Here is a story which I wrote for my book Moments In Time which came out last spring. Give you an idea of my style and things. It’s a story that relates to my Grandfather and one of his tales which happened many years ago. True Story. Enjoy and Merry Christmas.
Christmas To Remember
Looking back to when my old Grandfather George was alive, a lot of his stories have still stuck in my mind. He was a great man for sure and will never be forgotten as long as I am alive. Saying that though it got me to thinking that I won’t always be around to tell his tales, so figured maybe I should be putting a few onto paper.
My Grandfather now was a strong man, weighing around 200 and some pounds. He stood about six foot six and had to duck going into every place of business on his way through the small towns in the back woods of United States. He did a lot of surveying back then and as I have written about in other stories he hired on another a big strapping fellow by the name of Jeb. Jeb was hired for his abilities, which was trapping, hunting, tracking and one of the best darn guides throughout the west. This is just one of many tales which I take great pleasure in writing.
“Cold night huh Jeb?”
“You can say that again, I have ridden through these here hills many times but can’t recollect doing it this time of year. If we don’t soon find some place to hold up for a few days out of this wind and snow we might be in for some real trouble.”
The words were no sooner out of Jeb’s mouth when we were rewarded by the smell of smoke.
“Got to be a homestead up ahead somewhere.”
“Yep and none to soon neither as I am about half froze, especially my feet. Knew I should have listened to that lady back in the town we just came through when she said for me to buy some of her home made socks.”
“I thought I hired a man Jeb that could take any kind of weather.”
“Ya well, just get that horse of yours up over that there hill and let’s see where that smoke is coming from.”
With that George laughed out loud and rode off. On top of the hill looking down into a valley they spotted the smoke curling up from a chimney, which was attached to an old house.
“Not much of a place huh Jeb?”
“Nope that’s for sure, looks like them folks are having some hard times.”
“Yep seems so but let’s ride on down and if nothing else get warm.”
As we rode in, laying half covered with snow on the front porch was an old hound dog. Didn’t even move when we stepped over him to get to the door. We knocked with no answer.
“Hello in the house I hollered. Anyone at home? We are good folks and don’t mean you any harm. All we want is a place to warm ourselves and get a bit of rest.”
With that the door opened slowly and a young woman came into view, pretty little thing.
“You are welcome to come in and get warm but our food supply is short and I have two small young ones here to look after.”
“Not a problem there young lady said Jeb, we have food of our own out yonder on our pack horses. Just a place that I could warm my feet would be fine with me.”
“Them darn feet of yours,” I replied, “always complaining.”
Old Jeb just looked at me, and we both moved on into the house closing the door behind us. Wasn’t much of a house but it was warm.
“Where is your man, I asked?”
“Oh…………….. he……. is out hunting as we don’t have any meat left.”
“When do you expect him back,” looking over at the two young ones, a boy of around six and a girl of around four.
“Well…… I don’t rightly know, he left here a week ago saying he would be back in a day or so, but as you can see he hasn’t returned.”
Not weather for man nor beast to be out in, that’s for sure,” said Jeb.
“Do you know what day it is?” Asked the young girl whom was peeking from behind the old wood stove.
“Can’t rightly say that I do young lady,” I replied. “Been so long in the saddle guess just lost track of time.”
“Well just so you know, it’s almost Christmas and Santa is coming soon, and he brings presents and things.”
I looked over at Jeb and said, “well I’ll be darned, Christmas, well I am sure glad you brought us up to date there, Miss?”
“My name is Marsha and this is my brother James and the lady that you been chattin’ to is my Mother, Mary.”
“Well Marsha, glad to meet you both and your mom too.”
“You both can sit down by the fire if you like said Mary and I will bring you some coffee. I just put some on the stove a few minutes ago, so it should be still warm. Don’t mind the young ones they are regular little chatter boxes when company drops by, which isn’t to often living out here.”
“Don’t mind at all with the chatting Ma’am, as listening to old Jeb here day in and day out, well….. lets just say, they are a breath of fresh air.”
Old Jeb just snorted and moved to a chair which sat by the cook stove. As we sat there by the stove we looked around, and we could tell these folks were in some serious trouble. No food or firewood to speak off, and we both suspected it wasn’t good news concerning her husband. Which later on we found to be true, as we found him no more than two miles from his home froze laying up against a rock. We buried him where he laid.
We got warmed up and knew right then and there we had to do something for this family. The next day Jeb got right into cutting and splitting firewood, while I did some fixing up on the front porch along with patching up a few holes in the roof. While I was working the young ones watched, I guess trying to figure out just what kind of beings we two old fellers were, as I am sure we were quite a site having been out in the wilderness for the past few months, not having had a shave or bath. A couple days later we had enough firewood cut, split and piled in the old barn to last them till spring. The only thing that was missing was some meat, which was looked after by Jeb, as there was no better hunter than him. Seemed he could find game when others swore there was none.
Christmas Eve came, we got cleaned up and after supper I mentioned to Jeb that we should move on in the morning. Thing was, we hated to just leave this lady with no man, especially with the two young ones at this time of year. But it had to be done and down deep we both knew or figured this young lady was a tough one and would handle things just fine for a time. The first town we came to, we would send back some help for her and the young ones.
Just before supper Jeb got up, dressed and not saying a word went outside. About a half hour later he came pounding at the door.
“Open up in there, I got something for you young ones and need some help.” The young ones ran to the door and opened it up and there was Jeb covered with snow holding a good size Christmas tree. With tears in her eyes Mary said, “well bring it on in here and quit letting out all the heat, you look half froze.”
“I am, especially my feet.” With that he shook the snow off the tree and in he came.
I just looked at him as he passed and shook my head. “Darn old feet of his.” I said to myself
After supper the young ones got to decorating it with what they had and I got to say within an hour or so, it sure was something to see. Kind of choked me up a bit.
Throughout the night we chatted and I got to telling stories about my younger days, with Jeb throwing in a few of his own.
Thinking back it was one of the nicest Christmas’s that Jeb and I ever had together, as usually it came and passed as any other day, without our knowing.
Come morning we decided to stay for a few more days making sure things were looked after around the old place. The day before we were going to leave out behind the barn I spotted this horse that was wandering around loose. It looked half froze and was hardly moving, but as I stood there with my hand held out, it moseyed on over to see me. I then walked her over to the barn and put her in a stall.
“Well one good thing,” I said to Mary, “you do have enough hay for this old girl, and I am sure she will be happy to make this her home.”
I don’t see any brand on her, but I am certain of one thing, she is in the family way, so I suspected that she has wandered off from a wagon train headin’ west to have her young one. I looked over at the young ones and said.
“Well, looks like you got yourself a late Christmas present here, two actually, when the time comes. She’s going to be needing a lot of love and things,.”
“You mean it’s ours?
“Yep, all yours and come spring it will give you a way into town for supplies and maybe a good hired hand to help out with things.”
Later on the following morning we saddled up. Mary had fixed us up some fresh bacon wrapped inside some biscuits she had just made. We left her and the young ones with two deer, one hanging in the barn and one cut up piled in a shed out back of the house. Along with that we left half our supplies as Jeb said he needed to go on a bit of a diet anyway.
We looked around for the young ones, not to be seen, I guess they were attending their new-found friend in the barn. With that we thanked Mary and started to ride out. Just as we headed down the lain-way the young ones came a running after us.
“Please don’t leave us George and Jeb, we don’t want you to go.”
I looked over at Jeb and I thought there for second I spotted a big old tear running down his cheek.
“We would love to stay, but we have to go, I will make you a promise though, we will stop back to see you before next Christmas and I kind of think there might be a present for you in my saddle bags when I return.”
With that they ran back to the house hollering at their mother of what was to come.
“Jeb you got something in your eye there?
“You just ride on and mind your own business or you might be looking for another guide.”
I smiled and with that, we rode on.