgust with life as he had found it.

He unsaddled Loney and turned him into the horse corral where another black pony nickered greeting, and went on up to the house. His sister Rose, a slim young thing with fine hazel eyes and such lashes and mouth as the new school-teacher had envied Lynn, was sitting on the kitchen doorstep stringing green beans–she called it that–for supper. As Lynn approached she looked up studyingly, snapping a bean pod in two with her thumb and dropping the pieces negligently into a large yellow bowl while she watched him.

“What’s the matter?” she demanded bluntly as he came up. “You’re black as a thunder cloud, Lynn. And Pa’s on the rampage because you’re late–”

“If he wants me to fly, he’ll have to furnish the wings,” Lynn sullenly retorted, coming to a halt because Rose with her basin of beans and her yellow bowl and herself was using the full width of the step with no room to set his foot. “Move over, can’t you?”

“What are you so cranky about? My goodness, this is a sweet family!” But she gathered up her bowl and let him up the steps. “Any mail, Brudder?”

“Not a thing,” Lynn said in a gentler tone, perhaps because of the childish nickname she still used upon occasion; chiefly to express sympathy without going into details. “I ran my horse half the way home–I don’t see why Dad thinks I’m late,” he said by way of explanation.

“I know–but he hasn’t had his Purifier to-day. He ought to buy it by the barrel so he wouldn’t run out so often. It always makes him unlivable to be out of that stuff. Don’t keep him waiting, Lynn.”

Until that moment he had not thought much of the smashed bottle or the effect its loss would have at home, but her words sent him into the house with his underlip between his teeth. No dodging the interview; postponement would only make matters worse. His mother (Hat Hayward, the neighbors had called her for more years than Lynn was old) came into the kitchen when she heard his step, but his glance slid away from her expectant look.

“Your father’s waiting for his medicine,” she said briskly. “I wish you’d hurried a little more; he’s been real bad all day.”

“I did hurry.”

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.