So far the guys have fought, drank, been attacked by wolves, lived out a blizzard, wild horse stampede, cougar attack, another big fight and meet BIG RED, and brand & castrate the new calves.
In the rip roaring days of early Wyoming, the saloon at the Occidental Hotel was famous far and wide. In the barroom, the lawful and the lawless played faro and poker, flirted with pretty ladies, drank humongous quantities of powerful spirits, and occasionally shot up the place. One visitor in the early days called the Occidental Saloon “a gambling hell” where high-stakes poker games sometimes continued for days on end.
In 1908, the original rough barroom was replaced with one of the most elegant saloons in Wyoming. An imposing back bar with stained glass accents was installed, along with an intricately embossed ceiling and impressive period decorations everywhere.
When the drovers would sidle up to the 25-foot bar, they would be standing alongside cowboys, sheriffs, desperados, and cattle barons all together. You could most always hear them arguing and making deals. Sometimes shots rang out. Hell, clear back then, the ceiling had 23 bullet holes in it.
After three days of resting up and mending their gear, the boys met at the Occidental Saloon for breakfast and to get their game plan straight for the next 60-mile trek. Big Red and her boys threw in just for the company and a free way to Thermopolis. Jack figured a few extra hands would be handy as they had to brand ’em all before they left Worland. The Swedes were big and strong; and their maw could rope, throw, and brand as good as most men, just not as good as the Rich boys. And then there was Anna Belle. She’d taken a liken to Orville and kinda became his shadow.
Jack called her and Orville over to the chuck wagon and told them that Cookie sure could use a spare pair of hands cooking all that grub fer so many. She could come, but she was to work only with Cookie and do whatever he needed done. They agreed to that and then Belle, as they took to calling her, took a stand and with her hands on her hips and teeth gritted, hissed through them, “That dirty old sidewinder is gonna take a bath before I help him a bit. He smells worsen the latrine.”
The men thought it was a tremendous idea and rounded him up to his great displeasure. Belle and Red got the warsh tub down, started filling it with water, and set it on the fire to warm. Meanwhile, the rest of the men took ta runnin after Cookie. They got him down to his all of nothings’ and drug him back to the women.
By the time they done got him there, Bell purred in his ear, ” I ain’t gonna use lye soap, but some of my French Bubble Bath just for this special occasion.”
Well, as soon as Cookie smelled that purty lilac smell, he jumped into the tub and the two women took to scrubbin’ him down like planks on a ship’s floor. They scrubbed his two pair of pants, shirts, and long johns; and then hung ’em out to dry on a rope line. Once dried off, Belle trimmed his hair, and damned if he didn’t look half civilized fer a change.
That being done, Red went right away to the branding area and set in with the men castrating the young bulls, cleaning the nuts fer supper, and the men began the branding. By 3 PM all the castrated bulls were branded and back with their mothers.
Red had taken the “Oysters” over to Belle and Cookie for preparation.
(Now a side note fer you green horns who don’t know what them RMOs are, here it is: Rocky Mountain Oysters are actually the testicles of sheep or bulls. They’re actually pretty tasty, deep fried with a side of rice or mash potatoes and gravy)
Dinner that night consisted of RMO’s, beets, beet greens, and johnny cakes. Because it was their last night in a town for several weeks, they broke out a keg of ice cold beer.
By morning, Vard was pukin his guts out and doubled over in pain. Belle had nurse training and whispered in Vard’s ear what she thought might be wrong. Vard stood up the best he could and hollered “Jack, WHAT THE HELL IS APPENDICITIS? BELLE HERE SAYS I CAUGHT ME SOME! YOU EVER HEAR OF IT AFORE? It feels like the time that Blackfoot feller shoved that knife in ma stomach eight years ago.”
Jack told J to get the Swedes to help him get him over to the hospital. It was a good thing they got him there when they did ’cause it broke soon as they got him on the operating table. James McFadden was the saw bones who worked on him. He did a bang up job too. Had him in a bed in lessen two hours.
The good Doctor came over to Jack and said, “Jack, you know he’ll have to stay here for three days and then take it easy for two more weeks to give his stomach time to heal up. Bishop Carlson has a spare bunk out back, and Vard can put up there so long as he keeps away from Ellen. I know they are sweet on each other.
Dr. McFadden asked who all was moving the herd. Jack said, “Well, there’s me,’en Orville,’en J,’en Ben, the Swedes and their mom. So seven plus Belle and Cookie as we need em.”
“You boys are pretty pooped; can I buy you a cold beer afore bed time?”
“Sure Doc, but just one and then we gotta get to bed.”
J piped up, “But Jack, it’s only 6 O’clock. We gotta eat them RMO’s too.”
“Well, we’re all hungry for Cookie and Belle’ s mess a cookin. So yes, we can. Get the instruments, J. Orville, you help get the tables set up for us all and then we’ll get washed, clean our boots off, and sit down. Bring ’em here to the Occidental and we’ll eat, play music, and be in bed by 10.”
At midnight everyone was drunk and lookin for a corner to crawl into for the night.
The book continues with Near death