“Slim! Slim McHenry!”
When Amos Ramsey bellowed his name, Slim changed direction from going toward the bunkhouse to heading for the boss. What did he do to make Mr. Ramsey so angry? He couldn’t recall any slip-up today. “Yes, sir?” he said, hoping he still had a job.
“Dan Crowley is leaving. After ten years!” Amos glowered at Slim. “His wife claims he’s too busted up to cowboy anymore. She’s taking him off to Tucson.”
“That’s bad news, boss. He’s a good foreman.”
“You’re takin’ his place. Ask Dan what to do.”
Mr. Ramsey walked off, leaving Slim with his jaw hanging open. Foreman! He wants me to be foreman? He whistled in surprise, struck by the man’s abrupt manner. Usually Ol’ Amos enjoyed conversing with his cowhands, but not tonight. Could be he’s upset about Dan quitting, but he could’ve been more forthcoming with the details of the job. He hoped Hoosier Dan was of a mind to enlighten him.
Slim started toward the foreman’s little bungalow in back of the main house. If Dan wasn’t at supper, Mrs. Crowley would know where he was.
Dan was sitting down to eat, but he took time to shake Slim’s hand and give him a rundown on his new responsibilities.
Half an hour later, Slim left, his head swimming and his hand sore from Dan’s enthusiastic congratulations. Each night I check with Ol’ Amos about the next day’s work, then parcel out the tasks in the morning. I fancy I’m up to the job. Maybe. Before trepidation took over, he went to eat his own supper, wondering how the cowhands would receive the news.
He supposed he could count on Curly Price to offer congratulations. He and Curly had ridden together for several years and were good friends. Baldy Babbitt would most likely put on a pout, but he wouldn’t want the job either. Too much responsibility.
Slim decided none of the other hands would give him more than occasional grief and sass, except Rance Hunter. He snorted. Hunter was a difficult case, prickly as could be. He was the boss’s stepson, but there was no love lost between them.
Slim paused to slap the horseshoe hung over the bunkhouse door before he entered to eat. He would need all the luck he could get.
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