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Gus Rides On

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Woodrow walks through the door of the doctor’s office and sees his Augustus laying on the bed. “It took you long enough to get here, Woodrow,” said Gus. Woodrow silently walks over to the bed and raises the sheet, only to see that Gus’s leg has been amputated at the knee. “They may have got one, but I won’t give them the other.” “I told him that if we don’t perform surgery he will be lucky to survive,” the doctor explains. Woodrow replies, “We can still take it off.” Gus raises his pistol, “No sir, I’ll have none of it.” “You would shoot me for saving your life?” asks Woodrow. Gus replies, “I’ve walked this Earth my whole life with pride, if I lose that than there’s no life worth living. Now there’s still a chance I’ll live so I’m going to take it.” “You’re as stubborn as they come, you know that Augustus?” “Shut up and poor me a drink.” Woodrow pours two drinks and the friends drink in silence. After a short while, Augustus says, “Woodrow, if I die I’ve got a few things to ask of you.” “What’s that?” asks Woodrow. “I want you to take me back and bury me in Clara’s orchard.” “Okay. Anything else?” Augustus replies, “I want you to tell Newt he’s your boy, now I’ve told him myself but he needs to hear it from you too.” “You ought not have told him that.” “Woodrow it’s time for you to stop mistreating that boy and give him your name.” Woodrow says, “I don’t know that I’ve ever mistreated that boy, but I’ll tell him.” “Good, now get on out of here, I need some sleep.” Woodrow sits there for a moment, then stands up and leaves the room.
The next morning Woodrow enters the doctor’s office only to see Augustus standing up and getting dressed. “Augustus don’t you think it best you be resting for a few days?” asks Woodrow. Gus replies, “No Woodrow, I think it’s time we get a move on out of this town and keep heading north.” “You ain’t never been fond of work, what’s got you in such a rush now?” “How’s about you try layin’ in this damn bed for 3 days with a leg missin’ and then you tell me what kind of rush you’re in. Now I’ve got my one good leg a workin’ and it’s time to go.” Woodrow doesn’t argue, he’s as ready to leave this town and keep on moving as Augustus is. They step outside and Woodrow mounts his horse. He looks over only to see Gus struggling to climb up into his saddle. “Let me help you,” says Woodrow. “Hell no, I don’t need no help. If I can’t do it myself then I don’t need to be doin’ it at all,” says Gus. After a few moments of struggling, Gus finally crawls into the saddle. Woodrow just shakes his head, and they ride off.
They come riding up to the herd, and it’s nothing but excitement. Everyone is glad to see Gus is still alive and wants there chance to greet him. “Okay, okay, we’re all happy Gus is alive but this ain’t no holiday so get back to work,” Woodrow explains. Pea Eye looked at Gus and said, “I’m sorry I didn’t send someone sooner, I just couldn’t move any faster.” “Let’s not fret over the past now, we’ve got some country to cover,” replies Gus. Pea Eye turns and heads toward the herd. “Well Augustus, you were in such a hurry to get these cattle moving, so let’s get to it.” Gus looks at Woodrow and chuckles, “Well there ain’t no whores in this part of the country anywho, so I suppose we’d better keep on moving.”
After a few weeks of battling the cold and snow, the herd comes upon a small valley. It’s a beautiful little place with a few lone trees surrounding a small pond. The valley is incased between timberlines and mountain ranges. “This is where we are going to build the ranch,” says Augustus. “Now how in the hell did you decide Augustus?” asks Woodrow. “You see I’ve had about all the travelling I want to do Woodrow, plus that tree there looks like a fine place to enjoy some whiskey.” “Well Dish, you heard him, now go on and tell the boys.” “Woooh we’re here boys! We’re finally here!” Dish yells out to the rest of the hands. They all shout with excitement and run the herd up to the little lake. “Well Woodrow, we finally made it.” “Yeah Gus we sure did.”
The boys are sitting around enjoying a break when Woodrow rides up and says, “Don’t get too comfortable, we got a cabin to build.” They stand up and head off to get to work. Dish walks up to Woodrow and says, “Sir I joined on to run the cattle to Montana, I never said nothing about staying.” “Son I suggest it best you stick around til spring.” “With all due respect sir, I think I’ll take my wages and head back to Texas.” “Well I won’t keep you against your will, here you go.” “Thank you sir.” Dish then walks over to Gus, “Well Gus I think I have a debt to pay to you.” Gus replies, “I don’t believe I recall.” Dish pulls out 2 dollars and hands it to Gus, “I told you I’d pay you back in the fall.” “That you did, tell Lori I say hi.” “I sure will Gus, thanks for everything.” Gus replies, “Alright now you get on out of here. Be careful.” Dish climbs into his saddle and heads for Nebraska.
When spring rolls around, the Hat Creek Cattle Company was ready for operation. The boys had three small cabins built, and a round pen for breaking horses. By this time Newt has grown into quite the young man and is breaking a horse in the round pen. Woodrow rides over to him while he is picking out the next mare to hop on. “The army is looking for cattle to buy. Newt I want you to round up about 50 head and drive them over,” says Woodrow. Jasper shouts, “But sir, I’m a top hand, I ain’t taking no orders from no boy!” “I reckon you’ll do as you’re told. Now Newt, Pea Eye will help you along, make sure you get a fair price. Get to it.” Woodrow rides off. “Well boys you heard the man, let’s get to it.” Newt starts heading for his horse, and Jasper trips him on the way by. “Whoops,” Jasper smirks. Newt jumps up and tackles Jasper to the ground. He leans up and busts Jasper in the jaw. Jasper rolls him over, hits him one time, and then stands up. Newt tries to tackle him down again, but Jasper was ready and catches him around the neck. Some of the other hands try to jump in, but Woodrow calls them off. Jasper catches him in the mouth with a strong jab. After a few short moments of back and forth fighting, Newt has finally had enough. He stands up, looks at Jasper, and says, “Now that’s enough Jasper, we’ve got cattle to run.” Newt and the rest of the gang head to their horses, and after Jasper shortly follows.
Gus rides up next to Woodrow, who has just been watching Newt. “Well Woodrow, he has become quite the boy.” “He sure has hasn’t he,” Woodrow replies. “I’d say it’s about time you tell him who his daddy is, wouldn’t you agree?” asks Gus. Without any word or change in expression, Woodrow turns his horse and rides off. Gus watches after him, then turns back towards the boys. He gets that halfcocked grin on his face that he always has and just shakes his head. He says to himself, “He’s as stubborn as any mule I’ve ever seen.” He then turns his horse and rides off towards the little pond and the small grove of trees.