Disclaimer: I don’t own the Lancers…and I’m not making money off this great literature. <BG>
Author’s note: Arlene shared a trivia email with us that lead to a discussion of cowboy talk. She wondered if the word skunk egg had ever been used in a Lancer episode or fan fiction. None of us could recall ever seeing it, so I said I would write something using the term…this is it.
Author’s note 2: The original character Bob first appeared in my story, Not My Job. It’s short and if you’ve never read it, this one would make more sense if you did.
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A billowing cloud of dirt swirled above the heads of the slowly moving cattle. The shouts of the cowhands encouraging the plodding beasts to get a move on occasionally rose about the noise of the mooing bovines.
The Lancers were in the process of moving the herd from the lower lying pasture lands to the foothills of the mountains. Instead of pushing the cattle to make it in one day, the decision had been made to take their time and spend one night out under the stars. Scott and Johnny were looking forward to the time away from home. It almost felt like a small vacation because their task was progressing so effortlessly.
“Hey, Scott, let’s ride on ahead and see what Jelly’s cooking up for supper. He might need some help since Bob was assigned to be his helper.” Johnny turned towards his brother grinning, his teeth looking extremely white in his dirt smudged face.
Shifting in his saddle and frowning at his kid brother, Scott removed his hat and swatted the younger man. “Are you ever going to give poor Bob a break? He’s actually a very intelligent man,” Scott stated.
Rolling his eyes, Johnny snorted, “Well for all the book learning he has, Bob’s still dumber than these steaks on hooves,” Johnny exclaimed, gesturing towards the beasts he regularly claimed were the dumbest animal on earth.
“I realize he doesn’t have the coordination and stamina to make a top cowhand, that’s why I assigned him to be assistant cook. One thing Bob does excel at is reading and comprehending what he read,” Scott remarked, his eyes narrowing at the disbelief displayed by Johnny’s body language. “He borrowed every cookbook Murdoch had in his library and practically memorized them. I predict with Jelly’s cooking skills and Bob’s book sense, well have a true epicurean delight for our evening meal,” Scott declared, shaking a chastising finger in Johnny’s smirking face.
Johnny laughed; the infectious giggle that normally delighted Scott because it was such a carefree sound but at this moment had the older brother gritting his teeth. “I predict Bob will screw up again. Look at that batch of corn bread he ruined at lunch. Jelly told him to grease the skillet and he used axle grease,” Johnny replied, his voice going up an octave as he remembered the fit Jelly had pitched over that.
Reaching over and grabbing Barranca’s reins, Scott stopped his brother and horse. Unknown to Johnny, Scott had been tutoring Bob in the cowboy way and the man had been doing much better with the exception of the grease goof at dinner. When he had Johnny’s attention, Scott patted his pocket and announced, “I have a twenty dollar gold piece that says Bob will perform admirably with the evening meal.”
“You’re on, big brother. You’re forgetting this is the man that tossed his lariat and caught himself,” Johnny chuckled, a mischievous light twinkled in the scamp’s eyes as he kicked his horse and began to race off.” He called back, “Last one to the camp has to eat only what Bob cooked!”
The brothers galloped forward, the wind whistling over their sun kissed faces, their bodies moving as one with their mounts. Johnny was a length or two ahead when he whipped his head towards the east, and then held his hand up as he began to slow Barranca to a stop. Scott pulled to a bit of a skidding stop behind him.
“What’s wrong,” Scott asked, visually scanning the direction his brother’s eyes were trained on.
“Shush…quiet,” Johnny commanded, walking his horse towards the right.
“Following on his tail, Scott whispered, “What?”
Drawing closer to a stand of oak trees, interspersed with low lying cover of vegetation the brothers were startled when one the bushes shook mightily and shouted, “BOO!”
Quicker than a blink, Johnny’s colt appeared in his hand, aimed at the nefarious undergrowth. Before either brother could speak another screeched, “BOO,” rent the air.
Scott drew his rifle from his scabbard and like his brother aimed it at the trembling and seemingly talking bush. “Whoever you are, come on out of there,” Scott demanded.
A great rustling sound accompanied the appearance of Bob from the bush, busily picking twigs and leaves from his hair until he realized a colt and a Henry were pointed directly at him. He swallowed nervously at the peeved expressions on the Lancer brothers’ faces. “Hi…er…Boss…er …Bosses,” he stuttered apprehensively.
Snorting as he shot Scott an ‘I told you so look’, Johnny snapped, “Bob, what the Hell are you doing hiding in bushes and shouting Boo at people?”
“Oh, no, I wasn’t shouting at people…or you. I was shouting boo to the skunks because Jelly told me to scare up some skunk eggs to go in the stew tonight.”
Scott groaned, and slapped his hand against his forehead, and then informed the misguided man, “Bob, skunk egg is cowboy talk for an onion.”
“Oh,” Bob exclaimed, as he turned on his heel and marched back towards camp, calling out as he did, “There was a bag of those in the chuck wagon.”
Johnny still held his colt in his hand and was biting his lip. Finally he turned to Scott and drolly stated, “If I didn’t have a rule against back shooting I’d put your friend out of his dumb misery.” Holstering his gun, he held his hand out and wiggled his fingers, and then deftly caught the gold piece Scott flipped towards him.