The Badlands

     Leaving El Paso in early spring the cowboy slowly trailed north, up the east side of the Rockies. Unlike when he was younger; this time, where ever possible he avoided the rough towns and the troubles he might find there. What few ranchers or riders he met saw just the tired old man, his roan mare, the dog and his newly acquired pack string. The far horizon looks in his crow-footed eyes, rifle across him pummel, and the gun low on his right leg kept questions to a minimum. And that suited the cowboy and old dog just fine...

     He had gotten a good price for the three extra mares and their yearling colts in El Paso, bought himself a set of pack saddles, a good tent and enough grub and grain for a long trek into the North Country on his quest. The natural beauty of the land he now crossed was not lost on the old cowboy, but the vision he followed was always somewhere out on the horizon and never far from his mind...

     It was here in the Dakota Badlands he first met her, a young Russian emigrant girl, she had come west from Chicago with her family following the new rails. He had driven a small herd up from Texas to sell to the railroad and in the newly built towns along the track; her father had emigrated to farm this new land. He was a young cowboy with fire in his eyes and she a snip of a farm girl still shy from the old country and love came at first sight. He stayed on and took a job wrangling and hunting for the railroad so he would be close for courting all that summer, but her father said no... Broken hearted and angry the young cowboy had just drifted away... this time "NO" was not in the old cowboy’s vocabulary!

© 2003/2010 ~ David L. Griffith

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