Fighting to Provide

An Historical Novel by MICHAEL B. SESSIONS

Stump: Fighting to Provide Copyright ©2009 by Michael B. Sessions All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without written permission from the author, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review. Borderline Publishing 305 N. Steelhead Way Boise, ID 83704 www.borderlinepublishing.com ISBN 978-0-984190256 (Paperback) Cover design by Terry Springer, Springer Design, Tumwater, WA Printed in the United States of America on post-consumer recycled paper

Prologue: The stories in this book are historical fiction. Many of the characters are fictitious. PG and Jen were my grandparents. I had little research and history from which to draw. Many of the tales of PG and Jenny were handed down through the family, from my parents, uncles, aunts and cousins. Stories were shared at reunions and in journals and found their way into my memory and imagination.

Thanks to Mrs. Amy Bava, my daughter, of Caldwell, Idaho for editing Stump, twice. And thanks to Mr. Terry Springer (Springer Design) of Tumwater, Washington for the cover.

STUMP Journal 1896 I ain’t exactly sure of the date. I know the year, and I know it’s March, maybe April, but I ain’t kept track. Byron’ll know. This here batch of writin’ is my journal. The Prophet says we’re supposed to keep a journal of our doin’s. My pa keeps one and my grandma writes in hers regular. So, here goes. I woke-up this mornin’ just as the sun was comin’ up over the mountains east of my brother’s farm. The big orange ball started peekin’ over the jagged top of the Wasatch Range. She wasn’t quite over the ridge, and wouldn’t be full up fer some time, but it was gettin’ light, and I knew Byron would want me up and movin’. I rubbed the sleep outta my eyes and swung outta bed into my overhalls. I was still about half asleep, but tied mysef tight in my boots and shrugged on my favorite flannel shirt. I hustled to the outhouse fer my mornin’ constitutional. Byron, my older brother, calls his mornin’ bowel movement, his “constitutional”. Fancy way of sayin’ he heads fer the outhouse and relieves hissef, just like everbody else. “PG,” Byron hollered to me from the kitchen. “About time you’re out of that bed. We’re heading for church in an hour. Get the stock fed and get in here for breakfast, then ready yourself for church.” He didn’t wait fer my reply, he just slid the window closed, figurin’ I heard him. I slowed down some, but I didn’t turn round to let him know I heard him. He’s so dern high and mighty with all his orders. I’ll be glad to get out of here and away from him someday, get a place of my own, but not a farm I hope. Byron owns his farm, and he lets me work and slave fer him from daylight until dark ever day, except Sunday. I took care of the stock and got washed up fer breakfast and church. As always, I’ll go to the ward meetin’s with Byron and his family, sit on the same bench, sing the same old songs, listen to the drone of the same old members. My grandma might be there and most of my pa’s wives, but pa will likely be off on some errand fer President Young. Grandma will clobber me if I miss meetin’.

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Byron’s Bishop of the ward and he spends long hours at the church house. He’s responsible to be at the church first and open the doors fer meetin’ and prepare fer his little flock of heathens. I ain’t on fire about goin’, but I ain’t got much choice either. I love the Lord, and I love His church, but I ain’t on fire about bein’ forced to attend with my sister- inlaw and her loud mouth kids ever Sabbath. Later the same day: We made it to meetin’. I was only half listenin’ to Brother George, one of Byron’s counselors, while he droned on about tithin’. Instead of listenin’, I gawked around the congregation. Most of the geezers were already asleep. The old fogies, the brethren in the ward sleep through the meetin’s. It rankles me to see all those fine upstandin’ brethren sleepin’ through the talks, snorin’ and droolin’ all over themselves. (I probably shouldn’t write cuss words, but this is my journal. Probably ain’t goin’ to be anybody read the damn thing anyway.) I was lookin’ round the chapel, lazy like, bored, when I spied a face I ain’t seen before. A new family was sittin’ just a few rows in front and across the aisle to my right. I didn’t even see them come in. I wouldn’t have taken much notice of them even then, but one of them was a young woman. I couldn’t see her clear, but I figured her fer about my age. I got to watchin’ the side of that young woman’s face sittin’ tween what turned out to be her ma and pa. I calculate she is undoubted the best lookin’ young woman I ever seen. Her hair curls around her head in a pert, playful way that attracted me right off. I could see her ears didn’t stick out too much, and her skin was smooth as cream, but her complexion looked darkish. She’s probably just browned from the sun. I couldn’t see her eyes. Come on, turn around so’s I can see yer whole face there darlin’, I thought while spyin’ on her. I stared, intent on seein’ her whole face, but she wouldn’t take her eyes off the speakers. You’d a thought she’d been curious about the other folks in the ward, but she kept lookin’ and listenin’ to the speakers. Whatsa-matter with her? I thought. She couldn’t be thinkin’ this stuff is interestin’, or even spiritual. Maybe she has the knack of sleepin’ with her eyes open. I had to cover my mouth with my sleeve to stifle mysef from bustin’ out laughin’ at my own sef. Sometimes I’m a funny son-of-a-gun. “Witty,” grandma calls me. After the meetin’s, the members stand round and talk and shake hands and discuss about anythin’. Everybody enjoys Sunday socializin’. They enjoy havin’ the opportunity of talkin’ to each other after a week on the farm talkin’ to themselves. Right after the mornin’ meetin’, Byron as Bishop, talks with members at the front steps of the church as they leave. They congratulate him and his

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counselors on a fine meetin’. They’re dang lonely to talk, or they hope to be noted by the leaders as righteous followers, I reckon. I took advantage of folks dawdlin’ out of the chapel and stood at the end of the row, near where I’d been settin’ durin’ the meetin’. I studied the new family as they gathered their scriptures and got ready to leave. It gave me time to look over the new girl. Dang, she’s a beauty. She’s on the tall side as women go, but she’s sturdy built with large bosoms, and a narrow waist. She turned toward me, not really lookin’ at me, and I could see that she had dark eyes and a fine freckled nose. Her lips were full, and well formed. I got plenty interested. I moved closer to the aisle to try and catch her eye as she and her family passed on out of the chapel. I sort of got lucky, and timed my stop at the aisle just as the woman I figured was the girl’s ma began to pass. I hung back in the aisle a step or two and waited to get a closer look in the face of the girl. She took no notice of me. She didn’t so much as glance in my direction, I watched close. She passed within a foot of me. Her nose had tiny freckles. I could smell her. She smelled clean, like grandma’s soap. What a beauty. I hoped her eyes would be blue. She was watchin’ her step and I couldn’t see them clear. I bet on’em bein’ blue. I was mighty surprised, and hurt that she didn’t take notice of me. “Why, I’m a som” . . . I didn’t finish my cussin’ because I was in the chapel. I popped in behind the family and ducked around them in the foyer and hurried out the doors while they gabbed with Byron. New folks always stop to talk to Byron, or his counselors. I slid past everbody and took up a position at the bottom of the stair where I hoped the young woman might notice me as she and her family left. My rushin’ paid off. At the bottom of the steps in front of the church, I leaned agin the handrail. The new family stopped fer introductions twice up top, meetin’ other ward members. The girl’s father, anxious to get on the way, broke away and came down the stairs first. “Howdy brother,” I said to him. “I’m Perrigrine, Perrigrine Sessions, folks just call me PG. You’re new here ain’t ya?” I asked the man, stickin’ out my own large meaty hand. “Why yah, young feller, ve are. You are not the Bishop’s son eh?” “No sir. I’m his little brother, exceptin’ I’m bigger than him, physical I mean. I live with him and work on his farm,” I said. Ve just got into da valley some dase ago and got our lot assigned us by President Young. I’m Brotter Engebretsen, Bernt Engebretsen.” “You’ve got a strange accent there Brother Engebretsen. Where you come from?” I asked. I meant no disrespect, and Engebretsen took none. “Ve come to da Salt Lake from Frontenac, Minnesota.” He pronounced it Meenisota. “Me and da missus come to dis country from

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Norvay. Ve join da church in Minnesota. Da missionaries find us and teach us da Gospel.” “That’s good,” I said. I grinned wide. “Dis iss my family too.” The older women stopped near Bernt and looked at me fer the first time. “Dis iss my vife, Kjersten, and dis is our daughter Jenny Matilda.” I whipped off my hat and shook the hand of Sister Engebretsen. She offered her hand freely. I had to reach fer Jenny’s hand and I held onto it tight. I held her a bit longer than I should have fer a normal handshake. It brought the desired effect. She looked me square in the face. Yes sir, her eyes were blue like a pool I once saw up Ogden Canyon. “How do Jenny?” I asked. I was grinnin’ like crazy and lookin’ directly back into her eyes. “My name’s Perrigrine Sessions, but folks just call me PG.” “I shall call you Perrigrine,” she said. “Suit yoursef, but you can call me PG when we get to be friends.” “Do you think we will become friends, Brother Sessions?” “Well, I don’t know fer sure, but I sure hope so,” I sputtered. I could feel the blood in my face. I reckon I was red as a granny’s beets. Jenny pulled her hand out of mine and smiled. The smile paralyzed me. I couldn’t speak no more. She moved off with her family to their wagon. “It vas goot to meet you Brotter Sessions,” said Bernt Engebretsen over his shoulder.. “You too Brother Engebretsel,” I said. “Engebretsen,” corrected Bernt. “Sorry . . . Brother Engebretsen,” I spoke more deliberate. Dang, I thought, That’s embarrassin’. I watched Brother Engebretsen help his women into the wagon, and I watched him handle his team of horses away from the other wagons and buggies easy. He was a good hand with his wagon. Course, he ought to be dang good since he just got done drivin’ it over 2000 miles out here to Utah. He ought to be able to back that thing down the aisle of the church and never touch a bench. After the mornin’ meetin’, folks made their way from the chapel to their horses, and buggies, and wagons. Some could walk to their houses fer the noon meal. Everyone would return fer more meetin’s after the noon meal. Our family sat in the back of the church and ate sandwiches that Amelia, Byron’s wife, packed fer us. Byron met with his counselors up front. You could hear them talk, but they were quiet so you couldn’t make out what they were sayin’. They yakked away the whole lunch, talkin’ about who needs help with what, who’s sick, who ran off, who’s injured, and all.

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I ate my sandwiches. Then I walked around outside fer some fresh air. I was awful bored and thought about Jenny Engebretsen mostly. I hoped she was comin’ back fer afternoon meetin’. I figured she would. Everybody does. After a spell, folks started arrivin’ back fer meetin’. I saw the Engebretsens comin’ up the road. I could tell by the wagon and the way Brother Engebretsen handled the team that it was them. They were a ways up the road when I hurried to the chapel, dusted mysef off, and got on the bench to wait fer’em to enter. They finally came in and sat in the same places as in the mornin’ meetin’. I watched Jenny through the whole afternoon meetin’. I didn’t hear the speakers one bit. I couldn’t even write down here who the speakers were. Instead of listenin’, I watched Jenny and prayed she might look my way and maybe nod toward me, or somethin’ to let me know she might be interested in me a little. But, she didn’t so much as turn her head my way. After church, I had duties to help clean-up the sacrament trays and cups, and generally straighten the chapel. I didn’t get to talk to the Engebretsens. ∞ I rode home with the family. It was slow and quiet. Everyone was tired from a long day on hard benches and borin’ talks. Funny how boredom can tire you clean out. I changed into my workin’ clothes when we got back to the barn, and I got started on chores. In a while, Byron called me to supper. My sister-in-law fed us bread and soup. I ate fresh jam on my bread. She cut my bread slices about two inches thick, just the way I like them. She makes dang good bread, I’ll say that. After, I finished my chores feedin’ and waterin’ and milkin’, and now I’m finishin’ up my writin’ while I lie on my bunk. Light’s about gone, so I’m writin’ by the light of this here oil lamp. In fact, the sun is plum gone now. It’s been a long day. Seems like two days ago when the sun came up, but it was just this mornin’. It’s peaceful here in the dim light of the lamp. I could get sleepy, if I could get the picture of Jenny out of my head. One last thing fore I quit. Utah became a state this year. I decided I’d write down important things in this here book. Becomin’ a state is dern important I reckon. Used to be that Utah was called Deseret. Grandma told us kids, “When Brigham led the persecuted saints out her in 1847, he chose this land because nobody else wanted it. Through determination and hard work, the Mormons made the desert bloom. She told us the white folks heard the Apaches talkin’ about the Navajo as “Yuttahih” meanin’ “one that lives higher up”. The white folks figured

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the name was meant fer the Ute indians that lived even further north in the mountain territory, so they named the territory up north here, Utah. Grandma told us, “Deseret is a word in the Book of Mormon that means honeybee. Folks outside the church used to say that the pioneers carried swarms of bees with them when they came west.” Maybe they did. I know the beehive was adopted in 1847 as the official emblem. Now they have the beehive in the official seal of the state, and I seen it on the state flag, but now the state leaders changed the nickname “Deseret” to the more original Utah as the name fer the state. Don’t matter none what they call the place, I’m mighty glad Jenny came out here to “Utah”. Wednesday, April 8, 1896 Tough week, so far. I ain’t been able to think of anythin’ else beside Jenny Engebretsen. I lay in bed conjurin’ her face in my mind. I think of her smell as I shovel ditches and while I irrigate. Her face is the last picture in my head fore I finally drop off to sleep. I was goin’ to write ever day, but I was so tired the last couple of days that I plum fergot. I will try to do better. It’s easy to ferget though. Durin’ chores, I calculate how long it will be til I might see Jenny agin. I can only hope to meet her at church next Sabbath day. It would be forward, and risky, to just go visit at their lot. Church seems like a year from now. How’m I goin’ to get her alone to talk to her and get to know her when we’re at the church and her folks are with here ever minute? I picture Jenny as I feed, as I pitch hay, as I drive the team down the furrows in the fields, when I sit at the dinner table. It’s easy to picture her. She was dang perty in that light blue print dress. I bet she made it hersef. Days’r draggin’ by. Byron rode up to me while I was plowin’ this afternoon and said, “What the world has got you so distracted? You ain’t plowed a straight furrow all week.” “Nuthin’,” I spit back. I didn’t want to share Jenny with Byron, or anyone else just yet. “You feeling alright?” asked Byron. He was genuinely concerned, so I softened a little. . “I’m Okay,” I said. “I just got things on my mind is all.” “You want to talk? I’ll listen.” “Nuthin’ to talk about.” “Ahright!” Byron gave up and rode his horse off to the other side of the field to check his water. President Brigham Young taught the families and leaders in the area to harness the water from the canyons and irrigate their crops. The farmers built canals and ditches and they’re mighty successful controllin’water. Green fields stand-out agin the bare desert hardpan below.

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Byron understands plenty about irrigation alright. He learned fast. Byron handled his water real well and he became mighty prosperous because of his farmin’ practices. His fields stand out like sapphires on this barren side hill. Sunday, April 12th, 1896 Sunday’s finally got here. It ain’t none too soon. I got up early, fore light, and finished my chores. I got washed, all over. That’s somethin’ I don’t do very often. I went to breakfast. It was tough to wait on food. I was too anxious to get goin’. Finally everybody started gettin’ ready fer meetin’. I helped my nephews get ready, and I got the wagon hitched and parked out front. I wanted to get to gettin’. Byron started kiddin’ me, “Well, PG, you going to church with us? You know we ain’t leaving for about a half hour yet?” I told him, “Yeah, I know, but I just couldn’t sleep anymore, so I got up and got goin’ early. You’re always tellin’ me to get movin’, so I was movin’.” Byron said, “Well, somethings going on. I can see that. You sure ain’t yourself.” He laughed, but, privately, I think he guessed there’s a woman to blame. He’s smart enough to probably know who. “I’m fine. Don’t worry none about me.” The family finally got loaded and I drove the wagon to church. Byron rode his saddle horse. He likes to ride ahead and open the gates. I got to drivin’ too fast fer Amelia. She hollered at me, “PG, slow down for pity’s sake. We are going to be there half hour ahead of time, the way you’re drivin’. We already have to be there early.” “Sorry,” I said. But, I slacked the reins to urge the horses forward as soon as I thought she wasn’t payin’ attention. She’d get to lookin’ to my nieces and nephews and take her mind off my drivin’, but then she’d turn back to me, “PG, you’re shaking me and the children to death. Please slow down.” Byron rode up to the side us on his horse and scowled at me. Mostly though, he was tryin’ to think of what he would say in meetin’s today. He really couldn’t be bothered with what I was doin’ to hurry. I wanted to get to the church ahead of everyone, especially the Engebretsens and get in the right place in the chapel. I felt like I just had to be noticed by Jenny Engebretsen today. Byron just looked at me like I was crazy, and he moved on back out beside the wagon. His horse kept pace while Byron daydreamed, or practiced his talks. At the church, I leaped from the wagon seat, leavin’ Byron to unload his brood. I tied off the team and sprinted into the foyer of the church and slid to a stop in front of a small mirror used by the sisters to straighten themselves after the dusty ride to church. I wanted to be certain that I was

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presentable after my own dirty wagon ride, but I didn’t let anybody catch me primpin’. I adjusted mysef quick and swatted the dirt and dust off my coat and dark trousers with my hat. Satisfied, I took my seat in the rear of the chapel, and whispered thanks to the Lord that Byron was a leader in the ward and had to be there early to meet with his counselors and get things ready fer meetin’s. It would be another fifteen, or twenty minutes fore other members would begin arrivin’. I had hopes that the Engebretsens would be among the first to arrive. I was figurin’ on the Engebretsens sittin’ on the right side of the chapel, like they done last week. I stationed mysef in my old row, but closer to the aisle. Finally, Bernt Engebretsen and his family entered with a few minutes to spare fore the openin’ hymn and prayer. I jumped to my feet and greeted the family. “Howdy Brother Engebretsen, Sister . . . . Jenny,” I spoke to each one in turn. “Goot morning Brotter Sessions,” replied Brother and Sister Engebretsen. “Good morning Brother Sessions,” said Jenny. My insides fair buzzed with excitement. I decided to be forward. “Mind if I sit with you durin’ meetin’?” I asked Brother Engebretsen. I peeked at Jenny out the corner of my eye. “Voodn’t you ratter sit vit Jenny,” he laughed. Sister Engebretsen was smilin’ too. “Well, yes, I sure would,” I could feel my face flush bright red. “Vell den ask her,” says Bernt. “Okay”, I stammered. “Would you mind if I sit by you durin’ church Jenny?” “You may, if you want to,” she wasn’t all that invitin’, which hurt like I was kicked in the gut. But, it was enough fer me and I couldn’t help grinnin’ as I fell in behind her and followed her to her seat. I could smell her hair. I breathed her in deep and I leaned close to her hair. She smelled, clean, is the only word that sticks to my mind. I hope nobody was watchin’ me. I probably looked like a dern fool leanin’ forward smellin’ the girl’s hair.. I sat by the aisle, with Jenny to my right. Next came her mother, then father. I learned toward her close, wantin’ to smell her agin. I said to her, “Dang, you smell good.” She blushed and smoothed the skirt of her dress and acted sort of uncomfortable. I told her, “I ain’t tryin’ to get too forward, it’s just that you’re about the prettiest thing I ever seen. And, you do smell better than anythin’ I run into all week. Please don’t be angry about gettin’ complimented by me.”

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She was about to speak, and she wasn’t lookin’ too friendly, when Byron came to the podium and rescued me by startin’ the meetin’ When he stood up to speak, Jenny sat back and gave him her full attention. She ignored me. Fer the moment, I was thankful. The meetin’ was torture. I had to look like I was payin’ attention to all the leaders and speakers. But, I snuck looks at Jenny’s hands and noted the shape of her fingers and nails. Her hands were rough and tanned from hard work and the trail west, but they were perty, just the same. Her nails were smooth and pink underneath, her skin brown from the sun. I sure wanted to take hold of her hand, but I didn’t have the pluck, and I sure didn’t want to get rejected. After the meetin’ I walked out of the church with Jenny, but she paid me little mind. “Jenny, I’d like to talk to you,” I said to her. “Well then go ahead and talk,” she said. “We have a few minutes before pappa leaves for our place.” “First of all,” I stammered, “You comin’back this afternoon?” “Yes, we’ll be back for afternoon meeting.” “Would you let me sit by you agin?” “Why is it so all-fired important to sit by me?” Jenny smiled a little smile that I couldn’t read. I couldn’t tell if she was makin’ fun of me, or was makin’a joke, or just being a dang girl tease. I got the impression that she was playin’some kind of game, bein’ evasive, but not totally uninterested. “I’d just like to get to know you, that’s all.” “Suit yourself Brother Sessions. You are welcome to sit anywhere you like.” That hurt. My pride hurt like hell from that one. I said, “Well, I guess I will then.” I turned and walked away, leavin’her standin’in the foyer. My heart ached. The dang thing actually ached. I left the buildin’and I walked quick time to Byron’s wagon. I was madder than a wet hen. I couldn’t look back to see if she was watchin’ me leave. I wanted to look back to find her. I wanted to stay with her. I felt so low my knees threatened to buckle right out from under me. Her message seemed clear to me. She didn’t care one way or another if I was interested in her or not. I was physical sick to my gut. What was it about this dang girl I seen only twice, shook hands with once, and who I sat beside fer little over an hour. What the heck’s wrong with me? Byron didn’t meet with his counselors at lunch today. Instead, the family sat on the steps and ate lunch, like a picnic. I couldn’t even talk to the family at lunch cause I was all balled up.

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Byron musta seen me sittin’ with the Engetbresens in meetin’. So, he musta known the reason fer my strange behavior. After eatin’ a sandwich, Byron finally piped up, “I see you’ve taken a little shine to the new Engebretsen girl. She’s mighty comely.” I got embarrassed, and said, “Yeah, but she ain’t interested in me none.” Byron’s dang sharp, and he must have known how I was feelin’ enough to know not to push the conversation. Instead, he waited until after lunch and said to me, sofly, “PG, come help me with a couple things in the chapel, would ya?” I placed my napkin next to my untouched plate of food and followed Byron to the chapel. “Whatcha want me ta do?” I asked. “I want you to sit down and tell me what the world is troubling you. You need to talk.” “I ain’t really got any trouble, but I’m awful interested in Jenny Engebretsen and she don’t care a tinker’s damn that I’m alive.” “Well, you have only laid eyes on her twice. I see that she let you sit with her in church today. That’s a good sign.” “She acted like I got the pox.” “PG, let me tell you a little about young women. They ain’t all they seem to be. Most times they don’t know what they want, and when a man acts like he wants them, it sort of scares them, or puts them on the defense. They act like they ain’t interested at all, when they are really very interested. They just don’t want the man to know it. I don’t understand it myself, I just know that’s how they think. If you want her to take notice of you, you got to act like you ain’t interested in her one little bit. Don’t let her catch you looking at her. Stay in sight, but away from her so she can easily see what you’re doing, but so’s she is clearly not a part of whatever it is you are doing. You already let her know you’re interested. Now let her know that she should have been a little interested back.” “That sounds crazy to me,” I said. “How come I can’t just tell her what I want, and she tell me what she wants, or doesn’t want?” “Doesn’t work that-a-way my boy.” “How do you know all this stuff?” “I’ve been through it all, just like most other men who’ve been through their young loves and courting days. Believe me, if she has any interest in you, it’ll show when you show her she ain’t the lead cow in your corral. I don’t mean that the way it sounded. She’s mighty pretty. She ain’t a cow by any means.” “Well, I’ll be blessed,” I said. “That ain’t the way I’d have played it.”

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“Well, if you’re serious about getting her interest, you’ll play it just that way. Ask Amelia. She’ll tell you. You’re off on your first adventure with women . . . good luck little brother.” Byron patted my shoulder and left me sittin’in the pew, thinkin’ about my next move. I made a note of all Byron’s directions so I could write them down here in the book. We had about an hour til Sacrament Meetin’. ∞ I was anxious to get back in meetin’and experiment on Byron’s advice. Instead of waitin’ fer the Engebretsens to come in, I sat back in my regular place, same place I first spied Jenny. I sat there and pretended to read the scriptures while the other members filed in. I could see the Engebretsens enterin’ out the side of my eye. I played intent on my readin’ like nothin’ could tear me away from those scriptures. I got the distinct feelin’ that Jenny looked down at me when she passed. I think she even stopped fer a moment and looked at me. Maybe she was goin’ to ask me how come I wasn’t comin’ to sit by her. I hoped that anyway. I made every effort to ignore the right side of the chapel while I looked out the corner of my eye at the same time. After the meetin’ I cut into the aisle a few feet ahead of the Engebretsens and walked casually ahead of the family, ignorin’ them all. I headed out of the church and over to Byron’s family wagon, and I fussed with gettin’ the horses full harnessed. I made mysef generally busy, all the time secretly watchin’ Jenny. She did, in fact, look over to me several times. She looked puzzled I think. I sure wanted to go to her, but I forced mysef to stay focused on not attendin’ to her at all, not at all. I am sick to my gut with not bein’ able to talk to her, or see her fer another whole week now. I hope Byron knows what he’s talkin’ about. Wednesday, April 15 Ain’t seen anythin’ of the Engebretsens. All I’ve seen are cows and mud and seed and the butt end of horses. Byron’s got me plantin’, where it is dry enough. It’s been rainin’, or snowin’ fer weeks it seems. I know we need the water. I can’t think of nothin’ but Jenny. Sunday, April 19 Went to church, fit to bust. I saw Jenny, but pretended to pay her no mind agin. It’s killin’ me. I saw some of the other young bucks eyeballin’ her. The Sorensen boys were sniffin’ around Jenny after meetin’ today. I wanted to go over and knock hell out of both of them fart knockers. I outweigh them both by fifty pounds, which ain’t neither here nor there. This new plan ain’t doin’ much good fer me.

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Sunday, April 26 I’ve been playin’ Byron’s game with Jenny fer two weeks now. Anytime I get close I get a nervous gut. The time is so short seein’ her. I pray fer church and ache all the way though the meetin’s. I ain’t sensin’ any progress. It’s like we’re in our own worlds and the worlds are miles apart. My heart aches. I thought of Jenny as much as ever last week, and I’m dang discouraged. Usually my spirits are runnin’ high. Not now. July 23, Night time: I ain’t writ in a long while. Nothin’ much to write about. I ain’t nowhere with Jenny Engebretsen. I’m hopin’ hard fer tomorrow though. I’ve got to leave this book closer to my bed, I guess, so’s I’ll remember to write more. I just have to say about the last weeks, It has been pure-D hell seein’ Jenny talkin’ to everybody else and not to me. Byron and the family and I are plannin’ to attend the 24th of July celebration tomorrow. It’s Covered Wagon Days doin’s in Bountiful. The celebration will have parades in Salt Lake. Bountiful will have devotionals, and picnics, and sportin’ events. We’ll have baseball games through the day. There’ll be lots of eatin’, dancin’, excursions into the hills, and reunions with family and friends. My pa, Perrigrine, and his mother, Grandma Patty, and pa’s wives will all certainly attend. I’m anxious to see them all. It’s been a while since we’ve all been together. But mostly, I hope to see Jenny Engebretsen. President Young put this little shin-dig together in 1849 to celebrate the settlin’ of the church in Utah. Now they call it Pioneer Day Celebration and it’s bigger’n the 4th of July round here. I’m plannin’ on (dreamin’ about) makin’ Jenny Engebretsen one of my dance partners at the celebration dance. I figure to dance with a passel of women and I’ll act the part of the fine young gent, interested in many young ladies, not just her. But, I’m set on her, nobody else. Byron came in and checked on me a little while ago. “How’s it going with Jenny Engebretsen,” he asked. He asks about once a week, but the answer is always the same. “It ain’t goin’, far as I can tell. It ain’t been goin’. I ain’t spoke to her in two months.” “Ive been watching her,” said Byron. “She watches you at times when you ain’t looking. I think she is mighty interested alright. She’s probably just stubborn, like other women.” My heart about busted out of my shirt. “You really think she’s interested?” “Said I did.”

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July 24, Friday Pioneer Day is finally here. Today’s Friday. I want to get shed of the family, so I’m takin’ a horse and headin’ into Bountiful this mornin’. I’ll write more later . . . I wish me the best of luck. Later, same night: I arrived purposeful late fer celebration breakfast this mornin’. I had to ride around a while to stay away long enough to be a little late. I about wore my horse out. Piles of food lay on the tables fer late-comers and fer those that might feel like eatin’ more. There’d be food all day long. The sun shone, but the mornin’ breeze cooled the hillside. Children played games and adults got up a baseball game. Now, baseball’s my game. It’s my favorite and I ain’t bad playin’ it neither. I can hit well and field the ball. I don’t always know exactly where my throws might end up, but I got a fair arm fer distance. They say the Prophet Joseph was a ball player. The game was gettin’ well under way when I saw Jenny in the crowd watchin’. She appeared to be watchin’ the game in general, not just me. When my turn came up to hit, I slammed a double and came up from a slide into second base, grinnin’. I looked direct at Jenny, the other side of third, not on purpose exactly, but on purpose. She was lookin’ right at me too. Our eyes locked fer a moment. She smiled, and looked down, not away, but down as if she was embarrassed fer gettin’ caught. Whelllllll Now, I thought. That’s more promisin’. I looked fer her after the game, and at the devotional, and at supper. She was about alright, but she stuck close to her ma and pa. Later, at the dance, I got my chance. I figured I would. I saw that the Engebretsens weren’t dancin’. They stayed at their supper table and talked to other couples, particular couples that immigrated from Norway, same as them. Jenny watched the dancers. She was asked to dance once in a while, but she looked like she was maybe a little bored. She was not smilin’ and enjoyin’ the evenin’ like other young women seemed to be. Some of the real good dancers pranced around the floor. Girls dresses flew like sails. They say it’s ballroom dancin’. Tall slim boys with tall slim girls glided across the floor like they were on wheels. Most of the rest of us just jumped around like crazy. I made it a point to dance all the dances I could. I also made it a point to ask girls that sat close to where Jenny and her family were sittin’. I smiled and danced and attended to the young women, thankin’ them fer dancin’ with me. I smiled so much my face hurt. I made it look like I was the life of the party, not so fancy as the ballroom dancers though. I was careful not to show off. All the actin’ was killin’ me .

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Michael B. Sessions

I danced with Claire Baker and thanked her while I walked with her to her seat. I meandered over to the food/drink tables and poured a quick drink of punch. I got my guts up while I downed the punch and walked over to where Jenny sat. She was a thing of beauty, smilin’ slightly and listenin’ to music. She did not see me approach. I came up beside her and sort of startled her some. “Miss Engebretsen,” I said. “Would you care to dance with me?” I wouldn’t have been much surprised if she’d said she didn’t care, but she smiled wide and jumped up, reaching fer my hand as she did. “Why yes, I would be delighted.” I dang near peed my pants. I was careful when placin’ my right hand on Jenny’s side that it be more near the side and not around her back. I wanted her to think that I was just dancin’, not showin’ any great interest in her. I wanted to be friendly, but not let her think I thought much of her. I wanted to grab her up and squeeze her tight. “How have you been Sister Engebretsen?” “You can call me Jenny.” “I better just call you Sister, or Miss.” “Well, it is alright to call me Jenny,” she said in a low, maybe it was a little dejected, voice. I didn’t say anythin’ back. I just concentrated on my dancin’. “Why didn’t you come and sit with me at church that time?” asked Jenny. “Well, I didn’t think you wanted me to. You acted gut shot when I tried to be friendly and just wanted to talk to you and get to know you.” “I was not gut shot.” “You know what I mean.” I turned Jenny and twirled her in the dance to let her know that my main thing was the dancin’, not carryin’ on a conversation. Her dress flaired out like the girls dancin’ with the ballroom experts. “Whew!” said Jenny. “This is fun.” The dance ended and Jenny appeared to linger some. “Thanks fer the dance,” I said. “I got to get over to see Byron,” I lied. “Let me escort you to your seat.” “That’s alright, I can find my way,” Jenny replied, a little exasperated, I believe. I walked with her to her seat whether she wanted me to, or not, and thanked her once again. She didn’t reply, and she didn’t look at me. I think she was angry, but I acted like I couldn’t care less. I eased on over to the food table again and talked to a friend and snitched a piece of cake like

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there wasn’t anythin’ to it. I didn’t look fer Byron, on purpose. I returned after another dance and ask Jenny again. “Would you like to dance agin?” I asked her. She had her back to me. She turned and her face brightened. “Yes, thank you.” Her face turned a little red. She’s perty even with a red face. I wanted to mash my face against hers and just hold her close as I could. We danced the dance, and did not talk. I inched my right hand a bit further around Jenny’s waist. When the music ended, I couldn’t help mysef, “Dance agin?” I said, quiet like. “Surely,” Jenny said. I gambled and turned Jenny’s hand so’s I could hold back of her hand in my palm. I folded my thumb into her palm and held her whole hand in my fingers. She did not resist. I pulled her up a little closer, but not so close as to be too forward, or precocious, as Grandma Patty would say. I didn’t want the brethren eyeballin’ me neither. Jenny seemed plenty willin’. “I wanted to sit by you in church that day,” I whispered to her. “And I wanted you to,” said Jenny. “You didn’t act like it.” “A young woman can’t be so forward as to act like she wants a man’s attention.” “Well, I wanted to sit by you and I still do want to sit by you, every day,” I blurted. Jenny looked up into my face and smiled, and blushed again. She had perfect gleamin’ white teeth framed by full lips and sun browned face. She squeezed my shoulder with her right hand. I damn near died right there. My knees got weak and I near fell to the floor. “Does that mean you still want to sit by me?” I asked. “It means that I’d like to get to know you better,” said Jenny. “That can be arranged,” I told her. “Will your pa let me come to your lot to visit you?” “Why yes, I think he would be fine with that. He wondered what happened to you at church that day.” “Tomorrow is Saturday, so I can come in the late afternoon after chores.” “I’ll expect you then. Do you know where our lot is?” “I’ve passed it, at a distance, near ever day since I met you in church.” Jenny laughed and leaned agin me, squeezin’ my hand as we twirled. “How about lettin’ me sit by you in church this Sunday?” I asked.

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Michael B. Sessions

“Let’s see how much we want to sit together after tomorrow. We’ll take it one day at a time. Fair enough?” “Mor’n fair,” I said to her. I was mighty excited. “Couldn’t be more fair.” We danced the rest of the dances, all the dances, and I walked her to her family’s wagon and helped her get on board when we was all done and folks were leavin’ fer home. “Thanks for the dances PG,” she said. Her voice was low, just above a whisper. “You called me PG. Does that mean you like me?” “I like you well enough to call you what your friends call you.” “Well then, Jenny, I’ll see you tomorrow night,” I replied. I gave her a friendly wink as I turned toward the tree where I’d staked my horse earlier in the day. Jenny said, “Why don’t you make it for supper, about 6:00?” I waved and grinned in agreement. I felt as if I could carry the horse home. I musta been grinnin’ like a dern fool. I can’t think of anythin’ else. I’ve got to get this light out and get some shut eye. I ain’t goin’ to sleep much, but I got chores to do fore I can go visitin’. It’s been one fine day. Saturday, July 25, 1896 Mornin’ after a perfect evenin’. I slept some last night, but not much. I kept dancin’ with Jen mostly. I was up and at’em fore light. I did my chores and worked with Byron most all day. Catchin’ up fore leavin’ to Jen’s “I noticed you had a good time with young Sister Engebretsen at the dance last night,” Byron said after lunch. We sat in the shade of a tree near the ditch we were waterin’ from. We could look across the valley and the Salt Lake. A breeze cooled us. “Oh yeah! I had a great time. I’m goin’ to the Englebretsen place to visit this evenin’. Your advice finally worked. I didn’t think it was goin’ to and it as mighty hare on me, but it finally worked. I about give it up.” “Well, don’t get in to a big hurry to stop keeping her guessing some. Women are fickle things. She may decide you’re a sure thing and decide to dangle you some more.” “Okay. I’ll keep workin’ on it. Can I leave workin’ a little early today?” I asked. “Well, I suppose. What’ve you got in mind?” “I’d like to clean up and get over to the Engebretsen lot early enough to have dinner with Jenny and her folks and spend a few hours. Mind if I quit about 5:00? “Sounds alright to me. You serious about this girl? You ain’t had much time with her, but you seem awfully taken by her.”

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“She’s about all I think about, specially since last night. I think I’m serious as a knife in the chest, but it may not peter out. I don’t know what I’ll do if it don’t.”We packed what was left of our lunch, and picked up our gear to get back to work. Byron let me go early and I cleaned up fast. I just wanted to write a little to settle me down some fore I head the Engebretsen’s. I’ll write the whole story when I get back tonight. Good luck to me agin. I’m prayin’. Back home later I got to the Engebretsen place about six o’clock. It would be a few hours fore total dark. Brother Engebretsen worked on the house. The women were preparin’ the food and were near ready to serve it all up. Brother Engebretsen decided to build the house out of rock. The walls are near complete, and it’s goin’ to be a handsome home. He’s haulin’ rock out of the hills. Looks like he knows how to work the rock to make the stones fit tight, so his walls are dern near smooth. It is gonna to be a fine house. “That’s quite a place yer buildin’ there Brother Engebretsen,” I told him. “Vel, I know da stone. I ain’t got no experience mit vood and it is too far to haul da logs out of da canyons. I can pick up da stones easy. It vill be a sturdy house. I vill build da bigger barn out of stone next zummer.” Brother Engebretsent houses his animals in a small corral and slanty roofed three side shed. It’s good enough to get the animals through the winter if they have feed. It is a good plan to get the house done fore snow flies. “Good idea. Rock ain’t hard to come by round here,” I said to him. “Vindows iss hard to come by. Ve order from San Francisco. Dey vill come maybe in two months, more maybe.” “Brother Engebretsen, I came to visit Jenny. Hope you don’t mind none.” “Me and da missus don’t mind. Ve know you come from goot family,” he smiled. “Thank you. I’ll treat her real good. You count on that sir.” “Jenny is helping mit da zupper. Dey vill be ready zoon.” “Yes sir,” I said, and walked over to the table where Jenny was puttin’ food. She smiled and went back fer more. The family lives in a tent to the south of their house site where Brother Engebretsen is buildin’. Most folks round here built their barns first and lived in a shack til the barn was done. But Brother Engebretsen ain’t a farmer, not really.

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Michael B. Sessions

“PG, you’re in perfect time for supper. We’ve been working all day and got to a point where we could stop and have the evening meal,” said Jenny. She seemed happy to see me. “Well, I thank you. I could eat a cow.” “The food is all on the table. You’ll have to excuse the accommodations, but we haven’t gotten settled yet. Everyone has been so kind, that we have been comfortable and we have been able to devote a lot of time to the house.” “Good folks here,” I assured her. Supper was mighty fine. If Jenny is any kind of cook like her ma, she’s one fine catch. I sort of made a pig of mysef. Brother Engebretsen kept watchin’ me with a sort of wonderment in his eyes then he’d smile and look back to his plate. It was so good, I couldn’t help but stuff mysef. “Supper was dang good, ma’am,” I complimented Sister Engebretsen. “Tank you,” she said “You eat goot.” Jenny began to clean up. “Let me hep you with that,” I volunteered. “No, you sit and talk with poppa. I’ll help momma with the dishes. It won’t take long.” “Well, Brother Engebretsen, what you goin’ to do to make a livin’ here in the valley?” It was sort of obvious that he wasn’t goin’ to farm, or raise cattle. He didn’t have more’n a few acres to his lot. “I can do da stone vork. Ve vill raise fruit on the lot here and my vife is goot at da sewing. Ve can make a goot livink, I tink. I vil vork on da temple any time I can find.” “Ya goin’ to have any stock?” “I vant to get zum cows, two milk cows I tink. I vant me a saddle horse,” he said. “Do you know vere I could get some goot cows and da horse?” “Well, my pa, Perrigrine Sessions, has lots of cows. He’ll sure sell you what you need, and he won’t cheat you none. Byron’s got some fine horses. I know he’ll help you with a good one.” “I vill talk to dem.” Jenny, finished up with her ma and came to rescue me from my labored conversation with her pa. “Poppa, I’m going to take PG and show him the lot and what you have been building.” “Yah, you be careful round dem valls. Dey ain’t sturdy yet.” “We will be careful poppa.” Jenny took my hand and pulled me from my seat to follow her. She let go my hand after I stood and I was sure wishin’ she would have held on. “Follow me,” she said.

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I walked along and listened as she described how the house would be finished and what rooms they’d divide off. I was only a little interested, but I was near hypnotized by Jen’s voice. “You talk dang good,” I told her. “Well, my folks made me go to school. I loved school. My mother insisted that I learned to speak well.” “It ain’t your words, oh, they’re fine and all, but I was talkin’ about yer voice. You’ve got a nice voice. I could listen to you all day.” “Why thank you. That’s a nice thing to say.” I told her, “I am nice.” Jenny laughed and continued the conversation, “My folks are embarrassed about their accents. They insisted that I learn English and speak it well.” “Plenty of accents round here. They ain’t got to be embarrassed none.” “They aren’t so embarrassed here, but in Minnesota, they were ridiculed. They were ridiculed a great deal when we joined the church too. Not by the members, but by the townsfolk. They made fun of immigrants, and immigrants who joined the Mormons were doubly mocked. It was not a difficult decision to come to Salt Lake and join the other saints.” “How was the trip out?” I was curious. “It was long, but the weather was good, and the way is well worn now and there are roads. It isn’t anything like it was 40 years ago. We could have come out on the train, but poppa wanted to bring his tools and mama’s furniture. The train cost too much, and I think he wanted to see the country too and experience a little of what the early settlers went through to get here.” “Well, that was fore my time alright, but I heard lots of stories. My pa was with them, and my grandma. Pa captained a hunderd and my grandma midwifed the whole way with Brigham Young’s group. They experienced lots of wild times, I’m told.” “Well, we’re here now, and we are pleased to be able to settle in Bountiful.” “Ya know, this place used to be called Session’s Settlement, but they changed the name in 1855 to Bountiful. There used to be a fort here too. The Indians raised hell round here fer a long time.” “PG, please don’t cuss,” she asked me. “That’s goin’ to be tough,” I told her, “Sorry, it just sort of slips out.” She smiled kind and said, “Have you ever been out of the valley, traveling I mean?” “Not much. I’ve been huntin’ and such, but I ain’t been anywhere special.” “How old are you PG?”

20

Michael B. Sessions “I’m 18, what about you?” “I’m 20.”

“Well, I could see you’re gettin’ on in years,” I joked. “I probably shouldn’t be spending time with such a young man. It’s robbing the cradle to fuss with you,” she joked back. “I’ll be nineteen fore long, so you ain’t gonna get too bad a reputation. What you like to do fer fun, in yer spare time, if you have any?” I asked her. “I love to sew, and I love to cook. I would like to have a big family someday so I can take care of them and sew for them and be a mother.” “How come you ain’t married yet?” “Well, you’re a bit forward, aren’t you?” “I don’t mean any harm Jenny. I just wondered, that’s all. I don’t see anythin’ wrong with you.” “There is nothing wrong with me. I’ve had offers. It just didn’t feel right, that’s all.” “You’re lookin’ fer yer one-n-only, eh?” “Something like that I suppose. I am particular. I think the Lord made me particular, and I probably would not have joined the church had I married.” “I’m sure glad ya didn’t find yer one and only then.” I told her truthful. I also told her, “Well, you don’t come from a big family. That’s why you want a passel of kids? I come from a family with a big bunch of kids. It ain’t so grand as you think. You always get hand-me-downs to wear. You never get enough to eat, somebody’s always grabbin’ the last piece of chicken fore you get a full belly. You never have a bed to yersef. It just ain’t all it’s cracked-up to be.” “I’d like to have a large family to share life with, that’s all. I think it would be wonderful to have three boys and three girls. If I could order them, I’d have a boy first, then alternate until I had all six.” I didn’t say anythin’ to that. We strolled off the Engebretsen lot and down the road. I was lost in the sound of Jen’s voice. The sun started it’s disappearin’, and the air cooled some. I didn’t want the time to go by so fast. I didn’t ever want the evenin’ to end. “I wish I had a few brothers and sisters,” said Jenny. “How come you don’t?” I asked, slowin’ to a stop. “My mother had some complications when I was born and I guess she couldn’t have more children. She is a wonderful mother and has taught me everything.”

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“Well, I guess that’s sad, especially if she and yer pa wanted more kids.” “Things have a way of working out for the best,” said Jenny, and she started me walkin’ agin. “I sure as he . . . heck hope yer ma taught you to cook like her.” Jen laughed at that. She tilted her head and smiled and laughed and I knew right then and there she was the one fer me. I was captivated by her grin and laugh and the way she moved gigglin’. After that we walked more and we were quiet fer a time, then she asked me, “What do you like to do?” “About what?” I asked. “For fun, for enjoyment. I told you what I liked, you tell me what you like,” she said. “I don’t have much fun. I work fer Byron, and he’s a slave driver. Course, he let me off early today to come here.” “He seems like a fine man to me,” replied Jenny. “He’s a good man, a very good man. Well, I guess I mostly like to play baseball and hunt and fish. I like horses and animals. I don’t like farmin’ none, but a man’s gotta eat, and it’s about all I know that I can do right now to make a livin’. Around here, farmin’s the most important thing. I ain’t got much schoolin’. I hated sittin’ in the classroom. My grandma made sure there was a school fer us kids, but she fergot to check if there were kids who wanted the school. I sure didn’t.” “Can you read?” asked Jenny. “Yeah, I can read, and I can do ciphers. I can hit a baseball, and catch one too. I can train horses, and I can run a farm. I just don’t like farmin’, and I don’t know how to earn a livin’ playin’ ball. I guess some do, but I don’t think you can make a livin’ out here in Utah playin’ baseball. I can run fast, and slide, and I have a fair arm. I play baseball good. You saw me,” I laughed. “I make things with my hands, work a hard day a work, chop wood all day, and I can lift a buggy. . . “ “And be a littly braggy too, I see,” said Jenny. “It ain’t braggin’ if you can do it,” I said back to her. Jenny laughed and took my hand. Her hand felt small in mine. I didn’t remember it bein’ so small dancin’ last night. I was a litte hurt by the “braggy” comment, but I melted at her touch. When she took my hand, my arm brushed her breast. That knocked everythin’ clean out of my mind. I couldn’t think of another thing to say. We walked in silence, watchin’ the sun slide down the sky. I felt her warm ample breast and side agin my arm. The sky and clouds turned orange against the blue of the sky. It was a beautiful evenin’, made perfect by the company holdin’ my arm close against her warm side.

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Michael B. Sessions

Darkness near covered us, but we could see the road clear. We started back. “Will you call again, PG?” she asked. “I’d like you to.” I was wonderin’ how good Byron’s advice was just then, but it had been good thus far. I said to her, “We’ll see.” Then I said to her, “I’ll see you at church in the mornin’ fer sure. Maybe we can talk after meetin’.” “You want to sit with me tomorrow at church?” she asked. “We’ll see. I have other responsibilities.” “What responsibilities?” “I don’t know right off,” I lied. “Byron assigns me to do somethin’ at the church usually. I never know until he tells me. We’ll see, that’s all.” “Suit yourself then,” Jenny gave up and let go of my hand. She cooled off fast. I was wishin’ she hadn’t let go my hand and arm, but I was playin’ Byron’s cards agin. I wished I could stay with her and I wished I would never have to leave her agin. “I got to git,” I said. “Thanks fer supper. Tell yer ma thanks fer me agin, will you. I’ll see you.” I had to force mysef to turn away and mount my horse. “Night,” I said over my shoulder and lit out fer home. ∞ Now I’m writin’ and feelin’ lost and awful listless, but there’s no place to go this time of night. I imagine Jenny standin’ and watchin’ me leave, but I didn’t look back. I can only hope. I played my cards, like Byron told me. ∞ Byron was sittin’ in the kitchen waitin’ fer me when I got back. He knew I’d be comin’ into the kitchen to snatch a piece of bread with jam fore goin’ to my bed in the barn. I am sort of a creature of habit I suppose, but a piece of bread and jam seems like a mighty good habit fore bed. “How was it?” asked Byron. “How was what?” I played dumb. “You know what. Don’t act like a jackass.” I said to him, “I don’t know what it feels like to be in love, but if it hurts to leave, and if you can’t think of anythin’ else, and if you ache to be touched by the other, then by dang, I guess I’m in love,” I told him. “Nothing wrong with that. You’re of age.” “I done what you told me, and I wasn’t mean. Jenny seemed dang interested. She asked if I’d sit with her in church and if I’d call on her agin.” “It looks like there ain’t any doubt that you want to see her again.” “Ain’t any doubt on this end, at all,” I said.

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“Good for you little brother,” said Byron. “Now, get some rest, we got a long day tomorrow. We’ve got church and we’ve got to keep the Sabbath, but I’m worried about the grain in that south field. I guess we better wait until Monday, but I’m goin’ to need you to help me dig and get more water to that field soon as possible. It’s goin’ to be a big job. Ah well, I’ll see you in the morning. Glad things are going well with your love,” Byron clapped me on the shoulder as he retired fer the night. I don’t feel much like sleepin’, even now, but I’ll try. The evenin’ is cool and gentle. I’ve got all the windows and doors open. I’m wide awake and wishin’ the night would fly by so’s I can be with Jen. July 26, Sunday 6:30 am . . . I slept little. I’m so nervous I’m not goin’ to be able to eat breakfast. I’ve been up fer hours and it’s just gettin’ light. I feel like I ain’t slept all night. I fed the stock and milked already, and now I feel like runnin’ up the mountain to kill time til we head to the church. ∞ Well the time is finally here to get goin’. I thought it would never come. I got to drive the family in the wagon agin. I wish I could trade Byron fer the horse, but he has his habits. I’ll write more when I get back home. Night We got to church at our regular time. I had to drive the wagon slow. I was bustin’ to get there. I cared fer the horses and the wagon and took my position in the chapel, and I waited fer Jen. I sat right by the aisle to be sure to corner her. There was little need. When the Engebretsens entered church and moved up the aisle Jenny stopped beside me. I looked up and couldn’t stop a grin. She had to know I was waitin’ fer her. She said, “Come and sit with me.” “Nah. You can sit with me if you want, but I better stay right here with the family.” I was gamblin’ agin. Jenny slid past my legs and sat close. I could feel her legs. They felt firm and strong and ample. I was so surprised I sputtered to her, “S-so you goin’ to let yer folks know yor are goin’ to sit with me?” “They don’t speak English well, but they aren’t blind.” She grinned and leaned agin me. I said, “How ya doin’ Jen?” “I am very well, thank you,” she said, grinnin’ and huggin’ my arm. She slid her arm under mine and slid her fingers into my hand, natural like she does it ever day. “You have a good night?” I asked. “Excellent. I slept like a log.”

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“Me too,” I lied. I hoped I wouldn’t fall asleep in meetin’. All night I thought about Jen and our conversations and hand holdin’ and the feel of her breast agin my arm. “Yeah, I slept like a log too.” The service got goin’. Half way through the meetin’, Jenny scooted over tighter agin me. I could feel her all up my side. I acted as if I didn’t notice none, but I was pleased, nearly beyond controllin’ mysef. I made the effort to look straight ahead, and I tried to ignore the feelin’ of Jenny agin me. I was no longer sleepy. My face felt hot. I could smell Jenny’s beautiful familiar smell, and I ached to put my arm around her shoulder and hold her even tighter. Course that would never do in church. “Good meetin’,” I said after the closin’ prayer. I felt out of breath. I hope she didn’t notice. I stood, tearin’ mysef away from bein’ close. “Would you like to come over for dinner at our place?” Jenny asked. “I could, I suppose.” I acted calm, but my guts were in knots. “Well, then come over. Are you riding your horse, or are you with Bishop Sessions and his family? You are welcome to ride with us if you’re not on horseback. We have plenty of room.” “I’ll ride with you then. I drove the wagon this mornin’. Let me tell Byron I’m goin’with you,” I said. It felt good to let down my guard, but I was a little frightened to get my hopes up just yet. ∞ Dinner was fried chicken and taters. Sister Engebretsen prepared the whole thing in a dutch oven fore church and it was ready when we got to the Engebretsen lot. I could only think of Jen, but it didn’t affect my gut none. I ate like a hog. It tasted wonderful since I couldn’t eat any breakfast. With a gut full, I said “Thanks fer the dinner. It was good as last night’s supper Sister Engebretsen.” “Glat dat you enchoyed it, Brotter Sessions. You are velcome anytime.” That was the most I heard her say to date. She talks better than Brother Engebretsen. “Let’s go walk some PG,” said Jenny. “Mother, we’re going to walk back to church. We will meet you and father there.” She dragged me to my feet. I needed to walk off some of the food I stuffed in. It felt good to move after a quarter mile, or so. “I’m dang full. I could have set there and napped and we could have ridden the wagon back to church,” I kidded. “It is better that we walk. It is nice to be alone together,” Jenny replied. I felt my eyebrows fly up. “Alone together” sounded awful good to me. We had not walked far, when we joined hands again. It was sort of automatic. We slowed down some too. I could get used to that.

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“PG?” Jenny said. “Why’d you ask me about why I wasn’t married yet, yesterday?” “I just wondered, that’s all. I told you I didn’t mean anythin’by it.” “Are you thinking of marrying soon.” “Well, now, ain’t it you that’s a bit forward today?” “Ah, I was just wondering, that’s all,” she grinned, mimickin’ me. I felt the jab, but said, “Why do you want to know?” “I am wondering,” said Jenny. “I would like to get married some day, and in the not too distant future.” “What would you think about marryin’ me?” The words leaped out of my mouth. Soon as I said it I was afraid of the answer. If I could have died right there, it would have been okay by me. Jenny stopped in the road and pulled my hand to spin me around and face her. Oh boy, I thought. Here it comes. “You serious?” she asked. “I guess so, I said it didn’t I?” I breathed agin. “Well, it wasn’t exactly a gallant proposal.” “What’s gallant?” I asked her. “I don’t know anythin’ about gallant. I was just askin’what you’d think of marryin’ me. It ain’t like I planned it.” “Well, are you asking me to marry you, or are you asking what I’d think?” “Damn, Jen. Let me think.” I stalled a minute until I realized that I did mean it alright. “Guess I was askin’you to marry me, but maybe you want to just tell me what you think,” I said. I was gettin’ mixed-up with the signals and a little angry. Jenny moved close and leaned against me and kissed me, right smack in the mouth. “I’m not making fun of you PG. I just want to know if you’re asking me, or asking my thoughts,” she whispered. “Jenny, we’re out here in front of the whole settlement.” “We’re in the middle of a road, in the middle of acres of fields. Nobody can see us.” She kissed me agin and I kissed her back, agin and agin, as many times as she’d let me. “I’m askin’you to marry me,” I whispered. “Would you?” “When?” “How do I know?” I said louder than I should have, but I was gettin’ frustrated and irritated with her mushin’ my words around. “It just came up!” “Let’s walk. Don’t get angry.” She grabbed my hand and pulled me into motion up the road.

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I calmed a little and said, “I’d rather do some more of that kissin’.” “You have had enough kissing for one day,” she smiled and held my arm close. “You didn’t answer, about marryin’ and all.” “I’m thinking about it.” I really didn’t know what to think. I bristled, “It’s too soon, ain’t it?” Dang, I shoulda listened to Byron. Son of a . . . “How long you goin’to think about it?” I asked. “Til after church. I’ll tell you after church, that is, if the offer is still open.” “Yeah, it’s still open. It will still be open after church too.” I didn’t know whether to cuss, or go blind. I squeezed her hand and walked a little faster, thinkin’ that the sooner we got there the sooner the meeting could start-up, get over and I could get my answer. Then I thought, What if the answer is no? Boy, what a day I was havin’. ∞ Jenny sat close to me durin’ the church meetin’s, but not so close as durin’ the mornin’ meetin’. I nudged close to her and took her hand. I looked at her face. She seemed intent on the words of the speaker, whoever it was. I could think of nothin’ else beside marryin’ her and what her answer might be to my proposal. I wondered, How can she be so interested in the speaker with all that’s on the line here? I stared at her profile. She looked from the corner of her eye at me and a sly grin crept across her lips. She was makin’ a feeble attempt at ignorin’ me. What in the world have I got mysef into. What if she says she’ll marry me. I ain’t thought much about marryin’ til this afternoon. What would we do? Where would we live? How could we make it? I can’t ask a wife to live with me in Byron’s barn. After meetin’, I followed Jenny out and we walked side by side toward her pa’s wagon. I was afraid to hope and afraid to ask . . . but, I was bustin’ to know the answer. I just plain couldn’t ask agin. I screwed up my courage, as Granny says, and I said, “Well, Jenny. You said you’d tell me yer answer after church. It’s after church.” “What kind of husband will you be?” “What kind of husbands are there?” I raised my voice some, surprised at the question. “There is the beating kind. There is the lazy kind. There is the leaving kind. There are all kinds of husbands, PG.” “I ain’t goin’ to ever beat you Jenny.” “That’s good, cause I won’t allow it.” “I ain’t lazy neither. Ask Byron, he’ll tell you.”

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“What about the leavin’ kind, PG?” “I ain’t goin’ to ever leave you neither. I can hardly stay away from you now,” I admitted. Jenny smiled. “How do you see us making a living? Where would we live? What kind of future will we have?” “I can’t tell the future, but I can work. I ain’t thought that far in advance, Jenny. I can’t answer yer questions because I don’t know the answers yet mysef. The idea just sort of sprung itsef on me, but I recall you were a big part of me gettin’ this grand idea. You were fishin’ fer this whole conversation, the way I figure it.” “I will admit that I was fishing. I didn’t think it out much either. Perhaps we should think about it.” “No, no more thinkin’. Either you ain’t interested in marryin’ me, or you are. Which is it?” “No, no, PG, I didn’t say that. I am interested. I do want to marry you, ever so. I just think we better talk about it and make a plan.” “So, fer heck sake, are you sayin’ yes?” “You only had to wait until church was over. You are an impatient man. I am accepting your proposal of marriage PG. I just want us to plan now. Then we can set a date. Oh, and PG?” “Yeah?” I musta had a grin a mile wide. “One other thing before you say anything to anyone about this, you must ask my father for my hand. It’s the way it’s done in our family.” “I’ll do it first chance. When we goin’ to plan? Beside the plannin’, can we do a lot more of that kissin’ too?” I asked, grinnin’ and sort of kiddin’, but hopin’ just the same. “You come tonight for supper again. We’ll talk, and maybe, just maybe, I’ll have a kiss or two for you as well.” “Ain’t yer folks going to tire of me awfully fast if I keep showin’ up fer grub?” I prayed the answer would be “no.” “I think the occasion warrants you coming to dinner and supper today. Now, be a gentleman and help me into the wagon. We will eat at 6:00 this evening again.” “I’ll be there. You know Jenny,” I said it as an afterthought, “We ain’t said anythin’ about love. Ain’t we supposed to be deep in love and tell each other?” “Are you deeply in love PG?” “Well if I ain’t, I’m sick of the dreaded gomboo, er somethin’.” “Is that a yes?” “Yeah, I guess it sure is a yes. I’m crazy bout you.”

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“And, I am deeply in like with you PG. I know it is growing into love, so I am not worried. You will have to do something awful for me to fall out of like,” she laughed. I hoped fer an “I love you,” but I had to ignore my bile and settle fer the promise. “Well, I know I love you Jen. Maybe I shouldn’t tell you yet, but you damn right I do.” “PG . . . “ “Yeah, I know. Stop the cussin’.” Home after Jen’s Big night. I got home and found Byron. I needed to talk to him. “Byron, I got somethin’ to tell ya. But, you’ve got to promise not to breath a word of it until after tomorrow. Promise?” “Yeah PG, I promise? What is it?” asked Byron. “I don’t rightly know how it even happened, but I asked Jenny to marry me today and she sort of said yes.” “Well then I guess congratulations are in order! What do you mean she sort of said yes?” “We got to talk it over tonight. We got to make a plan.” “What sort of plan?” “Well, you know, least I was hopin’ you’d know.” “When a man and a woman love each other, it doesn’t take a plan. You just get married and start doing fer one another,” said Byron. “I ain’t got a way of makin’ a livin’, nor of gettin’ a place fer us to live, and all.” “You’ve been saving while you’ve been here ain’t ya?” “Yeah!” “You will have to talk to Jenny and decide when you two think the time is right. You will take her to the temple, won’t you?” “We ain’t talked that far, but I suppose she’ll insist on it.” “You better insist on it too. You’re going to want your family sealed to you forever, ain’t ya?” “Oh yeah, I guess. But, right now I can only think of Jenny. I ain’t thought much about children and a family. This is gettin’ bigger ever minute.” “You have a lot of thinking to do. I’ll leave you alone to do some. I won’t say anything to anyone. Have you prayed about this decision?” “No. I know that I love her. I don’t have to ask God.”

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“It is always best to ask God to bless you and your decision. You don’t have to ask Him if you love her, but ask Him to help you think and plan clear, know what I mean?” “Yes sir, and thanks Byron.” “We won’t hold a place at supper. See you when you get home. Don’t be too late. We got a long day tomorrow irrigating that grain.” Byron left and I slid to my knees beside the chair I was sittin’ on. “Dear Father,” I began. “It sort of looks like I found me a wife. I wasn’t actually lookin’ real hard. It all sort of came to a head this mornin’. I hope I am doin’ the right thing. It sure feels right. I’m mighty pleased Father. Will you bless me, and Jenny, to make a good plan? I do want to marry her and be with her fer always. She wants six kids, Lord. I don’t know if I got that in me, but if it is right, please let’er happen. Well, anyway, thanks Lord fer an excitin’ day. Name of Jesus Christ, Amen.” I did chores fast, then put my church clothes back on and saddled up. ∞ I raced my pony to the Engebretsen’s place and tied him off. Bernt Engebretsen was leanin’ agin the rock wall he had built. He was whittlin’ and looked like he was waitin’ fer supper. Jenny and her ma were settin’ the table outside the tent. The table was lit by the evenin’ sun. I waved and Jenny grinned and looked down at her work. I wasn’t as late as I thought. The sky promised another beautiful summer evenin’. “Evenin’ Brother Engebretsen,” I said. “Goot evening, Brotter Sessions. Jenny tells me you are joining us for da supper again. Dat iss goot.” “Thanks Brother Engebretsen. Say, Brother Engebretsen, I got somethin’ I want to ask you.” “Yah? Go ahet and ask.” “I ain’t sure how it all happened, but I want to ask if I can marry yer daughter. I know it’s awful sudden, and I know we ain’t known each other fer long, but we think we know what we’er doin’. Actually, I ain’t sure of that neither, but I know I do love her. I will always take the best of care of her sir.” Bernt Engebretsen laughed. “Yah, you two been tinkin’ about each odder since you seen the odder. I tought maybe you two vas interested. I seen you vatchin’ her at da church and tings. Tanks for da askin’. You got my blessink, and I know Zister Engebretsen, she feel da same. Ven you tinkin’ of gettink marriet?” “I don’t rightly know, sir. We just got talkin’ bout it today.” My breath came quick, like I’d run a mile fore askin’. “You call be Bernt now.”

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“Okay, Brother Engebretsen, I mean Bernt. Jenny thinks we need to make a plan.” “Vat do you tink?” “I am sure she is right. We’re goin’ to talk about it after supper. I don’t know how we can get married right away though. I’d like to, but it is all too new fer me.” “Vell, be patient. It will all happen in da Lort’s time, and I don’t tink it will take a lonk time.” “Yes sir . . . Bernt, I mean.” We walked to the table and took our seats. Brother Engebretsen, clapped me on the shoulder and we were both smilin’ widely as the women sat. Jenny had been watchin’ the whole time. She imagined that I had been talkin’ to her father about our marriage. She tried to act calm. “PG, it is nice to see you,” she said. “Thanks! It is good to be seen. I hope you folks don’t mind havin’ me agin, so soon,” I spoke to Sister Engebretsen. “Vell, ve may be havink you more often now, eh PG,” grinned Brother Engebretsen. I must have flushed deep red. Jenny was smilin’ big as all outdoors. ∞ Can’t write any more now. I’m bushed. I’ll write more tomorrow. It is the first time I felt like sleepin’ fer months. I think I could sleep a month, if Byron just would let me be. Ain’t a chance of that. July 27, Monday (Night) Last night was the best night of my life. I didn’t even taste the food at supper, although I et about a ton. Nerves racked me. I was in such a hurry to talk to Jenny that I couldn’t think about eatin’. I was still full from noon meal, but I downed another big meal anyway. I wanted to be ready when Jen was, to walk and talk. I hoped there would be a kiss or two in there somewheres. Jenny has nice breath. Her lips are dang soft and wet when she kisses me. I ain’t ever kissed a girl as nice to kiss as Jen, makes my mouth water just thinkin’ about it. While we were still sittin’ at the table finishin’ supper, old Brother Engebretsen piped-up, “Vell modder, PG has asked to marry Jenny. Vat do you tink of dat?” “Papa!” gushed Jenny. “Vel, he ask, zo I say . . .” “I tink dey make goot couple. I hope dey have many babies. Ven is the blesset day?” said Sister Engebretsen.

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“We really don’t know yet ma’am. We are only startin’ to plan.” I felt embarrassed, and didn’t know what to say. Jenny rescued me once again, “Come PG. Let’s take a walk before dark.” “Excuse me folks. Thanks fer the supper ma’am. It was sure good,” I lied. I never tasted a thing. It was probably good though. I was thankin’ Sister Engebretsen as I stumbled away from the table. “What did you say to papa?” asked Jenny. “I asked him if he wanted to get riddaya. That if he did, I might take you off his hands, if the price was right.” Jenny slapped my shoulder and shushed me. “What did you really say?” she asked. “I told him it was awful sudden fer both of us, but we thought we would like to get married. He asked me when. I told him we didn’t know. I told him we were goin’ to plan. Now, let’s kiss on it, what do you say?” “I say you are a stinker.” She reached up to me on tip toe and kissed me, not much more’n a peck. I caught her waist and pulled her tight up to my face to kiss her longer. “PG! Somebody might be watching.” “Yeah, yer ma and pa maybe. They probably know we might be kissin’ once in a while from now on, eh?” “Well, you’ll mess my hair.” “Hair he . . . heck! You been thinkin’ about this deal?” “Yes, I have. Have you.?” “Fer a minute or two.” “I hate to hear the plan you hatched in a minute or two.” “You go first,” I said to her. “I believe we better wait a while, about a year I expect. We can save and prepare ourselves. We have to go to the bishop too. It won’t hurt to get to know each other better too.” My heart sank into my socks. “A year? That’s way too long. Byron’s the bishop, so it ain’t goin’ to be hard to get to him, but a year is way too long Jen. I already know you well enough.” “Then we need to make a budget and think about what you can do to make a living. Do you have any money saved?” She wasn’t hearing my protests. “Yes, I have about a hundred dollars, give or take a few.” “I have an idea that may seem odd to you. Have you heard of the Homestead Act?” asked Jen. “Some, but I don’t know much. I know a man might earn free land, but I never took it serious.”

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“Take it serious now. It is a law, and it just might be the way we can get our own place and maybe sooner than a year.” I liked that less than a year idea. I felt more like playin’ than plannin’. I started to grab her fer another kiss, but she would have none of it. “Not now, this is serious.” “Okay, so explain the Homestead Ax,” I says. “Act,” she corrected me. “It is a law that gives folks a chance for free land. They have to mark it off and live on it and build a house. After five years, I think that’s the length of time, the land becomes theirs.” “Where is this land?” “There’s the catch. I don’t know where the closest land is to here, north I think, up in Idaho. Also, some of the land isn’t free anymore. It is cheap, but it isn’t free.” “How cheap?” “I heard it may cost a dollar and a quarter an acre.” “You have any money saved?” I asked. “I do have a little. I don’t have much opportunity to make money, but I will start thinking of ways. I do have much of what we will need in the way of bedding, towels, and such, and my own clothing, and I can sew. I may be able to make clothing to sell and save some money.” I said, “I can take on some extra work on the side, maybe, or I can break horses extra fer Bryon. I’ll talk to him. I can play some ball in Salt Lake. There’s a couple of teams that like me to play with them and they’ll pay me a dollar a game.” “You get paid to play a game?” She thought that was mighty strange. “It will take a while, but we can do it, if you’re sure you want to,” said Jenny. “Yeah, I want to. The more we talk about it, the better it sounds. Let’s have a little kiss to seal the deal,” I joked. “Two small ones,” said Jenny and she kissed me and hugged me. “This ain’t goin’ to be half bad,” I whispered in her ear. “I think it may be heaven,” she whispered back. “So, I’ve got to know, are we talkin’a year here? That seems like an awful long time.” “A year will go by so fast you’ll barely feel it PG. Besides, it will take that long to get enough money together to go out on our own. We need to get to know each a little too, and be sure.” We got back at the Engebretsen lot and the sun was gone completely. The summer evenin’ was wonderful comfortable. Stars filled the sky. “When will I see you again?” Jenny asked.

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It felt good to be wanted. I could not believe my own good luck. A few days ago, I longed fer an opportunity to be noticed by Jenny Engebretsen. Now I’m plannin’ on savin’ enough money to get us a start to spend the rest of my life with her. It is a good thing. I told her, “I’m sure. I don’t need to know you better. You take yer time though, if you ain’t sure. I’ll see you tomorrow night, if I can, or the evenin’after fer certain.” She grinned and hugged me close and whispered, “I’m sure too.” I rode home in a daze. Good thing the horse knew the way, cause I wasn’t watchin’. ∞ It’s warm, too warm here in the barn. I can’t sleep in this heat and with all these things on my mind. When Jen told me she was sure too, I just about melted to the ground. I stoked up the lantern soon as I got back and I’ve been writin’ it all down. I don’t ever want to ferget these past two nights. I figure I’ll tell Byron all about it in the mornin’. I’m waitin’ fer the breeze to come up the hill off the lake. It will cool the barn down enough so I can get some sleep. August 17 Been workin’ extra hard fer Byron. I told him all about me and Jen. He was pleased and said he’d co-operate to help me earn a little extra money. I broke a few horses fer him and a couple more fer the neighbor folks down the road. I put back the extra dollars. Every bit helps get me closer to my own wife, and my own place, and my own life. I helped some on the barn roof fer the Hubbards down the road. I ain’t had time to write much. I’ve been too dern busy to write. I work and sleep and see Jen a little. I’d sure like to see her more. But, the extra dollars will come in handy. Earned four dollars playin’ ball in Salt Lake last Saturday. They want me to play more often, but I can’t leave Byron on his own right now. Harvest is comin’ on heavy now. When I get done workin’, I try to visit Jen. By the time I get back to my bed, I’m busted. My love grows fer Jen. I can’t wait til next summer. She’s set on it though. About ten more months to go I reckon.

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Thursday, October 29, 1896 Took notice of my book sittin’ on the table this mornin’ and made a vow I’d write some tonight. Jen’s been crochetin’ with her ma. They sell their stuff at bazaars and school meetin’s. The fancy ladies in Salt Lake buy the frilly stuff to put on the collars of their dresses and they hang the things on their furniture. Jenny’s gettin’ a good stash of money goin’ from her crochetin’. I give her all I earn now to stash along with hers. I don’t know how much we have now. She won’t tell me how much she’s saved. Started snowin’ heavy about the time I got to the barn last night, ain’t stopped all day. Weather’ll be hard on the stock. All I think about is Jen. I got to find a way to make more money, faster. No more extra from playin’ ball after a couple weeks ago. Got too dern cold. I’ve got to figure somethin’. I ain’t waitin’ til next summer. Byron gave me a bonus of five dollars extra fer helpin’ so much with harvest. The harvest, Byron said, was “bounteous.” He’s trainin’- up a team of horses, a couple of dappled grays. They’re beauties, strong animals. He claims they’re part of Jen’s and my weddin’ present from him and his family. Jen and I will have a fine team to take us, wherever we’re goin’. I read in Byron’s paper the other day that gold was discovered up in Alaska by two men. One was name Skookum Mason and the other one the paper called Dawson Charlie, two mighty strange names. Wish I could run into gold up one of these canyons, er somewheres. Only gold I ever seen was my pa’s gold watch and chain. He hangs his watch in his vest pocket. The watch is attached to a chain that is hooked to a walrus tooth. He puts the watch in one pocket and sticks the walrus tooth in the other. His chain hangs across his gut. I ain’t ever had a watch. November Jen and I checked into homesteadin’. Mostly, Jen checked. The government set some land aside up in Idaho. There is a big settlement up there called Idaho Falls. The church settled most all that country, or is still settlin’ much of the country now. The land lies north of Idaho Falls outside a little town called Rigby. I reckon we’ll be at home with LDS folks up there. Jen and I figure to plan a trip to see the land in the Spring. Got a new president of the United States. William McKinley got elected as the new president. Hope he does somethin’ fer us out here West. Hell, he probably don’t even know we’re out here. Wednesday, December 23 It doesn’t seem like long to me, but there are some long gaps tween my records. I’ll try to do better. I rode over to Salt Lake this mornin’ to ZCMI and bought Jen a blue dress fer Christmas. She looks dang good in blue. I shouldn’t have spent the money, but I can’t make anythin’ she’d like with my hands, so I bought

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a gift. I hope she likes the dress. I held back a little money in October and November. She doesn’t know anythin’ about it. The dress will be a surprise. Hope it fits her. Snow’s deep. It took me quite a while to get over to Salt Lake and back home. Jen and I spend as much time as possible together. Her pa finally got all his windows in. Windows made their place a lot warmer, and drier, and lighter. Fer a couple of months, they covered their window openin’s with boards and canvas. Their rooms were awful dark and cold. Jen worked it out that we’re going to marry in June. I keep tryin’ to get her to push the date up, but I’m countin’ on June. I can’t talk her out of waitin’ anyway. I measured mysef along one of the stalls in the barn. I’ve been doin’ it fer a few years now. I’ve got me a pencil on a string tied to the roughsawn post where I measure. I’ve marked pencil lines scratched on the post fer all the times I’ve measured mysef. I grew an inch and put on near twenty pounds since measurin’ last July. My clothes fit tight. Funny thing, Jenny lost weight since summer, with her workin’ and fussin’ round. I ain’t got fat, I don’t think, just bigger and heavier. It ain’t made me any slower on the bases. I’m more in love with Jen than ever. I’m spendin’ so much time workin’ that I don’t see her too much, mostly on Sundays now. I’ll see her fer Christmas Eve. Jen looks new and different to me every time I see her. When I see her on Sundays, I don’t sit and talk to Brother Engebretsen anymore. I watch Jen prepare the meals and I talk with her about our plans. I watch her move about the new house. Brother Engebretsen and his women folk are in the process of finishin’ the inside of the house and gettin’ Sister Engebretsen’s furniture arranged. It’s become a beautiful home. I hope someday, me and Jenny will have one as magnificent. December 25 I spent Chirstmas Eve with the Engebretsens, and most of Christmas Day, after I fed last night I rode over to Jen’s place and I spent the night in their spare room. Jenny opened her dress this mornin’. She cried. I think it was from happiness. I wish she wouldn’t cry. She tried on the dress and said, “Splendid.” “Sure is,” I said. She looked mighty perty. “You shouldn’t have spent the money on an old dress.” “Well if you could see what I see, you’d be glad as I am that I did. You look royal.” Byron and his kids spent a grand day. They hitched-up the sleigh and took a family ride down to Bountiful this mornin’. They drove the greys

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and swung by Engebretsens. Those horses look proud and strong. They move as if there is nothin’ holdin’ them back. They took no notice of the sleigh. I joked with Jen last night. I told her, “I can’t wait until summer to get married to you (fer about the 1000th time I said that). Maybe we better go ahead and get hitched right away.” “You can make it to June,” she said. “Ah hell, er heck, that’s four months from now. I ain’t goin’ to make it.” Jenny ignored my clownin’. “It’s five and a half months til the wedding,” she said. “Ah horse sh . . . Ah shoot,” I said. “It sounds even longer than I been calculatin’.” “I have some good news,” she said. “What,” I asked, bored, and cranky after not makin’ any headway. I wanted to talk about gettin’ married. Who knew but I might just get lucky and shave a few weeks, or even days, off the plan. “I bought the train tickets for us to go see land in Idaho. It turns out, we can ride the train all the way to Rigby. We’ll rent a buggy to get out to the land parcels. Some of the land is still free. There isn’t much left for free, but these parcels are marked ‘free’.” I suddenly felt a little afraid to go that far from the family and the land I know so well. I ain’t thought about the actual move too much. It is gettin’ closer, more real. “I read that the Snake River runs close by Rigby, and the homesteaders are doing quite well there,” said Jen. “Sodbusters, you mean. I sure hate to be a dern farmer, but I don’t know much else.” We are to take the train eight weeks from Thursday. We’re plenty early to buy the tickets, but I was excited at the prospect. I hope the snow will be gone by March. I also hope we will not have to wade through too much mud. You let Byron know soon that we’re going then.” I’m excited at the thought of seein’ new country and maybe the place where we will make a new home. “I’ll go, but I ain’t happy about it,” I tried to sound gruff. “You’re happy. I can see it in your eyes,” said Jen. “Well, I ain’t real happy we’re goin’ in winter. It may be dangerous.” She just grinned and threw her arms around my neck and kissed me. “It is going to be the beginning of Spring.” She kissed me again. That ended all argument from me. I wonder if there is organized ball up in Idaho. Hope so.

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1897, March Jen’s ma wouldn’t hear of Jen goin’ off to Idaho with me without a chaperone of some sort. I talked Byron into lettin’ my nephew, Lewis Linton travel with Jen and me. Lewis Linton’s nickname is Double L. I just call him Dub. Dub is thirteen, and he’s a good kid, a hard worker. I grabbed this here journal to take with me when Jen, Dub and I left this mornin’ on the train. The sun’s shinin’ like crazy, and I can see clean across the valley. The snow is so white it hurts my eyes. We ain’t goin’ to see much ground up in Idaho if it’s like this here. I ain’t ever been on a train, and neither have Jen ner Dub. Jen packed food, looks like enough to feed a small army fer about a week. We carried some blankets and clothes in bags, and we put the food in a big basket. “The conductor told me we’ll be in Idaho Falls by this afternoon, not too late,” said Jen. “It took us nearly 25 days of good travel to cover that distance by wagon.” “I can do it in less,” I bragged, kiddin’. “You probably could, if you were alone and on horseback.” “I could probably walk it in ten days.” Dub busted out laughin’, but Jen paid me no mind. She just kept on, “We’re going through Promintory, where the railroads met East and West,” she said. “I’m excited,” I told her. “The man who took our tickets said we could reach speeds of 55 mile an hour.” I got all caught up with the spirit of travelin’, but I fell asleep with the rockin’ of the rail car and the steady clack of the iron wheels on track joints. Jenny and Dub were too excited to nap. She watched the country slide by and talked to Dub, teachin’ him about things she knew from readin’ about the country. I can tell you, the hills and mountains surround a flat valley. Tops of brush and bunch grass poke out of the snow on the flats. It’s a perty sight I suppose. My scratchin’ in this here book ain’t as fancy as Jen tells it. Later, same mornin’ I woke up after a good nap and started writin’ to pass more time. The train rides a little rough to write a clear hand, but I can still read my chicken scratchin’, so it ain’t that bad. Dub keeps nudgin’ my arm to make me scratch worse. He’s gettin’ bored. Ever now and agin, I lay the pen down and pummel Dub about the head and shoulders. “Dub, ya rotten little scum sucker. I’m gonna rip yer arms off and club ya with’em.” He laughed so hard snot come out his nose. Jen laughed. Old Dub’s a pistol.

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Outside Pocatello, the train passed through rugged, rocky country. I hope Rigby is more hospitable than these lousy lava flows. The hills are steep and there ain’t much in the way of trees til you look up high. Pocatello is a train town. Looks like tracks come from all directions except south. There’s mountains linin’ the valley all along the south wall of the town. There’s big buildin’s that the engineers drive the engines right into and turn them around on some sort of turn table so they can drive a train the other way. We changed trains in Pocatello. Now we’re headin’ north fer Idaho Falls and Rigby. More later . . . Night by the fire. Jen, Dub and I made Rigby. The train tracks run right past the edge of town. We asked around and found a wagon we could rent. The man had a buggy too, but he wanted too much to use the buggy. There ain’t much snow here, just patches now. We lit out fer the homestead parcels and hoped we might get lucky and camp on what might become our own place. We found a likely spot near some big cottonwoods outside of town. We ain’t far from the river I reckon. Cottonwood trees love water. Dub gathered armloads of dry wood from under the trees. He piled up plenty fer the night. I got a fire goin’ and the three of us are hunkered under the wagon. The night is cold, but we got extra blankets we borrowed from the wagon rentin’ man, and we’ll snuggle together close by the fire. I told Dub, “Glad we brung ya. I need somebody to keep me warm. You and Jen can just pretend I’m a slice of roast beef and you two be the bread. We’ll make a nice warm sandwich.” “I ain’t sleepin’ close to you PG,” growled Dub. “We’ll see. It might get cold enough that you snuggle right up.” “Enough boys, get the fire built up and prepare our beds under the wagon in case it snows,” said Jenny. “Ain’t goin’ to snow Jen. The moon is clear and clean. Might get cold, but it ain’t goin’ to snow.” I could get used to this here campin’ with Jen, minus Dub. We’ll find the homesteadin’ ground in the mornin’. We’re close I reckon. Trees are givin’ us some cover overhead if weather changes, and the fire is reflectin’ and keepin’ us a little warmer under the wagon. Morning: March 13, Saturday It was colder’n a wedge last night. I slept behind Jen and let her have the fire. I woulda froze my butt off if Dub wasn’t back there. We wound him up in an extra blanket to keep him from freezin’ and he snuggled close. “So, ya like me better when she’s cold eh, Dub?”

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“Didn’t want you to freeze to death and ruin the trip,” said Dub. ‘Hate to take ya home in a box.” I made him pay by shootin’ one and holdin’ his head under the blanket. She spit a little snow last night, but we’re alright. It gave Jen a chance to kid me about weather prognostication, as she calls my weather predictions. I ain’t been wrong except when I tell her. Glad she ain’t basin’ marryin’ me on my ability to predict weather. The ground under the tree and wagon is still bare and we’re dry enough. None of us slept much. We’re eatin’ cold this mornin’, from Jen’s packed food. We’re waitin’ to warm ourselves and get enough light to get lookin’ fer the lots. “Let’s go,” I said to Jen. “Well, let’s clean up our things first. You are the most impatient man.” “Yeah, and I ain’t on fire about waitin’ til no June to get married neither.” “Well Perrigrine, were you planning on me being your wife?” “Course!” “Then you’ll just have to wait.” I knew when she called me Perrigrine the party was over. Dub thought our little exchange funny. I leapt on him. “Think that’s funny, do ya Dub. How’s this?” I asked as I gave him an unmerciful dutch rub. Dub built the fire high and we got ourselves warm. Dub was awful tired, poor little feller, so we gave him all the blankets and loaded him in the wagon to get some extra shut eye. We couldn’t find the place, so we traveled the couple of miles, or so, back to town and found folks walkin’ around on the main street. We looked fer somebody who could give directions. “Imagine it,” said Jenny. “It took us only a few more hours to travel 200 miles by train than it did my family to travel about 18 miles by wagon on a good day. I can’t get over it.” I stopped the wagon and climbed down at the blacksmith shop. The smithy was workin’ with the doors wide open. Musta been warm by his fire. “Scuse me sir,” I approached the smithy, at least I figured he was the blacksmith. “Would you direct us out to the Lorenzo area? We aim to look at some land out that way.” “You another wishful sodbuster wantin’ fer free land?” asked the smithy. “Damn right,” I said, a little sore. “You know where we can find some?”

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“Just take the road out of town there on the east end. Follow it about 4 mile north. If you hit the river, you’re too fer. You got any directions?” “Yes sir,” I calmed down some and became a little more respectful now that the smithy toned down his comments some. “The parcels are north of Lorenzo. The papers tell us the land is well marked. I believe there are stakes driven into the ground and they are numbered on the corner posts. If we can find the stakes, we can tell what’s still up fer homesteadin’.” The smithy piped up and said, “The ground ain’t much good up there son, too many rocks and cottonwood trees. It’ll be a lot of dern work to clear and plant. All the good land got took up years ago. Now the dang fools are sellin’ out. Some are makin profit, but then they have to buy a more expensive piece somewheres else, or work a worse place than they had worked so hard to homestead. Foolish, ya ask me. There’s still some free ground though. You go look it over, and if you want to homestead, you’ll have to come back into town and go over there to the courthouse to file fer yer piece.” He pointed at the buildin’ direct across the street. “But, you can’t do that til Monday. They ain’t open on Saturdays and Sundays.” “Thank you mister,” I said. I was a little discouraged at the news, but still hopeful. “Thank you sir,” shouted Jenny, smilin’ and wavin’ at the smithy from the wagon seat. “How old you young feller?” asked the blacksmith. “I just turned nineteen.” “You ain’t old enough to file fer homesteadin’ nohow. You got to be twenty-one.” I turned sick from the news, climbed in the wagon beside Jen. I felt like I was goin’ to cry and I didn’t want to do that in front of Jen, ner Dub. “I know I can’t wait no two more damn years to get married Jen. And don’t tell me not to cuss.” Jenny slid close to me on the wagon seat and slipped her arm around mine, huggin’ it to her breasts. “Let’s go see the land PG. We’ll figure something out.” ∞ The smithy’s directions proved good and Jenny and I found the staked land. I was down low. I calculated we was wastin’ our time even lookin’. The ground was fairly flat and giant cottonwood trees lined the north edge of the piece of property that interested us most. The ground lay near the river, and there were open areas fer pasture. The grass stood tall, stickin’ out above the snow patches. The grass looked rich “Must be plenty of water in the ground,” I observed. “Those trees over there are like weeds,

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they suck the water that could be used fer crops.” I pointed at the line of cottonwoods. “They are beautiful and they will supply us with shade and wood, and they’ll break wind that comes from that direction. We can build close to them.” “The wood ain’t any good fer anythin’. It won’t burn til it’s dry as a bone, then it’s like iron to split. And, this place ain’t goin’ to be here in two years. Sides, with our luck, the stinkin’ wind will always blow from the south and those rotten trees won’t block anythin’.” “They are pretty though,” Jenny elbowed me in the ribs and grinned. “Yeah, they’re perty,” I repeated. “Is that the river, do you suppose?” asked Jenny. She pointed past the trees. “Yeah, tuther side of those trees I expect. I doubt it’s very far.” “Let’s drive up there and see how far. We may need to irrigate out of it.” We drove to the cottonwoods and looked at the river. “It’s the Snake River,” said Jenny. The river ran deep and strong. “It is a mighty river,” she said. “I’ll say,” I said. “I wouldn’t want to fall in that current this time of year. I ain’t sure I’d like to even get close to it. Looks dangerous as hell.” “PG,” Jen chided me. “Sorry Sweetheart.” “Can you swim, PG?” asked Jenny. Dub finally took the time to wake up. “We there?” he asked. I was embarrassed. “I ain’t learned.” “Ain’t learned what?” asked Dub. “Shut up Dub. I ain’t talkin’ to you.” Jenny laughed at me. “I’ll have to teach you. I wouldn’t want to lose you because you can’t swim.” She laughed and teased. “What’s so funny? Lots of folks can’t swim. Sides, you’re gettin’ awful far ahead of yersef. We ain’t goin’ to get this here land, ner any near here. This trip’s been a waste of time and money.” “We can get it,” said Jenny. “Now, how we gonna do that.” “I turn twenty-one in a month. We can come back up and sign for the homestead after you give me a party with cake.

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My attitude brightened dang quick. “You’ll probably want some expensive gift along with yer cake, eh? It will be a waste of our savins’,” I tried to joke. “PG, I can file for our land as soon as I turn twenty-one. We can wait a month, or we can wait til you turn twenty-one. Which will you choose?” “NO!” I said loud. “We ain’t waitin’ longer than June.” Jen laughed and squeezed my arm against her breasts agin. I could feel her even through the coats and blankets. Dub stood up behind the seat and looked at the river. “Wow,” was all he said. I got excited agin, overlookin’ the land that might just become ours. I held mysef in check and remembered the smithy and his advice. There’s probably rocks and poor soil to go along with the cottonwoods. But, it looked to me as if, maybe, the plan was comin’ together. “Hot dang, we’re gonna have our own place. I need a kiss on that.” I grabbed Jenny up and kissed her long and I held her tight, in a bear hug. Dub slugged me to break. ∞ The three of us drove back into Rigby. We decided to camp agin, close to town. Tomorrow will be Sunday, and we have our tickets to head back to Bountiful leavin’ at 11:00 am. We’re campin’ and we’ll try to get some rest fer tomorrow. Hopin’ fer decent weather. “Damn the luck,” I whispered, thinkin’ out loud. “What luck?” asked Jen. “The luck of not bein’ able to file fer the land fer a month. It will take another trip to get it done. And we’ll probably freeze our rear ends off tonight.” “Maybe it isn’t luck, PG. Ever think of that?” “Whatdaya mean?” I asked. “Maybe we aren’t supposed to get this all taken care of right away. Maybe it is the Lord’s way of giving us a test, or some time to think, or some other reason.” “Well, maybe it’s dern bad luck and the Lord doesn’t care one way or the other if we get that land.” “I don’t think so,” said Jenny. “Well, I hope yer right.” “I thought you didn’t even like the land that much, and I thought you didn’t want to be a farmer.” “I don’t mind the land so much if it means I get to live on it with you. And, I don’t really want to farm, but I do want to get married to you and I don’t care if I have to shovel cow sh . . . poop fer the rest of my life, if

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that’s what it takes. I did sort of like that little piece of ground we saw. The country looks like there is good huntin’ and fishin’ too.” Jen hugged me. “I have the makings of a great breakfast left and we can sleep under the wagon again tonight. It looks like a little more hospitable evening.” “That mean yer goin’ to sleep with me under the same covers agin?” I grinned. “Yes PG. I need you to keep me warm. Just keep your hands to yourself.” Jenny punched my shoulder. “Don’t worry none Jen,” said Dub. “I’m here to keep an eye on ya both. No funny business.” “Keep quiet Dub and build up the fire,” I told him. Sunday Mornin’: Waitin’ on the train. Scratchin’ a bit fore the train gets here to take us south. We slept little agin, so it was easy to get up and get goin’. We et what we had left in Jen’s basket, and we enjoyed the fire. I’m sleepy with the warm, then my backside starts to freeze and I’d have to turn round. Won’t be long now fore we’re on the train to Idaho Falls, Pocatello, Tremonton, Brigham City, Ogden, Bountiful. Figure I’ll sleep on the train. We’ll likely all sleep on the train. On the train: Turns out we all did sleep on the train. We weren’t far out of Rigby when I conked clean out. I didn’t wake til we pulled into Pocatello and the conductor rousted us to change trains. We went back to sleep when we started movin’ south. I woke after about an hour. When I woke, Jen was sleepin’ leanin’ on my shoulder. She was young and perty. I just stared at her fer a while and snuggled her with my cheek. Now Dub hogged the whole seat across from us. He was curled up tight and was droolin’ down his cheek. What a beauty. I figured I’d write fer a few minutes. We didn’t get much rest the last two nights tryin’ not to freeze. Sleepin’ on the train made the time fly by gettin’ home. We’ll be pullin’ into Bountiful after dark I reckon. Monday Night, March 15, 1897 I got Jen safe home and got mysef and Dub back to Byron’s farm. I borrowed a couple horses from a friend I know who lives not far from the train stop. Jen and I rode double to her lot. I hugged and kissed her and pushed into her house. I needed to get on to Byron’s to get some rest. It was late when we got to Byron’s place. I was bushed from the train ride and cold. I don’t know why, because I slept most all the way home on the train. I hated to leave Jen, after bein’ with her fer three days.

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A lamp lighted the kitchen when we got back to the farm. I knew my brother would be studyin’ his scriptures Sunday night and waitin’ fer us. Dub dragged in the kitchen. “Well, how was the trip son?” asked Byron. “Okay pa.” “You alright son?” “Fine pa, tired. I’m goin’ to bed.” I took the chance to visit and get a slice of bread and jam. I figured I wouldn’t sleep anyway til I warmed up some, and the train wheels still churned and clacked in my head. Byron looked up from his readin’ agin, “Well little brother, how was the trip fer you? It must have been wonderful. Dub was overjoyed to tell me all the things he saw and all the experiences he enjoyed.” “Thanks fer lettin’ him go. He had a good time. He’s just a kid is all. We didn’t do much, but that train is somethin’. It was a great trip Byron,” I told him. “That train is a monster that fair flies up them tracks. I’ve never seen anythin’ so fast, or so big.” “So, you found some ground then?” “It ain’t real good ground, I don’t think, but we picked a place and hope it won’t get taken fore we can get back and file on it. Jenny is goin’ to file fer it cause she’ll be twenty-one in a month.” “I don’t think she can file for it as an unmarried woman,” said Byron. “What the . . . You mean we can’t file fer the land til I’m twentyone?” “Well, I ain’t absolutely certain, but I don’t think she can file until she’s a married woman, filing for her husband, and herself. Then she’s legal to act for the both of you. So, you’ll have to wait til June, at least.” “I got to go tell her.” “You can’t go now, it’s the middle of the night. Go down to her place in the morning. I’ll spell you in the milk barn another morning. What you going to tell her?” “I don’t rightly know. This dang trip has been one up and one down after another. Maybe we ain’t supposed to have a life together.” “I doubt that,” said Byron. “You just have a few snakes to kill. Get some rest. Things will look better in the mornin’.” Tursday, March 16 I slept warm, under three blankets. It felt good to rest. I rose way fore dawn this mornin’ and helped Byron milk and feed. Byron would have done it all, but I couldn’t rest and just got up and helped. It was too early to

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go to Engebretsens. It dang near killed me, the waitin’. I hurried to Jen’s about 8:30. “Jenny!” I hollered as I dismounted. “Jenny!” She saw me come on their lot and came to the door as I was hollerin’. “What is it PG?” Jenny burst through the door, a worried frown on her face. I guess she figured I was hurt, or somethin’. “Byron told me we can’t get our land in Rigby in yer name. You can file if we’re married, but not before. The land might not last til June. What we gonna do?” “First thing to do is come in and sit and get calmed down.” “I am calm. I’m just down cause we keep runnin’ into troubles with this thing.” We sat at the table in the kitchen and Jen fixed some pancakes. She talked as she cooked. “I knew the Lord’s hand was in this thing. You wanted to get married sooner, well here’s your chance.” “What do you mean? You mean you’ll marry me sooner so’s we can get that place in Rigby?” “It appears that we ought to, if we don’t want to gamble on getting that exact place, and I have an awfully good feeling about it, don’t you?” “I feel good about anythin’ that will allow me to marry you sooner. I think it’s just about as fine a place as there could ever be,” I whispered. “The other thing we didn’t think about is, if we get up there sooner, we can get a garden in and have some food the first winter. That’s something we should have planned better. It will sure beat starving. See, the Lord’s hand is in this thing for sure.” “We need to get married right away,” I said, hopeful. “We will take the month to prepare,” said Jenny. I couldn’t cuss in the house, so I held my tongue, and I hugged her. I had to get back to Byron’s and run all the news past him. I could wait a month. It saved a couple of months, and after all, there is a lot to prepare and pack. “Thank you Lord fer helpin’ this thing to work out fer me,” I said in the blessin’ on the pancakes. I gobbled them down, kissed Jen and lit-out fer Byron’s. ∞ I found Byron in the barn workin’ on a harness. “Byron, I got news.” “Shoot,” said Byron. “Jenny and I are gettin’ married the enda April, or firsta May. We’ve got to get to Rigby and file fer our land and get a garden planted. Whew! I’m out of breath.”

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“That is fine news, but it doesn’t give us much time to get things ready. “ “What do you think we have got to get ready?” I asked surprised. I figured Byron might be a little angry losin’ me with such short notice, but I couldn’t think of a whole bunch of stuff that needed done. Lack of experience showed clear. “I want to give you the wagon. We got to take it apart and tighten it and grease the hubs and true the wheels. It will take us two weeks at least. We have to arrange for the temple and we have to notify all our kin. There is a lot to do, believe me little brother. We’ll get the women on it first thing in the morning.” “I never thought this day would end up such a fine day,” I said to Byron. “I want to go through the tools with you and send anything I don’t need, or that we have two of. You’ll need tools to homestead. I don’t envy you none little brother. You’re in for a hellish time.” “If it is with Jenny, I can do it,” I assured him, and mysef. March 20 There ain’t been any time to write. Days drag, but they’re filled with work. Jen and I have a lot to get done in a few weeks. I ain’t saved much money lately, but Byron about has me outfitted fer homesteadin’, he thinks. It dawns on me that this lightin’ out on our own is goin’ to be a sort of scary experience. I got no idea how to build a place. March 21, Sunday I keep fergettin’ about recordin’ my goin’s and comin’s in this here book. I thought I better scratch a few lines agin today. My pa gave me a two year old colt. He is about the finest horse I have ever seen. I been workin’ with him, and he learns faster than people. I named him Bud. He is the best thing I ever owned. He’ll come in dang handy. With the team Byron is givin’ us fer the weddin’, Jen and I will have some fine horseflesh on our place. March 25 She’s gettin’ close. Jen and I are gettin’ married in the Logan Temple. It will take two days travel to get there with the wagon and all, but it will put us two days closer to Rigby too. Most of the relatives live up that-away. We plan to have my pa seal us and then we’ll have a reception on the Temple grounds up there and light out fer Idaho. I hope that land is still open fer homesteadin’. If it ain’t, I don’t know what we’ll do. Don’t matter much. Jen will be mine and I’ll be hers. We’ll be fine. April 2, a Friday In camp, near Franklin, Idaho. Me and Jen took our marriage vows this mornin’ in the Logan Temple. We were united fore God, sealed fer

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time and all eternity. We went through the endowment, then we were taken to a little room. In the center of the room lay an alter. Jen knelt on one side and I knelt on the other. We faced each other and pa, the sealer, married us fer ever. It was the best thing ever happened to me. Jen was beautiful in her white dress and all. I kissed her across the alter and it was done. After the marriage sealin’, our families picnicked and celebrated. It was a little on the cold side, but I am thankful because it didn’t hurt anybody’s feelin’s that we got done quick and got on the road. We bid farewell to our families and friends and began our travel north. Jen’s folks were mighty sad that their only child was goin’ so far away. Jen cried fer a couple of hours and kept lookin’ back south down the valley to Logan. I figure we can travel back some time, maybe on the train even. I will miss the folks, but I have Jen. That’s plenty enough fer me. We plan to travel hard and file fer our homestead in Rigby, Jefferson County, Idaho as soon as we can arrive and find the courthouse open fer business. Jen is makin’ supper over the fire. Her eyes are red from cryin’. The weather ain’t bad. It beats the last time Jen and I camped under a wagon up in Idaho. Hope she gets to hersef soon. I feel sorry fer her and can’t do much to help. April 14, Wednesday, I think . . . The honeymoon has been a tough wagon ride through high desert and some mountains linin’ the valleys. We camped by water when we could, and we pushed ourselves and the animals. Bud didn’t seem affected by any of the travel. He was as fresh at the end of a long day as when I saddled him in the mornin’. Most times he just carried his saddle and walked behind the wagon, but Jen and I took turns ridin’ him some. Jen and I talked through the days and evenin’s and loved each other at night. It has been a joy and an adventure fer me. We pulled up here outside Rigby this afternoon. It took us twelve days to get here. Jen wouldn’t let me travel on the Sabbath, or I’d a made it in eleven. Jen and I pulled on through Rigby and camped on the place. We got there about an hour fore dark. Stakes are still in place. We figure that means it’s still available. We were so happy we danced in circles like kids. The ground looks fair. The snow’s about all gone. There’s snow patches on the Tetons I noted, but it’s gone from the valley floor, except in shade and protected places. Rocks are showin’, but the grass looks good and it will make good feed. It’s greenin’ up perty now. Next month the wild flowers will be showin’. There were deer on the lot this evenin’, and I know the river is close, so I know we ain’t goin’ to starve, at least not fer a while. We chose a spot fer the house

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Jen and I got our belongin’s unloaded and we set up camp. We walked around the land a little fore it got black dark. I pounded in a corner stake. I don’t know why, but I wanted to set a boundary. Hope I ain’t got to pull it up in the mornin’. It’s turnin’ cold tonight and she’s spittin’ a little snow, tryin’ to rain I reckon. It is wet and melts about as soon as it hits the ground. Jen and I are warm and dry in the tent we set up as a temporary shelter while we build us a shack. We wanted to be here, even if it ain’t ours yet. It feels like home. April 15, Thursday Jen and I were both awake fore light this mornin’. Jen cooked a fine breakfast. We could, neither of us, quit grinnin’ the whole time. We gobbled down our bacon and egg breakfast, put our things up, and took the wagon into town to the courthouse. The folks at the courthouse weren’t opened fer business just yet. Jen and I sat on the steps until a lady unlocked the front doors. Jen fair leaped up the steps and ran into the buildin’. I checked the horses, then followed her inside. I found Jen in the surveyor’s office. We were welcomed by the local public servants and we had no trouble showin’ documents that identified us as legal married. They allowed Jen to sign fer us and file fer our homestead. After, we hurried back to our new place, we sat on the ground where we decided to build the house. The ground was wet, and it hit us how tired and dirty we are from all our travel. We look a sight. Of course, Jenny looks fine to me, but I am probably grizzled. I ain’t shaved in two weeks. I was so excited I picked up Jen and turned circle after circle, spinnin’ til we dang near fell. We stood hand in hand gettin’ our balance and lookin’ at our place. We quit actin’ silly after a while and et a little lunch. Then we began to work layin’ out our plans fer the place. Jen made me have prayer with her fore we got goin’, or I would have started workin’ immediate. Some neighbors showed up. News travels fast round here it appears. There is a good old feller name Glenn Johnson and his family that live up the road on the next place, or the one after that. I ain’t sure. It’s downstream. They told us where their place is, and the church, and when the meetin’s start. Most everybody around here’s Mormons. We plan to attend meetin’ Sunday. We are awful dirty and unprepared, but Jen says we need to attend. We’re goin’ down to the river and wash all over. I hope I don’t fall in and drown. ∞ While we worked on diggin’ and gatherin’ stone fer a foundation, Jen told me about homesteaders. “Settlers from all over the world, immigrants,

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farmers, former slaves, ner-do-wells, come west for free land and to meet the challenge of “proving-up” to get this free land. We must live here, build a house, make improvements, and farm for 5 years. If we succeed, then we are eligible to ‘prove-up’, or prove that we have lasted the 5 years, built a home and improved the ground. If we can prove we’ve lasted, we can own the land, free and clear.” “We’ll do’er, no problem. If that’s what you want, we’ll do’er,” I said. “At the end of the five years, the fee for proving-up will be eighteen dollars and that’s the only money that we’ll have to pay to seal the contract.” I told her, “Well, I figure sacrifice, backbreaking work, heartache, and sickness will be more exactin’ payment fer this here ‘free’ government land.” I added, “We better figure in a few accidents here and there too. Accidents are bound to happen farmin’. It ain’t goin’ to be free Jen.” ∞ Jen bought a book by a feller name Mark Twain fore we left Bountiful. She reads to me in the evenin’s from the book. Twain is a funny son of a gun, and smart. He wrote that folks said he got killed the other day and he told them that “rumors of his death was greatly exaggerated.” I like when Jen reads. It is mighty entertainin’. June 22, Tuesday Ain’t writ in a while agin. No time to spare. When I get done eatin’ the evenin’ meal, I’m done fer the night. Work on the place has been goin’ perty well fer me and Jen. We’re gettin’ the house built and we have a garden goin’. The ground we dug fer gardenin’ gave us a load of stones to stack fer most of a wall of the house. I expect the fields are full of rocks. This land musta been an old river bottom. I’m afraid it’s mighty poor land. I guess that’s why it was left over. There’s a couple more parcels that are just sittin’ unclaimed, bad as this one I reckon. Jen calculates she’s pregnant. She says it happened on our way here, or not long after we got here. She ain’t exactly sure. I suppose it sure could have happened on the way. I worry about her bein’ sick. She told me it was because she is goin’ to have a baby. I am mighty happy about the baby, but I’m sort of confused too. I don’t know if I’m ready to be a dad, but ready or not, I’m goin’ to be one in about six-seven months. October 24, Sunday Cold this mornin’. We got the house finished enough to stay warm and dry this winter. We’ve got one room, but it’s snug and big enough fer the two of us. We got a good crop out of the garden, and Jen canned fruit and

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vegetables. We bought some fruit and traded some vegetables fer peaches. Deer and fish keep us in meat. We’re doin’ okay. We’re talkin’ about raisin’ cows on our place. It is terrible rocky ground fer farmin’. It’s a bugger to clear the rocks out. We’ll decide this winter I reckon. We have made close friends of the Johnson’s. They have a good farm and Glenn is a good farmer too. He’s helped me clear some land here. I’ll plant some next Spring. Glenn is a little older than me, but he looks like he’s about twenty years older. He is tall and skinny. He wears a beard that is already gettin’ grey. The hair on top of his head is about gone. He is a funny bugger and a heck of a good friend, and a good patient hunter too. We farm and hunt and fish together. He listens to my bitchin’ and doesn’t complain. I couldn’t ask fer a better friend. It is dumb luck to find a family like the Johnsons right close on. December 22, Wednesday Our new baby girl was born this mornin. Emma Johnson, Glenn’s wife came over and helped Jen. I went with Glenn out to the barn to wait. It sure as heck is a helpless feelin’ to be waitin’ fer yer wife to bear a child. I could hear the baby beller clean out in the lean-to when she arrived. I found out it was a little girl after I busted in the house to see the one cryin’. Jen wants to name her Della. I don’t care much. The baby is a ugly little spud, all wrinkled and red. Jen thinks the world of her though. I hope she gets better lookin’. I hope she takes after her ma. 1898, January 1 I stumbled on my old book here and decided to write some. I don’t find it often anymore. I ain’t writ since Della was born. She is gettin’ to be cute as a bug. It’s been a cold winter with deep snow. It’s colder up here in Idaho, than down home it seems. The snow is about the same though. I bet Jen misses her ma and pa’s nice rock house in Bountiful about now. She doesn’t complain though. She seems to love this broken down cabin we built. I got the lean-to enclosed into a small barn fer he horses and milk cow we bought. I can’t wait fer this damn snow to leave so I can start workin’ on the house and more on the barn and get to farmin’. This here book is finally full. I need to get another one, or make one I guess. Jenny and I, and Della attend church at the new ward meetin’ house in Rigby. February 25, 1898 Got another war goin on somewhere down to Cuba. I heard tell Spain sunk one of the United States’ ships and killed a bunch of people. The

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government declared war on Spain. That ain’t gonna take long to win I don’t guess. 1899 April They electrified some woman named Martha Place in a chair. I guess they been killin’ crooks in this way fer years, but she is the first woman. I didn’t hear what she did to deserve killin’. They are gettin’ electricity all over the place now. Someday they might even get it out here to Rigby. They say a whole town can be lit-up by electricity. I ain’t seen it yet mysef. Some famous outlaws runnin’ round down to Montpelier. That’s only about a hundred miles south and east of Rigby. Ain’t seen’em. It’s Butch Cassidy and his gang. They rob banks and trains and all. We got nothin’ fer them to take round here. 1900, January 1 Got me a new journal fer Christmas from Jen. Christmas Day, I vowed to write in it ever day, startin’ today, January 1st. It’s a new year, and it’s a new century to boot. We had a war two year ago. It was in Cuba, wherever that is. It didn’t last long, and we didn’t feel a thing out here in Idaho. I ain’t writ fer about two years now, not since I filled the last book. Del was just a little one. She’s walkin’ now and talkin’ to beat the band. Jen makes all Del’s clothes, mine and her own too. I looked back into the old journal so I could try and pick up where I left off last. Glenn Johnson is a fine farmer. When we got on our place, he helped Jen and me settle and clear the land and loaned me his expertise and some of his tools. He and I have hunted and fished together the past couple of years, and we help each other with plantin’ and harvestin’ as well. I see more of Glenn than I do Jen and Del. It turned out that Jen and I didn’t clear much land. We did turn over some heavy grass fields and cultivated and planted enough to feed us and sell some excess. I kept most of the ground in pasture. We’re raisin’ some beef cows and growin’ a few spuds. I cut the grass to feed the stock in winter. High ground water from the river helps irrigate the farm and grass. Not far under most of our ground, we found six inch to two foot river rocks, rounded from rollin’ down rivers over eons of time, as Jen so poetical describes it. Seems like all them damn rocks come to rest in the upper Snake River Valley, most of em on our place I reckon. I call them “dolies”. That’s what my pa called stones like these we cleared out of his fields. The dang dolies made plowin’ the ground a nightmare. Jen and I loaded tons of them on a skid I built to pull behind the team. We piled the rocks in field corners, or used them to build retainin’ walls. I used some to build walls on to the house and barn.

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It didn’t take Jenny long to get our first child born, with the help of Mrs. Johnson, Glenn’s wife, workin’ as midwife, seems like just yesterday. I remember that Jen suffered with what she called “mornin’ sickness,” but she worked right along side me, when she wasn’t vomitin’. I asked her, “How come you get sick when you’re pregnant? Do all women do that?” “Most do. I don’t think it will last the whole time, at least, I hope not,” she said. “And you’re thinkin’ you’d like to do this six times, eh?” I joked. Jenny just smiled her beautiful smile. Jen is goin’ to have another baby about August she calculates. Hope it’s a boy this time. Here on this rugged little homestead, with the love of my life, I haven’t minded the farmin’ and our little girl is mighty special. The land has provided us a decent, if not prosperous livin’. Now we got another little one on the way. August 1, 1900, Wednesday We got us another little girl about noon today. We thought she was goin’ to arrive in July, but she took an extra day. Emma Johnson was back to nurse Jen with this little girl too. Jen wants to name this new little creature Stella. It’s fine with me. I don’t care much what we call her. Stella looks about like Del did to me. Jen still thinks this little shriveled thing is a beauty. She says Stella is bigger than Del was. I can’t see it. Long as she and her ma are healthy, I’m happy. Jen is fine. She’s up and around already. Della went with Glenn and me when Stella was gettin’ born. I rode over and got Emma this mornin’ in the wagon and Glenn rode back with us. Me and Glenn took Del and we rode out and checked the ditches to stay busy. Mostly we just rode around on the horses. When we got back, it was all over. I’m glad I don’t have to be the one to have kids. Jen suffered in the heat from bein’ pregnant over the summer. She didn’t complain, but I know it was tough on her. It will be nice fer her to shed the weight and not have to suffer the August heat. Place is dry. I hope we get some summer showers soon. I figure Jen will want to travel back to Utah and show off her daughters fore long. Her ma and pa ain’t even seen Del yet. We’ve been savin’ fer her to ride the train down and back. When Stella gets a little bigger, I suppose they’ll travel. I’m not goin’, to save money. 1901 Jen went back down to Utah to visit. Her folks sent her train tickets. She brought back a paper and we read it. There are new outfits called autimobiles. They’re like carriages, except they don’t get pulled by horses. They have what is called an engine

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that is supposed to have the same power as 35 horses. Horse dung. Sorry, whoever sees this writin’. I can’t believe such crap. August 1901 Well now, I guess they’re gettin’ lots of them autimobiles out east. They say they even use the engines to make contraptions that fly through the air. I been havin’ a tough time with believin’ about autimobiles. Good to be out here where nothin’ much changes. 1902, January 4, Sunday Been a long while agin. So much fer my vow to write ever day in the new century year. I sort of set this here book down and fergot it fer quite a spell agin. Jen and I claimed 60 acres in the Homestead Act five years back. There was still plenty of land here in the area when we came. Weather extremes, and the rocky soil, made the place less than desirable, but Jenny thought it beautiful in spring and early summer. We discovered the land in late winter. The ground and trees were wet with patchy snow, and animals seemed plentiful. I often think, Maybe we should have waited til late spring to get a better look at this place. But, Jen loves the land, even the rocks that we plowed up and stacked at the end of the fields. I finally found a good a use fer the limbs of the cottonwoods. They made fine stout fence posts. The Snake River Plain, actually high desert, needs water to bring the land to life. Steel blue skies bid welcome to most new days, and in normal years, summer showers bless the earth and relieve soil and crops, and cool the folks that live here. Nights have been pelasent with my sweetheart and girls. Other than the skeeters, it’s mighty perty. Jen makes me read books and tells me my grammar ain’t too good. I’m workin’ on it, but not too hard. I’m still workin’ on quittin’ cussin’. There is news of baseball bein’ real popular out East. I wish I could see that. Teams from different cities travel and play each other, and the players make plenty of money. I bet they enjoy travelin’ on the trains. I ain’t been on a train since Jen and I traveled here so many years ago. Now a train goes by our place a couple of times a day headin’ fer Montana, or back south. We had a major drought back in 1900. Jen and I got ourselves established on the land, but the drought near ruined our chances. The weather was just tolerable, and we managed a livin’ off our land. We prove up this Spring, and we’ll get our deed to this here place. The experience has been plenty harsh fer my young family. Jenny remains undaunted though, but I have my doubts if we can last here. Things have been tough, and we have not recovered completely from the drought. Our savin’s from the good first years is nearly all spent. I still hate farmin’.

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The best part fer me out of these first years on the homestead was Jenny producin’ two little girls, and now a son. Della is now five years old and she is a terror. Stella, daughter 2, got her name because Jen thought the name melodious. She is a sweet little thing. I didn’t write about it, but Owen was born last March, March 17th. We been here five years now, and these here kids are what we have to show fer it. Ah, we got a few animals too, but they don’t count, except Bud, and Tom, and Bob. We do love our family and Jenny loves the land. I still struggle with farmin’, probably always will. I wish I knew another way to make a livin’ fer us. Farmin’ is too discouragin’, and a man can’t control the weather. Sunday, July 24, 1904 I have taken up Perrigrine’s journal. He last wrote a few years ago. It’s now 1904. He hasn’t written since Owen was eleven months old. I found his journal under the rocker. Dust camouflaged the cover, and PG’s ink well was dry as a bone. I need to write to help me though this difficult time. I need to record the happenings in this part of our life and I don’t keep my own journal. I know I should. It helps for me to write, but I don’t find the time. I hope PG will be able to take the responsibility back some time in the future. Most of what I write about records the happenings of July 21, 1904. Most of what I describe I learned from Glenn Johnson and from Della. ∞ Della ran to the house from the shed where she worked with her pa since first light. They completed morning chores together. Della cherishes the time spent with her father, helping him with the chores. She gets him all to herself during chore time. Stella would rather stay in the house with me. But Della loves to be outdoors, like her pa. PG tolerates Della helping him each morning. “It’s good fer her to learn to work,” he says. She is some help, but not much. Mostly, she asks questions which her pa answers patiently, and with light-hearted teasing. She treasures his play and she idolizes him and she trusts his big hands, strong arms, and great strength. I believe, to Della, her father is an unconquerable knight, like in the books we read aloud on winter evenings. She thrives on PG’s quick wit and she is able to read his moods, recognizing if he is in good humor, ill temper, or enjoying equanimity. She is a master at judging his changeable disposition and disappears at the first sign of a storm. This morning, Della picked her way through the horse droppings, and between empty water barrels into the open barnyard, running toward our meager house. Perrigrine and I constructed this house of rock we dug from the fields and from logs pulled out of the Big Hole Mountains, not far to the east of

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our homestead. We added a sitting room, a kitchen, and a bedroom over the years. PG traded for some glass windows. I keep our home clean and presentable. Della bolted through the gate, across the grass, and bounded into the house. The hot dry summer days burned off any moisture that might have formed as dew. We still suffer the effects of the 1900 drought. The grass is long, yellowed and dried out, so her feet were dry and clean, or I would have gotten after her for tracking dirt into the kitchen. Della, age eight this summer, runs everywhere barefoot. I can’t keep shoes on her. ∞ “Ma,” Della called as she burst into the house. “Pa’s ready for breakfast and he says he can eat the butt end out of a festered skunk, he’s so hungry.” “Well, we won’t be having any skunk, just eggs, and bacon, and some sourdough flapjacks. You’ll be having some milk with your breakfast, young lady.” “Ah ma, just tell pa its festered skunk, for a joke ma. What is festered skunk ma?” “I don’t rightly know sweetheart, but festered means it is infected, or rotten. So it must mean infected skunk. You know your pa is just teasing you. He wouldn’t eat skunk.” “Well, just pretend ma,” Della begged. “It’s sort of hard to pretend when eggs look like eggs, and bacon looks like bacon. I’ll tell him before I put it on the table though,” I bargained. I am not as fun as PG but I try to be kind, attentive, and loving to my children. I would give all I have for my Perrigrine and our sweet little ones. Della turned eight in December and Stella will soon be five. Owen is just 2 years and starting to run and jabber like crazy. He is a chore. The years on our place have given us a fine family, but the ground and weather have not been kind and PG resents it. Another hot dry summer disheartened him even further. ∞ Bud, moved effortlessly, back and forth across the corral. He watched PG work in the barn/shed. He tossed his head and whinnied to let PG know he was glad he was near. “You’d probably like some feed and water, eh fella?” said PG. PG and Della milked and Della fed the cows before she ran in to warn me that PG was waiting breakfast. “Goin’ to hafta run to the hills and round up the cows fore long big fella,” PG talked aloud to Bud. “Guess we’ll push them up tomorrow mornin’. You’re one fine horse. Why, some of them damn horses bounce a man to death, but not you.” PG fed and watered his horse, then started for the hen house to gather eggs for me.

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I’m imagining some of the conversation, but that is the way I have heard Perrigrine talk to his horse, and to himself when he is working around his animals. ∞ The stove makes the kitchen and house unbearably hot, but it is my habit to cook a big breakfast for Perrigrine and the children. PG loves me, and enjoys being around me. He likes my breasts and he loves my cooking and that I put up with him and his kidding. He says I have “good humor.” PG passed through the hen house and gathered eggs for me before coming to the house. Pushing his way into the kitchen, he laid the eggs he had gathered on my old sideboard. “Mornin ma,” he said. “Mornin sweetheart,” I replied. “Goin’ to be damn hot again today Jen.” “Please PG. You know I don’t hold with it, and you promised to stop.” “Sorry.” “You’ve been sorry for years.” “I’m still sorry darlin. What’s fer breakfast?” PG always asks, and it was always the same. “Well PG,” I grinned. “Della tells me you’ve requested festered skunk butt, so I fixed you a big hunk to go with your flapjacks.” Della looked on with eyes wide and waited for her pa to reply. She had difficulty not bursting into laughter. “Ah, skunk butt, my favorite,” PG chortled and rubbed his hands together in preparation. “My mouth is just a waterin’, darlin.’” Della could contain herself no longer. “Oh, pa, you know you ain’t getting’ no skunk butt,” she laughed. “Not getting any skunk butt,” I corrected. “Any skunk butt,” repeated Della. I placed a platter of eggs and bacon on the table as well as a platter of pancakes. I provided butter and honey too. PG prefers to call pancakes “flapjacks,” so we all call them flapjacks. He ate hungrily and drank water with his breakfast. “Thank ya kindly Jen,” he said heartily. “Finest skunk butt I ever et!” I didn’t answer him, just looked down at my work and couldn’t help the grin. I love that Perrigrine appreciates my cooking. It feels good. He slipped across the floor as if waltzing and grabbed me round my waist. He picked me up and whisked me about the kitchen until I made him stop. “You are a raving beauty this mornin’ darlin’. How’s about a kiss fer the old man?”

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“Get on with yer kisses, you big lug. You haven’t even shaved. What are you planning for today anyway? You know you better figure some way to get water to that garden before you go traipsing off with Glenn, or whatever you’ve cooked up, or we’re going to go hungry this winter.” “Well Jen, me and Glenn ain’t goin’ anyplace special. I thought I’d plow about 20 acres out back, fer starters. Then I’m goin’ to take that herd’a cattle into Idaho Falls and ship the whole bunch off to the Army. Then, when I get back, I think we’ll just start addin’ a new wing on to the house over here,” he waved his arms expansively. “How’s that fer a day’s work?” “You are a clown, Perrigrine. Don’t you just wish we had a herd of cows to sell to the Army? What’re you really going to do?” I asked. “Well, since there ain’t much water to irrigate, and the crops are about all dead anyway, I’m thinkin’ about goin’ to the river fishin’. Maybe Glenn and I can scare up some food that way.” He walked out the screened door pulling his hat on as he passed though and let the door slam behind him. He drew his elbows up and stretched his arms back and breathed deeply. “Everythin’s better on a full belly, even if it is goin’ to be another scorcher.” Finishing his stretch, PG spotted a rider about half mile out. He walked to the side of the house away from the sun and leaned against the pole fence. He watched the rider approach. He could tell by the way the approaching rider sat his horse it was Glenn Johnson. ∞ The sun was then well up over the Big Holes and the trees surrounding the yard threw shade to the west. PG stood in the shade and waited for his friend to arrive. He looked past the distant rider into the dried fields. The prospects of ruined crops frustrated PG near to tears. “Hopeless ground,” he muttered to himself. Johnson rode into the yard, dismounted, and flopped the reigns over the fence near PG. “How are ya Glenn?” asked PG. “Middlin,” said Johnson, a man of few words. Johnson leaned on the fence, content to be with his friend. Glenn swept his hat off revealing his prematurely bald head. He ran his sleeve over his head to wipe the sweat. “How you PG?” he asked. “Well, I ain’t worth a damn, ya wanna know the truth. I’m tired of all this dry weather and not bein’ able to grow enough to make a livin’ off this poor rocky stinkin’ ground. I’m scared, that’s how I’m doin’.” “What you scared of? “Scared I ain’t goin’ to be able to provide fer Owen and the girls, ya idget.”

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Michael B. Sessions “Well, it ain’t my doin’.”

“I know that Glenn, I ain’t mad at you, I’m just mad at, at, everythin’.” The two men looked over the dried fields for a few moments, until PG could stand no more. He turned and hollered into the house. “Ma, me and Glenn are goin’ fishin’.” “Well, take Della with you PG,” I yelled back. “She’ll be driving me crazy around here with nothing to do, pestering me every minute with questions. Stella’s a handful and Owen’s suffering with the croup. These two are all I can handle in this heat. Take Del with you now.” When PG and Glenn stepped away from under the trees, the air was dead still and near stifling. The two men planned on heading over to the Snake River not far north of our place. Folks referred to the stretch of river as the South Fork. It was a favorite place for PG and his crony. The river holds cutthroat, brown, and rainbow trout. The cutthroat are most plentiful and are native to this part of the river system. Water levels in the Snake remain low this summer and have been the last few years, an ever-present reminder of continuing drought. It snowed little last winter and not much snow piled in the Yellowstone, Teton Range, and the Big Hole Mountains. The upper Snake River Valley suffers most. The river still holds running water and some deep pools left over from a time when angry currents forced their way. Trout pile-up where the water is cooler, deep and dark. “Well, get her on out here ma,” said PG. PG took the reigns of Glenn’s horse and led him into the shade of the barn. He pulled the saddle and blanket and bridle and turned the horse in with Bud. “We’ll walk to the river cross the north pasture. I think we ought to go over to the big bend. There’ll be fish there, and Del can stay in the shade of the big cottonwoods and watch,” said PG. ∞ “Della, I want you wearin’ yer boots this mornin’. Go get them on now,” said PG. Della hurried to get her boots. They are old work boots that were made for a small man I think. They are a little too large for her, but she treasures the boots because they lace up, like her pa’s. She saves the boots for special occasions, but we don’t want her getting injured, so PG asked her to wear them on this special occasion. Going fishing with her pa and his pal, Glenn is a special occasion. PG and Johnson entered the kitchen. “Get those clod hoppers tied up there Del,” joked Perrigrine. “Ah pa, my boots ain’t clod hoppers.” “Aren’t clod hoppers,” I corrected as I looked out the kitchen door. “Aren’t clod hoppers,” repeated Della. “Good morning Glenn,” I greeted Glenn.

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“Howdy Jen,” he replied and took off his hat. “Well, what ever they are, get’em on. Fish are just waitin’ to be caught. We’ve got to get goin’. If we don’t get a move on, the fish’ll quit bitin’ just when we get there, all because you had to get yer clodhoppers on. You’re a mutt anyway,” said PG. “Ah pa.” Della dressed as quickly as she could. She wore no stockings with her boots. I made her take an extra pancake in a napkin for a snack, though she was anxious to get going with her pa. She is always excited to accompany PG anywhere he goes, and fishing is a special treat. ∞ It happens that PG and Glenn obtained dynamite from a construction site over by town where a bridge had been built last summer. The workmen building the bridge left the dynamite, and fuses to ignite the sticks, near the side of the bridge abutment. PG and Glenn found it lying there after the job was finished and the construction men were long gone. They helped themselves. The workmen building the bridge left nearly a half box of explosives and fuses. For these poor farmers, it seemed an invitation. PG didn’t know what he would do with the dynamite, but he jumped at the chance and carried home several sticks and fuses. He devised a plan for the explosives. It was with the dynamite that he intended to do his fishing. I was completely ignorant of PG and Glenn’s dynamite, or their fishing plans. PG hid his sticks and fuses in an old wood box with a hinged lid. He keeps the box in the barn. In the box, he stores spare scrap leather to make repairs, and he must have been quite sure neither the children, nor I, would snoop. On the way through the barn, heading for the north pasture, PG retrieved several sticks and fuses and carried them in a saddle bag over his shoulder. The threesome cut through the corral fence and across to the pasture, hiking toward the river. PG didn’t like it much that Della was going along. As they left the barn and walked across the corral, Della worried him about what they were up to. “Where’s your fishin pole pa?” “I ain’t takin’ a pole today sweetpea. We’re gonna get some fish a different way I know.” “How you going go get fish without a pole, pa?” “We’re goin’ to set off this here dynamite and knock the fish clean out. We can get a bunch of’ em that-a-way,” he said eagerly. “But, don’t go tellin’ yer ma about none of this. You hear? You’ve got to promise me now.”

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Michael B. Sessions “I promise pa. I ain’t going to say anything to anybody.” “And don’t say ‘ain’t around yer ma,” PG added. “No sir,” said Della.

PG grinned and mussed Della’s hair. Johnson pulled a gunnysack from his saddle bag as they passed through the barn. PG thought Glenn had hit on a good idea to take a gunny sack, and he grabbed a sack from the hook just inside the door. As the trio walked across the pasture, PG talked. “I figger all ya gotta do is throw about half stick a dynamite in that there fishin’ hole and boom, the fish get knocked-out, float to the top, and we’ll just scoop’em up.” PG walked rapidly, animated with the excitement and prospect of killing fish with dynamite. Johnson wears thick round glasses perched on a long slim pointed nose. His beard is scant and speckled with untimely gray hairs. Johnson is only a few years PG’s senior, but he looks much older. He is a better farmer than PG and meticulous with all his belongings. He loves PG and spends time enjoying the carefree wild enthusiasm that only Perrigrine can provide. He has been a good friend for PG, and our family. PG will do about anything for fun, and he can easily talk Johnson into joining him in his antics, when Glenn’s wife is not around that is. They are opposites in most every way except their religion and their love of hunting and fishing. I call them, “A pair to draw to.” Glenn, having been with PG when he found the deserted stash of dynamite, was excited and hopeful that their scheme might work. He needed to fill his family’s larder as badly as Perrigrine. A few hundred yards into the dry fields, PG said, “Della, you carry this here sack fer all them fish we’re goin’ to get.” “Okay pa.” Each man hoped to fill his sack and be home before noon with nobody the wiser. They thought their plan a good one, and the outing started off merrily. PG hoped for an adventure on the South Fork. ∞ They walked the distance to the river and found a likely spot where cool water filled a deep hole at a wide bend in the river. At the bottom of the hole, the water became shallow and ran a few inches deep over river rock, forming riffles. “You stay here on the bank Della” said PG “And don’t get too close to the edge of this hole, in fact, stay down there next to the riffles and in the shade, so’s I can see what yer doin’. You stay right there where I can see you, hear?” “Okay pa. Can I see you knock-out the fish from here pa?”

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“Yeah, you’ll see the water plum explode. Alright, now be quiet and quit botherin’ me with questions.” Della remained on the bank near the river’s edge and played with snake grass, pulling it apart and putting it back together like a puzzle. The river looked like a green snake winding through the sand colored dry meadow and Della enjoyed the outing as she played games and watched clouds slide by. It was near 10:00 am, and warming rapidly. The moving river cooled the air and made a slight breeze. Glenn and PG stood on the bank, upstream from the riffles, beside a deep pool, talking. Glenn won election to do the dynamiting, under PG’s direction. ∞ “Take this here half stick of dynamite and cut about eight inches a fuse I’d figure. I’m guessin’ on the length, but eight inches ought to be about right to give you plenty of time to light and throw the dynamite. Glenn nodded and said, “Oughta be enough.” “That’s what I said,” said PG. “Okay,” said Glenn. He had no more idea of how much to use than PG, and he was nervous about their activities. “Stick the fuse a couple a inches down into the dynamite, light her up and throw it out in the middle of this here pool, then look out.” “Look out for what?” asked Glenn. “Look out you don’t get yer fool head blowed off,” laughed PG. “Very funny, “said Johnson. PG smiled, “Yeah, yeah. After you throw it in, get yer butt down here in the riffles and help me pick up fish. You okay with this Glenn?” PG asked seriously concerned about his friend. “Yeah, I’m okay.” Johnson acted disgusted. “It ain’t like I don’t know anything about blowing stuff up.” “Point is, you don’t know anythin’ about blowin’ stuff up,” said PG. “Neither one of us has ever blowed anythin’ up in our whole lives. Be careful now, I don’t want yer family mad at me fer the rest of my life cause you blowed yersef to kingdom come.” Johnson walked up stream a few paces to the deepest water at the middle of the pool. PG went to the middle of the riffles and stood in the river watching. Glenn tried to ready his dynamite and fuse as he walked, but it was too difficult. PG watched Glenn walk back and forth along the bank. Glenn’s head was down. He was uncertain about the plan. Will this work? Glenn wondered. He had a dreadful feeling about using dynamite to kill fish, but he wasn’t going to let on to PG that he was feeling squeamish. He judged about the middle of the pool to make ready

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for his throw. He thought to get rid of that stick of dynamite fast as he could. ∞ PG looked on, watching Glenn fuss with the fuse and dynamite. Dern fool’s clumsier’ n hell, thought PG I hope he doesn’t blow hissef up. His old woman would never fergive me. It looked to PG like Glenn was fumbling something awful with the fuse and dynamite. Glenn stood on the bank beside the big hole, his matches in his shirt pocket. He dug at the dynamite with the fuse, trying to insert it into the half stick. “This dang fuse ain’t going in right,” he yelled to PG “What the hell? Come on you sumbitch,” Glenn cussed the stubborn fuse. His hands shook. “All I got to do is get this here fuse in and I can light her up and we’re fishin.” He talked to himself as he tried to stuff the fuse into the dynamite. “The explosion will stun’em sure. They’re gonna float on up to the top and on out of this here pool into the shallows and it’s trout fer supper,” Glenn talked himself though the process. “I got to git down there fast or PG’ll raise all hell.” “Gosh damn this lousy fuse,” he blurted. ∞ PG’s impatience, not quite as long as the fuse, got the best of him. As Johnson fumbled, PG’s temper flared. He looked on in mounting frustration as Glenn bungled the job. PG wanted to get it over with before someone came along to spy on their illegal activity, someone that might report them to the sheriff. It could only lead to more problems in his already bumpy life. If the sheriff caught them, put two and two together, they might spend some time in the chody, as PG refers to jail. They should have left the dynamite where they found it. After all, it didn’t belong to them, but it didn’t seem to belong to anybody, PG rationalized. “What the hell you doin’ over there Johnson, waitin’ on the second comin’? Get the hell to goin’ fore I come over there and kick ya in the butt.” PG’s impatience flustered, and angered Johnson. He yelled back, “Come on over here and do it yourself if you think you’re such an expert. I can’t get the fuse in this dynamite. The powder’s crystallized or something.” PG crossed the stream in a rage and stomped up the bank grabbing the dynamite and fuse from Johnson. His eyes were wild. He shoved the his gunnysack into Johnson’s chest. “Git on down there in the riffles so’s we don’t lose the fish. Now Git! Be ready fast.”

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Glenn held his piece. He was sure that PG wouldn’t hurt him, but he also knew that PG could have very well snapped him like a twig. There was no telling with PG’s temper sometimes. He was pleased not to have to handle the dynamite. PG used his jackknife and made a hole in the dynamite with the awl blade. He managed to force the fuse down into the dynamite and hollered, “Ya ready?” Glenn waved his arm, too exasperated to yell back. Della looked up to see the show. She’d never seen dynamite blow up before, neither had her pa, nor Johnson for that matter. PG held the half stick in his left hand and took a wood match from his shirt pocket with his right. He reached down behind his right leg to friction strike the match on his rough trousers. He raised his knee, tightening his pant leg on his thigh and swept the match up the back side of his leg against the rough material. Friction flared the sulfur head, and PG lit the fuse then dropped the spent match. The fuse burned faster than PG calculated, too fast. The dynamite exploded while PG held the stick in his left hand, his arm cocked to throw. Della and Johnson looked on, horrified. ∞ PG’s torso disappeared in a cloud of blue-gray smoke. Somehow, he wasn’t knocked off his feet by the blast and he did not fall to the ground, but stood there on the bank in a powder cloud from the waist up. Della and Johnson could see his legs standing under the cloud, but could not see him above the belt. They wondered if he had blown his head clean off. Simultaneously, Della and Johnson began running to PG. Della crossed the shallow riffles. Johnson, starting from his position mid-stream, bounded to the bank and ran upstream for all he was worth. PG stood rocking back and forth, not able to walk, or sit. He was a hideous sight. He had blown his left hand clean off at the wrist. The wrist bones stuck out the end of a bloody stump with scraps of skin hanging from the wound. PG’s face was swelled and burned. His face was so swollen that his eyes were completely closed. His nose was swelled and bleeding from both nostrils. His lashes and brows were gone. His lips were broken and puffed, but not bleeding like his nose. They looked dry and cracked like he had been stranded in a desert. PG’s shirt was shredded and his hat had disappeared. All his hair was singed off except at the back of his head. He stood holding his stump out front of him as if there should have been something to hold up for the rest of the world to see. He was stunned, shocked, rocking slightly back and forth, still not losing his balance. His hand, which had worn his wedding band, had completely disappeared along with his hat. Blood did not spurt from the wound, but oozed. The blast partially cauterized the stump. Johnson stood staring and Della arrived. She couldn’t help but look about for her father’s

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hand. There was nothing left to be found. Della checked the ground around them. ∞ Della was unusually calm. “Pa, sit down.” He couldn’t hear her. Blood ran from his ear. Johnson didn’t know what to do any more than Della. The two grasped PG gingerly, as if he might break, and gently forced him to sit down in the grass. “Go get ma Mr. Johnson. She’ll know what to do.” “I sure hope so,” said Johnson as he rose and lit out for the house on a dead run. He was glad to be doing something and his feet barely touched the water as he charged down the bank and crossed the river through the riffles. Della thought how funny Johnson looked crossing the river. She gawked at his giant strides as he stormed across the field toward home. ∞ Della prayed, “Dear Lord Jesus, please help mama to get here fast, and please help her to know what to do.” She then wrapped PG’s stump in some calico she tore from the bottom of her dress. She got him to his feet by pulling up on his whole arm. He responded automatically. She began leading him down the bank to the cross the riffles and on toward their homestead. She tried to speak soothingly to him as they went down the bank. “Come on pa. I’ll get you home. Just walk slow and hold on to me.” He couldn’t hear a thing she said, but he followed like a deaf, dumb sheep. The stump did not bleed, but PG held it up, frozen in front of him. Della led him across the riffles. He stumbled in the slick rocks, falling into the water. Della pulled him back to his feet. She sobbed that he had fallen in the water and tears clouded her vision. She led him across the riffles without further incident. The path in the meadow was easier. She led him across the open meadow and toward the house. Della didn’t dare think what a change might come to our lives. She just wanted her pa to be alright again. It was slow going. PG, still dazed and speechless, followed Della awkwardly through the pastures. ∞ “Thank you Heavenly Father,” Della whispered when she spotted me running toward them. I had not time to grab my bonnet. I ran, hair and skirts streaming behind. I met them about half way across the east pasture. Della sobbed as she tried to holler to me, “Mama, mama, come quick. Pa blew his hand off,” she finished with a muffled sob and collapsed beside her father. As soon as Johnson told me PG was injured, I sent him to town on horseback, some five miles away, for the doctor. When I saw PG and

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Della, I was thankful I had sent him. My doctoring would have to do for a time, but I also knew that PG would need more than I could provide, and he would need it soon. I grasped PG’s wounded elbow and led as Della and I stumbled PG across the remaining pasture, across the yard, and into the kitchen. ∞ “What in the world have you done to yourself PG?” I whispered through my tears. PG was still stunned. He couldn’t hear me and he did not respond. Della said, “Ma, he blew his hand off with dynamite.” “What dynamite?” I asked. “I thought you were going fishing.” “Well, we were going fishin’, but pa didn’t want you to know what we were doing. The dynamite was supposed to knock out the fish and then pa and Mr. Johnson were just going to scoop them all up and bring them home.” I listened, disgusted. I unwrapped the calico from PG’s stump, surprised to see the stump hadn’t bled much. “The blast must have cauterized your wrist at the same time it blew your poor hand off PG. You’re not bleeding much at all. The stump is a mess though.” PG did not respond. I may as well have been talking to the wall. I assessed the situation trying to think of what I ought to do until the doctor arrived. Ragged pieces of skin hung from shattered bone. I began picking fragments of bone out of the wounded wrist. Skin hung is strips on one side. PG let me pick and clean. I’m not sure he knew the difference, from shock, I guessed. “Get some water in a pan and check on Stella and Owen,” I ordered Della. I left Stella in charge of her little brother when I ran to get PG. I hadn’t been gone more than ten minutes, and Owen slept through the whole affair while Stella played on the floor beside his crib. “Warm the water with some hot water off the stove.” I could get no response from PG. He sat in the chair holding his head back like a blind man, afraid of running into something or of being hit in the face. He cocked his head to one side now and then as if he were trying to listen. After a time, PG began to come around. His hearing returned gradually. He could hear a little, but could not open his eyes. “Ma?” he croaked. Whispering though cracked lips. He said, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean fer none of this to happen. I can’t feel my hand ma.” He became agitated. “What’s happened to my hand?” His agitation heightened. I tried to soothe him, leaning close to his ear and saying loudly, “PG, you don’t have a hand anymore sweetheart.” I couldn’t help

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becoming a little agitated myelf, “You blew it off with that damn dynamite. Now sit still, Glenn’s gone to town to get the doctor. They should be here before long.” PG didn’t appear to understand me, and he began to feel the hurt, but he responded to my touch. He tried to feel the damage to his left . . . stump with his right hand. He moved his hand carefully and was strangely calm until he touched the stump. He sickened at his stomach and vomited on the floor. “I can’t feel my hand ma,” he whispered. It feels like it’s there, but I can’t feel it with my other hand.” He began to faint. I grabbed him and held him in the chair as he slumped over. “Fetch rope from the shed Della. Hurry sweetheart! I can’t hole him up long.” Della ran and snatched some light rope she found coiled and hanging near the barn door. She helped me lash PG to the chair. PG came around in minutes, regaining consciousness as we finished tying our knots. He moved his head again as if trying to hear. He turned his head left, then right testing both sides. “Ma, ma where are ya?” he panicked. “I’m here sweetheart.” He calmed as I laid my hand on his shoulder. He quieted. “I tied you into the chair PG because you fainted and we nearly dropped you on the floor. You’re okay now, in the chair. Don’t worry about the ropes.” He didn’t respond. “Does it hurt pa?” asked Della. She had brought a basin of water and a wash cloth to the table. “Shush child, your pa needs to stay quiet. He can’t hear you very well anyway. Go on and keep an eye on Stella and Owen. Stay with them and keep them out of trouble.” ∞ “I can’t feel anythin’ but pain in my hand Jen. I can’t open my eyes neither. How do I look?” I put my mouth close to his ear again, “Be quiet and stay still,” I told him. “You’re burned some, and your eyes are swelled shut is why you can’t see. Your hair is all burned off and you look a sight. Your poor hand . ..“ “Why am I tied in this chair?” He began to struggle to get free. I put my hand on his left cheek to calm him, then hugged his head to my breast. He quieted. “Take care’a my hand Jenny,” he spoke loudly, not able to hear his own volume. I hugged my blind, deaf, handless husband. If only I could take care of his hand . . . I began to bathe the stump and I washed what

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blood there was from PG’s arm and face. The water soothed him. He relaxed a little as I bathed his face and head. I loosed the ropes as he gained more control of himself. I used my sewing scissors and removed what was left of PG’s shirt. The dynamite tore the left sleeve and front of his shirt clean off, including the elastic garter that PG used to keep his sleeves and cuffs snugged-up. Mysteriously, his arm was only slightly burned above the stump. I got his garments stripped down to his waist and cleaned him up as best I could. Tiny burn holes covered his garments, as if hot ashes peppered him. I called out for Della. She sprinted to the kitchen. “Yes ma?” “Della, sit with your pa for a minute.” Della held her father’s right arm. It was difficult for her to look at him in his wounded condition, so she lay her head on his shoulder and held him. I felt I must retire to the bedroom. Della knew I was going for privacy to pray. She hugged her father’s right shoulder. She was frightened to touch his handless arm, but he stayed calm while she was close to him. I went beside the bed and knelt. “Oh Lord my God, PG has really hurt himself this time. I need thee to help us more than ever. Please Father, please be with me as I attend to PG. Please help us that the doctor may arrive soon. Please help the doctor to help PG through this mess. Please give us strength, all of us. I ask this blessing in the name of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Master, Amen.” ∞ The doctor arrived with Johnson about the time I ended my prayer. I heard Glenn’s horse and the doctor’s buggy pull into the yard. The two men rushed into the house, Johnson close on the heels of the doctor. Glenn stopped near the door, bewildered, wide eyed, suddenly feeling out of place. “He OK Jenny?” asked Johnson. “I don’t know Glenn. Let the doctor look at him.” “Leave me alone with him,” said the doctor. There wasn’t anyplace else to go. I ignored the doctor and stayed close. Della led Owen and told Stella to follow her out to the yard. Johnson gladly faded out the door and into the shade of the cottonwood with the children. A short time later Johnson returned to the door and looked in on the scene. “I, I better get on home,” he stammered. “I’ll check on you this evenin’ and I’ll help with the chores,” he muttered and turned to leave.

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“Thanks Glenn, you’re a good friend. I just wish you two acted a little smarter is all. I appreciate your help Glenn.” I turned back to the doctor and PG. “Yes’m,” replied Johnson. He mounted his horse and started up the road toward his own home, riding slow with his head down. ∞ The doctor must be well past 60 years old. He served as a surgeon, a “butcher” in the Civil War for the Union Army. Lucky for PG, the doctor’s experience with amputees is considerable. “I’ve got some skin here to make a flap,” he muttered examining the stump. “But I have to clean up around this ulna some. It ought to heal proper.” He talked to himself more than to PG, or to me. He told me, “I got plenty a bandages, opium pills, morphine, whiskey, and chloroform. I’m going have to knock him out to work on him.” “Please don’t use opium on him doctor,” I said. “I am told that it is a narcotic. He’ll get dependent upon it, won’t he?” “Not in the amount I intend to administer,” said the doctor. “The good thing is he hasn’t lost much blood. On the other hand, the stump being cauterized by the blast doesn’t help me. I’ve got to cut and dig it open to clean up the bones and nerves. It’s going to be painful as all hell, excuse my language ma’am.” “Do what you have to do to help him doctor,” I said, near tears. “We don’t have anything to pay you with right now doctor, but we . . . “ “Don’t worry about that Mrs. Sessions,” interrupted the doctor, “I’ll work something out with you later. We need to get going here, time’s against us. Help me get him onto the table.” “Call me Jenny,” I said. I cleared the table and helped the doctor move PG. He was able to walk and he became compliant when he felt my touch. He became alarmed when we laid him on the table. “What’s goin’ on Jenny?” “Shhh,” I stroked his shoulder. “The doctor is here and we’re putting you on the table so he can work on you.” PG must have regained more hearing. I didn’t have to yell to him. I spoke slowly, in a normal voice. “You just cooperate and lie still.” He calmed again after we laid him full out. I rubbed his legs under his pant cuffs and the doctor stuffed a pillow under his neck and head. “I’m going to use chloroform on him and put him to sleep. When the drug takes effect, you go on out with your children and let me get to work here. After the chloroform takes effect, I won’t need any help. If I do, I’ll call.”

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∞ The doctor removed his instruments from his leather satchel. “Just like in the war,” he muttered. It wasn’t just like the war. I’ve read about the war. In the war the doctor didn’t have reusable syringes to inject drugs into a body. In the war doctor’s instruments and conditions were septic, not having been sterilized. Medicine is much improved from what was learned in the war. The medical field was still young back then, and doctors were just learning about such things as antiseptic procedures. The doctor didn’t have chloroform in the war. I’m sure now he wishes he had. After knocking PG out with chloroform the doctor used a scalpel to clean up the stump, cutting carefully and removing bone fragments as he worked. He held the scalpel in his teeth as he picked and dug for bone fragments. The doctor found solid bone and he used the extra skin that he had undercut, enlarging the wound, to make a “flap” over the end of the stump and sewed the flap shut. Doing something he had never done in the war, he painted the skin with iodine to disinfect the area around the stump. The doctor finished the job in a little less than an hour and a half. ∞ “Jenny!” the doctor yelled from the kitchen. I watched most of the procedure from the doorway. Della, Stella, and Owen stayed around the yard while we waited. As I stepped back into the house, I told Della, “Watch these two.” “He alright doctor?” “Come in here please.I want to show you what you’ll need to do. He’ll be alright, I think. I gave him enough chloroform to keep him out for a while. I don’t know how long he’ll be out really, but he shouldn’t wake up for several hours. Keep him as quiet as you can.” I nodded in response. “When he wakes up, it’s going to start hurting like all hell. I’ll leave some pills with you that will take away the pain. The pills will act fast. They’ll make him want to go back to sleep. There isn’t any getting around it Jenny, he is going to hurt something awful for the next few weeks, and at intervals for years. First thing we have to do is make sure he doesn’t get infection. That will kill him faster’n anything.” “How do I do that doctor?” “You bathe the stump with soap and warm water a couple of times a day. Don’t use too much soap. Then paint this iodine all over the stitches and stump. The iodine will sting him some, but he may not even feel it with all the pain he’ll be feeling from the wound. I’ll come out tomorrow

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about this time and check on all of you. Be ready for some rugged days ahead Mrs. Sessions.” “Johnson told me what the damn fools were doing out there on the river. I won’t report the dynamite. You have enough problems as it is. Keep him down til I get a chance to see him tomorrow.” “I’ll keep him down,” I assured the doctor. “How much do we owe you for this doctor?” “Don’t worry about that now. You have enough to worry about. I’ll work it out with you later. Just take good care of PG and your children. That’s enough for now. Help me get him into the bedroom and into bed.” ∞ Johnson, as good as his word, came back to tend to the animals and help with chores. He arrived just in time to help the doctor and me move PG to the bedroom. “Glenn, help doc and me get PG into bed,” I said. The doctor and I hefted PG by his arms and shoulders. The doctor took PG’s wounded side and Glenn took his feet and legs. We bumped the stump against the door jam, but PG felt nothing. We succeeded in getting him into the feather bed. The doctor and Glenn went back into the kitchen and I finished undressing PG and folded him under a sheet. Glenn left to tend the animals. He walked with Della holding his hand and it helped him feel some better I think. He hoisted Owen into his arms, and Stella walked next to Della. The little group worked, feeding and watering the animals. “Is daddy going to be alright?” asked Stella. “Oh, I think he’ll be fine. Don’t you worry none,” said Glenn. ∞ I could not help crying when alone with my husband. Now that everyone was out of the house, I began to feel the weight of our misfortune. Johnson finished chores and left the three little ones back with me. Della and I fussed over preparing dinner. PG didn’t wake, but slept soundly under the influence of chloroform. I needed to keep working to hold off the feeling of despair that crept just behind my eyes. The children asked me many questions while we ate. I had difficulty concentrating on answers. I hurried the children to bed, then sat awake in PG’s rocker and worried the night away. There was no sleep in me. I could only sit in the rocker watching over my children and my poor wounded husband, and I prayed that life would somehow be alright. It would have to be.

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July 22 Johnson returned this morning. Della met him at the barn to help him feed. She wanted to escape the house. “Mornin’ Glenn,” she usually called him Mr. Johnson, but it seemed as if they were now partners somehow. Johnson took no notice. “Ma says I can’t make noise in the house this mornin’. Stella and Owen are still sleepin’. Guess I better stay out here and help you.” “How’s yer pa Del?” “I don’t know, he’s been asleep since the doctor left. He moans and I think his hand is starting to hurt him.” “Well, he’ll be alright. He’s young and strong, and tougher’n most,” said Johnson. “Hope so.” Johnson milked our three cows and Della cleaned up the barn and fed PG’s horse. Johnson turned the other horses and the milked cows into the pasture to forage for grass. Johnson talked while he milked, but it was a different kind of talk and Della didn’t intrude. He was talking mostly to himself. “I wish we’d never got that dang dynamite, ner come up with such a dang fool idea. Serves us right I spose.” “Yes sir,” said Della. She was not agreeing, just responding. He looked sad at Della, “I’ll come back again this evenin’ Del. Now you help your ma girl, hear?” “Yes sir.” “I’ll ride over and let the bishop know what’s happened. He’ll get some help over here too, and some food. I’ll see you this evenin’ sure.” “See you Mr. Johnson.” ∞ Our little family spent a miserable morning. PG awakened in hideous pain and still could not see. His eyes were burned and they were still swelled shut. His eyes watered some and stung too, but nothing hurt him like the throbbing ache that was his stump. There was no way, or height, or position in which he could hold the stump to escape the throbbing pain. He regained normal hearing during his night under a drugged rest. It helped him to hear, but when Owen cried or yelled, the noise agitated him. I took Owen into the kitchen with me. I propped PG up with pillows and quilts and left the room door open so he could hear me moving about, and I could hear him. I tried to keep Owen occupied and quiet. Della and Stella kept him outside as much as possible through the day. PG held his stump up in the air, anything to try and get it to stop the damnable throbbing.

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“Jenny!” he yelled if he perceived that I was more than a few feet away. He needed to feel me and hear me nearby. Della helped with her brother and sister, but I had to prepare meals and that took my attentions away from PG. When the pain became overpowering to PG, his face wrinkled with pain and he ground his teeth. I decided I needed to give PG one of the doc’s pills. “PG, take this pill,” I ordered. “Here’s some water to wash it down, now take it. It’ll help you.” I forced the pill into his mouth. “What’s in it Jen?” “I don’t know, but the doctor said it will help you with the pain. Hopefully it will help you get some rest, now take one.” PG swallowed the pill and I held the cup of water to his lips. Relief came quickly with the narcotic. The drug set him peacefully off to sleep within minutes. I breathed a sigh of relief and began to feel the fatigue of two days of extreme stress. During his sleep, PG held his stump sticking up in the air as if his muscles had solidified in the new position. I began preparing lunch and supper, to save time and energy. I wanted PG to begin eating when he awakened, to gain strength. I made soup to feed him. Then I called Della and told her to watch her brother and sister while I took a nap. I slept nearly four hours. When I awoke it was evening and PG was still asleep. Della had kept Stella and Owen occupied outside the whole time. I hugged her for her help. While I fed the children, some men from the ward showed up with food that the men’s wives prepared. Johnson told the bishop the whole story, except the part about where he and PG got the dynamite. The bishop immediately roused families to help. Thank goodness for the church and our brothers and sisters in the ward. With Glenn taking care of the animals and the extra food from neighbors, I felt less anxious. I was mighty appreciative. I vowed to mention the kindness of our neighbors in my prayers. “Thank you brethren,” I told the men. “Thank your wives for me. The food will come in mighty handy and we’re awfully glad to have it. Bless you.” PG rested quietly through the most of the evening. The girls and I got Owen down and we rested until PG awakened. The pain and throbbing began anew. “I know you hurt something awful, but I want you to eat some soup. I’ll help you,” I whispered to PG. “I ain’t hungry Jen,” he moaned. “I’m not taking no for an answer. You’re going to eat some of this soup.”

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∞ I tended PG, washed and cleaned him. The doctor arrived near dark and checked my doctoring. Satisfied, the doctor shared some of the food the ward members brought with the girls. He left us with a promise to come again each day to check on PG. It had been a long day for the doctor too. August 1st, 1904, Monday I have some time to write more details. For three days after the explosion PG was in and out of consciousness, some from pain and some on purpose, from pills I forced him to take. Near the end of day three, PG became feverish. Sweat rolled down his face. He screamed in his sleep, dreaming I guessed. I was worn. I had not slept for longer than a few hours in days. “Wake up PG you’re dreaming again. Does it hurt?” a silly question I knew. “You want some of these pills the doctor left to kill pain?” I hoped he might take one so I could sleep for a while. “Na, just let me be.” He rolled on his left side, but held his stump up and away from his body and bedding. He lay there and sweated and dreamed fitfully and moaned. The throbbing never ceased, but lessened some when he held the stump up higher than his head. On the fourth day after the accident, the bishop showed up with Glenn Johnson and they gave PG a blessing at my request. “I didn’t want to bother you with visiting Jenny,” the bishop said. “It is certainly not a bother bishop. We’re always glad to have you in our home. Would you and Glenn please give PG a blessing. He is having such a time with the pain.” The bishop and Glenn anointed PG with consecrated oil and Glenn sealed the blessing, giving PG a wonderful blessing of peace and healing. I couldn’t help think, I’m the one that needs just a few hours of peace right now. I hated to think so shrewishly, but . . . The blessing seemed to settle PG some, but it helped me as much, or more. I felt more at peace, like things would eventually be alright. Pain stopped all together when PG took a pill. After several days using the pills, PG began to enjoy them, a little too much I think. With the pills he dreamed of thrilling places and people. He enjoyed his dreams. I enjoyed the break in work and high emotion.

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Wednesday, August 3rd Thirteen days since the accident today. This morning, PG’s face was still swollen almost beyond recognition, but he was able to open his eyes a little and see light and dark. His vision was blurred, and his eyes watered. Light hurt his eyes. He blinked rapidly. “I was lucky,” he confided to me that night. I gently bathed his stump. It leaked blood and a clear fluid, and was swollen and tender. “God’s water is healing your hand pa.” “Ain’t got a hand Jen.” He claimed he’d been lucky, but felt mighty sorry for himself. ∞ The doctor came every day for the first weeks to check on our little family and PG’s stump. The doctor told me, “Jenny, it’s healing nicely, but I’m not so certain about himself. He’s awful low down. We musn’t be too impatient with him though, it has got to hurt terrible, and it will for a long time. It is a shock to lose a limb. I have seen men who were injured in battle who were never able to recover, not because they couldn’t physically, but because they wouldn’t, mentally and spiritually. PG’s got to want to get well and strong again.” “We’ll get by doctor, we have to. And doctor, many thanks for coming so often. How will we ever be able to repay you?” The doctor, smiled, “You just get PG back on his feet. There’s time enough to pay me.” Sunday, August 14th Sunday evening. The kids are down and PG is in a drug induced sleep. Della and I have been helping Glenn with chores. Stella helps by keeping Owen occupied. Glenn Johnson comes every evening and helps out. We only have three milk cows, three horses, and a few sheep and some chickens to feed. Water is difficult. Glenn hauls it from the river in barrels. Glenn sometimes brings a hot meal from his wife, Eleanore, to help ease the load on me. “It ain’t much, but I shot a deer down in the meadow by the river last night,” said Johnson, “And the venison’ll help y’all get some strength. PG loves deer meat. I’ll try to help out with meat from time to time until PG gets on his feet.” “You’re a good man Glenn. I can’t thank you enough for helping us through this,” I told him. “It shoulda been me,” Glenn muttered as he shuffled out of the house.

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August 21 Sunday evening again. It seems to be the only time I have a minute to mysef. It does me good to write. I feel the tension leave my neck. ∞ Days of lying in bed pass like molasses for PG, and for me. His pills are necessary for pain. He dreams when he takes the pills. Always the dreams are of sunny days and better times, of heroic adventures in which PG wins some contest of strength or stamina. He runs and jumps tremendous distances in his dreams. He feels as if he flies and glides using giant strides. In his dreams, he always has both hands and feels no pain. Only when he regains consciousness does the pain return. Consciousness feels like being in hell as the pain in his stump throbs and becomes too brutal for him to bear. I worry more. When awake and suffering, PG’s feeling of dependency intensifies. He calls for me and he can’t abide being alone. It helps take his mind from the pain to hear me talk. I suffer taking care of the place and mothering my daughters and son, and PG. With Glenn’s help, I take care of our dried up farm. Glenn helps immensely, but I have to say I have a difficult time with all the work and care. By sunset, I wear out each day. At night I can’t rest from having to nurse PG in his pain. The change in our lives has been too abrupt and hard. I wonder if anything will ever be, can ever be, normal again. I shaved PG and bathed him today. I found it to be easier if I take care of him when he is out and dreaming in a narcotic induced sleep. I feel guilty for these feelings, but the change in our life has been too great, too fast. August 23 Evening PG got up today. I watched him closely. Much of what I have written, I have imagined from knowing him. Some I observed. Some PG told me in quiet conversations, but he doesn’t speak much about his thoughts, or memories. Glen has told me a good deal. PG is deeply angry and sorry for himself. Today, after nearly a month of lying in bed with pain, dreaming in a narcotic stupor, PG threw back the covers. I was in the room with him. I planned how I would get through another work-filled day. I heard PG stir and looked to the bed where he sat holding his bandaged stump upright. “Want another pill PG,” I asked automatically. “Maybe you ought to take a pill and keep resting,” I suggested. “Nah, no more pills. I like’em too damn much. I gotta get outta this here bed and get to movin’ and get off them pills.” He had been down so

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long that when he tried to stand, he lost his equilibrium and sat back on the bed. “Whew, I’m loagy,” he said. He arose slowly and walked about the room staggering and balancing himself with his hand against the wall. He kept his stump vertical and guarded against bumping it. The stump throbbed, but it was bearable. PG made his decision not to take more drugs. The grasp of the pills frightened him. He bent to look at his reflection in the cracked mirror that I keep on the old commode. He could see the swelling of his head and face had gone down considerably, and his hearing was fully returned. He still looked a sight. Burns scabbed and scarred his face, but most would heal. He looked like a stranger to himself. Hair was beginning to grow back and formed a line against the longer hair on the right side and back of his head. I thought I might trim it for him when it grew a bit more. I bent to help him put on his pants and socks and shirt. “No!” he grumbled and pushed me away. He struggled into his socks and pants and shirt by himself. He was slow, but had little trouble buttoning his clothing. He was right handed before the accident. PG slipped his boots on and tried to tie them, but could not. “Help me with these boots!” he growled. “Please,” I said, exasperated by PG’s surliness. “Please!” he growled. I assisted him in silence. ∞ PG sat at the table near the stove and fed himself breakfast, all the while holding the leaking stump in the air. He was groggy from medication and from lying in bed so long and he was weak and stiff. Eating was not a terrible chore. He held the fork easily and used his left elbow to steady the plate while he cut food with the side of his fork. “Well, at least I can eat without feelin’ like a baby,” he said. “I’m worried about cuttin’ meat though.” Upon completing breakfast, PG sat and stared at his stump. For the first time, he really looked closely at his wounded arm. He felt a loss that he couldn’t identify. It was if he had lost a friend, or child. He couldn’t articulate his feeling even to himself. He wanted to cry, or scream out, or hit something. Instead, he sunk back in the chair, disconsolate. PG thought about his lost hand. He would never see his hand and fingers and wedding ring again. He imagined the way it used to look, the hair on the back of his veined strong hand and the nails. How could they have just disappeared? His nails had been pink and healthy and not broken and dirty like other men who farmed. PG kept his nails clean with his knife, clean as he could. He couldn’t imagine how he’d keep the nails clean on his right hand now.

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He’d have to have someone, me, clean them for him. Mourning his loss angered him. I moved about the kitchen, picking up dishes and cleaning scraps from the table. I pinned a strand of loose hair back and the movement attracted PG and took his mind from his stump. He wanted to reach out and touch me like old times and pull me to him and hold me and kiss me and feel me against him. It had been before the accident since last he had kissed me and loved me. As he reached for me, I believe despair overtook him. He questioned how he must look to me, and how could he possibly still be his old self with me. He lived so long able to do things and hold things. I know he wondered if I could be attracted to a man with only one hand. My desire had not changed, but PG’s desire ebbed from doubt. Still, he did not give voice to his doubts and questions about my wants and feelings. Anger replaced his wanting and a wave of grief overtook the anger. He thought how much he sorely missed his hand and how much he would miss it in the future. He tried to imagine how his life would be different. PG looked at the stump with disgust. I read disgust in his distorted face. “You alright PG? The breakfast ok? You look pained sweetheart, do you want a pill?” “No, I told you no more pills. Leave me be,” He said it with more venom than he intended I think, but he relt mighty sorry for himself and near tears from the ups and downs of emotion that he couldn’t control. His anger subsided quickly and he felt guilty for snapping at me. “Sorry Jen,” he mumbled. He controlled himself and wondered what in the world was wrong with himself. He lay his head on his arm atop the table. “I’m just thinking to much is all, and my hand is throbbin’. I sort of feel like my hand is still there sometimes, but when I look, it ain’t.” “The breakfast was fine Jen, and it’s good to be out of bed. Just leave me be fer a while.” I turned to my work and didn’t answer. I worried about the way PG behaved. The doctor told me his body would be affected by the way he thought, and I could not always tell what he was thinking. He is awfully moody, and mean, I thought. He has been through a lot, and he lost something dear to him. I know that if he could think better thoughts, he would feel better, maybe even heal better and sooner. It’s too soon I guess. He’ll have to grieve his loss according to the doctor, like it was a child or loved one he lost. I decided to just let him be, let time pass. ∞ PG sat in the kitchen most of the afternoon. He arose and walked about the house when he could. He tried to leave the house, but was too weak to get far.

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He retired early, right after eating a light supper with the whole family, and without saying good-night to the children. Della and Stella pestered him with questions during supper. He answered their questions with grunts and mumbles. PG slept fitfully and dreamed, not the sweet dreams caused by drugs, of running and having both hands, but of begging for money on the streets of Salt Lake City. He dreamed of a deflated arm wrapped in dirty rags. When he bumped his arm in the dream, it felt dead, like wood. He awakened often in the night and looked for what felt like his hand, only to find a stump, aching and throbbing in rhythm with his heart. In the morning, he rose before light and dressed himself. He pushed his feet into his boots and was able to get them adjusted on his feet, but he had to wake me and ask me to tie his shoes for him. The fact that he couldn’t tie his boots put him into a state of bitterness and anger once again. As I bent to tie his laces, tears of anger filled his eyes, but he did not let me see the tears. Instead, he rose quickly, nearly knocking me to the floor, and hurried out of the bedroom, stumbling throught the dark kitchen. He hurried out of the kitchen and leapt off the porch, nearly falling as he landed. I followed silenty and looked after him from the kitchen door. He walked to the barn, head down, tears of anger seeped from his eyes. He rubbed them away with his right shirt sleeve. He fussed about the barn, straigtening harnesses and tools. The act of working, even a little, helped. He then took care of his horse, Bud. The horse threw his head and stayed as close to PG as the corral fence would allow. PG forgot some of his anger and began to feel normal, except for the pain in his missing left hand. I went to the barn. PG was brushing Bud’s neck. “PG, I have kept up your journal these past weeks. I think it is time for you to start writing again. I think it will be good for you to record your feelings and frustrations. It will help you sweetheat.” He didn’t reply. He kept on about his chores and I went to the house, and I put the journal in his chair. August 23, night Jen’s been writin’ in my book fer me durin’ the last month. I ain’t writ much in the last few years. I’m goin’ to try to write some, mostly to satisfy her. She thinks it will help. I’ll see. It’s been a month since I blew my damn hand off. I got to hold the stump up in the air, or I can’t stand the pain. I hold the book still usin’ my left elbow, while I scratch away. I went to the barn today. By the time I finished with Bud, the sun was high and the day promised to be warm, but not like July. The weather feels different. I feel a change comin’. I feel it in the light of the sun and mornin’ temperature. Fall ain’t far off. Fall used to be my favorite time. I wish there was somethin’ to harvest, and I wonder how I can hunt.

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It feels good to be out of bed and out of the house and in fresh air. I straightened and stood tall as I could when I got out in the barn, just Bud and me in the lean to. I breathed deep. “AHHHHH,” I whooshed air from my lungs loud. I walked up and down the barn and enjoyed the smells of leather and animals and feed. I tired easy and had to sit on a bale of hay Glenn must have dragged up to feed the stock. I tried to think straight. What am I goin’ to do with only one hand. I can’t even tie my own shoes. I planned how I might deal with all the feelin’s I’m havin’. Instead, I got to mournin’ my missin’ hand and how I ain’t ever gonna have the use of two hands agin and how crappy I feel about that. I’m plenty down. Will things ever be back to normal? The answer is no, I guess they ain’t ever gonna be the same. I been thinkin’ about things my pa taught me from the scriptures. Like, how the Prophet Joseph got told by the Savior that he, Joseph, ought not feel too low about what sufferin’ he had to go through. That the Lord, Himself, Master of the Universe, descended below all men. I ain’t suffered even close to the Prophet. I ain’t goin’ to even mention the sufferin’ of the Savior. Still, I can’t shake this low feelin’. I’m plain scared. How I let this here loss affect me is goin’ to determine the rest of my life I reckon. I ain’t goin’ to just sit and let Jen, and Glenn take care of me. I ain’t doin’ that. I gotta get straightened up somehow. “I sure ain’t gonna play the fiddle though,” I laughed. Laughin’ felt good. I don’t remember the last time I laughed. “I ain’t a different person. My body ain’t the same, but I can still do fer mysef. I look different. I don’t look good, but looks ain’t never been my strong suit,” I said aloud and laughed agin. Wonder if my spirit still has a hand. Maybe that’s why I feel like I ain’t lost the thing sometimes. I got some things I can still do just fine. I’m right handed and can still write some, and I can figure a way to carve and do things I always could. I can lift with my right, and help with the stump, when it heals better. I still got my wits, I still love Jen and the kids, I ain’t lost my ability to read and talk. I can work. I thought about workin’. “I can feed the animals and I can ride. I will have to learn to saddle Bud one handed, and I got to learn to tie my shoes. It ain’t goin’ to be fun, but I can do it. I ain’t goin’ to let this whup me,” I whispered. “I got to learn to tie these dern shoes.” Then I started thinkin’ sour. How is Jenny ever goin’ to want me after this and if my face don’t heal proper? What if she doesn’t ever want me agin? I sat and stared at the dirt and straw. I whispered a little prayer, “Lord, please don’t let me be too disfigured in my face and neck. I know there ain’t nothin’ I can do about my hand. Lord, I am terrible sorry I done such a stupid thing to mysef and to my

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family. I know it’s late to be sorry, but I am. I guess I’m sorry fer mysef mostly, and I’m sorry fer that too.” I slapped my knee with my remainin’ hand and stood up. I felt better with fresh air, a little better attitude, a little prayer, and a new resolve. I grabbed a pitchfork from the stall and began to work at cleanin’ up the stalls, rakin’ the old and puttin’ fresh straw in the stalls. I bumped my stump on the handle of the fork and near fell to the floor with pain. “Son of a bitch!” I hollered. My eyes watered from the pain. “Son of a . . .” I kept mutterin. I got to be more careful. She still throbs with my heartbeat, and I can’t brush it agin nuthin’ hard at all. I still got to hold it up in the air to get relief. I wonder how long. It’s still bandaged heavy and it still leaks. Jen changes the bandages ever day and takes good care of me. Friday, September, 16 I work as much as possible ever day now. I eat by mysef, and I try to be more mysef around the place, but I can’t bring mysef to get close to the kids and Jen. I don’t know why. I’m embarrassed I guess, and I still can’t stand to have my stump touched. I’m gettin’ strength back the last couple weeks. I walk the road, out and back, a couple a times a day, increasin’ the distance with each trip. Walkin’ helps me feel stronger and think better. Seems a stupid thing to write, but I’m thankful to be able to walk to the outhouse. That’s a blessin’. No more stinkin’ chamber pot. I got no problem wipin’ mysef. Thank the Lord I didn’t lose my right hand. I can dress mysef well enough now, and I’m only a little awkward with gettin’ my pants up and my belt fastened and shirt buttoned. In the mornin’s, I button my right shirt cuff first and force my hand through. I ain’t learned to tie my shoes yet. I shuffle around with them untied til I find Jen, or Della. I know I got to learn to tie my shoes. I think about it a lot. There must be a way. When I lean down to try, my damn stump starts throbbin’ like there was a feller beatin’ a drum in my forearm. September 30, 1904 Near two months now since the accident. My stump is still mighty tender, but it’s healin’ over good. The doc pulled out the stitches in the second week. He came one evenin’ while I was in a narcotic daze. There are still tiny openin’s that bleed. My skin is still puffed and swelled, and my arm and stump are burned a little and scarred smooth. I suffer spasms that shoot pain up through my arm. The pain wakes me, and sweat pours down my face. The doctor tells me it’s nerve spasms tormentin’ my injured arm. It’s hardest to leave the pills when that happens, but I done it so far.

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While I suffer, turnin’ and pullin’ at the covers, I try not to wake Jen, and I pray under my breath that the Lord might take some of the pain, just some. Jen tells me that she most times lies there listenin’ and worryin’ fer me. If I knew when she was awake, I’d talk to her to get my mind off my stump. She prays fer me. ∞ I am scared. I keep feelin’ my hand like it is still there, even when I know it ain’t. The doctor told me that the feelin’ happens to most all amputees. He ain’t seen any that haven’t had the same feelin’s. That’s got to be a great bunch a cripples. Doc told me, “The mind and injured nerves act together to make the amputee feel as if the hand, or foot, or leg, or arm is still attached. We call it the phantom, or ghost limb phenomenon. Most often, and over time, the men that I treated lost some of the sensation, but never completely. It takes years to get over it. Some feel their lost limb every day of their life. You might lose the feeling, but you will almost certainly have the sensation of having a hand for a long time yet. It’s normal. Try not to let it bother you too much.” I hope I might be one of the lucky ones to lose the ghost feelin’ sooner than later and not have to wake to the shock of realizin’ that my hand, the one I had so long and still feel, ain’t there at all, over and over agin. After a night sleepin’, or a short nap, it’s always the same. I ain’t told anyone side the doc. I feel the sensation more and more often as the stump heals and just cause the doc explained it all, I still wonder if I’m losin’ my mind. Sometimes, my stump feels like when I fall asleep layin’ on my arm, like pins are stickin’ it all over. I feel what have to be my fingers. I can’t help but raise my hand and check to see if I been dreamin’. I get mighty disappointed when I see the stump. Sometimes I feel like cryin’. The stump is always sore, but it’s healin’. Still, when I see my hand is gone, it shocks me and then I just get angry. Then the ghost hand starts itchin’ and it can’t be scratched. Glenn comes faithful and helps with what can be done, fetchin’ water, bringin’ a little food from ward members and from Eleanore. I do most of the feedin’ and milkin’ now with Della. I’m tryin’ most of the chores, but I gotta guard my stump. Even if I just brush it light or bump it, pain shoots through my arm and body fit to kill. I have to blink back tears when I bump, or jog the stump by accident. Della misses my clownin’ and teasin’. I know she does, but I just ain’t up to playin’ with the kids yet. I keep a kerchief handy to wipe the stump. Jen washes the kerchief fer me ever night and she still cleans the stump and paints it with iodine to

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keep it from gettin’ infected. The doc told her to keep it up til he tells her to quit. He says infection will kill me faster than the wound. “Iodine stings like hell Jen,” I tell her. “I know it does sweetheart, but I want you alive, not dead because we didn’t keep you from getting infection.” I ain’t lettin’ anybody touch my stump sides me and Jen. I don’t even like the doctor to touch it. I jerked away from him when he started pokin’ round last time he was out. When he got done tendin’ the stump, I asked, “How long am I goin’ to have to tolerate this pain and throbbin’?” “Everyone is different. I can’t say exactly. I can say that I think the stump is healing well. I figure you’re going to have pain for maybe a year, maybe more, not all the time, but plenty. The very end will become sort of numb from the nerves getting burned, but the rest of the nerves and muscles are going to have to heal in their own time. It isn’t infected, and I understand you have Jenny to thank for that.” There’s times the ghost hand feels warm, then it itches. I want to scratch, but I know the pain ain’t real. I have to move the stump to a different position often to make my hand, that ain’t there, more comfortable. The sensation is real. Ain’t I a mess? Another sensation that is gettin’ real is my need fer Jen, but I still can’t touch her beyond peckin’ her on the cheek when I go out fer the day and do what work I can. I think Jen knows I want to be close, but I also think she can’t want to be with a crippled man. Glenn says I’m beatin’ mysef up fer nuthin’. I sort of told Jen. She told me she prays I’ll get well and come back to her in my own time. One evenin’ after she put the children down, I told her, “Dern Jen, I’m near bustin’ fer ya. You think you’ll ever be able to feel fer me the way you used to do?” “Sweetheart, I don’t feel any different for you than ever.” I couldn’t, or wouldn’t believe her. I can’t stop punishin’ mysef. I just turned and put my head down and walked out of the kitchen so I didn’t have to talk more. When I think about wantin’ Jen, which is dern near all the time now, I try to work harder, brushin’ Bud, treatin’ the leather on the harnesses that hang in the barn, feedin’ the stock, waterin’ animals, or I walk. I’m a mighty impatient person. I still get up early in the mornin’. I took to spendin’ a lot of time sittin’ in my old oak rocker in the mornin’ before light. It is my favorite place to sit and think and write. The old chair has a padded seat, patched and comfortable. Jen says the thing is “unsightly” in our house, but she allows me to keep it because it’s my favorite. I try and rest my arm and stump on the wide oak arm rest as I read, or write, by lantern, and I rock. Sometimes I last a few minutes before I got to raise the stump up.

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October, 1905 I ain’t writ in a long time agin, more’n a year. I ain’t felt like it. Things get better as time goes by. I wish this stump healed faster. It’s healin’ good, but it’s still some tender. I ain’t used it much this last year. It throbs and itches and now and agin feels like my hand is still attached. Funny thing, I can’t remember how my hand looked anymore. I went through some mighty low times this past year. I got discouraged and let things go round the place, includin’ my writin’. I ain’t been exactly right. I experienced a awful time gettin’ used to not havin’ a hand, but feelin’ the thing, like it’s still there. I ain’t worked much. Jen and Glenn been takin’ care of the place, with me helpin’ as I can. The farm ain’t produced but enough to feed us. The crops ain’t been enough to pay the bank. Our savin’s are gone. I been mighty low down, so low that I ain’t done anythin’ much. I ain’t shaved in about a month. Jen let’s me be and Glenn. I got to do somethin’ different now, or I ain’t gonna make it. We got a new little one a few months back, February I believe. She must of got conceived just before the accident. It’s another little girl. Jen named her Glennis. She is a cute little thing. Della and Stella think she’s their little doll and they play with her and keep care of her. It gives Jen a needed rest. Owen is still in diapers. I ain’t been any kind of father to the little ones yet. I ain to be better. I started lovin’ readin’. The stories take me away fer a time. Other times, I sit, lookin’ out the window in the dim mornin’ light, or I stare at the fire and think. I don’t think about anythin’ really, I just sit and stare mostly. I learned to shave by mysef. Jen now pins my cuff and sleeve to fit over the stump the way we seen Civil War veterans do. There were quite a few veterans made their way out to Salt Lake City. I still don’t tie my shoes. I ain’t gone anywhere much, so I just leave the dern things loose. When I try to learn to tie them, I usually wind up in a cussin’ fit. I can get them tied sometimes, but not tight enough to count none. Jen gets mad at me fer cussin. She looks hard at me and says, “PG! Please don’t talk like that, at least not around the children.” Sometimes I drift off in my mind. I daydream of times and places where I had my hand. Baseball, I think about playin’ baseball. I was goin to teach Owen to play, but I won’t be able to show him now. Oh, I can play catch with one hand, but it ain’t the same. Makes me sorry fer mysef and I can’t help it. The stump’s healed good. I’m better, but I feel like no good. ∞ I believe I must be gettin’ better. The doc quit comin’ months ago. He told me I got to decide fer mysef if I’m gonna be normal. He says, “You’re displaying normal behavior.” Fer an amputee he means.

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“Oh, I’m just fine sweetpea,” I say. “I’m just thinkin’s all.” Jen worries about my “mental condition.” I overhear her talkin’ to Glenn. Last time the doc was here she told him, “PG shows only little sign of the mischievous man I married. I remember someone saying, “The eyes are the windows to the soul.” PG’s eyes look dead, empty, as if he is looking at something far, far away. When I see that look I think, His spirit must be away for a time.” It sort of embarrasses me to hear her talk like that, and it saddens me that she sees that in my eyes. I don’t feel much. I probably still look like hell. I ain’t checked. She went on to tell the doc, “I have decided to pull back from helping PG. I scheme to get him to do more things on his own. He can easily feed Bud and water him now, but he hasn’t ridden the horse. He milks one handed, holding the bucket between his feet and leaning his head against the cow’s side. PG has always been adept at squirting milk with his right hand. He has not lost his aim from lack of practice. He squirted Stella this morning. “Pa!” she squealed, giggling. Della yearns for him to squirt her too.” I couldn’t help grinnin’ when I heard that. I’ll make a point of squirtin’ Del next time we milk. Jen told the doc, “PG allows his hair to go uncombed. He doesn’t allow anybody to touch his head, and he just doesn’t care about his hair and how he looks. His hair is growing back now and he looks more like before the accident. His hair is longer and more scraggled though. “PG’s face and neck are healed, but there are few scars from the burns. Mostly, he worries about his stump. He is anxious for it to heal completely, and he thinks a lot about what he might be able to do with only one hand. It frightens him.” Della asked him, “Want me to brush your hair pa?” He told her, “Na toots, just let me be.” He doesn’t play with Della, and he doesn’t tease her anymore. She grieves for her pa. She wants him back the way he was.” I got to make a change. I know I’m different, and I got to get back to mysef. I’m only in my twenties. I ain’t goin’ to die fer a long time. Sunday, October 8, 1905 Ward members come to the homestead about ever week, or so, to bring food and offer help. I am thankful and gracious as I can be, but I’m gettin’ tired of guests and tired of the dole. They ain’t ever let us down though. They are patient souls. I’m sick of everybody hangin’ around gawkin’ at the stump. That’s one reason I stay close by the house. Folks gawk.

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Tonight at supper, I told Jen, “I’m tired of all this, so called, help. I’m tired of all of it.” Jen decided it was about time I heard her side of the months of work and worry and pain. She cut loose, “You’re tired? Do you have any idea how tired we are, and Glenn? We have been working ourselves to the bone for you for over a year. You haven’t left the farm except to see the doctor and to walk. We are worn out. You haven’t been to church because you don’t want people looking at you and feeling sorry for you. I am surprised the ward members still remember you and your needs. They all have problems of their own, especially with winter coming on. We’ll have snow any day now. We need their help. You ought to be grateful.” I listened with my head down, surprised, angry, embarrassed, hurt, knowin’ she spoke truth. I didn’t answer. I just went to the rocker. She followed me and wouldn’t let it drop. “What on earth has gotten into you Perrigrine? Have you lost your mind as well as your hand?” I looked at her then, but did not answer fer a long time.”Nah. Nah Jen. I’m sorry Jen. I been selfish, I know it.” Then I told her somethin’ I been thinkin’ about fer about a week. “Listen Jen, I been thinkin’. We ain’t goin to make it here on the place. Everythin’s dead, or dyin’. I believe I can work, but I don’t like farmin’ and I ain’t good at farmin’ with two hands, let alone one. And there ain’t anythin’ I can do here now fer the next four or five months. I been thinkin’ that, maybe, all this is a blessin’. This may be the chance I need to try somethin’ else. I been thinkin’ of goin’ into Idaho Falls to look fer work.” I shoulda chose a different time to tell her I guess, than when she was chewin’ me out. My news ranked her even worse, “Have you gone crazy? What kind of work you going to do there? You can barely take care of yourself here.” It hurt bad to hear her talk that way. “Yeah, I have a hard time with things, but I been practicin’ one handed. I can do most everythin’ cept tie my shoes. My stump is healed now and gettin’stronger. I can work, and I wanna go and try. I can’t take no more charity. I’m thankful fer the help of our friends and neighbors, but I got to get on my own two feet. At least I got two feet,” I was tryin’ to make a joke. “Are you goin’ to support me in this, or not?” “Oh PG, are you certain about this? I have done nothing but support you for quite a while.” “I ain’t sure of nuthin, cept I got to do somethin’. I feel like I’m at a crossroad. I got to get busy livin’ or I just might die. But, I can’t just sit round and scratch in the barn with the pitchfork and brush and curry Bud. I’ll let ya know how sure I am.” I got out of the rocker and walked out of the house. My anger and hurt boiled over. The anger made me more determined not to fail.

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After a little, Jen followed me out to the yard. I was calmed back down and Jen was too. She knew she hurt me some, with the truth. She walked up hind me and put her arm over my shoulder. I could feel her breast and warm body against me. It felt dang good. “PG, we’re going to have another baby.” That was like a slap in the face at the time. “Oh hell, well ain’t that dandy.” I pulled away from her and walked toward the barn. She shocked me plenty. I turned and looked at her, but couldn’t say more. I shuffled on to the barn and started scratchin’ round to do somethin’. I thought about a fifth child and the problems facin’ a one handed man on a farm. Jen musta decided to let me be. I looked out and watched as she walked to the house to check on the children. ∞ I sat on a bale and thought things though. How am I goin’ to make this work? And, when did she get pregnant. I ain’t touched her but two, maybe three times in the last year. All my thinkin’ didn’t add up to much. So, I fed the animals and hung the fork on pegs, grabbed my work coat and shrugged it on. I took off walkin’ cross the yard toward the road. I turned through the gate and headed up the road toward town. The night air bit me with cold. I was not choosy about where I was headin’, I just needed to walk. I saw Jen watchin’ me out the window. I put my head down. I knew she was worried about me. She came to the door and shouted, “PG, where are you going? I’ll have supper ready and Della’s getting the table set.” I hollered back in my hurt and anger, “I’m leavin’ fer a spell. Don’t worry about supper fer me.” Della broke into tears hearing me yell at Jen that I was leavin’ and ran out the door after me. “Pa,” she yelled to me. “Pa, where you goin?” she sobbed. I slowed down, but did not stop. “Git on back to the house Del, I’m just walkin’ is all. I gotta think some and I don’t want anybody round right now. Now git on back to the house girl.” “Pa come home! Please come home. Don’t leave pa! Don’t leave!” “Git girl! I ain’t leavin’. I’ll be back fore long. I’m takin’ a walk is all.” Della stopped in her tracks, tears streamin’ down her face. She collapsed in the road. “Paah,” she sobbed. I walked on lookin’ down at the road and at the toes of my old boots, seein’ nothin’ really. I walked automatic. When I got home later, Jen told me that Della dragged herself back to the house where she found Jen cookin’. Jen said she was near to tears hersef, but she kept movin’ “briskly about the kitchen” wipin’, dustin’,

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rearrangin’ things that didn’t need rearrangin’. She said she shuffled items on counters and the old wood stove. “PG, you have to make a change soon. You’re hurting me, and you’re hurting your children. This evening Della came back in and she was beside herself with worry.” She asked me, “Ma, why’d ya let him go? Where’s he goin? When’s he coming home?” “Della, stop worrying me.” I told her. “He’ll be back.” I took Della to the step and brushed the dirt off her dress and told her, “He’s just upset right now, but he’ll be back, you’ll see. He’s worrying. Let him be. I hugged Della to me and looked down the road after you.” Jen told me the whole story as we sat by the fire tonight. The children were all down. I rocked, and Jen talked. She said, “My eyes and cheeks were wet. Della dived into my apron and sobbed. I bent and held her head to my breast and kissed her on top of the head. Stella and Owen joined us in the kitchen. They didn’t know what we were crying about, but they joined in crying too. All the hurt and frustration of these months just gushed out of us.” Jen told me she was about six or seven months pregnant. It was a surprise, so she is not absolutely certain. She’s probably got a belly on’er, but I ain’t been lookin’. I still don’t even remember touchin’ her. Its been a long while. I ain’t seen her get sick like usual, but I ain’t been lookin’ fer that neither. After she talked, I didn’t say anythin’, shocked. We just sat and looked at the fire. I didn’t say anymore about Idaho Falls. Jen went to bed. I got this here journal out and been writin’ fer a long spell. I didn’t want to leave the fire. I glanced out the window. She’s startin’ to spit snow. I got to apologize to Del in the mornin’. She is a awful good kid. ∞ We got no actual money. We spent our savin’s to plant and live the last two years on the place. I’m thinkin’ how much I had to depend on Glenn to take care of my family, and my responsibilities, the past months. My stump is throbbin’ a little and I remember the pills. I had the guts to stop takin’ the pills. I can lick this problem of havin’ only one hand. I am sittin’, writin’, takin’ stock. I’m tryin’ to take over writin’ from Jen after the accident. I call it an accident, knowin’ full well it was my own dern stupidity. No accident. ∞ It’s gettin’ late. I’m spent, but I got the beginnin’s of a plan. I been sittin’ here studyin’ on havin’ a new baby. I hope it will be another boy. I will ask Jen to name him Perry. I’d like to see the name keep on in the family. That would please my pa too.

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My spirits rise as I think of havin’ a new son. I keep goin’ from high to low thinkin’ about the baby. How am I goin’ to take care of another mouth and hungry gut? Not much choice though. I ain’t been much good takin’ care of what I got this past year. Speakin’ of mouths to feed, I thought to mysef. I’m hungr. I ain’t been hungry like this fer a while. “I hope Jen saved some supper fer me. I ought to thank her more often fer taking care of me and feedin’ me. I ain’t ever done that yet. I regret that I ain’t ever thanked her, ner Glenn. I’m gonna do it first chance. I got some leftovers and sat by the fire and et. I am sleepy now, but I don’t want to get up and go to bed. Monday, October 9, 1905 I fell asleep in the chair last night. My journal fell out off my lap onto the floor. I didn’t feel, ner hear it. I’m up and got the fire roarin. I feel like a new man. I woke Jen. “Mornin sweetheart. Get up. Let’s get some breakfast.” “Let’s?” she said. She swung outta bed grinnin’. I knew she was over the anger she felt yesterday. Della plowed in from the other room wearin’ her night shirt. “Pa, pa, pa,” she yelled, “Yer home! You ain’t fed the animals yet have ya?” “Haven’t fed the animals,” Jen told her. “Haven’t fed the animals,” repeated Della. “I’ll get dressed and help ya.” “That’s fine sweetpea. Just let me get some grub. Come here and give yer old man a kissarino. Sorry I was mean to you yesterday.” “It’s OK pa.” Della flew into my arms. I hugged her and pinched her bottom. “What’s this here little place? And, why ain’t you still in bed?” I teased. “Oh pa,” she moaned and hugged my neck. “Get yersef dressed now girl. It’s way past time we get breakfast and get goin.” “Okay pa,” she backed out to the kitchen. Della started fer her clothes, but she turned and flew back into my arms burying her face in my shirt. She took a deep breath through her nose smellin me. She backed up some. “Come help me pa.”

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I took her by the hand and walked with her to the bedroom she shared with Stel and Owen. Owen was snorin’, mouth wide open. I jerked Della off the floor, grabbin’ her under my arm and began swingin’ her back and forth saying, “One fer the money, two fer the show, three to git ready, and four to gooooo!” I gently tossed her onto her bed and roughly covered her up with her sheet and quilt. All the while she giggled like crazy. Stella woke up, but Owen and little Glennis slept through the whole party. It was the first time in over a year that I played with the kids like I used to do. I gave Della a wink and a quick kiss on the forehead. “Get yersef dressed while I get yer ma cookin.” ∞ I wanted to try and talk to Jen. I figured it was as good a time as any to try. I stayed seated at the table after breakfast. Jen started puttin’ breakfast things away. “You feeding this morning PG, or just watching me work?” “I think I’ll just watch you work.” I leaned on the table I had made with my two hands the first month we settled on the homestead. I rubbed my hand over the top, feelin’ the smooth surface while I considered my upcomin’ proposal. “Jen, I did a lotta thinkin’ out in the rocker by mysef last night. I, I owe ya an apology fer the way I been actin’.” “What about the way you’ve been acting PG?” “Well, I know I been a real burden, and I mean to make it up to ya. You just tell me what you want me to do, an I’ll do it, sure as hell.” “First thing I’d like you to do is quit cussing, especially around the kids for starters.” “Alright, if that’s what you want, I’ll do er.” “And, I want you to thank Glenn for all his help. He has about run himself ragged helping us out. He’s got troubles of his own on his place. You haven’t even noticed him I bet.” “Oh, I seen him, I just ain’t been mysef. I aim to thank him first chance I get. I’m gonna be a new man I tell ya, you’ll see if I won’t.” “I’d be happy with the old man,” said Jenny. I changed direction of the conversation, “Well now, what’s all this about a new baby? Tell me agin.” “I meant to tell you in a more genteel way,” Jenny softened. “We’re going to have another baby in about seven months, by my calculation.” “Well, I’ll be damned . . .er, er danged. Sorry Jen.” She grinned and came to me and hugged my head to her breasts and kissed the top of my head as she had done Della last evenin’. It felt funny. I

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know it must have felt funny to Jen too. My hair is grown back, but it ain’t soft like it once was. It feels more like rough long whiskers. “Phew! PG, I love you, but you do need a bath.” “Well, that’s first on my list, right after I feed the stock with Del. But Jen, I want to tell you thanks first. I owe you my thanks, way before Glenn.” She hugged me agin. I had a plan, but I decided it best not to share it just yet. Della raced me to the barn and we did chores. Stella came out a little late. I teased the girls and tossed a fork of straw on them. They giggled. I knew Della had forgiven me. Tuesday, October 10 I got up extra early this mornin’ and went to the barn and busied mysef feedin’ Bud and our other livestock. Dell and I fed the animals yesterday mornin’ and last night. While we were feedin’ last night, Glenn lumbered into the barn. “Well, I’ll be. How are ya PG? You look differn’t, but good,” said Glenn. “Good to see ya up and around.” It was a lot fer Glenn to say all in one flurry of talk. “Well thank ya Glenn,” I said back, quiet like “ and . . . it’s mighty good to see you too. I need to thank you fer all the help you been to me and Jen. She reminded me how you been doin’ double duty on yer place and here.” I choked back tears talkin’ and thankin’ Glenn.. “Ah, it ain’t been much PG I didn’t have no crop to speak of, so I just come around here to keep busy.” “Well, ya done plenty fer us, and I appreciate it.” Glenn grabbed a fork and started scratchin’ round the stalls and throwin’ down a little fresh straw same as me. “Better keep this here dung to burn this winter,” laughed Glenn. “Ain’t gonna be no corn cobs.” “Might not be such a joke,” I said. “I warn’t jokin,” said Glenn. “We’re gonna have to go get wood in the hills right away. She’s getting’ cold early this fall. We can go up Kelly Canyon and get pine to burn. I ain’t goin’ to be much help one handed though.” “Ah, we’ll get by,” said Glenn. “I been puttin’ up some fer the both of us. I stood and looked at my friend. “You are one hell of a good man Glenn. I don’t know how to thank ya.”

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“Well, I just come over to feed and see how you was. Della and I had some good talks while you was sick. That kid can ask about a hunert questions a minute,” Glenn laughed. “I got to get back to my place PG.” “Thank you agin Glenn. You’re the best friend I ever had, or even heard of.” “I’ll see ya later,” said Glenn. He walked out to the yard, but turned and quietly asked, “Hey, PG, I gotta ask ya. Ya mad at me about yer hand?” “What’r ya talkin’ about?” I asked. “Well, it probably shoulda been me hurt, stida you.” “That there’s a load of horse dung Glenn. You can burn it this winter. That ain’t never even crossed my mind. Fergit about it.” “Okay PG, okay.” “I’ll see ya Glenn. Like I said, you’re my best friend, and I’m thankful fer ya.” “I’ll bring the wagon and the kids over tomorrow. We’ll go for a load a wood and get away from the farms fer a day. You up to it?” asked Glenn. “Yes sir, I am up to it, long as it don’t snow tonight. I’ll be ready right after breakfast.” I finished scratchin’ around and straightenin’ the stalls, wipin’ my eyes. I re-hung the bridles and harnesses, trying to be busy. “Old Bud,” I said. I spent a lot of time with Bud fore losin’ my hand and never had a complaint about that horse, not’a one. Now cows’r a different story. I consider cows to be the stupidest critters on God’s earth. I took down a bridle. Bud took the bit easy, but I had a hard time gettin’ the head piece up over Bud’s ears and the throat lash buckled under his jaw. It took some time, but I got Bud bridled and led him to the fence. I climbed the fence and swung my leg over his bare back. I rode him at a walk across the pasture. I needed to think about the plan I was hatchin’, and I wanted to see if I’d have trouble ridin’ Bud one handed. The ride felt good. One handed warn’et a problem. I thought about what I might do to earn enough to provide fer Jen and the kids. I sure ain’t gonna make any money this winter here on the homestead. I went to the bank last spring and borrowed money to buy seed. I got no way to pay the loan back. I ain’t got enough crop to feed us, let alone sell and pay the bank. I may even lose the place, but the bank ain’t gonna want it, and all the other farmers are in the same mess as us. The bank will be contactin’ me soon to ask fer payment I reckon. There’ll be no money fer seed and if there’s not much snow agin this winter, we’ll certainly have to leave this place. We might be forced to go

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back south to Utah and get help from Byron maybe. I ain’t on fire about leanin’ on family fer a hand-out. I hope to get my full strength back and work without my hand and not have to have help. “I gotta figure out how to take care of mysef and tie my own dern shoes,” I said to Bud. “I can shave, get dressed, comb my hair. I can use most tools, but I can’t tie my own stinkin’ shoes.” Bud turned and looked at me like he thought I was looney. “I can get my shirt on and off and buttoned, and I ain’t got much trouble with buttonin’ my fly, I got used to it. It’s a matter of strength in my hand and forearm. I been workin’ on that.” I rode and thought and enjoyed the sun on my shoulders. The fall sun felt good, the landscape peaceful. “Wonder if we’re gonna get hard snow soon. Last night it spit a little, today it feels more like spring,” I explained to Bud. ∞ When I got back to the house, Jen asked, “Where you been PG?” “Oh, I just worked in the shed fer a while. Glenn stopped in and we talked some, then I took a ride.” “Well you better be careful or you’ll bust something and be out of commission for another year,” Jen said. I was not amused. “Don’t worry about me, I’ll be fine and I’ll be takin’ care of mysef and you and the kids just fine from here on.” I’d been out all mornin’ and it was dinner time. Jen cooked some bacon fer sandwiches and she opened a jar of peaches. Things were lookin’ up. I blessed the food, “Father in Heaven, thank you fer the food we have and the hands that prepared it. Thanks fer the girls, and fer little Owen, and please help the baby Jenny’s goin’ to have so’s it grows proper. Bless this food to nourish and strengthen us, and dear Father, help me figure out how to take care of my family. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.” “Amen,” said Della and Stella at the same time. Owen jabbered somethin’ that sounded perty close. Jen nursed Glennis earlier and she was in a deep sleep. We got after the food. It felt good to have normal talk at the dinner table agin. “What you been doin with yersef Del,” I asked. “The boys been around botherin’ you about gettin’ married, have they?” “Oh, paaa!” “Well now, I don’t want you runnin’ off with one of them Johnson boys, ner runnin’ off and joinin’ a circus, ner nothin’ like that now.” “Oh pa, you know I ain’t.” “You’re not,” Jen corrected.

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“I’m not,” she repeated. “Well just make sure you don’t. I’d miss you somethin’ terrible and I ain’t payin’ to come see you in no circus. You neither little sister,” I said to Stella. The girls laughed, lovin’ to be teased agin. I couldn’t help smilin’. Jen fed Owen torn little pieces of bread. “Same goes fer ya both. Just you stay way away from them circus bums.” They blushed and put thier heads down. They couldn’t even talk back. “Hold Owen PG, while I dish up the peaches.” The children finished and began to play. “I wanna discuss the plan I got Jen. I been thinkin’. I’d like to go into Idaho Falls and see if I can find work. I aim to make some money through the winter so’s we can get some food and pay the bank, and we got to buy some seed in the spring. If I pay at the bank, at least part of what I owe’em, they might carry us fer a while longer. If I don’t pay anythin’, we’re gonna lose their support, and maybe lose this place. I can’t say it would break my heart none, but I ain’t ready to lose it, and I know you ain’t. Hopefully, we’ll get some snow this winter and have water next year. If we don’t, I’m goin’ to have to come up with a way to earn some money anyway. Maybe I can get ahead through the winter, fer a change.” “What do you aim to do for work PG?” She said that with a little doubt in her voice. She warn’t agin’ it like she was first time I brought it up though. “What kind of job can you do with only one hand?” I knew she was bein’ practical and didn’t mean any harm, but it stung a bit. I pushed the hurt back and tried to discuss my plan. “Well, I don’t rightly know, but I got to do somethin’. Glenn and the kids and I’ll go to the hills and get firewood startin’ tomorra and we’ll go fer enough days to get a good store fer the winter. We may not get moisture this winter, but we’ll sure as he . . heck get cold. Maybe me and Glenn could even sell a little firewood, but maybe I ain’t goin’ to be much help with one hand, as you say.” “Well pa, we can come and help with the wood,” offered Della. “I’m countin’ on you and Stella doin’ just that squirt,” I said. “We’ll all load the wagon and the horses’ll pull’er down home here fer us. We can load up the shed with wood and cut and split it as we need it. I’ll work on it a little at a time, probably on Sundays.” “Oh, no you won’t,” Jen said. “You’re not going to cut a bunch of wood on the Sabbath. We’re going to start going to our meetings and we’re going to keep the Sabbath. We don’t need more problems than we’ve already got.”

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“Well, what about me goin’ to Idaho Falls and lookin’ fer work. I don’t know what I can do, but I can find somethin’, sure. I got some grass fer the animals, but it ain’t goin’ to get’em through the winter. We’re goin’ to have to get rid of the animals, or we gotta buy feed. That takes money, and we gotta feed ourselves. We’re about out of the food you canned. There is nothin’ to lose in tryin’ and I got no better plan.” Jen seen I was right and softened. “Promise me you won’t get discouraged, if you can’t find work. Things are tight all over, and you may come home empty, “ said Jen. “I ain’t comin’ home empty,” I told her. “I’ll work with Glenn fer the week, then leave fer Idaho Falls Monday mornin’. I got to talk to Glenn about watchin’ you and the kids agin’. I’ll be back as soon as I find a job and earn a few dollars.” I can’t think of any other solution. I ain’t gonna find gold. “I’ll need a change of clothes and a few supplies in my old satchel,” I said. To me, it was settled. “I made up my mind,” I told her. She nodded. She knows I’m right about our money problems and our prospects on the homestead. She ain’t about to lose her home. Monday, October 16th, 1905 8 miles out of Idaho Falls I’m restin’ Bud. I’m restin’ me actually. Bud ain’t tired, but I sure am. The sun is warm enough and I’m writin’ a bit and readin’ some pages Jen wrote after the accident. She gave them to me this mornin’. The pages were folded and she told me to store them in the pages of my journal. Glenn and I and the kids were able to pull two cord apiece out of the hills last week, workin’ daylight to dark ever day. We hauled it out in lengths and we still gotta cut and split most of it, but we got it stacked and covered so we can get at it when it’s needed. I got some left over from last year. It was a dry winter, so it was easier to handle firewood. The days are gettin’ cooler, but it’s still sunny. We got a few weeks fore hard snow. Likes to snow around her about the last day of October. The family attended church yesterday. Folks looked at me like I was from the sky. I guess they ain’t seen much of me for a spell. It was good to see folks. They been good to us. The meetin’ was not so borin’ as usual, and it was good to take the sacrament. It would be a wonder to stand in good with the Lord. Maybe some day, I reckon. Jen thinks we already been blessed heavy. I left fer Idaho Falls this mornin’. I got up early and got to fussin’ round with my shoes. Della got up with me and helped me get Bud ready to travel. “Sweatpea, you take good care of yer sisters and brother and yer ma now, ya hear?” “Yeah pa, I hear. I’ll take care of’em.”

STUMP “I know you will. You’re a good little kid and I sorta like ya.”

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“I like you too pa.” I got the bridle on Bud. It’s gettin’ easier, and Bud cooperates. I threw on the blanket and situated it just right. I then grabbed the saddle by the horn and swung it up like a sack of spuds over my shoulder, then humped it over Bud’s back onto the blanket. The saddle barely made it high enough, but I wrestled it into position. “You alright pa,” asked Del. “Whew!” I was surprised at the effort. “I’m in poor shape after layin’ off workin’ fer all them months Del.” Della got under Bud and grabbed up the front and flank cinches fer me. I let her help and appreciated it. “Why thank ya Del. I don’t know what I’d do without a squirt like you.” We laughed together, and led Bud out to the house. Jen made me sandwiches and wrapped them in waxed paper and wrapped a bottle of peaches careful with some straw and rags and a string, then tucked the jar into my saddle bag. I put the sandwiches atop the jar. “Go easy on the food in case you don’t find anything right away PG.” “I will Jen. Don’t you worry.” “Oh I’m plenty worried sweetheart. I hope you’re going to be alright.” “I’ll be fine and I’ll be home in a couple a days.” “You be home Saturday, for Sunday meeting, or I’m coming to look for you.” “I’ll be home Saturday, afternoon at the latest.” Jen said, “PG?” “Yeah Jen?” “I want you to do me a favor.” “What is it?” “You took over yer journal again and I want you to keep writing in it as often as you can. Write what all is going on and how you’re doing. Keep close track. We’re starting a new life today. I believe the Lord’s hand is always in our lives. I believe that when horrible things happen to us, they sometimes turn out to be great blessings, if we could see the end. I want you to record your comings and goings. Write in your journal again, and keep it up this time. Will you do that for me?” “Well, I guess I will, if it means that much to you.” She couldn’t resist, ‘“Well sweetheart, your cussing has always bothered me and you have promised to stop. It hasn’t deterred you. I hope your commitment to your writing will be better.”

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I looked at my feet and felt my face get red. I was not goin’ to get riled. “Where’s the book?” “I packed it in your saddle bags with your food. I added some pages of my own from when you were down. Read them when you get to Idaho Falls.” Still restin Promised I’d write, so I’m writin’. I am takin’ a little break beside the river. I left home this mornin’ fer Idaho Falls. Bud has taken me about half way to Idaho Falls so far. Ain’t in a hurry since I got no place to be, and my butt is hurtin from ridin’.. When I left home this mornin’, I kicked Bud into his smooth quick walk. I hate horses that trot hard and bounce a man. I figured that if I was well, Bud could make Idaho Falls in under four hours. Used to be, I wouldn’t need to stop to rest, and Bud doesn’t seem to feel the miles. I rested a couple of times gettin’ this far. I know Bud ain’t in shape neither, so I ain’t goin’ to push him even if he wants to go hard. I wanted to follow the river to Idaho Falls. It’s a little longer that way, but there’s water fer Bud and the way took me past Glenn’s place. I needed to tell Glenn where I was headin’ and when I planned to get back. I wanted him to keep an eye on the family agin. I found Glenn in his barn workin’ on a harness. “Glenn, you skinny bugger, whatcha up to?” “Ah, I’m just tryin’ to keep busy around here. If I stay in the house, Ma hounds me somethin’ fierce. I’m thinkin’ of goin huntin’. Ya wanna come?” “No, thank ya Glenn, I’m headed into Idaho Falls to find work. I wanted to stop by and let you know. I’d be obliged if you’d look in on Jen and the kids tomorrow. I figure on bein’ back Friday or Saturday at the latest.” “Why sure, you know I’ll look in on’m, but you think you can find work with one . . . “ he trailed off. “Yeah Glenn, I think I can find work even if’n I only got one hand.” “Sorry PG. I didn’t mean nothin’ by it.” “It’s OK. I just need you to watch the place and the kids fer a couple a days. I’ll report back to ya if I find somethin’. I ain’t got time to jaw with ya right now. Can I count on ya agin?” “Yeah, PG, you count on me.” I couldn’t help smilin’ at old Glenn. He’s a great friend. I reckon a friend is somebody who knows yer a dumb son of a . . . and still likes ya no matter what ya done. I mounted Bud and reined him back to the road. I chucked Bud in the sides with my heels and he dug fer the gate. I couldn’t help but show off a

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little. I hollered over my shoulder, “Thanks Glenn. See ya.” By then, Bud was in dead run. ∞ I let Bud run fer a little and pulled him up into an easy lope. We made our way to the fork in the river where the South Fork meets the North a few miles out south of Rigby. The South Fork flows into the North to make the main Snake River. Bud carried me along the main stream. He worked, while I gawked at the wildlife and the view out across the desert and farms. It was an enjoyable ride cept my rear end ain’t in shape fer ridin’. I’m restin’ here, but we best be on our way. I want to get to town with enough time to try and find shelter, and maybe even a job. Camp, Idaho Falls By the fire. I’m close by the fire. I’m tired and cold. Bud hauled me into Idaho Falls passin’ the island above the falls. A mile, or so distant, I see the new wood bridge connectin’ downtown to the road west. The mountains to the east extend south to Fort Hall and Pocatello. A man can look all the way to Pocatello. The mountains look brown and dry with some patches of green from the pines. Tiny patches of snow show on Mt. Putman, down to Fort Hall. I stopped and built a fire about 5:00 pm. I’m tired, dusty, and a little lonely, but seein’ town takes the lonely out some. Me and Bud camp beside the river and falls that the town was named after. I thought we could get here quicker, but I wasn’t able to ride hard. I hoped to get a look around and find a place to hole-up. I rested too long and too often. I wanted to get stopped in time to find some brush and firewood fore dark. The trick will be stayin warm tonight. I got my bedroll and an extra blanket. I’ll hunker close to the fire. The night is clear and it will be cold. My fingers are stiff from writin’ in the chill evenin’ air right now. More tomorrow. Tuesday, October 17, 1905 In Idaho Falls. The backroom of the Silver Dollar Saloon on Broadway. Got me a job at the saloon. It ain’t perty, but it pays. I’m writin’ and listenin’ through the walls at all the noise. I am dry and warm, not like last night. I’m continuin’ from the fireside writin’ I was doin’ last evenin’. Nuthin’ else to do. I’ll write a little about the river and the falls. The Snake River falls over basalt cliffs to make the falls. Driftwood, and stumps, and trees, catch up in the rocks and cliffs. Birds and other animals are plentiful in the calm water above the falls.

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Michael B. Sessions

The river drops 40-50 feet over the basalt. In a normal year, the fallin’ water froths and sprays, makin’ a rainbow. Ain’t much water goin’ over now. What water there is slips between the rocks, not over’em. Ain’t no spray, that’s sure. And, there dern sure ain’t any rainbows. I rode east on the main street called Broadway this mornin’, and I got a look at the new Taylor Bridge. I seen it from a distance last night, and thought how I’d like to ride across it, but there’s a man there chargin’ a toll. There weren’t many people on the streets this mornin’, but I kept my stump tucked behind the pommel of the saddle anyway. My stump is most healed. It still hurts like hell if I bump it hard, but I’m able to use it to do a little work now. I’m gettin’ used to showin’ the stump around Rigby and my own family, but I keep it hid around strangers. Folks always stare. I found a good place to leave Bud while I looked around town. I tied him off not far from the bridge and off Broadway, the main street goin’ east and west. There’s trees there, and the river is close. I staked him under the trees so he could pull grass and I left him so I could walk and see what’s what. When I rounded the buildin’s onto the main street, I shoved my stump in my jacket pocket. I left all my belongin’s tied to the saddle. Bud will keep track of my stuff alright. I didn’t train Bud to stand off strangers. He just sorta figured it out fer hissef. I appreciate it though. I can sleep on the ground right under Bud and feel safe, and he won’t step on me. He won’t allow nobody to sneak up on me neither. One hell of a horse. I could probably sell old Bud fer enough to keep the family fer a couple’a years. There’s men in these parts that would pay heavy fer him. But, he ain’t fer sale. I was hungry when I got into town this mornin’. Felt like the sides of my gut were touchin’. I’m savin’ the food Jen sent with me, mindin’ her last instructions to go easy, just in case. I am pleased with mysef fer bein’ frugal, but I am mighty hungry. Businesses were openin’ on Broadway. There’s a general mercantile, a tailor, a livery, some warehouses, and three saloons. A man can buy about anythin’ he needs fer the farm, or order it from a catalog in the mercantile. I bought items there many’s the time since we come to this here country homesteadin’. The train makes it easy to get things out of Salt Lake City now. Folks say Salt Lake is the break in bulk point fer dang near the whole West, which means the big shipments of all sorts of mass produced items come into Salt Lake, then they cut’m out and distribute the items to the towns all around the West. So twenty plows come in and one goes to Montana, five to San Francisco, like that. Me and Jen talked about travelin’ to Salt Lake to visit our families on the train. Jen went a couple of times over the years, but I ain’t been back. I wrote some letters. My pa came up to see us once. He wasn’t any too impressed with our place. I was embarrassed and glad to see him go back

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home. He’d be mighty surprised to see me now, one handed and all. I sure don’t want to see none of the family right now. It’s kind of interestin’, there’s more bars on the main street than regular businesses. There’s fire “hydrants” now and plumbin’ in the streets and some of the buildin’s. I asked about the hydrants and a man said there’s water in the pipes under pressure. When they open the hydrant, water shoots out to beat the band. It’s easier to stop fires now. The men run a pump up, pulled by horses, and hook into the nearest hydrant with a big hose. Sometimes, if they’re quick enough, they don’t lose the whole buildin’. I don’t know if I believe the man who told me all this. I ain’t seen it work. I stopped in front of one buildin’ that has a terrible strange name. The storefront window is very large. I popped my hand up to shade my eyes and look into the store through that window. The window reflected the mornin’ sun, like a giant lookin’ glass. There ain’t many windows like that’n in these parts. It’s brand new. The glass shimmered like the surface of a quiet lake. Up high on the glass was painted one word, “APOTHECARY.” I found out later that an apothecary is a place where they store and sell medicines and such. There was a man in the store behind a big sideboard full of bottles. He looked up at me and scowled and waved me off like I was a horsefly. “Ain’t any too hospitable in yer danged fancy store,” I said in the door. The word ‘danged’ has no punch to it and I laughed at mysef tryin’ not to cuss. Jenny would have been happy anyway. I wandered on down the street still wonderin’ what all was in the apothecary store. There’s streets crossin’ each other and houses built along most of them. There’s a few vacant lots full of weeds. I took particular note of the livery stable. I wish I had the money to board Bud. The sign says a man can board a horse, or rent a horse, or horse and buggy. I wished I could hire a stall fer Bud. I also wondered if there might be work fer me at the livery. My stump ached some from the long day in the saddle and a cold night sleepin’ on the ground. When I get tired, the stump aches and throbs more. I hope someday the pains will end. I kept the stump hid. It would have felt better to hold it up fer a while, but I don’t want folks in my business. ∞ Idaho Falls is a bustlin’ metropolis compared to Rigby. I walked back to the Apothecary and used the storefront window as a mirror and brushed mysef off as best I could. I scraped down my hair with my fingers, and adjusted my stump in my pocket. I didn’t want to be noticed, and a one handed man’ll draw stares. I carried my hat in my good hand.

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I decided to give it a go. I climbed through the regular door that’s built into the big double doors on the front of the livery. I tried to look calm and casual. The livery is little more that a very large barn built facing the main street. It must have been one of the first buildin’s here I reckon. That, or they just hate paintin’ the place. If the doors are open wide, a man could drive a four-horse team and wagon through and into the barn. I found a young black man there, cleanin’ up. “You the man I talk to about a job?” I asked smilin’. “Hell no, I ain’t the man you ask for a job. If I owned this place do you think I’d be raking horse shit off the floor?” “Sorry, just askin’. No need to get riled mister.” I tried to keep my good humor, but the man rankled me deep. “Well, whaddya want?” “I’m lookin’ fer work, and watch yer tone with me.” I was already at the end of humor. My response slowed the black man considerable. “Sorry. You surprised me is all, and I hate this job.” “Well, is the owner around? I need work and I’ll do about anythin’, even rake horse shit,” I said, coolin’ down as quick as I got angry. “Nah, he ain’t here. He’s over in the Silver Dollar, down the street. It’s a bar, that one over there.” The man took two steps toward the door and pointed down and across the street. “The owner spends most of the daylight ours in there drinkin’ and chasin’ after the women.” The black man grinned at what he said. “He’s been there about two-three hours by now I’d say.” I asked, “What’s his name?” I was out of the mood to visit. “Lon Cherry’s his name, and you better call him ‘sir’ if you talk to him. This here’s the Cherry Livery Stable. Didn’t ya see the sign?” “No I didn’t notice no name of the sign,” I was exasperated at the attitude of the hired hand. I left the man and headed fer the saloon. ∞ I ain’t ever been to a saloon before. I entered the swingin’ door and had to open a second regular door to get in the place because the days’r getting’ cool. I eased on in timid, and let my eyes get used to the dim. I thought it mighty early fer folks to be in a bar drinkin’ alcihol. I reckon them that was there were well seasoned. There weren’t many people in the place. The place stunk, like some sort of solvent, but sour. It was not a pleasant smell. I ain’t never used alcihol and didn’t recognize the heavy tang that filled the room. I went on up to the bar and waited fer the bartender to come over to me. “Help you mister?” asked the bartender. “I’m lookin’ fer a Mr. Cherry,” I said.

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The bartender nodded his head toward a man sittin’ at a table alone. “That’s him, the big feller over there with his back to us.” I walked over and stood to the side of the table, waitin’ to be noticed. The man payed me no mind. Cherry was most intent on pourin’ whiskey into his glass. “Mr. Cherry?” I asked, but didn’t wait fer an answer. “My name’s PG Sessions. I’m lookin’ fer work. I’m willin’ to do most anythin’. I was told you owned the livery cross the street. Do you have a need fer a good hand?” “I do indeed own the livery my good man,” he said drunkenly. “My grandfather built the business in 1879 and I make it thrive today, but I don’t have any work for you. I have a man already. I fine black buck. I don’t believe there is any work around about, and now if you would be so kind as to move away, so I my eye may feast upon that goddess in the yellow dress.” I looked over toward the woman Cherry was lookin’ at and Cherry reached up and tried to brush me out of the way, but he found my bulk a little mor’n he could handle. He stared up drunkenly. “Alright Mr. Cherry, thank ya anyway” I said, turnin’ away. I was disappointed. I shuffled back to the bar. I disliked Cherry immediately, and I felt hurt and more than a little angered by his arrogance. I thought about Cherry fer a minute, I’d like to punch that drunk right in the mouth, with all his fancy talk. I did think better of it, and started to leave. Instead of actually leavin’, I took a stab at askin’ the bartender, halfheartedly, “Got any work here? I ain’t got a dime and I’m hungry.” The barkeep looked at me and sniffed. I figured I was in fer another brush off, but he looked like he was thinkin’ of somethin’. “You can dump and clean out them spitoons and sweep this place out, if’n you got a mind. Git that done and I’ll stand ya four bits.” “Where do I dump’em, and where do I find soap and water to clean’em out?” I asked. “You’ll find all ya need there in the storeroom, back there.” The bartender pointed to a hall that led out to the back. “Dump’em out in the alley. There’s a trough in the alley to get water fer a first rinse. Pull water from the trough with the bucket and do the first rinse, so’s you don’t foul the water fer animals. It’s clean enough water fer these foul things. You’ll find a spigot in the storeroom to get fresh water fer a final rinse. There’s cleanin’ supplies on the shelf with the bucket.” “What’s a spigot,” I asked. “It is that valve over the sink. We got runnin’ water a few months back.”

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Michael B. Sessions

I found the storeroom and got a bucket and scrub brush and lye soap. My gut hurt from not eatin’ since yesterday mornin’. I found a trough fer waterin’ horses out back. I dipped a bucket of water and set in on the back porch of the saloon, then I went back through the back door of the bar and entered the barroom, pickin’ up a spittoon. As I took hold of the lip, I felt the slime that was another man’s spittle and I gagged. I dern near vomited on the barroom floor. “Gonna take ya all day doin’ one at a time there stud,” said the bartender. “And, take’em out off the back steps to clean’em.” I kept my stump in my left pocket and told the bartender,” Well, ah, I only got the use of my right hand, but I’ll git’em clean alright.” “Suit yerself,” said the bartender. That spigot was somethin’. I turned the valve and water shot out into the sink. I figure Jen would love to have somethin’ like that in the house. The water’s clean and cold. Fer a second rinse, I filled a bucket with clean water and rinsed the spittoon out back in the alley. ∞ “Hell of a job I got me here,” I muttered to mysef. I kept gaggin’ ever time I dumped a spittoon. The spittoons were full of the most offensive, vile, human waste, cigar butts, rolled cigarettes, raw tobacco, alcihol, spittle from who knew how many drunken men. The thought of puttin’ my hand in such a mess revolted me. When I dumped the second spittoon, I couldn’t hold back and I vomited right off the steps I was sittin’ on to scrub the dang things. After I got control of my innards, I unpinned my left cuff and pushed my shirtsleeve up, best I could to keep my sleeve out of the filth. I held the spittoons tight agin me with my stump and I plunged a scrub brush into the neck of the spittoon and damn near vomited agin. I kept at it, one after another, til I had’em done. I put the clean spittoons in their places under the bar, then I retrieved a broom I found earlier in the storeroom, and I swept the bar back to front and out the front doors into the street. I swept off the walk out front, hopin’ the bartender would notice and think I did a good job, maybe to the tune of a little extra pay. If the bartender noticed, he didn’t show it. I put the broom away, cleaned up the bucket and brush, washed my hand, and reported to the bartender. “Done,” I grinned. The bartender flipped me a half dollar. “Decent job.” I snatched the four bits out of the air, pleased with mysef even if I didn’t get any extra fer the effort. I ain’t held a coin in my hand in, in, well, I don’t remember the last time. I hurried out, whistlin’ as I left. My steps had a spring that I ain’t had since before losin’ my hand.

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Before I got clear of the double swingin’ doors, the bartender said, “I ain’t ever seen anybody so happy to be cleanin’ spittoons. You like it that much, you come back tomorrow mornin’ and I’ll pay you to do it again.” I couldn’t help grinnin’ mysef silly and I gave him a quick one finger wave, “I’ll be here,” I told him. I hurried through the swingin’ doors and onto the boardwalk and into the street, but turned around and re-entered the bar. “You make it a dollar, and I’ll be back tomorra,” I gambled. “Deal young feller,” said the bartender, “Anything to keep me from having to do that stinking dirty job.” I figured immediately that I shoulda held out fer more, but a deal’s a deal. It ain’t the kinda work I’m lookin’ fer, but I can do it, and get paid, and the man doesn’t care how many hands I got. It was gettin’ on toward middle afternoon. I ran up the street and busted into the mercantile. I’m glad the door was unlocked, or I’d a busted my shoulder. ∞ I had a mind fer somethin’ sweet, but I was ready to eat about anythin’. “See anythin’ you’d like there young feller?” said the shop keeper. “Gimme a can of them pears mister.” “Got any money?” asked the storekeeper lookin’ me up and down. I think he noticed how I was holdin’ my hand tight in my pocket. He probably thought it was odd, and I suppose I’m a little dirty from the ride and the spittoon cleanin’. “Got enough fer some pears,” I told him. He was a little surly, so I gave’er back to him. The shopkeeper took a tin of pears off the shelf and handed them to me. I gave him the fifty cent piece. “Can a pears costs eight cents young fella,” croaked the shopkeeper. “Anything else?” “Just a place to eat’em.” I kept my stump hid, put the can of pears under my left arm, and collected my change. I pocketed the coins and shot out the door, mouth waterin’ to get at those pears. These’ll be good eatin, I was thinkin’ as I ran across the street, nearly gettin’ run down by a four-horse team and heavy wagon. I planned on savin’ the change fer Jen. I went to the porch out back of the saloon and sat on the steps. It was a good place to sit. I swept the thing off about a hour back. I didn’t figure anybody would bother me none. Yes sir, it felt good to sit down, I thought, as I opened my jack knife to cut open the tin can.

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Michael B. Sessions

I held the can tight tween my feet and steadied it with my stump. I used the big blade to cut and pry back the top of the can. I only spilled a little juice, and I licked the knife blade and enjoyed the sweet metallic flavor of pear juice and steel. I forgot, fer a few minutes, about my stump. I used the knife agin to chop the pear halves into smaller pieces and speared the small chunks into my mouth. I drank the juice in tween bites of pear. It tasted like a feast. Feelin’ some better, I walked around town lookin’ at places. I moved Bud and made sure he was okay. Later, I sat on the back steps and enjoyed watchin’ the sun slidin’ down the western sky. Stores were startin’ to close fer the day. Cleanin’ the spittoons and sweepin’ and wastin’ time took longer than I thought. Men and women walked the street on their way home. I walked back and pulled Bud’s stake and walked with him to the back of the saloon, other side of where I’d dumped the spittoons. I sat on the step and let Bud drink his fill from the trough. Then I unsaddled him and blanketed him down. I haltered him and put the rope on him tyin’ him off near the trough. He would be fine, and I could curl up near the back step and get some shelter. I would be warm enough. ∞ “What you doin out here?” said the bartender. He’d come out to dump trash. I was wrapped up in my blanket and bedroll and curled up to the saddle. I had just drifted off to sleep when he spoke. His voice startled me into consciousness. “I musta dozed off out here. Sorry mister, I didn’t think nobody’d mind if I camped here fer the night. I ain’t gonna bother nothin’. When I get a little earned, I’ll get me a room and board Bud. I, I’ll get goin’ if you say so,” I stammered. “Whoa! It’s ok, it’s ok” said the bartender. “I was just surprised to see ya, is all. No need to stay out here. You can bunk in the storeroom there, where ya found the bucket and broom. There’s a couple of blankets in the corner you can use like a matress. Won’t cost you nuthin’ and you can get cleanin’ the place early in the mornin’. You can work off your keep, so to speak.” “Well, I’d ruther sleep out here if it’s goin’ to cost me. I need to take any money I earn home to my family. I can sleep out here. It won’t hurt me none.” “Nah, I’m only kiddin’ about workin’ off yer keep. Do a good job for me like you done this mornin’ and there ain’t no charge. Why, I’ll talk to the owner and see if I can make yer hiring permanent.”

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“Thanks mister,” I said. “I ain’t on fire about this kind of work you understand, but I need the job, bad.” The bartender laughed and turned to go back to his own work. The bar was gettin’ busy after dark. “Sure. You go ahead and take care of yourself and your horse,” he said. “I’ll see you later.” ∞ I carried my possibles into the storeroom. Inside, I found and lit a lantern that was on the shelf, and removed Jen’s stored food from my saddle bags and set the food and my extra shirt on the same shelf. I closed the door tight and fumbled with my blankets. I found the extra blankets the bartender mentioned and got them unfolded, and made my bed. The blankets softened the floor some and I leaned agin the saddle to write. In the light of the lamp, I wrote in this here book the happenin’s of the day. Not a bad day all in all. I am still hungry, but I’m savin’ Jen’s possibles fer tomorrow. I done work and earned money, and I have a promise of work tomorrow. I’m satisfied for the day. I look forward to tomorrow. I hope to find more work. I hope to find somethin’ a little more to my likin’ than cleanin’ spittoons. Cleanin’ the saloon ain’t an all day job, but it don’t pay bad fer the time it takes. And the bartender treated me good already. As I think things over, my mind wanders to Jen and the kids. I miss them already, and I miss Jen’s cookin’ most of all right now. I wish I could share the good news that I earned some money. We ain’t got a telephone yet. Don’t know when we will get one. Jen’s face shows little lines, from care I guess. Her vision is growin’ fuzzy and she calculates she needs glasses, but such frivolity is out of the question right now. I’ll be tryin’ to get her glasses if I can find more work. She worries about her teeth, they sometimes hurt her. She rubs’em with bakin’ soda and cleans’em ever mornin’ to keep’em white. Jens smiles often and perty. She’s content and happy with her family. She ain’t a plain woman. I think she is awful fetchin’, even with four children and one on the way. I don’t know why she likes me, ner why she puts up with me, but she tells me I ain’t ever far from her thoughts. She ain’t far from mine neither. ∞ I’m picturin’ what is goin’ on at home. Jen will be gettin’ supper. It makes my gut rumble. I can see the scene, “Della, please fetch me some more kindling.” “What’s fer supper ma?” “Think I’ll fry up some potatoes.” Jen’ll answer with a grin. “You know how pa likes his taters.”

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Michael B. Sessions “How come he likes taters so much Ma?” “I’m sure I don’t know Del, but he does and he always has.” “Me too ma,” she would be grinnin’.

“Della, step out and get me an armload of kindling, now please.” Jenny will load the stove, cook the spuds, and open a jar of fruit from the cellar. She’ll bless the food and keep Owen on her knee. She’ll have cut the fruit fer Owen and she’ll spoon fruit to him and som mashed potato. Glennis will likely be nappin’, or the girls will be playin’ with her. I see the oil lamp shinin’ on the table, and the room aglow with yellow light. Jen is set on the importance of the family eatin’ together. She makes her table as special as she is able with what little we have. Mornin’ sickness affects Jen usually, although I ain’t seen her sick this time. She had the same thing when she carried Della and Stella, Glennis, and Owen too. I wonder if we’ll have another little girl. Jen vomits violent several times ever mornin’. The evenin’s are cold now. Jenny’ll keep the stove goin’ through the evenin’. She’ll burn the few remainin’ corn cobs. “Getting to be Winter children,” she’ll say. I’m puttin’ the lights out here in Idaho Falls, in a storeroom, in a bar where I made a little money today. It’s been a good day. Wednesday, October 18th . . . Mornin Dim light sifts through the seams in the wall boards that divide the barroom from the storeroom. I listened through thin walls last night, til I fell asleep. It didn’t take too long. I heard people talkin’, laughin’, cursin’. There was the clink of glasses, and I could smell the whiskey through the wall as easy as I could hear the sounds. I was spent, and fell asleep with all my clothes on and layin’ on top of the wool blankets. I’m glad I was able to sleep indoors. When I got to sleepin’ sound, the piano player got to bangin’ on the piano in the saloon. Sometimes, a female voice broke into song with the piano. I couldn’t sleep through all the noise, but it was nice to listen. I lay awake, listenin’ fer a while, then the place shut down. The barroom got quiet. I dozed while the bartender was closin’. I didn’t hear folks leavin, ner any lock-up. I sat up about three in the mornin’ and took off my clothes, includin’ my boots. It felt good to get’em off, but it concerned me, not knowin’ how I’d tie them tight without Jen. I’m just gonna figure it out fer mysef in a few minutes. I got the lamp burnin’ agin. Even the little bit of heat it puts off feels good. I wanted to get up early, write, and tackle these here boots. It will be an adventure and if I get’er learned, it will be a major accomplishment fer me. I been puttin’ this off fer a year. There has just got to be a good way.

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I’m throwin’ back the blanket and goin’ to work on these boots right now. The smell of alcihol assaults my nostrils, and makes me feel a little sick at my stomach. I’m sittin’ on the hard floor, feelin’ cold, stallin’. I’m stiff. I rubbed my stump gently. It ain’t the smell of alcihol that is botherin’ me, I’m sick cause I’m hungry. I decided to eat a sandwich fore I do anythin’ else. The sandwiches are mashed a little, and my mouth is cottoned-up from sleepin’, but after a few bites, life is returnin’ to my mouth and the sandwich tastes mighty good, like home. I chew slow, savorin’ my cold breakfast. My gut is rumblin’ with gratitude. The sun is risin’ over the east hills. I put out the lamp to save oil. I can see without the lamp now anyway. I pulled on fresh socks. Jen sent me two extra pair. They ain’t easy to put on one handed. Pants and shirt ain’t no problem. “Well, here goes nuthin’.” ∞ I slipped my feet into the untied boots. The exertion of dressin’, and a little fear of failin’ warmed me. I decided to try my right boot first. It was easy enough to lace the boots. The hooks near the top make it easy to tighten the laces. I want to tie a regular bow though. I folded one lace under the other and worked them side-to-side to tighten the half-knot. So far, so good. I’m tryin’ a bow. I got no idea how to make a bow, with one hand. I kept tryin’ to reach with my hand to grab a lace. Old habits, I thought. I’m stayin’ patient as the room grows lighter and warmer. I find I can use my fingers to intertwine the laces formin’ one loop, but when I form the loop, the laces go slack and become useless. I tried over, and over agin. It seems impossible. “No! It ain’t hopeless. I’m gonna figure this out,” I been talkin’ to mysef out loud. I tried agin with no success. I lay back agin the saddle fer a minute. It gave me a time to think about the problem and to control my disappointment. After considerin’ a while, I thought I might could use my other foot, or shoe, to hold one lace, pinnin’ it to the floor. I pulled the laces tight, then I used my left heel to hold the left lace to the floor. The right lace I held between my thumb and forefinger. Pushin’ my right boot away and pullin’ with my hand, I tightened the intertwined laces. Next, I looped the right lace in my fingers and circled the taut left lace. At the same time I held the left lace in between my third and pinky finger and slid the left lace through the new hole made by circlin’ the laces. I pushed the stump agin the lace and raised my left heel. As I did, the laces loosened, but not too much. I spread my thumb and pinky finger in the loops to stretch them tight as I could. Then I pulled one loop at a time to tighten them. It worked, not the best, but it worked. The bow was too loose fer my likin’. I untied the laces and tied them agin, fer practice.

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With each new try, I got a little better and the bows grew, bit by bit, a little tighter. The bow was always to the side of my boot top, and that frustrated me, but the dern boots were tied. “It ain’t perfect, but at least I can tie my own shoes.” The left shoe was more difficult than the right. Like puttin’ on my socks, reachin’ across my left leg makes it tough. I decided I need a different method. I decided, What the heck, I tried usin the stump and not steppin’ on the lace. I folded the laces with my right as I had done with my foot method. I held the left lace tight agin my boot with my stump and pulled the laces tight. I made the loop with my right, crossed the laces and held the loop tight agin the boot with the stump agin. I folded the other string under and through, formin’ another loop and pulled her tight. The bows were on the side of the boot agin, and they were not tight as I’d like, but I tied the bows with less effort and it felt more natural. I decided this would have to do. I will work at it to get tighter ties. I remembered Jen’s jar of peaches and figured I deserved a treat and I needed some breakfast. I held the jar under my arm tight and opened the lid one handed. I am regainin’ my strength, I thought. Takin’ out my knife, I speared a half peach and et it off the blade and drank a little juice. The peaches were just the thing to follow a successful attempt at my boots. I can dress mysef complete, and it feels good to be able to take care of mysef. Full dressed, I feel a little pride fer the first time in months. I’m takin’ time to write all this mornin’ down. Now, I’m gonna take me a little walk and check on Bud. It’s a new day. Thursday, October 19 Evenin in the backroom When I turned out this mornin’, the sun was up over the east hills, warmin’ town. The day’s clear and warm. I watered Bud from the workroom bucket.Got fresh water right out of the spigot, then I staked him in a new spot where he could pull at the grass long side the out-buildin’s. I walked round to Broadway and stood on the walk out front of the saloon with my stump stuffed in my coat. I brushed back my hair with my fingers, and used the window of the saloon as a mirror. My hair was wild, as Jen says, but my appearance had to do. “Mornin’,” said a passerby. “Good mornin’,” I said back. Maybe it ain’t such an unfriendly town, I thought.

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I walked fer half an hour then went back to the saloon. It was early and the saloon was still empty. I decided to get started on the spittoons, and get it over with. I didn’t need the bartender to be there to get to work. As I worked, I thought about askin’ how much it might cost to board Bud at the livery. I hated the thought of havin’ to pay out money to Cherry, but I hated to have Bud outside all night agin, and without proper feed. I finished the spittoons and swept the saloon, this time sweepin’ the dirt and pieces of garbage out the back door. I put up my tools and washed. With nothin’ particular to do, I decided to walk around a bit more, and see what was doin’ in town. I walked across the new bridge to the west side of the river and talked to the man collectin’ tolls. After a while he started tellin’ me how the bridge got built. The man let me walk across free. I stopped fer a while on the bridge and looked down at the water as it flowed under. I could see fish lazin’ agin the current. They were big fish, probably carp, or suckers, I reckon. On the other side, I came to a large warehouse, larger than the others in town. The walls were stacked black lava rock, likely from close to the spot where the buildin’ stands. The buildin’ has a wide door in the middle of the north side facin’ Broadway. There are many windows in the walls. The windows have no glass, but are equipped with heavy solid shutters to keep out weather. The shutters were opened wide, fer light. The split doors of the big main entrance were swung wide open, and I could see into the warehouse. Over the big door hung a sign that read “Morgan Freight Co.” The place looked dang busy. I decided to investigate there fer a job. I hid my stump, and walked into the warehouse. Men were workin’ loadin’ and unloadin’ wagons. I asked a worker “Where can I find Mr. Morgan?” figurin’ that was the owner’s name. “He’s right there, in the red shirt,” the man pointed a wagon away. The man was helpin’ unload a wagon. I liked that the man worked in his own business and didn’t sit on his butt in a saloon drinkin’ and wishin’ about women. I calculated I’d ask Mr. Morgan fer work. I walked over to Morgan. The man had noticed me talkin’ to the worker and stood erect watchin’ me approach. “Help ya?” he said, not unkindly, a pleasant smile on his face. “I’m lookin’ fer work sir,” I said. “Well you’re a big cuss. Looks like you could do some heavy work.” Mr. Morgan put his hand out and I took it. I gave him an extra firm handshake to let him know I ain’t no milk toast. “Name’s Peregrine Sessions. People call me PG.”

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“That’s some hand ya got there young feller, a regular slab-a-meat,” laughed Morgan. I just smiled, “Yes sir.” “Done this kind of work before? I mean you driven a wagon and sech?” “Why yes sir, I have driven plenty of wagons and I can work hard all day long.” “Let me see ya load that box over there into this wagon,” Morgan pointed to a box then to the wagon he had been loadin’. “Now be careful, it weighs over a hundred pounds.” The box was wood and built strong. I couldn’t guess what it contained. I went after the box a little timid like, not wantin’ to take my stump out of my pocket, but I had to show that I could do the work. I didn’t know if I could lift the box. I hadn’t tried to lift anythin’ much since the accident. “It ain’t gonna bite ya boy. Man as big as you ought to be able to throw that box in a wagon ten feet away.” Men in the warehouse stopped to watch and were laughin’ at Morgan’s comment. It embarrassed me some. A little scared, I pulled out my stump and bent to lift the box. I put my stump and forearm along the side of the box under a lip made by boards nailed around the top and bottom of the box. “Whew, hold on there now fella. How you plannin’ to work with only one hand?” said Morgan. “I can work Mr. Morgan.” I bent to the box and picked it easy off the floor. I was surprised at how easy it was, and I turned to Morgan and asked, “Where you want it Mr. Morgan?” “Put her back down. I can see you can lift it. But, you can’t drive a wagon one handed. I need a man who can load, unload, drive a wagon to the depot and maybe even down to Blackfoot or up to Ashton. Why the horses could take off with you and I’d lose the whole damn load, and you could lose your life. Nah, son, I’m sorry, but I can’t use ya, thank ya anyway.” Morgan’s refusal embarrassed hell out of me. I know my face was red. I was mighty disappointed. “Well thanks anyway Mr. Morgan. Sorry I wasted yer time,” I said. I walked out jammin’ my stump back in it’s pocket. I was awful hurt. If I had two hands, I could’a had a job with Morgan. It was my first real rejection. I knew rejection would likely come, but it felt worse than I feared. There was a lump of anger in my gut and the top of my head felt like it was hot to the point of bustin’. My eyes watered. I still get mad thinkin’ about it and it happened way back this mornin’. ∞

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I dragged back to the river bank after Morgan’s, not willin’ to cross the bridge back into downtown fer fear of runnin’ into people, or havin’ to talk to the bridge man. I didn’t want to be seen and I sure didn’t want to talk to anybody right then. Nor did I want to be spoke to. I sat on a big black rock stickin’ out over the water and let the sun warm me. I watched the water flow past. That helped. Somthin’ about water that calms a man. Thoughts of my own worth and indecision seeped in, but I fought off the low feelin’. I got me a job. I’ll find another, a better one. Not everybodycares whether I got two hands. I walked back across the bridge and up the back of the buildin’s to the back door of the saloon. Bud was ok. I felt some better, but I was still angry and uncomfortable at bein’ embarrassed. I went on in and hung up my coat and entered the bar room. The bartender who hired me and let me stay the night was there washin’ glasses behind the bar in a small sink. “Well, good mornin’. Where you been this mornin’?” he asked. “Ahhh, I been out lookin’ around. I got the cleanin’ done early. That ok?” I asked. “Please, be my guest, I’ll pay same as we agreed, and I could use some help washin’ up these here tables and chairs, if you want to make a little extra. The windows are mighty dirty. They ain’t been washed since I been here. There’s some extra in that too, if you’ve a mind. You’d better wait til she warms up some I expect.” “Hell yeah, I got a mind.” I dove into the work. “How long you been workin’ here?” I asked. It calmed me down to work, it felt good to talk to someone friendly. “Oh, nigh two years I spose. Saaay, what’s yer name anyway son?” The bartender is older than me, but not so old as to call me son, I thought. “Name’s PG.” “Why PG? What’s that stand fer?” “Well, my real name is Peregrine, but folks call me PG as long as I can member.” “I’m Mel, short for Melvin. Last name’s Potter.” “I’m glad to make yer acquaintance,” I said. And, I truly was glad to make Potter’s acquaintance. The man didn’t seem to worry about my fitness to work none. “My wife is takin’ care of our place up to Rigby, and our children, while I try to make a little money,” I told him. “We didn’t get a crop this year and we’re about starved out. The place is about to dry up and blow away. That’s why I come to Idaho Falls, to find work.” “Well you found a hell of a job here, ain’t ya, PG?” the bartender laughed as he dried a glass. I just grunted, turned, and walked off to the

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storeroom to get supplies to wash windows. “I’m glad to have the work sir,” I told him. I worked silently and hard. It took the rest of the mornin’ to do the jobs Melvin gave me. Work helped take my mind off the rejection at Morgan’s place. Melvin paid me a dollar and an extra six bits fer the day. Dang, it felt good to be addin’ money to my pocket. ∞ Even though I carried near three dollars in my pocket, I didn’t feel like I could board Bud. I moved him around and made sure he was okay, and sheltered as much as possible. I blanketed him with one of my blankets. That’ll do him, and I got my writin’ done. Friday, October 20 Mornin after chores The spittoons were easier to clean the third time round, and I was faster. I enjoyed bein’ outside this mornin’. I slept like a dead man last night. I didn’t even hear anythin’ from the bar. While I was workin’, I thought about how a man can get used to about anythin’ if he has a mind to. I was tryin’ some of the attitude changin’ Jen talks about. I worked hard this mornin’, givin’ my best and Melvin Potter appreciated it. He gave me a silver dollar and thanked me fer the help. “You know, PG, I was hoping you’d be a good worker. I talked to the owner about keepin’ you on permanent, if you’ve a mind that is. You know, you might have a hard time finding work with only one hand, no offense.” “None taken. I been turned away twice aready. Once over to the livery and once at Morgan’s. I ain’t fond of cleanin’ spittoons and tables and sweepin’. I had somethin’ a bit better in mind, but I don’t know what.” “Well, you can keep doin’ this as long as you like. Miss Kate said so. She owns the place. You won’t see her around here none, she’s getting old and stays at the boardin’ house same as me. Miss Kate said I could handle your hiren’, and firen’, if need be. “You can sleep back in the storeroom. It ain’t real warm, but it’s free. I’ll pay ya a dollar a day if you stay on, extra money for extra work that comes up. It ain’t bad and it don’t take all day, so’s you can look for other work on the side. Can’t hurt to make some extra in the afternoons and evenin’s. You can keep sleepin’ in the storeroom, but you’ll have to find someplace to board your horse. I can’t have him out back all the time.” “I’m obliged Mr. Potter,” I said. I meant it. I’m dang thankful I stumbled onto Melvin Potter and Miss Kate, whoever she is. “Well, it ain’t much. It is dry. You’ll have to put up with the whiskey stink,” he laughed.

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“Thanks,” I said, laughin’ along with Potter. I pocketed my silver dollar. “Say Mr. Potter, I . . . “ “Call me Mel son. I ain’t much of a Mr. Potter.” “Mel, I, I know this is ain’t somethin’ a man should ask when he’s startin’ a new job, but I promised my missus that I’d be home weekends. Any possibility in that?” “Well, Saturday’s is our biggest night and there’s a hell of a mess come Sunday mornin’s. The town fathers make us close up Sundays, so I figure after you clean up Saturday mornin’ from Friday night, you can have what’s left of Saturday, then the place can sit til you get back Monday mornin’, if you can get it done before we open for business. That suit ya? “I come in Monday mornings about 11:00 and wash glasses and straighten up the bar. You get here early as you can and do the spittoons, and table tops and chairs and sweep the place out. How’s that? Pay will be a dollar a day still.” “Suits me fine Melvin, and thank ya agin. I’ll be here by about 10:00 on Monday mornin’s at the latest. I can get the work done by noon.” “You ain’t got to thank me, but don’t let me down. I’ll be countin’ on ya to get this place straightened for Monday openin’. I don’t want to have to come in and do it, and I don’t want any surprises.” Things are lookin’ up after all. I found a steady job and a friend. Hell with Morgan Freight, I thought. Night in the storeroom With money in my pocket and prospects of earnin’ more, I saddled Bud and rode off out of town toward the foothills east. There’s sand dunes out that-a-way and I rode out the few miles just to take a look. I wondered what caused sand dunes to be out there, but it is beyond me. I rode back into town and found the railroad station and stopped to read a sign posted there. The sign was a written description of how the railroad came to Idaho Falls. Here’s what I read: Brigham Young incorporated the Utah Central Railroad just before the Union Pacific Railroad met the Central Railroad at Promontory Point May 17, 1869. A week after they linked rails, the Utah Central started layin’ track from Ogden to Salt Lake City. That stretch was done in January, 1870. Brigham’s son John conceived the idea of buildin’ the railroad north from Ogden to the mine fields in Montana. “Smart, like his old man,” I said to mysef. I read that John Young had been successful in gettin’ the congress to approve an act to give the Utah Central Railroad right of way through the public domain fer the purpose of buildin’ a railway through Bear River

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Valley, Soda Springs, the Snake River Valley, on up through to Montana and there connect to the Northern Pacific Railroad. “Smart,” I said agin. The railroad runs about a mile north and a little east of the homestead. The steam engines’re fun to watch. Della is fascinated with the monsters belchin’ smoke and vapors, and blowin’ their whistles. I admit that I am fascinated too. I rode north, then west through Idaho Falls housin’ areas. There were rows of houses, and the town was buildin’ a big brownstone school. A fella told me it was goin’ to be called Riverside School, although it was still 3-4 blocks west to the river. I couldn’t even see the river from the site of the school. I reckon it’s as good a name as any. I hated school and I’m glad to be well past school age. My grandmother founded the school in Bountiful and she forced all us kids to attend. As soon as I could, and as soon as I wore out my welcome, I quit and started workin’ fer Byron. I walked Bud further west to the river. I do love the Snake River. This here’s the life blood of this whole valley, I thought. She can turn nasty in the spring though. Bud and I followed the bank back downstream to downtown. I turned at the heavy timber bridge I’d walked across yesterday mornin’. There, I found another sign beside the bridge. This was a day fer gettin’ educated. The sign talked about the town and the history. The town was originally called Eagle Rock after Harry Rickett’s Eagle Rock Ferry some miles up stream. I already knew about the town’s new name, not about Harry Rickett and his ferry. A bridge was built by a man name of Taylor. The bridge made it possible fer the settlement to grow. Businesses sprang up, particularly around the bridge which was built in1866. Now they got a new bridge, a bigger one I’m sure. “Looks perty dam . . . dern good.” I caught mysef, rememberin’ my promise to Jen. I appraised the timbers and construction and triangular shapes on the bridge. “Wish I coulda built the house as solid as that there bridge,” I told Bud. Bud and I returned to the saloon. I tied off Bud to graze a new patch and thought of my own hunger agin. I et my last sandwich and finished off the peaches. The bread was mashed thin, but hungry as I was, the sandwich couldn’t have tasted better. I thought how I missed home and Jen’s cookin’. “Ah well, I’m headin’ home in the mornin’,” I promised mysef. Friday Night Light in the storeroom is fadin’ and noise in the barroom is startin’ to pick up. I lit the lantern and wrapped in a blanket. I’m tired, thinkin’ of how I spent the day.

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I enjoyed my ride with old Bud. “I gotta see how much Cherry’ll charge to board him, or find somebody close who’ll look after him during the week. I’ll ask Melvin.” I’m lonely. I’m also mighthy anxious to get fer home. I think I’ll slip into the barroom and see what’s goin’ on, maybe talk with Melvin Potter about Bud. Later I stood at the end of the bar and gawked at customers and tried to guess what they did to live and where they mighta come from. There’s that butthole Cherry, I thought. Cherry stood at the bar beside two men. The men had a woman tween’em. The three spoke quiet while Cherry nursed his drink. The two men were workin’ men I reckon. The lady works at the bar. I seen her other nights. She was wearin’ a bright red dress and had a fancy comb in her hair. A regular town woman wouldn’t dress like that in this place. I ain’t seen any women walkin’ around town wearin’ anythin’ like that dress. A man can see most a woman’s breasts in that kind of dress. Jenny would flat die if she seen this woman. The woman’s hair looked dirty and piled on her head. The two men talkin’ to her musta stopped in fer a drink after a long day. I know long days lately, I thought. Mine’re long cause I’m bored. Been here near a week. I still smart a little from tryin’ fer a job at Morgan’s, but I got a good poke’a money to take home. The bartender, not Melvin Potter, was just finishin’ lightin’ the lanterns that hung on the walls. He is a much younger man, about my age. The bar brightened with the lanterns. Strange how they keep the bar dark all day, but light it up bright at night. A few more men entered, and the new bartender waited on them. He served drinks at the bar and at the tables. The place wasn’t busy yet. I stayed at the end of the bar near the storeroom. The bartender waved a hand lettin’ me know he’d seen me. I nodded to his salute, and wondered who he might be. I felt a little awkward not knowin’ him, so I went back into the storeroom to see if I could sleep some. The bar got too loud fer sleep, and more customers filtered in fer a lively evenin’. I turned up the lantern to write and I turned on my stomach to spy through the cracks tween boards. There are more women than last night. Some are dressed even more extravagant than the lady in red. One of the fancier dressers was helpin’ the bartender serve drinks to the customers at the tables. I became interested and a little excited to watch the crowds especially when they didn’t know they were bein’ watched. I spotted Cherry, sittin’ alone at a table pickin’ at his nose.

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I busted out laughin’. “Fancy bugger’s a nose picker.” Ah heck, I thought. Cherry ain’t worth the booger he digs outta his nose. It was fun to find out what went on in a barroom. I lay wide awake and watched on and off fer a couple hours, growin’ back to tired. I dozed some, but it was too loud to sleep sound and I was excited about headin’ home in the mornin’. I got up agin and wandered back into the bar, and stood near the end of the bar, out of the way. The younger bartender noticed me agin. He slung the bar towel over his right shoulder, and sauntered down the bar in my direction. “ C’n I get something fer ya?” he smiled. “Ah, nah, I’m just watchin’. I, I work here in the mornin’ cleanin’ up. Name’s Perrigrine Sessions. Folks just call me PG.” The bartender stuck out his hand, “I’m Gus. I come to work in the evenin’s now and again, mostly to get Mel some time off’. Mel told me you was sleepin’ in the back and told me not to bother ya none, but I am supposed to give you a key to the back door fer Monday morning. Mel plans on you helping clean up in here when he comes to work in the mornings, does he?” “Yeah, I’ll be here, and thanks fer the key. I wondered how I’d get back in if I wasn’t sleepin’ in the back. It’s the only job I been able to find. I won’t bother you none,” I said. “I just can’t sleep back there.” As I was tellin’ him this, I swung my handless arm up like I was pointin’ to the storeroom with my left thumb, which ain’t there. It felt natural, easy. I fergot mysef. Surprised, I realized my mistake immediately and crammed the stump back into my pant pocket. “What happened to you?” asked Gus. “You’re too young to have been in the war.” Unsure of mysef with this stranger, I dropped my eyes to my toes, shoved my stump deeper into my pocket, and stammered, “I , I , uh, hurt it a couple of months ago and the doctor had to cut my hand off to save my life.” Soon as I told the lie, I wondered why I done it. It had just slipped out. “Does it hurt?” “It aches a little now and then, but it don’t hurt much anymore.” I felt guilty and told Gus, “To tell the truth, I actually blew the dern thing off with dynamite. I was tryin’ to stun fish up on the South Fork. My family needed food. It was a dang fool thing to do. Sorry I lied to ya. I’m just embarrassed about the whole thing is all.” “Wait here PG, I gotta go wait on these folks.” Gus walked down the bar and served beer to some new customers. I felt sort of silly standin’ there watchin’, and I wished he wasn’t takin’ so long. I didn’t want to talk to anybody else, and the line at the bar was

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inchin’ my way. The place was fillin’ up. I hoped I would not be noticed. It seemed like everyone with a glass in their hand was eager to talk to somebody, anybody. There was a great big old hairy man sittin’ by the front door. He just sat there on a stool watchin’ and not talkin’ to anybody, big old feller. Gus returned and looked at me like he was feelin’ sorry fer me. “How do you do things like shave, course you ain’t shaved fer a couple of days, I can see that,” laughed Gus. “But, if you was to shave, how do you do it? What’s harder, buttoning your clothes or shavin?” I told him about my experiences and how hard it was to learn to tie my shoes. I didn’t tell him I just learned to tie my shoes good on Tuesday. “Shavin’ ain’t a problem and dressin’ is easy. Shoes are the hard part fer me.” I asked, “ Who’s that big feller at the door?” “That’s Melvin’s brother-in-law, Jasper Conrad. He is here to keep the peace on Friday and Saturday nights. Claims he used to be a professional fighter. I seen him throw some toughs outta here two at a time, so I don’t doubt his story none.” “He’s big enough to eat hay and crap bails. He’s a little old though, ain’t he?” Gus laughed, “He is big. And he is getting on, but he can still handle the toughs that show up here Friday and Saturday nights. He’s a nice feller to shoot the breeze.” Conrad must weigh about 300 pounds. He is awful big round the middle, but his arms and hands look big, and not from fat. He was sittin’ when I saw him, but he oughta stretch out to over six foot, no problem. Looked like he’d have to duck his grey head to get out the doors. “Well,” Gus said, “I best get to work. I’ll check on ya later. If I don’t get goin’ the drunks’ll start hollerin’,” he waved at the crowded bar. “You want anything to drink?” “Nah. Thank you though,” I told him. I wondered why I had spilled my guts to a stranger. I liked Gus, and Gus seems affable as any man I ever met, includin’ Glenn. I talked to him like a long lost friend. I must be lonely. It ain’t like me. I stood round watchin’, hopin’ Gus would come back soon and talk some more, but the place got too busy. Gus did come back after a while of satisfyin’ his customers with beer and whiskey. He smiled,” Why’d they call you PG?” he asked. “Well, my folks named me Perrigrine, but everybody calls me PG, includin’ my wife, when she ain’t mad at me.” “Well then, I’ll call you that too,” said Gus, still grinnin’. “Sure you don’t want a drink PG? It’s on the house.”

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“I don’t drink no alcihol. I ain’t ever even considered drinkin’ alcihol.” “I got other things to drink,” said Gus. “What else you got?” I asked. “Well, we got sarsaparilla, and we got water.” “What in the world is sarsaparilla?” I asked. “I mean, I know it is sweet, but how do they make it? I tasted sarsaparilla years back, in Salt Lake, but only once. “It’s a dried out root from the tropical islands I’m told. It’s carbonated to make it bubbly like beer. It’s tasty, if you ask me, but I don’t sell much of it in here.” Gus poured a glass of frothy liquid. I sipped it a little.”Yeah, that’s what I remember. I like the taste.” “I don’t make it. It comes in these here bottles. I like beer better myself,” said Gus. “I’ve never tasted beer,” I told him. “It looks good, golden and sparklin’ with white foam on top.” “You Mormon?” asked Gus. “Yeah, I am. I guess that’s why I ain’t had much experience with alcihol. I probably shouldn’t even be in this place, let alone work here.” “Well, if’n yer Mormon, I ain’t going to serve ya alcihol. You’ll only get sas, or water from me,” he grinned. “I been taught that alcihol is fer healin animals, rubbin’ them and such.” “Don’t know. Most of the alcihol I seen is used to rub the inside of these folk’s bellies,” said Gus. I considered tryin’ a sip of beer. I decided, Nah, I ain’t going to mess up good things happenin’ to me with such silliness. “How much you charge fer sarsaparilla?” “Nickel,” replied Gus. He topped off my drink. Gus served me the sasparilla in a beer mug. I think Gus was secretly pleased with me fer choosin’ sarsaparilla over beer. He wore a sort of comfortable smile as he served me and visited. I sipped my treat and watched people and watched Gus serve them. I couldn’t help thinkin’, what a silly bunch of jokers frequent the place. Gus walked down the bar and placed a big glass mug up to a spigot stickin’ out of a barrel that was sittin’ atop the bar. He pulled it and an amber color liquid poured into the mug. The mug looked like it might hold near a quart. Gus delivered the glass to Cherry who was drunk already. “That’ll be a dime Mr. Cherry,” he said grinnin’.

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Cherry paid him and dismissed him with the wave of a hand. Gus just smiled, but Cherry rankled me. “Cherry ain’t got the manners of a cow.” “Good thing about him is he pays cash,” said Gus. Sarsaparilla was sweet. I liked the taste and the carbonation. “Hits the spot don’t it partner?” said Gus. “Not bad, not bad at all. It’s been a long time. I reckon it was about ten years ago I lasted tasted sarsaparilla,” I tipped the mug and drank it down. “Want another’n?” asked Gus. “Nah,” I said. “I’m savin my money fer home.” The piano player played loud, not really entertainin’ anyone. Nobody seemed to be listenin’. I watched the folks, a few dancin’, most talkin’ with lively faces, squeezin’ each other, hopeful. Others, men intent on drinkin’, hunkered over their drinks as if someone might steal them right from under their noses. People laughed and sang, bumped into each other, and took turns goin’ out the back door to the outhouse to relieve themselves. The bar has plumbin’ but they ain’t put indoor toilets in yet. Men spat tobacco into the spittoons. About half the time they were missin’ the spittoons and hittin’ about a foot away, drunk as skunks. I talked some more to Gus when Gus could get back. The bar was busy and Gus was unable to visit much. It was gettin’ late. I slipped off to the storeroom to write a little more and to get some sleep. It’s just too dang loud to sleep. It ain’t been like this the last few nights. I got back up and went out to check on Bud and use the outhouse. I relieved mysef and hurried back inside. It’s cold tonight. There is a ring around the moon too. I went back out to my spot at the bar. Two buckaroos got to feelin’ testy and Jasper Conrad asked them to leave. He told them they were too loud and he expected them to leave fore he busted them up some. They told him they’d quiet down, but he musta figured they were too drunk. He told them, “No, you two hit the road.” They didn’t argue, but shot tough mean looks at Conrad. He didn’t seem to care, or be on guard. There got to be fewer people. Some of them must have to work tomorrow “These people drink a lot,” I said to Gus when he had a minute to talk. “Where do they get the money?” “Well, some of them probably ought to be home and shouldn’t be affording it. Some come in only once in a while. I really don’t know how most of them earn a living, but most are hard working folks.” I stood around visitin’ fer another ten, fifteen minutes and started to feel sleepy agin. The place was a lot quieter than it had been fer a few hours. I wanted to finish my writin’ and get some shut-eye.

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“Glad to meetcha Gus. I better get on to sleep. I’m gonna get up early and clean the bar and head home. I’ll see ya next time you work, or next week.” “You take care PG. It was nice meetin’ you too,” replied Gus, smilin’ and wavin’ his bar towel. I planned on gettin’ an early start in the mornin’. I used the outhouse once more fore goin’ to the storeroom. I checked Bud’s blanket and finished my writin’, and I untied and pulled off my boots and lay back on the saddle. The blankets warmed me. I’m gonna get up early in the mornin’ and get the place cleaned up and get fer home. I’ll be back early Monday mornin’, or maybe even Sunday night, but I will be back. I hope I can sleep some tonight with the prospect of goin’ home with some money in my pocket. I feel like I been rescued. I got to find another job next week, but this money will come in mighty handy fer Jen. It will be a rescue to her and the kids too. Saturday, October 21, 1905 Restin’ by the river. Me and Bud are about half way home. I’m restin’ him, and my butt fer a few minutes and writin’. I got done early this mornin’. Melvin came in early too and paid me. I got a little over four and a half dollars to show fer the week. It makes a nice little poke of money to give Jen. Melvin told me he was glad I was workin’ with him and he hoped I’d be back. I told him not to worry, I needed the work, and I’d dang sure be back and I’d have the place ready Monday. He looked like he didn’t believe me. “Well, be careful,” said Melvin and he went back in the bar. I was in a hurry. I slung my saddle bags on Bud and mounted, shruggin’ my shoulders agin the cold air. I wrapped my extra blanket round me from the cool mornin. I turned Bud north at the end of the block and let him have his head. Bud acted as if he knew he was headin’ home and took off. I let him run a ways, then pulled him into a lope. He moved easy, but with intent. The air is chilled. I’m glad I snatched this extra blanket fer the ride. Snow will be comin’ soon. I know it’s clear today, but it can’t be long now. I seen the ring around the moon agin last night. I’ll pack a heavy coat fer next week, or my name ain’t PG. Saturday night Bud made it to the homestead in what must have been record time after our rest. It was just after one o’clock when we got to the house. I hoped Jen might have some lunch left over. When I rode into the yard, Della saw me and ran after me, hollerin’, as I rode to the barn to put Bud up and hang his tack. “Pa! pa!” she yelled. “Yer home! Whatcha been doin’ pa?”

STUMP “Hang on Del, I’ll tell ya. Help me put Bud up.”

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“We been wonderin’ when you’d get home. What took ya so long pa?” “I had to finish my work this mornin’ early and then I got goin’ soon as I could.” “Did you bring us anything?” “I brought my wages is all. I didn’t have time to find a treat or nuthin’. Maybe next week.” “It’s ok pa.” “Did yer ma save me any lunch?” I asked excited. “I don’t know pa. Probably, I guess.” “Let’s go see.” I grabbed her by the hand and we ran to the house. I was awful hungry fer Jen’s cookin’. I was tired of eatin’ out of cans. Jenny waited on the porch with Stella and Owen and the baby. She held Glennis in her arms. It was a fine picture. They were a regular welcomin’ committee. I hugged and kissed Jen, and hugged her and the kids agin. “PG, you’re scratchy with those whiskers. Didn’t you shave while you were in Idaho Falls?” “No Jen. I didn’t take my razor.” I picked up Stella and hugged her, then Owen. I got them all into the kitchen. “I am starved. You got anythin’ to eat, any left from lunch?” “Sit down and I’ll get you something. Better go wash then sit down.” “Good idea,” I said. I washed and Jen fed me. The children sat at the table and listened as I told Jenny about my week in Idaho Falls. I left out the part about Morgan’s. Jen nursed Glennis while I ate and talked. “I got a job. It ain’t a good job, but I work fer an honest man that pays me fair and he pays regular with silver dollars.” I pulled out the dollars and coins I brought home and laid them on the table. Eyes popped open. It was the most money they had seen at one time in two years. “It ain’t much, but it is a start. I’ll be able to bring home silver each week Jen. You buy us some food and start payin’ some bills. I aim to find another job, maybe a better one, else a part time one beside this one, so I can make more. Least that’s my plan.” “What are you doing now, PG,” asked Jenny. “I’m cleaning a saloon Jen. They let me sleep in the storeroom fer free.” “That’s a poor environment,” she replied.

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“Well, I don’t much stay in the ‘environment,” I mimicked. “I do my work in the mornin’s and sleep there at night. The rest of the time I am out lookin’ fer more work.” “Let’s get you cleaned up PG and you drive us all into Rigby. We can get a few supplies, and we can visit with you. Shed those clothes and I’ll get some water ready for a bath. You kids get ready to go to town.” It was decided. Jenny got a bath ready and I brought clean clothes to put on after my bath. She set the tub in front of the stove fer warmth. I shaved, then got into the warm bath. It did feel mighty good. “Say Jen, what the heck’s an apothecary? There is a new one in Idaho Falls. It’s a store fulla bottles of pills and such, and a cranky old geezer tends the place. I didn’t notice many folks goin’ in nor out.” “That’s a place where folks can buy medicines. The doctor tells them what to buy and they can go to the apothecary and buy it. It is an old English word meaning a man who runs a pharmacy.” “Dang,” I said. “How’d you know that. I ain’t ever even heard of a pharmacy.” “I don’t know. I just remembered it’s all. I read it some place.” “I found out it was a medicine store, but I didn’t know it was what you call the old stiff runnin’ the place, the medicine man.” Jenny said no more about the type of work I am doin’. After helpin’ me with my bath, Jen went to the bedroom and changed clothes to go to town. I got dried off and dressed, then Della went with me to the corral and caught Bob and Tom. We harnessed the team and hitched the wagon. We then drove out front of the house. On the way out of the house, Jenny scraped up the money from the table and put it in her bag. “You bundled up, all of you? You get a heavier coat on Della. Everyone get blankets. I don’t want you catching cold,” she ordered her little clan. “I got to stop at Glenn’s on the way and thank him,” I said. “Do it on the way back, or tomorrow at church. We’re going to run out of daylight if we don’t get going.” ∞ We enjoyed the outin’ to town. Jen and I visited on the way back. Life is brighter with some income. I’ve decided to leave the homestead fer Idaho Falls in the late afternoon tomorrow, Sunday. I don’t believe I want to hurry Monday mornin’ and not make it in time to keep my word to Melvin Potter if I have a problem and can’t make it in time to do my job. I ain’t goin’ to jeopardize my job in any way.

STUMP Sunday, October 15

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After mornin’ meetin I sat next to Glenn at church. After meetin, Glenn and I discussed my good fortune. He was happy fer me, pleased I found some work in Idaho Falls. “Thanks Glenn, fer keepin’ an eye on things. I aim to pay you a bit when I get on my feet.” “You ain’t gonna pay me,” he said, exasperated. “Hell sakes PG, I don’t want pay, lessen the Lord wants to step in and bless a little. I ain’t doin’ this fer pay.” “Settle down Glenn. I only mean to thank you fer yer kindness and help. I don’t mean to offend you none. It’s a little embarrassin’ to have you takin’ care of me and the family fer so long, and me doin’ nuthin’ fer you in return.” “I ain’t accountin’ for what I do PG. We’re friends. I do it cause we’re friends, and you’d do it fer me.” “Glenn, yer right. I would do it fer you, but fact is, you done it fer me. Let’er go fer now.” I hugged Glenn and thanked him agin. We loaded the wagon and headed fer home. ∞ After dinner, I packed fer the week. I packed better this time, addin’ a heavy winter coat, hat, and gloves, and extra food. I couldn’t help grinnin’ as I handed Jen the left hand glove. “Don’t need this one sweetheart, lessen I just turn it in and out. Keep it as a back-up I reckon.” Jen rolled and tied two comforters and an extra wool blanket. It froze hard a couple times the last few weeks and I know it’s gonna snow any day now. Jen packed extra sandwiches and a jar of pears. She hated to have me travel on the Sabbath, but she could see the wisdom of me leavin’ this afternoon, late as I can. Bud and I will be settin’ off fer Idaho Falls after a hug and a kiss farewell. Sunday night in the storeroom Bar’s closed tonight. It’s quiet. I’m thankful fer that. I have the lantern lit to finish writin’ today’s entry. I’m tired out from the ride. I held Jen tight and kissed her hard then mounted Bud about 2:30 this afternoon. Jen handed the kids up one at a time. I hugged and kissed the family and got goin’. Bud carried the load easy the 19 miles to the saloon. This time we didn’t stop to rest and enjoy sunshine ner nuthin’. It was dark when we got here. I miss Jen already.

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I unpacked my possibles, and put everythin’ away in the storeroom. I led Bud around to the livery. Cherry was gone home, but his hired hand was there, readyin’ hissef fer a quiet evenin’ I reckon, and probably bed. He has a room in back of the barn. I had to bang on the doors. “What you want?” came the black man’s voice. “I gotta board my horse.” The man opened the doors and pulled them open to let Bud and me in. “I can’t keep him back of the saloon no more. There is no protection fer him, no food, and he is too good of horse not to take care of him. How much you charge me?” “Twenty cents a day. I’ll put him in the corral once a day for exercise, and I’ll feed and water him once a day to boot. You can hang your saddle and tack in the stall with him. Nobody will bother your tack. Use that stall right there.” The man pointed to the first stall to the right side of the barn doors. “Suit ya?” “Suits me pink, but I can’t pay till tomorrow when I get paid at the saloon. That suit you?” I asked. “Yes sir, just fine. Just don’t tell Cherry I’m extendin’ credit,” smiled the livery man. I laughed and led Bud into the stall. “I don’t have much call to talk to Cherry,” I smiled. I stripped the saddle and bridle off Bud and borrowed a brush from the wall to curry him. I brushed him down good. “Thanks mister. I preciate it,” I said as I was leavin’. The man grunted in response and closed the door behind me. I hurried in the cool night to the rear of the saloon and into the storeroom. I lit the lantern and hurried under my blankets. When I got warm I started writin’. I want to keep it up, but I’m sleepy now. I’m shuttin’ down the lantern and gettin’ some rest. The saloon stinks. October 23, 1905 Monday mornin I slept longer than normal this mornin’, but I got the spittoons cleaned and the bar swept and trash taken out by the time Melvin got here to open, about 10:00 am. When Melvin unlocked the front doors, I was nappin’ in a chair near the back. His unlockin’ the door started me awake. “I see ya made it. Good. Place looks good. You didn’t come in this mornin’, did ya?” “Nah, I rode in last night, after dark. I didn’t figure I could make it in time if I left this mornin’. I was right.” I paused then asked, “Say, Melvin, you got any idea where I might look fer some extra work?” He didn’t reply fer what seemed like a long time, so I looked up and kept talkin’. “I looked around some last week, and I asked one place, but I didn’t have no luck. Any ideas?”

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Melvin studied on it fer a few more minutes, not speakin’. I thought maybe I made him mad askin and lookin’ fer a different job, he took so long to answer. I felt uncomfortable with his silence. I looked to him wonderin’ if he even heard me. He started polishin’ glasses and lookin’ off in the distance like he was spottin’ deer. Finally, he spoke. “Ya know, you just might go talk to the Widder Pelot. She and her old man come over from France about 30 year ago, and settled out east of town about two miles. The old man died a several months back and I hear she’s havin trouble takin’ care of her spread. She just might let you feed the stock and do some chores around there. She’s got plenty, I mean she’s got plenty of money, probably plenty of chores too,” he laughed. “They say she hides money in cans around the place,” he laughed agin. “She’s too smart for that. You can bet she has her money in the bank makin’ more money.” “How do I get to her place?” I asked. “Well now, you’re going to need your horse. You go east out here on Broadway, cross the tracks. Stay straight. When you get out past all the houses, turn southeast, toward Taylor Mountain. You know Taylor Mountain?” “Yeah, I know it.” “Well head straight toward it about two mile. She’s got a big ol barn painted dark red and trimmed in white. She and her old man painted it red a couple years ago. Took’em damn near all summer to get it done,” said Melvin. “She’s dang proud of that barn. Ya can’t miss it neither. Tell her I sent ya.” “I seen the barn when I rode out to the sand dunes. Much obliged Melvin. I’ll see you later.” “Hey PG, here’s yer pay.” Melvin gave me a silver dollar. “Thanks agin,” he said. “Thanks Melvin. I got to go pay fer Bud’s keep at the livery.” “You’re mighty good help. Don’t go getting a full time job now, ya hear?” I went to the storeroom and wrote this here, then I grabbed a sandwich and got my coat from the peg somebody stuck in the wall. I was excited to be off, huntin’ work. Monday night, late I want to finish writin’ about my day. After I got ready to go this mornin’, I went straight to the livery. I found the hired man tendin’ to the horses. “Cherry around?” I asked.

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“Nah. He checked in earlier, but he didn’t even notice yer horse. He don’t know nuthin’ about horses anyways. He don’t care about his business. It just pays his bar habit.” “Well, here’s the money I’ll pay fer the week.” I handed my dollar over. “Thank ya kindly,” said the man, placin’ the dollar in a cash box inside the tiny office. “I got to take Bud on a little trip to Mrs. Pelot’s place,” I said. “Know her?” “Everybody knows Mizz Pelot. She’s a strange old bird what’s got plenty-a- money, I can tell ya.” “I’m ridin’ out to ask her fer a job. Hope she’s havin’ a good day,” I laughed. “Thanks fer lookin’ after Bud.” “He’s a fine horse. Want to sell him? I know plenty men who’d pay plenty fer this’un.” “Nah, he ain’t fer sale, at any price.” “Good thinkin’. See ya later.” The hired man went about his business feedin’ the other horses. I saddled Bud and led him to the back of the saloon and tied him off. ∞ I went back into the storeroom to grab my hat and glove. She was cold this mornin’. I slid my hand into the glove. I was in a hurry, excited with the prospect of findin’ more work. Cleanin’ spittoons is a filthy dirty job, but it pays better’n homesteadin’ right now. I think about sellin’ out, or just packin’ the girls up and Owen and movin’ into town, or back to the Salt Lake Valley. Jen is the log blockin’ the road to us leavin’. I’d sure miss Glenn too. Things probably ain’t to wonderful in Salt Lake neither. “The grass is always greener,” my granny used to say. I hoped I looked ok. I wanted to be presentable when askin’ fer a job. I mounted Bud and started fer Mrs. Pelot’s place. We traveled east on Broadway. I pulled my coat up round my ears. The goin’ was easy. The red barn was in plain sight, soon as me and Bud cleared town and turned south. It was like a red beacon out there in the distance. I clucked Bud into a lope. There was a dustin’ of fresh snow, but it wasn’t much. We made good time to the Pelot’s barnyard. I rode into the widow’s yard. The place looked well kept, barnyard and house. It’s a place to be proud of alright. I dismounted, felt fairly graceful dismountin’ and swingin’ my leg stylish over Bud’s hind quarters. I’m gainin’ on my strength. I tied Bud off at the hitch-rack in front of the house.

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Me and Jen’s log house sure ain’t nothin’ like Pelot’s place. It looks like a city house. The high, peaked roof lines, and store bought shingles are mighty impressive. Me and Jen split our own shingles from pine blocks we sawed up in the hills. The shingles on Pelot’s house look perfect. I thought, What the heck, here goes. I walked up rock steps to the door and knocked. “Hello’n the house,” I hollered. “Ho, over here young feller.” A voice came from behind. I turned toward the high reedy voice. A tiny woman walked toward me from the equipment shed. She was dressed in work pants, boots, and a plaid shirt and wool jacket. On her head sat a beat-up old hat that probably belonged to her husband. It was dirty and sweat stained. She moved easy, like a much younger woman, but her white hair gave her away. “You the Widder Pelot ma’am?” I asked. “I am Mrs. Pelot,” she said, a little sour. “No offense ma’am,” I said. “Yes I am Mrs. Pelot young man,” she said softenin’. “And who might you be and what can I do for you?” “Name’s PG ma’am. I don’t mean to bother you none, but a man I work fer in town, Melvin Potter, well ma’am, Mr. Potter said ya might need a hand on the place, and I need the work.” The speech gushed outta me like water comin’ out the spigot in the storeroom. “Mighty kind of Mr. Potter to think of me,” she said. “What kind of work can you do there young feller? You work in the saloon do you?” “Yes’m. I work clean-up in the mornin’s, but I can be done and out here by not later’n noon, and work till you say stop. I’ll work all afternoon and evenin’s, if you’ve a mind ma’am. I’m good with animals, particular horses,” I said. “My, you’re ambitious. Do you take to the drink there in the saloon Mr. PG?” “No ma’am. I don’t drink alcihol. And I ain’t terrible ambitious neither ma’am, I just need the work to take care of ma family. We got a little place up outta Rigby. We been homesteadin’ a couple years now, and times ain’t been so good to us. I gotta work ta keep enough food on the table, and I gotta buy some seed fer spring plantin’. And, I ain’t spoke this much in one stretch to anyone since talkin’ to my wife,” I blurted. “Well, young fella, I leased my ground out to some of the farmers out by Shelly. I know they’ll take good care of the place and they’re honest men. I sold off most of the animals. I have gotten my work down to a minimum you see. I keep a few favorite horses on the place though. That’s a good looking fella you’re riding there.” “Yes’m. Old Bud’s a fine horse. He has served me well.”

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“Interested in selling him?” she asked. Her question rankled me a little, but I tried not to show it. My face felt hot, so I know I turned red. I figured, Why the old crow is lookin’ to steal a fine horse at the expense of me and my troubles. “No’m. He ain’t fer sale,” I stammered. I ain’t sellin’ Bud, but I didn’t want to miss a job either. I hoped I hadn’t offended the widow. “Well, it doesn’t hurt to ask. I do love a fine horse.” “Yes’m, he is a fine horse fer da . . . dang sure. He just ain’t fer sale. Excuse me ma’am.” “No offense taken young man. My husband cussed something awful. It never bothered me much. I kind of miss it now.” “Well, I’m tryin’ to quit. My wife don’t like it none, and I am workin’ on it, but not hard enough I guess.” Mrs. Pelot kept glancin’ at my left hand in my pocket. I hadn’t removed it since dismountin’. “Why you guarding that left hand son?” I figured I might as well tell the truth to this woman. I couldn’t keep the secret and hope to work fer her. I pulled my stump and held it up. “I blew it off with dynamite in an accident ma’am.” “How you figure on working one handed?” “Oh, I can work ah right. I can lift and I can work most things. I can take care of horses. Hardest thing fer me is tyin’ ma boots ma’am,” I smiled. “I take care of old Bud here.” She smiled, “Yes, I can see that you do.” She turned away and walked slowly kicking a pebble. She then turned quickly and looked me in the eye. “Well, I’ll gamble on you young man.” she said. “You be here tomorrow at noon, like you said, and I’ll put you to work.” “Ma’am, I know this ain’t the way to start workin’ fer ya, but I promised my wife I’d be home Saturdays and stay most of the Sabbath.” “You planning on working Monday through Friday are ya, young man?” she said. “What about the weekend. Stock needs tending weekends.” “I worked out a deal to clean-up the Saturday saloon mess on Monday mornin’s I’ll change my schedule some. I can come out Saturday mornin’s, soon as I get the saloon done. I will leave fer home when I finish here. I can travel back here Sunday evenin’ and feed the stock a little late. I’ll ride straight here from home on Sunday afternoon. I can work it out fine ma’am,” I said. “That way I don’t miss a day of feedin’.” “I’ll report here Sunday evenin’ to check on the stock, then I’ll head back into town fer the night. I’ll work double hard fer ya ma’am, and I’ll

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set everythin’ up so’s the animals’ll make it fine through Saturday night, til I get here Sunday evenin’. If you could see yer way clear to let me work that out ma’am, I won’t let ya down?” “Well,” she dragged the word out. “I’m impressed with your brass young man, so I’m going to give you a try. I’ll see you tomorrow. Don’t let me down now. I’ll start counting on you.” I remembered Melvin saying the same thing. It ain’t bad, to be counted on, I thought. “Yes’m. I’ll be here. You count on me ma’am.” She had already turned away and was walkin’ back to her chores in the barn. “Thanks again ma’am,” I hollered after her. The lady just waved her hand, but then she turned back. “What’s yer real name son, your full name?” “Name’s Perrigrine ma’am, but most folks call me PG. PG Sessions ma’am.” “That’s fine Perrigrine. I’ll see you tomorrow.” She turned and headed to her shed. I untied Bud, mounted, and turned him fer the road. I was so happy I gave Bud his head and felt his muscles bunch beneath me as he exploded into a dead run. He must’ve felt my excitement. I made it up the drive and out to the main road fore I let out a whoop fer joy at havin’ the promise of earnin’ a decent livin’ each week to keep my family, even if it did take two jobs. I forgot to ask how much she’d pay. I figure she’ll be fair with me. I’m countin’ on it. She’ll probably thinks I’m crazy as a loon, takin’ off like that. I was too happy to stop whoopin’, and Bud was head long down the road. It was tough to slow him, so I just held on and enjoyed his great strength. The snow was so thin, Bud was kickin’ up sandy soil behind us. ∞ I pulled Bud down to a lope after about a mile. Bud walked us into town and down Broadway to the livery. By the time I got back from Pelot’s, the day was near spent. I led Bud to a deserted livery. Light showed dim in the barn. I didn’t see Cherry, and I didn’t see the hired man neither. I put Bud in his stall, stored his tack, I gave him a quick brush. I fed him some oats from a sack near the wall. I put up the brush and headed to the saloon, thinkin’ of eatin’ another of Jen’s sandwiches. I ducked into the storeroom and hung my coat and hat. I was mighty pleased with mysef, so pleased that I felt like some company. I took my sandwich with me and stood at the end of the bar and waved at Melvin, who was finishin’ his shift fer the day. He joined me at the end of the bar. I was grinnin’ wide. “Good news, or you just goofy this late in the day?” asked Melvin. “Oh, yeah, good news, dang good news,” I couldn’t stop grinnin’. “And thanks fer sendin’ me to the Widder’s place. She hired me to take

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care of the stock she still keeps. I can work there after I finish up here. Between the two jobs, I should be able to make it through this here winter and with some savin’, which Jen will do, get my bills paid and get a good start on next season.” “Well, congratulations, I guess. I hate to see a man work hisself to death, but I’m sure glad you ain’t leaving me high and dry.” “It ain’t gonna be that hard. I can finish the saloon, and work out to Pelot’s with the few head of stock the old lady has, or whatever else she expects of me. I figure on being back about this time ever evenin’.” “The old lady will treat you right,” said Melvin. “You ain’t got to worry about that.” “I ain’t worried. And, thanks agin fer steerin’ me out to her place. I feel like a weight has been unloaded off of my back,” I said. “Good fer you,” said Melvin. “What’d she say about yer hand?” asked Melvin. “She asked about it, but didn’t seem to care much when I told her I could work. Melvin asked, “You hungry?” “Dam . . . dang right. I was just gonna eat my last sandwich.” “Come on with me over to the boarding house and eat. The woman runnin’ it always cooks way more’n she needs and she’d be glad to make a little extra for her efforts. Gus will be here in a few minutes to relieve me. You can walk over with me. I’ll spot ya to yer dinner.” I stashed the sandwich fer later, or tomorrow, and waited fer Melvin, watchin’ the few people in the near empty bar. Gus arrived and greeted me. “How you PG? Have a good weekend with the family?” he smiled. “Oh yeah! It was great to be home and I got a little better equipped fer this here week.” Melvin got his coat and motioned fer me to follow. We walked the three blocks to the boardin’ house where Melvin had a room and where he took his meals. “Mrs. Jennings is a good cook PG. She might not even charge me for yer meal neither.” “I’m powerful hungry. She might charge ya fer two meals when I get done,” I laughed. “The woman cooks mounds of potatoes and chicken. She cooks fer an army. You’ll get your fill and it ain’t any extra cost. She loves to feed an eater.” We entered a large clapboard house from the side screen door entrance. The entry was a mud room off the kitchen. The food smelled

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heavenly to me, like home. My stomach started grumblin’ soon as I walked through the door. Melvin hung his coat on a hook in the mudroom and motioned me to do the same. I then followed him into the kitchen. A hefty woman showed us her back from the stove. “Mrs. Jennings, this here’s PG Sessions. He works for me cleaning the saloon and I invited him to supper. Can you feed him? I figured you’d have plenty.” She spoke rapidly, in spurts,”Yes, yes, good to meet you mister. You’re welcome anytime. I got plenty. You just make yourself to home. You two get washed and up to the table. I’m serving right now. “ The woman hauled a platter to the table, a platter nearly as wide as she and piled near a foot high with fried chicken. She smiled broadly at everyone who was seated around the table, and she placed the chicken right smack in front of me and Melvin. The dinin’ room table was extra long and plates, piled high with food, littered the table. The walls were papered and bright. The furniture was well used, but solid. The long wood table looked sturdy. Mrs. Jennings covered the table with a tablecloth. She served eleven guests includin’ me. Melvin introduced me around. The old lady that owns the saloon didn’t come down for supper. Mrs. Jennings said she was a little under the weather. The others, like Melvin, rent rooms and pay board to Mrs. Jennings. A Mr. Jennings had not been mentioned, and I decided not to ask. “This sure looks good Mrs. Jennings,” I said. “It’s good alright, kid,” came a raspy reply from one of the men at the table. I already forgot the man’s name. “Well, dig in folks,” said Mrs. Jennings. I reached fer the chicken first. Mashed potatoes, milk gravy, butter, and home canned corn off the cob came around the table. I grabbed to bisquits, both about the size of my fist. The food tasted delicious and apple pie was plentiful fer dessert. I hadn’t thought of dessert, and I was too full to enjoy it, but I did force a good size piece of pie. It was wonderful, and Mrs. Jennings wrapped a piece of pie in wax paper fer me to take with me, fer later. “Oh, thank you ma’am,” I said. “I could just hug ya cause yer as good a cook as my wife. You be sure to charge Melvin double fer my supper,” I joked. “It was a dam . . . dern feast, ma’am.” “I think ten dollars is fair, don’t you?” she laughed. “More’n fair ma’am. It’s a downright gift. I feel like I et nough fer ten men.” “Go on with you. I do love a man who loves to eat,” she grinned. “You come back whenever you want.”

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Melvin sat at the table and grinned at the banter. “Go easy on me, Mrs. Jennings,” he smiled. I thanked Melvin and Mrs. Jennings once agin upon leavin’ and told Melvin I’d be startin’ bright and early in the mornin’ so’s I could get on the road to Mrs. Pelot’s place soon as possible. Melvin smiled contented and waved me out the door. I walked slow back to the saloon, my belly uncomfortable full of food and probably could’ve rolled down the street. Tonight is clear and cold. I wrapped my coat around me tight. October 24 Tuesday, I cleaned the bar this mornin’ and I want to write some fore headin fer Pelot’s place. I didn’t get much written last night, and it’s still early mornin’. The saloon was busy by the time I got back from dinner last evenin’. I felt content, like after Jen’s Sunday dinner, and I wished I could be home, sittin’ in my own chair and enjoyin’ the kids, Jen readin’ to us. Instead, there was Cherry, drinkin’ hissef into a stupor. I spotted Cherry’s hired man leanin’ agin the bar near the end where I usually stand. He was sippin’ at a glass of beer. Bar users seemed to be givin’ the black man more room than necessary. I walked to the bar and stood next to him on his right. I took the stump out, feelin’ comfortable I guess, and leaned on both elbows at the bar. “How ya doin? Still hatin’ the livery eh?” I smiled. Beer made the black man affable. “Ain’t hatin’ it so much now’s I ain’t there shovelin’ horse shit.” “Nobody at the livery when I put Bud up. You get a night off?” “Cherry was supposed to relieve me fer the evenin’ and close the place. He came over and let me leave for the evenin’, but then he locked up his office and turned up here a few minutes after me. He probably just stopped in to grab money out of the box.” “I fed Bud some, so he’ll be alright,” I said. “How’s come you ain’t drinkin’ with yer boss there, old nose picker Cherry?” I joked. He leaned close to me to impart his secret, “I don’t have to talk to the skunk when I’m off duty, now do I?” He grinned at me. “Can’t say as I blame ya none. He is a worthless bas . . . bugger,” I said. “Name’s PG,” I said stickin’ out my hand. “Pleased to meet ya.” The man stood straight and took my hand. “I’m Ron Lee Lewis. Folks call me Ron Lee.” I calculated that Ron Lee is close to the same age as me.

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Just then, Cherry noticed his hired man talkin’ to me. He piped up, “Well then, Ron Lee, my good man, found yourself a crippled friend have you?” he slurred. The black man ignored his boss, actin’ as best he could that he hadn’t heard. “Are you deaf as well as stupid, boy?” asked Cherry. Ron Lee visibly stiffened, but still ignored the drunk. I turned lookin’ from Ron Lee back to Cherry. I could feel the heat in my face, flushin’ at bein’ called a cripple, and because of embarrassment fer Ron Lee. I was thinkin’ Why is Ron Lee puttin’ up with the clap trap from this fat drunken scum, even if he is Ron Lee’s boss. There’re other jobs and other bosses. “I ain’t so crippled as you might think Cherry.” I said it without thinkin’. “You oughta watch yer mouth,” I said, a bit loud. The piano player stopped and people stared. “I wasn’t speaking to you, cripple. I was speaking to the nigger.” That was the first I ever heard the word “nigger”. I knew it was a terrible word. I stiffened as if slapped. I could see Ron Lee out of the corner of my eye. The word stung him like a bee. I couldn’t help the anger risin’ in me fer the cripple remark, and hell, I don’t like the son-of-a-bitch Cherry anyway. I could see Ron Lee was angry enough that tears were welled-up in his eyes. Cherry made the mistake of leavin’ his seat, swayin’ as he rose. He was gettin’ ready to come to me and Ron Lee. “Whoa there, Cherry. I’d advise you to keep yer fat ass in yer seat,” I said. My temper was just barely under control, and I stepped to the other side of Ron Lee, tween him and Cherry. My anger was well up in me. I plum forgot my stump. “Let it go PG,” said Ron Lee. “It ain’t worth it.” He turned around to his beer. “It’s worth it to me,” I said. “And just who do you think you’re talking to?” asked Cherry. “I’m talkin’ to you, you tub a puss,” I hissed and took a step toward Cherry. “Now hold on here, PG,” said Ron Lee. “Don’t start nuthin’. I can take care of maself.” “You think I’m gonna stand here and let this bucket a crap run me down, and you? I don’t think so.” “Well, he’s drunk and he ain’t worth the trouble,” said Ron Lee. Ron’s talk cooled me down some. “Ah right. Take yer seat Cherry, fore yer hired man stops talkin’ sense.” I stuffed my stump back in my pocket and turned back to the bar.

134

Michael B. Sessions

Gus moved up on his side of the bar, standin’ directly behind Ron Lee and me. He whispered, “Take it easy PG. Don’t start nuthin.” I remembered that Jasper Conrad only works Friday and Saturday, and I figure Gus didn’t want trouble in the place. I heard him and nodded, controllin’ mysef. “I’m goin’ to bed then, night Gus, Ron Lee,” I said. I turned to leave the room. Patrons of the bar were still lookin’ on. They started breathin’ easier. They returned to their drinks assumin’ the incident was at an end. Cherry moved past Ron Lee so’s he was tween Ron Lee and me. He spoke to my back as I headed to the storeroom. He talked sour like, “Well my cripple cowardly friend, you make a fine pair with my nigger boy here, don’t you? I lost my temper and turned back to face Cherry, movin’up close in his face. Anger welled back in me like a flood. Blood rushed to my face and my stump was free of its pocket once again. “I ain’t yer friend lard ass.” “You are an insulting, insufferable little cripple, aren’t you?” growled Cherry as he took an angry round house swing at my head. I ducked it easy, comin’ up natural with my left stump leadin’. I caught Cherry square on the side of the head, just in front of the man’s left ear with my blunt stump. Cherry dropped to the floor unconscious. My stump stung like all hell. The piano player stopped agin. The saloon went silent. Gus hopped over the bar to check on Cherry. “He’s breathin’,” said Gus. Gus envisioned a man shot dead, the way Cherry collapsed after the punch. I stood over him, stunned that he had gone down so easy. I hoped it woulda lasted longer. I wanted to beat hell out of him. Ron Lee stared with open mouth. He looked at Cherry, then at me. It all happened in a moment. He thought of his job. “Ah shit, PG. Now look what you done. I’ll be canned fer sure.” “Ah, I’m sorry,” I stammered. “I, I’m sorry about yer job, but I ain’t takin’ no more crap from this asshole.” I held up my stump to look at it. It was bleedin’ and the end still stung some. Blood seeped through the pinned cuff. I slipped the stump back into my pocket. The side of Cherry’s head was knottin’ up. He would have a knot on the side of his head from me, and on the back of his head from hittin’ the floor. Onlookers were stunned at how fast the whole thing ended. People in the saloon looked on in shock and mumbled to one another, part because Cherry towered over me, and second because a handless man had knocked the big man cold. It had happened so quick most of the barfolk missed the action, havin’ turned away a moment earlier. I left the saloon out the back door, figurin’ I’d hurt my chances of keepin’ the job at the saloon and ruined Ron Lee’s job. I needed to think.

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Just when things was workin’, I thought. I started makin’ excuses fer hittin’ Cherry, “rationalizin’”, as Jen says. The scum sucker was discourteous to me and a friend. Ah crap, Ron Lee ain’t a friend yet. Tonight was the first civil words I had with the man. I don’t know him from Adam. I hit Cherry cause I don’t like the way he talked to me, the tub a lard and his smart mouth. It didn’t have nuthin’ to do with his hired hand. I was more’n happy to hit the prick. I got my humor back after about an hour of walkin’ and went back to the saloon. It was near 9:00 pm. I stood at the end of the bar and waited fer Gus to come over. I was embarrassed, but had to find out what happened after I stepped out. Some folks stared at me and whispered to others at their tables, “That’s the guy who punched old Cherry.” I tried to ignore the stares. Ron Lee was gone and Cherry had been carried off to his bed in the livery office. Gus came to where I stood. He looked worried. “PG, the sheriff wants to talk to ya.” “What fer?” I asked, stupid, worried too. “He just wants to find out your side of what happened. He was a few doors down and heard about the ruckus, but you was gone before he got in here. Sheriff asked me and some of the barflies what happened and then he had some of the men carry Cherry to the livery. They stuck Cherry in his office at the livery til he comes around. Bet that som-bitch has a headache in the morning” grinned Gus. “He went down like a sack a spuds.” “We all told the sheriff that Cherry went for you first, but Cherry is a rich man in town and that counts for somethin’ around here. I don’t think you’ll get into trouble with the law, but Cherry won’t let this thing drop.” Then Gus laughed at the memory of old Cherry going down agin. “You knocked’im fer a loop, PG.” “Oh, balls, I only barely popped him. My daughter wouldn’t a got knocked down so easy. The man was drunk, and he’s soft.” “Well, all I know is you caught him square on the ear and dumped his fat ass. He went down like he was poleaxed. It did my heart good to see it, tween you and me.” “I can’t say I didn’t enjoy it mysef, but I better go see the sheriff. I can’t afford trouble. I suppose this all means I’ll lose my job here, right?” “Oh, I don’t think so,” said Gus. “I don’t think Melvin’ll care much. He don’t like Cherry any better than we do. And, he sure hates cleanin’ spittoons. Just lay low a while. The only worry we got is if the old lady gets wind and don’t like the story. She’s and old bar woman, so I doubt she’ll care much.” Gus grinned agin. “Hey PG, I got an idea. You come back and talk to me when you get done with the sheriff” “I’ll be back soon as I can,” I told Gus.

136

Michael B. Sessions

Wednesday, October 25 Got back too late to write last night. I’m writin’ a little this mornin’ before I leave fer Pelot’s. Last night I walked a few blocks the sheriff’s office after punchin’ Cherry. The sheriff’s office is in Idaho Falls’ new Municipal Buildin’. The buildin’ was built usin’ granite stone hauled from the quarry out of Victor. The Greek architecture and size made the buildin’ look spooky at night. I thought it looked like some of the huge buildin’s in Salt Lake City, only a little smaller. I entered the sheriff’s office in the basement, on the east side of the buildin’. A deputy sat on duty. He reclined in his chair, boots up on the desk, cleanin’ his fingernails with his pocket knife and smokin’ a cigarette. He swung his boots down when the door opened, not knowin’ who might walk in on him. “Howdy sheriff,” I said, bold as I could. “I’m Perrigrine Sessions from up to Rigby way. Most folks call me PG. I was the one got in some trouble with Lon Cherry over to the Saloon earlier. I heard you was wantin’ to talk to me.” “Yeah, I do,” returned the deputy. “I ain’t the sheriff, but I was on duty at the time. Tell me your side of the story, and don’t leave nothin’ out.” He leaned forward with sort of an odd grin on his face. He was mighty interested. I related the story as best I could remember. I left nothin’out. “That’s best I can recollect,” I said. “Well, that goes along with the stories I heard. You in a habit of fightin’ Mr. Sessions?” “Just call me PG, and no, I ain’t in the habit of fightin’, but I ain’t in the habit of havin’ another man make me feel little-bitty neither. Fact is, I won’t put up with that kind of bull sh . . . that kind of thing, scuse me.” I was gettin’ worked-up just talkin’ about and rememberin’ what happened. “Whoa, calm down big fella,” grinned the deputy. I’m just askin’.” No need to get riled.” “I ain’t riled,” I lied. I calmed down quick. “Well, you’re free to go PG. And, by the way, ya couldn’ta chose a better man to punch, tween you and me. Don’t go makin’ a habit of it though.” He sat down smilin’ up at me as I hurried out of his office, embarrassed at my own behavior, agin. Well that deputy warn’t half bad, I thought. I felt better after talkin’ to him. My spirits raised considerable as I walked back to the saloon. I would be glad to get back and write my record of all this and get to bed. I figured that in the mornin’ I’d get to the saloon and be on my way to Pelot’s. Excitin’ evenin’, too damn excitin’ fer my likin’.

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The saloon was pretty busy when I got back and I was feelin’ the day. I went on to my blankets and fell asleep in my clothes. I didn’t get back to Gus. I worry about Mr. Lee’s job, but he was there at the livery this evenin’ when I brought Bud back. He didn’t say much, just said howdy and nodded to me, sort of like it never happened. I was too embarrassed to ask. Wednesday evenin’ I worked fast at Pelot’s feedin’ and workin’ on her work wagon, greasin’ the wheels. I hurried bact to town and et at the boardin’ house this evenin’. I et my last sandwich fer lunch yesterday. I was starved when I got to the boardin’ house, but the conversation was all about me punchin’ Cherry. It ruined supper. Mrs. Jennings sent pieces of chicken back with me. I think she knew I was embarrassed and wanted to get outta there. I stowed the extra grub from Mrs. Jennings and went out into the bar to look. I didn’t recognize anybody, so I stood at the end of the bar and caught Gus’s eye. Gus finished pouring a few more beers and strolled down the bar to visit. He moved with purpose and had sort of a funny look on his face, like somethin’ was up. What’s he got up his sleeve, I thought. “Hey, PG, I got me an idea,” Gus talked low. “Oh, hows the hand, er, stump?” “I ain’t thought much about it, except it hurt some when I punched Cherry.” I pulled it from my pocket. Dried blood stained my cuff. “Bleedin’ stopped fast. She’s scabbed over now. I ain’t really looked at it much. It don’t hurt now and I ain’t got a change of shirt. I shouldn’t be usin’ it that way so soon after gettin’ it healed up.” “Oh, you used it just fine, just fine. But I hope it ain’t hurt too bad,” said Gus. I shook my head. Gus went on, “Listen, this idea I got . . . well, hear me out on this will ya. You ever thought of fightin’, I mean fer money?” “Well hell no, I ain’t thought of fightin’ fer money,” I replied, surprised he’d suggest it. “Hear me out now PG. This could be big. I was just wonderin’, the way you moved down and up into Cherry. It reminded me of a real prize fighter. I seen Sullivan, you know? I was just a kid, but I seen him.” “Sullivan who?” I asked. “Why, the great John L. Sullivan, the champion of the world for 10 full years. He was the last of the bare knuckle champs. He was one tough son of a gun,” Gus trailed off. I was lookin’ at him as if he was talkin’ about moon people. I really had no idea of who Gus was talkin’ about. “You ain’t never heard of John L. Sullivan?” asked Gus.

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Michael B. Sessions

“Nope, I never heard of John L. Sullivan, ner any other Sullivan. I’m a farmer. Been farmin’ since I was a kid. Where am I gonna hear about John L. Sullivan?” “Well, I thought everyone heard of John L. Sullivan.” “I ain’t,” I finished. “Well, that ain’t the point, ner the important part. You was fast as greased lightnin’ when you up and cracked Cherry. It was like you was automatic, ya didn’t think or aim ner nuthin’. You just up and popped him up side his head, and the lights was out. It was a thing of beauty, actually. He never even seen it coming.” “He was drunk,” I replied. “He couldn’t see much of anythin’.” “Nah, I mean, he didn’t even suspect it let alone see it comin’,” grinned Gus. “You shoulda seen yerself. Just think about fightin’ fer money PG. I can help ya. I think I know a way to get ya started, just think about it,” said Gus. “You could make some real money. I talked to Melvin and Jasper. They know a guy. I wish Jasper woulda seen it.” Gus’s enthusiasm was infectious, and the comment about money interested me. But, I am ignorant when it comes to prize fightin’. I ain’t ever even seen a match between fighters, professional ner otherwise. The only fightin’ I have ever done is with my brothers and sisters and cousins at school, or at family reunions, or at the swimmin’ hole fer “king of the raft.” That fightin’ wasn’t with fists or in anger, but I wasn’t often outdone fer king of the raft. “Just think about what I’m sayin’ PG. You might be real glad ya did,” said Gus. “There is a regular circuit of fights that moves from town to town around the country. The schedule is secret, but we know a guy, who knows a guy. Jasper says there’s fights every Saturday night somewhere tween Helena and Salt Lake City. Men come from all over and stick their money in the pot and fight, winner take all. There is a lot of bettin’ goin’ on too. Might be worth lookin’ into PG, if’n you want to make some serious money.” “Yeah, I’ll think about it,” I said. “See ya.” I retired to the storeroom and lay down on my blanket bed. It had been a long, tiring day. After Gus’s new revelation, I was wide awake though, so I sat up and wrote the days happenin’s down here. Work at Pelot’s has been good. There ain’t too many animals to feed. I put in a couple of hours workin’ at the tack and straigntenin’ the tack room and greased the wagon. There is a lot to do just cleanin’ up, and Mrs. Pelot pays me no mind. I’m off to sleep. Friday, October 27 Didn’t get to writin’ yesterday. Too much goin’ on workin and thinkin’, and I was tired out.

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Evenin’ I was upset all yesterday and last night with excitement and nerves. I was up extra early this mornin’. Lookin’ out the back, I could see no trace of light in the east. Dark sky covered town. I calculate clouds blocked the stars. Musta been about 4:00 am. I felt fer, and found a match I left on the shelf last night, and lit the lantern, dressed, folded my blankets and got my belongin’s in a pile. I been thinkin’ a lot about Gus’s idea, and I was anxious to get to work on the bar and to get off to Pelot’s farm. I’m more comfortable out there. It’s quiet and nobody round to bother a man. Headin’ home in the mornin’. Saturday Night, October 28 This mornin’ I got up about 4:00 again and lighted some lanterns in the saloon and dumped the spittoons out back, but washed them in the storeroom. I recognized how early it I was cause I could still see the stars and I could see no light from an approachin’ sun. I lit two more lanterns in the bar and began to sweep. As I swept, I thought, Idaho Falls is gettin’ lectricity and lectric lights fore long. Jen seen them in Salt Lake once. I wonder if they’ll ever get lectricity in Rigby? I finished my work as the sun peeped over the hills. I cleaned my equipment, stallin’. It is cold outside. A skiff of snow fell last evenin’, but it is clear and cold this mornin’. I figured it was about 6:00 am and I knew the time it would take to get to Pelot’s, so I shrugged on my coat and glove and grabbed up my clothes and Jen’s empty fruit bottles and walked into the barroom. I stood and looked out the front window to see if there was light in the livery. There was. I could go get Bud. I expected to find Ron Lee up and about. Cherry could not be up that early in the mornin’. I turned down the lanterns, snuffin’ them out and left through the back and made my way to the livery, enterin’ through the unlocked door. Ron Lee was just beginnin’ his chores. “PG,” he said quietly in greetin’. “Hey, Ron Lee. You doin alright?” I asked. “I am now. I ain’t seen Cherry much.” “You figure he’ll fire you fer what I done the other night?” “Don’t rightly know. Hope not, but I wouldn’t put it past him none. I ain’t seen much of him, like I said.” “Sorry to cause you trouble.” “Don’t worry none. I had better jobs and I can find another if he lets me go.” “Sorry anyway. I, I didn’t mean you no harm. I got to get Bud and get out to Pelot’s. I’ll check with ya when I get back Sunday night,” I told him.

140

Michael B. Sessions

“I’ll take sixty cents out fer ya if Cherry fires me. He won’t want to put up yer horse when he knows it’s yours,” smiled Ron Lee. “Ya know, it was good to see that son of a gun go down though. And he did go down hard, didn’t he?” laughed Ron Lee. I couldn’t help smilin’ while I got Bud ready to travel. I tied my saddle bags hind the cantle, and made one last check on the paddin’ round the bottles. The two bottles were packed neat and would be safe from breakage. I decided to ride to Pelot’s place and feed and water Bud with her stock. I figured she wouldn’t mind. “See ya Sunday night,” I told Ron Lee. I walked Bud out of the livery and mounted. We walked up the main street. It was still mighty early and dark. Town still slept. I got to Mrs. Pelot’s barn as the sun came full up over the hills. The stock was ready and willing fer feed after a cold night. Hay lay in the loft and I climbed the ladder careful. Climbin’ ladders one handed takes a little care. I forked down hay and watered the animals, includin’ Bud. I was gone fore Mrs. Pelot stirred from her house. I hope she’s alright. Smoke curled from her chimney. I expect she’s fine. I did put a lot of thought into Gus’s idea the last few days and on the ride home this mornin’. I ain’t so sure about it though. Bud made record time this mornin’. We hurried like there was a posse after us out through the tiny bergs of Lincoln and Iona, takin’ the straightest possible line to Rigby. We took a break about ever hour and I got off and walked fer about 5 minutes. I allowed Bud to drink from an irrigation canal that wasn’t frozen complete over, then remounted and drove him fer home. We didn’t stop like usual. I didn’t have to drive hard. Bud knows when we’re headin’ home. He pounded the earth without much encouragement. The day is clear and the sky is a pure pale blue. I coulda et a young cow by the time we got home. I hadn’t bathed in a week. I suppose I might have to make arrangements to bathe and eat, and take care of Bud when I’m in Idaho Falls, but that takes money. Maybe Mrs. Pelot might help with Bud, if things go south at the livery. We’ll see. I rode into our yard at 11:30 am, by Jen’s clock, a little more than three hours ridin’ time. Soon as I came through the door, Jen started in on me, “My goodness PG, you do look a sight.” I just grinned and swept her up and kissed her with my whiskery face. “PG!” she exclaimed. “Your whiskers! You really must take your razor with you next week. And you must find a place to bathe, especially if you’re going to be around people.” “Pa! pa! pa!” hollered Della runnin’ to me. She leaped into my arms, huggin’ me, and I snuzzed her neck with my whiskers. She cringed, and

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laughed from the ticklin’ whiskers. Stella and Owen soon joined the huddle. Dang it was good to be home. “Pa, you’re late. We thought you was coming home last night.” “Were,” corrected Jenny. “I was hopin’ you’d come home last night. Where ya been pa?” “Well Sweetpea, I been back to Idaho Falls, workin’. I earned some good money. In fact, I got some money comin’ from workin’ early this mornin’ too. I shoulda brought you somethin’, but I don’t ever think about it til I get about a mile from town. Next time, I’ll try to bring you squirts a treat.” “It’s OK pa.” said Della. She brightened just havin’ her pa home. “What are you doin’ for work pa?” she asked. “Well, ah, I do some cleanin’, and I work fer a lady takin’ care of her stock.” It was easier talkin’ about the stock. “Della, you talk to pa later. He has got to get cleaned up and we’ll get him some lunch ready. You have anything to eat this morning darlin’?” Jenny asked. “No, I ain’t et since last night really. I am hungry as all hel . . . get out. Cook me a bunch of whatever you’ve a mind.” “PG!” said Jenny. Sorry sweetheart,” I said. “I didn’t really cuss. I did bring some money home agin. It feels darn good to have some money in hand. It’s gonna come in mighty handy.” “How much you make pa?” asked Della. “Never you mind,” said Jenny. “Oh, I made nough, and I’ll make more next week. Mrs. Pelot ain’t paid me yet, so I should bring home a good little pile when she settles-up.” ∞ I washed mysef and felt alive agin, and I helped Jenny dump the water out the back door and rinsed the tub fore hangin’ it on the cellar wall along the steps goin’ down. Jenny then hugged me close and kissed me hello. “You smell much better dear” she said. “I could almost get used to a man that smelled this good.” “Yer just smellin’ success. I’m a rich man darlin’,” I laughed. “It is good to see you smile and hear you laugh PG.” “Yeah, it’s been a while since I felt much like laughin’.” “How’s yer hand pa?”asked Della. “It’s ok,” I told her as I lifted my stump and looked at it, inspectin’ it fer wear.

142

Michael B. Sessions

“How come you got a scab on the end of yer arm pa?” “Well, I’ll tell ya about it later. I hurt it in a little scuffle. Now, let’s have some of yer ma’s cookin. I could eat a whole dang cow.” “Ah, pa, you cain’t eat no cow.” “Could if you had one here on the table,” I teased. “Can’t eat ‘a’ cow,” corrected Jenny. We laughed and sat to eat. Jen set soup and bread in front of me. She baked the bread this mornin’. The slices were still warm. She also baked a mince meat pie. It’s my favorite. She saved the pie til I et my fill of soup and bread. I went through three bowls and Della lost count of the slices of bread. “You were mighty hungry, pa,” said Stella. “Didn’t ya eat while you was gone?” “Were gone,” reminded Jenny. Nothing changes. “Were gone,” said Stella. “Oh yeah, I et some,” I said. “I et all yer ma sent and then I et me some items from the store. I et at the boardin’ house and really socked’r away there. Seems like a week ago. I had a grand meal at the boardin’ house. The old lady fills platters with fried chicken and she made milk gravy like ma’s, and she had vegetables and apple pie. Them that live there eat like kings. I didn’t eat much since then though, and I’m sure glad to get home and have some good vittles.” “Ah, pa, you sound funny. What’s vittles?” asked Della. “That’s food Del. Vittles means victuals. Victuals is food. My momma taught me about victuals,” I told her. “Go on now and watch your brother and sister,” said Jenny. “I want to talk to your pa.” I went on guard. This could not be good. Jenny has a tone when she wants to talk to me, and I could feel that she’d be questionin’ me more thorough. “What did happen to yer stump?” asked Jenny. “Well, I, er, well I sort of got in a fight and hurt it a little.” “You hit a man?” her voice raised in surprise. “Well, it all happened because this here feller, a real pecker head, there in town started givin’ me bull about bein’ a cripple. I couldn’t help it. Bein’ right handed, I led with my left and popped him in the head with my stump. He went down hard,” I couldn’t help grinnin’ while I was tellin’ her. “I guess I ain’t quite ready fer that kind of action, cause my stump stung and started bleedin’.”

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“PG, I’m ashamed of you, fighting in a bar. I didn’t marry a barroom brawler, did I?” “It warn’t no brawl darlin’. The dumb som-bitch went down with one punch. No brawl . . .” I couldn’t keep my face straight. “I was just stickin’ up fer mysef and another guy that was in the bar. I won’t tolerate a loudmouth, bad mouthin’, no account, drunk, downgradin’ me, ner a friend. I might only have one hand, but I ain’t got to take crap from the likes of that guy.” “I just don’t want you getting into trouble and I don’t like you fighting in town,” said Jenny. “Well, look Jen,” I said wantin’ to make a deal. “I got to talk to ya about somethin’ and I want ya to keep an open mind now, hear? This is probably not a good time, but I don’t get much time with you nowadays. Open mind, ya hear?” “Yes, I hear, and I will keep my mind open, but I may not agree with what you try to fill it with,” she grinned back. Her grin gave me cautious courage. “Jen, I talked to this guy who works at the bar nights. He is about my age, and he said I could do real good fightin’ fer money. And, and, and, I just want you to think about it.” Jenny’s face darkened immediately. “I doubt that is a good profession for any man, but a one handed man may have a very difficult time I imagine. Besides, I don’t think that is a Christian way to make a living, bashing other men.” “Well, Gus, the guy at the bar, don’t describe it that way. He claims he seen great boxers who moved beautiful,” I built up the story some. “He thinks I can do real good at it. I just thought I might give it a try’s all. I’m makin’ good money at cleanin’ the bar, but it is hellish work and low. I don’t even know what Mrs. Pelot is gonna pay me. We never got around to discussin’ it. I was so happy to get a job with her that I just lit out and went on back to town. I know she’ll be fair, but . . . “ Jenny was skeptical. “PG, be sensible. You don’t have a chance against professional fighters.” “Well, I don’t know how professional they are. Gus ain’t told me the whole idea yet. Says we’ll start with small town fights. He said that all the little towns round the country have fights on Saturday nights, and that men come from all around to throw money in the hat and fight fer the whole wad, winner takes it all. They ain’t really professional, they just like to fight and make some extra money.” “And you think you can win it all? You haven’t even seen these fights, nor the men who fight in them. I can’t believe that the men who make a living in such a way are good men to be around,” said Jenny. “I just don’t know PG. I think you are doing very well to have two jobs in town, but we miss you here. We can keep up with the chores for a while, and Glenn has

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been a great help, but we can’t keep leaning on Glenn to help while you’re in town. What do you think he’d think if he knew you were going to gamble your earnings on fighting? Why, he’d think you lost your mind.” “Ah Jen, Glenn’ll go along with it. If I do good, I’ll split some of the winnin’s with him to pay him fer helpin’ here.” “Winnings! You’re actually expecting to win? You have never fought like this before, and you’re expecting to win.” “Well, Gus has seen’em and he thinks I’ll do just fine. Besides, Jen, I don’t know if I’ll actually try it, I was just tellin’ you about the idea, that’s all. And you was the one that asked about the hurt on my arm. It’d be good to win at sumpthin’.” “Well, I don’t want you fighting for money,” Jenny said as she left the table. “Glenn will probably be around to help with chores and check to see if you’re home. Let’s not have him catch us arguing.” She looked out the door. Her eyes glistened with tears, but none escaped. I didn’t know we were arguin’. I wasn’t even upset. She was, but not me. Takes two to argue. ∞ I hadn’t been all that keen on the idea of prize fightin’ til I told Jenny. I hate it when I am told I can’t, or shouldn’t do somethin’. I would have treated the idea lighter had Jenny not tried to squelch it. The idea was as far-fetched to me as it was to her when we started talkin’ about it. It hurt to have her think that I am less a man because I only got one hand. I sat by mysef thinkin’, til Jen came back in the kitchen and started cleanin’ up. I got up slow from the table and squeezed past her and went on out the door. It felt good to be on my own place. I went to the barn to fuss around and talk to Bud. In the barn, Bud stood patient. Della and Stella musta slipped his saddle, blanket, and bridle off. The horse stood quiet, eatin’ from the 1/8th bale of hay Della pulled down fer him. They’re good kids, I thought. I got a brush and brushed Bud’s rippling flank while I thought. I decided I just might give fightin’ a try. I’ll have to make somethin’ up about stayin’ in town an extra day. It is somethin’ I’m gonna have to plan careful. She’ll know somethin’s up now fer sure. “Well, how the heck are ya,” came a voice from behind. I turned to meet Glenn. “Tolerable you skinny bugger,” I said back to him. “How you been?” “Good,” said Glenn. “How’d Idaho Falls treat ya this week?” “Well, I did my work, and I made a few dollars. It wasn’t too bad, but it wasn’t home neither. Thanks fer helpin’ around here agin. I hope it warn’t too much trouble.” “No trouble,” said Glenn.

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“Lets go fer a little walk,” I said. “I want to run somethin’ past ya.” We walked through the corral and across the pasture. The exact route we took the day I blew off my damn hand. I wasn’t thinkin’ about that just then. The sun shone and the late afternoon air felt crisp. Two inches of snow blanketed the ground. Glenn and I walked in silence fer a time, savoring the companionship that had been lost the last year. “Glenn, I need to get yer advice about somethin’.” “That’s a first,” said Glenn. “I’m serious.” “Well shoot. What’s the problem?” “I don’t hardly know how to explain the problem. It ain’t a problem really, it’s an idea is all. I been workin’ in Idaho Falls in a bar.” “A bar, what for?” asked Glenn “You don’t drink now, do ya?” “Nah, Glenn, I just got this here job cleanin’ the place up. It is a stinkin’ dirty job, but the pay is good and the men workin’ there been straight with me. Now shut up, and quit interruptin’.” “Go head.” “I got a sort of hair brained idea here Glenn, and Jenny don’t like it AT ALL.” “Well, you done some things that are questionable,” joked Glenn. “You made a joke. YOU made a joke. Why that ain’t like you Glenn. Now stop tryin’ to be funny and listen.” “Like I said, shoot,” said Glenn agin. “I met a guy in town that thinks I can fight and make some money, good money compared to what I make cleanin’ spittoons and sweepin’ the bar. I don’t know nuthin’ about fightin’ fer money, but he thinks I can do real good.” “Sounds crazy as all get-out. So, what do you think?” asked Glenn. “I have not one dern idea,” I said. “I only fought with my brothers and sisters and cousins, and they couldn’t wup me none, and they was meaner’n snakes, so I figure it was a good a test as any.” “Well yeah, fer a two fisted man,” said Glenn. “Er, sorry PG, I didn’t mean nothin’ by that, but you got to think about it.” “No offense taken Glenn. I have had the thought mysef, but I punched this here Cherry feller. He owns the livery where I keep Bud. I told you about him. Cherry insulted me and the fella works fer him, so I up and popped him in the jaw after he swung on me first. It only hurt a little on my stump, but Cherry went down like I rammed him in the face with a two-by-four. I

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may be a little shorter on the reach, but if I can land one, it’s gunna knock’em fer a loop.” “Well, I got a few questions,” said Glenn. “I got a lot of questions my own sef,” I replied. “You go first.” “What brought this here feller to the conclusion that you was a fighter? You said you only threw one punch. How does this guy know you can do any good? What’s he get out of it anyways? Where are these fights and how much does it cost to get a chance? What happens . . . “ “Hold on a minute,” I stopped him. “I can’t keep up with all yer questions. The man said he seen great fighters in his time and he says my punch would drop most of’em. I ain’t sure where they hold the fights, I’ll have to find out. Gus says they hold’em in towns all around the country, Idaho, Utah, Montana, but I ain’t heard of any. He says there’s a lot of’em, almost every weekend, someplace.” “I ain’t ever heard of none neither, but then I don’t folla fightin’. And, what does he get out of all this?” Glenn asked agin. “Well, he ain’t said nuthin’ about gettin’ anythin’ out of it. We only just discussed it fer a minute. He wants me to think it over and let him know when I get back to town tomorrow night.” “What happens if you get hurt?” asked Glenn. “That’s probably a big one fer Jen.” “That’s the other thing. Jenny’s agin it all together. It made me kinda mad, the way she stomped the idea from the very beginnin’.” “Well, you better fergit it then,”said Glenn. “I can’t fergit it,” I said. “I ain’t goin’ to have a woman tellin’ me what I can and can’t do, and I am dang interested in makin’ enough money so’s I don’t have to depend of farmin’, ner cleanin’ spittoons all my life. Gus thinks I can do that. I might have to fight on the sly fer a while.” “Poh…crumb,” breathed out Glenn. “I don’t want no part of this conversation,” said Glenn. “I don’t see nuthin’ but problems fer you old partner.” “Well, do you think I can do it? The fightin’ I mean?” “I suppose you can do anythin’ you’ve a mind to. I just don’t know enough to give no good advice here. I do advise agin crossin’ Jen though. She’s the best thing ever happened to you. Ya better have her support, or the whole thing could blow up in yer face.” “Do you think I can do it Glenn?” I insisted. “Well, I don’t know,” Glenn raised his voice. “You’ll have to decide that fer yersef. Just look into it dang careful.” We got quiet and stood in the pasture lookin’ at the countryside. The sun lay comfortable on our shoulders, but it was coolin’ fast. I was hopin’

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Glenn would say somethin’ like, “Sure you can do it.” But he didn’t. We just stood, quiet, lookin’ at the snow and trees. Snow glistened white and sparkled in the afternoon sun. Neither of us wanted to leave and each thought his own thoughts fer a time. It was good to be with Glenn and the early snow held promise fer him. Three head of dear ran across the pasture about a hundred yards out. We watched them go into the trees next to the river. “Well, we better get on back,” I said. I was a little dejected. “I got a lot to do fer I head back to Idaho Falls tomorrow.” Glenn, sayin’ nothin’, turned behind me and followed me back to the house. “Want a bite to eat Glenn?” “Nah, thank ya just the same. I better get on back home. Need any help with chores?” “Nah. Got’em done fer you come. Didn’t take too long. Thanks fer all you been doin’ fer us Glenn. I’ll be seein’ ya,” I said. “I’ll see ya at church in the mornin’. Save us a seat if you beat us there. I probably won’t stop on the way to I.F. tomorrow. I’m ridin’ straight to this lady’s place and carin’ fer stock. You heard of the Widder Pelot?” “Can’t say as I have.” “She’s a pretty good old gal that hired me to help feed a little and take care her place some. See you in the mornin’.” Glenn mounted his horse and kicked it up fer home. “Go lay some eggs, you dang birds.” I kicked at the chickens in frustration as I walked to the house. I ignored Jenny and the kids and went to my chair, pickin’ up my scriptures as I sat. I tried to read, but could think of little else side Gus’s idea. I don’t know enough to make a decision, and my impatience is wearin’ on me. I’m irritable cause of my own indecision and from Jenny’s attitude. “Where’d you and Glenn get off to?” she asked. “Ah, we just walked out toward the river.” I offered no more. “Well, why don’t you go feed the animals and straighten up the barn. You better milk. You remember milking?” “Funny. Very funny. The animals’re fed. I do have to go milk though. I milked more buckets that you ever seen, so don’t lecture me.” I said, crabby. Jenny ignored my crabbiness. “We’ll have a nice supper in about an hour.” Jenny could tell I was not accomplishin’ much readin’. I didn’t answer agin. I placed my scriptues back by the arm of the rocker and went to the barn fer chores. I am tired of chores around this

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good fer nuthin farm, I thought. “And, this here ain’t no barn neither, not by a stretch. Nothin’ like Pelot’s barn. Now there’s a barn.” I put more feed out fer Bud and fer Bob and Tom. Bob and Tom are Percherons. Byron made a gift of the team to Jen and me, the day we got married. I need to get back and see Byron and the family one day. The horses are in their prime and I’m proud of them. “Wish there was some work fer you fellas,” I said aloud. Bob’s a little smaller that Tom, but they are a fine team. They are grey with white spots mottled or the other way around, I can never decide fer sure how to describe their coats. They can outwork all the other draft horse teams in the area. I run the team at the fair and win prizes in pullin’ contests. Now there just ain’t any work fer the horses beside pullin’ the wagon now and then. Bob and Tom came to the fence and I scratched’em good. “I’m obliged to you two,” I said. “Maybe we’ll get after some work in the spring,” I said to them. I do love to feel the power of the big horses through the reins, and to watch the muscles work in their huge hind quarters as they pull. “Hey Bob, high Tom,” I’d crow. I threw some feed in fer the milk cows. They are good old creatures and they treat us good. The food keeps them busy while I milk. A little work helped me keep my mind off the idea of fightin’. I can’t make a decision now anyways. I don’t know enough. I’ll talk more to Gus Monday. I tried to remember Glenn’s questions. They were good questions, questions I’d like to know the answers to. ∞ When I got to the house, Jen was put out, as she puts it. She had supper on the table, but I was late. “PG, I said I’d have supper in an hour. What are you doing fiddling with those horses?” I kept my piece and sat down at the table fer supper. “Let us pray,” I tried to sound real pious and dignified, mimickin’ a deep deep voice. Della and Stella laughed, but Jenny was too angry at me. I said grace, and we set to our plates in silence, except the kids. Owen feeds hissef from scraps Jenny pulls apart fer him. Glennis lay under a blanket nursing as we all sat and et our supper. Jen burped Glennis then handed her to me. “Sit with her while I get supper cleared off the table,” she told me. I took Glennis from her and sat with her on my lap. She dropped sound asleep in moments. It occurred to me that I hadn’t held my new daughter fer, well, I couldn’t remember the last time. She and Owen are growin’. I squeezed, feeling her legs and feet. My gads, how’ve I missed yer growin’ girl, I thought. I hugged and kissed her and snuzzled her little neck with my face. She cringed and made a sour face in her sleep. I

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laughed and hugged her close while Jenny and Della cleaned. Stella played on the floor with Owen and her doll. Jenny and I agreed early on that we’d make it a point to try and always eat together with our children. When Jen got done fussin’ with the kitchen, she said, “PG, say family prayers.” I should have taken the lead, but I didn’t think of it. I don’t always have family prayers. It was a little jab from Jen. I wanted to ask fer help in makin’ a decision about prize fightin’, but I thought better of it and decided I’d ask in my private prayers. I don’t get much guidance anyway. Sometimes I think my prayers hit the ceilin’ and stop dead. I’ll try and remember to pray before bedtime. We had prayers, then I hugged and kissed the kids and Jen trunked them off to bed. Della hung around fer a little exta joshin’. “How was that soup we had fer supper,” I asked. “Kind of watery I thought.” “It was good pa. You ate about ten bowls,” she giggled. “I did no such thing. I was keepin’ count, and it was only three. You know, speakin’ of water, I used to know an old injun that used to suck on a rock to get the water out of it while he walked across the desert.” “Oh pa, you can’t get no water out of a rock.” “Any water,” jumped in Jen. “Well, I seen it once. He just picked a pebble up off the ground, popped it in his mouth and started suckin’ on it. He turned and took off. I could see him walkin’ fer a couple of days the ground was so flat. He never did take a drink of water, less it was when I was sleepin’.” “Ah pa. You know that ain’t true.” “Isn’t true,” corrected Jen. “True as true,” I said. “Why would he suck on a rock to get water, pa?” “Yes pa, why would he do that?” asked Jenny. “Well, suckin’ on a rock keeps the saliva in yer mouth movin’ and you don’t get a dry mouth. I figure it’s true as can be,” I said. “Della,” said Jen. “You get on to bed now.” “Yes’m,” said Della. Jen and I were finally alone. She looked young and fetchin’. She was aglow from bein’ pregnant. She kept fussin’ round, cleanin’ things she already cleaned a couple of times. “So, how’s things with the new baby?” I asked. “I’m feeling fine. Just a little sick to the stomach in the mornings, but I’m fine now.” “How you doing with this new baby?” asked Jen.

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“Oh, I’m worried some, but havin’ a job, and now two, takes some of the worry out of it. I might even be able to make a little money on the side,” I went on. I was not thinkin’ about prize fightin’, but she thought I was. “Well, you aren’t thinking of fighting for it,” she bristled. I bristled back, “If I decide to make some extra money, it ain’t no never mind to you how I do it, long as it don’t mean robbin’ no bank.” Jenny didn’t reply, she just looked past me, but I noticed her lips were pressed tight together. It was a sure sign that her argument had not subsided. She was just gatherin’ steam. “I don’t want to argue about it,” I said. “Fact is, I don’t’ want to talk about it at all. I wasn’t thinkin’ of fightin’ when I said my piece. Fact is, I was thinkin’ about how fine you look and how nice it is to be here with ya. Yer ruinin’ it.” “Well, OK, I’ll not mention it, but you surely know how I feel about it.” “Oh yeah, I sure as hell know how you feel about it. So, you ain’t got to go on the fight. How about we call a truce and just enjoy the rest of the evenin’ and the time we got, just the two of us. How often does that happen? You know, I could get a little frisky tonight, I do believe.” I laughed, a little nervous. She grinned back and sat on my lap. “I was sort of thinking the same thing,” she said. “I got a new quilt to get under.” “Well, let’s git ready fer bed and see about the quilt,” I teased. It has been a while since me and Jenny been together. The last time may have been when the baby Jenny’s carryin’ got conceived. Jenny is now showin’ her pregnancy a little. But, she still completely disarms me with her beauty. I thought, I’ll be careful and tender with her in her delicate condition. I got dang aroused and I grabbed Jen and started pullin’ her to our room. “Hold on a minute PG, you’re going to wreck me.” We kissed and caressed one another. “This here’s somethin’ I been missin Jen.” “Me too,” she whispered. “Why don’t we do more of this?” I asked. “Well, you haven’t been around much lately,” Jenny grinned. “I think it could be arranged.” ∞ Couldn’t sleep, so I got up and stirred the fire and started writin’. I came to my chair and been thinkin’ and writin’ fer a couple hours by the light of the fire. My eyes are mighty tired.

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I been thinkin’ about havin’ to leave tomorrow fer Idaho Falls. The same old thoughts keep comin’ back, takin’ some of the fun away from the evenin’. I also been thinkin’ heavy about fightin’. I wanna try. I’m impatient to get ahead, not to clean spittoons and work horses, and farm, but to really get ahead fer a change. I’m keepin’ these thoughts to mysef. I’m not wantin’ to ruin things round here. Jen got up to check on me. “Got anythin’ to eat Jen?” I asked. I put my arm around her and pulled her close. I grinned to mysef thinkin’, This is an evenin’ to remember on those lonely nights, on that hard floor, of that stinkin’ saloon. “If you want something to eat, you’ll have to let go of me.” “I’d rather wait til morning then,” I grinned. I hung on to her fer a little, then let her go. She went off to the kitchen and got a little roast beef and a slice of bread. I lit the lantern so I could keep to writin’ fer a spell. ∞ I’m stirred-up about travelin’ to Idaho Falls. I ain’t even sleepy, thinkin’ about havin’ to leave tomorrow. It is common fer me to stay awake when I get worried before any big, or important event. I’m worried about goin’ back to Idaho Falls and stayin’ the whole week and havin’ to make a decision about fightin’. Last week was an adventure, but now that I have two jobs, and the prospect of an experience that might change my life, well, it’s danged excitin’. I’ll be gone from the family fer anythin’ that might happen, good or bad. The idea of being away from them is not appealin’, now that everythin’ is more normal with Jen. But, I reckon this new income is awful welcome and a necessity. I been lucky, I’m thinkin. I’m callin’ it a night and crawlin’ back in bed beside Jen. I ain’t writ since Friday, so I been up fer quite a spell tonight catchin’ up. It’s late, or early, dependin’ how you look at it. Sunday Mornin’, October 30 When I got back to bed, Jen sighed lightly and snuggled agin me. She slept sound as I thought more and listened and stroked her breasts. Finally, I let it all be, but I slept in bits and fits. I spent a short, restless night. I’m writin’ a little while Jen’s gettin’ breakfast. Della and Stel are helpin’ and Owen and Glennis are still sleepin’ sound. They’ll be up before long and Glennis will be howlin’ fer her ma. Sunday Afternoon We made it to church meetin’ this mornin’. I was able to get Glenn off to the side after church while Jen and the kids visited everybody else. “What were them questions you thought I should check fore I go to fightin’?”

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“Mostly, what’s in it fer the guy who suggested it. That’s what I’m wonderin’ about.” “What else?” “What you gonna do if you get yerself hurt? How you gonna take care of yersef and yer family then? Them kind of questions are the ones that bother me.” I made mental notes and wrote most of this down when we got back home. It’s time to get packed up and start fer Idaho Falls. I sure ain’t on fire about it. I’m tired from bein’ up all night. I could’ve slept real good in meetin’, but Jen kept jabbin’ me with her elbow. Fore we left fer church this mornin’, Jen started a roast and vegetables in the dutch. The meal is ready now and Jen is gettin’ it all on the table. We changed clothes from our Sunday best, to everyday work clothes and we’re about to sit fer our meal. I’m leavin’ right after, so I’ll write tonight, or tomorrow. Night in the storeroom This afternoon, we sat to our meal. I et quick but enjoyed the food. Roast is a big favorite with me. Jen packed as much food as she could and that she knew wouldn’t spoil fore I could eat it. She used an old flour sack, and I tied it to the pommel of my saddle. I was careful to pack my heaviest coat and rain slicker. Weather’ll be turnin’ colder and snowy. I took two sets of clothes and I’m plannin’ on a bath, maybe at the boardin’ house mid-week. Other than that, I’ll have to wash mysef in the storeroom of the saloon. I hope I don’t freeze my business clean off if I have to do that. Fore I left this afternoon, I kissed and hugged the kids and swung Stella, Owen, and Della madly in circles while they giggled. I held both their little hands in my one large hand and swung’m into high circles. I did Owen under my arm. I then picked up Jenny and let her slide down the front of me until I could kiss her full on the mouth. Della, embarrassed, ran and joined in the hug. “This here’s a fine family hug,” I said, and pulled them all in the hug. “See you beauties in a week,” I grinned. I was shootin’ more bravado than I really felt. “See you next Saturday Pa,” said Della. I threw Stella into the air several times, ignorin’ her squeals, and I hugged her and kissed her too. “You be good, little sister.” I swung Owen around and kissed him too. Jenny warned, “You be careful PG and remember what I said about fighting.” I hoped she wouldn’t say nuthin’ more about that. Her warnin’ took what fun there was out of my leavin’. I ignored Jenny’s comment, and mounted Bud and reigned him away from the family. I pushed my hat down tight on my head and kicked Bud up. At the same time I hollered,

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“See ya!” and charged through the gate as if he were chargin’ an opposin’ army. My hat brim flapped back with the wind as I let Bud have his head. I ran Bud up the road toward Johnson’s place, but pulled him up a bit as he wasn’t even warmed-up. I loped him half mile, then I let him run easy the rest of the way to Glenn’s place. I wanted to talk to Glenn once more fore I left fer the week. I wanted to get to Pelot’s but I needed to talk to Glenn. I was still lookin’ fer reassurance. ∞ When I got to Glenn’s he was in the barn. I found him there and said, “Ride with me a ways toward Idaho Falls Glenn.” “ Ah, ma’s got dinner on the table. I darsn’t leave right now. What’s botherin’ ya’ the fightin’ thing eh?” “Yeah, I want to try it and Jen’s dead agin it. What do you really think Glenn? I’d like some good advice from a friend.” “I think I ain’t gettin’ in the middle of it, that’s what I think.” “Well, now whyn’t you run fer political office?” I asked, laughin’ at my joke. “It is a decision only you can make. I do want you to let me know it you give it a go. I’d like to see. Sides, you already asked me and I told ya. You ain’t lookin’ fer a no answer, you want me to say it’s a good idea. Well, I don’t necessarily think that it is a good idea PG.” “Well, I’ll let you know when I find out. See ya next week then. Let me give ya this here dollar Glenn, and would ya look in on the girls a few times this week agin?” “Yeah, I’ll look in on’em, but ya cain’t give me no dollar fer doin’ it.” “It ain’t paying ya,” I told him. “I just want you to have this here dollar. Times is hard and you been a good friend. It ain’t pay, it’s just, well it’s, heck, I don’t know what it is, it’s a dern dollar. Take it and buy somethin’, or save it, or throw the dang thing away fer all I care.” I leaned down from the saddle and let the dollar slide into Glenn’s shirt pocket. He started to back away, but I was quicker. I was lucky Glenn was on the right side of the horse so’s I could lean out and slip the dollar in with my right hand. Before Glenn could take it out and hand it back, I kicked Bud up, and was on my way. I waved, but didn’t look back at Glenn. Bud, watered, warmed up and fed, was ready to travel. I still had plenty of daylight left when I left Glenn’s yard. I let Bud hurry to Idaho Falls. I rode and considered the idea of winnin’ money fightin’. My life had been semi-violent as long as I remember. There’s been fights with the Indians and I seen men killed and maimed. I missed the war tween the

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states, but I fought with land grabbers down in Utah, never hand to hand, but I fired my rifle in anger. I ain’t afraid, just ignorant about how to fight with rules and all. I always protected mysef good durin’ fist fights and I didn’t often feel the sting of bein’ hit in the face. The ride to Idaho Falls gave me time to think of the questions I want answered about fightin’ fer money. Bud had no trouble keepin’ the pace I set. In fact, he wanted to go harder than I was askin’ him. My confidence in the horse is well founded. I decided to take Bud southeast along the foothills and not follow the river. The river route is longer. The foothill route saves time and distance, specially headin’ fer Pelot’s place. We passed several homesteads, all of them dried up as bad as my place. Ridin’ hard, we circled from the east and made it to Pelot’s place in just over three hours. It was dark when I entered the barn. I pulled Bud’s saddle and let him cool down in a fresh stall. There was feed I put in a few days ago. Mrs. Pelot spotted me through the tall windows of her house as I rode in. She turned the corners of her mouth down and nodded her head. I suppose she approved of me comin’ and keepin’ my word, but she’s a serious old woman. She did not come out to visit. I worked fast. It took me longer that it would have if I had two hands, but I was satisfied that I was not much slower than I had ever been. My stump felt numb on the end after a little while. Beside an occasional ache, I ain’t havin’ much trouble with the stump. Not much feelin’ at all on the end. Doc tells me scar tissue has few nerves, so the end would not hurt, but the ache would stay fer a long time. The skin tears easy. I keep my cuff turned over the stump and pinned-up. I’m gettin’ used to it, and it ain’t uncomfortable. Sometimes I still feel my old hand. ∞ I went over what I wanted to say to Gus as Bud took me into town. Everythin’ looked the same as when I left. The time with my family, and Jen, seems like a dream. The bag of food tied to the pommel reminds me. I rode right to the saloon, knowin’ it would be empty. I agreed to clean it Monday mornin’ fore the start of business. I went to the livery stable to put Bud up proper fer the week. Ron Lee was sittin’ on a bale of grass hay near the door, nappin’. “Hey, Ron Lee,” I said. “How be ye?” You’d a thought I shot a cannon off beside his ear. He jumped up, wild eyed. “What the . . . Oh, hello PG. What you doin’ out so late. You come to punch Cherry agin?” We laughed together. “Nah,” I said. “Sorry to startle ya. I come to see if you’ll take care’a Bud fer the week. There ain’t but one livery in town, is there?” “This is it, far as I know,” said Ron Lee.

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“The charge’ll be a dollar for the week. Cherry checks sometimes, er I’d put him up fer nuthin’. He comes in here and counts the horses that ain’t his and checks the cash agin his count, wonderin’ if I’m cheatin’ him I suppose. Then he grabs the cash and heads fer the saloon.” Ron laughed. “As it is, you better stay low and I’ll take care of your horse for you. Let me know when you need him and we’ll stay out of Cherry’s sight. I put him in under some made up name. That way you’ll not run into Cherry and he won’t know who’s horse the money’s comin’ from.” “I appreciate it Ron Lee.” I gave Ron Lee my last dollar and, we put Bud in a clean stall and pulled the tack and my belongin’s from the horse. Ron Lee hoisted the saddle on a wooden horse made to hold saddles and hung the bridle on the wall inside Bud’s stall. He threw the saddle blanket over the low wall to air. “Let me help you get your things over to the saloon. That’s where you’re stayin’ ain’t it?” “Yeah it is, and I thank ya,” I said. We hauled the baggage around the buildin’ and to the back door. The back door was locked as usual. I wasn’t over concerned that Ron Lee see where the key is hid fer the back door. The locked door is open when the bar is open. I hid the key Melvin gave me. I’m sure Ron Lee don’t care none. We entered the back door and storeroom. Even through closed doors, the bar stank from bein’ closed up all day and from not bein’ cleaned. “Whew,” I whistled. “This place stinks like a hog pen. Don’t know as I’ll wait til tomorrow to start cleanin’. I don’t think I could sleep in this stink anyway.” “Well, with this smell, I think I’ll get back to the horses. The barn smells better’n this place,” said Ron Lee. I laughed and slapped Ron Lee on the back of his shoulder. “Thanks fer the help and fer takin’ care of Bud. It means a lot to me.” “Think nuthin’ of it PG,” Ron Lee said as he left the room. Looks like I made a friend, I thought. I put my things up and got the broom and started on the bar. I lit a lamp, banked up the stove and began puttin’ chairs on tables. It smells like more beer spilt on the tables and floor than went down the gullets of them damn fools Saturday night. I got some cleanin’ done, but sudden like, I got warm and tired and quit fer the night. I wanted to get this writin’ done fore I fell asleep, so I’m headed fer the hay now. Ain’t lastin’ long. I’m off to sleep. October 23, Monday Woke early to finish writin’. My eyes got dang heavy last night and I couldn’t finish all the writin’ I wanted. I’m waitin’ for the sun now. Air is cold and the sky cloudy. Feels and looks like snow. I got her nice and warm in the bar though.

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Maybe the sun ain’t gonna shine today. I’m impatient to finish my cleanin’ and work so I can talk with Gus tonight. I hope he’s on for workin’ this evenin’. Later Monday Soon as it was light enough, I got to work on cleanin’. The cleanin’ went smooth, but the beer and garbage that dried over the Sabbath was tough to get off the tables, chairs and floor. Spittoons were the worst part, as usual. I gagged often, but didn’t vomit none. I straightened the room and put the chairs down, then went to the pump and washed up. I got to lookin’ at my stump. It is near complete healed up, but it is tender when I press hard on the very end. There is a little scab left from my little pop to Cherry’s head. Satisfied with my clean-up, I tucked in my shirt and ran wet fingers through my hair. Without a mirror, I can only guess what I look like. I finished about ten minutes before openin’ time, so I walked to the livery and peeked to see if Cherry was around. It started to snow. Unfortunately, Cherry was in the livery office and appeared to be countin’ money. Ron Lee saw me and waved me off. I went back to the saloon. It’s tough wastin’ time. I et some of Jen’s food. I ain’t et since yesterday. Thinkin’ about fightin’ took my mind off of my gut. I hear somebody unlockin’ the front doors. About damn time. More later. Night It was Gus that opened this mornin’. A piece of luck. We had the chance to talk uninterrupted. I reckoned that when Cherry showed up, I’d head out the back and get Bud. “Hey Gus,” I greeted him. “Hey PG, how was home?” asked Gus, smilin’ at me. “Oh, I had a fine time,” I said. “I been thinkin’ about what you said about fightin’. What do you think I gotta do?” I asked. “Well, I sort of let it go. You didn’t seem too interested. Let me think some on it.” “When can I fight?” I asked. “Where do I have to go to fight?” “Hold on, hold on,” said Gus. “It ain’t where and when yet. You gotta be in some sort of shape if you want to win any money.” “Oh, well, I wanted to get after it right away,” I said. I was disappointed not to be able to start right away. “Well, PG, you gotta be in good shape to last the night. It is very strenuous to fight one fight, let alone four or five. I got to thinkin’ Saturday after we were talkin’, I ain’t seen you take a punch. You delivered one real good, but you may knock-out awful easy for all we know. You also got a problem with that tender stump. I really don’t know if they’ll let you fight

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with a stump instead of a hand, and you gotta be able to stand and fight men maybe for hours if you want to win. You got that kind of mettle?” “Well, why not?” I asked. “I ain’t gonna worry about the other guy.” “Yeah, but we don’t know how this is going to work. Slow down some big guy,” Gus laughed. “The men who run the fights may not even let you keep goin’ if you start bleedin’ from your stump. I don’t really think they’ll give a hoot, but you gotta figure out a way to keep you from bleedin’ and still use your stump. You can’t fight one handed, or with only one hand that works. You’ll get massacred.” I got frustrated. Gus had gotten the idea into me and now he was tryin’ to talk me out of it. “Listen Gus, I want to do this. I need the money, and I think I can fight. I need to fight. I don’t want to hear ways that I can’t do this, I want you to help figure out how I can do it. Now, what do I have to do to get in the fights?” Gus looked into my face, quiet like. I think he realized he started somethin’ he couldn’t get out of so easy. He said, “Let me think some.” I got agitated with the talk. I walked out the doors and turned up Broadway. I walked east at a good clip. I forgot my stump and walked swingin’ my arms and lookin’ at the ground in front of me. I felt the frustration leakin’ out of me, and I began to slow after walkin’ about a half mile. I reached the tracks and crossed them and walked smooth. I pushed my stride for about a mile and turned back to downtown. I walked fast as I could back to the saloon, impatient to see if Gus had done his thinkin’. I felt better, more comfortable and not as agitated in the gut, but mighty tired. I ain’t walked that far fer a spell. ∞ I went back into the saloon, lookin’ for Gus in the dim lit room. My eyes adjusted and I saw a hulking figure sitting at a table drinkin’ a mug of beer. I knew from the outline of the body it was Cherry. Anger stirred in my gut, but I spotted Gus at the far end of the bar wipin’ glasses. I ignored Cherry and moved quick across the room to Gus. “Well?” I asked. “Well, what?” grinned Gus. “You want me to punch you, so you can see first hand if I have the power to fight?” I grinned. “Well, I been thinkin’. You’re going to have to get in shape for one thing.” “When can I fight?” “Whoa, first things first. You got to get in shape, you’d only make it about half way through the first round in one of these fights. You’ll be worn clean out. The rounds are 5 minutes long, or until a man gets knocked down. And there ain’t no limit on the number of rounds. You just have to

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fight til you can’t fight no more, or until you can’t get up, or come to the line scratched in the middle of the street, or barn, or wherever they hold the fights. You got to lose some weight and strengthen yourself. You have to especially strengthen your legs. “I got a friend I want you to go see, a guy at the Yellowstone Tanning Company, and see what you can do to toughen the skin on yer stump and hand. The idea come to me a few minutes ago, and I think it will work.” “What, you want me to see if the man can tan the skin on my stump?” “No, not exactly tannin’ the skin, but you may be able to toughen the skin if you soak the stump in brine, like they use for tannin’. I heard it will toughen skin. Talk to him and see what he thinks. While you’re at it, see if you can do the same with your face. If you could make your skin hard to cut, you’d be dang hard to beat.” “What’s brine?” “It’s sort of a salty soup that you soak hides in. I figure it must take the water out of the meat and makes the skin tough. I don’t know how it does it, it just does.” “I ain’t gonna put it on my face then. It will dry my face up like a prune and I ain’t much to look at as it is.” “You might want to think real careful about fightin’ PG, if you’re worried about how you look. You’re going to get hit and places you get hit, cut, and cuts make scars. Think about that before you make up your mind.” “For someone who was all head up about me fightin’, you sure ain’t keen on it now. What happened?” “Well, I seen, and heard, about men gettin’ hurt bad fightin’. Sometimes they don’t ever get right again. Jasper tells me stories.You got a wife and kids, and a place. You could lose it all.” “I’m apt to lose my place anyway. I ain’t had a decent crop and water has been scarce the last couple of years. I doubt it’s snowin’ on our place right now. Probably all around, but not on our place. The place is dern near dust right now. Me and the girls don’t want to crawl back to Utah to my brother’s place. Beside Jen and the girls and Owen, and a new baby comin’, and Bud and the team, I ain’t got nothin’ much of any value.” “Then check with this feller at Yellowstone. The town leaders wouldn’t allow him to put his tannin’ business close to town because of the stink of rotting flesh and chemicals. You won’t have problems findin’ the place. “You got to be tougher’n nails to win money fightin’. If there’s somethin’ you can do to make your stump skin tough, so’s it won’t tear and bleed, it will help. Your face ain’t much, but you decide.” Gus laughed. He gave me a paper with a man’s name on it. “See this guy. We’ll talk to Melvin later today and ask about some of the other things you’ll have to do and about this guy he knows who might help ya.”

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∞ I left the saloon and walked due west to find the Yellowstone Tannery on the far west side, just outside of town. I decided to check fore I left for Pelot’s. Yellowstone was located a bit over a mile from the saloon. I walked the distance in a little under 15 minutes. My heart beat fast and I breathed hard. Too much walkin’ fer one day. I am weak, I thought. I understood that I better push mysef physically to get into better condition. I don’t believe I could do a hard physical day of work in my condition, let alone fight a healthy man. I got weak layed up after the accident and didn’t even know it, even with the walkin’ I did to get goin’. I found the front door of Yellowstone Tannin’ open. There’s a big sign on the front of the place. I walked thought the door and spotted a man fussin’ with a pile of tanned deer hides. “Mornin! I’m lookin for Martin Simms, the owner,” I said. The room was filled with different sized tables, and each table was stacked with different sized tanned animal skins. Some still had animal hair on one side of the hide and some were smooth on one side and rough leather on the opposite side. Some tables had leather gloves that the business had cut and sewn together. There were cow hides and deer and elk and buffalo hides. There were a few buffalo hides. I ain’t ever seen a live buffalo, although I had heard about them all my life. Wonder where he got’em. I heard my pa describe the buffalo they hunted on the plains. The Mormon pioneers encountered the creatures when they traveled west. There weren’t many buffalo left, but hunters were able to shoot one now and then to stave off starvation. Sometimes, the hunters traded with the Indians for food, using the skins of animals, particularly buffalo, to trade. Mostly though, the Indians were as hungry as the pioneers. The pioneers sometimes gave the skins to the Indians. The Indians made clothes and even shelter from the hides. “I’m Simms, but I ain’t got a job if that’s what you’re lookin’ fer.” “No sir, I’m not lookin’ fer work.” “Well feller, you don’t look like you come to buy leather.” “No, I ain’t come to buy leather. I come to see if you could help me some. Do you have some brine you could sell to me?” “What you want with brine young feller? You thinkin’ of smokin’ meat or somethin’? If you are, you don’t want the brine I use. It’s too salty and hot for eatin.” I stammered, embarrassed to tell the man why I needed the brine. “I tell you the truth mister, Gus, down to the saloon where I clean up, sent me

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to see you. I want to try soakin’ my stump in brine.” I pulled my stump from my pocket for the man to see. “I got to toughen the skin so’s it don’t get hurt and bleed so easy.” Fortunately for me, the man didn’t ask why and I didn’t volunteer the information. “If I soak my hand, er, er, stump in the brine, will it help make the skin on the end of my stump tougher?” I asked. “Well, I don’t rightly know,” said the man, gettin’ more interested. “I never used it for such a thing. You could try it I guess. You could cover the stump with a leather cover and keep care of it that way. The brine might burn yer skin. Don’t know fer sure.” I had never thought of coverin’ my stump with a glove type contraption, and it sounded like a good idea, but I didn’t know if the fight people would allow me to wear a cover over the stump durin’ a fight. However, I thought it an excellent idea to cover the stump to protect it while workin’, or doin’ anythin’. “How much you charge me to make me a cover for this here stump?” I asked. “I can make you a handsome cuff to fit right over that. You want it plain, it will cost you two bits. If you want it fancy, it could cost you as high as a dollar.” “Sell me a plain cover Mister Simms. I’ll pay ya when it’s finished. Fair enough?” I never even considered coverin’ the stump walkin’ in the store. “What about that brine, mister?” “I don’t sell brine, son. You want to try to soak your stump and see how it will work, you come over ever mornin’ and you can soak your arm for as long as you want. Now let me measure your stump so’s I can make you a cover that will fit proper.” The man reached for my stump and I pulled it back automatic. I sort of startled Simms. “You’re mighty touchy young feller,” said the man. “Sorry, I ain’t used to anybody touchin’ it.” I raised my arm and let the man measure the stump. The stain of blood was still evident although Jenny scrubbed my cuff to get the blood stain out. “You want this to fit good, you better undo your shirt and fit the cup right to the skin on your stump,” offered Simms. I undid the safety pin and rolled up my sleeve. I felt mighty selfconscious showin’ my stump to the man, but he paid little attention to how it looked. Simms measured careful with a cloth tape around the stump and from the end on up my arm about eight inches. “I can make some straps and a belt to go around your forearm just below your elbow. It will keep the cup from falling off. I can see how it will work, but I ain’t made one before. The idea just come to me.” “So, how much more that cost?” I asked.

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“Oh, I ain’t going to charge extra. I just thought of it and it is the first one I ever made, so I don’t know how it’s gonna turn out. I’ll have it ready for you tomorrow. When you come and soak yer stub, you can try the cover.” “Thanks Mr. Simms,” I said. “The name’s Perrigrine Sessions, but most folks just call me PG.” “Pleased to meet ya,” said the man. “Thank ya kindly Mr. Simms. I appreciate yer help. I just done this to mysef about a year ago and it’s still tender. The doctor says it’s healed good and I want to be able to use it more. I don’t want to worry about it all the time.” “Well, PG, call me Martin, and you come back tomorrow mornin’ and I’ll have that cuff for ya.” “Mind if I look round some,” I asked. Simms shook his head no and I looked at things as I rolled down my sleeve and pinned it over. “Come on back here and I’ll show ya where to soak yer stub.” I thought it funny that Simms called it a stub. He seems like a good man. I went ahead and soaked the stump. It burned a little, but not bad. I soaked my hand too, so’s they’d both be tough. After my treatment, I slid out the door and walked back up town. I was pleased, like I was makin’ real progress. I always feel good if I’m able to accomplish at least one thing ever day. ∞ I hurried back to the livery to get Bud and get on out to Mrs. Pelot’s place. My stump sort of felt fuzzy, but it didn’t hurt. I figured on takin’ care of the animals at Pelot’s, then gettin’ back to town and start tryin’ to strengthen mysef some way. I always been physical strong, but I lost some power over the year. I ain’t got much endurance, and I know no other way to regain stength sides eatin’ good food, and over workin’ my muscles. I decided to tire mysef clean out by liftin’ heavy objects whenever I could, and reckoned I’d walk to Pelot’s from town stead of ridin’ Bud. I started thinkin’ how powerful old Bud is and how Bob and Tom pull. I got to thinkin’ how I might could build a rope harness and pull things round, draggin’ them over the ground. That’ll sure make me stronger, and not put pressure on my stump. I decided it is important to me to do my exercisin’ in private. I don’t want nobody to see me. It’s my secret. I am full aware of my weakness and I want to be secret, at least til I get some strength back.

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Back in town I walked side Bud to Pelot’s today, and fed Mrs. Pelot’s animals and used the pitchfork to clean out stalls. I was afraid not to take Bud. I knew I couldn’t make the whole trip afoot. I didn’t see Mrs. Pelot around the place, so I didn’t have to stop and talk. I moved 22 bales of hay from the stack outside the corrals into the barn. I had to carry them with one hand and it hurt my fingers, and my legs shook from the effort. I carried them about 50 yards, and I had to stop and sit on a bale to rest now and agin. Finished fer the day with feedin, I led Bud fer a spell, rather than ride him. With my mornin’ walk and all my exercise, I was a little shaky. I walked about half the way back to town, then rode Bud on in the rest of the way. Time I got back, I felt empty and shaky, and knew I needed to eat a good meal. I rode Bud to the livery and left him with Ron Lee, and headed to the mercantile to buy a can of fruit. I bought peaches and went to the saloon to get food from Jen’s bag. I planned to walk after grub, if I felt better. I et the big can of peaches and two sandwiches. I drank the juice and revived, but I was still hungry. I calculated I needed meat. I lay down on my bedroll and napped. My legs kept crampin’ up, but it felt good to rest. I woke up and walked out to the back porch of the saloon. I stiffened from work and from nappin’ on the hard floor. I sure as heck wasn’t walkin’ anymore. I was stiff, but I felt better than I had in quite a while, part from the work, and part cause I made my decisions and started progress toward a goal. I drank water from the spigot. The water was cold and clear. The evenin’ turned cold fast as light disappeared from the day. Later, I went in the saloon and stood at the end of the bar, my usual spot. Melvin had come on duty and business was slow. Melvin came down the bar and spoke to me. “PG, how are you feelin’?” “Pert, Melvin, Pert.” “Well, you’re in dang good spirits.” “I feel good. I’m stiff, but I had a good day of work today and that makes me feel good.” “Good fer you,” said Melvin. “How’s the hand?” He gestured at my stump. “It’s good.” I held it up and turned it as if showin’ it off. I saw no harm in tellin’ Melvin, “I got a leather protectin’ cup bein’ made to slip on

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the end. It will protect the stump so I can, you know, work with it. And use it to lift.” “What gave you that idea?” asked Melvin. “Ah, I walked out west of town and went into the Yellowstone Tannin’ Company and looked around. A nice feller name of Martin Simms said he could make a leather cuff fer me that would protect the stump from gettin’ banged round and I could use it to protect it when liftin’ heavy things. I am goin’ to pick up the cuff tomorrow mornin’.” “PG, I know about the plan you and Gus cooked up to prize fight. If yer really going through with it, I can help.” I was surprised to find that Melvin already knew. “What do you mean, you can help?” I asked. “I know a man. He knows plenty about prize fighting. He used to work with Jasper, years back. The man used to fight his own self when he was young. He is an old man now, if he’s still above ground. If he is, he knows more about the fights than anybody around these parts.” “What can he do fer me?” I asked. “If he will, he can tell you what you’re getting into, for starters. I ain’t sure you and Gus are making the smartest decision.” “The decision’s mine Melvin. Gus just told me I could make money fightin’. I don’t see him as anythin’ but a friend. I ain’t partnered with nobody. This is my decision and I’m goin’ to have to get mysef ready and do the fightin’.” “Well, don’t get too head up with going it alone. You’re going to need help. You act like you ain’t even going to get hit, and I guarantee you that you will get hit and maybe hurt bad. You’re going to need help.” I hadn’t really thought about bein’ cut and hurt, or about bein’ alone in a strange place, or strange town. I softened and asked, “What you think I’m gonna need, Melvin.” “One thing, you’re going to need somebody who knows their way around the fight game. You need somebody who knows how to help you get prepared. You can’t just step into a fight like these men fight. They are out for the money. You are an interloper.” “A what? What’s an interloper?” I asked. “An interloper is someone who is trying to horn in and take the food out of their mouths, food that they have to fight so hard to win. Are you sure you want that kind of life PG?” I was sort of surprised puttin’ mysef in the shoes of the other men. Maybe they are in the same boat as I am. They got to fight too. I thought hard fer a while and Melvin didn’t interrupt. It sounded like an excitin’ challenge.

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“I’m desperate to make a livin’, and I want more than cleanin’ spittoons. I fought with my brothers and cousins and others who picked on them at school when I was a kid in Utah. I never fought with real fear, or anger, or fer any real reason.” I find it hard to imagine actually. “I, I don’t know Melvin. I can’t picture what it will be like. I just know I want to make some money, and I can’t make a go of it on our homestead. Jen deserves better, and I’m sick and tired of peein’ into the wind. We got four kids and another’n on the way. I can’t make it cleanin’ spittoons, or I don’t want to make it cleanin’ spittoons. No offense Melvin. I do appreciate the job and the chance to make some money. I don’t want to keep livin’ away from my family though. I see fightin’ fer money as a way out of my fix.” “Well, maybe you better think again. This may be a way into a deeper fix than you know. You better think long and hard.” Melvin began polishin’ a glass as he walked back up the bar and got a glass of beer for a customer. I leaned agin the bar and worried about the things that Melvin said. I didn’t think Melvin would lie to me, or try to discourage me with no reason. Melvin brought a sarsparilla to me when he came back down the bar. “I hear tell of men killed in these fights PG. They lose their sight, they get broken bones, they get knocked silly, and they ain’t ever able to recover. Fights last rounds, for as many rounds as it takes to whip a man. The last man standin’ wins. Five minutes doesn’t sound long, but try doing something that strenuous for five minutes without being able to stop. Your lungs burn. Your legs feel like they can’t hold you up. It will be hell. Then you get to rest a minute and go back at it til you can’t stand longer.” Melvin softened some and said, “You think it over real good PG, and if you are determined to go on with this idea, which I do think is crazy, I’ll introduce you to Sandy. He can help ya.” “What do I owe you fer this sas,” I asked. “It’s on the house,” said Melvin. “Sandy who?” I asked. “Just an old Irish guy that lives down to Pocatello. I don’t even know his last name, ner if Sandy is his real name. He does have a lot of experience with fighters and fighting. The men who organize the fights know and trust him. He’s worked around the fights plenty, fixing cuts and helping revive men who couldn’t get up. He’s thrown in the towel for men who would have got their brains knocked out if he let the fight go longer. These fights are illegal PG. You know that?” “No, I did not know that.” “You don’t think regular folks want these fights in their town? People don’t want these things out in the open. The men who organize the fights

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keep them secret. They hold them on the outskirts of towns, or in out-ofthe-way places. “You think all that money flying around is unattached? The men who promote these fights keep the location secret, except to a select group. They don’t want the law snoopin’ around. “You’re going to need someone like Sandy just to find out where, and when, you could get a chance at fighting for money. Only the trusted get a chance to risk their lives.” Melvin smiled. “This could cost you more’n money PG. Sides’, the side bets is where the real money is. Sure, the fighters take the pot that they build with their own entry money, but the men invited to watch the fights are the ones making and losing the big money.” “That don’t sound fair. The men watchin’ and riskin’ nothin’ make all the money?” I asked. “Oh no, the men watching are risking plenty. I’m talking about more money than you and I can imagine, risked on the winner of one fight, not to mention the man who picks the winner of the whole event.” “How much do the fighters make?” I asked. “You don’t make anything if you don’t win. The men running the fight set up a schedule of who fights who. Winners keep fighting and losers, when they revive, go home with nothing but sore faces and broken bodies. Fights take place until one fighter beats everybody else. “The winner gets the pot made up of all the entry fees of all the fighters. Sometimes it could be high as a $100, then there’s tips. Most of the betters who win on ya during a fight will slip you a little money from their winnings. “If they have bet on you and you win, the tips can be significant. If you win the whole event, the betters who picked you make a fortune, less what the promoters take up front. A tip alone could be mor’n you can make cleanin spittoons in a year.” “This kind of talk don’t do anythin’ to sway me away from the fight idea, Melvin.” “I don’t want you to get your hopes up PG, but you can bet on yourself too. I told you all I know, and I’m thinking you believe this all sounds real good.” “Well, it sounds like it might be worth the gamble, but it don’t sound right that betters make more money than the men killin’ themselves fightin’. It just ain’t right.” “Well, it maybe ain’t right, but it’s sure correct.”

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∞ I wrote down today’s happenin’s. I am mighty excited after talkin’ to Melvin. I can’t sleep thinkin’ of the prospect of makin’ more money than I can make in a year of cleanin’ spittoons. I’m wide awake. Tuesday the 31st, Night Worked at Pelot’s and the saloon today. I walked to and from Pelot’s farm and led Bud so both of us could exercise, and I could ride if I had to. I was stiff as a old board, but after I got loosened up, I felt stronger, even though I didn’t get to sleep until way after the bar closed last night. I was a little stiff fer about half a mile. I tried runnin’ along beside Bud’s trot, but it ain’t time yet. My heart beat wild when I tried to run and my stump throbbed, and the road is slick with snow and mud. This is gonna take some time. I rode Bud out to Yellowstone after chores in the bar and picked up the leather stump cover. I used it at Pelot’s, and it helps. It gives me support and takes away some of the fear of injurin’ mysef. I used the stump liftin’ things from one place to another. I miss bein’ able to grab onto objects with a hand, but it is good to be able to feel confident about usin’ both arms now. Simms told me I was welcome to soak my arm in the salt and alum mixture, but he didn’t think he’d recommend it fer my face. He told me, “The mix is dern near straight salt. The first thing it does is pull the water out, so you’re going to dry out the skin on your arm. It might start to smart some.” I stuck my stump arm in a bucket of brine to the elbow agin. The brine stung a bit, but not as much as yesterday. The skin felt strange and tingly numb when I pulled it out agin. I decided to soak fer 15 minutes at a stretch. I’m gonna do it. “I heard tell of miners and fishermen and other men who need tough hands urinatin’ on their hands to toughen their skin,” said Simms. “What’s that mean?” asked PG. “It means pissin’ on your own hands. I ain’t recommendin’ it now, I’m just tellin’ ya. Most of your pee’s just salt water anyways.” I thought about what Simms said, but I didn’t reply. It sounded strange fer a man to wet on his own sef. Wednesday, November 1, 1905 Got done with my day of work and exercise. I treated mysef to a meal at Mrs. Jennin’s boardin’ house. I et like there’s no tomorrow. I been dippin’ my arms and hand fer a couple of days now, I can’t tell much difference, except my stump is red as a beet, and it stays that way fer a long time after my brine treatment. The stump feels numb, and I took to

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wearin’ my leather cover all the time durin’ the day. I call it my “stump glove.” Friday, November 3rd Home in the mornin’. I’m excited, but I’ll sleep tonight. Stump’s red. Hope Jen don’t notice and start pumpin’ me fer answers. I know she’s gonna. Saturday night at home. The 28th. After feedin’ Pelot’s animals this mornin’, I walked far as I could stand, then rode Bud the rest of the way home. I was anxious to see Jen and the girls, and Owen, but I am determined to change my strength and ability, so I ain’t skippin’ my exercise. I fair leapt off from Bud when I got home and swept Jen into my arms. I twirled her around and hugged her. Della was holdin’ Glennis. She hung on my waist with one arm, and Stella hugged my knee. Owen started cryin’ so Jen scooped him up into the hug. My excitement infected Jen and the kids. They laughed and squealed with delight. I feel like my old sef tonight. I worked hard round the place and enjoyed Jen’s cookin’ particular. I joshed Della and Stella, and spent quite a spell holdin’ Owen. He and I took a little nap together in the rocker. I worked in the shed sharpenin’ tools and organizin’ the tack and harnesses. I cleaned and oiled a few harnesses and talked to Della most of the time. She didn’t leave me alone fer a minute. She likes havin’ her old man home. “What you been up to squirt?” I asked. “I been helpin’ ma with Owen and Glennis, like you said, and I been helpin’ Mr. Johnson when he comes over. I been busy pa!” “That’s good. You’re a good girl. I guess I ain’t gonna sell ya to the Chinee.” “Ah pa. . . what’s a Chinee?” “Well, the Chinee are people that came here from a far away country. They work like crazy. They’re kind of like ants. They can carry about ten times their own weight. The railroad hired’em to build most of the railroad tracks out here in the West, and they like to dig fer gold down by Twin Falls and over to Idaho City. They’d love a little girl like you. But then . . . what would we do fer fun if you wasn’t around?” I grinned and grabbed Della and swung her up into my arms. “Well, I don’t want to go live with the Chinee, so I’ll just stay here with you and ma.” “Deal,” I said, and I carried Della to the house on my shoulders. She is gettin’ big. It was a good day.

168 Sunday the 5th

Michael B. Sessions

Cold. I ain’t lookin’ forward to travelin’. After church Delayin’ my departure long as possible. I got Bud ready to travel, and started packin’ food fer the trip and fer the week. I’m eatin’ more now and I’m always hungry. I’m takin’ more food with me than last week so I don’t have to buy food. It is good to have a few dollars in case I do need to buy more though. In the storeroom in Idaho Falls The weather made the ride miserable and more miserable feedin’ at Pelot’s. I’m glad to be back in town and out of the weather. Didn’t seem to affect Bud none. Before I left, I talked to Jen.”Jen, take a little ride with me,” I asked her. “Della, watch yer sisters and brother while I talk to ma.” “Where we going PG? It’s cold out here,” said Jen. “Just goin’ fer a little ride. I want to talk to ya a minute.” Jen got on the look out, but climbed up on Bud. I pulled my left foot from the stirrup and let Jenny climb up in front of me. I’m gettin’ stronger, or she’s losin’ weight. I know she ain’t losin’ weight. She is gettin’ bigger all the time with the new babe. Bud walked us up the road and I talked in Jen’s ear. “Jen, here’s the money I earned last week, less what I spent on this leather coverin’ here,” I held up my leather cuff on my stump. “And, I spent some on food. I been workin’ hard and I eat more’n usual.” “Yes, I can tell. You’re starting to fill-out yer clothes again, and you seem to be getting your strength back, and you’re sure as the devil in a better frame of mind.” “Ain’t no doubt, I do feel better. Anyway, here is $10. I kept a little in case, but the saloon pays me about ever day, so it ain’t like I’m gonna be broke. Maybe we better start payin’ the doc some, and I want you to get some of the things you need round the house, and fer yersef. You’re better with money than me, so you know what to do.” “Okay PG, but is that what you took me out for a ride to tell me?” “Well, no it ain’t,” I stalled. “It’s like this Jen. I know you ain’t goin to like this, but I made up my mind to try fightin’ fer money.” Jenny stiffened in my arms, and anger flooded through her, but she didn’t say anythin’ right off. “I am tryin’ to get mysef able.” I didn’t give details. “Melvin knows a guy who knows what it’s all about. He says the guy will help me. It ain’t a sure thing yet, but I just want you to know I made up my mind. I don’t want any lies tween us and I ain’t goin’ to sneak around.”

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“I am discussin’ it with you now.” “No, PG, you’re telling me now. You’re not discussing anything. Do you know what this can do to our family? Do you know what it can do to you? I’m against it.” “Well Jenny, I see it as a way to be successful and I’m fer it. I don’t know where all this will lead, but I’m lookin’ into it, and I want you to be okay with it.” “Well, I am not OKAY with it PG. You just went through hell with your hand, and put us all through hell along with you. Now you think you can win money fighting with only one hand? I am sorry, but I know of two-handed men who were ruined by violence. It is just plain stupid to me.” The stupid comment hurt. It was not the way I wanted to have things go before leavin’. I stopped Bud and sat fer a minute. Neither Jenny, nor I spoke. “Jen, my mind is made up.” “Turn this horse around and take me back,” she said. She began to tear up, with anger and hurt. I turned Bud around and walked him back toward the house. Soon as we entered the yard, Jen swung her leg over Bud’s head and pushed off to the ground and ran into the house. She held her hand over her mouth to hide here grief and anger and tears. She slammed the door. I didn’t know what to do. I sat on Bud in the yard fer a few minutes, but couldn’t decide what to do to make things right except tell Jenny that I would not pursue fightin’ fer money. I couldn’t do that, wouldn’t do that. Della ran out to me with hurt and questions in her face. “What’s the matter pa?” “Ah nothin’ sweet pea. Yer ma and I are just havin’ a little difference of opinion. You ain’t got to worry none. Everythin’ is going to be alright.” “Why’s ma cryin’?” “She is just mad at me. She’ll be alright. Now, you head on back. I got to pack a few things from the shed and get on my way. I’ll see ya in a couple of days.” “Well, I’ll help ya pa.” Della followed me to the shed. Turnin’ even colder. I’m takin’ an extra coat and I took to wearin’ long johns over my garments. I grabbed another blanket and a extra glove. “What we goin’ to do with the extra glove when I buy a pair of gloves girl?” “I don’t know pa.”

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“Well you better come up with a good idea. Left hand gloves will come in handy fer somethin’,” I grinned at her. Della felt a little better, but she was bothered that her ma didn’t come out to say goodbye and I didn’t go in to say goodbye to Jen neither. “You take care of things around here. I’ll see you next Saturday mornin’.” I mounted Bud and rode hard fer Idaho Falls. Della watched me leave, wantin’ to ask more questions, and not understandin’ what happened tween me and Jen. I rode hard for Pelot’s and chores. I got to Idaho Falls late and dern it was cold. Monday, November 6, 1905 Got chores done at Pelot’s and found Melvin at the saloon after I got back to town. “Melvin, how can we get in touch with this Sandy?” I asked. “You decided to go through with it then?” “Well, yeah. I thought you knew that by now.” “You talk to your family?” asked Melvin. I was embarrassed to answer, but I said, “Yeah, Jenny ain’t happy about it, but she knows I’m gonna give it a go.” “Okay, I’ll look Sandy up and tell him about you. Now, don’t get yer hopes up. I ain’t seen him in a couple of years. I don’t know what he’s doing, or if he’ll help, or if the old coot is still alive, for that matter.” “Where’s he live,” I asked. “He was staying with an old injun woman down to Fort Hall. I don’t know if he’s still there. I’ll send word with a freighter. The wagon will go out in the morning I expect.” I made my way to Yellowstone Tannin’ fer my brine treatment. I took Simm’s advice and did not put the brew on my face. I started urinatin’ on my hand and stump this mornin’. I feel damn stupid doin’ it, but I’ll do about anythin’ if it will help. I sure don’t want anybody to see that. Might be in my head, but I think the pee and brine might just work. After Yellowstone, I used the length of rope I brought with me to fashion a two loop harness to go over my shoulders. The remainin’ rope dragged behind the loops and I tied the loose end to a good size rock and tried draggin’ the rock down the road. The loops worked off my shoulders, so I used a leather thong to tie the loops cross my chest. That kept the loops from slippin’, or rollin’ back off, but it didn’t keep the rope from cuttin’ in to me. I can drag heavy things, but my weakness keeps me from draggin’em far. I also thought it would be embarrassin’ if anyone caught me draggin’ things around. I keep my harness in my saddle bag and use it out to Pelot’s, or on the way home, or where nobody will see me.

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Mrs. Pelot caught me draggin’ two bales of hay and stopped to watch. I saw her and stopped, embarrassed. She just shook her head and went on into the hen house. I hurried the hay into the barn and took the contraption off. I’m more careful. Tuesday Gus is on duty tonight. “PG, how’s the training goin?” asked Gus. “Trainin’ what?” “Trainin’ yourself. That’s what they call it when you strengthen yourself for fighting and athletic contests. You’re trainin’ yerself to be a fighter. How’s the trainin’ doing?” “Oh, it’s goin okay, I guess. I do feel better and stronger and I can work longer and harder. I think it’s goin’ great.” “How you think you can do in a fight where somebody is going to hit you back?” I knew that other fighters would hit back, but it dawned on me that I ought to be tryin’ to learn what to do when that happens. “I don’t know. Melvin is tryin’ to reach a man he knows down around Pocatello and Fort Hall that is goin’ to come this way and help me. He is goin’ to help me learn to fight.” “Ain’t you scared?” asked Gus. “Yes sir, I am a little scared. I don’t know what to expect.” Wednesday, November 15, 1905 Ain’t writ in a while. The book sort of got shuffled to the side fer a time. I work ever day just like before. I eat, work, sleep, dip my stump in brine and pee on it to boot. It ain’t a real glamorous life. Jen wouldn’t even talk to me last weekend. An interestin’ thing happened tonight though. “PG, this here’s Sandy, the man I told you about who is going to help you,” said Melvin. Even Sandy’s wrinkles had wrinkles. I stared at his filthy clothes and broken boots. The sole of his left boot wore out and come unsewn at the toe. A filthy sock stuck out the end. It was wet from walkin’ in snow. I stuck my hand out, but the wrinkled man made no move to accept it. I looked at the man’s gray matted hair and the slight frame. This guy must have lied to Melvin about fightin’. He don’t look like he could knock a sick whore off a milk stool, I thought. I tried agin, “Howdy Mister,” I said. “Name’s Perrigrine, folks call me PG.” The man stood with his head tilted down, but he looked up at me like he was lookin’ at a bug. “Never told me he had only one hand,” said Sandy, talkin’ to Melvin.

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“Does that make a difference?” asked Melvin. “Gus tells me he used that stump on a man and dropped him with one blow. I sort of figured it might be an advantage instead of a drawback.” “How the hell is it an advantage to have one arm 6-8 inches shorter’n the other’n?” He finally stopped starin’ at me and began to shuffle round me, like he was appraisin’ a beef cow he might be buyin’, but the beef was not to his likin’. “You ever fight boy?” “Well, I fought with my brothers and cousins and a few kids at school.” “I thought you fought with some guy in here the other day?” “It wasn’t exactly a fight,” stuck in Melvin. “PG only hit the man once,” he laughed. “Well hell, you got me all the way up here fer nothin’. How am I gonna to train this man to fight. You ever seen a one-handed fighter? I ain’t!” “Well no, I haven’t seen a one-handed fighter either,” said Melvin. “But PG here has guts and I think he can manage it.” I ain’t used to bein’ the object of other people’s conversations while I’m standin’ in the middle of the group that’s talkin’ about me. I didn’t like it none. “Hold on there fellas. I’m standin’ right here. I tell you, ya old turd, I want to try fightin’.” I looked at Sandy right square in the eyes. Sandy’s eyes sparkled back, even when the rest of him was far from sparklin’. “We’ll see,” he said. Sandy stepped toward me and reached up to my face. I stepped back. “I want to feel yer face. Hold still.” I didn’t really want the old filthy bag of bones touchin’ me, but I held still while Sandy poked and probed my face. “Your cheek bones are sharp, but your skin is thick. You ain’t going to cut too easy.” He took my hand and stump in his hands. “Take that thing off yer stump and let me see what you got there.” I removed the leather cover and unpinned my cuff. The old man looked at my right hand close. “Good knuckles, wide hand, heavy,” he muttered. He looked at the stump. “What the hell ya been doin’ to this stump boy?” “I been soakin’ it in brine to toughen the skin.” I didn’t tell him about peein’ on it. “I don’t know if they’ll let you wear this here coverin’ when you fight. We’ll have to keep up with the toughenin’ process. I hope it works.”

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“You mean you’re goin’ to help me?” I asked, catching the “we’ll”. “I’ll let you know. I ain’t been around fightin’ fer a couple a years. I got to find out who’s runnin’ things now and I got to find out if we can even get ya in. I’ll let ya know.” “When?” I asked, irritated. “Don’t know fer sure. I’ll get back to ya. Got any whiskey close Mel?” Sandy brightened. “Well, you let me know when you find out your end, and I’ll let you know if I’ll use ya,” I said. “It’s fer sure I ain’t goin’ to use ya if yer a drunk.” Exasperated, I turned and stomped out of the saloon to the storeroom. November 16, Thursday Dragged stuff all over with my harness today. Did my “treatments” on the hand and stump. Friday, November 10 Friday, I got my saloon chores done and hurried to Pelot’s place. I ran all the waytoday, out and back. I left Bud so I wouldn’t be tempted. I couldn’t run fast cause of the snow and cause I can’t run hard that far yet. Saturday the 18th I finished chores and rode hard fer home, excited to get to see Jen and the kids, and see if maybe Jenny had softened any at all about my fightin’. I worked hard and had a good week and I had most of my pay in my pocket. I faired well with my stump and conditionin’ this week and I feel strong, fer the first time in a long time. I wasn’t too sure about this Sandy character. I didn’t hear back from him til last evenin’. When I got to the livery to check on Bud, Sandy was standin’ beside him. He was considerably cleaner than he had been last I seen him. But I bristled at seein’ him. “What do you want?” I asked, none too friendly. Whenever I think of the old blister, my gut tightens and my mouth tastes sour. “I figured you’d show up here or the saloon. I probably should have stayed at the saloon, but I wanted to talk to ya fore I get in to my drops. I got news.” I did not say anythin’ back to him. Sandy paid little attention and began walkin’ round excited. “I found out who’s runnin’ things on the fight circuit. The man owes me. I can get you in. Maybe only for one time,” he laughed. “Depends if you’re worth a damn. But I can get you in for a trial fight.” I brightened, “Ya can? Where and when? How much can I make? Who’m I gonna fight?” “Hoa there boy. You ain’t ready to fight yet. You’ll get the tar knocked outta ya the shape you’re in.”

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“I been workin’ hard. I been walkin’ and joggin’ and doin’ exercises. I figure I can be ready soon,” I answered defiant. I couldn’t help it. The man twists me mad. “Boy, you wouldn’t last the first round. If yer serious, you got a lot to learn. You ain’t in no way going to be ready in any week. What you been doing to that stump? It’s still mighty red.” I was embarrassed agin. I said, “Well, I been soakin’ it is brine, like I said.” I stumbled fer words, then I said, “I been pissin on it too. It’s supposed to help toughen the skin.” “Never heard such a pile of crap. You runnin’ any, or jumpin’ rope?” “I been runnin’ some, slow. I mostly been walkin’ and doin’ sit-ups and push-ups, and draggin’ heavy things aroud with a harness I built.” “Ya gotta run boy. You gotta last all night, maybe 50-60 rounds in a night. That means you may be fightin’g fer hours in a stretch if you keep winnin’. This ain’t no picnic you’re signin’ up fer.” “Well, if I knock a man out I’m fightin’, that shortens things up considerable, don’t it?” “Sure does, but you’ll be mighty lucky you don’t get knocked out. These men you’ll be fightin’ are used to it. They are used to pain. Hell, I think some of them love pain. “Their skin’s like leather. It’s cuts that stop a man from fightin’. Ya get blood in yer eyes. Sometimes yer eye hangs clean out of the socket. It scares a man and he quits. The good ones know that and they try to scare ya and get ya to quit. It’s easier than knockin’ ya out. Most of the men you’ll fight are in shape. They can run for hours and last the whole night fightin’. They make their livin’ that way, and they ain’t going to welcome you to the ring. They won’t know how to handle that stump, but they will be smart enough to know that they got a reach advantage on ya. These men ain’t going to want some young buck who don’t know sickum to step up and try to take their livin’ away.” “You saying I can’t do it?” I asked. “Hell, I don’t know what you can, or can’t do. I’m just tellin’ you what you’re facin’. Just to get in shape to have a chance, you are goin’ to have to work yer ass off. You ain’t goin’ to be able to have no two jobs and train too.” “I got to have two jobs to keep my family. That ain’t none of yer concern. You just help me get in shape, and help me get a chance.” “We’ll see.” “How we gonna see?” I dang near yelled at him. “I got me an idea. You get on home and see yer family tomorrow. Be here Monday evenin’, right here, and be ready to start workin’, that is if

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you’ve a mind. Now, if you ain’t got a mind, I’ll know because you won’t be here. If things work out right, we’ll know a week from tomorrow whether you got the stuff or not. You don’t show, I’ll disappear like I never heard’a you at all. It can be yer way out, so to speak.” I frowned, ready to smack the old bum, and brushed Bud fer somethin’ to do. I didn’t speak ner look back at the old turd. Sandy gave me a lot to think about. When I cooled down, I wanted to ask about how he was goin’ to know in a week, but the man rankled me so dern much that I just brushed Bud harder and faster. Only one way to find out if I can do it I figure. I got to fight. The thought excites and scares me all at once. ∞ Jenny had dinner warmin’ on the stove when I got home. I was freezin’ by the time I got into the kitchen. Jen was bustlin’ about the kitchen when I barged through the door. Snow was pilin’ up heavy. I threw my bags down on the kitchen floor and swept Jen into my arms and backed up to get near the stove. “My sweet sister’s black cat’s butt, but yer a perty woman,” I said. Della was feedin’ Owen and she jumped into the embrace. I hugged them all then went to the baby and gave her a whiskery kiss. She cringed and started to cry. “Oh, yer just gonna have to get used to my old whiskery face, and my kisses too.” I picked up Owen and carried him dancin’ round the kitchen. I stuck him back in the highchair. I made that chair mysef the year Della was born. Good chair. “How about a dance from you there pee-wee?” I asked Stella. “Ah Pa,” she drawled, but she moved to me and I picked her up and placed her bare feet on my cold boots. “Do me pa,” said Della. “Hold on there punkin. You’re next.” I hummed loud and started waltzin’ around the room. Now and then I took too big a step and Stella fell off my boot. It was on purpose, and she giggled at the fun. Della took her turn and giggled equal. “PG, stop fooling around,” Jenny said, not smilin’. “Get washed up and let’s get dinner. We’ve been waiting for you.” I shed Della and went to the bedroom commode pitcher and bowl and washed. When I returned to the room, Della was sittin’ at the table and Stella was pulled up to the table in her chair. I took my seat just as Jenny was puttin’ the last steamin’ bowl of vegetables on the table. She prepared a roast, potatoes, gravy, and beans, my favorite. I like corn more than beans, but I couldn’t gripe after five days away from Jen’s cookin’.

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“Perty heavy dinner ain’t it?” “It is so cold, and you always have to leave so soon after church, I thought I’d fix a big dinner today. The children and I will eat the left-overs for supper for a couple of nights.” “Pass the meat there pork chop,” I told Della. “Aren’t you forgetting something?” asked Jenny. “Stella, you say grace,” I laughed. She shook her head no. “Fold’em up and bow yer heads,” I said. “I’ll offer.” “Father in heaven, thanks fer this day and fer this food and fer the hands that prepared it. Please bless us to be healthy and strong and prosperous, if it be thy will. We could sure use some help right now, but please watch over my girls and the little fella. If thou seest fit to do nothin’ else Lord, watch out fer the children. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.” Evenin, After Supper I’m writin’ today’s happenin’s after supper. She’s a cold night from two directions. Jen still ain’t spoke two words to me civil. She put the kids to bed, then went to bed hersef, closin’ the door behind her. I know her messages perty good by now. I checked on the animals in the barn. It snowed a couple more inches while we were eatin’ supper. I fed and watered Bud and gave him some oats fer a treat. While I worked, I thought how I might approach Jen after she cools off some, if she ever does cool off. She’s plenty upset. I may just have to tell her I’m set on fightin’ before I leave tomorrow. I reckon there’s another lonely week a comin’. She didn’t say two words to me durin’, ner after supper. I wanted to tell her about my progress and how things are happenin’ to get me into my first fight. I missed Jen this past couple’a weeks and I had my hopes fer tonight. I figured it’d be risky bringin’ up fightin’ when I got home. I was fair to bustin’ with desire fer Jen, and with anticipation. Appears I was livin’ in a dern dream. I made me a bed on the floor in front to the rocker and near the fire. I been writin’ by the light of the fire. Night’s quiet and sort of peaceful with the fire and no noises. I figure it’s best to wait til mornin’ to try and make any conversation. I doubt I got any way to convince Jen that I might could be successful in the ring. I ain’t altogether sure mysef, but I want to bad enough that there might just be a chance. I’m goin’ to try and sleep some. I hate thinkin’ of goin’ back to Idaho Falls after another weekend of no talkin’ to Jen. It will probably just make her more angry, but I got to make it clear that my mind’s made up. The

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kids keep lookin’ at us, wonderin’ why things have changed tween their folks. November 19, Sunday, 1905 I didn’t sleep much last night. I got off the floor at first light. My stump aches like a toothache. I noted the sun’s givin’ a little light and I pulled back the curtains to look outside. Jenny made the curtains a couple of years back. I got a surprise at the depth of the new snow. It must have snowed heavy all night. I take pride in my ability to predict moisture, particular in the fall and winter. The moon’s the key. The moon sometimes gets a bright halo, or ring that tips me off that snows comin’. Problem is, when the sky is overcast, I can’t see the moon. Then the temperature gives me a little hint. It warms up to snow. Sometimes I get fooled and she snows no matter the temperature, but mostly I think my tips work. I couldn’t see the moon last night, but it was already snowin, so this ain’t a surprise. I better get to shovelin’ and feedin’ the animals. I can’t sleep anyways. It’s good to have the moisture. Maybe it’s a good omen. It sure can’t hurt. It’ll make Glenn happy. I stoked up the fire and wrote a little while the house warmed. I’m goin’ to get some chores done while it is quiet and peaceful round here. More later. Later Sunday after church I got dressed after I wrote and pulled on my boots. I found my heavy coat and slogged to the barn to tend the animals. The snow was heavy with moisture, just what we need round here. I brought a scoop shovel back to the house and cleared the snow from the porch and the walk-up. It felt good to work. While I shoveled, I thought of the good omen of fresh wet snow and how excited Glenn will be with the moisture. I thought, Hopefully it will stay a wet winter. I’m such a lousy farmer. I ain’t even noticed the ground is froze up. There ain’t been nothin’ to harvest, nothin’ to help me keep track of seasons. “Just as well, I hate farmin’ anyway.” Jen had the girls up and dressed and was well into preparin’ breakfast when I entered and stomped the snow off my boots. I pulled my leather cuff off and slid it back on agin, makin’ a show of it. “Pa, what is that thing?” asked Della. “It’s a little glove I had made to cover up my stump. It protects it from gettin’ hurt. I use it like a glove to help me hold on to things. It works real good. I used it to help me shovel this mornin’.”

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Stella examined the cuff close and ran her fingers over it. I gave her a quick tickle. I grabbed her around the waist with my left arm and hugged her, finishin’ by hoistin’ her up onto my lap. “You better sit right here and I’ll feed you 8-10 flapjacks, whadaya think sweet-pea.” She squirmed tryin’ to get away, but not too hard. I finally let her escape and she got into her chair. She is growin’ too fast. Owen looked on, waitin’ fer his mush. He sat rubbin’ the sleep from his eyes. His hair was stickin’ up wild. I grabbed him and kissed him, but he wasn’t ready fer fun just yet. I started in, “Okay grumpy, where’s the grub? I held a fork vertically in my hand and pounded my fork and the stump on the table. “Where’s the grub? Where’s the grub? Where’s the grub?” I led Della in chantin’ fer breakfast. Stella joined in, but Owen was still too sleepy to join the fun. “Okay you children,”said Jenny as she brought a platter of eggs from the stove. “Flapjacks in two minutes,” she said. “Feed Owen somebody.” I thought, Looks like she lost some of the venom from last night. Maybe, just maybe, I can get back into her good graces.. Della and Stella and I giggled and made faces at each other. Owen finally came to life. Jenny loaded our plates with flapjacks and brought a pie pan of bacon to the table. She encouraged us, “Eat up children.” I kept the mush comin’ fer Owen and gave him some pieces of flapjack with syrup. He was happy as long as he had a mouth full. ∞ Breakfast over, pans, and plates still on the table, the children fed and me slouchin’ in the chair satisfied, Jenny said, “So go ahead and tell me PG.” “Tell you what,” I straightened in my chair. I was caught clean off guard. “You know what. You’ve been perking around here since you rode Bud into the yard. I know you are glad to get home, but you’re just a little too glad it seems to me.” “You know me better than I know mysef, I guess.” “Oh, come on PG, you know you’re bursting to tell me something, or talk me into something.” “Well, I want to try prize fightin’, like I told you before.’ “Oh, well, I figured that’s what it was. You know how I feel, and I am not going to change.” “Well, Jenny, I am gonna try. I love ya, but I’m goin’ to try. I been workin’ on my stump and got this cuff made to help me. I didn’t get it to

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just work, but to fight. I been workin’ hard these past weeks. Mel introduced me to a guy who is gonna teach me and take care of me.” “Oh yes, how’s he going to take care of you? Is he going to get in there with you and keep the other guy from knocking your head off?” Jenny flushed and began to cry. “Don’t cry Jen.” It always hurts me to see her cry, but I didn’t want to give in to tears this time. “He is goin’ to teach me how to take care of mysef and he’s gonna teach me the rules. I don’t like the man, but I gotta believe Melvin wouldn’t have got him to come if he warn’t gonna help me.” I hurried on, “I can do this Jenny. And this guy, Sandy is his name, has an idea how we can experiment and see if I can do it. It means that I won’t get home next weekend. Maybe I can get home Saturday night late. I don’t rightly know, but I ain’t gonna count on it none.” “Are you going to be home Saturday in one piece?” asked Jenny. “Pa, I don’t want you to fight,” said Della. It hurt my heart to hear her, but I ain’t gonna be swayed. “I promise you I ain’t goin’ to get hurt Del. I done a stupid thing losin’ my hand, but I gotta believe there’s a blessin’ in there somewheres.” Jenny only dropped her hands to her sides and slumped in the chair, exasperated. “Do whatever you’re going to do PG. Just don’t come home all beat up and plan to have me and Della tend to you. I don’t want the girls to see you that way again, and I surely don’t want to see you beat up. Your hand was enough for a lifetime.” Jenny got up and started cleanin’ up. That was that. There would be no more talk about it. I got up slow and eased on out the door. I figured it was better to let them all stew a while and I shoveled more snow. I walked up the road a piece thinkin’ how glad I am to have this argument over. Jen will settle down now. It will take a while, and she won’t be happy, but she’ll let it happen now. Oh, she’ll have plenty of “told you so’s” if I fail. I decided it would be a good idea to stay away from the house fer a time. I shrugged on a barn coat and picked up my pace, walkin’ quick as I could through the deep snow, slippin’ now and then, but almost runnin’. I warmed fast. It felt good to be out and movin’. I may as well head on over to Glenn’s place. I considered that I could rest there and talk to Glenn fer a while. Snow kept comin’. I hurried the distance to Glenn Johnson’s place in about 25 minutes. I was sweatin’ when I got there. I ran careful, countin’ as I jogged, judgin’ 3 minutes of runnin’ and one minute of walkin’ through the deep now. I felt surprisin’ strong when I arrived at Glenn’s place.

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Glenn was in his barn. I heard him whistlin’ and went through the door into the tack room along side the barn. Everythin’ was in its place. You coulda et breakfast off the floor. “Dang Glenn. Yer tack room is nicer than the boardin’ house in Idaho Falls where I sometimes get supper. How you do it?” “Hey, PG. I was just gettin’ a few chores done and I was thinkin’ I’d see ya to church in a while.” “Well, I got into it with Jen after breakfast and I had to get away fer a piece. She’s goin’ to go along with my fightin’, but she ain’t happy. I wanted to give her some space. I needed to get some exercise too, so it was just right to come on over this way. How things goin’ my friend?” “Better’n you by the sounds,” said Glenn. “Glenn, I am goin’ to try prize fightin’,” I grinned. “Things will work out fine. You’ll see.” “Oh, I unnerstand. Jenny don’t want you fightin’ and you’re bull headin’ it, ain’t ya?” “Well, yeah. You can put it that way I guess. It’s goin’ to be alright though. I told her I was goin’ to do it and she made her point. I’m gonna lie low till I go back this evenin’. I met this guy name of Sandy, an old fighter. He’sgonna help me.” “Help you what?” asked Glenn. “Well, I don’t exactly know, but he has some idea how he can test me to see if I can fight, I guess.” “Only way to test is to get you to fight somebody.” “Yeah, I suppose. He’s got somethin’ lined up fer next Friday night. I don’t know what. “I been goin to Yellowstone Tannery and the guy there lets me soak my stump and hand in brine to toughen up.” I couldn’t share with Glenn, that I been urinatin’ on my hand and stump. I couldn’t bring mysef to share that. “Is it workin’?” Glenn asked, interested. “Yeah, I think it is. This Sandy is sort of a son-of-a-gun. I don’t like him much, but he claims to know his business. He says I got to start exercisin’ and workin’ hard to get stronger and last longer. So, I been runnin’ and doin’ push ups and sit ups. I been liftin’ bales around at Pelot’s and draggin’ things around to strengthen my legs. I feel good.” “Well, come on in and let’s get you someplace you don’t get chilled since you run off with just a little old jacket.” We sat in the house and talked and et the pie Glenn’s wife made yesterday. The only thing better than Sister Johnson’s day old pie is her fresh. We enjoyed each other’s company and laughed. We don’t know

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piddle about prize fightin’ and the conversation ran out fast. We talked about the kids and the snow and how the snow was a good thing, hopefully a sign that winter would be filled with water. Glenn was excited fer the moisture and looked forward to farmin’ in the Spring. He described to me what he would plant and what fields he would plant. His hopes were in his farm and family. I listened, interested as I could. I didn’t dampen Glenn’s spirit by sharin’ my own lack of regard fer farmin’. Church time was comin’ on. I figured things had cooled off enough to return. “Well Glenn, I better get on back. I’ll se ya at church in a while.” “You want me to loan you a horse, or ride ya double back to your place?” asked Glenn. “Nah, I can use the exercise.” ∞ I got to home, walkin’ fast as I could more’n runnin’. I went on in the house. Jenny and Della ignored me, but Dell kept peeking to see what I was doin’. I winked at her and made a new face at each of her secret peeps. She began gigglin’ on my third face and I grinned back and chased her down, tickling her unmerciful and wrestlin’ her on the floor. Stella jumped in and we had a regular wrestle on the kitchen floor. Jenny tried to ignore us altogether, but softened with our play. Owen walked over and climbed on the heap. We put the disturbin’ mornin’ behind us and didn’t speak of it agin. “Get yourselves ready for church. PG, is the wagon ready?” “No dear. It ain’t. But it will be when yer ready to leave,” I teased. We enjoyed bein’ together fer the rest of the Sabbath, I a little happier than the last few weeks. Jen was a little less happy than usual. November 20, 1905, Monday in the storeroom room at Idaho Falls I headed fer Pelot’s right after church Sunday cause of the weather. Fact is, we skipped the last meetin’. The day was perty until I got home from Glenn’s and she started droppin’ big flakes of snow and blowin’ hard. Jen and I figured we better get me on the way. It took Bud 7 hours travelin’ to get me to Pelot’s. He would have gone faster, but I was aftraid he’d get injured, and we had to get our bearin’s now and then to make sure we were goin’ the right way. It was tough goin’ in the storm. I figured it would take two, or even three, times as long to get here cause of the snow and wet. She was snowin’ sideways when I left Rigby. winter done set-in hard. Where a heavy shirt and jacket, or slicker, had provided enough warmth a few weeks back, I bundled mysef in wool shirt and pants and my heaviest winter coats. I wrapped my head and ears, includin’ my hat, with a

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warm wool scarf Jenny knit to cover my neck. The scarf pulled the brim of my hat down over my ears. I looked to be wearin’ a colorful Stetson bonnet. I cared little fer my looks. I cared about keepin’ the snow out of my face and ears and neck. Bud and I been in worse weather, but I ain’t used to the cold and wet anymore. Mostly I gave Bud his head and didn’t hurry him none. I’m glad we left early. I believe it is always good to have plenty of time and not have to hurry when I travel. I sure didn’t want to be out in that damn blizzard in the dark, but couldn’t help. I carried oats fer Bud to eat along the way. I figured right fer a change, that we’d be a while on the road. We stopped about half way to rest a minute. I fed Bud and I et a sandwich. While Bud munched the oats, I snuggled along his warm flank out of the wind and ate my sandwich. When we got to Pelot’s the storm was still strong. We were wet and chilled. I was chilled. Bud didn’t seem to be bothered. Mrs. Pelot told me to put Bud in the barn and to plan on stayin’ the night. She invited me to stay in the house, in one of her son’s old room, but I told her, “No, thank you kindly ma’am.” I chose instead to bed-down on the straw in the stall next to Bud. Mrs. Pelot brought me extra blankets. I got dried off and warmed some. ∞ I fed the Pelot animals a little extra, with the weather and all. By the time I finished chores, Mrs. Pelot brought me food, fer which I was mighty grateful. I et hungry, then fatigue took me complete. Cold and wind do sap a man. I was drained, but comfortable in the barn hunkered into the wool blankets and straw with a warm meal in my gut. I tumbled off to sleep after a half turn onto my right side. I liked it in the barn. The wind blew the big flakes agin the side of the barn and windows. It lulled me. The last thing I heard was the steady rhythm of Bud, breathin’. I slept sound, bundled in wool, buried in straw, breathin’ in the cool barn air. The tight closed doors and snow covered windows kept light from seepin’ into the barn, and I slept uncommon long this mornin’. Mrs. Pelot woke me, shakin’ my shoulder. “You plannin’ on sleepin’ all day?” she asked. “Huh?” I started. “What time is it?” I asked. “Why its 8:00 in the mornin’ young feller. Yer burnin’ daylight son, although I suppose its yours to burn,” she laughed, amused at her own wit. “Thought you mighta been up movin’ around and come to the house for breakfast, but since ya didn’t, I fed yer share to the dogs. That was about an hour ago,” She waded through deep snow leavin’ the barn to her chores, still chucklin’ at hersef.

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I threw back the blankets and got up, brushin’ straw off my beddin’. I folded Mrs. Pelot’s blankets, then rolled my own. I prepared Bud and tied my belongin’s to my saddle. I had to hurry to Idaho Falls and get the saloon cleaned. The day turned out clear and colder. Untracked snow glittered under the mornin’ sun fer as I could see in ever direction. All was white. The snow reached half way up Bud’s legs. The storm must’ve blown itself clean out, I thought. “Its maybe gonna be a long winter Bud.” It’s only the middle of November. I hurried. Packed, I led Bud to the house. I dropped Mrs. Pelot’s blankets inside the back door to the the house. She was nowhere to be found. I walked to the privy. There were no tracks in the snow leadin’ to the outhouse, so I knew I wouldn’t surprise anyone by enterin’. Bud and I headed fer Idaho Falls. Judgin’ by the tracks in the snow, Mrs. Pelot was workin’ in the coop. I figured I’d thank her in the afternoon when I head back fer chores. I figured to shovel some snow fer her too. ∞ I rode Bud to town and got him settled at the livery while I cleaned. “How you likin’ this weather?” asked Ron Lee. “Ain’t bad, but it’s puttin’ a damper on my trainin’,” I said. “Well, wait a couple hours, til Cherry takes up his spot in the saloon, and you can come in here and do yer exercisin’. I’ll help ya and keep watch fer Cherry too.” “Thank ya kindly Ron Lee,” I grinned. It was a good solution I never thought of, ner expected. I finished my saloon chores. The spittoons were particular nasty in the cold. The butts of cigarettes and cigars and the amber spittle discolored the pure white snow. I am no longer bothered by the stench and filthy mess of the spittoons. I was in a hurry to get to Yellowstone fer my treatment. ∞ I took Ron Lee up on exercisin’ in the livery stable. It was dry, and warm enough, and there was room. I finished in plenty of time to get to Pelot’s place fer chores and back to meet Sandy. I fed stock and shoveled snow fer Mrs. Pelot, and cleared paths to the coop, the outhouse, and the barn. I hurried Bud back to Idaho Falls, arrivin’ near dark. I didn’t figure I’d see Sandy fer an hour or two. I rested in the storeroom, leanin’ agin my blankets. I dozed some, then woke to a voice that brought me full awake. It was Sandy’s voice, talkin’ to Melvin. I wonder why I dislike the man so. I can think of no real reason beside his shabby appearance and lacka manners when we met. I reckon he has no respect fer me, and that soured me agin him.

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I got up and relaced my boots. I’m gettin’ mighty handy tyin’ my brogans and I’m proud of my progress, all around. I’m always hungry. Feels like the sides of my guts are stickin’ together agin. I went on in the barroom. “PG, you look fair fit, young fella,” said Sandy upon recognizin’ me. “Fit enough, I reckon,” I said. I was tryin’ to keep the ice out of my voice, but I know I wasn’t gettin’ it done. Sandy ignored my tone. “Well, what’s the verdict?” “The what?” I asked. “What did yer and yer lovely wife decide? Are you goin’ to be a fighter, or can I go about my old business?” Sandy grinned, showin’ rotten green teeth. That’s another thing I don’t like about the man, green teeth, I thought. “I’m fightin’,” I said. “When do I get a chance to make some money?” “Hold on,” said Sandy. “I said we’d test you to see if you got anythin’ that would help you’s make money. We’ll see this Saturday night, in Blackfoot, what you got. “I thought it was Friday. So, I won’t be gettin’ home this weekend. “Ain’t likely,” said Sandy. “There’ll be a couplea young men like yersef who will be tryin’ their luck, same as you. Can you be to the livestock barns near the railroad tracks in Blackfoot Saturday evenin’ at 7:00 pm? It’s on the north end of town.” I had to think by mysef fer a spell. “I don’t know. Let me think about it. I’ll be back in a while.” “Well, while yer cogitatin’ on the fight game me lad, I’ll have a beer,” he laughed and grinned at Melvin. “One of yer finest Melvin, me lad.” I went back to the storeroom. I lay on my beddin’ and thought about the prospect of testin’ mysef Saturday night. It had all been much easier when fightin’ was a possibility and when I might have been able to go home, even for a shortened visit. Now, with fightin’ a reality, I wasn’t sure of anythin’. I don’t want to miss a weekend with my family, and I wondered how I could get word to Jen that I ain’t gonna be home this week. I wonder how I’m gonna keep mysef without Jen helpin’ with my clothes and extra food. What if I get hurt? I thought. I prayed a little and thought. My confusion made me angry, like with my accident. I thought, I been plannin’ on this. I been pissin’ on my hands and runnin’ around, and doin’ push-ups and pull-ups, and soakin’ my face in the most awful salt crap. I told Jenny, and Glenn that I was goin’ to do it. Time to crap, or get off the pot. I walked back into the saloon and leaned agin the bar. I was solid, determined. “I’ll be there,” I said to Sandy. “Well now, that’s the spirit.”

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“What do I need to bring with me?” I asked. “Bring yourself and your luck, boy,” Sandy said, losin’ his grin. “Don’t eat nuthin’ after 5:00 pm. I’ll be takin’ care of you, and any cuts you might come by. You listen close to me, and I’ll get you through the night with your head still attached to your shoulders,” still no grin. We’ll see what you got.” I said nothin’ more, but turned and walked back to the storeroom. I was pleased to have made the decision. It was done, and the decision being made, steeled me. Now I wish it was earlier in the day so I could get workin’ to prepare mysef, although I don’t know what to do to prepare. I hated to wait, but can do nothin’. It is goin’ to be a long week with all this snow. I’ll work and stay busy to make time move faster. Friday morning, November 24 Friday the 13th. Unlucky Friday. I ain’t writ fer a couple of days. I’ve been workin’ hard on my runnin’ and exercise. I mostly exercised in the livery. I been losin’ weight. My pants would fall clean off if I didn’t have them hitched to suspenders, but I’m harder and stronger that three weeks ago. The week dragged by. I stayed busy with chores, work, and exercise. The weather broke and the snow melted some. In town the streets got muddy in places and sloppy slush in others. I walked and ran along the main streets, keepin’ to the wooden walkways. I spent as much time as possible in the livery. Ron Lee encouraged me and pushed me to do more than I thought I could. I had to ride Bud to get to Pelot’s. Thursday night I woke up in the middle of the night. My stump ached and throbbed. I overdone it I guess. I rubbed the stump and finally slept a little. Saturday mornin, the 25thth of November, 1905 Saturday is finally here. I finished my work and wished I could be goin’ home. I treated mysef with breakfast at the boardin’ house. There were potatoes, gravy, eggs, bacon, and ham, and pie. I et til I thought I’d bust. I bought a large can of peaches to eat on the way to Blackfoot, in case. Wish I had some of Jen’s sandwiches. I know Sandy said not to eat after 5, but I know I’ll be mighty hungry when I get to Blackfoot, after 4-5 hours of ridin’. I got to get goin’, if I’m goin’ to make it on time. Ron Lee fixed me up with feed fer Bud, and he sent a note to tell Jenny I wouldn’t be comin’ home. He sent it with freighters he knows that will be goin’ through Rigby today. They told Ron Lee they would be sure to get it to someone who could get it to Jen by tonight. I know she’ll be disappointed, maybe mad as a wet hen. I told her I might be doin’ somethin’ like this. I et breakfast at the boardin’ house. Mrs. Jennins made two sandwiches outa ham and eggs fer me to eat later. I dern sure appreciated her concern.

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I figure I covered mysef. I just need to keep my mind off the fights. I don’t know how I’m gonna do that with 25 miles to cover and nothin’ else to think about. Ron Lee has Bud ready. I’m leavin. I’ll go feed at Pelot’s case I don’t get back tonight. If I get back tonight, it will be too late to feed anyway. I can cut back to Firth and head south to Blackfoot. It ain’t really even out of the way. It’s near ten o’clock. Sunday, November 26th, back in the storeroom When I left Idaho Falls yesterday mud was dryin’ a little with the wind. It always blows in this country. I didn’t reckon it would be an easy ride. It’s near 25 miles. I hoped to arrive in plenty of time to find the feed lots, and take care of Bud and get loose. The afternoon turned clear and warmed. It was perty with the sun shinin’. I tied the heavy coat to the back of my saddle. I wore a jacket over my wool shirt and was plenty comfortable. Bud and I stayed close to the river. There is an easy road and trail there. I watched the wildlife and had easy access to water fer Bud. I planned to stop about half way, in some likely spot and feed Bud and eat my sandwiches and a can of peaches. Glenn will probably be ready to slit his own throat with the snow meltin’ away. As I rode I tried to imagine what it would be like to fight other men I ain’t ever seen, fer money. How should I act? How should I think? I didn’t believe I could ask these questions of Sandy. I decided I’d keep my mouth shut and my eyes open. I decided I’d behave quiet and try not to draw any attention to mysef. I decided to keep my stump in my pocket. I’m a little bit scared and dern nervous. ∞ I got into Blackfoot a little fore 6:00 p.m., and I asked directions to the train yards and livestock barns and found them easy, a fraction of a mile up the road. I was afraid to ask anybody where the fights would be held. I know they’re popular, but they ain’t legal. I found the grounds easy. A colossal sign read Southeastern Idaho Fair. The feller I asked direction from told that some local cattlemen bought the ground to run a livestock show. I ain’t ever seen so many electric lights in, and around, one buildin’. I found a likely spot to tie Bud off and pulled his saddle and bridle, placin’ them on the fence. I turned Bud into a small pen on the outskirts of the yards. It was gettin’ dark, and the action was easy to see in the large middle barn. I figured that would be the place. I untied my heavy coat from the saddle and pulled some feed into the pen fer Bud. It was gettin’ cold without the sun. I was plenty warm with excitement, and fear. I walked to the big barn.

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There were a few men in suits smokin’ cigars and laughin’ as they talked with one another. Men were arrivin’ in buggies and on horseback. There were a few women too. More men were standin’ inside the buildin’ surroundin’ a large square defined by ropes. I supposed men would fight inside the roped off area. I overheard men callin’ it the “ring,” and wondered that a square, or near square area would be called a ring. I walked around the edges of the ring and crowd, listenin’ to the talk of cattle prices, the beauty of the afternoon, and who might be favored to win the fights. I heard men exchangin’ bets and I heard names that didn’t mean a thing to me. The barn was bright as noon day. Large lights hung right over the ring. There was a man at a table at the far side of the barn. He was talkin’ to men that were writin’ at his table. I spotted Sandy standin’ near the man, talkin’ to him. Sandy wore a dirty suit and what was once a black bowler. The man didn’t seem any too happy to be talkin’ with Sandy, but Sandy blocked the man from getting’ away. It looked like Sandy was beggin’ fer somethin’. He leaned too close to the other man’s face. I imagined Sandy’s breath would be rancid from drink. I walked up to the two men and stopped a few feet away, not wantin’ to butt in on them, but needin’ direction. Sandy looked toward me and his face lit. “Well, PG my lad, you did, indeed, make it. This here’s Mr. Witherspoon, the man who makes all this happen,” said Sandy introducin’ the man he had pinned in conversation. “How do, young feller?” said Witherspoon. He seemed pleased to have an opportunity to escape Sandy. He had no real concern fer how I done. The man scurried away fore I could say anythin’ in reply. “Good riddance,” said Sandy. “How you feelin’ boy?” I could smell liquor on Sandy’s breath. The evenin’ was too important. “Ya been drinkin’ Sandy,” I said. “I didn’t figure you would be drinkin’ tonight.” “Why, hell yes I been drinking. I ain’t fightin’, you are. You don’t worry about me none, worry about yerself. Now, you got any questions boy?” “About a hundred, but I can’t think of any just now,” I answered. My mouth was dry. “How do I get my name in the hat?” I blurted. “You’re already in boy. I already paid the five dollar fee and got you on the bracket. You owe my five dollars,” said Sandy. Shocked, I pulled five silver dollars from my pocket and placed them in Sandy’s hand. It struck me hard how expensive this experience might be. I worked all week fer those dollars. “Did ya think ya could compete fer free boy?” asked Sandy, readin’ my face.

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“No. I ain’t thought about it much. I didn’t know what to think.” Sandy could see that I was excited and confused. He tried to calm me down. He said, “All the fighters put five dollars in the pot and fight fer the whole bunch. There are twenty fighters in tonight’s contest, so you can win a hundred dollars, actually $95 cause $5 is yours already, if you can last the whole time. “There’ll be men like you, beginners. There are men who have fought a long time and are past their prime, them you gotta watch out fer. They know all the tricks and will count on your lack of knowledge and inexperience to beat hell out of you. They probably will beat you, but we’ll see what ya got.” I listened close, and it hurt to hear Sandy say I would likely get beat. I wanted to win. “There are some who have fought a little and who are trying to build a name and move up. They’ll be hungry and some might be in fine shape. One thing sure,” Sandy smiled, “they all got two hands.” I bristled, “Listen you son of a . . . “ Sandy broke in, “I mean no insult to ya boy. Calm yourself. If you can’t take a little ribbin’, a little blow to your pride, you sure ain’t goin’ to be able to take a blow to your chin.” I calmed a bit and began listenin’ agin. “Tha’s better. You can fight without your shirt, or with your shirt, barefoot, or in boots. Some of these guys will have special, light, boots. They are light and good to use, if you’re any good at the sport maybe you’ll want a pair. That’s to be seen.” “What will it be like? How long will the fight last I mean?” I asked. “You must fight with no protection for your hands and nothin’ can be in your hands. Your hands have to be bare,” Sandy said apologetically. “I hoped you could wear the cuff, but it’s a rule. They don’t give a damn that you got only one hand, but you can’t cover your stump. That’s what I was hammerin’on Witherspoon about when you come to the table. “They ain’t had to make no exceptions before. Now, there is a mark in the middle of the ring. It is called ‘scratch’. Ya fight till one man gets knocked down. If he can get up, he goes to his corner to check with his second. The fighters are then called to scratch by the referee. That’ll be Witherspoon runnin’ the fights. If one fighter can’t toe that mark, come to scratch, then he’s whipped and the fight is over. If a man can’t get up from the knockdown, then the fight’s over. Now, these here gentlemen,” Sandy waved around the crowd, “will be bettin’ heavy, and after a man gets knocked down, the bets and odd’s will change like crazy. The smart fighter will use that time to get his breath and rest a few seconds. Don’t get sucked into the excitement. Another thing, if a man wins a fight and someone wins big on that fight, the winner might

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just get a good tip from the betters. This here’s a little meet, so I wouldn’t count on nuthin’ much from these boys and their tight arses.” “What’s yer cut if I win?” I asked. “Well, this here’s a lark fer me boy. I’ll be bettin’ on some other fights. I’m just going to watch you and see how ya do. You just do what ya can. If you prove to be a fighter,” Sandy grinned, “I’ll talk money with ya later.” I felt defeated already. I wanted a chance to win, even if I was brand new. “You sayin’ I’m throwin’ my money away and I ain’t got a chance? You ain’t goin’ to bet on me?” “Well, let’s just say your chances are awful slim since you ain’t never done this before. Who knows, you might win the whole damn shootin’match,” Sandy grinned. “Yer set-up in the second about of the evenin’. You go get yourself ready now. Stretch everythin’. Start slow, and throw some punches with both arms. Jog around the back of the barn and get a little sweat up.” “Where you goin’ to be?” “I’ll be right in your corner when the time comes fer you to fight, don’t worry none. At the beginning of the second fight, look fer me and that will be your corner. Got it?” I went to the rear of the barn where other fighters were warmin’-up. I tried to act as they acted. I piled my clothes as they did. I took down my suspenders and changed my shirt from my heavy wool, to a lighter under shirt made of cotton. I wore the undershirt over my garments and raised the suspenders over my shirt. I began to exercise lightly and other men gawked at me. “Hey crip, what the hell you doin’? You ain’t thinkin’ of fightin’ are ya?” said one of the fighters who sat in the dirt stretchin’ his legs and grinnin’ at me. “Yeah, I am thinkin’ of fightin’. I ain’t here to donate my five dollars to an asshole like you,” I forced a grin back. I spoke clear, but inside it felt like I wanted to run. “That’s just what it’ll be smart ass, a donation.” I didn’t reply. I chafed, but I kept to mysef and continued to warm-up. ∞ The fights began. Mr. Witherspoon appeared to have finished his business and moved to the center of the ring to get things started. The men who still stood talkin’ took their seats or moved away from the seats to stand and watch. Everyone fixed their full attention on the middle of the ring and Witherspoon. He started yellin’ loud. “Gentlemen, we are starting the evenin’s festivities. Welcome, and please, keep these proceedings to yourselves. Contestants have been paired

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by the luck of the draw. No quarter has been given for age, or size, or experience. Only the guts and skill of each man will determine how that man will battle this evening.” “The first contest will be between fighters, Jonathan Sager, a young fighter from Nevada, and a local reservation buck, Jake Sinopa. Jake tells me ‘Sinopa’ means fox in the Bannock-Shoshone tongue. I think you better be quick like a fox tonight Jake,” said Witherspoon. I thought, That Witherspoon’s a prick, but I’m glad to get to see one of these here fights fore I have to get in there. “Fighters,” yelled Witherspoon, “to your corners!” Each man had a friend, or manager, or second, standin’ in his corner. The seconds had tied a kerchief, or scarf, or piece of colored fabric, I didn’t know which, in their fighter’s corner. Sager had the same color sash tied around his waist, as the color tied in his corner. The sash splashed color over his tight britches. Sinopa had a gut hangin’ over his britches. These were mighty different men facin’ each other. I could hear Witherspoon explainin’ “You men each have a second in yer corner. If that man throws your colors into the ring, the fight is over. If you are knocked down, the round ends and you will go to your corner. I will time each round and call fighters to scratch in about half a minute. If one fighter can’t come to scratch, the fight is over, and the man standing at scratch is the winner of the match.” I found out that the half minute rest was fer some fast and furious bettin’. It had nothin’ to do with the fighter’s health. Witherspoon turned round and scanned the crowd. He yelled agin to the fighters, “There ain’t no referee beside me tonight, so know now that you ain’t to use any weapon except your fists. No kicking, no gouging, no cheating, or I will end the round and the man doin’ the cheating is finished. Understood? Good luck gentlemen. Come to scratch,” he bellowed. Men watchin’ the fights began to press closer to the ring. Those with seats leaned closer and groused at the other spectators to sit down, or get out of the way. Then, the place grew quiet. The two fighters came to scratch. I could feel the excitement thick in the air. Sager was a medium size man, young and without fat. Sinopa, was about the same height, but he outweighed Sager by many pounds. Sinopa’s dark eyes flashed with hatred. His black hair had been hacked off, probably with sheep shears. The front hair stuck to his forehead from sweat. Sinopa was wearing moccasins and canvas pants. He wore no fancy sash like Sager, just a white piece of cloth stuck in his back pocket. Probably an old used hankey. Witherspoon stood to the side and stuck his arm between the two men, stretchin’ his arm and holdin’ his hand flat between their eyes. He flashed his arm up from the elbow and his hand shot up and back. He yelled simultaneously with his signal. “Fight!”

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Sinopa, a Bannock Shoshone Indian, began to flail wildly with both arms. Sager deftly fell back and danced away. Sinopa charged forward, meetin’ a quick left hand jab flat on the nose. Blood poured from Sinopa’s nose, but he didn’t slow, and he didn’t go down. Sager slid away to the side, stopped and slashed at Sinopa’s ear, connectin’ and enragin’ the big Indian. Sinopa bellowed and turned toward Sager, chargin’ agin, this time under some control. Sager faked a lunge that stopped Sinopa momentarily. Sager smiled. That enraged Sinopa even more and he bellowed and charged agin, droppin’ his hands as he came out of control once agin. Sager stood his ground and once agin jabbed with his left catchin’ Sinopa in the mouth. As soon as his left landed, he took a short step forward with his left foot and threw his right hand which he had cocked durin’ his step and caught Sinopa full on the chin with a downward blow. Sinopa staggered and went down on one knee. His eyes turned grey. He was dazed by Sager’s right. Sinopa fell over, and lost consciousness, knocked out. He couldn’t even go to his corner. His second, another Indian dragged him from the ring. No white man moved to help the two. Men in the crowd yelled, some stomped about the sideline cussin’. Some paid-off bets, others accepted money. Sinopa’s second got him to the corner and revived him with cool water from a bucket. He got his friend up agin and helped him to the rear of the barn, away from the battleground. Sager stood in his corner talkin’ to his second, his back to the man he had just defeated. I was shocked at the thing I had just seen. I had to pee. I was also up next to fight. I ran to the back of the barn and found a place to relieve mysef. I prayed as I urinated. I thought about duckin’ out, mountin’ Bud and hightailin’ it fer Rigby. Instead, I walked back toward the ring. Sinopa looked up at me as I walked past, but he didn’t speak. Spittle was droolin’ from his slack, broken jaw. “You’re up next crip.” I looked at the man and anger filled me. It took my mind off the match fer a second. I was grateful fer that. I turned away and walked to the ring. I walked around the outside of the ring and to Sandy who was waitin’ fer me on the far side. Sandy removed an old handkerchief from his pocket and tied it to the rope. “This here’ll be our colors, sport.” “I ain’t got a hanky fer my pocket.” “Don’t worry about it. They know yer with me.” “You got any hints how to keep from gettin’ my head knocked off?” I asked. “Yeah, keep it tucked in and your hands up. Don’t let’em hit ya,” Sandy smiled.

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I had to pee agin. Witherspoon entered the ring and introduced the second fight. “The second match of the evenin’ will be fought between this here new man, PG Sessions,” he pointed at me. Witherspoon continued, “And the veteran Josh Lancaster. Fighters, come to scratch.” Josh Lancaster appeared to need no introduction to the crowd. I looked around and few of the spectators were even lookin’ at the ring. I realized that the crowd expected Lancaster to make short work of me. “Keep your hands, hand and stump, up in front of your face. Keep movin’. This guy is experienced. Don’t let him hit you, if you can help it,” said Sandy. “Good luck kid.” I listened, but ignored Sandy callin’ me kid. I walked to scratch on shakin’ legs. Lancaster was the same man who had been givin’ me grief about my missin’ hand and callin’ me ‘crip.” What luck? Lancaster sauntered to scratch, his hands hangin’ easy at his side. He wore a big grin. I wanted to knock the damn grin right off his face. “Well crip, I’m gonna knock shit outta you fast. I might run into someone who will give me a real match and I’ll need my strength.” Witherspoon hurried over to scratch agin. He went over the rules quick, fer me I suppose. Lancaster had heard them many times and paid little attention. He stood grinnin’ and lookin’ into my face. I heard the rules the previous fight and from Sandy. I couldn’t meet Lancaster’s gaze and looked down and worried. “Ya’ll ready?” asked Witherspoon. I wanted to run away and was so choked with fear I couldn’t say more than, “Yeah.” Lancaster said, “We’re ready partner. Get out the ring.” Witherspoon took his stance and flashed his hand up, “Fight!” Lancaster moved slowly forward, chuggin’ his fists like the tie rods on locomotive wheels when it slowly starts to move, a wide grin still spread on his ugly face. I raised my hands to waist high and slowly backed away from the experienced fighter. Lancaster shot his left fist out catchin’ me on the lower lip. Blood began to pour from the lip mashed and split between my teeth and Lancaster’s fist. I forgot the crowd and my fear and my urge to pee. I moved forward clumsy and took a round house swing with my stump, findin’ only air. I stumbled, nearly fallin’. It embarrassed me as much as the poke in the lip. “Havin’ a little trouble there crip?” laughed Lancaster. I did not answer, but took a more desperate lunge toward Lancaster, agin swingin’ wild with my right hand this time. Lancaster stood erect and moved back quick, jabbin’ me above my right eye. I lost my balance then and went to one knee. I was not hurt. But it gave Witherwpoon a chance to call us to the corners and let the bets fly. Not much changed, I don’t think.

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Most had bet on Lancaster already and could only give more odds after the knock down. The jab had landed squarely, but had not caused any real pain. Lancaster moved to his corner. Witherspoon yelled, “Go to your corners!” He was callin’ me fer goin’ to my knee as a knockdown. I walked to Sandy, who stood grinnin’ at me also. “Let me see yer lip sport. Break any teeth?” “Na, it didn’t hardly even hurt.” “Keep yer temper and quit divin’-in. He’s waitin’ fer ya to get off balance and poke ya.” “Come to scratch!” yelled Witherspoon. He didn’t wait a full half minute. Lancaster grinned his way to scratch and I met him there. “I’d like to knock that ugly grin right off yer stinkin’ face,” I told him. “Fat chance,” said Lancaster. He stopped grinnin’ though. Lancaster moved in close and jabbed a left to my chin and a follow-up right to my left temple. He stayed close and I came up from under with my own upper-cut to Lancaster’s chin and caught him square under the chin with my right. Blood flew from Lancaster’s mouth, mixed with what must have been teeth. Lancaster went over on his back. It was a knockdown. I didn’t know how to act. I wanted to leap on Lancaster and pound his head into the dirt of the ring. Sandy called to me, “Over here . . . come over here and stand til yer told to come to scratch.” I went to my corner. “That was one hell of an upper-cut kid.” “Is he done? Is he beat?” “Nah, he’s an old vet. He’ll take his full time and he’ll be back. Just take er easy here for a little.” Betters started yellin’ and makin’ new bets. I was breathin’ hard and feelin’ jumpy and excited. I was surprised at how much it took out of me, just a few minutes of fightin’. “Fighters . . . come to scratch,” bellered Witherspoon. I glanced at the crowd as I came to scratch. The crowd was takin’ an interest and men were exchangin’ bets still. Witherspoon started the fight once agin. The grin was gone from Lancaster’s face. His second had wiped the blood away, but there was still a trickle from the corner of his mouth. He held his lips tight closed. I moved in quick and tried the upper-cut again, but Lancaster was too quick. Instead of being hit, Lancaster side-stepped and hit me hard in the ear. The blow dizzied me and Lancaster took advantage by crowdin’ in and hittin’ me several more times in the side of the head. It was my turn to go down into the dirt.

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I got up slow, dizzy and went to my corner. Sandy threw water in my face from a sponge and bucket at ring side. “What you doin’ that fer?” I asked. It brought me back to the present. Sandy started talkin’ fast to me. “The same trick ain’t gonna work twice with this guy. He’s been around for years. Keep away from him and don’t make any lunges at him that will make you lose balance. Balance boy, keep yer balance. He’s going to try and knock you out real soon. He hurts bad and don’t want to mess with you no more.” I went to scratch and the fight started. I tried to keep my balance as I moved side to side and back and forth. I kept out of reach of Lancaster and the crowd now started to boo me. “Get in there and fight!” the crowd chanted. I thought, Lancaster is old but he has fought many times. Fear crept back into my legs. Lancaster moved in to throw punches and got close agin. I jabbed with my stump and caught Lancaster square in the nose. Lancaster’s eyes rolled back in his head and his hands went to his side as he slid to his knees. I believed I had knocked him clean out. Lancaster fell on his face in the dirt and I bounded to my corner and Sandy. My stump hurt somethin’ awful and blood was oozin’ from the end of it. In the excitement, I ignored the pain. I watched Lancaster. Dust puffed from his nostrils blowin’ in the dirt. “Is he beat?” I asked Sandy. I turned my back on the ring. I couldn’t look any longer. Sandy looked over my shoulder and was about to speak. I turned in time to see Lancaster stumblin’ to his feet and staggerin’ to his corner. “Nah, he ain’t beat yet.” I had hoped the man would stay down, “Damn!” Once again, Witherspoon called us to scratch. By now the crowd was deeply involved in the fight. Those who had paid little attention were bettin’ furiously with anybody who would take a bet. The crowd was in an uproar. The upstart from Rigby, Idaho, had nearly felled the veteran Lancaster. Me and Lancaster, tired and bloody, moved slow, in a circle. My lungs burned from the exertion and my legs were shaky from fatigue. Emboldened, by my success with my stump, I moved in to punch Lancaster hard as I could. I jabbed and missed with the stump. I threw an immediate right and landed it, but it was light. Lancaster countered and pounded my jaw. The blow staggered me, and the lights dimmed, then I felt what seemed to be a far off blow to my neck. The lights went out complete.

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∞ I woke-up a few minutes later, not recognizin’ my surroundin’s. I then realized I was in a stall at the back of the arena. Sandy was tendin’ to my cut lip and spongin’ cool water on my face. That’s what revived me. “Where am I?” I asked. “Yer in the back of the barn. You’re OK.” “That sum-bitch knocked me out, didn’t he?” “Yeah, but you did good. And he did it with a chicken-shit punch.” “How did I do good? I lost the fight and I lost my five dollars that it took me a week to earn. That ain’t good to me.” “You fought with an experienced fighter that got damn lucky, is what. And, here is your five bucks.” Sandy pressed a five dollar gold piece in my hand. “I won this bettin’ agin ya.” “What!” I squawked. “The odds were 4 to 1 agin ya. I had to bet four to win one, but I figured Lancaster, prick that he is, would win agin your inexperience. I bet $128 on Lancaster and won 32. It was scary as hell when you near cooled him. I didn’d have the money to cover my bet. Anyway, it worked out ok and ya got yer taw back and I got me enough to live fer the rest of the month.” “Damn, my stump hurts like fire.” “Yeah, it’s too soon to use it. I figured as much.” Sandy sounded serious, “Ya oughta go home and ferget about all this boy. It ain’t no way to live anyways. Let’s see that stump.” Sandy rolled back my sleeve and I let him clean up the end. He washed the stump with clean water. He surprised me with his gentleness as well as his savvy at doctorin’. “You gotta get this stump toughened before you use it like this. Does it hurt?” “Yeah, it hurts like the devil. Just to have you move it hurts. I been pissin’ on it and soakin’ it in brine to toughen the skin, but it’s still tender I guess.” “It’s too soon. You ain’t hurt too bad though. The skin’s broke a little.” “Look Sandy, I ain’t quittin’. I was scared when I went out there, but I got over it. I can learn to fight. It didn’t even hurt much when Lancaster hit me. Ya gotta help me get better. Can you teach me?” “I’d be doin’ you a bigger favor by advisin’ you to go on home kid. Don’t go no further. Get while the gettin’s good.”

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“You sayin’ I ain’t good enough? I didn’t win, but I knocked hell out of’im, you said so, and I did it twice. If I could get a little teachin’, I could whup him easy.” “Lancaster is near the end of his time in the ring kid. There’s lots way better’n him. You really ain’t got much chance. You gotta get that stump less sensitive, ya gotta let it heal more and toughen the end. Ya gotta get stronger and faster, and meaner. Ya knocked half a Lancaster’s teeth out and probably busted the rest. He just got back up, gathered hissef and come back to scratch. Could you do that?” “Yeah, if I gotta, I could do that.” “Think it over. I’ll be in Idaho Falls in about a week. We’ll talk again then.” “Whoa, whoa . . . what did ya think. Do ya think I ain’t got what it takes?” “Depends.” “Depends on what?” “Depends on how willin’ you are.” “I’ll work all day every day. I know how to work hard, if that’s what’s worryin’ ya.” “I mean how willin’ you are to work on yourself and on your fightin’. Ya gotta learn balance. Ya gotta learn to punch and to duck a punch. You gotta be able to take a punch. Ya do that pretty good, but ya gotta learn to shake it off when you get sucker punched, better yet, ya gotta learn to expect the sucker punch and avoid it. Ya gotta do somethin’ I don’t know if you can do, that’s change yer lead to your right hand. That means ya gotta learn to fight left-handed. You missed when you swung yer stump. I figure it’s because your left arm is now shorter than your right. So, you learn to lead with your right and combine with the left. Remember, to do that, yer stump’s gotta be healthy and not tender no more.” “I can do all that. You teach me to punch and keep my balance and use my stump. I’ll do the rest. I tell ya Sandy, I can do this. I gotta do it. I . . . I liked it in there,” I admitted. Sandy laughed, his ugly green teeth and stubbled grey chin shown in the electric lights. “Yeah, I know what ya mean kid. It can get in the blood awful fast. Go on home now. I’ll see ya. Ya didn’t do bad kid, but you ougthta think it over serious though.” Sandy left me sittin’, thinkin’, daydreamin’. ∞ When I finally got up and left the barn, the only light came from the windows and through cracks. The stock yard was black. I found Bud and saddled him. I knew it would be dangerous to leave fer Idaho Falls in the

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dark, but I was powerful anxious to get back to familiar surroundin’s. I thought, even though I wouldn’t be home, I’d be in familiar surroundin’ to rest and lick my wounds. I was still runnin’ strong from the excitement of the fight. My face and head were numb from the punches I received. I kept goin’ over the fight in my mind, reviewin’ punch by punch, while I let Bud pick his way in the dark. The cold night wind cooled my worn tired muscles and I began to stiffen and ache. I untied my heavy winter coat from the saddle and shrugged into it as Bud carried me forward. I could just see the outline of the road. I pulled my hat down tight and tied the wool scarf round my head and ears. My ear hurt like fire, but I was cooled down by then and it was cold as a tin toilet seat. I did everythin’ I could to get warm, flapped my arms around mysef and moved my fingers and toes. The cold seeped through my coat and shirt. I could see the stars and there weren’t clouds. I knew the weather was too cold fer me to travel in my tired condition. I turned Bud back toward Blackfoot and the fight barn. Bud took me back to the stockyard. We entered the barn through rear doors and I maneuvered Bud into an empty stall and pulled his saddle and bridle, hangin’ the bridle on the fence. I could smell the sweat and alcihol and smoke, and what remained of the fighters. There was still plenty goin’ on. It was plenty noisy, but nobody paid Bud and me any mind. I used my saddle and blanket to make a bed, and I left my coat and hat on to try and get warm agin. I judged the scarf looked strange, so I removed it even though it was warm on my head and nobody was lookin’. The fights didn’t end until well after midnight. I watched some after I got warmed. I hurt too much to watch long and just went on over and got between my blankets. There was plenty of folks around, but I was lonely. I woke up, musta been about 2:00, to pee, and could see that all the spectators left. Witherspoon and his men were finishin’ gatherin’ their equipment and they left too, turning off the lights, all except one that lit the front of the barn and one out back that shown through the windows. Enough light shined through the dim lit interior of the barn so’s I could see others millin’ around and makin’ beds, or nursin’ their wounds. I wondered who won all the money. Witherspoon and his men paid me and the others no mind. Other fighters, losers like me, slept in the barn that night. The winners must have gone off to a hotel, or to private parties and private residences. None of the losers talked much. None spoke to me. I could hear a few low voices, maybe groans, around the barn. The men made their beds and groaned their way to sleep, like me I suppose. I was not as bad off as men who had fought more than one fight and had still lost their money and their chance. It sounded like some were hurt

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bad. I could just see black humps in the different stalls and it was gettin’quiet, and sort of peaceful now that it was all over and dark. I felt at ease in the quiet brotherhood of losers. ∞ I got up early to get out of Blackfoot. I was sore and stiff and I moved slow and deliberate. My stump ached. It felt like my hand was achin’. It felt like my fingers were on fire, then they just ached. My ghost fingers ached. Couldn’t get in a comfortable position. I tried holdin’ my stump above my head as I done after the accident. I clenched my teeth, folded and stowed my blankets and saddled Bud. I took a last look around as we were leavin’. Some men were gettin’ up, others stayed motionless under blankets. Some of these guys might be dead, I thought. I’ll write more later, probably tomorrow. I got to get some grub and get out to Mrs. Pelot’s this afternoon. Sunday night Back to town from chores. Plenty of time to write more. Nuthin’ else to do. Pickin’ up where I left off after gettin’ back from Blackfoot this mornin’. When we left the barn in Blackfoot, I rode Bud over to the river trail and let Bud drink at the river. I fed him the last of the oats. We headed north at a walk. I couldn’t take much bouncin’. I sure wasn’t on fire about headin’ out to Pelot’s, not the way I was feelin’ right then. We got goin’ north. We sped up some around Firth, and Bud walked me into Idaho Falls just after noon. I guided him to the livery and found Ron Lee straightenin’ the barn. “You work ever day,” I joked. “Don’t Cherry ever give you a day off?” “Oh, I get my time. I only just got here and I just gotta straighten round the barn for a while and feed the animals, then I’m free for a few hours. I stay back here anyways.” Ron Lee showed me his small room out back of the livery. The room was made by blockin’ off part of the tack room. It looked comfortable, with a chair and cot. Ron Lee had a lantern for light, and a small oil heater to keep him warm, and he had some books on a shelf below a small window. I looked around, “Ain’t bad Ron Lee. Better’n the storeroom over at the saloon,” I laughed. Ron Lee and I fed and watered Bud heavy and let him rest in the livery fer the afternoon. I wished I could walk to the mercantile and buy food.

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Hunger hit me a couple miles out of town. Ron Lee had some soup cookin’ on his stove and he had a big old loaf of bread. “Here PG. Eat this soup and all the bread you want.” He tore off a big chunk of bread. I sopped up some soup with the bread and it was mighty fine. I was so hungry, I et most everythin’ Ron Lee had. Ron Lee and I talked and laughed and lounged on bales of straw. He didn’t seem to care that I et most all his food. I planned to pay him back when I could buy some at the mercantile. Ron Lee closed the main doors to the livery to keep out the cold. The smell was comfortable, the warm smell of hay and horse and the inside of a good solid barn. I was chilled from the long ride and kept wrapped in my heavy coat. With the food and warm, I started gettin’ stiff and sleepy. I reported the fight to Ron Lee and gave account of my loss. I described the feelin’s and experiences and the excitement of the fights. I told him my thoughts while I was fightin’, everythin’. He listened and didn’t interrupt. “Man, Ron Lee, there ain’t nuthin’ like it I ever felt. I was so excited it didn’t even hurt to get hit. I want to get back in there, but when I do, I want to win.” I was mighty relaxed and didn’t want the afternoon to end, but I figured to get on to Pelot’s place fore dark. “Well, Ron Lee. I got to git to the saloon and do some chores then git on out to Pelot’s place. Thanks fer everythin’. I feel better, and some rested. I thank ya. I aim to pay ya back for the grub.” Ron Lee just nodded and said, “Anytime.” I left his company and got the spittoons cleaned in a hurry. Melvin stopped at the bar to see if I was back, I think. He didn’t say anythin’ much. He just asked how I was doin’. He knew where I’d been. I told him a quick version and told him I’d tell him the whole story later, and I hurried to Mrs. Pelot’s place. I was mighty tired and wanted to stay in the storeroom and rest, but I needed to take care of Mrs. Pelot’s animals. It looked like it was goin’ to snow hard. I thought to feed the animals and maybe stay over in the tack room. I was tired of travelin’. Bud seemed a little bushed himsef. I knew Mrs. Pelot would not mind. It would save on livery fees too, although Ron Lee don’t charge fer every day Bud stays at the livery any more. I got my chores done quick as I could. It seemed mighty cold outside cause I was near wore out. I made my bed on the floor of the tack room. I am gettin’ used to sleepin’ on hard, cold floors. I pulled straw in the tack room and made a soft, warm mattress. It helped agin my stiffness. Mrs. Pelot had not shown hersef all evenin’. She must be gettin’ to trust me. She did burn a lantern in the house. I could see a shadow movin’ around in the house. I knew she was alright. The house looked warm and comfortable. I got to missin’ Jen and the kids and I prayed fer’em. I went

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outside after prayers to relieve mysef fore bed. It started snowin’. I slept with my clothes on, removin’ only my boots. I dropped off to sleep soon as I got the covers up round my neck. I slept sound, restin’ my sore achin’ body. Monday, November 27 After a satisfyin’ restful night, I fed and watered and got on my way to town. My face is puffed up, but it feels okay, and I have most of my strength back. My stump still aches. Not like yesterday, but still it bothers me and I been protectin’ it from bangin’ it around none. I wore my stump glove to sleep last night so I wouldn’t bump it. I rode to Idaho Falls through fresh fallen snow and I got the saloon cleaned fore anybody got here to open. I went on out to Yellowstone, and Mr. Simms let me do my treatment. I just did my right hand and skipped the stump. I been thinkin’ a lot ridin’ all over southeast Idaho. It’s one good thing about ridin’ alone. A man gets to think, uninterrupted. I decided I’m goin’ to follow Sandy’s advice and let my stump heal fore beginnin’ a new struggle to toughen and numb the skin. “So, ya fought night before last I hear,” said Martin Simms. “Yeah, I didn’t do too good. I didn’t win.” “You ain’t givin’ up though, I see.” “No, no, I ain’t givin’ up. I hit my opponent hard a couple of times and I learned some. I think I can get better and may be able to do real good one day.” “Well good fer you, if that’s what yer wantin’.” “Yeah, it sounds crazy, I know, but it was awful excitin’ and it is what I want. At least, I wanna try it one more time. I got a guy who is goin’ to teach me. He took care of my cuts and bruises down to Blackfoot.” “I wish ya luck then PG. It seems like a tough way to make a livin’ though.” “Ah, a tougher way to make a livin’ is to smell this damn stink all day,” I laughed. “What stink?” asked Mr. Simms. I stopped laughin’ and got a little embarrassed. Simms seemed serious. I guess he don’t smell the stink anymore. “Well,” I said, “Thanks fer the help Mr. Simms.” “Call me Martin, or Marty,” he replied. “Thanks then, Martin. I’ll see ya tomorrow.”

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∞ I’m plannin’ on goin’ to the boardin’ house fer supper, then I’m takin’ an early bed. It’s been one heck of a week. I’m plannin’ to use this week to strengthen mysef. I can’t wait to get home Saturday mornin’. Saturday, December 2nd I never touched the journal after Monday afternoon. I worked my tail off all week with earnin’ a few dollars and runnin’ and draggin’ stuff around. I was mighty sore for a few days. Sandy told me he’d see me in about a week, so I’m workin’ on my own. I’d do it without him if I could, but I don’t know how to find the fights. Maybe I’ll talk to Melvin about it. When I got home this mornin’, I was pert near all healed up. I still got a little split lip from the fights and Jenny was not pleased, but she said little regardin’ my fightin’. I told her I lost and it seemed to please her. I’m keepin’ details of my performance to mysef til I talk to Glenn. I been workin’ hard and been walkin’ and runnin’ most places to strengthen my legs. I been eatin more’n usual, but I ain’t addin’ any weight cause of all the extra effort. It’s cold and icy, but I walked near five miles a day last week, slippin’ and sloggin through slush, or wadin’ through deep snow, or pussy footin’ on ice to and from Pelot’s. I feel stronger, but I still can’t work on the stump. It is too tender still. I got to toughen it some way. Wednesday, December 6th, 1905 Had a restful weekend at home with the family. Been near two weeks since the fights in Blackfoot. Sandy finally showed up at the saloon this evenin’. I was restin’ in the storeroom when a knock started me. “Yeah?” Melvin opened the door and peeked in, “PG, Sandy’s here askin’ fer ya.” I couldn’t help it. I was excited and I leaped from my covers and went into the barroom in my stockin’ed feet. Sandy stood at the bar with a mug of beer. He looked as if he hadn’t bathed ner changed clothes since I seen him in Blackfoot. Sandy spied me and smiled. He was already drunk. “Well champ,” he grinned “How you been?” I got disgusted with Sandy’s condition and said, “Champ my ass. I been fine, better’n you.” “Easy, I got good news.” “Oh yeah? What’s that?” “Let’s sit down at one o’ them tables and jaw some,” he grinned. Somehow his beard never seemed to grow beyond stubble, but he never seemed to shave neither. His face looked dirty, like he had slept on his face in the dirt.

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I led to a table, pulled mysef a chair, and collapsed into it. “What news old man?” I said. Sandy, still smilin’, “There’s going to be fights in Idaho Falls in February. That gives you just over two months to git ready. I already let Witherspoon know we’re comin’. You’re entered,” he grinned. The news excited me, but it seemed far off and I didn’t want to show it to Sandy. I leaned forward in the chair, now mighty interested. “There goin’ to be the same fighters as last time?” I asked. “Don’t rightly know, but most of the same faces will be here I expect. There will be some new, some won’t show cause they got whipped so bad in Blackfoot, or somewhere else, if they been fightin’ along the way. This’n will be bigger than Blackfoot. Some new guys will show up to try their hand. Don’t matter. One’s the same as another. You just got to worry about one fighter, that’s you. How you feelin’?” “Well, I feel fine,” I said. “How should I feel?” “I told you at Blackfoot to make a decision. If you’re going to be a fighter, you got to get to trainin’.” “Oh, I been trainin’, hard,” I told him. “I been liftin’ things and I been walkin’ and runnin’ about 5-6 miles a day on the way to and from Pelot’s place. I ain’t hardly rode Bud.” “No, I’m talking about real training, trainin’ to win, not just show-up. This here’s going to take some commitment on your part, if you really want to fight and win. There ain’t no sense in fightin’ to lose all you got, including yer senses. You got to get tougher, faster, and you got to be able to stay the whole distance. It takes a special kind of man. A man’s got to be iron tough.” Sandy stopped talkin’, sat back in his chair and looked at me with that look like he was buyin’ a side-o-beef agin. He was waitin’ fer me to talk back to him. I leaned with my elbows on the chair and bowed my head in thought. I rubbed my stump gentle as I thought about what the old sot was sayin’. I said, “I’m tired of these spittoons, and I can’t make a livin’ doin’ chores at Pelot’s. I ain’t no kind of farmer. I don’t see’s how I got much choice. Sides, I do love it, the excitement I mean.” “Is that a commitment?” asked Sandy. “Yes sir, it’s a commitment,” I answered. “Now tell me what I got to do.” “Well first, I know ya ain’t gonna quit workin’ to live, but in between you got to exercise like you ain’t never done before. Five miles a day walkin’ ain’t even a start. You’re going to have to run, or run and walk more like 20 miles a day.” “Twenty miles?” I sputtered. “Can a man do that?” I wasn’t at all sure I could even come close. “Bud don’t even run twenty miles at a stretch.”

STUMP “You ever heard of a man name Bob Fitzsimmons?”

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“Neh,” I replied. “Well, he is the greatest fighter ever. The man stands five feet eleven inches tall and weighs about 180 lbs. He is the hardest punchin’, longest lastin’, cleanest fighter ever was.” “Never heard of him,” I repeated. “I outweigh’im by near fifty pounds. I ain’t gonna be much like Mr. Fitzsimmons I don’t reckon.” “I know you ain’t going to be much like him. He’d go circles round you while he knotted yer head. Lucky fer everybody round here fightin’ that he don’t fight these podunk fights out west here. But, to make a livin’ out here in these fights, you gotta become like him much as you can PG. He trains hisself. When he starts getting ready for a fight, he walks, or walks and runs 18-20 miles a day, rain or shine. After that week he does six to eight mile runs out and walks back as fast as he can go. He mixes it up some by walkin’ out the next day and runnin’ back. Another day he’ll walk a mile and run a mile. He runs between telegraph poles, sprintin’ a length, then walkin’ a length, for many miles.” I don’t believe a man can do that. “I don’t know if I can run two miles solid and full-out, let alone eight or ten.” “Ya can do what ya gotta do, if’n ya want it bad enough,” replied Sandy. “What else?” “He swims in the ocean for a long way, but you ain’t got no ocean, so you can ferget that. He works-out on the heavy punching bag for an hour every day. I once seen his trainin’ schedule. He gits up at 6:30 and has breakfast at 7:00. He only eats one egg fer breakfast. He rides a bicycle for about 15 miles, then sits down to a real breakfast. He then does 15 miles afoot after breakfast. Then, has a rubdown and rests. You ain’t going to have them luxuries. He eats lunch, and works at the gym on the heavy bag and lifts weights. He has a shower and another rubdown, then eats a huge supper. He goes to bed early as he feels he needs to.” “Dang,” I said, quiet like. “Sometimes Fitzsimmons splits wood to warm-up before breakfast. He eats oatmeal, muffins, steak, chops and chicken mostly, but they say he’ll clean out all the fresh vegetables his market can produce and he loves roast beef, mutton, and pork.” “It’d cost me all I make to eat like that, maybe more.” “Yeah, but it pays off. Old Bob has made as much as $40,000 fer a fight.” “Forty thousand dollars!” I near fell outa my chair.

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“He is the champ-o-the-world,” said Sandy. “Course, we ain’t going to find anything like that out here, but the purses can get bigger, and the betting can be huge.” I got to say I was plenty interested. “You sayin’ you think I got what it takes to make money fightin’?” I asked. “Yeah, kid. I think you got what it takes. Question is, do you, and have you got the testicles to prove it?” “The what?”I asked. “You know kid, the balls?” I didn’t reply. I don’t know if I got the guts to take fightin’ that serious, but it is mighty excitin’ to think on. I bluffed Sandy, “Yeah, I got the balls.” “We’ll see,” said Sandy, then he waved to Melvin to bring him another beer. He said, “Remember these fights ain’t as big time as old Fitz is in, but you can make a fine livin’, but you can also lose yer life. If yer goin’, go all the way, to protect yersef and yer family.” December 7, 1905, Thursday Sandy slept, more like he was passed out, in the storeroom with me last night. He got hissef blind drunk. He musta walked, or crawled his way into the storeroom pretty late, then musta just collapsed side me on the floor. When I got up in the middle of the night to pee, I covered him with Bud’s blanket that I usually use fer part of my mattress. I was cold all night loanin’ him one of my blankets, and no heat in the storeroom. I opened the doors so the warm saloon air could come in the storeroom. Temperature ner noise didn’t seem to bother Sandy none, but I couldn’t sleep with thinkin’ about Fitzsimmons. I probably could’ve left Sandy uncovered. I hear tell alcihol don’t freeze. I woke up early, 6:30 like Bob Fitzsimmons, I thought, but then, I always get up between 6:00 and 6:30. I’m younger than him, so he probably started the habit first. It was dark, but I could tell Sandy was not on the floor anymore. I found Sandy sittin’ in the saloon, scratchin’ his filthy, oily hair. He looked up and saw me through the gloom of light reflected through the snow covered window. “Get yer chores done stud and get ready to work out like a fighter,” he rasped. Sandy had drawn himself a beer from the tap behind the bar and was sittin’ at the table nursin’ the drink. I musta got some sleep cause I didn ‘t hear him get up. I dressed and lit the lamps. The saloon doesn’t yet have electricity. After seein’ electricity at work in the Blackfoot fights, I am anxious fer the city to get wires strung so the saloon might have electric lights. Someday maybe we’ll get lights up home.

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I got after my chores. I ain’t started on chores this early cept when I get up, get them done and head fer home. I didn’t know whether to stall, or hurry, so I hurried to see what Sandy had in mind. “You got any food in this place?” asked Sandy. “Nah, I ain’t got anythin’ right now except an appetite. I ain’t been home fer 10 days. Jenny usually sends some extra with me, but I et all she sent last week. We’ll have to wait til the mercantile opens, or the boardin’ house. The hotel is too derned expensive,” I said. I really didn’t want to take Sandy to eat in the boardin’ house, ner the hotel. He’d be best eatin’ off the floor, in his condition. “We’ll wait fer the mercantile,” I said. “It won’t be too long.” “I ain’t eatin’,” said Sandy. “I’m thinkin’ of you. I got my breakfast right here,” he raised his beer glass. I finished chores about 8:00 a.m. and we walked to the mercantile which was openin’. I felt more like the boardin’ house, but I wouldn’t take Sandy there. It would be like layin’ a cowpie on the table in front of friends. We bought a bunch of food and the man in the mercantile held his nose as he took Sandy’s money. I couldn’t help grinnin’. Dang, I was hungry. Sandy found the makin’s fer coffee while I was cleanin’ the saloon and he wanted to go back there and eat our fare so’s he could get some hot coffee in him. We didn’t have anyplace else to go. Sandy drank coffee and et a boiled pickled egg. I loaded up on peaches, and et a couple of eggs mysef. I was sure missin’ a warm breakfast, but the peaches worked to dull my gut. I et a couple of dried biscuits and drank about a gallon of water. “I wouldn’t get overloaded now kid,” said Sandy. “Why not? I got a lot to do today.” “Well go ahead on then,” said Sandy. “That all yer eatin’ Sandy?” I asked. “Yeah kid, I’m plumb full.” “What you got in mind?” I asked. “I want you to shed that heavy coat and get somethin’ lighter. You’re goin’ to do roadwork’ fer about three-four hours. Whatdya usually do?” “I usually get the saloon done about now and go to Yellowstone fer a treatment. I been includin’ my face now and agin, to toughen it up some.” “Well, hold off on the treatments til later. Git yersef a heavy shirt over the one yer wearin’, or a jersey shirt, or a light jacket. Ya got any gloves, er a glove I mean?” “Yeah, I got a glove.” “Git it on then and take off runnin’, or walkin’ as fast as you can. Where the road to Arco is dried out, run. I want you to go out about five

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miles. Test yersef. Push yersef. See how far you can actually run. Not full tilt, but run powerful and under control. Breath through yer nose on the inhale and out through yer mouth. Run out five miles and then get back the best way you can. I’ll be here, or at the livery.” “What you gonna do at the livery?” I asked. “I’m going to get that black boy to help me make a bag fer you to punch. Now git!” I pulled on my wool work shirt and started up Broadway and across the bridge, west. The mornin’ was clear and cold, but not windy. I thought about Jen and the kids while I ran. It took my mind off my achin’ legs and back from sleepin’ on the floor with no blanket. I had to slow jog fer a spell. Jenny’ll be havin’ the new baby anytime now and I have plans to get home as soon as possible Saturday mornin’. I wonder if it will be a boy or girl. I’m hopin’ fer another boy. The snow, ice, and ruts, made it too hard to run with any real abandon, but it felt good to press mysef. My lungs burned from the effort. I ran and jogged near two miles and vapor was shootin’ from my nose like steam puffin’ from a chuggin’ train. My legs were weak and shaky, my condition is disappointin’. I thought I was in better shape. Arms churnin’, I sped up and drove mysef and jogged and slipped and stumbled across the country alone. Sweat ran in my eyes even though it was cold as a wedge. I was glad not to be wearin’ a heavy coat. It wasn’t long fore I reached the edge of the settlement and got into the sage brush. Brush lined the road and I saw nobody in any direction. I judged I’d run about 3 mile and I was worn down. I had to stop and get a breath, or two. I bent and caught my breath. The stump throbbed a little and I stood and held it above my head fer a while as I walked and breathed deep. As soon as I could, I started joggin’ agin, judgin’ about where I’d turn back makin’ it a 10 mile workout. I got back to town close to 1:00. I et snow to quench my thirst and squash the hunger, but the snow just made me thirstier. Lucky there’s plenty of it, I thought. I discovered later that I hadn’t covered a full 10 miles, but I ran when I could and I was plenty tired. I got to the livery, and I stumbled through the door and collapsed on the nearest bale of hay, clean wore out. Sandy musta got Ron Lee to help put together a punchin’ bag from doubled canvas flour sacks. They filled the doubled bags with sand and saw dust, all they could find fer filler and hung the bag in back of the livery. It hung in a place where Cherry was likely not to set foot. Cherry was nowhere to be seen when I got back to the livery. “Got yer bag ready,” said Sandy.

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“It’s gonna hafta wait,” I said. “I gotta rest.” “You gotta eat, then you gotta start beatin’ on this here bag. Let’s go over to the bar. I got you some grub at the mercantile, and I’ll have me a beer while yer stuffin’ yer face.” “Come with us Ron Lee?” I asked. “Sure. Let’s go. Old man Cherry is already over there and probably already in the bag,” he laughed. “He goin’ to go nuts when he sees you there?” I asked. “Hell with him,” grinned Ron Lee. I shrugged and we left fer the saloon. I could have et Bud’s horse blanket. ∞ When we walked in the front of the saloon, I spotted Cherry slumped over with his face on the table. He was already passed out from drinkin’. Ron Lee and I et lunch and listened to Sandy. “You got to get tough as a badger’s ass boy. When yer ready, I’ll teach you some special things to help you win.” “Like what,” I asked. “Wait. You got to learn patience at the same time you learn fightin’. I ain’t seen anybody as previous as you.” “What’s previous?” “It means that you are mighty damn hasty. You got to slow down, think, prepare, give yourself time, learn your craft, quit chargin’ in. Then, learn yer opponents. Right now, your opponent is yersef.” “Mister, I ain’t got an idea what yer talkin’ about,” I said back to him. “Well just wait then. Try to get better at waitin’.” Just about then, my leg cramped and it pertnear tore me apart. I was dancin’ and moanin’, cussin’, jumpin’ around the room, lookin’ fer any position to get relief. Nothin’ worked. Cherry, in his stupor, raised his head and looked in my direction. He sniffed like a dog smellin’ a turd, then dropped his face back on the table. Sandy and Ron Lee had a good laugh at my caperin’ around. Finally my muscles relaxed enough so’s I was able to sit back down and finish eatin’. Sandy started in agin,”Now, I want you to learn to hold yer hand like this here. It will make it almost as deadly as yer stump, but longer and easier to use.” Sandy showed me to hold my wrist rigid, sort of tiltin’ my knuckles forward to make the fist straight with the wrist. “Now when you punch with your right, try to strike with the knuckles of yer first two fingers. That way, from your elbow to the end of your fist, you’re usin’ a

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straight piece of bone steel to deliver your blow. It’ll be like havin’ two stumps, one loner’n the other.” ∞ We headed back to the livery. My legs felt weak and jittery. Sandy found a fresh bale of hay near the bag and plopped down, at the same time he reached into his filthy coat and pulled a pint of whiskey he had stashed. “Warm up,” he commanded. “Stretch out. I know yer stiff from yer little jaunt this mornin’, but work it out.” I began loosenin’ up slow while Sandy droned on, between swigs of whiskey. “In time, you’ll develop yer own style. But all fighters use some of the same techniques to defend themselves and to attack. First, learn the basic stance. We’re going to start now to change you into a left-handed fighter cause of that’er stump. Yer going to be dangerous with either hand, but the left, the stump, will deliver the coups de grass, as they say in France, or wherever they say that kinda crap.” “Now, start with yer feet about shoulder width apart, comfortable like. Stand with yer right foot slightly in front of the left because you are going to always lead with yer right hand now, like this.” Sandy stood and took a fightin’ stance to demonstrate. “Where should I hold ma hand?” I asked. “Well now, that there’s an intelligent question. Bob Fitzsimons fights right handed, leadin’ with his left like right handers do. What’s a little different is, he holds his left arm outstretched pretty far, so he can straighten it with a quick jab of six to eight inches. He has a heap o’ strength in his hands and arms from bein a blacksmith for years when he was a kid. We’re going to build yer strength and because you got that stump, it’s going to become yer number two weapon, but it will be the one that knocks hell out of’em. The beauty is stickin’ yer hand out like that keeps your opponent off you, so he can’t hit you easy. Yer also standin’ kind of sideway to your opponent, givin’ him less target. It will be tough to hit you in the gut.” “What’s coups de grass,” asked Ron Lee. “That there’s the punch that drops them in their nasty-ass tracks, my boy. That’s the coups de grass.” Sandy grinned. “Now measure where you can cock yer arm and straighten in just about eight inches fast as lightnin’, and powerful.” I did it best I could. “That about right?” I asked “That’ll do. How’s it feel?” “Feels fine, but I ain’t’ hit nuthin’ yet,” I said.

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“Okay, take yer stance in front of the bag. Measure how far ya gotta be to make that same punch. Bend yer knees slight and throw some punches inta the bag.” “Throw some?” I asked. “Hit the bag, boy,” said Sandy. I found my distance and punched the bag. When I hit the bag, my body bounced back from the bag, and I lost balance. “Adjust yer weight and get yer stance widened a little so you can keep balance when you make contact. Bend the knees a little more, and lean into the punch some, but don’t lose yer balance goin’ forward neither.” Ron Lee looked on with interest. “Swing yer shoulder forward and lean into it a little for extra umph now,” said Sandy. I began to strike the bag hard and dust flew out the side of the bag. “Now yer doin’ it,” said Sandy. “What do I do with my stump?” I held up my stump. “After Ron Lee here and I watch you hit that there bag for about 15 more minutes with just yer right, I’ll tell ya what to do with that there club’a yorn. Move left and right and punch with yer right only.” I punched the bag faithful, agin and agin, movin’ left and right, mixin’ it up. I worked at keepin’ my balance while I punched as hard as I could from about eight inches. “Hold yer wrist and hand like I showed you,” said Sandy. “Don’t let yer weight get back on yer heels, ner up on yer toes. Find the feelin’ like you could dance away in any direction if ya got forced to.” By the time Sandy was ready to talk stump, my shirt was wet clean through with sweat agin. Sandy took up the conversation where he left off, “This here stance will put you in the best position to block the punches of other fighters. You can block and throw a punch from a balanced stance. You’ll find it in a few days so’s it will be natural as takin’ a leak.” He watched without talkin’ fer a few minutes. “Now, I want you to add your left. Keep that stump tucked up just under your left breast and in close to your body. Keep it there to guard against gettin’ punched in the chest, er ribs. You can strike from this position.” I did as I was told and tucked the stump in and took a few more jabs at the bag. Havin’ the stump and arm in close changed my balance. I had to adjust, but it felt better. Balance came quick and with my legs gettin’ warmed up and loose, I began to feel balanced and agile. “Now don’t hit the bag hard at all with yer stump, but start combining the left after the right in a one - two count.” Sandy staggered off the bale and demonstrated how to do the one - two. “Right jab, then left to the

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mouth of yer opponent. Come from the chest with yer stump, fast, so’s he don’t even see it comin’.” “He who?” I asked embarrassed at punchin’ the air. It was a stupid question. “Pretend! We’re going to pretend for a couple of months, so get on with it.” Sandy worked me fer near an hour. By the time I was finished, I sweat my shirt and pants wet and my legs felt like mush. “I feel like I’m gonna fall flat on my butt if I don’t sit down,” I told Sandy. “Well then sit down,” said Sandy. “We got to get you some better grub, some meat and vegetables, then you got a little more roadwork to do. You’re eatin’ crap, far as I can see.” “Roadwork? Are you kiddin’?” “Hell no, I ain’t kiddin’. You got to get into shape.” “Yer puttin’ me in the ground, not in shape,” I whined. “You’ll get there boy, just quit bitchin’ and stick with me. You’ll be wearin’ diamonds big as horse turds.” Ron Lee and I both laughed, and I sat and rested with my elbows on my knees. I drank bout a gallon of water sittin’ there. ∞ I was surprised that the day was near gone. We were in time to be first at supper at the boardin’ house. I was weak from all the exertion, but I had to eat and get to Mrs. Pelot’s. I was so hungry that I didn’t care anymore that Sandy stank. I needed the best meal we would find, and that was at the boardin’ house. I et slow at first, dern near sleepin’ at the table, but I revived and started slammin’ food into my mouth as fast as I could swallow. “Slow down there boy. You’re goin’ to choke. Slow down and chew the food, or yer goin’ to vomit it all up. Eat them vegetables and drink that milk. Slow now, take some time. You got anythin’ you got to get to, or away from? Yer actin’ like there’s a fire in the parlor.” “I got to get to Pelot’s and feed.” “Good. You can do yer remainin’ roadwork on the way there and back.” “It’ll be dark comin’ back. I better ride Bud.” “Nah, just walk comin’ back. When you get done getting in the shape I want you, Bud can ride you to Pelot’s place.” I didn’t feel like I would ever get into shape. My legs ached and I hated to move. Dried sweat stained my shirt.

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“Best get started,” said Sandy. “You’re gonna to need the first mile to get loose again. Just walk if you have to, but if you can run, even slow, do it. Push yersef. You had a good day of trainin’. I’ll buy some more from the lady that runs this place. You’ll be hungry when you get back to the saloon. See you there.” Sandy pushed me off the chair. I had trouble standin’. I thought I’d fall in a heap on the floor. I figured I wouldn’t be able to run, so I walked stiff to the saloon and got my heavy coat. The sun was almost gone. I walked and jogged to Pelot’s, and got my chores done in the dark. I didn’t run much. I pushed, but walked back to town. By the time I got to town I was near asleep on my feet. My gut rumbled. I walked into the back of the saloon barely able to lift my stiff and tired legs to get up the steps. It was cold and the cold made me want to sit down and go to sleep. I entered the bar through the back doors like always and looked in the saloon. Sandy slumped at a table near the back door, snoozin’, drunk. I was too tired to eat, and I didn’t feel like talkin’ to Sandy. I went to the storeroom, pulled off my boots and got under the blanket, coat and all. I didn’t even pull off my hat. I was asleep when my head hit the rolled blanket. “Well sport, ya made er, eh?” “Huh? What the hell you wakin’ me fer. Get away from me.” “I’m just sayin’, you made it, eh?” “Well, I’m here, ain’t I. I’m ready to die, but I’m here. Go to bed, or to the bar, or to hell fer all I care. Yer drunk agin.” Sandy shuffled back into the bar. I started to turn on my side and my legs cramped so bad I felt like screamin’. Sandy came back in with an alarmed look on his face. He yelled, “What in blazes is wrong with ya?” “I got a cramp in both legs,” I hollered back. Sandy got a mug from Melvin and filled it with water from the spigot. “Drink all this. Yer muscles need water.” After a few minutes, the muscles relaxed but I couldn’t back into sleep. Sandy went back to his beer, and I lit the lantern and started writin’, catchin’-up on the happenin’s of this day. I been writin’ fer about an hour and drinkin’ water. I got to go to the outhouse now, then I hope to get to sleep. My eyes are mighty heavy now. It’s been one heck of a day. Sandy wakes me agin, I’m gonna kill’im. “Please Lord, no more cramps.” Friday, December 8th Goin’ home in the mornin’. I’m havin’ a time not saddlin’ Bud and high tailin’ it fer home, right now. It’s early. I got the lantern goin’. Sandy’s snorin’ like a saw raspin’ over yella pine.

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I found the sack of food Sandy saved last night. I’m starvin’. Sandy managed to stash two legs of chicken, complete legs, not just drumb sticks. He probably paid extra fer the leftovers. The bag contained two apples to boot. I’m eatin’ the chicken and the apples fore Sandy wakes up. The way he’s sawin’, I got til about noon I calculate. The apples’re a little soft, but they revived me after a hard night on the cold hard floor. Sandy rolled my way, mouth agape. His breath smells worse than Bud’s grass hay farts. I got to get cleanin’ the saloon and those stinkin’ spittoons. I’ll write more later, or before sleepin’ tonight. Late night in the storeroom I dragged mysef to the outhouse after I finished writin’ this mornin’. My legs felt weak. I got the saloon and spittoons cleaned. I wiped off tables and chairs, then stacked the chairs on the tables and swept up, all the time movin’ about half-speed. Melvin came in as I was puttin’ the chairs back in their place at the tables. “That’s a good job. The old woman will be pleased.” “Why you sayin’ that?” I asked. “She’s comin’ in just to see if the place is still standin’ I guess.” “I hope she don’t find Sandy stinkin’ up the storeroom.” “Yeah,” said Melvin. “Maybe we better roust him out, just in case.” ∞ “Sandy, Sandy,” I yelled in his ear. “Get up!” He opened one eye, mighty slow. “What?” he rasped. His breath near knocked me down. “You got to get up and get movin’. The old lady that owns the saloon will be here in a minute and she might not take kindly to us turnin’ the storeroom into a hotel.” “Piss poor hotel room,” grunted Sandy as he rolled away. “She knows I stay here, but she don’t even know you. Get to movin’.” “Get me a beer boy, so’s I can get me bearin’s.” Melvin motioned fer me to follow and he poured a glass of beer. “He’ll do better after drinkin’ his,” said Melvin. I took the beer back to Sandy and he slugged it down and gushed out a loud, “AHHHH.” “Let’s go,” I said. Sandy stuck out a gnarled hand. “Pull me up boy,” he said. I pulled him up and he crammed his hat down on his head and went to the bar.

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“You get out fer yer run boy. Don’t worry none about me. Give me another beer Mel.” I was glad to get out of there and I didn’t feel too bad with the chicken and apples workin’ inside, legs a little wobbly. I got my coat and left the bar. It was cold and wind was up. Not a good day fer bein’ out, but it was better out than in, smellin’ Sandy. Today was harder than yesterday. I was tired and weak from yesterday and a poor night on the floor. I walked most of the time and took much longer than yesterday. The only good thing I could see was it was gettin’ closer and closer to headin’ home time. On the way back into town, I stopped at Yellowstone fer my “treatment.” I didn’t dip my stump, but did all the rest like usual. I ain’t been pissin’ on mysef fer a while. I was hungry agin, but I didn’t go look fer Sandy. I went on in and bought peaches at the merc. They were easy and quick and fillin’. I would’ve liked to hit the boardin’ house, but I wanted to save money. I et and went to the livery. Ron Lee held the bag while I worked on my eight inch jab. Sandy was probably still leanin’ agin the bar. “Cherry been in? I asked. “Nah, I ain’t seen him at all.” “What about Sandy, he been over to see if I was back from my run?” “No, he ain’t been here neither.” “Good. I’m gettin’ Bud saddled and headin’ fer Pelot’s. I’m too dang tired to walk. Yesterday about killed me. I ain’t runnin’. I can barely walk, I’m so stiff and sore. I didn’t even work up a sweat this mornin’.” ∞ It felt good to ride Bud and he was glad to be out too. We got to our chores and I left feed close so I could overfeed in the mornin’ so’s the animals could make it til Sunday evenin’. I figure on comin’ out here Sunday night to feed, then I plan to stay the night in Mrs.Pelot’s tack room and go into the saloon Monday mornin’. I ain’t in a hurry to see Sandy, nor share the room and blankets with him agin. I started back to town and still had some light. Never saw hide ner hair of Mrs. Pelot. I had a time keepin’ my eyes open ridin’ back into town. When Bud and I got back to town, I took care of him and lay down in his stall on clean straw. I felt like I might never get up. “Sandy come by lookin’ fer ya this afternoon,” said Ron Lee. “I told him you ran hard this mornin’ and worked yer ass off on the bag. He seen Bud was gone, so he knew you weren’t afoot goin’ to Pelot’s place.

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I put on a little water to heat so’s you can wash-up. It’ll make you feel better.” Ron Lee let me wash and he shared the soup he brewed up. He give me a big bowl when I finished washin’. I et it right down and wanted to lick the bowl. “Thank ya kindly Ron Lee. I ain’t got the heart to go the bar and listen to Sandy and smell his stinkin’ breath.” “You can sleep right there with yer horse if you want,” said Ron Lee. “Cherry’ll never see ya. He won’t be around til tomorrow at the earliest.” “Deal,” I said. Ron Lee loaned me two blankets and I lay down in Bud’s stall and was asleep in moments. Saturday the 9th of December, 1905 Evenin’ at home “I was mighty excited to get on home this mornin’, so I got Bud saddled early and tied him behind the saloon while I cleaned. Sandy dragged himself from the storeroom while I was cleanin’ the bar top. He had slept in his clothes agin and I doubt he took off his hat or shoes. “How far’d ya go yerserdy stud?” asked Sandy. “I went most the same as the day before, but it took me longer. I walked more, and I rode to Pelot’s place. My legs cramped a bunch of times and I just couldn’t take the slippin’ around when I tried to run in the ruts.” No use lyin’ to him. “Ya done good then. Go on home and see the family. I’ll see you Sunday night,” Sandy slurred. “Oh,” he said. “Good news.” “What news?” I asked “We gonna fight sooner?” I got excited at the prospect. “Nah! The news is I talked to the old woman that owns this here place. She don’t mind if I stay here. She sort of sees it like she is helpin’ sponsor yer fightin’. She don’t expect nuthin’ in return, just wants to help.” “Oh, well, that is good news,” I lied. Sandy is the last sombitch I want to room with. “You already drunk?” I asked. “I ain’t feelin’ much pain,” laughed Sandy. “I ain’t drunk agin, I’m still drunk I guess.” He plopped in a chair. I didn’t share with him that I was plannin’ on sleepin’ Sunday night at Pelot’s. It will give me a few more hours at home, and one less night with Sandy. Sandy retrieved a sack of food from the storeroom. When you didn’t get back last night, I saved this here fer ya. You’ll probably need it on the way home. Watch yersef,” he said. “Thank ya kindly. I am hungry and this will come in mighty handy on the way home. Preciate it.” I was surprised at Sandy’s carein’ fer me.

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∞ Bud and I made the seventeen miles to home in just under four hours, includin’ rests. We was home fore noon. Jenny was surprised to see me so early. “You’re early PG. I might think you missed us, or you got fired.” “I been missin’ya terrible darlin’. I hate bein’ away from home and family.” I turned over my pay, layin’ it on the kitchen table. There was near twenty dollars. I asked, “How you doin’?” She waddled over to kiss me, near to poppin’. She placed her right hand on her lower back behind her right hip. “I don’t feel real fine. I think the baby’s coming any time now. I believe it is a bit early this time.” “You ready? You talk to Eleanor to help ya? She is the best midwife since Grandma Sessions.” “Yes, she is ready to come immediately if I send Della, or you, if you’re home.” “She and Glenn are salt of the earth,” I replied. ∞ I hugged and kissed the girls and Owen and we all had a fine lunch together. Stella and Della worked with me in the barn fussin’ with tack and playin’, and cleanin’ a place that didn’t really need cleanin’. I just figured Jen needed some rest. The girls and I milked together this evenin’. Jen made roast beef in the dutch. It hit the spot mighty fine. Jen felt puny and went on to bed after supper. Stella, Della, and I watched Owen and Glennis, and we cleaned up the kitchen. We sat together after at the table. I read to the kids from the Book of Mormon, where Nephi gets commanded to build a boat by the Lord. It is interestin’ that all Nephi asked was, “Where you want me to find ore to make tools.” I would have asked, “How the world can somebody who ain’t ever even seen a ocean build a boat?” It’s fer sure I ain’t no Nephi. The kids liked the story, even Owen sat and listened. Owen pooped out and went to sleep in my lap about the time Nephi’s brothers started in on him agin’. Those were some stupid sons-a . . . stupid people. Later Saturday night Jenny brought our 5th babe into the world, with Eleanor’s help tonight. She started about the time I was undressed and climbin’ into the nice soft, warm bed. I saddled Bud and ran him all the way to Glenn’s place, and got Eleanor. I hitched their buggy while Eleanor got dressed. We drove like crazy to get back to Jen. The girls and Owen were sleepin’. Eleanor kicked me out, so I been writin’ to pass the time.

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∞ When I got to Glenn’s farm tonight, I started hollerin’ fore I jumped off Bud. “Glennnnn!” I yelled through the door. “It’s me. Jenny’s water broke and the baby’s comin’.” Glenn opened the door to let me in. “Come on in, El’s getting her things. I got things set up good in the barn just in case. Just got to harness the buggy and we’re off. Go catch the horse,” Glenn said as he hurried though the house to help his wife. I caught and harnessed the horse to the Johnson’s buggy. By the time I had driven the buggy out of the barn and into the yard, Eleanor was ready to go. “I’ll bring Bud over in the mornin’,” said Glenn. “Good luck,” he shouted as I slapped reigns to the horse. I left Bud in Glenn’s barn, still saddled. Glenn likely went out and took care of Bud fore he went back to bed. I drove the buggy hard. The moon lighted the night and the road, shinin’ on the shallow snow. It was dang near light as day. ∞ I been sittin’ in the kitchen writin’. Glenn showed up about 3:30 this mornin’. He came in the house. “Couldn’t sleep after you come fer El,” he said. “Well sit down, or yer welcome to nap in by the fire.” He shook his head and he sat at the table and kept dozin’ off. Glenn woke up a little later and tried to talk. He was tryin’ to calm me, but all he was doin was fuzzin’ me up more. “Don’t worry, everythin’s gonna be just fine. Eleanor is the best midwife in these parts.” “Yeah, I know. I just don’t know what I’d do if anything happened to Jenny. I wouldn’t be no good without her. This ain’t been the same as with the other kids. I can’t help worrin’.” “Don’t talk like that, don’t even think it. Nothin’s gonna happen,” assured Glenn. Glenn asked, “How you doin’ with your preparations to be a fighter?” “Well, I been workin’ on my strength and endurance. Sandy has me runnin’ and walkin’ fer about fifty miles ever day, and I’m learnin’ to punch hard while I keep my balance. It’s tougher’n it sounds, not the fifty miles, that ain’t true, but it feels like fifty. I’m so dang tired and stiff and sore all the time, I can’t think of nuthin’ else.” “So, when do you get another chance to try fightin’?” “Sandy has me scheduled to fight in Idaho Falls in January or February. He ain’t been exactly clear on a date. I’m gonna need all the time to get my hand, er, stump in shape.”

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“What you mean, in shape?” asked Glenn. “I been workin’ to toughen the end of the stump, get a callous on it so I can use it without killin’ mysef with pain. It’s tender, but I am roughin’ up the skin and workin’ it agin wood and the punchin’ bag to toughen it.” I didn’t talk more about pissin’ on it, ner soakin’ it in brine to tan the hide. Sounds mighty stupid to me, so I know Glenn will think it stupid too. Glenn nodded understandin’ and didn’t say more. Finally, his head hit his chest and I could write quiet agin. Perry arrived just after 7:00 am. Jenny took a long time deliverin’ the child, even with Eleanor Johnson’s assistance. I heard a cry come from the bedroom and leaped to my feet and watched the door. Presently it opened and Eleanor brought the baby into the kitchen. “PG, I’d like to introduce you to your new son. What name have you and Jenny picked?” “Bein a boy, me and Jen decided we’d call him Perry.” “Perry,” came Jenny’s voice from the bedroom. “It’s a fine name. We shall call him Perrry.” I grinned and got touched a little. “Yes sweetheat we’ll call him Perry.” I choked a little. “Perry.” It is what my ma called me when I was little. Eleanor placed the babe in my arms. He hadn’t cried since his first breaths and he snuggled agin my chest. I held him for a few minutes while Eleanor helped Jen. She came back in the kitchen after a little. “Let me take him now you’ve met him and I’ll clean him up,” said Eleanor. I got a loaf of bread out and me and Glenn enjoyed fresh bread and butter and preserves while we waited. I was so give out suddenly, you’da thunk I had the baby. Sunday the 10th of December, 1905 Perry ain’t even a day old. The time at home slipped by mighty fast with the joy of a new addition to the family. “I hate to leave you and the kids Jen. How you gonna do, havin’ two babies in diapers?” “I’ll manage, and Eleanor and Glenn will be over to help me, and Della is becomin’ a regular little mother with Stella and Glennis and Owen. We’ll be fine, don’t you worry.” Della and Stella can help with changing diapers. Thursday, December 14th, 1905 Winter hit harder this first part of December. I might not be able to make it home this weekend due to the snow and storms. I been havin’ to fight my way to Pelot’s, Bud sloggin’ though heavy snow near to his belly.

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I got word to Jenny through the train and friends. I know Glenn will watch over my family. I’m sure glad me and Glenn worked hard to put firewood up fer winter and that Jen stored food and bought plenty with my wages over the past weeks and months. I miss my family, but I been comfortable that they are well and safe. December 25, Monday Christmas has been a pleasure. I come home Thursday night and Melvin, Mrs. Pelot, and I worked out coverage so I can be home til Wednesday mornin’. Christmas night. Four whole days at home. It feels like heaven. The extra days are a blessin’. Jenny baked and the house remains filled with wondrous smells of sweets. “It’s great to be home Jen. I fergot how good it is to be able to do chores on my own place fer more than one day.” “We miss you too. I think Della more than anyone, even Glenn,” she laughed. “And what about you? You must miss a hunk a man like me, eh?” “Yes PG, I miss you being home. You can’t know how much.” I’m restin’ up from workin’ and from workin’ out for fightin’ fer a few days. My body is recuperatin’ fine from all the wear and tear. Sandy has been workin’ me hard the last weeks and I am finally startin’ to get used to it some. Night time Woke up in the middle of the night worryin’ about havin’ to head fer Idaho Falls tomorrow evenin’. Jen was outta bed. I checked on her. She was sittin’ in my chair, rockin’ Perry. Perry is in a awful way. He’s burnin’ up. I took Bud to town to fetch the Doc, roustin’ him outta bed about 2:00 a. m. He don’t know exactly what is wrong, but I can tell by his old wrinkled face that he is not pleased. That scares me. Jen paid the doctor off over the months from what she saved. It is good not to owe anybody side the bank. I just wish we had a little more to show fer all the spittoon cleanin’. Tuesday, the 26th Blackest mornin’ of my life. Perry died in the night. He was snugglin’ in Jen’s arms while she rocked him. Perry just sort of slipped away. Jen knew he was gone, but kept on rockin’ him like nuthin’ was wrong. Finally, she said, “PG?” “Yeah Jen?” I said. “Perry is gone.” That’s all she said, “Perry is gone.” She got up and put Perry in his bed and she walked to our room like she was in a trance. I didn’t really understand and I went to the little bed and he was still. I began

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to cry, couldn’t help mysef. I knew Perry was poorly, but I didn’t think he’d die. The other kids slept. Jen and I cried and Jen moaned. I couldn’t do a damn thing. I stood lookin’ at the child, listenin’ to Jen moan in grief. Only the innocent coulda slept through the moanin’. I hoped the sun would wait a while longer. I couldn’t figure how to break the news to Della and Stella. And, I didn’t know what to do next. ∞ Glenn came by to check on us with all the snow and the sick child. I met him out front and told him, “Perry died in Jen’s arms late last night. I didn’t think he was that sick. Della is heart broken and Stella wonders why. I wonder why mysef. Jen is in a daze. She just sits by the baby’s little bed and rocks. I’m worried about her.” “I don’t know what to do Glenn. I got to get back to work, and I can’t leave the family like this. I don’t want to go. I can’t even dig a decent grave fer the baby. The ground’s froze hard as the back’a my head.” “We could put his little body in the shed til Spring,” said Glenn. “Can’t have the little thing out in a shed by hissef. It just ain’t gonna do, fer me ner Jen. I know she won’t stand fer her little one alone in the shed, waitin to be buried.” “I understand. We’ll just have to bust through the frozen ground. I’ll get the pick shovels and get started. Tell Jen to prepare your little one.” I went in to Jen and told her that Glenn and I were diggin’ a grave. I asked, “Where do you want him Jen?” I couldn’t tell if she actually heard me, or no. She stayed in her trance. I went out with Glenn to take our best guess. We decided to dig near the big tree, but not so close so’s we’d hit roots. It is a good place, and not far from the front of the house, so’s Jen can see Perry’s restin’ place. We scraped back the snow and chipped frozen dirt away. It was slow goin’, but quiet. Neither of us spoke. We took turns strikin’ the ground and scrapin’ the chips aside. We dug a three foot cube hole, maybe a little bigger and deeper. Perry could have fit in a much smaller grave, but it seemed fittin’. After about a foot and a half, we were able to actually dig some. All in all it took about an hour, but neither of us wanted it to end. ∞ Jen heard me. It must have been a little bit of hell to change Perry in to his christenin’ dress. It’s the dress he wore when I named and blessed him. He looked like he was only sleepin’. What a sweet little thing. We musta kissed him a thousand times. We all knelt down and prayed. We just did it without talkin’ about it none. It just seemed like the right thing to do. I offered and asked the Lord to bless Jen and the children, but mostly Jen.

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I wrapped Perry in my heavy coat. I know he couldn’t feel nuthin’, but it made us all feel like he would be warmer somehow. We walked slow to the grave, and I got into the hole and laid the baby soft. Jen just stared, red eyed. I asked, “Glenn, please dedicate the grave.” I didn’t think I could talk no more. Glenn dedicated the grave, “Lord this here is the final restin’ place for Perry Sessions, baby son of Jen and PG Sessions. He was a sweet little thing Lord and I, one of Thy sons bearing the Melchizedek Priesthood ask that Thou would watch over this spot and let nobody, or anythin’ disturb this child ner the ground he rests in til the Master calls him forth in the first resurrection. In the Holy name of Jesus Christ I dedicate this grave Lord, Amen.” Glenn and I covered the child while Jen and the kids looked on. When we finished, Jen took the girls and Own and returned to the house in silence. Glenn and I just stood lookin’. The day was gettin’ long. Glenn hugged me. “I’m sorry fer yer loss my brother. I can’t do no more. I got to get fer home. My family won’t know why I stayed so long. I’ll let everybody know. You go on to Idaho Falls. Go soon. It will be cold tonight. Eleanor and I’ll take care of Jen and the kids. Don’t worry none.” “Thank you Glenn. I couldn’t have done it without ya. Yer very special my friend.” Glenn turned quiet and left fer home. I had tears welled-up in my eyes from thankfulness to Glenn, and sorrow fer my little son and for Jen. Idaho Falls. December 27 Done with my chores. I cleaned the saloon and I’m holed up in the storeroom wrapped in a blanket. Bud took me to Pelot’s last night and I fed the stock, then made my bed in the tack room. I left early this mornin’ fer town after feedin’ agin and made my way to the saloon. Bud is tied up out back. I’ll get him to the livery in short order. I am empty somehow. I don’t want to do any more today. I don’t know where Sandy is. I hope he stays away. I want to write in peace. I’m gonna write about how I left home. I feel like sleepin’ fer about a month. ∞ Before I left I told Jen, “Jen my sweet, I am so sorry, but I got to go. I know no way to make a livin’ fer the rest of us if I don’t. Will you be alright?” “I will survive PG. I won’t be alright, for maybe ever again. I have an empty place in me now, and I don’t know how to fill it. You go, I know you have to. We will be alright. Hurry home soon as you can.” I said no more, but packed and left. I didn’t kiss ner hug the kids. The house felt quiet, clean, calm. I didn’t disturb it none. I kissed Jen lightly and left quietly.

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I took no food, but took plenty of warm clothes and an extra blanket. Bud knew somethin’ was wrong somehow. I know that sounds mighty strange, but he treated me gentle and watched out fer me. We traveled straight through, not stoppin’ to rest. Bud never flinched. He kept movin’, not too hard, just hard enough that he could travel the whole distance to Pelot’s with no rest and no food or drink. I must have snoozed, cause I can’t remember most of the ride. When we got to Pelot’s I stumbled through my chores, feedin’ and waterin’ Bud first. I put him in the barn and left him there fer the night while I slept in the tack room. I slept hard. I don’t know how. I’m the lucky one I guess. I feel give out. I will lay this down now and sleep. I can’t seem to get rested. My eyes feel like they got sand in’m. Please Sandy, stay the hell away for a while. Sunday, December 31 Came home to a mighty quiet sad little group. We spent the weekend goin’ though the motions of livin’ like usual. I was sort of glad to get back to Idaho Falls and work, so I don’t have to remember. Jen is takin’ care of the children. She worries me about hersef. Monday, January 1, 1906 First day of the new year. Melvin says it will be busy and loud in the saloon tonight. New Years Eve was on Sunday, so folks will cut loose tonight I reckon. I shoulda stayed out to Pelot’s, but I didn’t guess there’d be a ruckus. I am still so tired that I reckon I can sleep through anythin’. Can’t wait to get through the week and head home. I am lonely, and I’m afraid Jen will be sick from so much grief. She was terrible sad and quiet yesterday. Jasper Conrad came in tonight to keep things under control. We talked and I told him what I was doin’. He didn’t say much. He never does. He nodded in agreement sometimes and sometimes he smiled. “Fightin’s a tough life,” he said. “Tough if you hurt someone, or if you get hurt. It is a life of not lettin’ yersef have much fun.” Saturday, January 6 Home. It’s mighty quiet. The kids are playin’, but they are quiet, like in church. Jen moves automatic. She hugged me and held me a long time, but she did not kiss me and she has no joy in her right now. I hope her joy returns. I hope joy returns to all of us. Jen don’t say much. She treats us kind and lovin’. She speaks quiet to the children. I reckon she treats them so special cause it is so easy to lose them. She keeps close watch on Glennis. I don’t say much neither. I watch and listen and hug the kids mysef. I read to them agin tonight.

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We sat by the fire, I held Owen in my lap. He’s growin’ fine. Della and Stella piled up agin’ me. Jen held and rocked Glennis. I read from the scriptures. I was still in Nephi. I read quiet and automatic. I don’t even know the words I read. The kids were restful. Jen rocked and thought her own thoughts. I doubt she listened to the readin’. Sunday We went to church. It was good to take the sacrament. Folks were kind and gentle with all of us. Glenn and his family stayed close. I tended to mysef. Jen and the kids napped after dinner and I got ready and left after kissin’ them all good-bye. Tuesday, January 9, 1906 I am writin’ now because a strange thing happened last night. I want to write it. I haven’t been writin’ so much, but this has not happened before. I didn’t exercise hard today. I worked and walked and slept, goin’through the motions. No runnin’, no punchin’ the bag, no visitin’ friends in the saloon. I told Melvin what happened with Perry. They all let me be, even Sandy. He’s kept his distance, but he was most always in sight when I was in town. He watched. I talked more to Jasper than anybody else. About 10:00 o’clock p.m. I reckon, Melvin shook me awake. “What the . . . ?” I asked, groggy. I figured it was Sandy shakin’ me outta sleep agin. “PG, wake up. There is some young feller out here demandin’ to see you. I’ve not seen him before.” “What’s he want?” I asked. “Don’t rightly know. He acts like you kicked his dog though.” “Let me get my pants and boots on. I’ll be out in a minute.” I figured there was some more bad news. I was scared to hear bad news. I went into the saloon and spotted the guy right off. He was dressed poor, but he was a rough lookin’ customer. “You lookin’ fer me?” I asked. “You PG Sessions?” “I am. What is it you want? I ain’t seen you before.” “No, and I ain’t seen you neither. I heard tell you was the toughest son of a bitch in this here town, maybe the whole of eastern Idaho. That right?” I felt my face squish up. “What’re are you talkin’ about? Get the hell outta here and let me get some rest.” I looked over his shoulder. Sandy was lookin’ on, interested, but not sayin’ anythin’. He moved slow toward this feller and me, closer to the conversation. “I come to meet ya and bust ya up Sessions,” the young tough said.

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I was at or near the edge. Sandy could see it and he stepped quick between us. Then, he said somethin’ I never expected. “It’s ok to try Mr. Sessions here on fer size mister, but he don’t ever fight fer free.” “What the hell you talkin’ about old man,” said the tough. “I’m talkin’ that Mr. Sessions here don’t fight fer free, period. When he fights, there is a prize involved. Just beatin’ hell outta you ain’t enough, you got to pay fer yer drubbin’. If I was you kid, I’d bounce my nasty ass out of here fore you get yersef hurt, bad.” “That right Mr. Sessions?” the man said like he was spittin’ out flem. Just then Melvin stepped in. “You two going to scuffle, take it out back.” Everythin’ sort of stopped while I answered the man. “Well, I ain’t thought much about it, and I’m sort of sleepy. If Sandy says so, that’s it I guess.” “How much?” said the feller. “How much value you put on yer face and ribs boy?” Sandy gouged’im. “I got ten dollars to ma name. I’ll put it all up fer a shot at kickin’ his ass.” “Done,” said Sandy. I was still wonderin’ what was goin’ on. The man laid his ten dollars on the bar and Sandy covered the bet, then he said, “Anybody else want in on this? I am offerin’ two to one for any bets agin PG here.” It was too good to be true fer some of the locals. They figured the gamble was good. One dollar made two if the feller beat me, and everyone knows I’m perty new. Melvin jumped in agin. “Not in here fellas.” “It’s dark out back,” said Sandy. “It’s light in the livery,” said Ron Lee. He had been sittin’ to my left. I didn’t even see him in my groggy condition. I was no longer groggy. Cherry was in the saloon and he wasn’t so drunk he didn’t know what was happenin’. “Yes, by all means. Let us retire to the livery. Boy,” he said talkin’ to Ron Lee. “Get the lanterns up, and put me down for $10 on the newcomer. I hope he kills you,” he said turnin’ to me. Sudden like, I was wide awake. We walked to the livery and Ron Lee had the lamps lit and turned up high as they go. Ron Lee said, “Sandy, I want some of this. I got $4 dollars I want to bet on PG. You handle that.”

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Sandy took Ron Lee’s money and got him a bet. Ron Lee bet four and, if I won, he’d get six back accordin’ to Sandy. I suddenly felt a little empty in my gut. I hate losin’ a friend’s money. The tough took down his shirt. He was hard lookin’, and dirty. He lay the shirt over a stall then turned and ran fer me. I dodged and he passed by, missin’ me by inches. As he went by, I couldn’t keep my foot from kickin’ him right in the butt. “You son of a bitch,” he spit. He came at me under control. He had his hands up like I seen fighters do in Blackfoot. He had some experience. I lost my anger and focused on the man. He came in close fer a left jab at my face. I fell away causin’ him to miss. That made him mad and embarrassed. He didn’t charge though. I thought he might and I was ready to let him have the stump. “I heard tell about you Sessions. I heard about that stump. You poor dumb cripple. You ain’t goin’ to be hittin’ me with that thing.” Sandy’s trainin’ was payin’ off. Before, this guy would have spun me into a rage. I didn’t let his words rile me. I just kept close watch on him and his movements. He came in close agin fer another jab. I was turned toward him with my right hangin’ out about half extended. The guy mimicked me, but, when he got in close, I extended the jab like a snake strikin’. I caught him on the bridge of the nose. He started to bleed, and I think his eyes were waterin’ so’s everythin’ looked fuzzy to him. He was backin’ up awful fast and had a sort of panicked look, blinkin’ to clear his sight. I moved toward him fast and gave him the stump in approximately the same place as the jab. The man went out like he’d been clubbed by an ax handle. I took quick stock. I hadn’t even raised my heart beat and I was breathin’ normal. Sandy was smilin’ and collectin’. Ron Lee was very pleased with his two dollar profit. He smiled to me and I nodded back. Cherry was fit to be tied. “You all please vacate my livery. You boy, turn out the lights and lock up. I’ll be at the saloon.” Cherry paid Sandy and stormed out. I don’t know what happened to the challenger. I went back to the saloon. I was too awake to sleep. Sandy came in and dumped money into my pocket. “How much you givin’ me,” I asked. “Half.” “How much is there, “ I asked. “About $40,” Sandy grinned. Dang, I was even more awake, and suddenly very hungry. “Am I gonna have to visit the sheriff about this,” I asked Melvin. “Nah. He don’t care about these things.” “You got anythin’ to eat Mel?” I asked.

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“I got some sandwich makin’s. I’ll get you somethin’. The old lady wants to try selling sandwiches in the bar. I got some makin’s. I’ll throw a sandwich together fer ya. You’ll be the first customer, but this’n will be on the house. I made a few dollars my own self,” he grinned. The sandwich hit the spot. I was startin’ to calm down and I returned to the storeroom and back to reality. I felt better, alive. I slept sound and got up early to get chores done. I ain’t tellin’ Jen about the $40 and how I got the money. I doubt she’d care right now. I’ll pocket some, and save the rest in my box out in the tack room fer later. Wednesday the 10th of January, 1906 I ran today and took up sluggin’ the bag agin, and I did my treatments agin. I lost a little from layin’ off. I am startin’ to see that life still stretches out front of me and Jen and the children. I got to get goin’. I will let Jen have her time. I am sure she will come back to us in time. I miss Perry too, but not like his ma. He’s sealed to us. We’ll have him agin. Jen knows that. She’ll be alright in time. I talked to Melvin this evenin’. It was a revelation. “How you doin’ PG. I know you had a tough week.” “I feel some better, but I am mighty worried about Jen. Least ways, I ain’t sleepy all the time like I was.” “Well that little thing Sandy cooked up last night helped bring you back to life.” “What you talkin’ about, Sandy cooked up?” “Yeah, Sandy cooked it up. Sandy knew this tough kid from Pocatello. He sent for him to pick you out and get you to fight. Sandy thought it would bring you back faster.” “Why that som bitch,” I spat. “That wasn’t real?” “OH NO, it was dead real alright. That guy wanted to take your head off. Sandy just wanted to hurry yer healin’ process. You weren’t yerself and we were mighty worried. Sandy figured it would work, and it sure did help.” I was confused, but not ungrateful. “Yeah, it sort of sparked the fire agin. I needed it fer dern sure. Where is that old bandit?” “Don’t rightly know. I spect he’ll be around tonight, or tomorrow.” “Who knows that thing was staged fer my benefit Mel?” “Now there are three of us, countin’ you. Don’t worry. It isn’t a problem. That boy from Poky wanted you bad. We won’t be telling anybody how it all came together. Go get some supper at the boarding

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house and get some good rest. You’ll be getting your life started again.” Sunday, January 14th, 1906 Another quiet weekend at home. It feels a little more normal, but losin’ Perry was a tough thing for all of us. I took the kids to church. We left early to meet up with the Johnson family. “You got enough blankets on their squirt?” I asked Della. “Yeah pa, I’m snug as a bug.” I wrapped a great woolen blanket around Della and Stella and Owen. The blanket made several turns around the kids. They were snug in the bed of the wagon, hunkered down in their blanket and straw beddin’. Jenny stayed home today. I don’t believe she wanted to go to the church today. Me takin’ the kids gave her a little rest and a time to get rid of us fer a spell. I figured it would do her good to have some time with just Glennis. ∞ Fer me, time grinds agin. I either work-out or work my jobs. Sandy gave me back my space after Perry’s death. He trails to Idaho Falls on freight runs and disappears on Fridays south, I suppose back to Pocatello. I don’t know where he goes, and don’t care much. He turns up once in a while to watch me on the bag. “How’s that feel?” he asks. “Ain’t bad. It don’t hurt none.” “Keep doing that, but as soon as it starts to get sore, stop. Begin with the jab and punch and add to it as you can, but don’t hurry it none. I want you to build a callous on the end of that stump so it is hard as the leather on the cuff you wear. It will take a while, so add that to your training everyday.” “You sound like you ain’t gonna be around.” “I ain’t. I got business in Pocatello. I got to catch one of them freight wagons in about half hour. I made arrangements this mornin’. I’ll be back to check on ya next week, probably Wednesday.” “What business you got in Pocatello?” I asked, just wonderin’ and makin’ a little conversation. “Ain’t your business,” said Sandy. “Listen stud. You got to get some experience. I got me an idea,” said Sandy “Yeah?” I said. “I want you to bust up fights in the saloon. If you get a chance, don’t just bust it up, finish it for’em.”

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“You want me to pick fights with the customers in the place that feeds me and my family?” “No, no, no! I want you to act as sort of a bouncer. Hell, Jasper ain’t here except on Friday and Saturday. Some of these monkeys come in here and get all liquored up and Melvin and Gus don’t like gettin’ involved with ruffians. Maybe Melvin would pay you fer yer services, and you wouldn’t have to bust everything up. Just have Melvin pay as needed, by the occasion.” Your idea don’t sit with me “I ain’t gonna fight in the saloon. Most of the folks that come in ain’t lookin’ fer trouble. Once in a while, on a Friday night, some Indians might come in and cause some trouble tween themselves, but Jasper handles them. Melvin, or Gus, just tell them to take it outside and they usually do.” “Well, you got any ideas how to get more real fighting experience, fast?” “I don’t. I’ll have to think about it some.” “Well, get to thinkin’ boy. You only got 2 weeks til the fights here in Idaho Falls.” “Hey Sandy?” I asked. Where the fights goin’ to be, exactly?” “Tautphaus Park, out in the log barn. It’s out of town fer enough not to get bothered by anybody. Keep that to yersef.” I was relieved Sandy was goin’. I walked and ran to Pelot’s, did my chores, and stayed over in Pelot’s tack room. I never did ask Sandy about settin’ me up that night, to fight that feller. I ain’t worryin’ much about my appearance now, or how I smell. My plans have changed. I’m plannin’ to make plenty of money in the upcomin’ fights. Tuesday the 16th I’m gonna watch fer opportunities to try my hand fightin’. Sandy now calls it boxin’. I don’t have any idea why. Maybe it’s because the “ring” is more like a box, I still got no idea about the ring. I found a chance to box agin’ tonight. I was sittin’ in the storeroom restin’. I just got back to town from Pelot’s. I heard voices raise and got up and entered the saloon, to see what was goin’ on. A freighter, fairly drunk and boisterous, tried to force hissef on a woman in the saloon. The woman and her husband were local people. I think the man with his wife is a railroad worker. The couple just wanted to enjoy a glass of beer fore headin’ home. They stopped in at the saloon. The freighter advanced himsef toward the woman, and the husband did not appreciate the other feller’s language, ner his manner. “Get the hell away from my wife mister.”

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“You go to hell,” said the freighter, leanin’ over, grinnin’. “I just want a little dance with yer sweetie.” The man got out of his seat and tried to help his wife to her feet so they could leave. The freighter pushed the man back into his chair. The woman became agitated and swung her purse into the face of the freighter. The slammin’ of the purse into the face angered the freighter, and he cocked his arm to punch the woman. Her husband was too far to stop the punch, but I was two only steps away. I took the two steps without a thought, and slammed my stump in a hookin’ punch into the side of the freighter’s jaw. Melvin told me later that he heard a crunch and the freighter went to the floor. I stood over the man fer a moment. The lady looked down at the freighter aghast. Her husband thanked me. He had seen too that the freighter had meant to strike his wife. The couple made a quick exit from the saloon. Melvin and I dragged the freighter out the back and revived him enough to send him on his way. “He might fall in the river,” I said. “Who cares,” said Melvin. “You sure knocked hell out of him.” “Yeah.” “You hit him with yer stump. Did it hurt?” I realized that I had used the stump. It had not hurt. I held it up and there was no blood, no pain, no mark. It has been a long time. I still get ghost pains, but the stump is tough as leather now. Wednesday, January 17 Sandy, good as his word, showed up today. “Melvin tells me you clocked some guy in the saloon last night fer messin’ with another man’s wife,” said Sandy. “I didn’t hit him because he was messin’ with the wife. I hit him cause he was about to hit a helpless woman in the face. He was some drunk freight driver, you likely know him from yer travels with them fellers.” “Maybe. Melvin says you really popped him, and with yer stump.” “Yeah, it felt good. But, he was drunk and didn’t see it comin’.” “The important part is it worked and didn’t hurt you none to use it. You’re gettin’ yer weapons together my boy. I didn’t want to see you in the ring again, one handed.” “I’m still one handed.” “One hand and one hammer. Why, can you imagine gettin’ hit by that thing? It is like gettin’ jabbed hard in the face with steel bar. You use that stump right, you’ll be absolutely lethal.” “What’s lethal?” I asked. “It means deadly, my boy, deadly.”

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“Well, I don’t hardly feel deadly. Mostly just dead tired,” I laughed. “Go on punchin’ that bag. Then go back to the stump for 10 minutes, then let’s get supper before you go to Pelot’s.” Thursday the 18 of January, 1906 “Saturday night’s the fights,” said Sandy. “Three days, countin’ today. You feelin’ ready?” He watched as I punched the heavy bag in the livery. The ground under the bag is packed hard from my circlin’ and punchin’ at that stinkin’ bag. Dust flies from the surface with every punch. “I feel good.” “How’s the stump?” “Tough,” I told him. “I ain’t used it rest fer two months now and I can hardly feel it when I slug the bag. It feels sort of numb on the end. It was better before the dead skin peeled off about a week ago.” “Good, good,” said Sandy. “I spect you’ll take somebody’s head off with that thing, if you can get a good shot.” “I just want to win all the money, not take off heads,” I grunted while I punched. “Here’s how were going to play it from here,” said Sandy. “I want you to work hard and long tomorrow mornin’. Then I want you to eat heavy at noon, lots of vegetables and fruit, then I want you to work light. Do maybe an hour walk and fifteen minutes on the bag. I want you to rest when you ain’t workin’ at the saloon or Pelot’s place. Eat a good meal tomorra night, but don’t over do and no pie, or cake or nuthin’ like that. Sleep late Saturday morning and then do yer cleanin’. Take it real easy all day, and ride yer horse out to Pelot’s then back to Tautphaus Park. Get there about 5:30. I’ll meet you there. Oh, and don’t eat nuthin’ after about 3:00 in the afternoon. If you ain’t gonna follow my direction, eat light, some fruit er something. I tried fightin’ on a full stomach once. I got plowed in the gut and threw up ma cookies in the ring. I was embarrassed, and I was done fer the night. I got me a good feelin, about this Saturday PG.” I couldn’t help smilin’, “Yeah, me too.” “Melvin tells me yer wife’s comin’?” “Nah, she ain’t travelin’ right now. Her ma’s there with her, so she’s havin’ a little better time. She ain’t on fire about me fightin’ anyway. I doubt she’d come if everythin’ was sunshine in our lives, which it ain’t. My good friend, Glenn Johnson’s comin’ though. He and I are maybe gonna split a room in the hotel Saturday night after the fight. I ain’t never stayed in no hotel. I don’t think Glenn has neither. I want to win and give him a treat on me.” “Well, ain’t that fancy. You’ll enjoy it. You ain’t got to clean up after yourself ner nuthin’ in a hotel. They do it all fer ya. I love hotels. Yeah kid,

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it’s excitin’. Just remember what I said about gettin’ ready and not eatin’too late.” “Got it!” Sunday the 21st of January 1906 Saturday mornin’ came clear and cold. I didn’t sleep much, so I got up and cleaned the saloon. Melvin and Gus left me a sack of fruit, mostly apples, but some dried apricots too. I made my breakfast of the fruit and some eggs I saved. I felt strong and fresh. Glenn got into town near noon and found the saloon easy. Glenn entered the saloon, likely the first he’d ever been in, and the rank smell attacked him like it done me. He stopped in the door and let his eyes adjust. Melvin noticed him and guessed at his identity. “You Glenn Johnson?” he asked. “Yes sir, I am.” “Well, I know PG’s been waitin’ on ya. You two go way back do you?” “We’ve known each other for a few years. Our homesteads are close up to Rigby and we sort of struck it off.” When Glenn got into town, I was at the mercantile buyin’ some canned food just in case. “PG’ll be back shortly. Sit down and wait. Would you like a drink?” asked Melvin. “A drink a what?” asked Glenn. “Anything. You ain’t got to drink liquor. I got soft drinks too.” “Nah, thank ya anyhow.” Glenn removed his hat and took a seat at a table near the door. The bar was empty. Cherry hadn’t even arrived yet. I spotted Glenn’s horse out front and burst through the doors to the saloon. I didn’t know how big a hurry I was in to see my friend. I needed to see him. I was nervous about the fights. “Glenn, when ya get in?” “Few minutes ago.” “Want a drink?” I asked. “What kind of drink?” “I’m partial to the sarsaparilla mysef. It’s a sweet drink made from roots of some plant. I can’t remember which. It’s dern good. Let me get you one,” I bustled about. I waved to Melvin. “Two sarsaparillas please Mel.” Melvin brought the drinks and told us they were on the house. “What’s that mean?” asked Glenn.

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“It means they’re free, not on the roof ner nuthin’ like that,” I laughed. “What we goin’ to do til we go to the fights?” asked Glenn. “I got to rest. I also got to get out to Pelot’s and take care of the animals. You ain’t got to come. I’ll meet you at the Tautphaus Park barns at 5:30. Melvin can give you better directions than I can. If you want to go look around town, we can walk around and look things over. I ought to lay down and take a nap in a while, but I’m too keyed-up to rest.” “Yeah, I bet yer excited. I can’t see why though. I sure wouldn’t be excited to have men trying to hit me and knock my teeth out.” “The excitin’ part is tryin’ not to get punched. I ain’t excited about gettin’ my teeth knocked out. That’s fer sure. Jenny would scream bloody murder. Course, I could whistle tunes to her to calm’er down,” I joked. “Yer whistlin’ Dixie if you think you’d calm her down after losin’ yer teeth. I think she’s done had enough of you losin’ things.” “Yeah, I guess you’re right. Look Glenn, let’s drink up and go fer a walk. This sittin’ is killin’ me. The time don’t seem to move.” “Dang, PG, this sarsaparilla is good. My kids would love this stuff.” “If I win, I’ll buy’em a case of the stuff.” “Mother,” Glenn called his wife mother, “would skin ya if you brought all that sweet inta her house.” “Let’s go,” I said. We walked around town. I showed Glenn the train station and shared the history. I showed him the buildin’s, and the bridge. Glenn had seen and crossed the bridge many times, but had not heard the history. “It’s 2:30 Glenn. I got to get out to Pelot’s and do my chores. You want to just look around a while and meet me at the park? I got to be at the park about 5:30. It’ll take me about an hour to feed. I may lay down for a little rest in the tack room out there. I’ll eat somethin’ out there too. Then I’ll head straight to the barns at Tautphaus. Meet you there. Wait at the door, whoever gets there first.” “Deal. I’ll look around some more, or maybe I’ll have another one of them sarsaparillas while I’m waitin’. I’ll be at the saloon waitin’ til time to go, in case yer lookin’ fer me, and just in case.” “In case a what?” “In case, I don’t know, just in case that’s all,” sputtered Glenn. “Hey Glenn, how’s my little ones? Seen’em this week?” “I seen’em for a few minutes after feedin’ last night. They’re all fine, growin’ like weeds.” “What about Jen?”

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∞ I got my chores done out to Pelot’s and sat quiet in Mrs. Pelot’s tack room and et a little, light. I know Sandy said not to do that, but I needed somethin’. He knew I would. I couldn’t rest none. I lit out and rode to Tautphaus. I was mighty keyed-up. Glenn met me out front. ∞ “You ready?” he asked. “I’m ready I guess. I got to pee.” My nerves were up and went round side the barn and relieved mysef. Comin’ back round the barn, I ran into Ron Lee. “Wondered if you’d come,” I said. “Wouldn’t miss it. Couldn’t keep me away.” “Good. You gonna bet on me?” “Don’t know nobody else to bet on,” he grinned.”Damn right I’m bettin’ on ya.” Cherry came next. He interrupted Ron Lee and me. “I know you been keeping yer horse at the livery. I hope Lee’s chargin’ you plenty. I know you been exercising there too.” I didn’t reply. I just turned and walked in front of him into the barn. Cherry spoke to my back, “Don’t think I don’t know yer fightin’ tonight. I hope ya get yer ass kicked.” “Don’t bet on it,” I said without lookin’ back. I was a little hot, but not bad. I’m gettin’ better at keepin’ my humor. “Let’s go Glenn.” Glenn was leanin’ agin the wall lookin’ at the crowd. “Ain’t seen this big a crowd under one roof since I was in the tabernacle in Salt Lake.” The log barn at Tautphaus is big, but not as big as the Tab. It was lit brighter than the fairground barn at Blackfoot. Sandy met Glenn and me near the ring. “You all set boy?” “Yes sir!” “Who’s this?” asked Sandy. “This here’s ma pardner, Glenn Johnson. He come to see me win this here get together,” I couldn’t help grinnin’. “Yer cocky, I’ll say that,” said Sandy.

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“I ain’t cocky, just more confident than I been, when I didn’t know nuthin’.” “Well reign er in a bit. You still don’t know a hell of a lot. Don’t go out there thinkin’ you know it all. There’s men here agin tonight who been fightin’ while you was still crappin’ yer britches. Learn from’em.” “Okay, okay I’ll tone’r down.” “Good! Yer all set. I got ya entered.” “Ya want my five bucks now, or later?” “Don’t worry about it. Call it a little gift. I plan on making some big money tonight.” “On me?” “On you and on some others too.” “I want you to bet this here fer me.” I handed Sandy $20. “Bet it on my first match, then keep bettin’ as long as I’m winnin’.” “Yer third tonight. I already checked with Witherspoon. He’ll be runnin’ things like he did in Blackfoot. You bring any colors tonight?” “Nah. I figure a white hanky is as good as any color, like before.” “So it is,” said Sandy. “So it is.” ∞ I stood back and watched the first rounds with Glenn. We stood behind the crowd. Glenn kept bobbin’ around like he was in a boat on a stormy sea. “Go on up front and watch, so’s you can see what’s goin’ on. It’ll get bloody. I saw these two in Blackfoot. They’re veterans.” Glenn went on up front. I had to get warmed-up. Glenn stopped and turned to ask, “Where’s yer corner goin’ to be?” “Don’t rightly know. Witherspoon will announce it and Sandy and I will go there. You come on over.” “I’ll be there,” said Glenn. I started stretchin’, took off my shirt and slipped on my old work-out shirt, then pulled my suspenders up over. I tied my shoes tight as I could and double knotted the strings. I cinched my belt and felt like I was tight together. I started sweatin’ from the exertion of warmin’-up and from nerves. “Well, if it ain’t the one hand wonder?” I turned toward the voice I recognized. It was Lancaster, from the Blackfoot fights. “Screw you Lancaster,” I said. “I ain’t takin’ yer guff no more. You look puny with no teeth.” Lancaster ignored my taunt. “You fightin’ next, crip?”

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“Third match.” “Well then you got me again. Probably some of Witherspoon’s doins’. Prepare to get yer butt kicked up round yer shoulders.” He didn’t sound as confident as in Blackfoot. My gut sort of fell, but I didn’t say nothin’. I turned aside and punched the air to loosen muscles. Sandy came to me and told Lancaster to get the hell away. Lancaster shrugged like it was no never mind to him and he walked off. “You’re up after this here fight. You loose?” “Yeah, I’m loose. Hey Sandy, that was some deal you gettin’ that stiff from Pocatello to come to Idaho Falls and fight with me. Why’d ya do it?” “Well boy, you was losin’ yer gut. I knew you lost yer little boy, but I didn’t want it to stop you. I didn’t know any other way than to get yer blood up agin. Sides, the kid is well known round Poky and I wanted to see if you could take him. It didn’t hurt my pocketbook none neither.” I just nodded. I couldn’t thank the old turd, but I appreciated him bringin’ me back. I miss Perry, but I plan on livin’ a long while yet. The second fight ended. Witherspoon used a megaphone to shout the announcements fer the next fight. There was a bigger crowd than in Blackfoot. “Next gentlemen, we have the veteran Josh Lancaster in the red corner. He faces PG Sessions. Now I seen these two in Blackfoot a few months ago. There ain’t no love lost here folks. Place yer bets and get ready fer, what I figure, will be one hell of a fight. Gentlemen, come to scratch.” I walked calm to the center of the ring and faced Lancaster. My knees felt just a twinge weak. Nothin’ like Blackfoot though. “You two know the rules,” said Witherspoon. “Follow’em.” Witherspoon signaled with his arm, like before, and shouted “Fight!” Lancaster feinted back. I stood with my hands up, but did not take a step from my startin’ position. Not until Lancaster began to circle me did I move my feet. I waited fer Lancaster to come to me. “Move!” yelled Sandy. “Damn fool’s gonna stand there and get smacked,” I heard him yell to Glenn. Glenn looked on. “He ain’t no damn fool,” was all Glenn said. I have switched successfully to fightin’ left-handed. I turned to lead with my right. Lancaster moved in with a jab from his left hand. I met his hand with my right, knockin’ Lancaster’s hand away and blockin’ the blow. Lancaster held his head tilted forward and looked at me out of the top of his eyes. He held his hands high so I might have a difficult time hittin’ him in the face agin. “Yer an ugly spud Lancaster. Ya feelin’ safe?”

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Lancaster moved in agin fer another try at a jab. I let the jab come at me. I leaned quick to my right, slipped the jab and slammed my stump into Lancaster’s ribs. The ribs cracked loud and air whooshed out of the prick. The blood drained from his face. “Hurt?” I asked. Lancaster couldn’t answer. I knew he was hurt. His legs carried him automatically to safety while he fought to regain some breath. I didn’t wait fer him to get feelin’ better and moved in quick. Lancaster’s second picked up his colors, prepared to throw’em in. I could see him over Lancaster’s shoulder. Lancaster’s hands were lowered from the pain of his ribs. “Well ya learned a little since last I seen ya crip,” said Lancaster. I moved in quick and slammed my stump into Lancaster’s face. Blood flew and his eyes rolled back into his head. He flew several feet backward, landin’ flat on his back. He bounced, throwin’ dust, and turned into a heap. “Holy shit, ya killed him,” shouted Lancaster’s second. The man threw Lancaster’s colors anyway and ran into the ring along with Witherspoon and Sandy. The crowd was shocked into silence. “Ah, he ain’t dead,” said Sandy. “He looks dead.” “He’s breathin’ ain’t he. Look at his chest,” said Sandy. “Okay, clear the ring,” said Witherspoon, shaken. “What’s the matter Witherspoon? Ya bet on this guy? asked Sandy. “Get yer fighter outta here, “Witherspoon said to Lancaster’s second. Some helpers entered the ring and helped haul Lancaster’s limp body out of the ring. I didn’t feel a thing. “We got more fights.” It was Sandy talkin’ from behind me. Glenn grabbed my arm and we left the ring and moved back to our gear at the back of the crowd. “I’m goin’ to go collect,” said Sandy. Sandy came back to us after about twenty minutes. He wore a big grin, showin’ his rotten teeth. “Well, we cleaned up on that one kid. Here’s yer winnin’s.” Sandy handed me over a hundred dollars. “Jumpin Holy Moses!” I whispered. “I ain’t seen that much money in one bunch in my whole life, specially that belongs to me.” “More where that came from, if we play our cards,” said Sandy. “How much is there here?” “There’s a hunert there boy. You earned it, you and the stump,” smiled Sandy. “I told you that’d be one hell of a weapon.” Glenn stood there starin’ at the money.

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“Ya gotta rest fer a couple of fights,” said Sandy. “Ya ain’t had ta do much yet, but things’ll get tougher now. Rest, drink a little water, but not much. You sweatin’?” asked Sandy. “Not now,” I said. “Rest a while. I’ll check the schedule and let you know when to warmup agin. We’ll know who you got next after a couple more fights. I’m goin’ to watch and try to make a little.” Me and Glenn wandered back in sight of the ring and watched a match. Denton Figg, another veteran fighter, fought a young man out of Montana. It was an uninterestin’ fight. Figg knocked the young man senseless in about three minutes. He hit the boy six times, all in the face. The boy’s face was a bloody mess and blood soaked the boy’s shirt and pants. Figg was untouched. Sandy came back to us. “You seen Figg knock hell outta that kid? He is one tough customer, and he’s had a lot of experience. Cordin’ to the bracket, you got him next. It’ll be a couple more fights, then they’ll start through the brackets agin. You got to watch this next one. He ain’t no loudmouth like Lancaster, but he is just as mean. He just does it quiet like. Figg seen you clobber Lancaster, so he ain’t gonna want to mess with ya none. Figg is good and he’s fast, and he will want to punch yer face in, so keep that right up high to block his punches. He ain’t a body puncher, so he’ll be lookin’ to beat yer head. Keep yer head cocked forard like I taught ya. If he’s gonna hit ya, make it land on yer forehead, or on top of yer head, but not in the eyes or nose or mouth. Got it?” “Yeah,” I said. “How long til I fight him?” “I checked the board. Witherspoon started with seven matches, fourteen fighters. Couple more fights and then he’ll start back through. We got about three to go. Winners from the first seven match-ups fight, but one draws a bye. That ain’t you this time, but we’ll see what happens next go round. A bye can, or can’t be a good thing. Don’t know . . .” “So, I got Figg?” “Yeah, accordin’ to the bracket, then I calculate you got two more fights after him to take the whole thing. But, don’t look anywhere cept at Figg. He is yer whole world now. Ya got to get past Figg. These other guys sure ain’t better’n him, so if ya beat Figg, ya got a great chance.” “Sandy?” “Yeah?” “Should I bet on mysef agin Figg?” “I’m dang sure gonna bet on ya,” said Glenn. “Yer gonna bet?” I asked Glenn.

STUMP “Yeah, fer the first time in my life, I’m gonna bet.” “Ya probably better not Glenn,” I said. “It ain’t a good thing.”

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“Yer bettin’, I’m bettin’.” “Well Glenn, I ain’t gonna bet much,” I told him. “Sandy, what you think them odds are gonna be on me and Figg?” “Yer stock done shot up some PG, but I suspect it will be two, three to one. Figg’s well known and tough as a boot.” “Put $25 on me.” “Bet this here $2 fer me too Mr. Sandy,” said Glenn, and he handed Sandy two silver dollars. “My wife don’t know about these dollars,” grinned Glenn. Sandy walked to the ring holding the money he was charged with bettin’ and laughin’ at the size of Glenn’s bet. ∞ The fights that followed were uninterestin’. The fighters were not veterans, and their matches were long and hard. I sat and wondered if I could beat Figg. “I think I can win the whole thing if I beat this guy Glenn. Wouldn’t that be a peach. I never won nuthin’ in my life.” “Hit him with yer stump PG,” said Glenn. “It sure poleaxed that Lancaster fella.” “I’ll try, but Figg’ll be watchin’ fer it now.” “So, what ya gonna do?” asked Glenn. “I’m gonna cover my face and hope he don’t knock hell outta me.” I wasn’t as worried as I made it sound. I waited impatient and wished Glenn would leave me be. I was too nervous to visit. I nodded when Glenn talked, but I don’t have an idea what he was sayin’. Finally, the last fight of the first go round was under way. Sandy came back to Glenn and me. “Warm up. Yer next.” I couldn’t read Sandy, but I wanted to know, “You bet on me Sandy?” “Damn right I did. Don’t let me down. I put all I had on ya, and your money, and Glenn’s here. Win this and I’m a rich man fer a while.” “Thanks,” I whispered. It felt good, but it also made me nervous as a sinner at church. My resolve hardened. It felt right to have Sandy and Glenn believe in me. “I shoulda bet more on mysef,” I said. “You bet plenty. If you win, you get yer money back and another $75, or more dependin’ on the odds and move to the next bracket. That’s plenty. You concentrate on Figg and don’t worry none about the money, hear?” “Aright,” I whispered agin. I started stretchin’ and loosenin’ my muscles. I felt strong. “I ain’t gonna let him whup me, no matter what.” “No matter what,” repeated Glenn.

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∞ “Gentlemen, and ladies,” called Witherspoon. “We begin the second go round this evenin’ with what ought to be a tussle. In this corner,” Witherspoon pointed at me and Sandy and Glenn, “we have a new challenger, PG Sessions. He hasn’t had many fights. He’s 1 and 1, one win by knock-out, you seen it this evening.” “In this here corner,” he pointed at Figg, “is the veteran Denton Figg, out of Missoura, by way of Californi.” Witherspoon was mighty pleased by his own smooth talk. “Mr. Figg’s record is, I believe, 141 and 11. He has knocked-out, some 70 men. Make your wagers gentlemen . . . . Mr. Sessions . . . Mr. Figg, please toe the mark,” he shouted at the crowd. “I got to pee Sandy,” I said. “Well piss yer pants. You got no time to go outside. Sides, it’s just nerves. You won’t have to pee in about 15 seconds. You do like we talked now.” “Okay.” Glenn slapped me on the back as I started toward the mark. Figg did not look at me. He looked instead at the crowd. I was thinkin’, This guy don’t know I’m alive. He sure as ain’t afraid of me. “Fight!” screamed Witherspoon. Figg acted like a switch turned on. He snapped to focus on me and moved toward me before I got my hand up. Figg jabbed with his left. I, from reflex, lowered my jaw, offerin’ only my forehead and skull as a target. Figg did hit me and it jarred my vision, but I can’t say it hurt much. That didn’t hurt as much as bumpin’ my head on a beam in the barn, I thought. Hey, I ain’t got to pee no more neither, I couldn’t help smilin’. My smile angered Figg and he came after me. Figg threw several punches, but I covered my face and chest and stomach with my arms. I held my right hand close in front of my face and when Figg began to back away from the flurry, I jabbed him with my right catchin’ him on the nose. The nose began to bleed, but it was not a powerful blow. Figg tried the flurry again, but he wasn’t hurtin’ me none. Glenn told me later that red splotches started showin’ on my forehead, but Figg didn’t cut me ner hurt me none. Figg came in close and tried to wrestle me to the ground. I popped him on the ear with the stump and he backed out of the clinch and moved sideways, droppin’ his hands. He breathed hard from his own exertion. He was sweatin’ hard too. His nose stopped bleedin’ and he wiped it on his sleeve. “Come on boy. Let’s go,” taunted Figg. I waited, like before, and Figg obliged me, comin’ in fer another flurry of punches against my arms and forehead. He was hopin’ I’d raise my eyes and he could give me one hard in the face. This time, I met Figg with a right jab, which he blocked. As Figg blocked the jab by raising both hands in front of this face, I came to Figg’s

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body with the stump left. Wind whooshed from Figg and he doubled over. When he doubled, I moved with him and came down on the side of his head and left ear with a crushing right hand. Figg went down. I moved to the corner. The crowd was cheerin’ and men were bettin’ and screamin’ to one another. Figg quickly got up, checked his corner, and came to scratch. I moved back to scratch. “You got nuthin’ kid,” scoffed Figg. “Yeah, well I ain’t the one white in the face old timer,” I said back. I felt a little twinge embarrassed to be so disrespectful to someone I didn’t even know, but I was startin’ to understand that the insults are part of the game. If one fighter can throw off the plan of another fighter, it can cause the receiver of the insult to become angry, drop his guard, change his pattern, or in some way give an edge to the insulter. Lancaster used it on me in Blackfoot. Figg was too experienced. My insult slid off him. It was a poor insult anyway. Figg is older than me, but he ain’t an old timer by any stretch. He just grinned at me and moved back to collect hissef. Figg and I moved in on each other and began throwin’ punches like crazy. Many punches missed as he had no real mark, but a few connected. Figg cut me under the left eye. The cut began to bleed. I pounded Figg, but he wouldn’t go down. We were 20 minutes into the fight and I was wet with sweat. Figg was too. We slowed some. Sandy hollered at me to get the hell away and stop gettin’ into the flurries. Me and Figg punched and blocked and feinted one way and another, tryin’ fer open shots at the other. Figg had only landed one punch on my face, but I was tired. My lungs burned. I was thinkin’, I should have worked harder. I can see what Sandy means now. I got to get this thing over. My legs felt jittery weak and my lungs were on fire. I hope Figg is feelin’ bad as me, or worse. Figg didn’t seem to be laborin’ hard as I was. I felt, fer just a tick, frightened. How can this guy, older than me by years, not be worn down? Figg had to be wore down, but his experience taught him not to show his fatigue. I was showin’ mine and Figg was lookin’ for one good chance. Figg moved in and out quick. He came in and gave me a fake punch. I dropped my hand for a moment to block and Figg stung me hard on the nose. My eyes watered some and blood squirted out my nose. I could see Figg through the blur of tears. He hauled back to give me a roundhouse with his right hand. I squeezed my eyes closed, forcing the tears out and adjusted my sight in about the split second it took to bring my stump up and under his jaw. The sickenin’ report of crackin’ bone sounded across the ring and Figg went to the dirt. He tried to get back up, but he could not see and fear gripped him as his unmatched jaws worked to get straight. Figg lay in the dirt trying to help himsef with his hands. He worked the jaw like an artist

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works clay, tryin’ to fashion his flesh and bone back into a jaw. He passed out from the pain. The poor dumb son of a bitch, I thought. I reached a new record of 2 and 1 with 2 knockouts. Sweet! But, I only ever fought two guys in organized fights. ∞ Glenn met me as I staggered back to the corner. Figg’s second and Witherspoon’s helpers cleared the ring. “You done it, you done it!” exclaimed Glenn. I could not speak fer the burnin’ in my lungs and the tired in my legs and arms. I could only nod to Glenn and bend over deep and breathe and slobber. In the corner, I collapsed into Sandy’s arms. “You done real good boy. You made me rich for a damn year. Johnson, let him sit a minute and then let’s get him back to the back. On second thought, go find some water and meet us back where our things are stashed.” Glenn, glad to have somethin’ to do, went fer water. Sandy pulled me to my feet and helped me back to meet Glenn. “You okay? You hurt anyplace?” Sandy used the water Glenn retrieved to wash away blood and inspect my cut face. “I can’t see no place where you’re hurt too bad. This here cut ain’t nuthin’.” Sandy held a cold piece of polished metal agin the cut and the bleedin’ stopped. The cold metal felt good, soothin’. I got some strength back and was finally able to control my breathin’ enough to speak, “I ain’t hurt. I’m just bushed. I ain’t never worked so hard in my life.” “Rest now. Yer in the semi-finals and things will be smoother sailin’. We ain’t going to make much more money on bettin’ tonight. Fact is, we might have to start givin’ odds on ya to get bets. There is a good pot of $70 for the whole evenin’ though. You can still pick that up. $245. That ain’t a bad days work eh?” Sandy grinned. “Watch him Mr. Johnson, I’m going to go collect our winnin’s.” “Two hundred and forty crappin’ five dollars. Did you hear that Glenn? I ain’t never had that much money. In good years, it’d take me about three years to make that much cash.” “Not bad, not bad,” Glenn said, short on words. “Not bad yer dyin’ ass! That much money is a dern phenom. It’s gonna save my butt.” I forgot my fatigue. “I want you to take the money home and get it to Jenny. She can get us flush with the bank and then some.” “Don’t get mad now, but I gotta say somethin’.” “Go head,” I said.

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“You are sort of countin’ yer chickens here. You better settle down and try to win the other seventy dollars. It ain’t over yet. I don’t even know what I’m talkin’ about, but it looks like a fight can be over in one lucky punch. You better get serious.” I looked long and hard at Glenn, but I was not angry. “You’re right. I been countin’ ma chickens. You handle the money, and I’ll handle the fightin’. OK?” “Dern right,” said Glenn. Sandy brought back our winnin’s and handed me another hundred and fifty dollars. “Thought you said I could win $75?” “Ya got yer winnin’s and yer first tips stud. Ya made a lot of money change hands out there last fight.” ∞ “Okay, my beauty,” said Sandy. “Yer up after the next fight. This is Farley fighting Thomlinson. Nobody knows anything about either one of them and I didn’t listen to Witherspoon. They’re new. I watched them and they ain’t no account. Next, some guy named Rawley outta Utah is fighting Fisher from over ta Boise area. I heard Rawley is a good fighter. Last match-up was Caxton and Henry, two more nobodies. Henry won, so you got him next. I expect you to make short work of him and then you’ll have either Farley, or Rawley for the win. You rested?” “Yeah, I’m rested. You don’t know nuthin’ about Henry?” “Nuthin’, except he’s smaller’n you and he is slow. He’s strong though. He looks like he’s got muscles in his toes. He’s a ugly bastard too, been in some fights by the look of his face, but he ain’t got no style, no movement. He won’t fool ya none.” “I’ll be careful just the same.” “Suit yersef, but don’t wear yersef out on the guy. I expect you’ll meet Rawley, and you’ll want to be fresh as can be.” “OK, I got it.” “Rest,” said Sandy. “Mr. Johnson, make him sit, relax, and rest.” “Yes sir,” said Glenn. “You ain’t got to call him sir, Glenn.” “Well, it’s polite.” I just laughed at Glenn’s courtesy in this settin’ and lay back on a bench provided fer fighters. I closed my eyes, but the background noise of the fights, and the excitement blocked any rest. I forced mysef to try restin’. I lay limp on the bench.

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∞ “Ladies and Gentlemen,” shouted Witherspoon through his megaphone. “the semi-finals now begin with the match-up of a young bull, Mr. Brad Henry out of Cody, Wyoming, facing PG Sessions, a local man from Rigby. This could be a battle. Sessions has defeated two veterans right before yer eyes tonight. It’s getting late, so I figure these boys will be tryin’ to do the other’n in fast. Place yer bets gentlemen. Fighters, come to scratch.” I met Henry at scratch. “You boys been here and know the rules. Any questions?” asked Witherspoon. We both ignored him. “That’ll do,” said Witherslpoon. “Fight!” he blurted and sped from the ring. Me and Henry walked in a loose circle, lookin’ at each other and sizin’ the other up. “How’d ya lose yer hand?” asked Henry. “Blew it off with dynamite,” I told him. I was surprised that Henry would ask, in the situation we was in. “I seen ya use it on Lancaster and Figg. It ought to be outlawed.” “Well, it ain’t.” We got down to business. Henry leaped foward and tried to hit me with a haymakin’ swing of his right hand. It was a gamble, and a mistake. I fell back and the swing went by my face, but was not close to contact. While Henry was off balance, I brought the stump into the side of his head. Henry went into the dirt and didn’t get back up. Agin, the room was quiet. It had all happened so quick and so easy. Some men were in mid-bet. Witherspoon declared Henry out cold and called fer his second and helpers. He had a sour look on his face and venom in his voice. I walked back to my corner. “That’s the short work I wanted ya ta make boy,”grinned Sandy. “Henry wasn’t nuthin’. He shouldn’ta been here really. He got lucky makin’ it this far, but luck is part of it all.” “How much money did we make?” “Well, I done alright, but you didn’t bet, member?” “Yeah,” I said, disgusted. “I do remember, but the good part is I didn’t lose nuthin’ neither.” “Go rest. Your next match will be tougher, but you ain’t thrown many punches tonight. Figg was tough, but you should still have plenty of soup.” “I feel good. I’ll be ready.” I motioned to Glenn, “let’s go.” The Farley vs Rawley fight went as Sandy predicted. Witherspoon announced “There will be a twenty minute intermission so Rawley can catch his breath.”

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Rawley beat Farley into submission. It’s good luck fer me that I got a good rest. It oughtta give me a edge on this here Rawley. Nerves struck me. I had to pee agin. I did so at the back of the barn then got back to Glenn. “Whatdya think Glenn. I’m awful nervous right now. You think I can take im?” “You hit him with yer stump PG and he’ll go down. You can take him. But, be careful. Everythin’s ridin on this one.” “Well, I know that. You goin’ to bet?” “No, you?” “I’m bet out. I got a good sum of money tonight, I ain’t goin’ to push it none.” “Well, I think you could make more, but I don’t blame ya none. It is always better to be cautious I reckon. My pa always said, ‘a pig’s life is short’, I got to agree.” “I got to walk around. I can’t sit here like a bump.” I got up and walked back and forth lookin’ at the ground and thinkin’ of the next fight. I tried not to look beyond it, but it was tough not to ask “What if?” Rawley sat just 50 feet away. He caught his breath from his last match, and snuck a look at me. “Ya oughta sit down PG,” said Glenn. “He’s goin’ to know yer nervous.” “I don’t think it makes no difference now Glenn. We’re up in about 5 minutes, and he seen me walkin’ round aready.” ∞ Witherspoon gathered his megaphone and walked rapid to the center of the ring. It was near midnight. “Ladies and gents, the final, and championship fight of the evenin’ is upon us. I ain’t got to tell you who the fighters are, you seen them fighting several times tonight aready. Place yer bets while these two battlers come to scratch.” “Let’s go,” said Sandy, walkin’ toward me and Glenn. “This is it big fella. How you feelin’?” “Like I could knock his head off and crap down his neck,” I replied.

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“Well then do it,” said Sandy. He turned and led me and Glenn to the ring. I looked at where Rawley had been restin’. His second pulled him to his feet. I couldn’t hear what was bein’ said. I wished I could. ∞ “Gentlemen, toe the mark,” hollered Witherspoon. I turned from Sandy and Glenn and walked to the mark. “Whup im good,” said Glenn. I waved my hand. “Now gentlemen, you’re the last fight of the night. Give them their money’s worth,” said Witherspoon. Me and Rawley stared at each other. Rawley was obviously tired from his long evenin’. I was feelin fair fresh. “Good luck mister,” I said. “Yeah, you too,” replied Rawley. “FIGHT!” yelled Witherspoon. Rawley raised his hands and moved cautious forward, leadin’ with his left foot and left hand. I stood my ground and turned to show my right hand guardin’ my face and stump. I held the left arm tight agin my body as a shield and in a ready position to sting Rawley. Rawley had watched me fight earlier in the evenin’ and knew that the stump had been used sparing, but could demolish opponents. Rawley stayed wary of it and kept movin’ to his left, my right, makin’ it harder to get the stump on him. I had not watched Rawley except fer a few moments in his semi-final match. He was much quicker of foot and hand speed than me. Rawley moved in and threw a lightnin’ quick left jab catchin’ me on the cheek, and he darted to his left agin, escapin’ my return jab. I found only air where Rawley had been standin’. The miss embarrassed me. My cheek hurt. Rawley moved in nimble and nicked me on the the cheek once agin with another agile jab. The blow hurt my pride and made my eye water. I moved away, shocked at the speed and agility of this fighter, who was supposed to be “wore out”. How the hell do I handle this guy. He moves away so fast I can’t hit him, I thought. I reckoned I’d move in quick toward Rawley and punch simultaneously with my own movement, surprisin’ Rawley. As Rawley moved toward me, he held his hands high and swayed from side to side. I lunged at Rawley and threw my right. Rawley anticipated the punch and side stepped agin, this time bringin’ his right hand up and under my chin. My bottom teeth dug into my own lip and blood began to pour out my mouth, but I didn’t go down.

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Son of a bitch, that hurt, I thought. I backed off fast and wished that I had gone down, at least then I could have had Sandy stop the bleedin’ somehow and tell me I was alright. I kept movin’ away from the stalkin’ Rawley and used my tongue to smooth the torn skin inside my lip. I could taste my own blood. More frightened than hurt, I stayed away from Rawley, desperate tryin’ to devise a plan, but I didn’t know enough, didn’t have the experience. I’m lucky to get this far, I thought. I let Rawley come in fer another jab, this time I would not lunge in mysef. I waited back and hoped fer a chance to connect with Rawley, somewhere. Rawley hopped in and jabbed, but he missed me. I jabbed and caught Rawley on the forehead. Rawley feinted away, his eyes glassy. I hurt him some. He’s carryin’ his hands lower. He’s either showin’ he’s tired, or I hurt him, or he’s foolin’ me. I chose to go on the offensive. I advanced on Rawley, but kept mysef under control. He might be fakin’. Rawley’s eyes were still glassy, watery. I got close and jabbed with my right again, catchin’ Rawley full in the face. He didn’t appear to be able to ward off the blows now. I combined the stump , catchin’ Rawley fallin’ back. The stump caught Rawley on the chin. The blow glanced , but caught Rawley enough to take him off his feet. He fell on his back. I moved to my corner and Rawley climbed quick to his feet and went to his. Witherspoon called, “Fighters, come to scratch.” “What do I do? He’s way faster than me,” I said to Sandy. “Yer doin’ fine. You ain’t going to get no faster tonight. If he’s still stunned, finish him here.” I moved to stratch. Rawley walked to scratch as well, but he looked unsteady to me. When he raised his hands, I looked in his eyes. “You look all but finished,” I said. “Fight!” yelled Witherspoon. “Ah, I’m OK,” replied Rawley. I felt sorry fer Rawley and didn’t want to hit him with my stump. Rawley moved in and tried this jab/feint trick. He had lost the spring in his legs and my legs were still feelin’ fresh, more fresh than Rawley’s fer sure. I stepped easy aside. I could have hooked the stump in Rawley’s ear, but I jabbed with my right instead. The jab caught Rawley in the side of the temple and he went down agin. His second wisely threw their towel into the ring signalin’ that they were givin’ it up. He knew I could have banged his fighter with the stump.

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I helped Rawley to his feet. “You done good. Yer faster than anybody else I seen fight.” Rawley was so groggy he could not reply. He just nodded his head and patted my arm as if to say thanks. I went to my corner and fer the first time in the fight, heard the crowd. They were booin’ me fer not finishin’ off Rawley with the stump. I ignored them and threw my hand toward them as if to say, “Hell with all of you.” “Why’nt you bust him with yer stump PG?” asked Sandy. “Ya shoulda finished him off before the towel got throwed.” “He was near done when he come to scratch. I don’t like to hit a man when he’s down.” “Well, you gotta get over that nicey nice idea. You ain’t going to get that treatment, so ya better stop givin’ it.” “Where’s my money?” I asked. “Yer about ta get it,” said Sandy. “Ladies and gentlemen,” shouted Witherspoon. “Our winner tonight is PG Sessions, the toughest man in Idaho Falls,” he bellowed. He signaled fer me to come to the center of the ring and he handed me a wad of money. “How much’s here?” I asked. “All of it. I ain’t going to cheat ya,” said Witherspoon. “Oh, I know you ain’t,” I said. I counted the money. “OK,” I said. And I walked away. “Ladies and Gentlemen, collect yer money and yer belongings. Please vacate the premises as quickly as you can. It is near 1:00 am. The next fights will be held in Bozeman, Montana in two weeks. Hope to see you all there. They ain’t so finicky up there with the law and all, so we’ll be holding the fights in the daylight hours Saturday afternoon, February 3rd. Bozeman always draws a lot of good, tough men. See you there.” ∞ “We goin’ to Bozeman?” I asked Sandy. “Damn right. You got to get that mouth healed. Let me see it.” I showed Sandy my mouth. “You need to have stitches in there. Let’s get you on over to the hospital and get it stitched up tonight. It will heal better and faster. The scar will be tougher than yer old lip.” “You got a horse?” I asked. “No, I don’t. I don’t hold with the stinking animals for riding. I rode out from town with one of these here gentlemen in his surry. You and Johnson ride on over to the hospital. I’ll be along, or I’ll see ya at the saloon in the mornin’. Go take care of the lip though, tonight.”

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Glenn and I gathered my clothes and belongin’s and got to our horses. “You got all the money Glenn?” “Yeah, I do.” “Well add this here thirty dollars to it and take it home to Jen tomorrow. I’ll keep forty to pay fer the hotel tonight and the doc to stitch me up and a little food. Give Jen ten dollars and I want you to keep twenty fer helpin’ us all these months.” “I ain’t interested in yer money PG.” “I know that Glenn, but you keep it. It’s a gift from me to a good friend. I ain’t takin’ no fer an answer.” ∞ Glenn finally quit complainin’ and shut his trap. We rode to the little hospital over on C Street, only three blocks over from the saloon. There was a doctor there, waitin’ on emergencies, sleepin’ in the office. Glenn rousted him up bangin’ on the door. The doc was only a little older than me and Glenn. He let us in and had me sit on a metal table. He had electricity in the office and he used a big light to look at my lip. “How you do this young feller.” “Fell off my horse.” “Better be more careful.” The doctor stitched up my lip. He didn’t give me anythin’ to deaden the pain and I squoze the metal table with all my might. “You’ll be more careful on yer horse next time, I guess?” said the doctor. “You know it doc,” I said. “What I owe ya?” “That will be three dollars. I usually just charge two, but I always tack on an extra dollar for a liar,” grinned the doctor. I placed two dollars in the doctor’s hand, thanked the sawbones, and me and Glenn left. “Damn, these stitches hurt more’n when Rawley plowed me.” “Better learn to ride yer horse better, or lie better,” joked Glenn. “ Funny man, funny man. Let’s go.” “Where we goin’ this late?” “Hotel. I’ll treat ya to a room with a bed.” The hotel was full. If they weren’t, they didn’t want to mess with me and Glenn that late at night. Glenn and I headed fer the horses.

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∞ “Sorry about this Glenn, I didn’t know how things’d turn out, so I didn’t make no reservations. The hotel is full this late from the fights I reckon. I thought they’d maybe let us in late, but we can stay at my regular place, the saloon storeroom. I was hopin’ to treat you to a fancy room and dinner. You ain’t gettin’ neither.” “It’s OK PG. I ain’t exactly used to hotels, and I ain’t hard to please. I’d just like some shut-eye.” “I could suck the guts out of a putrid billy goat, I’m so hungry. I got some fruit at the saloon and we can grab a sarsaparilla from the bar. I’ll pay Melvin Monday.” “You go ahead and eat PG. Onliest thing I’m hungry fer is a bed’, even one hard as the floor in the saloon.” We dropped the horses to the livery. Ron Lee let me in after some bangin’ on the doors. “Thanks Ron Lee.” “No problem. I made good money on ya tonight. You can bang on my door any damn time you want.” “No time fer jawin’ Ron Lee. I got a tired man on my hands.” Glenn, and I put up the horses, then went to the saloon. It was dark and stinkin’, still warm from the Saturday night crowd. We got into the storeroom. Glenn immediately shed his boots and hunkered into his beddin’. I rummaged fer some food and found dried apricots and a can of peaches. I tried the apricots while I layed back agin my blankets. I wasn’t sleepy, still excited from the evenin’. The acid in the fruit stung hell outta my stitched lip. I drank some water to wash it down and wash my mouth out. I gave up on eatin’ and lay down beside my friend. Glenn was already sleepin’, snorin’ loud. “Dern buzzsaw,” I laughed. I took stock of my body. I was gettin’ stiff. I thought about gettin’out to Pelot’s early Sunday, but I ain’t gonna make it too early. I was too sore to be able to get comfortable immediately. About 4:00 am, I finally dropped into sleep. ∞ Glenn shook my shoulder, rousin’ me. “Hey PG, you awake?” “I am now ya idget.” “I got to get on home.” “What time is it?” The sun was well up and Glenn had his boots and hat on. “It’s about 8:00. I got to get on home and take care of things. I figure the wife and kids did some, but there’s probably some hungry animals on

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the place, and I want to get this here money to Jenny, and see to your animals too.” I sat up. “Quit breathin’ in my face. Yer breath smells like its comin’ from yer horse’s butt end.” I popped Glenn on the shoulder signalin’ him that I was kiddin’ with him. “Thanks fer comin’ Glenn. It was good to have you here. Sandy is good fer knowin’ what’s goin’ on at the fights and takin’ care of cuts and all, but he ain’t no friend.” “It was fun. I ain’t never seen the like.” “We’ll do it agin. You want to go to Bozeman with me in a few weeks?” “Yeah, I want to, but I don’t know if I can.” “We’ll talk about it. We can ride the train. I’ll be home Saturday mornin’ and I’ll see ya then, er at church Sunday. I miss Jen and the kids so dern much. Tell her will ya? Tell her I won and I’ll bring home some possibles from the mercantile when I come. I know she can get things in Rigby, but things are cheaper here. You need anythin’?” “Nah, I don’t need nuthin’. I’ll give Jenny yer message, and yer money. I ain’t comfortable carryin’ this poke of yourn. How you feeling this morning? Yer lip’s a sight.” “I feel a little sore, mostly in the lip.” Glenn got on his feet and bid farewell to me and got out the door with his belongin’s. “I’ll see ya Saturday,” I hollered out the door. “You take it easy. I’ll see ya. Don’t worry none about the girls and Owen. I’ll look in this evenin’, at the latest.” “Thanks pard. You’re the best.” “Damn tootin,” hollered Glenn. I got up and stretched. I walked to the front window of the saloon and watched Glenn leave. The mornin’ was cold and clear. The sun was well up and warmin’ the town, but the temperature warn’t much above zero. Glenn’s horse was snortin’ steam from both nostrils when they left the livery and took off up Broadway. Goin’ to be Spring fore too long. I’ll sure be glad to see it. I got my boots on and headed to the boardin’ house to get breakfast. The cold air felt good on my puffed-up face, and on my lip. ∞ I got to the boardin’ house this mornin’ before they closed. This bein’ Sunday they start a little later and end a little later in the mornin’. I near wiped’em out of food. It felt good to eat, and eat, and eat. I was careful of

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my lip, but still packed it away. After breakfast, I got over to the livery to pick up Bud. “Congratulations on last night,” said Ron Lee. “Won the whole dern shootin’ match,” I said. “I can’t believe it. Lookin’ round town, you’d never know there was a shindig at the park last night.” “Yeah, it was a fine night. I won good money on ya PG.” “I didn’t do bad mysef. I ain’t never earned that much money in a year, let alone one night.” “Good fer you. I’d like to have seen it up ringside, but they don’t like black men at their little gatherin’s, so I had to watch from the back of the barn. Hell, I’m surprised they let me in at all.” “You want to go up close next time, you come on up with me. I don’t give a damn fer that crap.” Ron Lee nodded. “It’s easier rer me to get a bet out in the crowd.” He got some oats fer Bud and looped the feed bag over the horse’s. Bud et hungry while Ron Lee and I talked more. “So, looks like ya took one in the mouth,” said Ron Lee. “Guy got me up under the chin and I bit my own dern lip. Hurts like the devil this mornin’. I got stitches last night over to the hospital. That hurt more’n the slug to the chin.” “Other’n that you OK?” “Stiff, and a little sore, but I’m OK.” “You headin’ out to Pelot’s? You got enough money now you probably don’t need that job no more. I’ll finish feedin’ Bud and get him watered.” “Thanks Ron Lee. I figure I better keep my jobs. You never know how fightin’ is gonna turn out. I think I was mighty lucky last night.” “Well, if you call poleaxin’em with that stump lucky, you’re one lucky man. You sure knocked’em silly.” ∞ Bud and me, fed, watered and warm enough to get out in the weather, dallied our way to the Pelot farm. “I should be runnin’, but it is the Sabbath, so I guess I’ll make you do all the work,” I told Bud. I like talkin’ to Bud. He don’t talk back, but he turns and gives me a look now and agin, like he knows what I’m talkin’ about. It’s like he’s sayin’, “Yer crazy as a bed bug.” I thought, Don’t make a whole lot of sense that animals have to work on the Sabbath, but a man ain’t supposed to. ∞

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Bud pulled into Pelot’s around 11:30. I fed and watered the animals. Mrs. Pelot pulled into the yard drivin’ her shiny black surrey. Beside her, sat a stranger, a young woman. Both women were dressed in black. Maybe they’re tryin’ to match the surrey, I thought. I walked over to the surrey as Mrs. Pelot pulled to a stop near the huge oak tree that grows smack in the middle of her yards. “Mornin’, Mrs. Pelot, ma’am,” I nodded to the stranger. The women were bundled up fer the weather with thick blankets over their laps. “Mornin’ PG. Heard you did quite well last night out to the park.” I was embarrassed, and not knowing exactly why. I could feel my face get red and I dropped my eyes to the hooves of the horses pullin’ the surrey. “Yes’m I did real good.” “I heard ya whupped’em all. That right?” “Yes’m. It sure is.” “This here’s my daughter PG. She’s here from back east. I picked her up at the train last evening. Let me introduce you to Emma Shay.” “How do you do ma’am.” I tried to remember the manners my ma and grandma taught. My hat was already in my hand. “I am pleased to meet ya.” The woman nodded a greetin’ but didn’t speak. She appeared to be sizin’ me up, lookin’ me up and down. Reminded me of meetin’ Sandy. “Emma’s a widow, like me. She married and went back east, Ohio, with her husband. Damn fool got killed in an accident. Drowned trying to cross a river, no deeper than two feet.” I looked at the young widow. I don’t think she was listenin’ to her ma, but was intent on me. She stared holes though my coat and frowned like she was angry at me fer some reason. “Mother tells me you are a fighter, Mr. PG.” “Name’s Perrigrine Sessions, ma’am. Most folks call me PG.” “Then I shall call you PG. You didn’t answer my question PG.” “Yes ma’am, I am tryin’ to learn to fight. I got a long way to go.” “Sounds like you’re doing quite well. Won’t you have lunch with us two old widow ladies?” she smiled. “I et at the boardin’ house this mornin’, fore I come out here and I’m still full, but thank ya anyway.” Mrs. Pelot piped-up, “Oh, PG, it will take us about an hour to get dinner, maybe a little longer. You can find something to do until then and you’ll be ready for a fine meal by then. I have chicken in the dutch and potatoes. Emma made a pie this morning before we left for church. You stay about and I’ll call you when it’s ready. If you run out of chores, you come on in the house and visit, hear?” “Yes’m and thank ya Mrs. Pelot,” I said.

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“PG, the first, best thing you could do right now is help an old woman from her carriage and take care of the rig. We’re not goin’ back to church this evening, it’s too cold. One trip is enough for today.” “Yes’m.” I stepped to Mrs. Pelot and helped her down. Emma waited fer me. I wondered why a young woman, couldn’t be much older’n me, didn’t climb down by hersef. No calculatin’ on a woman, I thought. Emma placed a hand on each of my shoulders and I used my hand and stump to lift Emma from the surrey to the ground. She bounced on her feet upon landin’, her right hand going to her hat. “I see you’ve lost a hand PG. How’d that happen?” “Accident ma’am,” I said, steppin’ back, embarrassed. Mrs. Pelot began walkin’ to the house speakin’ over her shoulder to Emma, “Come on dear, leave PG alone. He probably doesn’t want to talk.” “That right PG, you don’t want to talk to me?” “I don’t mind talkin’ ma’am. I better get on about my business though. Yer ma hired me to work some and I’m sure she don’t want to pay me fer talkin’.” “We’ll talk more at dinner then. What kind of pie do you like PG?” “Any kind of pie suits me pink,” I said, mouth beginnin’ to water. “I made apple. I hope you’ll like it.” “Apple is a favorite ma’am.” Emma turned and walked to the house. I couldn’t help but watch her. She was tall and slender. I calculated her waist to be about 20 inches round. She’s probably got one of them corsets on. No woman is that skinny round the waist. Her hair was auburn and she wore it pinned up beneath her hat. Her eyes’re blue and her thin face is mighty attractive, if a bit wasted, Probably from grievin’ fer her husband. She’s a perty thing, I thought. Her bosom looked mighty large fer a slender woman. I watched her all the way into the house, then I led the team to the barn to strip the harnesses and turn the horses into the corral. I could pull and push the surrey into it’s parkin’ spot in the barn by mysef. While I put up the surrey and leather, I thought of Emma, and how she looked. It made me miss Jen all the more, and I was awful aware of my need. I felt guilty fer bein’ attracted to Emma. I tried to put her out of my mind and I thought of Jenny and my love fer her and the commitment I made to Jen in the temple. I felt guilty and thought I should just get on Bud and head to town. I had the saloon to clean, but I told Mrs. Pelot that I would stay. I decided to just tend to ma business and get back to town right after dinner. “PG?” called Mrs. Pelot. “Dinner’s on the table. Come on in here before it gets cold.”

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“Yes’m,” I called back and I walked fast to the house, whackin’ the dust off my clothes with my hat. I hung my hat on the antlers of a deer mount, one of several in the entry to the house. “Mr. Pelot kill all these?” I asked. “He and my sons,” answered Mrs. Pelot. “Stinky old things. I just hang things on them, I guess they make good hangers. I can’t seem to throw them out.” “Go in and wash up PG,” said Emma. “I have laid out a towel for you and put some warm water in the pitcher on the commode. It’s in there.” Emma pointed to a small room off the parlor, next to the kitchen. “Thank ya ma’am,” I said. “You can call me Emma.” “I better just call you ma’am, like yer ma,” I said. “Suit yourself,” she smiled. We talked all durin’ dinner. Mostly, the women talked and I et. I was hungry agin, and I shoveled it into my mouth. “I’m glad I stayed. This is dam . . . darn fine food, Mrs. Pelot. Thank ya.” “You are married, PG?” asked Emma. “Yes’m and I got four children, three girls and a boy. There’s Della, Stella, Glennis on the girl’s side, and Owen. I ain’t seen much of Owen. We had five as of the first part of December. Perry we lost a few weeks back. He was youngest.” “I see. I am sorry for your loss. Where do they live?” “We got a homestead up to Rigby. It’s a sorry place, but we’re tryin’ to make a go. We done proved-up aready, but the place don’t raise much. We got a few animals. I been makin’ extra by workin’ in town and out here fer yer ma, and fightin’ some.” “How much can a man make fighting?” asked Emma. “Emma, I’m not sure that is your business,” said Mrs. Pelot. “I’m only asking mother. You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to PG.” “Oh, I don’t mind. I don’t know exactly. If you win all the way through, like I done last night, a man can take home the whole pot of entry fees. I hear the man runnin’ things pulls out some of the pot and a little here and there that adds up to quite a haul. He didn’t pull any last night from my winnin’s. I know he charges folks to get in and watch the fights. I reckon he bets on his favorites and he has some idea of who can do what. His name’s Witherspoon. Anyway he’s the man who run the last two fights. He seems to have a handle the whole shootin’ match. He’s puttin’ on fights in Bozeman in a few weeks. Says there’s gonna be a lot of tough men there, more’n last night.”

254

Michael B. Sessions “So, how much did you make last night?”

“Emma!” said Mrs. Pelot. “I made $70. I made a bit more through bettin’ on mysef. If I knew more, I could have made more bettin’ with the odds and all. I was concentratin’ mostly on my fightin’.” I didn’t want to tell any exact amounts to Mrs. Pelot. “I sent the money home this mornin’ with a friend. It was a good night fer me.” “Good for you,” grinned Emma. I blushed agin and I don’t know why exactly. I guess it was Emma’s beautiful smile and her kindness to me. I felt funny agin, “I better get back to town. Anythin’ more I can do fer ya, Mrs. Pelot?” “No PG. You were good company. That’s plenty. Thanks for coming and taking care of the animals. You’re probably stiff and sore.” “I feel fine ma’am,” I lied. “And, thank you and Emma fer the grub. It was mighty fine.” “You didn’t have any pie PG,” said Emma. “I ain’t got room fer a sliver of pie right now ma’am. If you save me a piece, I’ll eat it tomorrow when I come back out,” I said. “I’ll put a piece, probably the whole pie aside for you PG. Mother and I don’t eat much pie.” I couldn’t help but smile and I rubbed my hands together with the thought of apple pie, but right then, I thought I better git fer Idaho Falls. “It will be somethin’ fer me to look forward to beside wrestlin’ stinkin’ animals,” I laughed and excused mysef. I grabbed my hat. “Thanks agin Mrs. Pelot, Mrs Shay” I said as I hurried out and down the steps. ∞ I rode back to town and didn’t feel like cleanin’ the bar, but I did feel like takin’ a nap. I put Bud up in the livery and went to the backroom and took a long nap. I needed it. It was near dark when I woke up. The sun was still showin’ a bit in the west. I’m thinkin’, Days ought to start gettin’ longer soon. Won’t be long fore I have to plan to get home and plant in a couple of months. Wonder how I’m gonna do everythin’, train, clean the bar, feed Pelot’s stock, and get ready and plant the place? I could have gone over to eat, but I was so stuffed from Pelot’s dinner that I went ahead and cleaned the bar and spittoons. After, I cleaned mysef up a little, lit the lamp, and sat down to write. I been writin’ fer a few hours now. My eyes feel like I been in a dust storm, and I’m stiff. I ain’t sleepy because I napped too long this afternoon. It felt good to just snooze though. I’m gonna take a little walk out west of town on ma trainin’ route. It’s a little cold, but maybe the cold and exercise will get me tired agin. I want to think of how I could get faster, like Figg and Rawley. I’m lucky I didn’t meet Rawley when he was fresh.

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I better skip big meals fer the next two weeks. If I get lighter, I got to get faster. Jen will want to feed me heavy when I get home though. I’ll just have to tell her no and control mysef. ∞ I’m back from my walk. It’s late. A man could fire a cannon down Broadway and not hit a dern thing tonight. I wonder where that Sandy gets off to. He ought to be able to tell me how to get faster. Monday evenin, the 22 of January, 1906 Long day. I got time to write by the light of the lantern. It is a good way to pass the time stid of hangin’ around the saloon floor. Monday’s been a good day. I sure would like to go home. I got up and felt stiffer than Sunday this mornin’. I felt sticky and dirty. I cleaned the saloon and then put a change of clothes in a bag Jen made me, and I walked and ran all the way out to Pelot’s. It was early enough that there was barely light out east, but the road is fair smooth. We ain’t had snow fer about a week and the sun shinin’ on the road, and the wind, has kept it clear. I got to Pelot’s place and it looked like nobody was stirrin’ in the house. Just as well. I didn’t want anybody botherin’ me fer a while. I fed the animals then got mysef a bucket of water from the pump in the yard. The water was freezin’ cold, but I took the bucket to the tack room and stripped off and washed mysef all over. Damn near froze my butt off. I got dressed and got warm and felt fresh. “Hey, PG,” Emma said from the doorway. “How long you been there?” I was startled to see her. “I didn’t hear ya come.” “I just came in the door. I didn’t see you, if that’s what’s worrying you. Next time I’ll knock.” “Sorry, I was just surprised is all,” I said. “I’m warming that pie. You finished with chores?” she asked. “Yeah, and I could sure use some pie,” I grinned. “Where’s your horse?” asked Emma. “Oh, I ran out fer exercise. I really have to get in shape fer Bozeman. I’ll be runnin’ and walkin’ a lot fer the next few weeks. I shouldn’t eat pie, but I’m gonna, this once.” “Well, come on in when you’re finished. I fixed you some wash things, but you likely don’t neet them after your wash.” “Yes’m,” I replied as she left the tack room. “Emma,” she said. “Sorry.”

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Emma left and I finished a quick straightenin’ of the tack room, and dumped my wash water. I jammed my dirty clothes in the bag that I brought, and I went to the house. I knocked at the back door. “Come on in PG,” yelled Mrs. Pelot. I could hear her easy though the door. I went on in and hung my hat on the same antler. “Feelin’ better today?” asked Mrs. Pelot. “Yes ma’am. The good food and a good day of restin’ did me wonders,” I said. “I’m fit as a fiddle,’’ I fibbed. “You know where to wash up, if you want. Would you like some tea? I have taken to it in my old age. It suits me.” “Well, no thank you Mrs. Pelot. I ain’t tasted tea. Thanks just the same. Some milk would suit me, ma’am.” Emma poured milk from a bucket into a pitcher, then put the pitcher on the table. “This milk is cold PG. I just took it from the ice box.” She put the pitcher on the table in front of me and handed me a plate with about a quarter of the pie she baked. “That’s a mighty big piece of pie.” “You seemed to handle dinner well last evening, and you said you ran out here. I figured you could handle a man’s size piece of pie.” “I am tryin’ to lose weight and gain some speed. You ladies aren’t helpin’ me none,” I grinned. “Well, you can start your new plan after your pie. Eat up now, before it gets completely cold.” I listened to the women talk, but I didn’t say much agin. I enjoyed hearin’ them chatter. Emma had a nice voice, one I could listen to fer a long spell. It ain’t as perty as Jen’s, but it is satisfyin’. I got to thinkin’ how I would like to hear her read a good story from a book, or just tell me a story. When I finished my pie and two glasses of milk, I excused mysef and got up to leave. “Thanks agin fer yer kindness. I did enjoy that pie. I’m gonna go run it off now.” “When will you be returning PG?” asked Emma. “I’ll run out tomorrow afternoon, or evenin’. The stock will be fine til then and it’s my usual time.” I said to Mrs. Pelot, “I want to let you know that I’ll leave Friday night, and I won’t be back til Sunday night round dark. I’ll bust up some bales of hay if you would just throw them under the corral fence on Saturday. The stock will do fine til I get here Sunday evenin’. I hope you don’t mind, but I ain’t been home in a couple of weeks.” “That will be fine PG. Emma and I can serve. You have a fine weekend with your little family.”

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“Thanks ma’am. I plan to.” Emma walked to the door with me. The leaned her full front agin my arm. “I’ll be seeing you PG. You be careful running now.” It was embarrasin’, but felt good too. It ain’t a good thing to be happenin’ to me. “Yes’m, ah Emma,” I stammered. She smiled and I turned and gathered my bag of clothes and my hat, and got on my way. I jogged out to the road and from the corner of my eye, I could see Emma watchin’ me leave the farm. I noticed she still watched me as I passed the house. She waved and I waved and grinned back. What the heck? She acts like she likes me er sumpthin’. It excited me some, but I set it aside and concentrated on runnin’. After I warmed up joggin’, and got loose, I began sprintin’ fer twenty fence posts and slowin’ to a jog fer twenty. I repeated the process all the way to town. I was sweatin’ hard by the time I got to the town limits. Didn’t do me much good to bath mysef, but I still feel better than I did fore my freezin’ bath. ∞ I found Melvin at the saloon. “You seen Sandy today?” I asked. “Why, no I ain’t. I figure he did so good at the fights Saturday night that he is drunk and happy somewhere between here and Pocatello. Why?” “I about got ma butt whupped by the last guy I fought Saturday. He was fast on his feet and I couldn’t even see when his fist was comin’ at ma mouth. If I meet him agin, and he’s fresh, he’ll clean my plow. I gotta get speed. I just wondered if Sandy has some tips.” “Well, I heard about the fights comin’ up in Bozeman. They will be much bigger than the one here Saturday night. You’ll meet some tough competition. Ya better be careful with yourself, and your money. And it sure won’t hurt to pick up some speed. I figure Sandy will be around by Wednesday, or Thursday at the latest, to check on his cash cow.” “His what?” I asked. “You, PG. You’re Sandy’s cash cow. Yer the animal that is worth yer weight in gold to the old sot by now. You won boy. You won big fer him. I expect he has made a bundle on you the last few months. He won’t be far off.” “If, by some chance, he comes stumblin’ in here, tell him I am at the livery punchin’ the bag.” “No problem. By the way, here’s yer pay fer cleanin’ up.” Melvin gave me four silver dollars, catchin’ up on the cleanin’ bill. “Thanks Melvin. I almost fergot.” “Well, be careful, you may need this old job for a while. It can’t be roses all the time, it just don’t ever work that way my friend.” “Thanks. See ya later.”

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I went to the livery and found Ron Lee, as usual. “Gonna work the bag some Ron. You mind?” “Nah, that’s what we hung it fer ain’t it? Even old Cherry don’t mind. He made money bettin’ on ya Saturday night. He’s interested in you doin’ good suddenly.” “Huh,” I grunted. “Ain’t that sumthin’? Funny how things change when you ain’t expectin’em.” I worked fer near an hour punchin’ and tryin’ to move quick side to side, forward, and back. I then ran my usual track out of town, runnin’ and walkin’ fer two more hours. At the end I was bushed, but still felt uncomfortable from all the food. I have a can of peaches I was gonna eat fore sleepin’ but I ain’t got room tonight. Tuesday, Jan. 23 This mornin’ I did my same old chores of cleanin’ the saloon. It went quick. Musta been a slow night, I thought. The sun was up and the day clear and warm. Up here in Idaho, we get these false Spring days in January, or February. This here was one of them. I ran to Yellowstone fer a treatment after cleanin’. “Howdy PG. Heard you done good Saturday night. They let you use ma cuff?” asked Mr. Simms. “No, but I got my stump tough usin’ yer brine. I still wear yer cuff when I get tired of punchin’, or when I work, but I been workin’ hard on toughenin’ up the end of this thing. It only bled a tiny bit after Saturday night.” “I hear you used it to make other men bleed though,” laughed Mr. Simms. “Yeah, it must hurt like hell to get nabbed by this little old stump.” “Imagine gettin’ poked in the eye with a board. It ought to be close to the same.” “Mind if I brine up this mornin’?” “You go head, you know where everythin’ is.” “Thanks Mr. Simms. You ought to let me pay ya fer all this.” “You ain’t got to pay me nuthin’. It’s fun to help ya. You don’t worry none about it, hear?”“Yes sir.” “Martin, PG, call me Martin.” Wednesday, the 24th I cleaned the saloon and rode Bud to Pelot’s and fed this mornin’. I skipped any breakfast to try to lose weight, and I didn’t want to waste time out to Pelot’s place. I didn’t see Mrs. Pelot, nor Emma. I felt good and bad about not seein’ Emma. I rode Bud hard back to town.

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I et the can of peaches I been savin’ and was still hungry, but I got to lose some of this weight. I’m slower than a government mule. I ran out into the desert, pushin’ mysef to go as fast as I could. I ran tween sage brush and worked at my balance and agility. The ground was slick, but I thought it made it more difficult, a good thing. On the way back to town, my legs shook from bein’ tired and from not eatin’. I needed food, but I ignored the feelin’ and picked points long the road and made mysef sprint to’em, then I walked to the next point, then sprinted to the next. It broke the monotony of runnin’ and I hoped it would help me trim weight and increase speed. I went right to the boardin’ house when I got back to town. Mrs. Jennings fixed me a plate with one piece of chicken, some corn, and one slice of bread, and she cooked me two eggs. I downed that in about a minute. She wouldn’t let me have anything more. I shouldn’t have told the women I was tryin’ to trim up. Now she wants to help. I went to the back of the saloon and sat on the steps in the sun and enjoyed a little rest. I actually felt perty good considerin’ I only et about a third of my usual lunch. I’d go get some fruit, but I’m gettin’ a bit tired of canned fruit. Peaches are still mighty good. After lettin’ my giant lunch settle, I got Bud out of the livery and walked around town leadin’ him. I just wanted some company I guess. We got tired of walkin’ in town and walked on out to Yellowstone and did my treatment. Bud and I walked back to the livery and I put him up and punched the bag for an hour, maybe more. I lifted some bales for Ron Lee just to lift some weight. He watched me do more exercises sittin’ up, pushin’ up, and pullin’ up. I went over to the boardin’ house fer supper and had a light supper, thanks to Mrs. Jennings agin. I walked back to the saloon, bored and hungry. The sun was still lightin’ the sky some. I thought, maybe the days are gettin’ longer. It’s probably wishful thinkin’. Thursday mornin’ Same old schedule. Cleaned the saloon and ran to Pelot’s, fer someplace to go. “Howdy Mrs. Pelot,” I called. Mrs. Pelot was in the hen house. I could hear the chickens cacklin’ as she moved among’em and shoved’em off their roosts to take their eggs. The door to the coop was ajar. “Howdy PG. Yer early.” “Got my chores done in town and everythin’ else done and figured I’d just get my work done out here too. Ya mind?” “No, heavens no. You go ahead.” “Thank ya ma’am,” I said.

260

Michael B. Sessions “Oh, PG, let me talk to you for a minute. Come on in here please.”

I ground reined Bud and entered the hen house. “Yes’m?” I asked. “PG, this is sort of delicate, but I feel like I need to warn you. Emma is a young woman without a husband now. She, for some reason, has designs on you.” “What!” I couldn’t say anythin’. I was embarrassed and complimented all at once. “I ain’t done nothin’ to encourage her ma’am.” “No, this isn’t yer fault PG. She’s just got some idea that she wants you and she doesn’t care that you are married. She sees no family, just a lone man. I’m telling you this for your own good. Watch out for yerself around her and try not to be alone with her. You understand? She is an attractive young woman. Many a life has been ruined fooling around with such a situation.” “Yes ma’am, I understand, but . . . “ “No buts PG. It is the way it is. You just stay away from her as much as possible and she’ll get over it I expect. I’ll try to stay close til her mind clears.” “Yes’m. I, I’ll go about ma business,” I said. I walked to Bud in stunned silence and took the reins. I led’im to the barn and worked at ma chores. I tried to work fast as I could so’s I could get on my way. Emma saw me feedin’ and started out the house to visit, but Mrs. Pelot cut her off and insisted that she finish what she was doin’ in the kitchen. By the time Emma was finished, I reckon I was out the gate and down the road. I felt like I was makin’ a get-away. I got to write the truth in ma own journal, so I got to say that I got sort of excited by it all. I ain’t ever had a woman after me. I had to chase down Jen and get her to marry me. I didn’t do a thing about this one. It is sort of excitin’ inside. I know it ain’t right, and it don’t feel right, but I can sure see how men get tempted. Mrs. Pelot’s probably savin’ my life. ∞ Bein’ finished with work and work-outs before dark is a pleasure. I idled away the time fore supper at the boardin’ house visitin’ Ron Lee. I didn’t want to think about Emma and my guilt and my interest, and I was hungry waitin’. I planned to eat a heavy meal and work on the bag in the evenin’. “You know, you want to get fast, you need to ease up on the food some PG,” said Ron Lee. “Yeah, I am, cause Mrs. Jennings won’t feed me no more. She has me down to eatin’ next to nothin’. I know I could stand to knock some off. I’d rather eat two-three plates full though.” “Force yersef. I guarantee you’ll get faster if yer lighter and ain’t carryin’ no fat.”

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“Thanks Ron Lee. I’m tryin’. My clothes feel like they’re hangin’ on me now.” I really ain’t tryin’ all that hard, but I need to. I don’t have enough will power. I guess Mrs. Jennings has the will power fer me. I’ll try not to add anythin’ on the side. ∞ At supper, I et one plate full and Mrs. Jennings gave me a tiny sliver, not a slice, but a sliver of pie fer dessert. Miss Kate and Mrs. Jennings looked at me with big old grins. My jaw about dropped to the floor when I seen that pie. “You alright PG?” asked Miss Kate. “You get hurt in the fights?” “No ma’am. I ain’t hurt. I’m surprised is all. I ain’t ever seen that size piece of pie. How’d you know about the fights?” “Oh, I know about everthin’ that goes on in this town PG, don’t you think I don’t. I made a piece’a loot on ya the other night too. Melvin bet fer me. He said you did real good.” “Well, is there anybody sides the sheriff that don’t know about the fightin?” I asked. “I thought the fights were perty secret.” “Oh, the sheriff knows alright. He was there. He just wasn’t wearin’ his badge. He was wearing regular clothes. He loves the fights much as anybody in these parts,” said Miss Kate. “I’ll be,” I said. “I’m tryin’ to lose extra weight ma’am. I need to get faster, or I ain’t goin’ to fair so well in the future. I met men the other night that were so quick I didn’t see their punch comin’. So, I guess I’ll eat this here sliver. It will probably just make my cravin’ worse. Mrs. Jennings, yer havin’ too good a time tamin’ my gut.” “It is a mighty good idea to drop extra weight,” said Miss Kate. “All the good ones ain’t got an ounce of extra fat on’em. I know, I seen most of them without clothes, if you know what I mean,” she laughed. Mrs. Jennings left the room stiflin’ her laughter. ∞ I went to the saloon after dinner because there was nowhere else to go. I found Sandy there, sober. “Where you been?” I asked. “I been up to Bozeman. Yer entered, and yer in fast company. You been workin’, like I told ya?” “Yeah, I been workin’, and I started tryin’ to get extra weight off. Now I got help and it’s killin’ me. I got to get faster Sandy. You know that?” “Yeah, I know that. I hoped you could whup all these fellers round here on what ya got, but the stakes is gone up. Yer in fer a tussel up to Bozeman.” “So, how’m I goin’ to get faster?”

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Michael B. Sessions

“You do anything you can to increase yer speed and balance on yer feet. You chase animals, lift weights, get stronger, and I think it is a hell of an idea to lose extra weight. Stands to reason if you got less to carry, you can move faster.” “Why chase animals?” “Well, you can’t never tell when they are going to turn, or double back on ya. If yer trying to do the same out runnin’, or workin out, there ain’t no way of foolin’ yersef. Know what I mean?” “Yeah, Okay. So, what kind of animals?” “Chase chickens, goats, sheep, anythin’ that can outrun ya, but not by great distances, like a horse er somethin’. Ya can’t catch a horse, or a deer, or such. Them smaller animals ya got a chance to touch. When ya do, ya know yer quicker than ya are now.” I thought it over, and figured how silly I’m goin’ to look chasin’ animals. I think I’ll try chasin’ a lamb, or a goat, in Mrs. Pelot’s barn where nobody can see. “Okay,” I told Sandy. “I can do that. I’ll be ready. What’s the deal? When and where do I gotta be in Bozeman? How do I get there, train?” “I already booked us tickets on the train. You worry about trainin’ and I’ll take care of the particulars. I don’t want you worryin’ about nothin’ but fightin’ fer now. We leave a week from Friday mornin’ the 2nd, and we’ll ride most of the day, but you’ll get a good night’s sleep and a good rest for the fights Saturday.” “How much it cost to ride the train?” I asked. “You don’t worry none, I said. I got it covered.” “You must’ve done real good Saturday night, eh?” joked Melvin, listenin’ from the bar. “Oh yeah!” laughed Sandy. “I done just fine, just fine indeed. I’ll be round here the rest of the time to watch you trainin’. You ready for nine days of hell boy?” “Whatdya mean? Ain’t I gonna get to go home this weekend? I planned to see ma family this weekend.” “You won’t have time, and that’d be three days of no trainin’ and you’d probably eat yersef into a stupor at home. You stay right here, so’s I can keep an eye on ya. I’ll notify yer wife what yer doin’.” “How you gonna do that?” “Telegram. You ain’t got a telephone at yer place do ya? I’ll send it to Rigby and they’ll have a kid deliver it out to your place. Don’t worry about it. Notes with freighters take too long.” “I ain’t worried, but I’d sure like to see my wife and kids. I ain’t seen my son mor’n a few minutes at a time since he was born. And our newest

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little girl I only held a couple of times in her short life. I can’t remember what my other girls look like, and I would like to spend some time with my wife.” “Makes ya weak. Get yer mind on what’s important now, or yer goin’ to get the crap kicked outaya.” I went down in the mouth. I ducked my head and left the bar without speakin’ further. I couldn’t think straight at the moment. I want to win at fightin’, but I miss my family terrible. I can’t remember what Owen looks like and I ain’t seen or touched Jen since, well, I don’t remember when, couple’a months I guess. It as before Perry was born. I walked the streets til dark. I sort of made a half-hearted decision to follow Sandy’s lead, only because I want to win at somethin’, and I want to have a good future. Friday, January 26, 1906 I went with Sandy to the telegraph office. I ain’t ever actually been in a telegraph office and seen the operation of the telegraph, only heard that a man could send messages to another over hundreds of miles and the message gets delivered in a second. I heard now they got telephones where a person can talk to another miles away. I ain’t actually seen ner used one of them neither. “What you want to say young feller,” asked the telegrapher. “You write it down here and I’ll send it.” “Well, I can’t write what I want if yer gonna read it.” “I can’t send it if I can’t read it.” I wrote, Dear Jen, Sorry I can’t come home agin’ this weekend. I gotta get ready to fight in Bozeman. I’ll be home in three Saturdays. Love, PG. Kiss the kids. “That’s going to cost a lot of money son. Let me fix it for ya,” said the telegrapher. Jen _ Can’t come home_ Training to fight_Home three Saturdays_PG. “This here’ll get the message home and cost about half as much.” “OK, send it,” I told him. Sandy paid the bill. “If I’d knowed you was payin’, I’d sent the whole damn message.” “Let’s go. You got road work,” said Sandy. I spent the day today runnin’ and walkin’ on the roads around town, then punchin’ the heavy bag in the livery. I stopped at Yellowstone on the way back into town and soaked my hand, stump, even my face fer a time. ∞ Later, I et some leftovers Mrs. Jennings packed fer me from the boardin’ house, a leg and thigh of chicken. She said it was in case I got real

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hungry. She said to eat the chicken and leave the peaches and pears alone cause they was packed in sugar water. I rode Bud to Pelot’s, where I fed the animals and trapped a small billy goat. Ain’t gonna be any lambs to chase fer a spell. I kept an eye out fer Emma, but Mrs. Pelot musta kept her busy. The sun was big and orange in the western sky this evenin’. I opened all the half doors and windows. There was plenty of light to see the goat. I chased that thing all over the barn. There was only the buggy parked in the barn and some random bales of straw and hay. The goat didn’t know what the world was happenin’, but he was sure able to keep hissef away from me. I made fer the goat and it bolted. I dove and missed. I thought, This ain’t gonna make me faster. It’s gonna make me dirty is all. I stopped divin’ fer the beast and stayed afoot. The little billy hid around the buggy, makin’ it tough to give him chase, but I kept after him and didn’t come within five feet of catchin’ the creature. Plum wore down, I turned the goat go back into the barn yard. “PG! What on earth have you been doing?” Emma stood starin’ up and down at me. “I been chasin’ that there goat round the barn,” I told her. I did not meet her eyes. “I got to do it to help me get faster. I don’t know if it’s gonna work.” “My, you’re dirty, and you smell like a goat,” she laughed. “I, I got to get goin’. I got to get some clothes and figure out a way to get mine cleaned. I don’t get to go home fer a couplea weeks.” “Just bring your clothes with you tomorrow and Mother and I will see that they are cleaned.” “Couldn’t do that,” I said. “Nah, couldn’t do that at all,” I shook my head. “The offer stands. You just bring them in a bag and we’ll take care of them.” “Thanks just the same, but I’ll make some arrangement in town. Now scuse me, I got to get back to town.” I squeezed past Emma and out the door. “PG, is there something wrong? You act as if you are scared of me, or you don’t like me, or something.” “No, I ain’t scared, and I like ya fine. Yer a real nice lady, I just got to get goin’ is all. I’ll be seein’ ya.” I hurried to Bud, mounted, and rode away, leavin’ Emma standin’ starin’ at my strange behavior.

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∞ I bought a shirt and new pants over to the mercantile. The feller wondered why I wasn’t buyin’ canned fruit. I told him I was tired of it fer a while. I paid fer the clothin’ and took them in the storeroom of the saloon. I took my two extra pair of garments and retrieved a basin of soapy water and a basin of clear. I washed the garments by hand and hung them in the storeroom to dry. While they was dryin’ I sat and wrote, and listened to my belly grumble. My underwear got dry before bedtime. After writin’ some, I filled my basins agin and bathed mysef in the storeroom. I propped the broom agin the door so nobody, like Sandy, could barge in on me while I was cleanin’ mysef. I was chilled, but felt clean. It wasn’t so cold as out to Pelot’s barn. I slid under the woolen blankets and felt, and smelled, better. In the mornin’ I donned my clean, new clothes, and once agin filled the pans to wash and shave. I cleaned the pans, then cleaned the saloon. I got it down to a science and it took only half the time as when I started those months ago. My daily routine consists of cleanin’, runnin’, bathin’ mysef in brine, punchin’, feedin’ and chasin’, and stayin’ out of Emma Pelot’s way, and pissin’ on my hand and stump. Now I added starvin’ mysef. The hardest thing of all is gettin’ to be stayin’ out of Emma’s way. She makes it near impossible. What a life I’m leadin’. I’m cleanin’ my own clothin’ and I make it a habit to eat at the boardin’ house. I arranged fer my meals with Mrs. Jennings. She watches my intake of food and will not let me overdo, or eat too much meat. I feel hungry half hour after leavin’. She has me eatin’ vegetables. Vegetables just don’t stick. What a life I’m leadin’. ∞ I been thinkin’, after today, I might better quit Mrs. Pelot. I don’t like the idea of leavin’ her high and dry, but I am a little scared of Emma’s advances and my own weakness fer her good looks. I know it is the best thing to do, get mysef out of temptation’s way. I plan to tell Mrs. Pelot tomorrow, and give her a few days to replace me. Saturday, January 27 I headed to Mrs. Pelot’s this afternoon and asked to speak to her private. Emma wondered what was up, but Mrs. Pelot put on her coat and came out with me into the yard. “Yes PG? Anything wrong?” “Well, yes’m there sure is. Ever since our talk, I been worryin’ about my feelin’s fer Emma. It ain’t like I’m ready to throw my life away, but she is an attractive woman and I ain’t exactly made of steel. I been worryin’ about it and I believe it is best that I leave your employ. I hope

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you don’t get angry. I did enjoy workin’ fer you ma’am. I just ain’t gonna take the chance of bein’ tempted.” “I will miss you PG, but I can see you’re serious and worried. It is good that you consider your wife and children and what is best. I suppose Emma will find a man, when she gets away from here and finds people her own age. I believe you’re doing the right thing.” “I can keep workin’ til you find somebody to feed ma’am.” “No need PG. If you’ll move hay from the stack into the barn for me, I’ll make out alright. Work today and tomorrow helping me get set, and I’ll pay you off and bid you farewell my friend.” “Thank you ma’am and thank you fer your kindness. You treated me awful good and I ain’t gonna ferget it.” “I’ll see you tomorrow PG. And PG, don’t worry about Emma. I will take her to town tomorrow and keep her away from you this afternoon. I’ll leave your pay in an envelope in the tack room. This will be our secret until after you’re gone. You take care son.” “Yes’m ma’am. Bless you ma’am.” It was done. Sunday, January 28 I stacked bales of hay in Mrs. Pelot’s barn yesterday and today, and fixed it so’s she can feed easy fer about a month. I hope she is alright. I am goin’ to miss her, and the extra money. I feel better though. I done the right thing about this here Emma problem. I remember hearin’, from church leaders I reckon, “Sin is a wrongful act that usually happens when we’re in the wrong place. First we tolerate sin, then we accept sin, then we finally embrace it.” I ain’t crappin’ on my sweetheart and children cause Lucifer is temptin’ me round a perty woman. ∞ Ain’t much to do days now, after I finish cleanin’ the saloon. More time to write and train and be bored and train some more. Monday Night A feller showed at the saloon tonight. It was dark out, about 8:00. The feller walked in the doors, stopped by the doors and asked Gus, “Where’s this PG Sessions character?” “He’s that feller at the end of the bar there,” Gus pointed to me. “Why you want to know young feller?” asked Gus. I looked on figurin’ Sandy was up to somethin’ agin. “I’m here to kick hell out.of him,” said the feller. “Ain’t gonna happen in here,” said Gus. The feller came over to me and asked me, “You Sessions?” “Yes I am. Why you lookin’ fer me. Sandy put you up to this?”

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“Don’t know no Sandy. I hear tell over to Boise that you’re the toughest bastard in Idaho and I’m here to find out fer myself.” “Well mister, I don’t fight fer free, a little somethin’ I learned lately. What you got to put up?” “I got a ten dollar gold piece.” “Where’s Sandy?” I asked. “I tell ya, there ain’t no Sandy. Who the hell is Sandy?” “Never mind.” “I ain’t never done this much talkin’ with a man I aim to plow down,” said the feller. “Sorry about that shitbird, but I had tricks pulled on me before. I’ll oblige ya though. Step into my office.” I led the feller out the back door. The saloon emptied behind us. “Ten dollars ain’t enough boy. What else ya got?” The feller looked disappointed. He showed me his gold eagle. It was a shiny new one and perty. It was plenty, I just wanted to push him. He wore a nice lookin’ shirt about my size under his winter coat. “Put up yer shirt and yer ten dollars and I’ll give you a go.” The feller stripped off his coat and shirt and laid them on the back porch with his gold piece. “Where’s yourn?” he asked. “I put out silver that Mrs. Pelot paid me to cover the bet, and some fer the shirt. I don’t know why I chose the shirt. I felt like it was more disgraceful to lose yer shirt and yer money I reckon. I am surprised at mysef, but I am gettin’ more mean spirited and I do love the excitement of the fight. I do love it so. Satisfied, the feller came at me. “Cold out tonight,” I said. The feller looked at me like I was kind of crazy. He took a swing and I ducked it and gave back a short jab to his ribs. I ain’t sure how fast the kid was, but I felt quick, light. I swear, I felt dead calm, out on the edge of anger, or humor, I couldn’t be sure which. It’s the onliest way I can describe the feelin’, tween anger and laughin’. I was in control. I ain’t been in control of nuthin’ my whole dern life. The feller ran at me drawin’ back his right arm to strike a blow. He was growlin; like a bear. I slid to my left and gave him the right in the ear. He was knocked dizzy and went down on one knee. I lazed away behind him, lettin’ him up. He turned to face me and I popped him on the end of his nose with the right agin. Blood spurted. The feller was game. He kept comin’ and I kept poppin’ him in the face with the right, not too hard, but nasty. He landed easy blows on the side of my head, nuthin’ hurtful. I guarded my mouth, not wantin’ to bust the lip agin. Finally the feller gave it up.

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“Go yer way then,” I said. ∞ The feller picked up his coat and wobbled round the side of the saloon and disappeared. I don’t know who he was, nor where he got off to. Gus handed me the shirt and gold piece. “Gonna start happenin’ like this PG,” he said. “What ya mean?” I asked. “Jasper talks about it some. Men’ll start comin’ like this from all over. It’s like gun fightin’. Somebody younger, quicker, wants to make a name. They go to the fastest man and try to take that moniker fer themselves. I remember they used to show-up lookin’ fer Jasper some years back now. Jasper says it gets old, or ya get hell knocked out of ya, or ya die. Word gets out ya got whupped, or died, and folks leave ya be.” “I’ll be,” I said. “I figured Sandy put it together.” I been thinkin’, It’s kind of like gettin’ chased by Emma. It ain’t wanted, but it feels good to know that somebody figures you’re somethin’ special, somehow. Tuesday, January 30, 1906 Up early with nuthin’ to do. I did a hundred push-ups and another hundred sit-ups and jogged a couple miles. I got to the boardin’ house and et a few eggs and some oatmeal. Mrs. Jennings tells me the oatmeal will stay with me so I don’t feel so dang hungry. We’ll see about that. I didn’t see nothin’ of Miss Kate. After breakfast I walked a long while and jogged some. I like to walk and think. I sort of wish I could still go to work out to Pelot’s. I wonder how Jen is goin’ to take it that I quit my job. She’ll be alright with it when I tell her why, I reckon. Skipped lunch and found Melvin in the saloon. “Good day to ya Melvin.” “Same to you PG. Heard about the fight last night.” “It wasn’t much. The man sure shouldn’t be out tryin’ to be a tough. The guy Sandy sent from Poky coulda killed the feller that showed up last night.” “Well, PG, I got complaints from some customers, and from the old lady. They were bothered by the whole thing.” “Folks in here didn’t seem bothered. They all filed out of the saloon to watch. It is true that there wasn’t any bettin’ goin’ on, ner folks congratulatin’ me on my good fortune.”

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“I don’t think folks want to be around violence all the time. Now they think of you as the town tough, and not as a friend and employee. I got to let ya go PG. I know it ain’t fair, but it is what the old woman ordered.” I was stunned. I stood lookin’ at Melvin fer what seemed like a long time. “That yer final word on this Melvin?” I asked. “It is PG. You’re welcome to stay the night, but in the mornin’, you’re to clear out. I for one will miss you. I don’t know who we’re goin’ to get to do what you did and do it near so good.” “Well hell,” I said. “Well Melvin, I do thank ya fer all you done for me. You gave me a job when nobody else would. You helped me keep my place, and you and Gus got me into fightin’. We’ll see how that goes I guess. I’ll reckon I’ll be goin’ home in the mornin’ then. I’ll clean one last time tomorrow mornin, and be gone before you get here fer work.” “Here then, let me give you yer pay for today and tomorrow then. I’m sorry PG.” “Well ya know, Melvin, I ain’t really sorry, I guess. It is time to do somethin’ else. I sort of wore out my welcome round here, and I am tired of these spittoons. I quit Mrs. Pelot cause of problems and caused my own problem here without knowin’. It’s time to take a new direction. I’ll not ferget you, ner Gus, ner Ron Lee, ner Mrs. Pelot. “This ain’t all your fault PG. The old woman knows yer a good worker, but she knows it’s not good for you to be fightin’ in town. And, she cares about her business. The way thing’s are goin’ you can only get a bad reputation and hurt this business. You understand.” “Yeah, Melvin, I do understand. No hard feelin’s fer anybody. Tell Miss Kate I understand complete. Sandy will wonder what happened to me. Tell him I’ll meet the train to Bozeman the mornin’ of February 2nd at Lorenzo. That’s when he has tickets. He can cash-in on me not ridin’ from Idaho Falls to Rigby. Tell him I’ll be there, ready to go. Tell him I’ll keep up on the workin’ out so I’ll be ready. I aim to win agin.” I went to bed. Funny how things come to a head all of a sudden like. Two days ago my life was scheduled and orderly. She’s turned all around in a couple of days. I ain’t gonna be able to sleep with the excitement of bein’ on a new tack. The family will sure be pleased, and I feel lighter, released. Wednesday, January 31, Night at home I cleaned the best job I could, fer my last go round. I left Melvin a note that I wrote last night, tellin’ him not to tell anybody where I was if anybody came lookin’ fer me wantin’ to fight. I asked him to tell Jasper and Gus to do the same. Jen would flip her cakes if she knew somebody might show up at our place wantin’ to fight.

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∞ Jen and the kids were surprised to see me. I felt like a new man to be home and to not have to go back to Idaho Falls to work. I can’t even write how new I feel. Jen and the kids bustled round the house fussin’ with meals and actin mighty happy. That made me mighty happy. Jen was concerned that I left two jobs to come home. “Do you want to talk about it PG?” she asked. “Nah, I don’t. There ain’t much to say. It’s a mighty good thing I reckon. I get to missin’ you and the kids. Life is to short and fragile fer me to be away from the ones I love. I learned that with Perry. And, a few things happened that made it easy to leave, that’s all. “It just seems awful sudden sweetheart. You are impatient, so this all seems to fit with the way you do things, but you seemed to like your jobs. When you’re ready PG, I will be pleased to listen.” “You done heard it all sweetheart. Ain’t no big story to share. It just came time to come on home, and we have the chance to do things better now. And remember, it was fightin’ that made it possible.” “I’d rather believe that the Lord had a hand in all this. Not just fighting with other men.” “Yeah, I suppose he did. I ain’t agin that way of thinkin’. Call it that. Call it whatever ya want. I’m just satisfied to be home with the people I love more than anythin’ ner anybody else in the world and to be comfortable and not worried about this da . . . dern place.” ∞ I ran to Glenn’s and let him know what was goin’ on, includin’ the idea that there might be folks comin’ round lookin’ fer me to fight. He thought that was funny. Skinny bugger’s got a strange sense of humor. “I ain’t laughin’ at ya PG. It is just what they call ironic. You got to be dang good and fightin’ through hard work, and because ya lost yer hand. Then you leave Idaho Falls to get away from the life you found there, but it’s gonna folla ya home. It’s ironic stuff, don’t ya see?” “No, I don’t see. I reckon it’s dern poor luck all round. I got to get back. See ya later, Mr. Ironic. Ironic my butt.” ∞ I ran on home and worked in the barn and had a normal dinner with the family. I didn’t share anythin’ more about Idaho Falls with Jen. She knows enough fer now. Before bedtime, Jen read to us all out of the Book of Mormon. She read about Nephi and talked about what a great man he was and how he was straight arrow and faithful. It’s good to be home. ∞

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Jen got the kids down then made me sit at the table. She bribed me with cake, but I woulda set with her anyway. I got to work off the cake in the mornin’. “PG, I have an idea.” Her face was fair alight. I ain’t seen her like that since before Perry died. I was happy to see her behavin’ in that way. “Shoot,” I said. “I have been thinking about this for a few weeks now, since Glenn brought your winnings home to be exact. Your coming home and being finished working in Idaho Falls brings my idea to the fore even sooner. I ran this past Glenn, and he has helped me research the idea and we believe it is a good plan. There have been quite a lot of people moving into the area, people with children. There are also farmers with milk, and no place to sell their milk. I believe we, you and I, could buy the milk, put it in containers of various sizes, and sell it door to door to people in Rigby. The farmers have a place to sell, and folks have a place to buy. We just need to build our business of being the middle man picking up and delivering.” “Well, that is some fancy thinkin’,” I said to her. “What about the place?” “Glenn said he will work with you to farm our fields and share the profit with you, or he will lease the ground and farm it and pay for the lease. We figure you’ll have time to help farm it and that gives you time to spend with Glenn and us,” smiled Jen. “Yer excited about this, eh?” “I think it is an excellent way to start a business. Start with something that is needed on both ends and you be the man in the middle. It makes perfect sense. We will need a wagon built to haul ice and milk and not spill the contents. The bed must be divided and there will need to be a cover to keep dirt out on pick-up and delivery. We can have the name of the business painted on the cover, so we’re getting advertisement at the same time you work the business.” “Where we goin’ to get the money to start this business?” I asked. “Sweetheart, you have already earned the money.With what you have made in Idaho Falls in the saloon, at Pelot’s farm, and fighting prize money. I have paid the doctor, the bank, and saved enough to buy the wagon, or a couple of wagons. You have done well enough to give us a good start, and you can stop this fighting nonsense.” “I am goin’ to Bozeman,” I told her. “If you must, but then you can quit, while you still have not been hurt. Think about it. Of course, you need to guard against getting hurt in Bozeman. You really don’t have to go there PG.”

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“I want to Jen. I have prepared fer it. I am goin’ to continue to prepare. I ain’t stayin’ home.” ∞ Jen is not pleased that I am goin’ to Bozeman, but I think she knows I ain’t gonna change my mind. I have been thinkin’ about this business she has in mind. It is a good idea, and Glenn helpin’ me farm is a good idea to boot. But, I got this gnawin’ feelin’ inside me that wants to continue with fightin’ and I don’t really know how. Thursday Night, February 1st Jen hit me up at dinner agin about startin’ a milk business. “What do you think of the idea PG. We could make a good living, and you won’t have to fight after Bozeman.” “Jen, I got to tell you true darlin’, I like fightin’. I like the excitement, the gamble, and the opportunity fer success and money. I can’t lie to you and tell you I want to drop it and start a business. It ain’t true. Let me see how I do in Bozeman and I’ll talk to you agin about yer business idea.” Jen was disappointed, but she kept away from it. “Please be careful PG.” “I will. Ain’t you goin’ to wish me luck?” I asked. “No PG, I am going to go pray that you don’t get hurt. I can’t take that again. I’ll be praying until I see you Sunday.” “Well, kiss me just to kiss me then, even if it ain’t a kiss fer luck.” Friday, February 2nd On the train Met the train over to Lorenzo, only a couple miles from the house. I walked there and carried my possibles in a bag. Sandy was on the train. He looked sour. I reckoned he was about half drunk. I looked forward to the train ride. I only been on a train when Jen and Dub and me came north from Salt Lake to see Rigby. I want to see the country tween the Snake River Valley and Bozeman. I been hopin’ Sandy ain’t goin’ to ruin the trip. When I got aboard the train, Sandy came up the middle of the car ziggin’ as he came. The train was pullin’ out. “Oh lord, you’re drunk?” I accused him. “I am not,” Sandy pronounced careful. “Yer a liar.” “Okay, so I had a short beer.”

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“Yeah, well, I ain’t takin’ care of no drunk this trip,” I said. “Sit down, fore ya fall down. That beer must’a been a short bucket the way yer lit up.” ∞ It has been a quiet few days at home. I worked on the place and exercised. I et more’n I should, but I worked hard ever day and I don’t feel like I got any heavier. I feel real good. The train is rockin’ and clackin’ along. The valley is covered with snow and the mountains are barely passable. If it starts snowin’ we’ll never make it to Bozeman. Looks like Glen’ll have water fer his crops this Spring. Sandy is out, snorin’ in his drunkard’s sleep. Bozeman, Montana It was a long trip. We had to stop and everybody had to get off the train and help remove a tree that fell cross the tracks. The tree was too heavy with snow and it just toppled cross the track. We cut it up and cleared the track in about an hour. It felt good to breathe fresh air. The pot belly stove, used to keep the car warm, about drove me out. I woulda sat up on the roof fer relief but the conductor wouldn’t let me. We got into town near dark. Sandy got us a room in the hotel. It is a nice room, but not too fancy. I et at the hotel. I et a big steak with the trimmin’s. I gnawed the bone. Jen would have been embarrassed at my bad manners I reckon. Sandy went to the bar and I came back to the room to rest. I am tired, but I’m wound up tighter’n a spring. Can’t wait til tomorrow, but I’m afraid how it will all play out. I want to win, but just hope to do good enough so’s I don’t look like a fool. Writin’ ain’t calmin’ my nerves none. Saturday, February 3 In the hotel room after the fights . . . The Warehouse “Hell’s Bells, I ain’t never seen so much smoke when there ain’t a fire,” I told Sandy. “Yeah, these guys are miners and they do like their tobacca.” “Hope they don’t burn the place down before we can make some money.” I started punchin’ the air to warm-up. “Just keep yer focus. Don’t worry about the smoke. These guys will get loud and they’ll get nasty before this is all over. If ya win, they’ll love ya. If ya lose, yer a bum. Smoke’s the least of yer problems now boy.” “When’m I up?” “You fight first.” “First? I ain’t ever fought first.”

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“Well, you ain’t been fightin’ long. They’re either excited to see ya fight, er yer name got drawed first.” “Yeah, well enough jabber, I got to warm up and git ready then. I didn’t think I’d be first. Who’ve I got?” “What the hell difference it make? You don’t know nobody here anyways.” “Who I got first? I don’t care if I know him or not.” “Some guy name Pell. He’s been fightin’ fer a few years. He’s right handed, and he’s lighter than you. You’ll kill im.” My stomach started jumpin’. The nerves were familiar. I love the excitement. I wasn’t afraid, just excited to get goin’. “Listen.” “What?” I answered, irritated. “Listen to what I have to tell ya, that’s all. Try not to use yer stump on this guy. Try to take him with yer right. If you use the stump, use it soft.” “I don’t know if I can do that.” “You do it. It’ll pay off later tonight, financial. Ya don’t want some of these guys seein’ yer best weapon too soon. Some of these guys are good. They’re so good they can prepare to stay away from your left. You may need it later. They already heard about ya, so don’t show yer hand too soon. Course, if you got to, knock hell out of’em. Just don’t show all ya got right off. Get ready. I’m gonna to go get our bets made. “ I nodded and got my top shirt off and cinched up my pants tight. I’d hate to have my dern pants hang down and get in my way. I feel tight together when my pants are tight. Everythin’ feels in place somehow. I feel faster and tighter, ready to fight. It was a big chance, but I give Sandy $50 I been savin’ to bet. My ten dollar gold piece I got last week ain’t in the pot. I saved that little beauty and stashed it in the tack room at home. I hid it good in a little wood box that I keep in the tack room box. I’m hidin’ it, in case. I brought the Idaho Falls winnin’s to Montana, hopin’ to make it multiply. ∞ Old Witherspoon, runnin’ things’ as usual, called the first match, “Gentlemen and ladies, we are about to begin. This afternoon, we have a rip snorter to begin the matches. In this northwest corner, out of Idaho, is a fairly new man, PG Sessions. He won the whole shootin’ match in Idaho Falls a few weeks back. Likely, you heard if you wasn’t there. In the southeast corner, is the veteran Warren Pell. Warren’s the winner of many, many matches. He may look a bit slight compared to the bulk of his opponent, but you can count on Mr. Pell makin’ a good account of hisself. Gentlemen, come to scratch.”

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Pell met me at the middle. “I know you boys know the rules, but remember yer in Montana now, and the rules don’t mean a damn thing here. Protect yerselves best you can and make a good fight of it. About the only rule you have to follow, is no weapons sides yer fists.” Witherspoon stopped talkin’ and screamed, “FIGHT!” I leaned in to shake hands, or touch knuckles and wish Pell good luck when he popped me right in the mouth. I felt my teeth go right back into my lip. It wasn’t as deep as before, but it hurt like hell and the blood started. I fell away from habit, fore he could plow me agin. I was about to explode with anger when it hit my pea brain that he was hopin’ fer just such a thing. I kept my humor and just said, “Piss on ya Pell.” Pell struck fast and moved around smooth. He came in to me duckin’ and weavin’, a movin’ target. He must not’a been used to fightin’ a left hander. I showed him my right and right side, not much target. My head was tucked hind my right hand. Pell tried to hit me in the ribs, but I blocked the punch easy. I figure he was fishin’, learnin’ what I’d do. Pell threw a fake left jab agin and I blocked agin, but as I did, he swung his right leg fast and kicked me in the shin. “Son of a bitch,” I hollered, at him, and in general. That kick hurt worse than my dern lip. I guessed that was part of what Witherspoon meant when he said there warn’t many rules in Montana. I ain’t practiced with my feet, so I didn’t know whether to crap, or go blind. But, I was definitely unhappy with gettin’ kicked. Pell moved in while I was nursin’ my shin bone. When he did, I let him have the right in the beak and it hurt him some. I didn’t wait fer him to regain his sight, or balance, I moved fast into him and gave him a flurry of rights and lefts. He went to the dirt. I was so on fire that I followed him to the dirt, hittin’ him three – four more times as he hit the deck. I felt Sandy pullin’ me off. “Hoa there PG, Hoa,” he hollered in my ear. “You got him, you got him. Easy . . .” I stood and realized that I had been growlin’ and slobberin’ like I was crazy. I guess I must’a went a little crazy. Sandy held my left arm and led me to the corner. Pell was caked with dirt and out cold. I knew he was Okay cause little puffs of dirt blasted out where he was breathin’ in the dirt. “Am I out?” I asked, damn near in tears. I figured Witherspoon would kick me out fer hittin’ Pell when he was goin’ down. “Hell no yer not out. Ya done fine boy, just fine. That’s just how she’s done up here in the land of bear and buffalo. No shit . . .”

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Sandy seemed mighty pleased. I got calmed down and left the ring. We walked through the crowd. They sort of parted like they was afraid we might rub off on’em. “Sit here and get yerself together, rest, whilst I go collect,” Sandy grinned. “Ya done good, but ya made a name fer yerself, I figure. The bets’ll get smaller, but you did one hell of a job on Pell.” I knew there were nine more match-ups til I fought agin. My next opponent would be between a foreign feller, name Paterewski and another fella name Neil Chambliss. We knowed nothin’ about either one. I walked over to watch, while Sandy collected our winnin’s. Paterewski made quick work of Chambliss. It was over in about a minute. Paterewski is all muscle, heavy, heavy punches, but slow. I figured not to take a chance of gettin’ hit by Paterewski. I went to sit and rest. ∞ “Watched Paterewski work on Chambliss,” I told Sandy. “He is tough.” “Well, this ought to brighten yer outlook,” said Sandy as he handed me over two hundred dollars. You made about $30 in tips, and the rest on the odds. Them’s gonna change. These locals don’t know ya, but what ya did to Pell made yer stock go up some more. It may be even money now. I don’t advise we give odds on fighters we ain’t even heard of.” “You know anybody who knows anybody?” I asked. “I don’t know nobody sides Pell and Witherspoon. They ain’t gonna help us. The rest of these guys are young and fair new to the game. It may be gravy, and it may be a gravel road. It’s a chance we take. The bettin’ men I know here ain’t goin’ to tell me nuthin’, might cost them money.” We’ll watch the matches and learn what we can. I rested and cooled down and got a little stiff. My stump was buzzin’ a little, but no blood. My lip hurt some, but my shin stung like crazy. Pell’s kick peeled back the skin on my shin. I rolled it back over and Sandy wrapped a bandage around my leg. It took some of the sting out. My next match was near two hours and a half after the first. Finally ten matches ended. Some were minutes long, some lasted 15-20 minutes. Sandy said the men in those long matches were so tired they couldn’t raise their arms to defend themselves. It was a match of who could last the longest. Second go round went down to five matches. Then they moved to three, with the winner in my next match drawin’ an automatic win/bye fer the followin’ go round. The, the winner in the last bracket drew a bye in the semi-final matches right into the championship. I was in a dangerous spot in the bracket this time, like Rawley, in Idaho Falls.

STUMP ∞ It came up on my turn. “What you bettin’ this time?” asked Sandy. “Bet $50 and hold on to the rest of this.” “Done. I’ll meet ya in the corner. How’s the lip?”

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“Lip’s fine,” I said. “Keep movin’ and don’t get into a slug fest with this one. Watch fer a chance and pound him with the stump. Understand?” I nodded. I went to pee behind the bleachers. “PG Sessions, and I couldn’t understand the first name, Paterewski come to the ring,” shouted Witherspoon through a megaphone. I doubt he said the feller’s name right. Sandy met me at the corner. “Couldn’t get any odds. Nobody knows either one of ya and they’re figurin’ ya at even. Win and ya win $50 and move on to a bye. Might be a tip or two in it fer ya as well.” I told Sandy, “This one feels bad. This guy just feels dern dangerous to me. He is hungry as me, but look at how hard he is.” I had to pee agin. I didn’t say nuthin’ about it to Sandy. It was nerves. “Listen kid, you got to score the first blow, and make it hard as hell. Put some fear into him. Right now he’s all aglow with thinkin’ he can whip a one handed man. Hurt him right off. You got that? Hurt him right from the go. Don’t hold nuthin’ back. Use yer stump.” “Fighters to scratch,” called Witherspoon. He took position and started the fight. Paterewski gaped at me, not blinkin’, lookin’ meaner’n a snake. I already decided not to be too friendly after Pell. I ain’t gonna be so trustin’ and sportin’ agin. Paterewski had no shirt on and he was one muscle piled on top of another. I got to say I was mighty alarmed. I hoped it was just nerves agin. “FIGHT!” yelled Witherspoon. I went to him right off, but he backed away in time. He fought the mirror of me. I led with the right and didn’t show much but my side. He led with the left and showed me the left side. We kept movin’ round each other, takin’ little jabs into the other man’s hand and arm, or into thin air. We bobbed and weaved and looked fer openin’s. Paterewski dropped his hand and moved away toward the corner to my right. I cut him off from circlin’ too far, and got the chance to pop him on the chin with my right and combine the stump for what Sandy calls a 1-2 combination. It stung hell outta Paterewski. I heard Sandy holler, “YEAH!” Paterewski recovered and didn’t go down. The crowd booed, or cheered, dependin’ on who they were rootin’ fer I guess, er who they were bettin’ on.

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Paterewski slowed down considerable and my confidence was back. I didn’t have to pee anymore, and I was on the edge of mean. I moved in and took a jab agin. Paterewski slipped it and tried one of his own but missed. That gave me a chance to unload the stump on him. That hurt hell out of him. I got him on his right cheek and I heard bones. I shuffled away and took a quick look at the stump. It stung a little, like a bzzzzzzz, but it didn’t hurt much and it wasn’t bleedin’. Paterewski kept jabbin’ in on me with his left. I couldn’t do much but block his jabs. He wasn’t doin’ any damage, but I didn’t want him gettin’ his breath and strength and confidence back neither. He changed tactics and turned and jabbed at me with his right. I was surprised and took one on the jaw. It jarred me, but not too bad. The jab did beat me back to cautious, and I learned that a right hand jab on a left hand fighter is a threat. Next, Paterewski came after me with the right agin. He missed catchin’ much face, but he hooked his arm round my right arm and pulled me in to him and hooked me in the right side the head with his left. He then tried to release me. His move galled hell outta me. I wouldn’t let him go. I figured, What the hell, Montana rules and all. I jerked him up close to me with my right arm and let him have the stump in his right ear and all over the side of his head, over and over. I lost count of times. I could hear mysef growlin’ agin. Paterewski lost consciousness hooked in my arm and I let him slide into the dirt. I walked over to Sandy. The crowd was on their feet hollering at me. They loved it much as I did. Sandy had a look that I can only call admiration, or he was feelin’ mighty prosperous. If it wasn’t worship, it was that he felt damn lucky to be partnered up with me. “Go collect,” I said. “Meet ya in back.” ∞ I was feelin’ good. Paterewski and me took damn near fifteen minutes in our match. It didn’t seem so long, but I felt it a little in my shaky legs. In the match, I felt strong and confident. Paterewski and his trick of switchin’ lead made me less confident. That didn’t hurt me none. I got to be cagey and not get fooled so dern easy. I went back and waited fer Sandy. With tips, I made my tau back and another $50 dollars that match fer a total of $250 profits fer the day, fer as we were. Folks brought their tips back and stuffed them in my hand and in my hat layin’ with my things. “They wanted ta meet ya,” said Sandy. “They want ya to know who the tips’er from.” “Thank ya,” I said to as many as I could. They were givin’ me silver and gold coins. Dang, I thought of Skookum whoever he was and his gold strike in Alaska. I done struck gold here in Montana. Two fights and I

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made $250 dollars and more. I figured it could be way more profitable than Idaho Falls, if things kept goin’ my way. Folks cleared out and got back to the ring to watch. Sandy and I stashed our winnin’s and watched some too. The bracket had me in the semi-finals fightin’ the winner tween a feller name Johnson and another’n name Leonard. The other fight was tween fellers name Chandler and Smith. Smith, or Chandler, would win a bye into the championship. They’d be rested fer the final. I had time now, so I et some chicken and an orange. A feller was sellin’ oranges near the ring. He said they was all the way from California. I bought two, and et one. I felt good as if I had just gone through a very light work-out in Idaho Falls. The orange stung my lip, but it tasted mighty good and it put some strength back. I don’t know why, but it struck me as I was waitin’ that I never got a chance to say thanks and so long to Martin Simms out to Yellowstone Tannin’. I suppose what made me think about it was my stump was doin’ just fine with all the use. Martin probably wonders where I disappeared to. I’ll stop and see him one day. He helped me plenty. Me and Sandy watched fights. There were some tough men and tough fights. Leonard defeated Johnson, and Smith defeated Chandler, handy. Smith is a tough, mean son of a bitch. He kicked, and tied Chandler up in a head lock and pounded on the back of Chandler’s head. He gouged at Chandler’s eyes. When Chandler couldn’t see no more, Smith elbowed him in the face and knocked him out. Mean bugger. The crowd loved it. Turned out I’d have to lick Leonard to meet Smith. Can’t say that it excited me none to meet Smith. ∞ Rested, fed, feelin’ strong, I was up. Leonard was a straight forward fighter. He was practiced, and knew how to carry hissef and punch with good balance. I figured him fer a tough customer, but honest. I didn’t figure he’d pull no Montana bull on me. Witherspoon did his duty. Leonard stuck his hand out fore we fought. I took it, but I didn’t let my guard down none. Leonard is a right hander, but I wouldn’t be surprised agin by a feller switchin’ on me. “Good luck,” said Leonard. “Same to ya,” I said. We started in. He moved quick, but not quicker than me. Leonard came in to me with a quick left jab, right combination. I was watchin’ him, gettin’ a feel. He was all business, frownin’ with concentration. He never looked me in the eyes, but watched my hand and body. When I moved, he moved in the same instant. He kept workin’ the combinations. They hurt some, but not bad. Most of them was body blows.

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Sandy hollered, “He’ll wear ya down with them combinations. Stay back a bit. Make him come to ya. Use the jab . . .” I was tryin’. Leonard seemed like he had a lot of experience and “knew the craft,” as Sandy would say. I started movin’ in on Leonard and quick jabbin’ him in the face. When I could, I combined. I had him cut over his left eye. Blood was drippin’ down his face, but he wasn’t hurt bad. I kept at it, findin’ it better to have Leonard backin’ up than me. I was sweatin’ heavy by then, and so was Leonard. We went on like that fer about 10 minutes I reckon. Leonard got a good combination in on me and I slipped and went down. I wasn’t hurt, but the crowed ooed and awed. I got to go to the corner. Sandy checked me and gave me a fast drink. “You ain’t hurt. Finish this guy. Yer wearin-out yer legs and yer in the next fight. This guy can’t take you, but Smith can if’n yer tuckered-out. I went back to scratch. I went after Leonard with the intention of gettin’ er done fast. I went in quick, cuttin’ off the ring when he retreated and I jabbed often with the right. When I got the chance, I came around with the stump. Leonard saw it comin’ and his eyes got big. He wasn’t on balance and had no time to react. I caught him full in the cheek and busted his face and jaw. He went down and out. I helped his second drag him off. He seemed like a good fella, not like these other animals that was fightin’ ∞ Witherspoon announced a fifteen minute intermission fer me to catch my breath. Folks got heavy into drinkin’ and bettin’. I had to pee, just after I finished peein’. I couldn’t sit down. I wanted to get it over with, win or lose. Sandy collected our winnin’s agin. It was mostly even money now and there were few tippers that come back. Leonard was a good fighter, but he wasn’t flashy and mean enough fer the Montana crowd. It was a money maker though fer me though. I got to remember I was cleanin’ spittoons a few days back. ∞ “This bastard is the hardest fight you ever had. Get serious right now. I ain’t bull shittin ya now,” said Sandy. “Yer worryin’ me. You think he can whoop me?” I asked. “If you ain’t as mean and nasty as him. He ain’t goin’ to fight you like a gentlemen, like Leonard just did. He ain’t into the science of fightin’. He wants to kill ya and get his money. You damn well better get the same mind goin’.” “I believe I do have that mind, after seein’ him fight. I want to take him down hard.”

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“Do it then. He’s a righty. You been gettin’ better and better. Don’t quit doin’ what you do, but remember where ya are. Hell, he’s liable to take a knife out and stick it in yer gut and these assholes will applaud.” “I’ll be careful. We come too far now. Bet a hundred around the crowd fer me. I can take him. I’ll see ya in the corner. Quit yer worryin’.” I drank water and got ready to go. Witherspoon called fer fighters. Smith walked past me while my back was turned and shoved me aside. The fight near started right there. Meetin’ in the ring with Witherspoon and Smith, I noted Smith’s face. He was a ugly muck sucker. He had scars on his scars. He never looked at me at all. He looked down and spit about every other second. “You boys put on a good show,” said Witherspoon. “Get as rough as ya want, but no weapons.” Smith shook his head and I shrugged my shoulders. Havin’ a weapon in the fightin’ ring never crossed my mind. Sandy talked about Smith havin’ a knife, but I figured he was just jawin’. “Fight,” came the command. We went at it full speed right off. Fists and stump were fair to flyin’. Blood flew, and I didn’t know if it was mine, ner his til we broke fer a breath. My lungs were on fire and I breathed like I just run a mile. Blood was comin’ from my mouth, and from his cheek. I cut him under his left eye. We dived in on each other and went at it agin. I could hear Sandy yellin’ in the background, but I wasn’t gonna quit to see what he wanted. I could guess anyways. Arms flyin’ agin, I backed off just enough to straighten-out a shot from the stump down into his chin. Smith’s head jerked down and I hit him hard with the right. He went down. I probably should have jumped on him and finished it right there, but I was too stupid. I went to the corner and listened to Sandy jabber. I couldn’t follow what he said. My blood was up. I was up. I loved it. I love it now. Smith came to scratch. Fore I could toe the mark, he leaped on me and locked my head under his left arm. He pounded my head with his right. He put knots on me sure. When he hit me hard in the back of the head a couple times, I thought I was goin’ out. I fell out of his grip. He was not strong enough to hold me there. He did follow me to the ground and kept poundin’, but not in back of the head. I rolled away and Witherspoon stopped it fer a few seconds. It was lucky fer me. I don’t know why he stopped it, bein’ in Montana and all. Maybe he was bettin’ on me this time. I went to Sandy. I wanted to get my bearin’s. “Listen to me . . . hit him here with yer stump. Do it now.” Sandy pointed to the little bone that goes across the front of yer shoulders connectin’ yer neck and shoulder. I nodded.

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Smith came at me like a bull and grabbed fer me. I was movin’ back fast, so Smith stumbled forward and I stepped into him and hit him right where Sandy told me to with the stump. The little bone busted in two. Smith went white with pain. It musta hurt like crazy. Witherspoon made a move like he was gonna stop fer a minute agin, but Smith jumped up and come after me out of pure mean. He kept comin’, his right arm hangin’ from the broke bone. I thought, I’ve had enough of this turd. I stepped in and hit him in the neck with the stump. I hoped I’d kill him by crushin’ his wind pipe. I must have missed a little cause I didn’t kill him. I did put him down though. He writhed in pain on the floor and his second threw in the towel. I never wanted to kick somebody as hard as I wanted to kick Smith down there on the floor. I spat to the side, and walked to Sandy. The warehouse went crazy. They loved it. It took about ten minutes before Witherspoon could make his announcement. While we were waitin’, Sandy collected bets so the losers could run off without payin’. Witherspoon had me come to the center and announced me winnin’ and gave me the hundered dollar pot. I didn’t say anythin’ to him, just took the money and met Sandy back of the warehouse. All-in-all, the best money I ever heard of. I don’t know how much Sandy made without ever throwin’ a punch, but I made over $700 in winnin’s, bets, and tips. Sheeeit! I whispered to mysef. All I had was a little cut, or two, and some lumps on my head, and a sore shin. I been hurt worse getting’ bucked off a horse fer free. ∞ Sandy and I got out of there. We were careful to stay with groups of men leavin’. We didn’t want to get robbed. Everybody knew we were rich right then. We went to the hotel and had our loot locked in the safe fer the night. I made the feller give us a receipt. We went to eat, I et, Sandy drank. I had the biggest steak in the place and et dessert and drank cold milk. I was too full of energy to sleep. I had been the same in Idaho Falls. It was a good feelin’, to win. I thought about how I’d give the money to Jen and how excited she’d be, then I remembered she wanted to go into business. I got to say it took a little wind outta my sails. I reckon drivin’ a milk wagon ain’t gonna be quite like bein’ in the ring with yer money on the line. Finally, I got full enough and calmed down enough to head to our room in the hotel. I wrote all this here. I’m goin’ to try and sleep. It’s about 2:00 am. I know that cause there is a great big old clock in the room clackin’ back and forth. Ain’t seen Sandy since he went to the bar after supper. He ain’t come in the room all night.

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Sunday, February 4th On the train fer home I didn’t see Sandy til this mornin’ in the lobby. We got our money and headed to the train. He was drunk to beat the band, and looked like Smith after I knocked hell out of him. I made sure he got all his money and I’m keepin’ it fer him. He might throw it out the window of the train he’s so dern soused. I got the tickets out of Sandy’s possibles and got us on the train and into seats near the stove. She’s cold this mornin’ and I’m stiff and sore. The stove’ll feel good. Sandy went off to sleep. I had to turn his head toward the window to keep from havin’ to smell his breath. Whew! He stank. I got plenty of time durin’ our ride to think about Jen and her business idea. It is a good idea, a very good idea, and I guess I’ll take her up on it. I ain’t got anythin’ better to do. And it will keep me home with her and the kids. ∞ Sandy woke up about the time we went through West Yellowstone. I made him drink coffee. He likes the stuff anyways and it is supposed to straighten up a drunk. He got sobered enough to talk. “Sandy, I ain’t workin’ in Idaho Falls no more.” “Yeah, Mel filled me in. Narrow minded old bat that owns the saloon, eh?” “Well, I don’t blame her none. I can’t say I ever want to look at another spittoon. The thing is, Jen wants me to start a business in the Rigby area and I’m gonna take her up on it.” Sandy sat bolt up in his seat. “You sayin’ yer done fightin’?” he asked. “Well, yeah, I mean, how’m I gonna train and all. It just ain’t gonna be the same. I got family and a farm, and I’ll be workin’ a business from morning til night.” “Oh Shit!” said Sandy. “I know I told you to not get involved. I didn’t think you were goin’ to be so good at it.” “I didn’t either, and I got to tell ya Sandy. I do love it. I purely love the shit out of it. But, I got to quit, and I need yer advice.” “What advice?” “What am I goin’ to do about these men comin’ to fight me on the side.”

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Sandy laughed til he coughed. “Well kid. I guess you can keep that stump in yer pocket so they ain’t sure it’s you, and you can change yer name.” He coughed til he dern near vomited, then slid down in the seat with his hat over his eyes and went back to sleep. Home February 4 Night Sandy woke up about the time we pulled into Lorenzo where I could jump off the train and get home by walkin’ about a mile. “Here’s yer winnin’s. I been holdin’ them fer ya since Bozeman,” I told Sandy. “Thank ya son. It has been a hell of a ride. You decide you want back in, you let me know. Melvin knows where to find me. Er come on down to Fort Hall. Them injuns all know where I stay. I probably owe it to ya to tell ya I been in contact with some men who would sponsor you and me fer a cut of the winnin’s. Course, we done just fine on our own, maybe even better, without’em. Sides, they’d be wantin’ us to travel far from these parts.” My interest was sure peaked, but I figured the less I knew, the less I’d miss so I didn’t push it none. “So long Sandy and thanks.” I ain’t said ‘so long’ to so many folks in my whole life as lately. “Thanks,” I said agin. “It was a pleasure kid, and a profitable one at that.” “Well, don’t drink it all.” “Why not?” Sandy said and grinned his ugly grin. The train started movin’ and I had to jump to my bag. ∞ Got in the house just after dark. Della, Stella and I went to the barn and milked and fed. I was tired and cold. Jen fixed more food. She and the girls finished about an hour earlier, but they all sat with me and listened while I hit the high points of the trip and handed Jen over $600 of winnin’s. I didn’t get specific about the fights. Jen wouldn’t enjoy it and she wouldn’t want the kids to hear. I stashed a little over a hundred out in the barn in my box where I keep the gold eagle and some other money, and some other private things. Course, if Jen reads this here journal, my secret is shot. Slim chance . . . I reckon. She’d still have to find the right box. Jen slid a wedge of pie in front of me and while I et, she started in, “What have you decided to do PG?” “Well, I been thinkin’ about yer idea Jen. If it will make you happy, and keep me from havin’ to go away to find work agin, I guess I’ll give’er a go. I’ll talk to Glen about makin’ a deal on farmin’ this place.”

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“It is a wonderful day fer good news then sweetheart. I have my husband home and the children have their father back. And PG, we are going to have another baby.” “Father in Heaven be praised,” I said. “He sure knows what we need, eh?” “I might be happiest about you being done with fighting,” said Jen. She put her hand up side of my face and caressed my cheek. “I love ya darlin’, but I got to tell you, I do love the fightin’, and I ain’t promisin’ nothin’ of the kind. Over the last couple years I learned that happenin’s come up when you least expect’em. Maybe they’re blessin’s, maybe they’re luck. Bad things happen; some good. Seems like there’s always some kinda fight in my life. It’s a fight to just live Jen. Call it a test, call it a challenge. It is all a struggle and a struggle is a fight, fer as I can see. I don’t calculate the Lord is refinin’ me. I just see life as dern hard. I ain’t gonna promise that I ain’t ever gonna fight agin. But, fer now, I’ll try it yer way Jen.” February 5, Monday 1906 Mornin’ at the kitchen table I’m movin’ a bit slow this mornin’. Sore and hurtin’ from Bozeman. I stoked the stove and the kitchen is warmin’ up. She’s mighty quiet this mornin’. Snow lays heavy on the ground. There ain’t even any birds in the yard this mornin’. I got nuthin’ to get me up and movin’ sidea breakfast, and that ain’t fer a while yet. Jen’s up and movin’ but the kids ain’t. Jen’s sick this mornin’. She tells me she thinks she is goin’ to have a baby, but it’s awful soon to know. She says she can tell. I ain’t no mother, so I believe her. We’re gonna have another child in about seven months she tells me. Seems like I breath on the girl and she gets pregnant. After we lost Perry, I wondered if Jen would ever be the same. She was hit awful hard. We all were, but not like Jen. Bein’ a mother is different I reckon. She is like a new woman now she’s pregnant with the new baby and pregnant with her new idea for this here milk business. We talked into the early mornin’ last night. Mostly Jen talked. I agreed to take some of the money I won and get electricity to the house, and with the new business, Jen thinks we will need a telephone. I suppose she’s right, but most folks ain’t got a phone yet, so I wonder who she’ll talk to. She says, “Folks will be getting phones and we will be doing business by telephone. You wait and see. The phone will save all sorts of time. People can call with orders and farmers can call if they have problems, or needs. It will save time traveling, picking-up, and delivering.” I reckon she’s probably right.

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I ain’t caught the vision of Jen’s business mysef. I decided on the train yesterday that I will work the business, but it’s Jen’s business. I will work hard for her. My heart ain’t really in it. I got to make the adjustment, cause I want it to succeed. I don’t want to blow the money and the work. I ain’t goin’ back to Idaho Falls to clean spittoons. I’ll work this place too, with Glenn leadin’. He knows farmin’. He can probably grow carrots out of a rock. That’s what we got here, is a lot’a rocks. I got used to havin’ a goal to shoot fer, a fight in the distance. Then I could set my sights and work toward the goal. I miss that already. I don’t see no goal in deliverin’ milk, or farmin’ beside not starvin’. I don’t tell Jen my true feelin’s. I ain’t gonna bust her up agin. I’m tryin’ to act like I think it is a fine idea. It just. might be. Well, I’m gonna go feed and milk fore breakfast. Night Boring damn day today. I did take a run after dinner. When I got back I wrestled with the kids and had a good old time. Jen and I put them to bed after supper. I gotta say, it feels strange to be home on a Monday night. I can’t say as I miss it, but it was easier somehow, just easier to be in the storeroom. Jen got all the kids down to bed and came to talk with me. She hit me up on the milk business agin. She also hit me up about my writin’. She read some of my journal. She was curious about the last couple of weeks. She was lookin’ mostly fer the part where I decided to give it up. I asked her about it. Why’d you read my journal Jen? “I was awfully curious sweetheart. You had your heart set on fighting and making, either a lot of money, or a name for yourself. I was not sure which, until now. I could not fathom that you loved it so.” “I ain’t proud of lovin’ it darlin’, but damned if I don’t. I miss a lot of things tonight.” “Like what PG?” “Like the lack of responsibility and havin’ to do things, I guess. It’s different bein’ home with the family. I was pretty free to do whatever I wanted durin’ the week in Idaho Falls. It feels different to be home. I got to feed, be places at certain times. Like that.” “I read about Emma. What were your feelings for her?” I was embarrassed as I could be that she read that. I guess I figured somebody might read this stuff, when I’m dead. “She was might perty Jen, and she had designs on me fer some reason. I guess I was flattered some and she mighta tempted me if things kept goin’. I knew it was the wrong thing fer me to be doin’. I’m goin’ to miss

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Mrs. Pelot, but I ain’t gonna miss the feelin’s that bothered me when Emma was around.” “I do appreciate that you knew to get away from the situation. The church tells us regarding sin, ‘First you tolerate. Then you accept. They you embrace.’ I’m pleased you did what you did, but it does worry me that you looked.” “I didn’t look serious, Jen. You gotta know I love only you, and I know our vows are forever. I ain’t goin’ to do anythin’ to take a chance with that and our babies,” I told her true. “I believe you sweetheart,” she said softly, then she kissed me. I kissed her back and pulled her onto my lap and hugged her long and hard. She talked and I listened, holdin’ her. Jen’s story. She told me these things tonight sittin’ on my lap . . . Jen explained how she worked daylight to dark to care fer the farm. Della helped with Stella and Owen and Glennis. Without Del’s help, Jenny would have worked hersef til she was sick. Glenn helped when he could, but he had a bigger place to care fer himsef. I was sore missed, but Jen would not let me know how much. She had committed hersef to supportin’ me and my bid fer success fightin’, even though she didn’t agree, and the whole thing worried her terrible. “When’s Pa comin’ home?” Della would ask. “He won’t be home for a couple of weeks. He is training to fight in Bozeman, Montana in two weeks. Your Pa’s gonna need all the training he can get, I suppose. He has been winning and doing quite well.” “Well, I miss him. I think he ought to quit fightin’ and get on home.” “Fighting,” corrected Jenny. “Fighting.” Della pronounced the word, emphasising the “ing”. “Pa is taking care of us in his way. We haven’t had to worry for money,” said Jenny. “I don’t care about money. I want Pa.” “Me too,” whispered Jenny. Tuesday the 6th Sweet night of sleepin’ in my own bed. It beat hell outta the storeroom floor. This mornin’ is easier, but I got to work with Glenn some today, plannin’. He knows somethin’ about buildin’ wagons and claims to know a feller, who knows a feller. We’ll see. ∞ Glenn and I rode into town to the blacksmith. Now, the smithy does know somebody who builds and sells all sorts of heavy duty workin’ wagons. We telegraphed the man he knows down to Pocatello. He has a wagon built to haul ore, but he can convert it to our needs. It will take

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about a month. I made a deal over the telegraph to come fer the wagon first of March. The thing is gonna cost us a hundred dollars complete. The weather could be good in March, or horrible. She’s cold this mornin’. Friday the 9th of February Jen tried to find out about us gettin’ a telephone. The company told her they ain’t run lines out toward our place yet. She made a deal with one of the sisters in the ward who has a telephone to take messages from other folks with telephones. She told the sister that I’d come by town to her house mornin’s to check messages. I ain’t too excited about that, but I went along agin’. I reckon the folks near town can get hooked in to the telephone lines. Glenn and I will have to wait, who knows how long. I ain’t in a hurry. The only one I got to talk to is Glenn. They say we can use the phone to call all the way to Salt Lake, if they can get everythin’ hooked up when you try to place the call. Don’t know what all that means, but it sounds promisin’ I suppose. They have to go through all the towns along the way, through switches they say. Like a train I’m guessin’. That’s how the man explained. Maybe Jen can call her ma. That would be a nice present. I expect it costs a pile of money to call down to Salt Lake. February 28, 1906, Wednesday Mornin’ Feller telegraphed from Pocatello that he has a wagon that will fill our needs. He said it is a used wagon he used the chassis from, a Studebaker, built in South Bend Indiana. He ain’t sure exactly when, but he tore the old Conestoga body off and built us a strong wagon that I can lift milk into without killin’ mysef. He said if I don’t want it, he can sell it to farmers or construction men. I told him to hold it fer me and I’d be there in a few days. Nice part is it ain’t gonna cost the whole hundred. I’m antsy to go get her. I reckon I’ll leave this afternoon. The weather has been good the last couple days. There is a sayin’ about Idaho weather that goes,” If you don’t like the weather in Idaho, hang around a few minutes and it’ll change.” It ain’t too fer from the truth neither. Hell, I freeze one day and roast the next. ∞ I pulled my double eagle outta the box in the barn and sewed it into the hem of my jacket, just in case. I thought it was a good idea. I can’t say why, it just felt right. I’m gonna hitch up Bob and Tom and strap their leads to’em, then lead them behind Bud down to Poky. They ain’t been used much, so we’ll take it slow and come back the same way, slow and easy. I look forward to drivin’ the wagon.

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I may stop by and see Ron Lee and Melvin, and stop and thank Mr. Simms fer all his help. It will be a good trip. I asked Glenn if he wanted to go, but he’s head-up about plantin’ and he’s workin’ like crazy to get all his machines ready to go. The machines are ready, he just wants to putter around with them some more. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him out plowin’ dry dirt spots in the road. I just ain’t interested. Jen’s packin’ me some food and I’ll get everythin’ packed. It feels good to be goin’, just plain old goin’. It will be good to see Idaho Falls agin. I wonder if I might run into Sandy down to Poky. March 7, Wednesday, Night Got home this evenin’ later than I hoped. Parked the wagon in the shed and put up the horses. The wagon takes up more room than I figured. It is a good solid wagon, worth the $84. I hated to pay that much, but it sure ain’t a hundred. It was good to see the boys in Idaho Falls. I even saw Jasper Conrad and talked a while. He told me there have been a few fellers in there lookin’ fer me, and Jasper figured they came to clean my plow. He tells they will likely find me up to Rigby before long. I ain’t seen anybody lookin’ fer me yet. It makes my gut nervous thinkin’ about it. I’m takin’ Jen tomorrow in the wagon. She wants to go to the surroundin’ farms and start drummin’ up business. Jen thinks it will be good for the folks to see the wagon and know we’re serious. She is serious. I’m doin’ it fer her. The feller down to Poky threw in a canopy that goes over the wagon. It looks good. Jen’s gonna paint “Sessions Dairy” on the side. I suppose that OK by me. March 29, Thursday Evenin’ Out early this mornin’ pickin’ up milk at the farms. I bring it on back to the place and Del and I dump it in a big tank we had made. The cost of the tank was near as much as the wagon. That hurt. Whenever I feel like I’m gettin’ nailed financial, I rub my eagle in my jacket. She’s an 1894, with a liberty head. I won’t use her unless there is an emergency. We actually have some money comin’ in fer the milk we’re sellin’ now. It’s a shame that I have to dump some ever day. We’re buyin’ more than we’re sellin’, but we’re gettin’ closer ever day to makin’ some profit. Maybe Jen was right. The farmers store the evenin’s milk until mornin’ and I pick it all up startin’ round 8:00 a.m. It stays pretty cool and won’t spoil fer a few days. When she warms-up, we got a problem. Jen’s workin’ on buyin’ ice off the railroad in Rigby. They haul it up out of Idaho Falls now and I can put blocks in the wagon and bring it on back with the milk.

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Now I got to build a place onto the tack room to store the ice to keep milk cold. This business is more of a pain in the butt than I figured. Jen is still all head-up fer it, but it’s gettin’ to be more than she bargained fer too. She found a line on bottles from the Warren Glassworks Company that she reckons we can put milk in and rent the bottles. I been fillin’ jugs and pitchers at folk’s doors. They buy by the ladle and I dip and pour into the folk’s pitchers and cans. Jen figures we can fill bottles and sell the milk and the bottle. When the folks finish the bottle, we pick-up the old bottle and replace it with another one filled with milk. She found about a hundred bottles somewheres. The bottles have a glass lid that fits over the neck of the bottle and a metal piece forces the top down tight so dirt and bugs can’t get in. It will be cleaner than what we been doin’. Jen and the kids will wash up the empties and we’ll fill them up and keep the bottles on ice until I deliver them the next day or two. I make deliveries after pickin’ up the mornin’ milkin’s. Jen’s thinkin’ about us gettin’ more cows so we can cut back on how much the milk costs, but she ain’t thought about feedin’ the cows and waterin’ and milkin’ and what happens when the stupid creatures get sick and die on us. It’s gettin’ to be an all dern day job now; dark to dark. One man ain’t goin’ to be able to do it all I tell her. Jen’s definitely goin’ to have another little one. We are all dang glad fer a new baby. We need the blessin’. April 2, Monday Strange thing happened on the road out past Glenn’s place this mornin’. Della went with me to pick up milk. We were headin’ home with a load when two fellers stopped us in the road and asked, “You PG Sessions?” the older of the two did the talkin’. “Yes sir, I am. Who’s askin’?” “We heard tell you was sod bustin’ round here and sellin’ milk. Heard you was a fighter.” “I was a fighter, that’s fact.” “Give’er up, eh? Too tough fer ya was it?” “Tough on my family. I sort of took to it mysef.” “Well, this here young feller has designs on makin’ a name fer his own self. You’re the only one round these parts that he can try his luck with. But hell, you look like you ain’t worth a damn, and you only got one hand.” “Listen mister, my little girl is sittin’ right here with me. Tone yersef down some. Sides, I don’t fight fer free, or fer fun.” “Oh, we’ll betcha alright. How much you want to bet my boy here can clean yer clock?”

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“Not now mister. Not with my little girl along.” “Well now, drive that broke down wagon over to that barn there and we’ll just go round behind. Yer kid can stay with the wagon. Junior here will take care of you in a hurry.” “How much?” I said. “How’s twenty dollars sound?” said the younger feller. “Sounds like a profitable mornin’ to me Junior.” I wheeled the wagon into the yard and Della started in on me. “Pa, you ain’t going to fight with that man are you? Ma will be mad as a wet hen.” “Well, squirt, she don’t need to know everythin’. And, I hate to pass up twenty dollars.” “Oh Pa, what if you get hurt?” “I ain’t gonna get hurt so bad I can’t call it quits and get back in the wagon. Sides, you can drive old Bob and Tom home if it goes bad. They know the way, just tell them to git up. Now, don’t start cryin’. This ain’t a big deal. You stay here and I’ll be right back, hear?” Della started cryin’ and wouldn’t answer. I climbed down and met the men round back of the barn. “Junior” done removed his coat and was battin’ at the air with his fists, loosenin’ up. “Where’s the money?” I asked. “Right here.” The older feller pulled out silver. “Where’s yourn?” he asked. “It’s sewed in my coat here. I ain’t gonna pull it out lessen I lose. You’ll just have to take my word,” I bluffed. “Fine. Let’s get it over with.” The man started lookin’ all around like we were breakin’ the law. Maybe we were. I don’t know, but the barn is one that belongs to Glenn. He ain’t gonna care, except he’ll be mad as hell that he missed the fight. I slipped off my coat and threw it over the fence rail. “Come on mister, show me whatcha got,” I motioned with my right hand to move forward. The kid rushed me. After that move, I knew it wasn’t gonna take long. I stepped aside and clobbered the side of his head as he went by and down. He jumped up quick. I moved to him. When he turned to me and I gave him the stump, knockin’ out teeth. I caught sight of Junior’s partner’s face lookin’ sick as the kid went down, out. I walked to the fence, slipped on my coat and took my twenty dollars off the fence post. “Thank you boys,” I said as I walked away. Della saw me comin’ round the barn and started bouncin’ in the seat, fit to scare the horses. “Pa, pa, did he hurt ya pa?”

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Michael B. Sessions As I climbed up I said, “Nah, squirt, I’m fine.”

“You ain’t bloody pa. Where’d he hit ya?” “You aren’t bloody,” I stood in fer Jen. “He didn’t hit me. He ought to try another line of work I reckon.” I clucked up the team and Della and I turned the wagon back to the road and headed home. “What will happen to those men,” asked Del. “Derned if I know. They’ll probably head back to where they came from. That boy ain’t a fighter.” “Did you hurt him pa?” “Well, yeah, I did a little. I didn’t mean to, but I think I messed him up a little. I’m glad you didn’t have to see any of it. Now, don’t go tellin’ yer ma.” “You want me to lie to ma?” “No sweetheart. Just don’t go volunteerin’ information that ain’t asked fer is what I’m sayin’. Nobody needs to know there was a little fight this mornin. Who’d even suspect round here? Deal?” “OK pa.” “Good. I got to get this milk home and start deliveries. I’m behind already, but I’m ahead twenty dollars. That’s more’n I’m gonna make in the milk business today, or in the next couple’a days.” Night Della must not have said anythin’. Jen didn’t ask about my little meetin’ today. It felt mighty good to get excited fer somethin’ agin. I do miss it. Jasper said things like this will happen fer a while. I don’t know what I’ll do if I meet somebody and Jen’s there, or if I get whooped. I ain’t goin’ to think about that. April 3 Well, big mouth Della told her ma after all. Jen didn’t say anythin’ until this mornin’ when I rolled out of bed to get ready for another milk day. “So, Della tells me you got in a fight yesterday?” “It wasn’t much of a fight. Some guy wanted to start makin’ a name fer himsef and I gave him a try. He lost his time and money.” “Del said you hurt him.” “Some.” “PG, you can’t be in a business and just pull over and fight with whoever wants to fight with you. Folks will think you’re a ruffian and will stop doing business with us.” “I’m sorry Jen, but don’t think it will ruin our lives. Remember sweetheart, I told you a wouldn’t promise I ain’t gonna fight agin. If I’m

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called out, and if I can make somethin’ from it, I will fight anybody fair and square. I will try to protect yer business, but . . . Jen didn’t say anymore. That’s bad. She just turned her back and walked into the kitchen. I’m in fer it now. I asked Della, “Why’d you go and tell yer ma about those men that stopped us?” “You wouldn’t want me to lie to ma would ya?” “Well no, but did she ask ya? “She asked what we were doing taking so long, and she asked how the morning went? You mad at me pa?” “Nah, I’m okay with you squirt. It will just cause me a few days of problems with yer ma though. It’ll be okay. Yer ma’ll get over it in a week or two. She’s just gonna have to get over it. I ain’t quittin’ complete. Now, give yer old man a little smooch and get yersef dressed.We got milk to pick up.”

Epilog: PG fought whenever possible throughout his life. He never overcame his urge to fight, even into his “senior” years. My aunts, uncles, and cousins told stories at family reunions and family get togethers about PG and his fighting. They agreed that grand father loved to fight and did so whenever he found the opportunity. Win or lose, he enjoyed the competition and the violence. PG and Jenny loved their many children and grand children. The couple shared several businesses through their lives and enjoyed many years living in southeastern Idaho. Jen died before PG. Jerry, my favorite cousin, and I watched grandpa, PG, lean into her casket and kiss Jen. He spoke quietly to her, “I’ll join you soon sweetheart.” Grandpa PG died a year later to the day and was buried next to his sweetheart. Their graves are side-by-side in a family plot located in Rigby, Idaho.

Author’s Note: Dr. Michael Sessions was born in 1947 and was educated in Idaho and California. He holds degrees from Boise State University and a doctorate from Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. He was a teacher and school administrator in Idaho and Oregon. He is a United States Air Force veteran and a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Currently, he writes from his home in Caldwell, Idaho.

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Michael B. Sessions

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